The Chevrolet Volt's European sibling took home a checkered flag that might as well have been green instead of black and white.
The Ampera extended-range plug-in hybrid vehicle won the this year's alt-fuel version of the Rally Monte Carlo on a combination of strong driving performance and minimal consumption of fuel and electricity. In an announcement timed with the event, General Motors' UK-based Vauxhall division said it will soon sell an entry-level version of the extended-range plug-in Ampera, in addition to the two other versions already announced.
The Ampera, which will be sold as a Vauxhall vehicle in the UK and under GM's Opel division in continental Europe, beat out vehicles such as the Tesla Roadster – which won the previous two rallies – and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (sold in the U.S. as the "i") battery-electric vehicle. In all, about 130 vehicles took part in the Rally, with Amperas also placing third, seventh, and eighth. The race, which requires that its cars emit no more than 115 grams per kilometer of C02, covered more than 500 miles over two days.
Earlier this month, the Ampera, along with the Volt, won the 2012 European Car of the Year award. Opel, like Chevy with the Volt, says the 150-horsepower Ampera can travel as far as 35 miles before a gas-powered on-board generator starts powering the electric motor.
As for the new model, details are also minimal at this point. UK-based Autocar says Vauxhall will start selling an entry-level version of the Ampera this summer that will bring its base price to £29,995 (about $47,900 U.S., at today's exchange rates), including the UK-government's 5,000-pound "plug-in grant." Trim details are not yet available.