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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all!

I've been living abroad in Spain for the last two years and I've decided that I want to stay here more mid- to long-term. I have a stock 2013 Volt waiting back in the states that my father has been using a couple of times a month. I know the history of my Volt, and even though the Volt was sold in Europe (as both the Volt and Ampera models), it is considerably more expensive and I would lose a considerable amount of money selling my Volt and buying another one in Europe (Volts/Amperas similar to mine sell for around 14,000€ ). With that in mind, I've been investigating importing my Volt to Europe, but before I begin the process, I have some technical concerns regarding what it will need.

My plan is to go back to the States in the next couple of months to visit and also give the Volt a full makeover. Replace all maintenance items, change out the struts and other wear itetms, make everything perfect, etc. This shouldn't be an issue as I usually do my own repairs. I don't want to have to do repairs here for a while if I can avoid it.

My concerns are with getting the Volt to pass European inspections. Europe requires rear turn signals to be amber instead of red (as it is on the North American Volt). In addition, a rear red fog light is needed. I've seen a couple of Volts around here and it seems that they have the fog light integrated into the center backup light (see picture) and I am assuming that they have different brake lights that are amber instead of red. I'm assuming these items would be swappable (plug-and-play), and my idea was to purchase the European parts here (tail lights and fog light assembly plus EU license plate mount for the front), bring it to the states with me, and install them myself. Afterwards, have a shipping company assist with the legalities of importing a car from the US to Europe (I don't believe there is anything Volt-specific with this).

Is there anything obvious I'm missing with this plan? I'm still trying to find a place to source the tail lights here (maybe a junkyard?) If anyone in Europe is familiar with where to order these kinds of parts, I'd really appreciate it!
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I would be afraid of spending money on shipping an old car like that. I have a 2012 that the battery is bad and no new battery's are being manufactured. GM discontinued the battery sections and as far as I have seen section 3 is where they fail so getting a good used one with a good section 3 seems like a long shot at best. It looks like as soon as they are out of warranty GM pulls the plug on replacement parts. The chemistry has changed with new models and the old ones are unsupported as it looks to me. Just wouldn't want to see you ship a car that is basically non-repairable with new parts as it looks to me now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's a good point... It's a calculated risk.

My main reasoning for bringing it is that the car is paid off and I know its history, and it would cost me about $2000 to ship the car and have it registered here. For the same $2000, I can't really get anything comparable on this side of the Atlantic. Used Renault Zoes cost around 12,000€ and I want to avoid used leafs (leaves?) like the plague with how hot it gets here.

Where I'm at (Madrid), EVs and PHEVs get a special blue sticker on the windshield that lets them drive downtown for free and enjoy other perks. Also, gasoline in my town is currently 1.46€ per liter, which comes out to $6.56 per gallon. The savings would add up pretty quickly, so if the Volt fails after a few years, I would have probably gotten my money's worth.

For $2000 I can buy an early 2000s Renault Twingo, or bring the Volt over and hope all goes well. The Volt was sold here (albeit not in large numbers), and my understanding is that the Opel dealers here would be able to source parts as needed (otherwise I have family in the states that can ship them). Are battery failures that common? I thought the chemistry was changed for the 2013 model year.
 

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That's a good point... It's a calculated risk.

My main reasoning for bringing it is that the car is paid off and I know its history, and it would cost me about $2000 to ship the car and have it registered here. For the same $2000, I can't really get anything comparable on this side of the Atlantic. Used Renault Zoes cost around 12,000€ and I want to avoid used leafs (leaves?) like the plague with how hot it gets here.

Where I'm at (Madrid), EVs and PHEVs get a special blue sticker on the windshield that lets them drive downtown for free and enjoy other perks. Also, gasoline in my town is currently 1.46€ per liter, which comes out to $6.56 per gallon. The savings would add up pretty quickly, so if the Volt fails after a few years, I would have probably gotten my money's worth.

