Yesterday it was reported that GM-owned Opel/Vauxhall is looking for someone to share development costs for more gasoline-electric cars.
This makes the second American-owned company looking to partner with a potential competitor learned about this week.
A few days ago we reported that Ford and Toyota have teamed up to build hybrid powertrains for light duty trucks.
One specific looming incentive for the U.S Ford-Toyota deal is pending CAFE rules that by 2025 will mandate a “54.5 mpg” standard (equal to around 40 mpg on the window sticker).
In Opel’s case, the motivation to partner is essentially the same as it is between Ford and
Toyota, but on a different continent, and considering different legislated mandates.
Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke was reported as saying European law insists by 2020 carmakers’ offerings must emit no more than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer.
“Hybrid technology is becoming increasingly more important. We are not holding any concrete talks but a cooperation would be certainly a good way to cut costs,” Stracke said.
So, as Ford and Toyota are doing to stay ahead of the curve, so would Opel/Vauxhall like to do if the right deal could be found.
“We need hybrid technology starting with compact cars and upwards,” Stracke said.
Opel will begin selling the U.S.-made Ampera in November for a pre-grant price of 42,900 euros As we previously reported, the vehicle is already well on its way toward being pre-sold for 10,000 initial units, and the company would like GM to cut loose some more.
“Maybe we even hit 12,000 or more,” Stracke said.
One advantage Europeans have that facilitates acceptance for plug-in vehicles is that ordinary household electric current is 230 volts, instead of the 120 found in the U.S.
This means recharging with the included charger will replenish a Volt/Ampera’s 16-kwh battery in under three hours, according to Vauxhall (see video).
Note he calls the Apera a “pure electric vehicle.” That’s a bit more bold than trying to call it an “extended-range electric vehicle.”
How well the Ampera (and European Volt) does sales-wise will determine whether Opel and Vauxhall move forward to begin assembly in Europe and the UK.
“We need a business case for maybe 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 vehicles a year, then maybe it makes sense to locally manufacturer it on the Continent or even in the UK,” Stracke said.
In the mean time, Opel/Vauxhall is weighing all options, including doing a deal like Ford and Toyota are working toward and which appears well underway toward settling.