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Entering the Monte Carlo Rally for Alternative Energy Vehicles, the six Amperas will race against 150 other green cars in a series of stages starting March 22 from Annecy-le-Vieux, to Clermont-Ferrand, Luganu, and finally finishing three days later at Monaco.
Regulations for this competition dictates that a car must emit less than 115g/km of CO2 in order to participate. While not as exciting as the WRC event, the Alternative Energy competition can be just as challenging to tackle. The goal is to cover the race distance, maintain a constant speed, all while using as little energy as possible.
The Tesla Roadster emerged victorious at the Monte Carlo rally twice in a row. Intent on giving Tesla a run for its money, the Opel Ampera features an electric motor that drives the wheels and a conventional gasoline engine that kicks in to generate electricity once the battery depletes. The Ampera’s system is prepared to deliver 150 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of instant torque, good for a 0-62 mph time of approximately 9 seconds and a top speed of 100 mph.
German automaker Opel revealed the specifications and pricing on its hot new OPC today which has us hoping it might, in some form, make it to the U.S. market.
That might seem like a pipe dream, but the GM-owned company already has its hands in the American market by way of the Buick Regal, which since 2009 has essentially been, well, a re-badged Opel. The 2.0-liter turbocharged powerplant in the OPC packs 277 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque in a stylish body that could probably have a home in our sport compact market. The Opel OPC rungs from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in six seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph.
Riding on a FlexRide chassis, Opel incorporated a mechanical limited-slip differential and high performance struts (HiPerStruts) for the front-wheel drive sports car. Two driving modes are available: Sport and OPC. On the inside, Opel outfits the OPC interior with race seats, incorporating weight-saving material seen for the first time in a production vehicle. In total, each seat weighs 45 percent less than a conventional one and still boasts up to 18 different configurations.
The OPC will launch in Germany this spring with a starting price of around $44,890 (€34,250) including value-added tax.
If the performance parts aren’t enough to pique interest, it might be worth nothing that the Astra OPC recently endured a 6,213-mile test on the Nürburgring which equates to 111,846 miles in a normal driving environment. You can watch a video of the car below.
GALLERY: Opel Astra OPC
Opel and Vauxhall have announced the lineup of debuts for the upcoming 2012 Geneva Motor Show, with the highly-anticipated Astra OPC/VXR headlining the booth.
The aggressively designed Astra OPC/VXR will be powered by a turbocharged 2.0L powerplant with 277-hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and will also sport High Performance Struts (HiPerStruts), a FlexRide chassis, and lightweight bucket seats in the interior.
Next on Opel’s list will be its new Mokka crossover which is based on the Buick Encore. It will be released with three different engine choices available, a standard gas 1.6L with 113-hp, a turbocharged 1.4L with 138-hp and a 1.7L CDTI diesel with 128-hp. Front-wheel drive will be standard on the new Mokka, but all-wheel drive will be an option. Opel also mentioned in their release that all Mokka models will come with Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control (TC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), and Hill Descent Control (HDC) as standard.
The Insignia BiTurbo was also announced as a debut, featuring a 2.0L twin-turbo diesel engine with 192-hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Not exactly automotive related, but Opel and Vauxhall will also show off a RAD e electric bike concept. They described it as the “first e bike to be built around automotive construction and production principles.” The RAD e electric bike will show off a 250-watt motor that can give it an electric-assisted range of 37-90 miles.
Opel will also have refreshed variants of their Corsa, Meriva, and Astra at the show including their Corsa Kaleidoscope edition, a Meriva 1.4 LPG Turbo ecoFLEX model and an Astra 1.4 LPG Turbo ecoFLEX model.
GALLERY: Opel / Vauxhall Geneva Lineup Preview
In 1989, Rick Moranis played a nerdy dad who accidentally downsized his children to an insect scale in Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. He probably wouldn’t have believed it if someone told him that 23 years later automakers would be doing the same thing to their cars.
For those of us living in the North American 2012, there are increasingly large swarms of little cars buzzing around the streets. The din their tiny engines makes isn’t overwhelming yet, but just wait.
General Motors’ German subsidiary, Opel, is planning to release a micro car they’re calling the Allegra (or, tentatively, Junior). No, not the allergy medication, though the thing is small enough to be mistaken for a bee in ragweed season, at least compared to the standard American palate. When the Allegra hits Europe in 2013 it will probably stand to compete against cars like the Volkswagen Up, MINI Cooper and Fiat 500.