For $2000 I can buy an early 2000s Renault Twingo, or bring the Volt over and hope all goes well. The Volt was sold here (albeit not in large numbers), and my understanding is that the Opel dealers here would be able to source parts as needed (otherwise I have family in the states that can ship them). Are battery failures that common? I thought the chemistry was changed for the 2013 model year.
I believe the chemistry was changed for the 2013 but that doesn't mean that GM is going to keep selling service parts for it. That battery is no longer produced for production of new cars so I would bet they will stop selling that one also. Why not sell the Volt where it is, still moving like it should and take the money and the $2,000 you would spend on shipping and buy something that is not such a gamble. I live in Michigan and I can not find affordable replacement parts for mine. GM wants $12,000 for a replacement battery for mine and it is a "refurbished" one made out of used parts from other sections that have failed once already as far as I can tell. Any Toyotas around? The Prius batteries are serviceable like they should be.
 

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My advice? Sell the Volt and buy something in Spain (not a Volt/Ampera). There are three big issues. The cost and hassle of shipping. The cost and hassle to make it road legal. And the cost and hassle when it needs repair, and it will need repairs, just like any 8 year old car will. Heck, it's hard to get parts and service in the USA for the Volt. It's a dead end car. Used car prices (even for the Volt) are the highest they will ever be here in the USA. Take advantage of that while you can and sell it.
 

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Works fine and can be serviced in Opel dealers. Any Opel dealer can get the EU spec parts.

Change the bulbs to orange (e.g. my Ford got clear turn signals with orange bulbs). Brake lights are red in here.

You'll lose sat nav maps and radio.

Prepare to purchase Mennekes-J1772 adapter cable for public charging and new Schuko-J1772 cable for home charging. Law & insurance most likely won't permit Schuko-US outlet adapter for using the included charger (most likely it works if you just change the lead and convert it to 230V)

Don't take this as given. Best is to go ask GM Europe/Opel dealer for proper information.

Would advice you to sell yours in US and buy EU spec on site. Might be few k's cheaper ordeal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I believe the chemistry was changed for the 2013 but that doesn't mean that GM is going to keep selling service parts for it. That battery is no longer produced for production of new cars so I would bet they will stop selling that one also. Why not sell the Volt where it is, still moving like it should and take the money and the $2,000 you would spend on shipping and buy something that is not such a gamble. I live in Michigan and I can not find affordable replacement parts for mine. GM wants $12,000 for a replacement battery for mine and it is a "refurbished" one made out of used parts from other sections that have failed once already as far as I can tell. Any Toyotas around? The Prius batteries are serviceable like they should be.
I agree with you that if the battery died, the car is done for no matter where it is. There are Toyota Priuses (Prii?) around here, but only newer models. I assume that the heat here kills their batteries faster. The Volt uses liquid cooling for the battery, and I have access to an underground garage where the temperature is more moderate.

Is it that common for the batteries to be going out like that? I've been offline for a while, but from a couple of years back the general consensus was that the vast majority of Volt batteries have 0 issues.

The 1st gen Volt was built off the Cruze platform, and being that the Cruze was a global platform, it is very easy for me to source suspension components, brakes, etc.

My advice? Sell the Volt and buy something in Spain (not a Volt/Ampera). There are three big issues. The cost and hassle of shipping. The cost and hassle to make it road legal. And the cost and hassle when it needs repair, and it will need repairs, just like any 8 year old car will. Heck, it's hard to get parts and service in the USA for the Volt. It's a dead end car. Used car prices (even for the Volt) are the highest they will ever be here in the USA. Take advantage of that while you can and sell it.
Yes, the shipping and legality is a bit of a hassle, but I've dealt with European beaurocracy enough to know what I'm up against. If I were to bring it here, I'd take the time to do it right and fix everything on it that could need fixing in the next few years (new control arms, ball joints, struts, etc.) Rock Auto has most of those wear items, as they're the same for the Cruze. The powertrain on Volts seems to be quite robust based on my own experience and that of others.

Opel dealers in Europe continue to support GM products, even though Opel is no longer part of GM. My understanding is that, being that this model was sold in Europe, an Opel dealer will be able to source things as needed. If things are ridiculously expensive, I have family in the US that can source it from a Chevy dealer and mail it to me.

My main reason for going this route is that even though I'd spend roughly $2500-$3000 getting the car up to snuff and shipped over here, I have local access to free charging at a few grocery stores within walking distance plus at my work. I can do 100% of my day-to-day driving on electric and use gas if I want to take a weekend trip farther away. With gas at the equivalent of $6.50 a gallon, plus strict emissions testing and limited access zones on any conventional gas vehicle, it wouldn't take me long to recoup that money in savings. Plus, I simply like the car and I would like to keep it as long as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Works fine and can be serviced in Opel dealers. Any Opel dealer can get the EU spec parts.

