There had been reports not many weeks ago that General Motors was holding back European deliveries of the Opel Ampera until issues in North America surrounding its sister vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt, were resolved.
Well, the reports of a federal investigation into battery safety were settled, and last week Opel announced customer deliveries have begun of the extended-range electric vehicle.
The company says it is approaching 6,000 European orders, is well on track in its (conservative first-year) sales goals, and is taking sales away from premium brands.
“Our first deliveries are running smoothly and I’m pleased to confirm that our sales target of 10,000 units for 2012 is on track,” said Enno Fuchs, Opel’s e-mobility launch director. “We’re very happy that our European customers can now drive our revolutionary Ampera.”
Opel is apparently also happy that sales of the Ampera represent a “premium brand conquest” as clients transfer loyalties to the American-produced, environmentally friendly vehicle.
“The majority of Ampera retail customers previously owned top premium brand cars and are making the switch to the Ampera and Opel because they want to be the first to use such cutting-edge technology,” Opel said.
A similar phenomenon occurred last year among high per-capita earning first adopters of the Volt in the U.S., but in Europe, Opel notes the majority of Ampera clients have been fleet or business customers.
Last August, Opel chief Nick Reilly said he was already hoping to be allowed to import more than only 10,000 units in 2012, and that around 75 percent of Ampera pre-order customers were fleet buyers. This latter assertion Opel reiterated this month, mentioning some of its top fleet accounts.
“These include big names such as Lease Plan, ALD and Europcar,” Opel said. “A number of big global brands have placed orders and further showcase their environmental commitment by having Amperas in their fleet.”
For now the vehicles are being imported from GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, although if success continues, GM is looking to produce Opel and similar Vauxhall-badged Amperas and Chevy Volts closer to their point of consumption.