Opel Ampera concept car (2009) first photos

Published: 27 January 2009

Vauxhall/Opel today announced the new Ampera concept car – a European version of the Volt petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. The Ampera will be the big news for GM’s European arm at the 2009 Geneva motor show (assuming GM is still in business by then, of course).

The Ampera is designed around GM’s newly christened Voltec plug-in hybrid technology. It uses a range-extender in addition to an internal combustion engine; the car will always run on electric power, but once the lithium-ion batteries are depleted, the motor starts up to recharge the cells rather than drive the wheels.

Opel Ampera: first photos

Just one photo of the Ampera has been issued today, and it looks to share plenty of styling details with the Flexstreme concept car. More details will be available at the Geneva show on 3 March 2009.

'With the Ampera, Opel will be the first European automobile manufacturer to provide customers several hundred kilometres of non-stop electic driving,' said Alain Visser, GM Europe’s marketing chief.

Opel says that the majority of journeys in Europe will be completed under electric power; it claims that 80% of German drivers travel less than 30 miles a day. The Ampera can run on electric-only power for 40 miles.

It can be plugged in to a standard 230v power outlet. The Voltec system is based around GM's Delta platform that will underpin the new 2009 Opel/Vauxhall Astra. And the company is deadly serious about producing it – it's just a question of how it will be marketed. GM could present it as a standalone model – think unique Prius style vehicle, perhaps badged Ampera – or as a version of the new Astra.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet