The Chevrolet Volt is sold in most of Europe as the Opel (and Vauxhall) Ampera, but its days are numbered while the Volt will continue in 2.0 form in the US market. What happened to the petrol-minded Europeans and their lack of enthusiasm for the Ampera? Autocar thinks they know the answer.
The Ampera felt like the future, according to Autocar, who “loved the smooth and torquey electric drive, the single-speed transmission, the superb seats and driving position, the huge load space when the rear seats were folded and the car’s excellent motorway performance and arrow-straight handling.” However, the 2012 European Car of the Year only sold 5,300 units in its first year, dropping to under 1,000 for 2014.
One issue for its lack of sales after the early adopters was price: In the UK, an Ampera was about $45,000; a government subsidy could drop it down nine grand or so, which was the price for a Volkswagen Gold TDI.
However, Autocar feels that European emissions regulations may take the bulk of the blame: “The green movement and EU governments decided to frame the hopelessly over-simplified environmental argument almost entirely in terms of CO2. This was in stark contrast to the US market, where there has been public understanding of all types of tailpipe pollution for decades.” And when the Ampera ran out of electrical charge, European customers were left with a middling motor that gave middling performance and fuel economy that paled in comparison to the TDI.
Additional beefs were the restrictive four-place seating, space-age styling, and slightly low residual values − it’s possible to find a 2012 Ampera for $25,000.
While the Volt in the U.S. has struggled to gain traction, it has been embraced much more enthusiastically and has served well for General Motors as a springboard for the future of personal transportation devices.