When the Opel Ampera debuted in Europe in 2012, it commanded a huge chunk of the plug-in car market, selling over 5,200 units in its first year. By 2013 though, sales and interest had sunk some 40%, with just 3,184 Amperas finding owners, and 2014 has been even worse; through May, just 332 plug-in Opels were sold.
With such a massive sales drop off, it’s no wonder that Automotive News Europe is reporting that GM is ready to kill off the Opel Ampera next year, when the 2016 Chevy Volt debuts. So what happened to all the love for the 2012 European Car of the Year?
In short, the number of plug-in car options has exploded in the two years since the Ampera’s debut, with nearly every automaker offering either fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. When the Ampera debuted, it was one of just a handful of options; now though, the plug-in Opel faces competition from every angle. Pure electric vehicles like the Tesla Model S and BMW i3 offer either more range or a lower cost (despite a $10,000 price cut), and they also get more generous incentives in places like Norway, where the top-selling cars have been fully electric models.
There are other factors at work too though, chief among them a drastic downsizing of the new car market in Europe and questions relating to Opel’s future as an automaker. GM was rumored at one point to be ready to close the doors to the German automaker for good, and who would want to buy cars from a brand that won’t exist next year? These factors have helped drive Ampera sales into the ground; in its home market, just 46 Opel Amperas were sold, whereas there were 83 Ferrari F12 supercars sold in the same time frame. Meanwhile, the 2016 Chevy Volt has been caught testing in Europe, indicating that GM hasn’t totally given up on selling its plug-in hybrid to the Old World.
Things don’t look good for the plug-in Opel, though GM has yet to officially announce its retirement…though with this news we’ve already start digging its grave.
R.I.P. Opel Ampera, 2012 through 2015(?)