Could Opel Ampera Outsell Its Sibling The 2012 Chevrolet Volt?

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Amidst much gnashing of teeth over sales of the Chevrolet Volt electric car, a couple of bright spots have emerged.

First, orders for the 2012 Opel Ampera--the Volt's European sibling--have already reached 7,000, out of a projected total of 10,000 Amperas sold for all of 2012.

The orders may have been helped by the Ampera's win as European Car of the Year, the first U.S.-built car ever to earn that prestigious title.

But they came before news that five Amperas would enter the Monte Carlo Rally in the Alternative Energy competition.

Deliveries of the Opel Ampera, which is built on the same line in GM's Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant as the Volt, began last month.

Second, an analysis by CNW Research indicates that car buyers are less negative about the Volt--most likely because the NHTSA has closed its investigation into a battery-pack fire in a Volt three weeks after it was destroyed in a crash test conducted by the agency.

The Congressional hearing at which GM CEO Dan Akerson was interrogated over Volt safety by Rep. Darryl Issa [R-CA] has also faded from memory.

And since December, GM communications staff have been loaning out Volts for up to a week to potential buyers or those who were misinformed about the car and how it works.

We'll be eagerly waiting to see what March sales figures come in for the Volt.

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

Last month, Chevy sold 1,023 Volts, its highest total in several months. According to GM's Shad Balch, it had already passed that number by March 20. Keep your ears open on Monday, April 2, when sales totals for March are reported.

Oh, and to answer the question in our headline: No, we don't think the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera will outsell the Chevy Volt.

Remember that Chevrolet Volts are also sold in Europe, and they too have started to rack up some numbers. The Chevy brand is still new there, and viewed as quite down-market by European buyers, so a range-extended electric car may be more of a stretch for Chevy over there.

But even if Opel were to sell 15,000 Amperas rather than 10,000, we suspect that U.S. Volt sales for 2012 will equal or beat that higher number.

As they say, stay tuned for more.

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