Opel’s Version of Volt Geneva Bound; Cadillac Kills XLR

GM has yet to detail production plans or market launch targets for the new Opel Ampera, which takes its public bow in March.

Car buyers will get their first peek at General Motors Corp.’s upcoming plug-in hybrid for the European market, when the auto maker pulls the curtain back on the Opel Ampera at the Geneva auto show in March.

The Ampera is Europe’s version of the Chevrolet Volt that is expected to bow in the U.S. in late-2010. Using the Volt’s electric powertrain, now labeled Voltec by GM, the 5-door, 4-seat Ampera is capable of traveling 37 miles (60 km) on its lithium-ion battery pack before needing assistance from its small, internal-combustion engine.

The Ampera’s battery pack can be recharged with a standard 230-volt outlet.

GM says 80% of German drivers travel less than 31 miles (50 km) per day.

“With the Ampera, (Adam Opel GmbH) will be the first European automobile manufacturer to provide customers several hundred kilometers of non-stop electric driving,” says Alain Visser, GM Europe’s chief marketing officer.

GM does not say when the Ampera will hit European showrooms.

Meanwhile, GM says it will end production of the Cadillac XLR in the second quarter, idling about 40 workers at the auto maker’s Bowling Green, KY, plant, which also makes the Chevrolet Corvette. XLR sales fell 28.6% to 1,250 units.

“The XLR played a great role for the brand,” says Cadillac spokeswoman Joanne Krell. “It’s not unusual to see products come into the portfolio and then go off (over time).”

She says Cadillac believes the market gap left by the 2-seat XLR hardtop convertible will be filled by the CTS coupe, whose launch has been delayed until next year. That car is smaller, more powerful and has two more seats than the outgoing XLR, making it better suited to today’s market, Krell says.

TAGS: Technology
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