Speed Sells: In New YouTube Ad For Chevrolet Bolt EV’s European Cousin, Opel Ampera-e Races Against Sporty Opel Models

For as long as we can remember, automakers — or rather their ad agencies — have struggled to figure out exactly how to sell electric cars to the public. Indeed, this incomprehensible mental block that seemed to convince ad agencies that electric cars needed to be sold differently to other cars resulted in some of the weirdest and most cringe-worthy car ads in history. There was the notorious GM EV1 ad, the equally confusing Toyota RAV4 EV ad, Nissan’s LEAF Polar Bear ad and of course, the travesty that was the Chevrolet Volt Dance.

The Ampera-e is quick off the line.

The Ampera-e is quick off the line.

But while electric car adverts have got a whole lot better over the past few years, focusing less on the novelty of electricity as a fuel source and more on the driving experience, electric car ads still forget to mention how much fun electric cars are to drive when compared to gasoline models. And when such adverts do tackle the instant torque and road handling benefits that electric cars have over gasoline models, the automaker carefully ensure the rest of its lineup is kept out of the picture.

The Opel Ampera-e shares the same underpinnings as the Chevrolet Bolt EV

The Opel Ampera-e shares the same underpinnings as the Chevrolet Bolt EV

The fear, we’d guess, is that even after years of being available, automakers and their ad executives fear that advertising electric vehicles as being too much fun would be detrimental to sales of other vehicles. Yet General Motor’s European arm Opel has just released a new ad for the upcoming Opel Ampera-e (the Chevrolet Bolt EV’s European twin) which throws caution to the wind and advertises the upcoming plug-in car in a way that we’ve never seen before: comparing its performance to not only other cars but other Opel-brand cars.

As our friends at GreenCarReports note, the short 35-second YouTube ad (which was published at the end of last month) focuses on the Opel Ampera-e’s quick acceleration from standstill by pitting it against some of the sportiest of Opel’s vehicles, including fully-race prepared versions of the Adam city car (Adam R2) and the Astra compact (Astra TCR) as well as high-end OPC production versions of the Opel Subcompact and Insignia full-size hatchback.

Despite its sub 7-second 0-60 time, it’s worth mentioning here that the Opel Ampera-e, like the Chevrolet Bolt EV it shares its DNA with, would have a tough time out performing the race-prepared cars on a full-blown drag strip. But for the purposes of this ad, GM’s European arm focused on the Ampera-e’s performance over the first 30 meters (98 feet). And in that situation, the Ampera-e easily won over its gasoline-powered siblings, finishing a good two car lengths in front of the Opel Astra TCR, nearly three car lengths above the Opel Adam R2, and nearly four car lengths in front of the slowest car, the Opel Insignia OPC.

Finishing with the simple message “Fun to Drive!” the ad fades to black and leaves the viewer to make up their own conclusions about the future of the electric-powered city car, presumably leaving no doubt in the mind of the reader that if straight line stoplight acceleration around town is your thing, then the Opel Ampera-e is for you.

We'll see the production Ampera-e in Paris later this month.

We’ll see the production Ampera-e in Paris later this month.

How did a production electric car with a top speed of 93 mph win so dramatically? The answer of course is that the Opel Ampera-e uses the same 150 kilowatt motor found in the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which produces 266 pound-feet of torque from standstill and can accelerate from 0-31 mph in 3.2 seconds.

Admittedly, that’s slower than the Tesla Model S (the highest-performance Tesla Model S P100D takes 2.5 seconds to hit twice that speed) but when it comes to mass-market, affordable production electric cars, the Bolt EV — and the Ampera-e — should be fast enough for most consumers.

What’s also curious here is that this video has been released ahead of the official reveal of the 2017 Opel Ampera-e at the Paris Motor Show later this month. Since the general shape of the Opel Ampera-e is known (it will share the majority of its body panels with the Bolt EV) we suspect Opel’s decision to highlight the Ampera-e’s performance is intended to get as many people to Paris as possible to see its first long-range electric car.

What we don’t know yet of course, is what the price and final specifications for European customers will be. When we do, we’ll share it with you here.

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  • Surya

    It’s a pretty effective ad. And apart from the name of the car, it doesn’t even say it’s electric.

    I’m looking forward to driving the car, but I’m afraid that in Europe it will be a bit expensive (not sub €30k at all, not even close) and I don’t like that it has the Opel badge. Not the brand with the best reputation.

    • Martin Lacey

      What makes you think it won’t be sub €30k? Do you have media reports backing this claim?

      $37,500 is €33,387 in today’s money before incentives and dealership discounts. Not much more than the list price on a Nissan Leaf 30kWH.

      • Surya

        The reason? Well, for starters, that $37.500 is excluding VAT. Not only does Europe have higher VATs, but it’s always included in the sticker price. In Belgium, we have 21% VAT.
        Also, not all countries have incentives, and most of them are way lower than the $7500 from the US.
        Plus, I think they’ll slap on the usual import costs.