In fact, it’s a solid 3.3 feet longer than the Mercedes-Benz spawned Smart ForTwo, which looks like a cross between a golf cart and an alien space pod. Our spies caught the Opel Allegra on camera during winter testing, but what’s the big deal? Opel cars aren’t sold in North America, right?
Well, not necessarily. Rumors are floating around that the not-so-smallish micro car might make it overseas rebadged as a Buick. (Why not? It’s not the first Buick to come from Opel). And with the recent launch of the Fiat 500 and the Scion iQ on our shores, the market for mini-cars is growing.
Of course, the name will likely change to keep big pharma happy.
GALLERY: Opel Allegra/Junion Spy Photos
When there’s blood in the water, sharks start to bite. If the automotive industry does nothing else, it fosters ruthless competition and a winner-takes-all mentality akin to professional sports.
Outside scheduled announcements, Marchionne told the Detroit News that ”there’s a willingness on the part of Fiat-Chrysler to listen,” going on to say that ”this is an industry that is in evolution.”
Despite his affirmation that Fiat would be willing to consider the idea, there doesn’t seem to be any plan being cooked up. GM vice chairman Steve Girsky said he and Marchionne had dinner last Sunday and that Marchionne wasn’t interested in Opel.
“Opel is not for sale,” Girsky said. “We’re going to make Opel work.” GM is “committed to returning our European business to sustained profitability. There’s a lot of work to do.”
For better or worse, the business world is sensitive to such discussions. The notion that something like that might happen drove speculation that Fiat might also be eyeing Peugeot. Once again, it seems the rumor mill is churning out little more than hot air, though Marchionne maintains that he is open to opportunities.
For now it seems the dinner discussions that spurred these questions were little more than meals, though we’ll stick to Marchionne’s philosophy and refuse to rule anything out, especially considering his original plan after buying Chrysler was, in fact, to take Opel as well.
[Source: Detroit News]
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.
Amid news of an introduction for both the Cadillac ATS and Chevrolet Sonic RS at this year’s 2012 North American International Auto Show comes news of a third vehicle – a Buick crossover – that will also make its debut.
The crossover will reportedly be based on a platform that underpins the Opel Meriva (above) though it will ditch the minivan-look for a more traditional crossover bodystyle. The Meriva also shares a platform with the Chevrolet Sonic, though dimensions and powertrain choices have not been revealed. A small four-cylinder turbo with forced induction is a likely candidate. The Meriva is about 5 inches shorter than a Sonic, and it would be reasonable to expect GM to make the car larger to suit North American tastes.
[Source: Automotive News]
General Motor‘s European subsidiary, Opel has contributed greatly to GM’s engineering and technology development. Despite this, Opel has had difficulty making profit. GM Vice Chairman and Opel’s supervisory board chairman, Stephen Girsky explained to Financial Times Deutschland, “Unfortunately, our plan for making Opel profitable this year did not work.”
Analysts suggest causes for Opel’s unprofitability include its costly vehicle production in Germany. Germany is one of the most expensive labor markets in the world and Opel’s lack of a premium brand makes attaining the desired profit margin more difficult. If Opel’s lack of performance continues, GM may decide to scrap the brand.
GALLERY: Opel Insignia
[Source: Left Lane News]
Opel, General Motors’ German wing is boasting big changes to their Insignia sedan, including a new biturbo diesel.The engine makes 195 horsepower and about 295 foot-pounds of torque, but the real eye-catcher on the new engine is fuel consumption and emissions. The new Insignia is only supposed to emit 129g/km of CO2 and achieves 48 miles-per-gallon.
Diesels typically get better mileage than gasoline engines, but that improved economy usually came hand-in-hand with performance compromises. While that is still true, the gap is shrinking somewhat. The biturbo system takes advantage of differently-sized turbochargers to reduce turbo lag, spooling up the smaller piece first and diverting exhaust to the larger turbo as RPMs increase. The system is seamless according to GM.
The biturbo diesel Insignia can get to 62 mph in 8.7 seconds and tops out at 143 mph, which is a significant improvement considering many small displacement turbo diesels aren’t happy past about 80 mph.