Change the bulbs to orange (e.g. my Ford got clear turn signals with orange bulbs). Brake lights are red in here.

You'll lose sat nav maps and radio.

Prepare to purchase Mennekes-J1772 adapter cable for public charging and new Schuko-J1772 cable for home charging. Law & insurance most likely won't permit Schuko-US outlet adapter for using the included charger (most likely it works if you just change the lead and convert it to 230V)

Don't take this as given. Best is to go ask GM Europe/Opel dealer for proper information.

Would advice you to sell yours in US and buy EU spec on site. Might be few k's cheaper ordeal.
That was my assumption... Any Opel dealer would be able to source me parts as if it were a Chevrolet dealer in the States.

I never had sat nav, and I used my phone for music with bluetooth and Spotify, so I'm not missing much there.

The Mennekes to J1772 adapter seems to be all I'll need. I'm not read to set up a home charger yet (living in an apartment), but when the time comes, I'll just buy a European Mennekes EVSE and continue to use the adapter with it. I wouldn't bother with the US style plug with an adapter; I wouldn't trust it to carry 3 kw continuously.

As to whether or not it would be cheaper, I don't think so. I bought my Volt for $10,000 even in 2017. Currently here they're priced at around 11,000 euros ($13,000 USD) and up. The Amperas from 2012 can go up to around 15,000 euros ($17,000 USD). Even assuming I could sell the Volt for the $10,000 I originally paid for it, I'd be cutting it close in terms of cost savings. The car is already paid off and everything, I'd just be paying to preemptively replace the wear items, ship it, and make it legal.



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As to whether or not it would be cheaper, I don't think so. I bought my Volt for $10,000 even in 2017. Currently here they're priced at around 11,000 euros ($13,000 USD) and up. The Amperas from 2012 can go up to around 15,000 euros ($17,000 USD). Even assuming I could sell the Volt for the $10,000 I originally paid for it, I'd be cutting it close in terms of cost savings. The car is already paid off and everything, I'd just be paying to preemptively replace the wear items, ship it, and make it legal.
This might help / deter..


shipping & handling (~1000€)
10% duty (calculated from similar cars, so ~1000€)
21% VAT (calculated from similar cars, so ~2000€)
+ co2 tax (prolly zero for Volt)

So extra 4k€ (5k$) and it's again yours.
 

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Why not just source an Opel Ampera in Europe? It'll already be there then, and street legal as is basically.
 

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Having spent some time in Europe, if it were me, I'd get a Renault Zoe or another inexpensive BEV for around town and take the train for longer trips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Why not just source an Opel Ampera in Europe? It'll already be there then, and street legal as is basically.
Moreso for the price... They are expensive here (between $13000 and $17000 for a 2012), and I know the full maintenance history of mine already. I know it would be arriving in Europe in absolutely perfect condition mechanically. I won't deny that there is a sentimental aspect as well. I've been on many adventures with mine so far and I see no reason to stop.

Having spent some time in Europe, if it were me, I'd get a Renault Zoe or another inexpensive BEV for around town and take the train for longer trips.
That could be an option... I've actually been meaning to test drive one. We have several ride-sharing services here and I've been trying out different vehicles one by one. So far I've tried the Kia Niro PHEV (wasn't a fan... Too big for what I need and the transition to hybrid mode is pretty clunky compared to the volt, not to mention a very cheap interior) and a Smart ForTwo EQ (Good little around town car, but more expensive). The Zoe is next on my list. The hard part is finding one without having to rent the battery. The early ones were sold with the condition that you have to "rent" the battery from Renault for 50 euros a month or something.
 

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I agree with you that if the battery died, the car is done for no matter where it is. There are Toyota Priuses (Prii?) around here, but only newer models. I assume that the heat here kills their batteries faster. The Volt uses liquid cooling for the battery, and I have access to an underground garage where the temperature is more moderate.

Is it that common for the batteries to be going out like that? I've been offline for a while, but from a couple of years back the general consensus was that the vast majority of Volt batteries have 0 issues.

