Vauxhall and sister firm Opel appear to be testing an electrified version of their Meriva MPV – and these are the first spy photos of the hush-hush Meriva EV project.
Taken in Europe on Tuesday 14 September, the battery-powered Meriva has electric charge points and our observers spotted the car while engineers were topping up the batteries. They also confirmed paperwork in the cabin confirming it was an EV prototype. The big question now is, will the eco Meriva be pure electric or a plug-in hybrid system like the Volt…
And now the denial
Since we first published the spy photos, a senior GM spokesman distanced Vauxhall and Opel from the project. ‘I can categorically say there are no plans for an electric Meriva of any sort,’ he told us, rather robustly.
Which leaves us wondering what on earth a Russelsheim registered, GM-staffed prototype would be doing out there on test. One answer could be that a third party is developing an electric Meriva, or using its hardware as a testbed. In which case a supplier partner, such as Bosch or electric motor specialist Brusa, could have teamed up with GM Europe and be testing such a car.
An electric Meriva. Now that’s my sort of EV!
Whatever the politics, the practical Meriva would lend itself well to electrification, with its capacious boot and foldaway seats. No wacky Leaf or Renault oddball styling here; just a plain, straightforward Vauxhall MPV which will scare away precisely nobody.
‘It was very quiet on the road, as it drove past,’ said our man with the long lens. ‘It looked at quite an advanced stage of development.’
Couldn’t it be a plug-in hybrid Meriva?
Indeed it could. However, the Meriva is cobbled together with elements of the Astra, Zafira and Corsa architectures, rather than the Delta platform that will underpin the Ampera and Volt. But the Voltec range-extending hybrid system is designed to be scaleable and GM prefers this engineering solution, where the car always runs on electric power; the combustion engine is only ever used to top up the battery charge.
Our spy photographer could have seen a Voltec-equipped car running on EV mode and getting a top-up. We’re not totally sure.
No word yet on when an electric Meriva – prepared by Vauxhall/Opel or a third party – will go on sale, but it’s a youthful model, so GM Europe is clearly taking no chances with missing a growing appetite for electric cars.