Chevrolet will start selling the Volt range-extender hybrid from European Chevy outlets in November 2011 and plans right-hand drive from UK launch in spring 2012.
It means that GM will offer Europeans the choice of the Volt or the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera – the Euro spec version of the same car.
Although prices are not yet set for either model, CAR understands the Chevy is likely to be positioned slightly cheaper than the Vauxhall. Sadly it’s not as simple as taking the US price and converting it; that would point to a UK list price for the Volt of £25,500. The Ampera will cost £28,995 after the Government's £5000 subsidy.
‘It will be a higher price product,’ said Wayne Brannon, president of Chevrolet Europe. ‘The Volt will be restricted in terms of volume for some time. It will be a small number of cars for 2012 and we will not sell an impressive number – but it will gain credibility for the Chevrolet brand over here.’
Where can I buy my Chevrolet Volt in the UK?
Brannon said that the Volt would be sold from around just 50 of the existing Chevrolet dealerships across Europe, with just a handful in the UK rather than at all 150 showrooms.
Sales are likely to focus around the larger metropolitan conurbations, such as London, Birmingham and Manchester. ‘That’s where the early adopters and people who drive low-mileage commutes of 40 miles or less are most likely to live,’ said Brannon.
Chevrolet is undertaking a European pricing study at the moment and will announce the European cost for the Volt at the 2011 Geneva motor show.
Chevrolet Volt: the background
There’s a buzz around the so-called range-extender hybrids, as they bridge the gap between full electric cars and hybrids. They remove ‘range anxiety’ as the battery will never go flat in day-to-day driving; the on-board internal combustion engine is used primarily as a recharger to top up the battery, rather than to turn the wheels.
That brings many advantages, and owners who use the car to commute short distances and plug in the Volt overnight to charge may have to fill up with petrol only once a year. However, it also means that they are lugging around a heavy and compromised combustion engine in what is essentially an electric car.