UPDATED– 3:20 EST
This week Opel announced that the Ampera – its sibling to the Chevy Volt – was Europe’s best-selling electric passenger vehicle with a continent-wide market share of over 20 percent.
The results are a combined total of UK-based Vaxhall-badged Amperas, and the Opel variety, according to Opel’s Christopher Rux, coordinator, product and brand communications Europe.
The Ampera is actually sold in most European countries. In the first quarter of 2012, it went on sale in Germany, Benelux, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands, Rux said. Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, and Norway “will follow shortly after that.”
In April, right-hand drive versions for the UK were introduced and this month, sales begin in Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia.
Opel noted particular examples of regional market dominance, especially in the Netherlands where public sentiment – and government incentives – favor this class of car so much so that Rux said the Ampera even dominated hybrid sales.
“In the Netherlands, we were able to sell not only more Amperas than every other EV, but also more than every hybrid competitor,” he said.
In all, the Ampera took more than 77 percent of the passenger EV market share in May. In a statement, Opel noted this made the Ampera “the undisputed leader of its segment by a wide margin with all the other competitors only managing single figure percentages.”
Further, Opel noted, the average year to date market share for the Ampera in the Netherlands was more than 50 percent, “underscoring its continuing popularity there.”
“We are proud that we are the number one in Europe. Our sales data and customer feedback confirms that we are definitely on the right track with the Ampera”, said Enno Fuchs, Opel’s e-mobility launch director in the statement. “Especially in markets with governmental incentives like the Netherlands we have performed very well.”
Then again, you can interpret Netherlands dominance for what it’s worth, as the Netherlands has apparently stacked the deck in a way American EV advocates could only wish for. The Netherlands also happens to stringently tax gas guzzling luxury cars to such a sales-numbing degree, that American start-up Fisker’s extended-range electric – thus guzzler tax exempt – Karma was the Netherlands’ second-highest selling luxury sedan in May. Due to the pro-EV economic climate there, it was able to beat established offerings including the BMW 7-Series, Mercedes S-Class, Audi R8, and only being topped by the Porsche Panamera.
But the Netherlands was not the only place the Opel Ampera did well on a percentage basis. It was also the best-selling EV in Germany with a share of more than 33 percent in May, and in Switzerland it took 44 percent.
The sales are the result of Opel/Vauxhall opening up the pre-ordering process all the way back in July 2011. The car could exceed its 10,000 unit allocation this year, thus possibly besting the U.S.-based Volt in its first year of sales, although Rux said more benignly that “we expect sales to land between 7,000-10,000 units in 2012.”
In any case, its achievements will potentially be made in less than a full selling year. Customer deliveries did not start until the end of February, and as mentioned, the Ampera was only just launched in some markets more recently.
“From January (the majority of deliveries and registrations began end of February) to May 2012, around 2,300 Opel/Vauxhall Amperas have been registered in total Europe,” said Rux, “which makes us the clear #1 selling electric passenger car in Europe and the numbers are continuously increasing, as there were in Jan-Mar 982, in April 499 and in May 803 registered Amperas.”
Rux also clarified which vehicles Opel/Vauxhall measured the Ampera against in determining its measure of success.
“We compared our Opel Ampera with the entire European electric passenger vehicle segment,” he said. “The major competitors of the Ampera within this entire segment are Nissan Leaf, Bollore Bluecar, Renault Fluence, Peugeot iOn, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Citroen C-Zero, MIA electric, smart fortwo ed, Chevy Volt and Tesla Roadster.”
With the exception of the anomaly in the Netherlands, Opel/Vauxhall did not compare to hybrid or commercial electric vehicles.
General Motor’s sibling to the Volt has also racked up more than 50 national and international awards and overall, this latest news is all just reinforcement for what we’ve been hearing since last fall as GM was preparing for this year’s European launch of Amperas and Volts.
We don’t know if GM will supply more Amperas if demand proves it warranted, but it appears likely, based on Rux’s response to a question of whether they will get more Amperas if they sell through the first year supply of 10,000?
“Why certainly! But we always said that 10,000 is our goal,” he said.
Also noteworthy is the Ampera has seemingly escaped the greater brunt of antagonism faced by its American counterpart. Here, the Volt has had to bypass a public relations gauntlet in the form of politicized arguments against its subsidization or very existence, not to mention a partisan and over-blown federal battery investigation and occasional unique spinning of other facts besides.
As is the case for the 2013 American-market Volt, Opel/Vauxhall expects to have 2013 model year Amperas generally available for customer order by August, with some countries not receiving the updated model until October.