GENEVA -- General Motors may sell a version of the Chevrolet Bolt electric car in Europe as an Opel/Vauxhall model, company sources said.
GM would expect to sell only a small number of an Opel/Vauxhall-badged Bolt initially if it decides to sell the car in the region, the sources said.
Company insiders said GM is far more likely to launch an Opel/Vauxhall Bolt in Europe than an EV version of its new entry-level Karl minicar. The Karl, which is sold in the UK as the Vauxhall Viva, was unveiled this week at the Geneva auto show. The German magazine Autobild said that a Karl EV will go on sale at the end of 2018 but Opel sources refuted the magazine’s report, saying a Karl EV would be priced too high for minicar buyers.
GM unveiled the Chevrolet Bolt at the Detroit auto show in January. It calls the car “an EV aimed at everyday drivers" because of its long range of about 200 miles (321 km) on a single charge and its price of about $30,000 after federal tax credits. The Bolt will be built on a modified version of GM's next-generation global subcompact platform.
GM has not given a production start date for the Bolt but it could go on sale as early as next year, according to one source, with the Opel version coming at a later date.
Opel/Vauxhall CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann did not comment on the brand’s EV plans during a media briefing at the Geneva auto show, confirming only that the brand would eventually have some form of electrified car to replace the Ampera plug-in hybrid as ever-toughening CO2 emission targets become “mission critical” for the industry.
Neumann said electric cars will play a role in reducing CO2 emissions even though they currently are too expensive for Opel buyers. “We know we need the technology. If no one buys diesel in the future, we need more electric cars,” he said, referring to growing fears in cities such as Paris and London that diesel particulate emissions are increasing health risks.
Opel is phasing out the Ampera, a version of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. It was voted Europe’s Car of the Year in 2012, but flopped badly in countries such as Germany due to its high 38,600-euro price tag. Ampera production ends this summer as GM’s Hamtramck plant shifts to the next-generation Volt.
When asked whether a second electrified Opel may come, Neumann replied: “I don’t know, it’s a very expensive exercise and there is no market for it. There are some early adopter customers who love it and may pay for it, but it’s very difficult to get any scale, any volume on this. We don’t just want to badge something, we want to make it an Opel.”