Saturday, August 13, 2011

Even though deliveries of Opel’s extended-range hybrid aren’t expected to begin until early 2012, the company is already planning the successor to the Chevy Volt’s European alter-ego.
According to British magazine Autocar, the second generation of the Opel / Vauxhall Ampera is scheduled for release in 2015 and, if sources from within the company are reliable, it feature a more radical design and a lower starting price than the current model.
In the UK for example, the Vauxhall Ampera, which is already available to order, costs a rather steep £28,995 –and that is after the government’s £5,000 rebate. Opel engineers say that the battery pack alone costs around £7,000 but improvements in technology in the next four years will enable the company to reduce the cost by 50%.
However, that’s not enough. Opel CEO Nick Reilly said the price of the Ampera will be further reduced by economies of scale due to increased demand and more localized production: “We have an education job to do on the technology of the Ampera, but that will come in time. We hope that it will establish itself as a market leader and we’ll be able to capitalize on that with a cheaper, more expressively designed second generation model”.
Economies of scale could also come from fitting the Ampera’s extended-range powertrain in other Opel and Vauxhall models. If this happens, then the cost of tooling and manufacturing would drop significantly further lowering the costs.
Nevertheless, GM has to first assess sales of the model before it goes ahead with any decision, such as manufacturing its next generation in Europe, as it currently builds it alongside the Volt at its Warren, Michigan plant in the US. So far, things are looking good since 7,000 of the 10,000 units allocated for 2012 are already presold, with 75% of the sales going to fleet customers.
Opel would also like to give the next-gen Ampera a more aggressive style that will be more in line with the other models in its range.
The German firm's designers didn’t have a lot of freedom in the first generation because of the restraints forced on them by the car being a rebadged Volt. If they get the green light, the 2015 model will follow the company's new design “language” , recently previewed in the brand-new Opel Zafira Tourer.


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