The secret’s out. Auto Express can reveal Vauxhall plans for a practical new family car based on the technology that underpins the petrol-electric Ampera.
Development of the Nissan Qashqai rival has already begun. And it’s seen as key, as parent company General Motors seeks to get its future back on track, following its decision not to sell its European arm to Canadian parts firm Magna.
Nick Reilly, new boss of GM Europe, hinted at the existence of the ambitious programme as he visited Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory in Cheshire. He admitted: “There will be more than one version of the Ampera.”
Our sources claim the favoured project sees the Ampera’s powerful hybrid drivetrain mated to a practical body. This model would be aimed at the likes of the Qashqai and Ford C-MAX, and would blend a versatile cabin with electric-only running, plus 180mpg economy and a 300-mile range.
Our illustration offers a taste of what drivers can expect, ahead of the debut of a concept version later in 2010. The new model will hit the road as early as 2013, and according to Reilly, could be built at Ellesmere Port. “I would like to make the car in Europe,” he said, offering hope that both of the new hybrids could be produced at the modern facility, which already builds the latest Astra family car.
Reilly was in charge of Vauxhall between April 1996 and August 2001. Famously, he gave up his £160,000-a-year salary back in 1998 in an attempt to safeguard the company’s British plants – and wrote to employees telling them he would not take a wage for 12 months to support them.