July 23, 2014 at 9:39 pm

GM scraps European version of Chevy Volt

Opel Ampera, GM's European unit EV, running out of juice

Ampera sales topped 5,000 in 2012, but fell to just more than 3,184 in 2013 — down about 40 percent. (Fabrice Coffrini / Getty Images)

General Motors’ money-losing European unit Opel will halt sales of the Detroit-built plug-in hybrid Opel Ampera because of disappointing results.

“After the eventual run-out of the current generation Ampera, we’ll introduce a successor product in the electric vehicle segment,” Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann said in a posting on Twitter. “Our next electric vehicle will be part of our massive product offensive — with 27 new vehicles in the 2014-2018 time frame.”

Neumann didn’t give a reason for the decision or say if the poor results were a factor in scrapping the Ampera.

The Ampera is the European version of the Chevrolet Volt and was a winner of the 2012 European Car of the Year. Both the Volt and Ampera are assembled at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant. GM is working on the second-generation of the Volt.

Volt sales have also struggled and never met GM’s initial forecasts for sales growth.

Volt sales fell 34 percent in June in the United States to 1,777 and are down 12.6 percent this year to 8,615. GM cut prices of its plug-in hybrid Volt last year. It’s also offering hefty incentives for its slow-selling plug-in Cadillac ELR, which has sold just 390 vehicles in the first half of the year.

Last September, then GM CEO Dan Akerson told The Detroit News the automaker would take on upstart EV automaker Tesla Motors. Akerson said the Detroit automaker plans to confront Tesla via its Cadillac brand.

“If you want to compete head-to-head with Tesla, and we ultimately will, you want to do it with a Cadillac,” he said.

Akerson said Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla has established its brand, a tough feat that other startup electric vehicle companies couldn’t do.

“We’ll sell more (Chevrolet) Volts and lose less money on the Volts than they’ll lose on the (Tesla) Model S,” Akerson said.

Akerson said the company is working at achieving the 200-mile range, but it may not be enough.

“What we see on the line of sight is a 200-mile battery car, but at the same time, 200 miles is great, but it’s not going to satisfy the range anxiety that persists,” Akerson said. “It’s still a major issue with the purchasing public, and I think you’ve got to have a generator on board so that you basically have unlimited range.”

Neumann said Wednesday that Opel was still committed to EVs.

Automotive News reported earlier that GM was expected to kill the Ampera. Ampera sales topped 5,000 in 2012, but fell to just more than 3,184 in 2013 — down about 40 percent — and are down by two thirds this year to less than 400.

April, GM announced it was investing $449 million to upgrade its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly and Brownstown Battery Assembly plants. That included $384 million at Detroit-Hamtramck for the next generation Chevrolet Volt and two future products. The release didn’t mention a new generation for the Ampera.