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Opel Ampera plug-in hybrid design sketches leak out

Thu, 19 Feb 2009

By Tim Pollard

First Official Pictures

19 February 2009 09:28

These pictures allegedly reveal the production-spec Opel/Vauxhall Ampera a fortnight ahead of its Geneva show debut. A Spanish website claims to have stumbled across the technical design sketches at a European patent office and – if authentic – they spill the beans on the new plug-in hybrid electric concept car that’s bound for a showroom near you within two years.

The Ampera is Opel/Vauxhall’s version of the Chevrolet Volt, the breakthrough car that could just save GM if it survives its current crisis. It uses a plug-in hybrid range extender, dubbed Voltec; essentially a small petrol engine is used as a generator to top up the battery whose charge always drives the electric motor.

GM claims the technology means that motorists will be able to travel on zero-emissions electric drive for 80% of journeys. Most daily car journeys, it says, are for 40 miles or less.

The Ampera to be reveald in Geneva is based on the new GM Delta platform that’s bound for this autumn’s new 2009 Astra. These leaked images confirm it is essentially a badge-engineered Chevrolet Volt, just a few design tweaks distinguishing the transatlantic cousins. It looks as if the Ampera will gain some styling cues from recent Opel concept studies.

It is scheduled to arrive six months after the Volt, with a showroom launch in 2011. Vauxhall is bidding to build the car at Ellesmere Port in the north west, although that plant is now at threat as GM looks to close some European factories to save cash.

By Tim Pollard