According to Opel, the new Insignia will sell for 33,000 euros and will come with a slew of other improvements including optional all-wheel drive. AWD models will also come with their SuperSport suspension, featuring adaptive damping, Brembo brakes and the HiPerStrut system to improve handling.
The new model also gets adaptive cruise control and some radar-based safety features including forward collision alert.
It’s no secret that General Motors’ European arm, Opel/Vauxhall has been struggling. With an ongoing debt crisis in Europe, high labor costs in Germany and regional status, Opel is finding the going difficult against many rival automakers in its homeland, including traditional competitor VW, whose tentacles stretch far beyond the boundaries of Europe.
Last year, Adam Opel AG lost some $1.6 billion and although GM has been looking at plans to sell the ailing company, recent news suggests that it plans to keep Opel under it’s wing, at least for the time being. One aspect which would appear to confirm that is the appointment of Stephen Girsky to the role of chairman of the board, replacing Nick Reilly who is officially retiring.
During a recent statement, Girsky said that “in order to fully leverage [Opel's] potential we will continue to work on optimizing the cost structure, improve margins and make use of economies of scale within the group.”
One of the biggest obstacles is very high assembly costs, which have continued to put a major dent in Opel’s profitability even though its research and development arm remains first rate. In order to help deal with that issue, as well as Germany’s powerful IG Metall manufacturing union, GM is bringing in Peter Thom as it’s Opel manufacturing chief. Thom’s is armed with experience working in China and a mandate to significantly cut costs, two things that will no doubt have far reaching effects.
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]
While General Motors seemed desperate to sell Opel back in 2009, GM CEO Dan Akerson now says that the terms of the sale were a “bad deal” and that Opel, along with GM’s other global divisions, are now profitable.
Nick Reilly, GM’s European president, said that GM Europe will be profitable – albeit not by much more than the break-even point – once the 2011 restructuring plan has finished at the end of the year. ”In 2012, we won’t have those restructuring charges,” Reilly said. “They’re mostly done. We’ll get the full 12 month benefit of the restructuring that we’ve done.”
[Source: Automotive News]
It’s that time of the year again as Car of the Year begins the laborious task of whittling down new Car of the Year contenders for 2012.
A total of 59 journalists, representing automotive authorities across 23 European countries, have been recruited for the task of choosing top car. The number of journalists to represent each country is based on the relative size of the said country’s car market. Countries like Spain, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain have a well established market, and each will be represented by six journalists.
As for cars, only completely redesigned new models that have launched within the twelve months before the contest are counted. Each car must be available in at least five European countries and must have an expected sales volume no less than 5,000.
Categories considered include design, safety, performance, and price. This year, says the judging committee, technical innovation and value will be especially influential. What also makes Car of the Year unique is the absence of separate genres for its candidates. Rather than selecting the best of the compacts or the best trucks, vehicles with all sorts of engine size and body types will be vying for the same allotment of points.
Comparison testing of the vehicles will be performed in Sweden.
The following 35 candidates selected for the 2012 Car of the Year award include:
For quite some time now, GM executives in North America have been contemplating distributing Opel’s Astra GTC as a Buick in America. Now there’s a chance that the three-door, sporty vehicle could even be produced in America.
In order to satisfy the UAW, GM has plans to build an additional compact car at an unnamed plant in America, which points fingers at the Astra GTC. Though it’s all speculation right now, GM has been committing to reopening its Spring Hill, Tennessee plant and with the addition of the new compact’s production, could generate 500 new jobs. Could Buick’s version of the Astra GTC be rolling off the Tennessee assembly line by early 2013? We’ll just have to wait and see.
[Source: Left Lane 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.
General Motors has announced a second quarter net income of $2.5 billion or $1.54 per fully diluted share. By comparison, GM’s Q2 2010 performance showed a net income of $1.3 billion or 85 cents per diluted share. Revenue has increased from $6.2 billion to 39.4 billion compared to the second quarter of 2010.
Earnings before interest and tax adjusted was $3.0 billion compared to $2.0 billion in the second quarter of 2010. GM also ended the quarter with very strong total automotive liquidity of $39.7 billion. The automakers cash and marketable securities, including Canadian Health Care Trust restricted cash, was $33.8 billion compared with $30.6 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2011.
