The Truth About Cars » Ampera The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:00:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Ampera GM’s Alternate Reality: UK Calls Volt/Ampera Ad Misleading, Bans It Thu, 23 Aug 2012 11:03:21 +0000


You can see this ad. Television viewers in the UK can’t.  The Chevrolet Volt  is sold in the UK as the Vauxhall Ampera, and its ad has been banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority. It says the ad is misleading. The ad claims a 360-mile range. GM is a serial offender when it comes to alternate realities, and this ad is the latest installment.

Says the Daily Mail:

The real range of the electric batteries in the Vauxhall Ampera is a rather more modest 50 miles. And to go beyond that, it relies on help from a somewhat less green source – a petrol engine.”

The ad, created by long-time GM agency McCann Erickson, came complete with the usually hard to read and even harder to comprehend disclaimer:

“Comparison based on electric vehicles and extended range electric vehicles driven electrically at all times, even when an additional power source is generating electricity”.

The advertising standards bureau did not buy into it. Says the ruling:

“We considered that throughout the ad the emphasis was on the fact that the car was being driven electrically, and that most viewers would not understand that the car was in some circumstances being powered by electricity generated with a petrol engine. The ad promoted an innovative product which many viewers would not immediately understand and we therefore considered that it would need to explicitly state that the car had a petrol engine. Because it did not clearly explain how the vehicle worked in extended-range mode, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”

The ASA does not parse an ad through the eyes of a lawyer, or through the eyes of GM apologists and amateur spinmeisters. The ASA sees it through the eyes of the ad’s target, the average consumer. That consumer is being fooled. Using imagery of plugs and cables, and the slogan “Driving electricity further”, the ad pushes electric range, and that range simply isn’t 360 miles on pure electricity.

This isn’t the first time that GM got into hot water with its allegedly clever, but in truth ham-fisted public relations. Last March, the language police embedded in new and old media feigned outrage over a Chevy Volt ad that claims that the car can save “a crapload of money.”  TTAC was less upset about the robust language, but challenged the claim. Even after the $7,500 credit, the Volt is overpriced. When Tony Posawatz was still line director of the Volt, he told Bloomberg in an interview that there is no such thing as a crapload of savings:

“The Volt’s cost of ownership matches the average car when including the $7,500 U.S. tax incentive and gasoline fuel savings.”

That remark clashed with the advertising claims, and possibly ended Tony’s career. In June, Posawatz left GM into early retirement, only to land at Fisker as its new CEO.

In 2010, then CEO Ed Whitacre claimed in an ad that GM paid back its “loan, in full, with interest, years ahead of schedule.” Even the Detroit News, by some regarded as the in-house organ of GM, had issues with the ad and said it “glosses over the reality.” Congressman Darrell Issa said the ad brought GM “dangerously close to committing fraud.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a deceptive advertising complaint with the FTC. GM stopped running the ad.

CEI also filed a Freedom of Information request with the Department of Treasury. The statutory period for a response to an FOI request is 20 days, Treasury took a year. After a review of the documents, the CEI says “that General Motors and the Obama administration coordinated their PR strategy regarding GM’s much criticized 2010 ad campaign, in which the car maker misleadingly claimed to have repaid all its government loans.”

In all three cases, the claims were technically true, but they created an untrue perception. The Vauxhall Ampera, a rebadged Chevrolet Volt that is sold in the rest of Europe as the Opel Ampera, technically has a 360 mile range on electricity, but only when the gasoline motor is running. The Volt technically saves a shitload of money, but only if you disregard the price of the car, and only if you don’t take it farther than the grocery store. GM technically repaid the $7 billion loan part of the government’s $50 billion investment, but forgets the $43 billion balance, and ignores that the equity part today translates into “an unrealized loss of $16.4 billion,” if Forbes is correct.

Perception is reality. These allegedly “clever” ads bank on the stupidity of the viewer. While technically true under a high powered magnifying glass, they attempt to create an alternate reality that is far from the truth. People don’t like it when they find out that they have been had.

As a former GM owner, I say: Don’t get smart with me, GM. Get real.

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Volt Woes Spread To Europe, Affect Ampera Mon, 12 Dec 2011 18:34:11 +0000

The Volt’s battery woes are having an effect on its European sibling. Automotive News [sub] reports that Opel/Vauxhall will delay delivery of the Volt’s sister-model Ampera, while investigations by U.S. authorities into battery fires following government crash tests of the Volt continue. An Opel spokesman told AN:

”We are not currently delivering the cars to customers while we set up the process to deal with these highly charged batteries to make sure they are safe.”

Opel had already started deliveries of the Ampera to dealerships in Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Holland for y year-end launch. European sales of the Volt were officially kicked-off last week as two Amperas were delivered to the U.S. embassy in Paris.

Built with the Volt at GM’s Hamtramck plant near Detroit, the Ampera shares the Volt’s technology including the lithium-ion batteries. The styling is slightly different.

Meanwhile, even battery suppliers deem it necessary to keep a tweeting distance.


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Was, Ihr Volt Ampera? Vergessen Es! Mon, 04 Jul 2011 13:45:32 +0000

End of the year, Europeans can delight in the Made in America Opel Ampera, which is a rebadged and slightly reskinned (see picture) Volt. But don’t rush to your friendly Opel dealer to put in your pre-order: The Ampera is already sold out.

