Opel Planning a Mini Electric Car for Europe: A Chevy Spark in Disguise?

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General Motors European property Opel has plans to release a fully electric compact car by 2017 in markets there, in part to help boost its image and also to help the brand meet stringent European emissions standards, Reuters reports, citing an article from Automobilwoche. 

It will be a fully battery-powered electric vehicle, unlike the Opel Ampera, which is known in the U.S. as the Chevrolet Volt. It will also be much smaller and much cheaper — the Ampera runs a princely 38,300 euros ($52,400), far more than the $34,000 or so the Volt costs here. Automobilwoche didn’t have a source for the information, Reuters says.

Despite a price slash for the Ampera by almost 8,000 euros in Europe’s biggest car market, it still remains a high-price vehicle for many, and Opel doesn’t yet have a car that will compete with the new EVs on the block, namely Volkswagen’s (VLKAY.PK) e-Golf and e-Up!, which will be hitting showrooms in the near future. The Ampera can travel between 40 and 80 kilometers on electric power alone, and a further 500 kilometers with a combustion engine range extender, according to Reuters.

Opel didn’t respond to the news service’s request for comments, but it’s believed the car will be a part of a new slate that will include the City car, which is expected to cost less than 10,000 euros.

Chevrolet Spark EV

Despite General Motors’ recent concentrated investments in the Opel brand, the car may not have to be engineered from scratch. Instead, it would be logical that the car share similar underpinnings with the Chevrolet Spark EV, which is available in certain U.S. markets.

The Spark EV boasts a range of about 82 miles and costs a shade over $26,000 before federal and state incentives are taken into account. After the federal cut of $7,500, the price can come out under $20,000, making it among the cheapest electric cars on the market.

It’s unclear still as to whether the electric car will be a new car overall or an electrified version of an existing Opel model, such as the Adam minicar. Given Opel’s desire to change course and re-energize the brand, it’s more likely to be released as a new model altogether, but details are still too scarce to make any firm assumptions.