GM’s Opel Division Shows off Ampera; Europe’s Chevy Volt

By dancurranjr On March 9th, 2009

opel-amperaUntil recently, it appeared that almost any new Opel product would be considered for North American consumption through General Motors’ Saturn division, but with Saturn in a holding pattern until its brand executives, its dealer group and potential investors come up with a plan to keep it alive, and Opel restructuring to become more independent, it’s impossible to even guess at what the future might hold.

Something like the Ampera, however, would go a long way in boosting the domestic brand’s fortunes. Saturn already has GM’s only compact HEV, the Vue Hybrid, and will soon offer the brand’s first plug-in hybrid based on the same model, but the Ampera takes its lead from an entirely new kind of hybrid electric vehicle, Chevy’s Volt.

A series hybrid designed to use electricity as its primary driving force and an internal combustion engine for recharging the battery pack before depletion, the Volt and new Ampera are “reverse hybrids”, so to speak; while some HEVs, like Toyota’s Prius, can run on electric propulsion alone, these hybrids use electric power to assist the conventional drivetrain.

The Ampera, unveiled at the Geneva Auto Salon, looks like a tear-stained version of the Volt. If you think that Opel went all the way with the Ampera’s design compared to the more conservatively penned Volt, you’re not alone. The Ampera has a shape that immediately separates it from the conventional pack, and lets anyone who sees it know that it’s futuristic, and probably environmentally friendly. If built, the Ampera will be one of the cleanest, greenest cars on the planet, definitely living up to its otherworldly styling.

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