According to Automobilwoche [sub], Opel already has more than 5,000 pre-orders for the imported from Detroit Hamtramck plug-in-hybrid. There won’t be more than 5,000 Amperas coming to the Old Country this year. Better luck next year!

Money apparently is no object. The Ampera lists at €42,900 ($ 62,200 – usual disclaimers apply). Subsidies? What subsidies?  Most European governments don’t even subsidize pure EVs. Hybrids?  “Warum?”

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Silent Running: Opel Pushes Ampera As Cop Car Mon, 14 Feb 2011 14:30:07 +0000

It’s not out yet, and it won’t be before the end of the year, but Opel is already flogging the Euro-version of the Volt, the Ampera, as the perfect cop car. Main selling point: It’s a veritable multi mission vehicle. “Whether emission free on patrol, or silent during undercover surveillance, or fast and persistent when in hot pursuit – the Opel Ampera is the ideal police cruiser,” brags Opel, which appears to humor AutoBild.

The paper grants the Ampera perseverance (500 km range), low emissions, and the ability “to silently sneak up to the scene of the crime.” But fast? “A top speed of 161 km/h may be not enough to keep up with the gangsters in their hot rodded escape vehicle.”

Be it as it may, “in the end, the matter will be doomed to failure by the price: €42,900 probably won’t be what the police wants to spend,” writes AutoBild. “That’s what a civilian has to plunk down when he wants to drive an Ampera.” $58,000 also would be a bit rich for an American police dept.

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Salesman-In-Chief Hawks Opel Ampera Sat, 20 Nov 2010 15:29:51 +0000

Isn’t it great to have the government as your biggest shareholder? Makes for good photo-ops. For the second time, Barack Obama went behind the wheels of a Chevy Volt, with the world press in attendance. Actually, it was the Volt’s European twin, the Ampera.

The Prez. had to weigh national security and time at the NATO summit in Lisbon against checking out the range extended Opel, and the Opel won.

According to Reuters, “Obama found himself acting as salesman-in-chief for GM Opel’s Ampera model just days after he declared in Washington that U.S. taxpayers would get their money back for saving GM in a bailout that was broadly unpopular.”

Then Obama said something that won’t go down well with Opel workers: “This is a car made in America. We’re going to start selling it in Europe.”

Actually, the Volt was designed with heavy input from Saab and Opel engineers. The brains of the Volt were developed at Opel in Mainz-Kastel. The Ampera production had been shopped around by Nick Reilly in Europe to attract government money. For the time being, it looks like the Ampera will indeed be built in the U.S.A., after European government denied to pay to play. At $59,000 MSRP, it probably won’t turn into a volume model real soon.

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$41,000 For A Volt? A Bargain – Compared To An Ampera Sat, 13 Nov 2010 04:14:38 +0000

America – the greatest country on earth. At least when it comes to Chevy Volt prices. You think its $41,000 tag is expensive? Wait until you hear what the Europeans will have to fork over for the rebadged Opel Ampera, and the Volt will look like the greatest deal on earth. Especially after subsidies. Ready?

Opel will sell their Ampera in Europe “from” €42,900. In today’s (slightly stronger) dollars, that comes out to breath-restricting 58,747.26 smackeroos. For the base model. Remember, in Europe VAT has to be included, but anyway, that’s what the dealer will demand.

The Volt in Ampera clothing won’t be available before Q4 2011, but the crowd that indulges in pain, suffering and humiliation can already book theirs. On-line, in the privacy of their homes.

Automobilwoche [sub] comes to the easily understandable conclusion that “the car that is being hawked as ‘revolutionary’ by its maker will be significantly more expensive in the Old World than in the U.S.A.”

Subsidies? Wie bitte? No subsidies for civilians. The European industry is lobbying hard for subsidies, but governments remain tightfisted. With great fanfare, the German government made a charitable donation of €100m, to be spent on “field tests, connectivity with renewable energies, a market launch for diesel-hybrid buses, development of a recycling method for batteries, and studies of the ecological and economical benefit of electromobility.”

Deadpans focus magazine: “That study shouldn’t take long. Benefit: Zero.” An Opel Astra Diesel can be had for half the price.

Automobilwoche calls the U.S. sticker of  $41,000 a “comparatively reasonable introductory price.” Isn’t it wonderful to live in God’s own country? What will you do with all the money you save?

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China Imports The Chevy Volt – Or Rather The Opel Ampera Mon, 24 May 2010 12:54:19 +0000

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?

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: The Volt Crosses Over Edition Wed, 25 Nov 2009 00:34:24 +0000 Not to be taken too seriously... (courtesy:Auto Express)

How spurious is this one? Let me count the ways. First of all, it’s an Auto Express illustration, which makes it pretty spurious to begin with. Second, it’s of a possible (and unrumored) CUV designed on the Volt Chassis. and Third, it’s based on the Opel/Vauxhall version of the Volt, the Ampera…. and there’s no guarantee that GM will share the Volt platform with its independence-craving European division. Still, it’s worth a shared giggle between consenting adults.

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