We've already seen the Opel Ampera - General Motors' rebadged Chevrolet Volt for Europe - in almost its entirety, but the automaker released official photos of the finished production-spec vehicle hours before it is scheduled to debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
On the surface the Ampera and its mechanical twin - the Chevrolet Volt - appear somewhat different, but underneath their skin they're practically identical. Built alongside the Volt in Hamtramck, Michigan, the two differ only by means of front and rear fascias, wheel designs, and some interior trim. Beneath the skin, both share the same 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and the same 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4, which primarily serves as a so-called range extender.
Ampera owners do receive one feature absent on U.S.-spec Volts. In typical operation, both cars are designed to use existing battery power to drive the car before activating the gasoline engine. Ampera owners, however, will have the option of selecting a so-called charge hold mode, prompting the car to run the engine and preserve the battery's charge for a later run.
Unusual, perhaps, but there is some method behind the madness. In Europe, this allows Ampera drivers to save their EV range for entering urban areas, which tax (or even ban) gasoline-powered vehicles. In central London, for instance, drivers using non-electric vehicles are charged nearly $16 to drive through congestion zones. Using electricity, however, allows drivers to avoid the fee.