The 1st gen Volt was built off the Cruze platform, and being that the Cruze was a global platform, it is very easy for me to source suspension components, brakes, etc.



Yes, the shipping and legality is a bit of a hassle, but I've dealt with European beaurocracy enough to know what I'm up against. If I were to bring it here, I'd take the time to do it right and fix everything on it that could need fixing in the next few years (new control arms, ball joints, struts, etc.) Rock Auto has most of those wear items, as they're the same for the Cruze. The powertrain on Volts seems to be quite robust based on my own experience and that of others.

Opel dealers in Europe continue to support GM products, even though Opel is no longer part of GM. My understanding is that, being that this model was sold in Europe, an Opel dealer will be able to source things as needed. If things are ridiculously expensive, I have family in the US that can source it from a Chevy dealer and mail it to me.

My main reason for going this route is that even though I'd spend roughly $2500-$3000 getting the car up to snuff and shipped over here, I have local access to free charging at a few grocery stores within walking distance plus at my work. I can do 100% of my day-to-day driving on electric and use gas if I want to take a weekend trip farther away. With gas at the equivalent of $6.50 a gallon, plus strict emissions testing and limited access zones on any conventional gas vehicle, it wouldn't take me long to recoup that money in savings. Plus, I simply like the car and I would like to keep it as long as possible.
I'd like to dissuade you of the thought that Cruze and Volt parts are interchangeable...some aren't. As an example, the rear shocks are not (I researched that). I paid $400 to have mine replaced in November, 2020. Similarly, I had a quote to replace the front struts for over $700 including realignment (I didn't have that work done). Running gear have to be able to handle the heavier Volt (3796 lbs vs 3011 - 3475 lbs for the Cruze).

You should reconsider the costs to renew your Volt. To that add the realistic shipping cost and the realistic cost to convert to European standards Subtract that number, plus what you would get from the sale of your Volt, from whichever European car you would otherwise consider buying to compare the true value of getting your Volt to Spain.

Also, consider whether your Volt, being a US model, might not have the same part numbers of European Volts/Amperas. An Opel dealer may not want to work on your car because of that. Also, their diagnostic software may not accept your US Volt. There are too many unknown details, making the thought of importing a bad one.

All in all, as nice as a Volt is to own and drive, I would not import my USA Volt to Europe.
 
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There are parts available on ebay for the rear tail lamps.

They run around $300 shipped to a US address.

The rear fog you could "fake" by adding a toggle switch and run a circuit to the back.
I found the rear fog/reverse lamp on a forum and bought it, and wired it up... (I used a little box to "sense the switch input" and installed an OEM switch to make mine appear more "Ampera-like" i replaced my steering wheel with a heated wheel out of a Sonic LT... That is a different mod, for a different time)

There is a way to wire the Euro Tails into the US Volt by using a couple of relays to trick the "return signal" (tells the computer, BCM, that the blinker is working even though you just removed it from the red light cluster) and you pull the dedicated blinker signals from the mirror circuits. If I remember correctly, it allows you to use the same wires to the tails and make the modification next to the computer...it requires cutting and splicing some wires...


I have not yet done this to my 2011Volt, but it is still on my "things to do" list.

Best of success to your transport efforts.
 

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The yellow rear lights of the european ampera/volt DO NOT work with the american volt ,because the blinking goes through the BCM (body control module) that is different... probably you will have to connect the rear outside mirror yellow blinking light directly to a new "home made" (by you) yellow turning light. I would like to take my fantastic 2014 Volt to Madrid but it will make more sense to get a local ready to go car over there. Tesla, VW, etc have a EV market over there. By the way the $6.5 /gallon of gas is the lovely price to pay the socialistic system in the beautiful Spain.
 

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Hello all!

I've been living abroad in Spain for the last two years and I've decided that I want to stay here more mid- to long-term. I have a stock 2013 Volt waiting back in the states that my father has been using a couple of times a month. I know the history of my Volt, and even though the Volt was sold in Europe (as both the Volt and Ampera models), it is considerably more expensive and I would lose a considerable amount of money selling my Volt and buying another one in Europe (Volts/Amperas similar to mine sell for around 14,000€ ). With that in mind, I've been investigating importing my Volt to Europe, but before I begin the process, I have some technical concerns regarding what it will need.

