Production Version of Opel Ampera Being Unveiled at Geneva

The production version of the Opel Ampera is being unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show and it's got Chevrolet Volt written all over it.

The Opel Ampera is the Chevrolet Volt of Europe, but with a significantly higher price tag. As Opel says – and Chevrolet has countless times here in the U.S. – the five-door, four-seat Ampera is designed to provide all the benefits of an electric vehicle while eliminating range anxiety.

And, just like the Chevrolet Volt, the Opel Ampera is already winning prizes from the media and public before it goes on sale later this year. So, it's fair to call this the French version of the Chevrolet Volt.

Apparently, it's possible to sell a car and its battery separately in Europe because Opel points out that the 42,900 Euro price (or about $58,000) is the same all across the continent. "Opel’s pricing scheme eliminates confusion by listing the total cost of the car and battery," said the official announcement.

There's a big price jump across the pond when it comes to the Volt and Ampera electric vehicles. The Volt, before a $7500 tax break, is going to cost $41,900 – or about $17,000 less than the Ampera. That doesn't appear to be dampening enthusiasm because there already 1000 reservations for the Opel.

The battery is recharged in about four hours at 230V by plugging the vehicle's on-board charge system into a standard household outlet. Because the battery can be recharged conveniently, without the need for special charging equipment, most Amperas are likely to be driven in battery mode all the time. Independent research shows that around 80 percent of Europeans drive less than 60 kilometers per day (about 35 miles), so the Ampera easily meets their requirements.

For the first 40 - 80 kilometers, or 25 to 50 miles, (depending on terrain, driving style, and temperature), power is supplied by the electricity stored in the 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery. While driving on electricity delivered by the battery, the Ampera moves free of gas and tailpipe-emissions. If a longer trip is required, the gasoline-fueled engine can seamlessly extend the total driving range to more than 500 kilometers (or 310 miles) on a full tank. This full-performance, range-extending technology makes the Ampera the first electric car with the everyday convenience of a conventional automobile.

One area the Ampera has it over the Volt is in its looks. Opel designs a better looking car than Chevrolet. It's aerodynamic but it's not bland looking.

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