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European built Ampera unlikely before 2015

A decision on whether Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant near Liverpool will build European versions of the Ampera hybrid model is unlikely before 2015.

Vauxhall managing director Duncan Aldred said that there was still a long way to go before a decision to build Ampera in Europe, let alone Ellesmere Port, although he believes the plant has a strong case.

Aldred expects to sell 5,000 Amperas annually in the UK when the car is launched next year. This is out of a total volume of 280,000 Vauxhall cars and CVs.

He said: “Ellesmere Port is a very productive factory, low cost and efficient and it has the right platform. There is unlikely to be any decision before the next generation model and not before 2015, there is still a lot of capacity at the plant in the US where the car is currently built- but we will be pitching very hard.”

Aldred said there is already interest in the Ampera from fleets including Coca Cola, BT and the Metropolitan Police.

Aldred added: "It's a low volume target but representative of the newness of the product. The next generation will be cheaper. Technology always comes down in price as it is developed and volumes build."

Ampera sales will be 60-40 in favour of fleet and Aldred is telling sales people to adopt an "Apple mentality" and offer no discounts. Every model will be sold at full price no matter how big the fleet.
"If you want to buy Apple computers in bulk, you don't get them cheap, you pay a premium."

He is also looking to increase content from UK-based suppliers. "We have already increased our sourcing from domestic suppliers by £200m over the next four years and with the next generation Astra I see further opportunities because this will give us some natural currency hedging.

"The UK seemed to give up on its supply chain a few years ago and we need to get that back. We need Government help to do that and that means encouraging people into engineering from an early age."

Aldred said that he still sees a place for a pure electric vehicle in the Vauxhall line up, particularly in cities although he added that an EV version of the new, so-called Junior small city car project is currently on hold.

"We have to look at where best to spend our money in engineering terms. You have to be a specific sort of driver to want an EV. I particularly like GM's RAK-e concept at the Frankfurt Show, it's a smart little two seater which is ideal for getting around city streets."

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