Engineers have been busy testing the Chevrolet Volt here in North America, but the car -- in its Opel Ampera guise -- will have its first European exercise next week, when Opel engineers are expected to drive a prototype from Germany to Geneva.
Gherardo Corsini, Opel's director of electric vehicle implementation, will pilot the car from Opel's headquarters in Rüsselsheim, Germany, all the way to Geneva, Switzerland. The car received its first charge the other day, and is ready to make the 370-mile trek.
"With 370 Nm (272 lb-ft) of instantaneous electric torque under my right foot, it promises to be an interesting and almost silent drive to Geneva," said Corsini.
As the Ampera is virtually identical to the Volt, Corsini will travel the first 40 miles of his trek drawing power from the lithium-ion battery pack. After that, the small 1.4-liter I-4 will kick in to recharge the battery and feed electricity to the electric drive motor. Seeing as GM expects just over a 300-mile range from a single tank of fuel, Corsini will have to tank up at least once on his journey to Switzerland
Ampera production will commence in late 2011, but right-hand-drive variants -- which will be sold as Vauxhalls -- won't be built until early 2012.