“GM’s investments in fuel economy, design and quality are paying off around the world as our global market share growth and financial results bear out,” said Dan Akerson, chairman and CEO of GM. “Our progress has been steady and we’re preparing to launch more new products this year, including the Chevrolet Sonic in North America, the Opel/Vauxhall Zafira in Europe and the Baojun 630 in China to keep the momentum going.”
Well, this is awkward. Volkswagen said some while back that GM might be selling Opel, possibly to them. It was a statement made by a chief executive, then repeated by German media, then finally catching the attention of GM itself. And now GM is distancing itself from such rumors, calling the statement “regrettable.”
“In Wednesday’s edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn commented on rumors regarding Opel,” said GM in a tersely-worded statement, “which continues a regrettable pattern of fanning speculation as Opel makes solid progress in its restructuring, in generating improved operating results.”
Opel’s chairman is “very satisfied” with his company’s results, yet also said that they do not comment on speculation.
“Opel has been part of the GM family since 1928 and remains important to the company,” GM said. “GM is pleased with Opel’s solid progress over the last year in turning around its business, and the company continues to invest in outstanding products for the European market.”
The ghost of Saturn just can’t cut a break. GM is considering what to do with Opel, its German division that won’t be turning a profit anytime soon.
GM last tried to sell Opel in 2009 before giving the ailing brand another chance. But despite increasing its lineup with new vehicles, and even increased sales, the company continues to bleed cash. “[GM CEO Dan] Akerson is fed up with Opel, and the turnaround isn’t gaining traction,” said an anonymous source inside the company. Unsurprisingly, nobody is willing to comment on the situation—though Klaus Franz, head of Opel’s works council, called the sale “pure speculation.” So there’s that.
There are a few possibilities for GM’s Opel dilemma: the company is looking to expand in China, and Opel could go to any number of eager Chinese carmakers. Or, according to German magazine Spiegel, it could go to crosstown rival Volkswagen—feeding the VW corporate juggernaut on its goal of global domination. Volkswagen and Opel, dominating the German car market? There’s a reason why nobody has commented on the situation: because it seems too unbelievable (yet unsurprising) to be true.
[Source: Spiegel Online]
Vauxhall’s Astra GTC is poised to take on the European market with its sleek, stylish design and compact body. More importantly, its price point will really give Volkswagen’s Scirocco and Renault’s Megane Coupe some serious competition. Vauxhall announced that their 2012 Astra GTC will be available with four different four-cylinder powerplants, one of them being a diesel. The most powerful will be a 1.6L turbo with 178-hp while their 2.0L diesel will sport 163-hp. Economy seekers will have two choices, a 1.4L, one with 118-hp and another with 138-hp.
The GTC will start at $30,425 (USD) while its top of the line will come in at close to $37,000. All Astra GTCs will come complete with a 100,000-mile warranty. Vauxhall’s focus for the Astra GTC includes their HiPerStrut technology that can be seen on the Insignia VXR. Thorough testing and tuning puts ensures that the Astra GTC benefits from tight handling and control.
Ironically enough, the GTC shares no actual body panels from its Astra Hatch or Sports Tourer counterparts. High-end options will include standard tinted glass, onboard computer, leather-trimmed steering wheel and fog lamps. For the entry-level Sport trim, the GTC will come with 18-inch wheels standard, DAB stereo and USB functionality.
GALLERY: Vauxhall Astra GTC
General Motors will be adding two shifts and 2,500 hourly and salaried jobs to the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant to build the new Chevrolet Malibu and the next-generation Impala alongside the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera electric cars.
Additional shifts and a $69 million investment in equipment have been made to support the next-generation Impala. In April 2010, GM announced that to support the Malibu production, a $121 million investment would be made.
“Filling this plant with new work is very satisfying because GM is dedicated to helping rebuild this city,” GM North America President Mark Reuss said at the plant Wednesday. “We are confident in the flexibility of the plant, the excellence of our workers and the great cars assembled here.”
Chevrolet’s new Malibu will be built in Detroit and Fairfax, Kan., as well as in China and Korea and will be sold in over 100 countries and six continents.
Detroit-Hamtramck currently has 1,121 hourly and salaried employees.
According to GM, the automaker has added or saved 9,000 jobs and invested $3.4 billion since mid-2009.
