Opel Ampera-e sets the bar high on electric superminis

Opel Ampera-e NEDC range

The Chevrolet Bolt EV and its twin sister, Opel Ampera-e are getting very good reviews from the people who already drove them. This great electric car surprised everybody with its electric range and efficiency when the EPA figures were released. You can drive 400 km nonstop without trying hard. Then the price announcement in Canada was another good surprise as you can see it here.

The price for Europe is still unknown, but I almost certain that it’ll vary from 35.000 to 40.000 € depending on the trim and the VAT of each country. In France it must be under 40.000 € so it can get the government subsidy in 2017. There is even one Opel’s representative in Portugal that affirms that the price will vary from 30.000 to 35.000 €, but I guess that this would be too good to be true.

We already know that Europeans love superminis as you can see in my previous article here. Finally now we are about to have some really appealing electric superminis available in 2017.

We’ll have the Opel Ampera-e, Renault Zoe ZE 40, facelifted Nissan Leaf, Nissan Micra EV, BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf. Let’s rate them by range:


+ 500 km (NEDC):

  • Regarding range the Opel Ampera-e has set the bar high. It will be the electric supermini with the most range by far for a while.

+/- 400 km (NEDC):

  • Then we have the Renault-Alliance with three great electric superminis. The Renault Zoe ZE 40, the facelifted Nissan Leaf and the Nissan Micra EV. The Micra EV will share some components with the Renault Zoe and will be built in the same Flins Renault factory in France.

+/- 300 km (NEDC):

  • BMW and Volkswagen are clearly lagging behind in terms of range and that’s a big problem for them. Renault and Nissan don’t need to have electric cars with the highest range, since they can compensate lower range with lower price. But this isn’t possible with BMW and Volkswagen cars, since they won’t be priced below a Renault or Nissan car.

BMW and Volkswagen really need to upgrade the batteries again. Unfortunately I don’t see it happening before 2018. Volkswagen is about to start using the new 37 Ah Samsung SDI battery cells, while BMW shouldn’t start using Samsung SDI 120 Ah cells before the opening of the Hungary factory in the second half of 2018.

It’s a bit ironic that Opel is on top while BMW and Volkswagen are at the bottom regarding range.


GM and Renault-Nissan have the opportunity in 2017 to dominate the electric car market and prepare for 2018. In 2018 the PSA group will surprise everybody with a great electric supermini like the Peugeot 208 EV, that with the expected 50 kWh battery and a lower price will be an immediate success in Europe.


What Carlos Ghosn will do with the facelifted Nissan Leaf and the electric version of Nissan Micra Gen5 is still blurry to me.

To me what makes sense is to start selling the facelifted Nissan Leaf with the 41 kWh battery as soon as possible while developing the Nissan Micra EV. When the Nissan Micra EV and its 41 kWh battery are ready, it’s time for the Leaf to finally move to the second generation with a completely restyle and a 60 kWh battery.


Nissan Micra Gen5

Nissan Micra Gen5 will have an electric version in 2017


The electric version can outsell the gas versions in some places like Norway.


Nissan IDS concept car

Nissan IDS concept car


I still think that the IDS concept car should be sold by Nissan’s luxury division, Infiniti, to be an alternative to the Tesla Model 3 in late 2017.


What do you think? Do you see any good alternative to Opel Ampera-e in Europe? What would you prefer, a Nissan Micra EV with a 41 kWh battery or a second generation Nissan Leaf based in the IDS concept with a 60 kWh battery?


Update: this article was revised because I wrongly assumed that the new 37 Ah battery cells would be made by Volkswagen’s current supplier (Panasonic/Sanyo), but instead, these new cells are made by Samsung SDI.



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Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

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5 years ago

I no longer know what to think. I’ve been parroting your confident claims that the facelifted LEAF would see the light of day in Paris. 🙂

You still seem confident it’s real and will be on sale in 2017. I wonder if you could shed some light on what your confidence is based on. I agree that such a thing would make sense – unless a second-gen LEAF can be brought to market by the time Ampera-e goes on sale in spring.

I think GM shows all the signs of wanting a strong leadership position in the EV market, so I reckon the base Ampera-e will be below €35k in Norway (remember that there’s no VAT, or any other taxes/import fees for EVs). What is very curious is that it appears GM sets the price aggressively enough that they can’t possibly deliver enough cars. That is contrary to conventional business practices – but perhaps it is actually a good move. Conventional wisdom would imply a high price initially, selling it to those who are willing to pay the most, and then lowering the price to sell to the next group – and so on as production volume ramps up. But that also would likely beget many unhappy customers. Perhaps in the long run it’s better not to take the segmentation games too far. I dunno.

What I do know is that my Model 3 reservation is looking a bit shaky. Not saying I’ll cancel, but it is less secure than ever. Considering I can perhaps get an Ampera-e in April, but likely not a base Model 3 until late 2018 or even 2019 it certainly is a temptation. And I’m really not sure which is the better car for me. The Opel not being as flashy is an advantage in my book. And it is certainly more practical, with the taller and narrower body and hatchback body style.

I think the Zoe and Ampera-e will both do well. If the Ampera-e is as aggressively priced as I think it’ll be, the Zoe price may drop – but perhaps not, if Ampera-e is not availabale in numbers.

It is going to be extremely interesting to see how the 2017 market develops. I think it will take some time in countries where EVs are still one percent of the market, but we should see some effect immediately. The snowball should start moving, but it will take the whole year to pick up pace. 2018-2020 will see an epic fight, with new models introduced constantly, prices dropping, and EVs finally establishing themselves as the clear path ahead not just in the minds of industry folks, but in the minds of most people everywhere.

5 years ago

I have the same feeling, the Opel product is surprising me in a good way, i even think it suits me better than a Model 3, smaller, not as flashy, more practical, almost as fast as M3 (7 vs 6 sec is negligible)…this must be the first time i’m actually thinking in buying an Opel!

Jonas Jovial
5 years ago

Only if could have sure that the Opel Ampera-e will be available in Portugal at spring…Let’s keep fingers crossed…

Now if the Leaf battery is not going to be cooled, the decision is again harder…

Only if Hyundai had not adopted the 28kWh battery……

5 years ago

“2018-2020 will see an epic fight, with new models introduced constantly, prices dropping, and EVs finally establishing themselves as the clear path ahead not just in the minds of industry folks, but in the minds of most people everywhere.”

I think there is a lot of truth here…
0-60 or 100 times have little value to many people in the real world sine they dont step on the gas pedal in there 200+ hp cars and 9 times out of 10 I would out accelerate everyone in my Leaf…