Vauxhall AmperaEnlarge Photo
European buyers may soon have one fewer plug-in vehicle to choose from, with news that the Opel Ampera--European cousin to the Chevrolet Volt--could be dropped due to slow sales.
The Ampera arrived to much critical acclaim, just as the Volt did in the U.S.
While expensive--it hit the market at just shy of $60,000 back in 2012--critics praised the relaxed drive and its elimination of some of the electric car's traditional drawbacks, such as range anxiety.
It even took Europe's Car of the Year title back in 2012, along with its Chevy Volt cousin--the second plug-in vehicle to do so, after the Nissan Leaf took the 2011 crown.
But as Automotive News Europe reports (via Autoblog Green), sales have been poor. In 2012, Opel (and UK arm Vauxhall) sold just over 6,600 cars. In 2013, that dropped to 3,184. So far in 2014, just 332 cars have found homes.
The news is another blow for Volt and Ampera fans in Europe, after GM's decision in late 2013 that the Chevrolet brand itself would be pulled out of Europe from 2016, so resources could be injected into its struggling Opel and Vauxhall brands.
That decision means the Volt too is no longer available--and plug-in car buyers will have to look elsewhere.
While the Volt and Ampera are great cars in their own right, the odds have long been stacked against them in Europe.
Neither Chevrolet nor Opel has the brand strength to justify charging nearly $60,000 for a plug-in car when dozens of respectably economical diesel models are available for half the price or less--including those from Chevy and Opel themselves.
Factor in that the European market has been slow to warm to plug-in cars in general (countries like Norway and the Netherlands aside), and the car is left on even shakier ground.
Opel has neither confirmed nor denied the reports, stating only that it doesn't comment on future product plans.
But if you've had your eye on a Vauxhall or Opel Ampera, now may be the time to take the plunge--before it's too late.