Future Vauxhalls will stand favourable comparison with anything from BMW or Mercedes-Benz, says Nick Reilly, the president of General Motors Europe, Vauxhall’s parent company.
'We are not going to try to compete with BMW and Mercedes, but our products will,' said Reilly. 'Over the years, Vauxhall has lost something of its brand equity, but now it is coming back.'
The next 12 months will be pivotal for Vauxhall, with the launch of the Ampera range-extender electric car early next year, an all-new Zafira MPV that will be an addition to the range rather than a straightforward replacement soon afterwards, and a sporty three-door Astra, the GTC.
Ampera proves popular
GM has just launched a special Ampera website and already has 3000 letters of intent from interested buyers across Europe, and 850 deposits from private customers at €150 a time.
'We could sell more Amperas, but we just won't be able to get them,' said Reilly. 'In the first full year we will get 8000 to 10,000. I thought it would be all fleet sales at the beginning, but that's not the case.'
A fleet of several hundred trial cars will be put out across Europe from May to help inform potential customers of the car's benefits and get feedback.
European production of the car – which has a range of around 40 miles on battery power, and a 1.4-litre petrol engine to serve as a generator if owners need to go further – will not be considered until the second-generation Ampera comes along in the middle of the decade.
'By then we will have a better idea of the acceptance of the concept and the demand,' said Reilly.
'We will also know what the next version will cost, but it will be lower [than the current car]. The batteries and the whole electrical system will cost less.’
New Zafira goes upmarket
The new Zafira is being shown in thinly disguised concept car form at the Geneva motor show. It is more flexible, more luxurious and likely to be considerably more expensive than the current model so that the two can be sold alongside each other.
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