My plan is to go back to the States in the next couple of months to visit and also give the Volt a full makeover. Replace all maintenance items, change out the struts and other wear itetms, make everything perfect, etc. This shouldn't be an issue as I usually do my own repairs. I don't want to have to do repairs here for a while if I can avoid it.

My concerns are with getting the Volt to pass European inspections. Europe requires rear turn signals to be amber instead of red (as it is on the North American Volt). In addition, a rear red fog light is needed. I've seen a couple of Volts around here and it seems that they have the fog light integrated into the center backup light (see picture) and I am assuming that they have different brake lights that are amber instead of red. I'm assuming these items would be swappable (plug-and-play), and my idea was to purchase the European parts here (tail lights and fog light assembly plus EU license plate mount for the front), bring it to the states with me, and install them myself. Afterwards, have a shipping company assist with the legalities of importing a car from the US to Europe (I don't believe there is anything Volt-specific with this).

Is there anything obvious I'm missing with this plan? I'm still trying to find a place to source the tail lights here (maybe a junkyard?) If anyone in Europe is familiar with where to order these kinds of parts, I'd really appreciate it! View attachment 172579
I'm a Master Technician here in the states and it's a little more in depth than you can imagine. I was truly taken with the appearance of the Vauxhall Ampera so I retrofitted my 2015 with Ampera parts. Surprisingly all of the parts came out of Detroit. The taillights that you'll need won't fit with the Volt rear bumper cover. Also, the body control module controls the taillights and the body controller doesn't like the idea of separate amber turn signals and also wants to light up the turn signals when you hit the brakes. That said, I toyed with the idea of reprogramming the bcm to think that it's an Ampera but I haven't been able to find the software to even try it. Needless to say, I have my old gen 1 taillights in the hatch back area wired into the harness just like factory so I don't get hyperflash on the turn signals, I was able to tie into the factory harness for the parking lights but had to run wires from the bcm to the Ampera turn signals and had to tap into the 3rd brake light to power up the brake lights. This took some doing due to the fact that I still haven't been able to obtain a wiring diagram for an Ampera. ( you might be able to help me with that) Also, I'm not sure how the fog/backup light is supposed to operate, ie: on with parking lights? I didn't need to do that so I really haven't researched it. But..
You will be happy to know that all of the parts came out of Detroit. I believe that I still have a list of part numbers if you’re interested. You can text me at 7195108523 [email protected].
 

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I'm a Master Technician here in the states and it's a little more in depth than you can imagine. I was truly taken with the appearance of the Vauxhall Ampera so I retrofitted my 2015 with Ampera parts. Surprisingly all of the parts came out of Detroit. The taillights that you'll need won't fit with the Volt rear bumper cover. Also, the body control module controls the taillights and the body controller doesn't like the idea of separate amber turn signals and also wants to light up the turn signals when you hit the brakes. That said, I toyed with the idea of reprogramming the bcm to think that it's an Ampera but I haven't been able to find the software to even try it. Needless to say, I have my old gen 1 taillights in the hatch back area wired into the harness just like factory so I don't get hyperflash on the turn signals, I was able to tie into the factory harness for the parking lights but had to run wires from the bcm to the Ampera turn signals and had to tap into the 3rd brake light to power up the brake lights. This took some doing due to the fact that I still haven't been able to obtain a wiring diagram for an Ampera. ( you might be able to help me with that) Also, I'm not sure how the fog/backup light is supposed to operate, ie: on with parking lights? I didn't need to do that so I really haven't researched it. But..
You will be happy to know that all of the parts came out of Detroit. I believe that I still have a list of part numbers if you’re interested. You can text me at 7195108523 [email protected].
Car Vehicle Vehicle registration plate Tire Wheel
 

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This is my little input for what I did for my Fog Lamps:

I ran the separate Fog lamp circuit over the rear wheel well splash cover and then forward through the plastic trim that runs from rear wheel to front wheel well. came up the front fender and into the main cabin through the same grommet that some existing wires run through way up above the left foot rest block, up behind the dash board...
 

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Euro spec Volt tails that fit the US body panels in case of export from the US...


the pin outs are different but the write up on how to do it is up a couple of posts...

Again if you go and do it, wishing you success at your endeavor!
 
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