Last week during the CAR symposium in Bochum, Germany, Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, confirmed that the Detroit automaker would be bringing the all-electric 2017 Chevrolet Bolt to Europe in the near future as the Opel Ampera-e electric car.
Wearing a new badge as well as a restyled front and rear bumpers, the 200+ mile electric car will be sold across Europe at an affordable price point that we speculated would be somewhere between €30,000 and €35,000 before taxes and incentives. Our price prediction came with the expectation that the Opel Ampera-e would be produced in the U.S. alongside the Chevrolet Bolt at GM’s Orion facility in Michigan, although we noted that without any confirmation either way that if the Opel Ampera was successful or gained a lot of pre-orders “it’s possible the Opel Ampera-e may be manufactured locally.”
Not so, says Automotive News Europe (subscription required). Quoting German language publication Automobil Produktion, it says that GM will follow the same production process used on European-market versions of the first-generation Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car (which was sold in Europe as both the Chevrolet Volt and the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera), with global production taking place on the same production line.
In the case of the Opel Ampera-e, this means production will take place at GM’s Orion plant in Michigan alongside the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV.
From a manufacturing point of view, this process does make some sense, at least before the Bolt EV reaches the kind of production volumes where GM needs to consider opening a second production facility. Since the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Opel Ampera-e are almost identical in every way, the majority of the production process will be the same for both cars. They will use the same monocoque chassis, the same 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, the same 150 kilowatt-electric motor, and the same on-board charger technology.
Only internal and external trim options such as badging, the bumpers and lighting will need to be different, as well as the charge port inlet and telematics system to take into account the differences in communications standards between the two markets.
Attempting to confirm the report, Automotive News Europe reports that GM was unwilling to officially confirm or deny the production location of the all-new Opel Ampera. Digging deeper and making use of our limited German skills, it appears that Automobil Produktion is basing its story on a few conversations had with sources at CAR Symposium as well as the same logic we used last week to come to the same conclusion.
Alongside reporting the rumor however, Automotive News Europe said that GM would also not confirm that the Opel Ampera-e would head to the UK as a right-hand drive model. As we explained last week, the press-release announcing the Opel Ampera-e was reproduced on both the official Opel press site as well as the Vauxhall press site, Vauxhall being the brand under which GM and Opel vehicles are sold in the UK.
While we postulated this could mean GM is considering a right-hand drive variant for the UK, Automotive News Europe is more pessimistic, although it notes that the UK is GM’s largest European market by unit sales.
We’ll keep following this story and we’ll let you know as soon as either of these rumors is definitively confirmed by GM.
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