Last year, if you knew where to look in the U.S., you could get some really great deals on various electric and plug-in hybrid cars. From unbeliveable lease deals to ‘money on the hood’ offers, automakers and dealers vied for customers in what we like to think of as the first real EV price war.
Now it looks as if UK dealers are joining in on the action too, with several Vauxhall dealers offering an additional £5,000 off the price of a brand new Vauxhall Ampera — the European version of the Chevrolet Volt.
Listed at £33,695 before government grants, the range-extended plug-in essentially gets a £10,000 price cut after government purchase grants and dealer incentives have been applied, resulting in a walk-away price of £22,995. Unlike the federal tax credit offered in the U.S. to help towards the cost of buying a new electric car, the UK government grants are applied at the time of purchase and go directly to the manufacturer not the customer. This means the post-incentive price is the price you pay, not the price you’ll end up paying after waiting till the end of the tax year for your tax credit to be applied.
The price drop, which Autoexpress says is being offered by multiple dealers in the UK, isn’t an official Vauxhall-sanctioned price drop. Instead, it appears several dealer chains are competing against one another — and perhaps plug-in rival Nissan — for plug-in car supremacy.
Sadly for Vauxhall, that’s a battle which is going to take some winning. Unlike the U.S., where total LEAF and Volt sales have been fairly equally matched, Ampera sales in the UK have been just a fifth of total LEAF sales. In the first half of last year, the LEAF outsold the Ampera 825 to 150, with only 23 Chevrolet Volts — sold in Europe alongside the Ampera until the end of this year — being sold to UK buyers in the same time frame.
One of the reasons for this disparity in sales was the list price. With the both the Vauxhall Ampera and Chevrolet Volt around £7,000 more expensive than the entry-level LEAF (batteries included), many would-be buyers were simply priced out of the Griffin badge-wearing Ampera.
In September last year, Vauxhall tried to address that problem directly, slashing the official price of the Ampera by £3,000.
Then there’s the size. Substantially larger than the LEAF in its exterior dimensions and with a far more U.S. feel to it, many buyers opted for the smaller, more agile Japanese-designed LEAF as their everyday drivers. Even though the Volt/Ampera is less than an inch wider than the LEAF, every inch counts when tackling single-track country lanes and congested British city streets every day.
Here at Transport Evolved we’ve got both Nissan LEAFs and a European-spec Chevrolet Volt on our staff car fleet, so we’re interested to see if this drop in price will tempt more people into an electric car. But we also wonder if the price drop is an attempt by Vauxhall dealers to tempt those who may be considering a BMW i3 BEVx to get the benefits of a range-extended engine but for far less than the German plug-in.
If you’re about to buy a plug-in car, we’d like to hear from you. Do these unofficial ‘Dealer deals’ make you more likely to opt for an Ampera, or is your heart set elsewhere?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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