Vauxhall Ampera to be shown at Geneva

A prototype Vauxhall/Opel Ampera will be displayed at the Geneva Motor Show next week - that's if its electric drive train and range-extending petrol engine prove reliable, because it's being driven to the show from Opel's European headquarters in Rüsselsheim near Frankfurt, a distance of some 370 miles.

The Ampera is a European version of the US Chevrolet Volt. The Ampera has both a petrol engine and an electric drive system but is not a hybrid in the mould of the Toyota Prius. It can run for about forty miles on a full charge from the mains – beyond that, the petrol engine is used, not to power the car's wheels directly but to generate further electrical power.

Vauxhall says that the Ampera will go into production at the beginning of 2011. Previously it has been suggested that the Ampera could be built at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant in the UK but this has not been officially confirmed.