You may have seen other estimates in your searches, but we finally heard back from Opel which counts just around 700 Amperas registered in the month of June.

"Sorry for not getting back to you earlier but I was still waiting for the most actual Ampera numbers," said Opel spokesman Chris Rux from Europe yesterday. "Including June we can see almost 3,000 registered Amperas in Europe, so this means there were around 700 Amperas registered in Europe in June."



 

If you'll recall, Ampera sales numbers are a combined total of UK-based Vauxhall-badged Amperas, and the European Opel variety. The Ampera is 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, adding sales in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, and Norway “will follow shortly,” Rux said previously.

In April, right-hand drive versions for the UK were introduced and last month, sales begin in Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia.

Rux added that customer deliveries did not start until the end of February, "so basically these figures are more or less based on March, including June 2012."

I sent off a number of follow-up questions – including whether n exact count could be determined – but Europe being hours ahead, and separated by an ocean, Rux has not replied, but this is what was said for the car that in May was Europe's top selling electric car .

If I get more, I'll update this, but while we're talking about Opel, I'll note GM has bigger fish to fry – or profitability to try and regain – and as good as it is, the Ampera by itself is not likely to right Opel's upside-down balance sheet.

Automotive News observed this week GM has suffered losses with its European division since Y2k, and now $12.4 billion in losses have accumulated.

In just the past three years, since GM's emerging from bankruptcy, Opel has lost $3.5 billion, blamed in part on a continually shrinking European auto market, excessive fixed costs "and an image that GM has helped bring low," Automotive News said.

On July 12, Opel issued a press release that GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, 50, will serve as interim head of European operations as the company seeks to restructure.

"GM Europe President and Opel/Vauxhall CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke today stepped down from his position to take on special assignments reporting to GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson," said Opel.

Akerson credited the man that Girsky is now replacing with doing as good a job as possible.

“Karl Stracke worked tirelessly, under great pressure, to stabilize this business and we look forward to building on his success. We appreciate Karl’s many contributions to GM’s success,” said Akerson.

Meanwhile, Girsky must take an ax to Opel, offered Automotive News.

Further barriers to overcome include a European culture skewed toward job protection, over capacity at Opel, excessive production costs, developing a pricing strategy that doesn't compete with Chevrolet, and perhaps, Automotive News said, GM can hope to save money in its recent alliance with PSA Peugeot Citreon.

Girsky was already chairman of Opel's supervisory board since November, and will reportedly take the helm for several months while Opel looks for a new CEO, having gone through three of them in as many years.

"He certainly is an ideal candidate to fill that post, at least in the interim," said Mike Wall, an analyst with IHS Automotive, of Girsky. "He's about as well steeped in the issues that GM is facing as anybody in the organization. Having him in there for now is probably the best thing they can do because the concerns facing GM in Europe right now are significant."

Girsky, formerly a Wall Street auto analyst, was called in a Wall Street Journal headline this year "Mr. Fix-it" and he now gets to prove he was right in 2009 when he said GM should keep Opel for its strategic importance, and along with CEO Dan Akerson, urged GM away from selling Opel to Magna International.

Sticking with the fixing it theme, in June this year, he reportedly said at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Leadership Conference that Opel must become more fully integrated with GM to help it return to profitability.

"We're going to do what it takes to fix this," Girsky said at Wharton. "And it's important. Opel's a critical part of GM, and frankly we need to make them more a part of GM."

But observers further note that Girsky will have his work cut out for him, and industry analysts are openly wondering whether the "drowning" Opel division can be made to swim again.

Automotive News (subscription req'd)