GM’s European subsidiary, Opel, has found the going tough in recent years. Struggling with high labor costs in its native country Germany and limited opportunity for expansion against such rivals as Volkswagen and Ford, Opel has finally received some good news, at least on the EV front.
Besides winning the coveted European Car of the Year Award at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, the Opel Ampera, is now doing better than projected on the sales front, with orders having passed the 7,000 mark. According to Opel’s e-mobility launch director Enno Fuchs, “this news shows us that our sales target of 10,000 units for 2012 is well within reach.”
The scenario contrasts with the Ampera’s cousin, the Chevy Volt which has suffered from lower than expected demand in the U.S., not helped by highly publicized battery fire investigations, resulting in the car becoming, what General Motors’ CEO Dan Akerson dubbed “a political punching bag.”
Nonetheless, with GM essentially re-launching the Volt, which includes a plan of meeting demand rather than pegging output to a specific target (like the 10,000 units originally projected last year), the company has ordered a five-week production shutdown of both the Ampera and Volt to “maintain our proper inventory levels,” according to a company spokesman.
The closure was mainly due to U.S. issues over the Volt, but at this juncture, it appears things for the Ampera are still off to a more positive overall reception.