Updated: General Motors’ Opel division is working on two new plug-in hybrid vehicles based on the same E-Flex architecture that’s set to debut in the Chevrolet Volt, but the Chevy will also make it to Europe, although not until late 2011. In his latest post on a GM blog, Carl Peter Forster explained that the Volt will initially be sold as an Opel and then will later switch to the Chevrolet brand.

Part of the reasoning is the expected high initial price tag for the Volt. Chevrolet, which is still establishing itself in much of Europe, is seen as a budget brand. Selling the Volt as an Opel, on the other hand, will allow GM to sell the car at a premium. Despite this, Forster revealed that the Volt may still require generous incentives to “offset the high costs and drive more volume.” The lithium-ion batteries, for example, cost "several thousand more euros" than a typical engine and transmission, he said.

The advanced battery technology is being designed to last the life of the car, with targets already set at 10 years or 150,000 miles. GM’s vice president for R&D and strategic planning, Larry Burns, has previously suggested that a special warranty could even be offered for the batteries but added that it was still too early to confirm what details it may entail.

Original: General Motors’ Europe boss Carl Peter Forster confirmed back in May that the Opel division would launch two new electric vehicles early next decade, one based on the Flextreme Concept (pictured) and another larger and more spacious model. Forster has now revealed that the first Opel electric models would be built in the U.S. and shipped over, and that they would cost up to €10,000 ($15,900) more than a similarly powered petrol model.

The new cars will be based on GM’s E-Flex hybrid system, which will first appear in the U.S. market Chevrolet Volt in late 2010. The Opel versions of the Volt won’t go on sale until 2012 and will likely be built at the same plant as the Volt, reports Automotive News Europe. However, GM could add the Volt to its European Chevrolet lineup prior to the launch of the Opel models.

The reason for the delay, explained Forster, is so the high initial costs of the E-Flex technology could be driven down and to give consumers enough time to get used to the technology.

Eventually, GM will start production of the Opel E-Flex models in Germany. The cars will ride on the same Delta II platform that will underpin the Chevrolet Volt as well as the next-generation Opel Astra and new Chevrolet Cruze compact car.

2007 Opel Flextreme Concept