Inflatable Gorillas and free hot dogs aren’t enough of a gimmick to get Europeans in to buy cars, but a 30-day return policy might be.
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The distinction between a hybrid and a range-extended hybrid is still confusing to some people, and GM’s European branch, Vauxhall, is getting in some hot water after misleading people in ads for the Ampera, sister car to the Volt.
When Opel/Vauxhall first announced that its Ampera plug-in hybrid electric vehicle would participate in the 13th International Monte Carlo Rally for alternative energy vehicles, it made a point to challenge the Tesla Roadster, which won the previous two years.
Completing the racing stages from Annecy-le-Vieux to Monte Carlo from March 22 through 25, the Opel Ampera of Bernard Darniche and Joseph Lambert finished in first place, winning the Ampera’s inaugural Monte Carlo Rally. Following the leading Ampera, three more crossed the line to finish in the top 10.
A total of 130 competitors from 30 manufacturers took part in the Monte Carlo Rally, including a total of seven Amperas, the Renault Fluence Z.E., Tesla Roadster, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Volkswagen Up!, and Peugeot Ion. A test of endurance for alternative propulsion, teams were judged based on energy usage at a steady speed via a ratio formula that accounted for vehicle weight, CO2 emission, energy density of the fuel and its consumption.
According to French rally co-pilot Joseph Lambert, “The sophisticated technology of the Ampera was always reliable and enabled our tremendous success.”
“The Ampera’s success in this versatility contest under very challenging conditions proves its impressive balance between durability and fuel efficiency. This underscores our leadership role in the field of alternative propulsion,” Vauxhall/Opel director of E-mobility Enno Fuchs said.
GALLERY: Monte Carlo Rally Opel Ampera
Last month, GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the Chevy Volt’s fire hazards after the electric vehicle suffered collision. As investigations continue, GM’s Opel react by announcing the delay of Ampera deliveries throughout Europe until a solution to the defect is found.
An Opel spokesman explains that Opel is, “not currently delivering the cars to customers while we set up the process to deal with these highly charged batteries to make sure they are safe.” The Opel Ampera and the Chevrolet Volt are built alongside one another in the Hamtramck, Michigan assembly plant and share the same electric and battery technology.
However, there has been no word yet as to how long the delay will last or whether the number of Ampera deliveries in France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Holland will be eligible for vehicle buy back.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman of Vauxhall confirmed that there will be no delays for its version of the Volt and the first examples of Vauxhall’s electric car will be delivered to customers by May.
General Motors has announced its decision to delay the addition of a second shift for the Chevy Volt assembly plant.
Intended to meet projections for the Volt to double its production by 2012, the second shift is no longer necessary as a plant overhaul conducted this summer plus a modest addition of 300 workers working in one shift is sufficient enough to meet GM’s 60,000 unit production target. GM’s move will dramatically reduce cost by improving upon the assembly plant’s efficiency.
As a matter of fact, earlier forecasts for Volt’s 2012 production were a more conservative 45,000 units, indicating a better reception towards the EV than GM expected. As Volt demand continues to increase and a next generation Chevrolet Malibu will begin production at the plant next year while a new Chevrolet Impala will arrive for 2013, GM still intends to launch a second shift to meet demand, providing jobs for hundreds of more workers.
George McGregor, president of UAW Local 22 and the labor representative for the workers of the plant, says that the second shift will begin sometime in 2012.
[Source: Automotive News]
Opel is set to make an impression as this year’s Frankfurt Show which takes place on September 15th to the 25th. Their main focus will be the surprise debut of an experimental car which Opel claims will emphasize the passion for driver-focused vehicles.
In addition, the booth will host the world debuts of the Astra GTC and Zafira Tourer minivan models. They will also show off the Ampera, the first electric vehicle catered to everyday European use, and seven new ecoFLEX models.
We’ve already taken an in-depth look at the Astra GTC model, while the Zafira Tourer is a stylish minivan featuring a completely redesigned Flex7 seating system and will reach UK showrooms in early 2012. The Ampera is basically the European version of the Chevrolet Volt, while the ecoFLEX models will include the following: Agila 1.0 petrol, Meriva 1.3 CDTi, Astra 1.7 CDTi, Insignia 1.4 Turbo petrol, Insignia 2.0 CDTi, and ecoFLEX versions of the Astra GTC and Zafira Tourer.