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Vauxhall takes charge

Date: 29 October 2008   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

Vauxhall will eclipse its budget sister brand Chevrolet when the radical new plug-in electric GM Volt makes its UK debut towards the end of 2011.

Although the Volt appeared at this month's Paris motor show badged as a Chevrolet, Alain Visser, GM Europe's chief marketing officer, said: "In Europe the key brands are Vauxhall and Opel so they will come forward with Volt before Chevrolet. The truth is that we have this great technology and we want it on Vauxhall first."

The Vauxhall and Chevrolet models will adopt different styling including bumpers, grille and lights. Visser said volumes would be dependent on legislation, but added: "We anticipate there will be big tax advantages, which will stimulate the numbers. At this stage it is difficult to see if it will be mainstream or niche. It is a segment, which will be in its infancy."

He said that both Vauxhall and Chevrolet applications had "specific fleet emphasis" and would be priced and specified to reflect their respective mainstream and value brand status.

The Vauxhall Volt's business car strategy, said Visser, would involve "embracing companies who make clear environmental statements and commitments involving their fleets". According to Visser, some firms, like Ikea, which only has E85 biofuel cars on its fleet in Sweden, will be more readily prepared to move to this kind of green technology.

"The difference is that unlike bio-ethanol there are mains plug points in every house and office across Europe," said Visser.

Meanwhile Visser claimed that the sub-140g/km Ecoflex Vauxhall Insignia, due next spring, will be a mainstream volume car not hampered by a production capacity limit. He said the eco sub-brand's success would be "very much driven" by the business sector, and with its 160PS, 2.0-litre engine it avoided the "dull but worthy green car syndrome" suffered by less dynamic, lower output rivals.