Chevrolet's Volt has only been on sale for a short while but sales are respectable and Chevrolet have pulled out all the stops to build a quality product and bridge the technology gap between the vehicles that everyone is used to and the new generation of electric cars.
In Europe, General Motors' brand Opel is planning to do essentially the same thing with essentially the same vehicle, and Chevrolet will be selling the Volt alongside it. The 2012 Opel Ampera is a Volt by any other name, but don't be fooled into thinking the two cars are identical. AllCarsElectric was able to compare the production versions of each vehicle at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show and though the differences are subtle, they do exist.
Look and feel
The most obvious difference is the styling. The Volt was the first to make an appearance to the public and adds an extra futuristic appearance to Chevrolet's usual design cues. It's both clearly a technological car, and clearly a Chevrolet.
The Ampera is a little different. It looks like no other current Opel, even at the front end where the grille is much smaller than on other Opel products and the deep cut-outs for the lights define the shape.
Opel's car looks more distinctive at the front than the Chevrolet and that theme continues as you move from front to back. The Ampera wears more stylized alloy wheels as standard and the side skirts are body-colored rather than black plastic. The rear end looks a little more classy too with a thinner light strip and a dash of chrome, and there's a dose of aggression with a large cut-out in the rear bumper.
Inside, the differences are less obvious. The basic architecture is the same with the large gear selector set into a space in the dashboard when in park and two digital display screens providing information for the driver. Even the graphics on the screens looks very similar. The steering wheels are little different, and the four seats appear to be the same shape, with minor differences in trim.
The only clear difference is the interior ambience - Chevrolet's use of an Apple-like white finish makes the cabin a little brighter than that of the Opel, which in the trim level on display looked a little dark inside with a gray finish to the dash. Again, this perhaps reflects the Opel's more Germanic and classy image, but the Chevrolet had the more inviting cabin as a result.