Chevrolet’s new Volt plug-in hybrid EV has been spied this week in its European-market Opel and Vauxhall form, opening the door once again to potential for an Australian launch.
The absence of any plan for right-hand-drive production means that local buyers will miss out on the new Chevrolet Volt that was revealed in January last year, but these new photos of a version bound for Europe – where models for the UK would be built in right-hand drive – might be the first hint of a different approach: a Holden-badged Opel Ampera.
The first-generation Chevrolet Volt was sold in Australia through the Holden range, wearing largely identical styling to its American counterpart. In Europe, however, the Volt – known there as the Ampera – benefited from unique bumpers at both ends that better suited the Opel styling language of the time.
With Holden already confirmed to be taking at least one-third of its future models from the Opel range, the Ampera could be on the cards as a rival to ultra-green offerings like the Toyota Prius hybrid and Nissan Leaf EV, among others.
That’s a space that Holden vacated when it dropped the Volt early last year, and while it has yet to confirm plans for a return, other players – like Hyundai’s new Ioniq hybrid and plug-in hybrid models – are moving to fill the gap.
The Ampera would be the obvious play for Holden parent General Motors to re-enter the green space in Australia, and right-hand-drive production for the UK market means that at least one part of the business case is already secure.
Above: the US-market Chevrolet Volt
As with the previous Ampera, we can expect the new model to wear unique Opel- and Vauxhall-specific bumpers at both ends, designed to suit the local lines and – by extension – to sit neatly alongside the new-generation Holden Astra and the next-generation Opel Insignia-based Holden Commodore.
As for its mechanical package, expect the Ampera to be driven by the same plug-in hybrid system featured in the new Chevrolet Volt, which means a 75kW 1.5-litre petrol engine paired to a 45kW electric drive unit.
Learn more about the Volt at the links below.