Any minute, or at least by the end of the month, the Chinese government will reveal super-secret plans to throw serious subsidy money at clean energy cars. The plans have been so secret that the Chinese market from mild hybrids all the way to full plug-ins came to a standstill with everybody waiting for the government to dole out heavy cash. Of course, GM doesn’t want to stand on the sidelines of this bonanza.
According to Gasgoo, buyers of all-electric vehicles will be eligible to get as much as 60,000 yuan ($8,789) each, plug-in hybrids qualify for 50,000 yuan ($7,323), normal hybrids will receive a government donation of 3,000 yuan ($440). China’s cash for clunkers program Will be scrapped. As predicted, it was a resounding failure. There are very few clunkers in China.
Anyway, GM wants to have a share of the plug-in boondoggle. Much to the chagrin of the Chinese government that is proud of China’s EV prowess, Shanghai GM won’t sell a native model. GM will import the Chevy Volt and sell it as a Buick with a yet unreleased name. Well, they won’t exactly import the Volt, they’ll import the Opel Ampera. According to Green Car Reports, the Opel Ampera is “basically a Chevy Volt with a nose job.” No wonder, the Euro is relatively cheap in China these days. And where would Buick China be without Opel Rüsselsheim?
According to TheTycho, “the Opel Ampera will be on sale in China in the first half of 2011.” Whereas Europe is supposed to get the Ampera a half year later. So the electrified Opel is exported to China before the Germans will lay their hands on it? That’ll drive them nuts.
How did the secret elope so early? TheTycho used the patent-pending trick of scouring Chinese patent applications. GM had to apply for a patent in China to prevent BYD and others from copying the Volt/Ampera, and bingo, the new car was as secret as the government’s subsidy plans.
Now what will the car be called? Chevrolet Volt, Opel Ampera … Buick Watts would be the logical step. Or Buick RMS? Or Buick AC/DC? Watt say you?