Like the Daewoo Tico, the Opel Ampera was a car way ahead of its time, only unlike the Tico, it was as successful as a show nobody watches.
It’s 2008 and the economic crisis has hit us in the head like a college graduate who discovers that no one will hire her for more than minimum wage so she looks for a job as a casino assistant. It’s 2008 and the big, inefficient behemoths like the Touareg, A6, and Range Rover are being swept off the market and people are starting to shift towards more efficient cars. Or greener, because at the same time the Toyota Prius eco-hysteria starts. And the Opel Ampera?
The Americans saw the success of the Japanese hybrid and said they had to come up with a quick solution that wasn’t Mr. Proper. They quickly looked for some capable people, which they found in Korea, and got to work. Mostly because General Motors already had experience in the field, participating in Musk’s Tesla Roadster project. Originally the Chevrolet Volt / Opel Ampera was supposed to be a fully electric car, but the infrastructure, technology, and level of training of the Americans made them get cold feet and give up on the ideea.
Like any American thing, it’s made to catch your eye and your money on the outside looks department, but underneath things aren’t so good. Literally, cars like the Jeep Commander look like American superiority on the outside, but American inferiority on the inside. And the same concept applies to the Chevrolet Volt / Opel Ampera.
You’d think a hybrid car, built by Americans, would be complex and as good as Salma Hayek’s shapes, but the reality is different. Essentially they’ve taken a few batteries, , the 80-horsepower 1.4-liter naturally aspirated petrol engine from the Astra H and shoved them all onto the Chevrolet Cruze platform. I’d say the ingredients were combined, but then Gordon calls me to sue. I’ll take my chances and say the recipe is simple for two reasons. 1. Americans and 2. They wanted to keep the price of the normal car down to $30,000, with an extra $8000 for batteries and electrics. They then found out that they had to add another $3500 for another power steering and air conditioning system to bring the car to a total of $41000 list price. But they offered a $7500 discount from the government and that’s how the Chevrolet Volt / Opel Ampera came down to a $34000 list price in the US and 800000 euros in Europe. You had an electric range of about 45-50 km and an asthmatic petrol engine the rest of the time that gave you another 450-500 km range.
And how did it do?
In the US the Chevrolet Volt was the best-selling hybrid and dominated the market for many years until the Chevrolet Bolt, the compact edition of the Volt, came along. Honestly, if the VW Polo or Clio Hybrid came out in 2016, people would surely trample over it more than they do now in 2022 for compact hybrid cars. And in Europe, the Opel Ampera was more of a curiosity that too few bought. The fact that it had a starting price of €40,000, had only 4 seats available and a lack of electric charging infrastructure made the Opel Ampera a sure victim, and the main buyers were essentially taxi drivers who wanted something other than the Prius.
Opel Ampera Engines
1.4 petrol + electric of 150 horsepower – There are no specific problems with this engine or the electric drivetrain. There is however a problem with the transmission and that is a sensor in the shifter that wears out over time and won’t let the transmission shift from P to D.
Opel Ampera General Issues
- The power steering is different from the conventional system on the Chevrolet Cruze for example, and the moment it breaks it will sting like you had intimate moments with Catalin Zmarandescu and I don’t mean anything sexual but just the fact that you have some debts to him and he came to recover them.
- Opel Ampera was such an exotic car that the mayor of Baia Mare wanted to build a wall around it. And in free translation, this means that you will have big problems with servicing as well as parts.
Opel Ampera Verdict
You wouldn’t expect an American hybrid car to be reliable and good. Sure, there are better options on the market today, but for a 2015 car, the Ampera really was revolutionary. And I wouldn’t even bother with the battery, because after 10 years the batteries only lose 10-30% of their capacity because the Americans at General Motors really tested the car head-to-toes. This is why it was and is the most successful hybrid in the US. The only real minus today is that it only has 4 seats and you can argue the parts and servicing part, but otherwise the Opel Ampera really is a good cheap hybrid for what it offers.
Which engines do you recommend? Anyway, you only have the 1.4 petrol hybrid with 150 hp, Americans don’t believe in diesels.