How is it possible that the Vauxhall Ampera will sell in the U.K. for $7,000 less than the Chevy Volt? We don't know either.
File this story under, "Wha???" GM has announced UK pricing of the Vauxhall Ampera. At £20,000 or $28,000 using today's exchange rate it will cost a full $7,000 less than its U.S. counterpart, the Chevy Volt which in some reports has been projected at $35,000 to $40,000 USD. European pricing for the Opel Ampera has not been announced.
We're not sure what GM is thinking here. If they can assemble the car at the Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire, England, and make a wide enough profit margin, surely they can do the same in the U.S. and pass the savings along to the customer. Especially since GM needs a high volume seller now more than anything. Either way, the battery will likely be made in Michigan, with much of the car's parts coming from Korea. Perhaps GM is gambling on the value of the pound to rise against the U.S. dollar over the next few years. The value of the British currency when compared to the dollar was hit particularly hard since last August.
The plan to assemble the car locally, key to its £20k price target, is really contingent on getting government backing in the U.K. Great Britain's auto bailout includes a large earmark for alternative fuel vehicles. GM is angling to get some of that money into Vauxhall's coffers. Some of that money may also be used to set up an infrastructure of electric charging stations.
With the assistance of a petrol engine that only fires up to recharge its batteries, the Volt/Ampera has a range of 350-450 miles. The car can travel about 40 miles on electricty alone.
If GM does not go out of business, expect to see the Vauxhall Ampera in the U.K. beginning in 2012.