Electric cars Volt& s lows and highs The Economist

4 Мар 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Electric cars Volt& s lows and highs The Economist отключены
Opel Ampera Electric Cars

Volt s lows and highs

THE of European motor-magazine pundits who the annual “Car of the Year” have this year a public-relations lifebelt to a carmaker in negative headlines. Announced as the motor show opened on 5th, the prize went to GM s and its slightly restyled European the Ampera, an electric car with a generator on board to back up the A few days earlier the car had been in the for less cheerful reasons, GM announcing a suspension in production the Volt s sales in America been so weak.

And as it starts the Ampera across Europe, GM has been in the spotlight over the at its chronically loss-making European Opel-Vauxhall, amid reports big plant closures are on the way.

Having launched the Volt in at the end of 2010, GM had only a modest of 10,000 sales for last But safety worries over the car s meant it sold fewer 8,000. Although that seems to have been in time for the Ampera s launch in the car still suffers from the problem faced by all electric and models: that they are so more expensive than and diesel cars. In Britain, it will be called the Vauxhall the car s list price starts at ($58,770).

So even after a government of £5,000 it will still about as much as a swanky car like the BMW 5 Series.

GM originally to produce 60,000 of the Volt/Ampera year at a plant in Detroit, about 15,000 of these to But now it says it will see how sales go deciding how many to make. At the show, Steve Girsky, the s vice-chairman—who has also just put in charge of Opel-Vauxhall s supervisory to sort it out—speculated that it do better in Europe because prices are so much higher in America. But, going out of his way to be he said it would be “very to see” if this in fact out to be the case.

When he stressed that was only the first generation of the and that a second generation due in three years should be cheaper, Mr Girsky seemed to be that he was not betting either on sales for the Ampera in Europe or on a revival in America.

The halo

The Volt was never really to sell in great quantities. It is is called a “halo” car, to boost the image of the brand and the attention of buyers who would spurn anything with particular badge on the bonnet. In GM s cars sell well in the but are rejected by many buyers in the big cities, who typically prefer brands.

However, urbanites curious to a peek at the Volt have enticed into GM showrooms, to drive away in one of the company s petrol-engined small cars, the Equinox or Cruze.

Likewise in GM is keen to shake off the rather image that its Opel and brands suffer from, and to both upmarket, as Volkswagen has so done with its Audi Even if not that many actually buy the car, the Ampera be a useful first step in GM s European brands. Yet there are two The first is that such takes years, decades and Opel-Vauxhall may not have that time. The second is that other carmakers are now launching eco-halo cars of their

Peugeot-Citroën introduced no fewer eight diesel-electric hybrids at the show. Ford was showing an version of its Focus, Toyota a version of its small Yaris to go its larger Prius, and so on. When is going round wearing a yours is less likely to get


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