The hotly anticipated 2011 Chevrolet Volt is on the verge of rolling into showrooms across the U.S., but it seems General Motors' plug-in hybrid will reach European consumers around the same time. GM announced today that customers can place reservations for the Volt's European sibling, the 2011 Opel Ampera.
That announcement also forced GM's hand in announcing a base price for the Ampera. Prices across Europe (save for the United Kingdom, where the car will be sold as a Vauxhall) start at roughly €42,900 ($59,070), including national VAT. As is the case with the Volt, tax incentives may cause that price to fluctuate. In Germany, GM predicts the Ampera's net price to be closer to €36,050 ($49,600).
Apart from badges, wheels, and a rear bumper fascia, the Ampera is the Volt's electromechanical twin. Euro-spec cars use the same 16-kWh lithium ion battery pack, good for an all-electric range of around 40 miles, although a 1.4-liter I-4 can come online to help provide power during high-speed cruising. In general operation, however, the gas engine serves primarily as a generator -- once the battery's charge reaches a minimum operating level, it works to send energy to the drive motors and propel the vehicle.
Arguably, European Ampera owners will have an advantage over Volt adopters in one area: charging. In North America, Volt customers will likely need to have a special 240-volt charging station installed at home to optimize their charging times. Because of the 220-volt standard across Europe, Ampera owners will simply need to plug into a standard wall outlet for a similar charge. According to Opel, the total recharge time for the battery pack on a 220-volt feed is roughly three hours.
"The Ampera defines a new class of e-mobility," said Alain Visser, vice president of Opel sales, marketing, and aftersales in a prepared statement. "No other electric vehicle provides the freedom of transportation as the Opel Ampera. We have compromised on nothing. The Ampera is a beautiful car that is as fun to drive as it is packed with premium content."
Is the Volt/ Ampera well suited to the European market? Time will answer that question, but send your best predictions our way in the comments field below.