The 2012 Vauxhall/Opel Ampera allocation is reportedly 70-percent pre-sold, and Opel’s CEO has already given significant information and hints about the second-generation Ampera to go on sale in 2015.

This news came from the UK's Autocar last week, in which Opel CEO Nick Reilly spoke of plans to gain greater acceptance for the limited-availability cars, even as he said the Ampera's replacement will cost less, be more radically styled, and an implicitly better-executed design.

“We have an education job to do on the technology in the Vauxhall Ampera, but that will come in time,” Reilly said. “We hope that this first car will establish itself as a market leader, and we’ll be able to capitalise on that with a cheaper, more expressively designed second-generation model.”


Vauxhall Ampera.

Reilly said among 10,000 units pending for 2012, fleet accounts have spoken for 75 percent of the 7,000 Amperas pre-sold thus far.

The first-generation car is on sale now, and the UK offers consumers a £5,000 ($8,142) grant, which yields a net selling price of £28,995 ($47,215).

The cost of the battery is reported to account for £7000 ($11,400) of the Ampera's selling price, and it is estimated its production cost will be lopped in half by 2015.

Considering that GM has a no-talk-about-future-production policy for the Volt in the U.S., the degree of revelation from its European CEO is significant. If this report is reliable, and we have no reason to believe it is not, what he says about the Ampera being improved and launched in 2015 could be considered fodder to speculate what this means for the U.S. Volt.

Speculation about the Volt's future selling price based on Euro/UK price decreases may not be as well founded however. Reasons why the prices are what they are in Europe and the UK are due to some factors that affect U.S. prices (like production cost), as well as factors unique to those export markets.

Part of the reason European and UK prices are higher, aside from the Value Added Tax which is not going away, is import costs. To eventually bring prices lower, it is expected economies of scale and saving money by building the vehicles in Europe and the UK will bring costs and selling price down.

For now, the Volt are Ampera are built at Detroit-Hamtramck and shipped over, partially eroding their net lifetime fuel and emissions savings in the process.

Vauxhall/Opel intends to gauge sales and market viability before committing to manufacturing domestically.

Reilly called the first-generation Ampera a “non-profit car,” but a worthy sacrifice toward gaining a leg up in the development of range-extended vehicles.

Assuming progress goes as planned, the Volt/Ampera will be manufactured somewhere in Europe for the Opel line, and Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port on Merseyside plant is the leading contender to win the contract for the UK-built cars.

Autocar reported also on the Ampera's future styling. It said "insiders" have said the built-in-a-hurry first-gen Ampera is a bit more conservative than some might have liked, as it is essentially a restyled Volt built following the GM bankruptcy. We do not know if "insiders" is a cloaked reference to an off-the-record comment by Reilly, or others at GM.


The Vaxhall Zafira Tourer Concept may lend inspiration for the makeover of the 2015 Ampera sedan.

In any case, it is being said that the Ampera’s cutting-edge technology and unique branding will be better showcased in the second-generation 2015 model, which will take styling cues from the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer Concept.

That vehicle was shown this year at the Geneva motor show, and the UK publication described it as having “a more familiar Vauxhall family look” as well as a design that highlights advanced development.

We are unsure exactly what interior or exterior styling cues from the crossover type concept would lends themselves well to an advanced-tech sporty compact sedan, or that the Zafira Tourer even looks more high-tech to our American eyes, but this is the story as it was told.

Reilly did say the Ampera’s powertrain is scalable to make it workable in a variety of other vehicle types. This statement prompted speculation that a range of Amperas could be in the offing.

As we said earlier, this Autocar report could be fodder to guess what it will mean for the U.S. Volt's future pricing and specifications.

That was the case yesterday in Australia where it was reported that the rarely mentioned Holden Volt's price could drop by generation two. Its pricing has not even been disclosed yet for Oz, but it is believed the Volt could ring up for almost as much as the $61,990AUD ($63,493USD) Caprice. This was the word from an Australian publication that also caught wind of Autocar's UK report, and interpreted it as news for the Holden-badged Volt.


That's a Holden Volt, mate.

We attempted to get more information on the Holden Volt yesterday, but while GM replied to other questions, its spokesman neglected to talk about Holden.

As for supply to Europe and the UK, even though GM's EREVs are only just now going on sale, Reilly said there will not be enough of them.

“It looks like we’ll get an allocation of 10,000 cars next year, but the demand is so strong that we are trying to get some more.”

As GM-Volt readers know, we have tried to get GM to comment on just such a scenario – that is, whether it could or would increase production if needed after an extra shift comes online at Detroit-Hamtramck later this year, and it is well on its way to producing 60,000 worldwide Volts and Amperas next year.

GM responded that it was not able to discuss such hypothetical matters.

Autocar