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The Ampera gets the axe

Another one bites the dust

24/07/2014 18:01 | Comments: 

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Former car restorer, damper designer, rotary-engine guru and also an automotive engineer, but generally doesn’t talk much about his former activities. András is our mag’s Leatherman tool: when there’s a project no-one would poke with a stick, he’s the one usually assigned to carry it through. When he’s in Hungary, he works 16 hours daily, then every once in a while he disappears from the horizon. Last time he’s been seen in Auckland… Has a huge garage, lives with a girlfriend.

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While its stateside twin, the Volt is a hit, Europe gives the Ampera the cold shoulder.

While the second-generation Volt, Chevrolet’s petrol-electric model is due to arrive next year, rumour has it its Opel twin, the Ampera is getting the axe soon due to miserable European sales figures.

Although it was named „European Car of the Year” in 2012, the Ampera has been a commercial flop from the beginning. While in its first year Opel sold about 5000 Amperas in Europe, sales dropped to just 3000 units last year. And if you think that’s bad, wait till you see the 2014 figures: sales plunged a further 67% through the first five months with only a measly 332 Amperas sold in the whole of Europe – and only 46 of them in its home market of Germany. Even Ferrari sold 83 F12s during the same period in Germany alone. Former GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky stands puzzled: “All the governments in Europe said ‘We want EVs, we want EVs!’ We show up with one, and where is everybody?”

Out buying one of its newer rivals, that’s where. Probably a Tesla Model S, which Europe has welcomed with open arms and which is a particularly massive hit in Norway. The lack of interest is still hard to explain as the Ampera is nowhere as bad as the sales would suggest. Its passenger compartment may be somewhat tight and its price – despite a massive cut – a bit hefty, but it should still have enough appeal, especially as hybrids and electric cars have never been hipper.

With such miserable sales figures, discontinuation of the model is the only logical step and although Opel does not comment on future product plans, that’s what our little insider birds have told us to expect. Fine, we won’t miss it that much, but the flop still leaves us puzzled.

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