When Chevrolet’s Bolt EV was unveiled, there was one question on the lips of most Europeans (and anyone outside of the US for that matter); when will the Bolt come to our shores? The question was largely ignored and only answered with cautious Chevrolet representatives who clearly were none the wiser about what the people upstairs were plotting.
Now, Opel (and likely Vauxhall and other GM owned brands) will get the Bolt in a rebranded suit; the Ampera-e. Slated to arrive as soon as 2017, the Bolt EV may have the oomph required to put Opel (and Vauxhall) on the electric car map for the first time. Their popular Chevrolet Volt (Vauxhall Ampera) was met with equal unpopularity at the notion the new version would not be brought over to Europe, but that too now seems questionable and unlikely to be true – but that’s another story. However, the point is GM are being extremely coy about where exactly the Bolt/Ampera-e will be sold and whether there ever will be a right hand drive variant made. Time will, of course, tell but we’re sadly going to have to keep waiting a wee bit longer.
The Ampera-e will not only have a longer range on a full charge than most current electric cars (around 200 miles), but it will also be, “affordably priced”. Announcing the Ampera-e at the CAR Symposium in Bochum, Germany, GM Chairman & CEO Mary Barra said,
“GM and Opel have always been convinced that electric cars will play a defining role in future mobility. The game-changing technology of the Ampera-e is a significant step toward realizing that vision. Our new battery electric car is also another boost for Opel’s reputation for making innovative engineering widely accessible.”
Opel group CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, says,
“Electric vehicles have the potential to make a significant contribution to climate protection and emissions reduction. The new Opel Ampera-e will open the road to electric mobility by breaking down the barriers of high price and short driving range.”
The Ampera-e will offer the award-winning personal connectivity and service assistant, Opel OnStar and connectivity and infotainment technologies that will integrate smartphones and other electronic devices seamlessly into the vehicle.
Is it unreasonable to wish for GM to make the Bolt/Ampera-e into a right hand drive car? Yes and no. On the one hand, while electric car sales are still relatively low, the return on investment would arguably be low no matter how many cars you sell. Adding to development costs by making the car right hand drive is – perhaps – deemed as a step too far for the firm to make… yet. Right hand drive nations account for a mere fraction compared to left-hand drive countries – mostly islands (including Japan and Australia), India and some parts of southern Africa. Arguably those markets are not where a huge amount of interest will be found for GM’s new electric car.
Nonetheless, the UK market has proved relatively open to the idea and notion that electric cars are a suitable solution to our motoring needs and it is a crying shame we’ve been left out the loop once again.