Chevrolet Volt a bargain compared with Ampera sibling

Priced at £28,545 after Plug-in Car Grant, Volt order books open

By Gavin Conway on January 11, 2012 4:54 PM

With the official opening yesterday of the extended-range electric 2012 Vauxhall Ampera’s order books, we thought we’d check in with Chevrolet to see what the score is with Ampera's UK-bound stable mate, the 2012 Chevy Volt. The two cars are virtually identical with but a few differences, mainly cosmetic.

The bottom line with Ampera is that if you order one now for spring delivery, the lowest price is £32,250 including the £5,000 Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG). Or, if you hang on until June, Vauxhall will then introduce an entry level Ampera costing £29,995, or £28,995 if you’re registered as an 'ePioneer'. Delivery would then be September time.

However, you can order a Chevrolet Volt right now for £28,545, including PiCG. Standard specification includes leather and climate control. A Chevrolet spokesman said the company is ‘just days away’ from finalising option prices, but did say that one of the more popular items, sat nav, is likely to cost about £800.

We asked Vauxhall why buyers would have to wait until June to order the £28,995 version of the Ampera. A spokesperson said this was because the entry-level Ampera will have fabric upholstery, as opposed to leather, and that production of this version won’t start until summer 2012.

Bit baffling, to be honest. So you can order a Chevy Volt right now and have it by spring, with leather. Or you can wait until June, pay a bit more and your Ampera will arrive September, with fabric.

If you want an Ampera with sat nav, that’s the £33,995 (including PiCG) Electron model. If you want a Volt with sat nav, that’s £29,345 (estimated, including PiCG).That’s a pretty huge premium for the privilege of having a Griffin badge on your grille.

Pros and cons

In its defence, Vauxhall points out that Chevrolet and Vauxhall have very different customer profiles, with Chevrolet being a bit more of an ‘everyman’ whilst Vauxhall is more upscale. 

The company also points to the fact that it has a much wider dealer network, with the concomitant support that comes with that. And there will be two sales and aftercare specialists at each of Vauxhall’s 23 Ampera dealers.

Vauxhall also says its offering a ‘white glove’ customer service experience, including something it calls ‘MyAmpera’. As well as all the other specialist back up, this gives owners the telephone number and email address of their own personal Ampera agent at Vauxhall HQ.

By comparison, Chevrolet will have just four official Ampera dealers nationwide, although you will still be able to place an order through any Chevy dealer. That's all still being put in place, but if you want to get the ball rolling on an order, call Chevy's customer service number on 0800 666 222 and they'll sort you out.

We've seen reader feedback following yesterday's article, but it’ll be fascinating to see what the wider marketplace makes of all this. Stay tuned.