Mobility Services Key Destination for Opel Ampera-e

Opel marketing chief Tina Müller says EVs will see rapid growth. “In 10 years, I’m sure we will laugh about the old times and internal-combustion engines,” she says.

James M. Amend, Senior Editor

September 29, 2016

3 Min Read
Opelrsquos Muumlller right CEO KarlThomas Neumann GM electricvehicle director Pam Fletcher left introduce Amperae
Opel’s Müller (right), CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann, GM electric-vehicle director Pam Fletcher (left) introduce Ampera-e.

PARIS – Opel chief marketer Tina Müller says the automaker will populate its European mobility-services units with the upcoming Ampera-e electric vehicle to complement retail deliveries, a distribution model it will share with its Chevrolet Bolt sister car in the U.S.

“That’s our plan, similar to the U.S.,” Müller tells WardsAuto at the Paris auto show, calling out Opel’s CarUnity peer-to-peer sharing service as one landing spot for the Ampera-e.

The German arm of General Motors also will add the Ampera-e to Maven, an on-demand car-sharing service from the automaker seeing rapid growth in the U.S. and bound for Europe next year.

“It is the perfect car for car sharing,” Müller says.

The Ampera-e, which boasts a range of 186 miles (500 km) in the New European Driving Cycle, launches in Europe in the spring. It shares a platform with the Chevy Bolt, which comes to U.S. dealers and GM fleet services in the fall.

Müller admits a decision by Volkswagen to back off of diesel technology after its emissions-cheating scandal and pursue an aggressive EV strategy could benefit Opel. VW’s long-range EV introduced at the show will not come until 2020, but as the sales king of European OEMs it can only raise the opinion of the technology among buyers on the continent.

“We have a huge time-to-market advantage, a huge competitive advantage, because what they are showing is a concept and we have a complete car already,” she says, noting European automakers are rushing to EVs when, outside Scandinavia, few regions and countries have embraced them, especially the No.1 market of Germany.

“We are now at the tipping point regarding electro-mobility,” she adds. “The more manufacturers offering an electric portfolio, the more (we’ll see) consumer acceptance.”

Müller, a fashion-conscious brand expert who came to Opel several years ago from the cosmetics industry, says Opel intends to market the Ampera-e as a status-building lifestyle product.

“It’s a different way to drive a car,” she says. “And for such innovations I think it is right also to ask for more money. That’s the early mover positioning.”

Opel has not released pricing for the Ampera-e. In the U.S., Bolt marketers are pursuing a value proposal with a sticker price of $37,495 (€33,384), which could fall to $29,995 (€26,706) with federal and state tax credits.

The lifestyle positioning of the Ampera-e is reflected in the stage for its European premiere here, where Müller enlisted a fashion-show set designer to compose an appropriate background.

Whatever the approach or global market, Müller expects EVs to take over the industry landscape.

“Electro-mobility will grow significantly, and when we meet each other in 10 years I’m sure we will laugh about the old times and internal-combustion engines,” she says. “It also will be about autonomy. We will be sitting in an autonomous Ampera-e.”

Müller says Opel chose to stick with the Ampera name for the EV, despite a lackluster reception in Europe for the Ampera extended-range vehicle. Like the Bolt and Ampera-e, the original Ampera and Chevy Volt were sisters. In fact, she initially opposed keeping the Ampera name until market research showed a favorable opinion and no negative connections.

“Only specialists knew about the Ampera,” she says. “We don’t consider it a failure, but we clearly (admit) it was too early. The market was not there. It did not have enough reach – too big and (priced) too high.”

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