        The Ampera (1st gen Volt) was about €46000 in Belgium, and the result was that no one bought it. That’s just WAY too much for that car.

        I hope they don’t add on too many extras, but with the high VAT and lower incentives, I can’t see them matching that sub €30k in Europe as they are advertising in the US.

        • Martin Lacey

          That’s the price we pay in maintaining our high pay and state benefits…. Import taxes and VAT.

          I’ll remind you about those when the rest of Europe fucksup the UK over Brexit.

          • Surya

            I don’t mind paying taxes. I know they are useful (if put to good use, that’s an other discussion), so no need to remind me about that.
            But the result is that the car might not be competitively priced, and it needs to be or it will flop.

          • Martin Lacey

            In some respects you’re quite right. However parity on purchase puts EV’s in the much cheaper category, when considering whole life cost. The Bolt should prove to be cheaper than a similar ICE car over a 10 year span…. 5 years would probably prove to be the break even point.

            For example my last car was an ICE: £5k purchase, 7.25 years running costs £22k Total spend £27k. Engine failure made for uneconomical repair, so donated to local college. Annualised cost of ownership £3.7K

            My current car (2014 Leaf 24kWH) £10k purchase (includes 2 years free servicing). 1 months electricity £2.75 (most charging is free at the Nissan dealership fast charger). Anticipated cost over 2 years (assuming new tyres, £10 PCM on electricity, insurance, wiper blades and window solutions) around £2k. Resale value £7k conservative. Annualised cost of ownership £2.5K

            As I’m self employed I can improve on those figures, but kept it simple for this discussion.

          • Surya

            You are right of course, but once you already have an EV (like both of us) the high purchase cost might keep us from buying one. After all, while we probably both would appreciate more range, we have learned to work with our range limitations and might not want to pay that high a premium.

  • KIMS

    A more relevant comparison would be to the Tesla Model 3 and its planned “less than 6s to 60mph” (vs the Opel “7s to 60” given in the article, presumably the 60 in question is mph as well?). With that comparison, there is no need to talk about how the Tesla is vastly more expensive and not mass-market. 🙂

    • Martin Lacey

      Tesla Model 3 – base model price (still capable of 0-60 in under six seconds) $35,000 BEFORE incentives.
      Chevy Bolt $37,500 BEFORE incentives.

      Tesla model 3 is cheaper, faster, Supercharger enabled, Autopilot enabled (including crash avoidance as standard) and more desirable in just about every conceivable way!

      • KIMS

        You’re speaking to someone who drove 3 hours to stand in-line at a mall from 5:20am the day of the release. 😉

        I just figured that comparing the Opel to Model 3 makes more sense than to the Model S. 🙂

        • Martin Lacey

          Work prevented me from doing the same, so I got up one hour before launch (03.30 my time) and reserved on line 🙂

          You ended your original comment “there is no need to talk about how the Tesla is vastly more expensive and not mass-market. :)” Which is an inference to the S/X. The Model 3 will be cheaper and also mass produced!

          • KIMS

            I guess my original post was that confusing?
            -Basically we agree with each other, you just missed the opening of my original post “A more relevant comparison would be to the Tesla Model 3” and the first part of the last sentence my intent was to reflect back on the first sentence “With that comparison [to the Model 3 I was talking about], there is no need [in the original article] to talk about how the Tesla is vastly more expensive and not mass-market.”

            Basically, if the original article had compared it to the Model 3, then they would not have had to talk about how their comparison was unfair/bad due to cost difference etc. 😛

            Anyway, its all good. Sorry for all the noise, I’m just a happy typer’.

          • Martin Lacey

            It’s all good. Happy typers always preferred!

  • Chris O

    yes, speed sells. That’s why Bolt won’t, because the charging speeds just isn’t there. Regular charging takes nine hours and quick charging isn’t even mentioned on the Bolt website making some observers wonder how serious GM really is about selling the Bolt:

    http://insideevs.com/a-tale-of-9-hours-does-gm-really-want-to-sell-the-chevy-bolt/

  • Rob

    You are all fools if you thing that the Tesla Model 3 will be cheaper when compared feature to feature with an GM Ampera/Bolt. You are also foolish to think it will be mass produced on time. Tesla has great products but has failed to show any ability to execute. The major auto makers will bury Tesla in mass produced vehicles in the future.

    • Pinewold

      1) Let’s try… Feature #1 Nationwide super charging network? Bolt…? Tesla wins!
      2) You are foolish if you think that Model 3 reservation holders are not willing to wait. We have waited 8 years, what is a couple more.
      3) After 8 years there is still zero competition from the major auto companies. The earliest competition is at least two years away (Bolt has no national network so not real competition). VW will eventually build a national network if they follow through on dieselgate pledge. It will take two years minimum to build the network. If the network is based on current CCS 50kW chargers, charging would take twice as long.

      The true shame is that Tesla is so far ahead, they can afford to be late because nobody else is in the race. Your future is an alternate reality that is very unlikely!

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