GM sees UK as an electric market

* UK is core to GM's electric future * Electric Ampera is coming in 2012 * Buyers can lease the batteries...

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What Car? Staff
25 March 2009

GM sees UK as an electric market

General Motors expects the UK to be the leading European market for its Vauxhall/Opel Ampera electric car.

Due to things such as emissions-based company car tax and the London Congestion Charge which could yet spread to other cities in the UK it believes there's a huge potential for the Ampera in the UK. Vauxhall is even bidding to build it at its Ellesmere Port factory on Merseyside.

The Ampera is an all-electric car aimed mainly at city residents who can charge it up overnight through a standard power socket.

It has a range of nearly 40 miles on battery power alone, but can do a further 300 miles using a 1.4-litre petrol engine that serves as a generator to drive the car's electric motor.

Its CO2 emissions in the official EU test are only 40g/km but they will be zero if the car is only driven on battery power.

The production version of the Ampera was revealed at the Geneva motor show in March and will go on sale in mainland Europe in 2011 and the UK in 2012.

The car is based on the platform of the new Astra, which is due in the autumn, but could cost almost twice as much to buy because of its expensive battery technology.

GM is now discussing the best way to market the Ampera so that potential buyers will be able to afford it. Various options are under discussion, including one where customers buy the car but lease the batteries on a monthly contract rather like paying for petrol or diesel every month.

GM may also explore whether there will be Government subsidies to buyers who switch to such a green form of transport.