Chevy Volt Given Marching Orders In Europe, Opel Ampera To Remain

Chevrolet’s range-extending Volt electric car, currently available to buy in certain European countries alongside its European-branded GM Twin — the Vauxhall/Opel Ampera — has officially been given its orders to vacate the continent by the end of 2015, leaving just its European twin on sale.

That’s according to an official press release from General Motors today, in which the Detroit-based automaker says the entire Chevrolet brand name will be dropped from Europe from 2016.  Instead, it continues, GM will trade in mainstream Europe as the long-standing Opel brand, and Vauxhall in the UK.

From 2016, only the Vauxhall (Opel) Ampera will be on sale.

From 2016, only the Vauxhall (Opel) Ampera will be on sale in Europe.

This means European fans of the plug-in Volt who prefer its more businesslike bowtie grille over the Ampera’s more trendy swept boomerang lights and open grille have just two more years to buy a Volt before the model disappears from the marketplace altogether.

Essentially, GM says, Chevrolet has proven a bit of a distraction, since many Chevys are already sold as rebadged Vauxhall or Opel brand cars anyway, and its dealers — many of whom sell both marques — have ended up needlessly competing with themselves and confusing buyers.

Unlike Chevrolet, whose U.S. identity is acknowledged and perhaps even feared by some buyers, the Opel and Vauxhall brands have long, loyal followers, so it makes sense for GM to drop the bowtie from its European lineup.

What of the Volt? It’ll still be available — just not as a Volt. Instead of choosing between two almost identical cars (aside from the differences in name, and a few trim panels, both cars are made on the same Detroit production line with the same mechanical components) the only choice plug-in fans will have is which colour — and trim level — to order.

The Volt and Ampera are almost identical anyway: can you tell which car this is?

The Volt and Ampera are almost identical anyway: can you tell which car this is?

Perhaps more interesting for European buyers however, is the news that while Chevrolet is leaving Europe, Cadillac — GM’s prestige brand — will undergo significant European expansion in the coming years. And that means its ELR range-extended luxury coupe — which is also built on the same drivetrain and chassis as the Volt and Ampera — could be coming to European shores as a premium plug-in model to compete against premium European names like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.

Will the official departure of the Chevrolet Volt from Europe change the plug-in marketplace much? From our perspective in the UK it’s unlikely: at the time of writing, while there are many Chevrolet-branded dealers across the country, only a handful of them are Volt stockists, and the majority of GM’s European EV customers drive an Ampera, not a Volt. For those who do drive a Volt — one of the Transport Evolved editorial staff included — we think it’s likely that GM will make arrangements for warranty and service matters to pass to the nearest Ampera dealer instead.

So, little will change, but there is one other thing that we’re pretty sure the news means: it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see the Chevy Spark, GM’s first all-electric car since the much-missed EV1, make landfall in Europe… Ever. And for that, we mourn.


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