A “leaked document” (read: dubious rumor) claims that a coupe variant of the Opel Insignia sedan, may wear the famed Calibra badge. The previous Calibra was known for its slippery styling and turbocharged engines, and the Insignia would make a worthy successor.
Opel previewed an Insignia Coupe with their GTC Concept, which was powered by a 2.8L V6 with a twin-turbo setup, and this engine is currently used in the Insignia VXR good for 321 horsepower. A proposed coupe would be fitted with all-wheel drive, and have a shorter wheelbase to give the car sharper reflexes.
While Opel and Vauxhall cars aren’t sold Stateside, the car could make its easy over here as a Buick. The possibilities mulling in our heads, from a new Riviera to a Grand National successor, are definitely enticing, but we’ll wait for the real car to surface before we let our imagination run wild.
[Source: Auto Express]
GM’s European Opel brand recently unveiled the new Astra GTC hatchback and according to the most recent reports this car will be sold in America, but under the Buick badge. The Buick brand has already had considerable success rebadging the Opel Insignia as the Regal on this side of the Atlantic.
This plan has been tried once before and failed miserably, when GM brought the Astra over as a Saturn. The new car is, however, larger and based on an all new platform is under the Buick brand is expected to offer a more premium interior with an overall improved build quality. The Buick ‘Astra’ (an official name has yet to be picked) will also receive more respectable powerplants, with the 177-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and 220-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engines likely candidates.
In addition to the hatchback, Buick is also expected to gain a small convertible based on the same platform and which could compete alongside cars like the Volkswagen Eos.
GALLERY: Opel Astra GTC
The vehicle would be a more luxurious version of the already fairly upscale Volt, according to a report by Bloomberg.
This would make a fourth nameplate to carry a very similar platform. Already in Germany, Opel is showing its Volt-based Ampera, and in the UK, Vauxhall is preparing an Ampera as well.
The technology GM bases these cars on is called “Voltec,” and its development set GM back around $1 billion. It couples electric motors with a 1.4-liter gasoline-powered generator. A 16 kWh lithium-ion battery provides motive power for the electric drive.
The Volt car can travel in EV mode for about 35-50 miles, and early adopters have been reporting hundreds of miles traveled using little or no gasoline. GM’s CEO Dan Akerson has said it would develop other cars on four GM brands. If approved, it could be hit production by 2013.
According to Jim Hall, principal of 2953 Analytics in Birmingham, Mich., he has yet to see what can be done. “The Volt is already well-equipped,” Hall told Bloomberg. “It’s missing power seats and that’s about it. What else can you add to make it a premium car?”
Some ways an upscale version could be done would be to use lighter, more sophisticated materials to give more range to the car. Whether any changes would be made to the power train, such as a larger battery, is anyone’s guess.
Another analyst Bloomberg interviewed said she did not fully see the reasoning. “Why are they badge engineering?” said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive, a research firm based in Lexington, Massachusetts. “The Ampera really is just the Volt.”
A GM spokesman would offer no comment on the Buick plans. The company wants to sell the Chevrolet Volt quickly. It says it is on target with its new-tech car roll out, and plans to build 10,000 this year, and 45,000 next year. It sells for $41,000 before a $7,500 federal tax incentive.
General Motors will look to expand its lineup of extended range electric cars to three models by the time the current Chevrolet Volt’s production cycle has run its course. At least that is GM’s plan for the European market under the Opel/Vauxhall brands where GM has just launched the sister car to the Volt, the Opel Ampera.
According to a report by AutoCar, the new models will arrive in 2015, with the most important being a successor to the original Volt, which will grow in size.
According to GM Europe president Nick Reilly, the ‘Ampera’ family of cars will also include a Astra-sized hatchback, as well as a five-seater crossover – likely based on the Volt MPV5 concept (above), which debuted earlier this year at the Beijing Motor Ahow.
The cost for producing vehicles like the Volt is predicted to decline significantly says Reilly, commenting that GM believes the electrical components required to build the Volt’s powertrain will drop in price by 50 percent over the next five years. Those cost savings, combined with increased popularity of EVs and continued government incentives will drive of demand of such vehicles in the future, allowing GM to expand its lineup to meet the market.
GALLERY: Chevrolet Volt MPV5 Concept