General Motors Vice Chairman Steve Girsky has had it up to his eyeballs with Europe. It's one thing to attempt to bail out GM's Opel subsidiary in the beleaguered European auto market. It's another to market the Opel Ampera plug-in hybrid to such tepid response.
"All the governments in Europe said, 'We want EVs, we want EVs.' We show up with one, and where is everybody?" Girsky said last week at the Geneva Motor Show, as reported by Automotive News Europe.
Girsky expects a lot more from European governments to instill demand for EVs. "We're hoping for some support from other places, whether its subsidies or infrastructure help or something like that," he said.
Something needs to be done to increase sales for the Ampera, which sold fewer than 6,000 units last year. That was enough to grab more than 20 percent of the market of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in Europe, but it was far removed from its US cousin, the Chevrolet Volt, which saw sales triple to 23,461 units in 2012, Girsky said.
For now, the Opel Ampera is a loss leader for GM, which will continue to sell the plug-in hybrid. The global automaker is working hard to drive down costs as it maps out the next-generation Volt and Opel. "We're willing to absorb some losses on this because it's new technology," he said.