Volt expected to cause brand issues for GM Europe

Volt expected to cause brand issues for GM Europe

GM's plan to sell the Volt plug-in hybrid in Europe under its Chevrolet badge is expected to upset the balance between the brand images of Chevrolet and GM's European subsidiaries Opel and Vauxhall. In Europe, Chevrolet is perceived as a budget brand while Opel, and its Vauxhall UK spin-off, are considered GM’s premium technology leader.

GM will introduce a plug-in hybrid through Opel and Vauxhall under the E-Flex moniker, but it also plans to sell the Chevrolet Volt in Europe to help boost Chevy’s image. This could see Chevrolet move into Opel's territory and possibly cannibalize sales.

Mike Arcamone, vice president of GM Powertrain Europe, explained to Automotive News that Opel’s plug-in hybrid will arrive by around the end of 2010 and will lead the Volt by a couple of months. The two are intended to be differentiated not only by styling cues, but possibly engine options as well. The GM Flextreme, a European variant of the Volt, was shown with a 1.3L turbodiesel engine mated to its electric drive system. The Volt, meanwhile, was previewed with a 1.0L petrol engine.