Opel plans small EV, say reports

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Opel is to launch a small EV, according to reports in the German media.

The General Motors-owned brand is already set to become a major player in the coming months as it begins the rollout of the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera throughout Europe, but it looks set to further expand its reach before long.

The Ampera is a European version of the Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle already available in the US which uses both batteries and a petrol generator for propulsion.

It is set to become available in Europe later this year, but reports in Automotive News suggest that a further electric car could join the Opel fold before long.

The new model would be the size of the Corsa hatchback of the Agila subcompact, an Opel official was quoted by the motoring magazine as confirming.

The market appeal of the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera is different from competitors such as the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi iMiev, with its longer range and more spacious interior making it more suitable for families than its urban counterparts.

Building a smaller version, either extended-range or all electric, could be a popular move for Opel and help correct the perception that the Ampera isn't as green as its fully-electric competitors because it still uses a fuel engine.

Last month, sales of the Nissan Leaf overtook those of the Chevrolet Volt for the first time in the United States, where both vehicles have been available since late last year.

In the same interview, the company also suggested that it is planning to launch a premium model above the Insignia, to cater for the luxury market and compete with vehicles by automakers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi.

Full story: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110516/ANE/305159994/1494

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