Separated at birth: The differences between the Chevy Volt and Opel Ampera


You’re probably already familiar with the Opel Ampera. It’s the Chevrolet Volt’s sleeker, sexier, and more sophisticated brother from another European mother. Up until now, there really hasn’t been all that much separating the Volt and the Ampera — save for some aesthetic differences on the Ampera’s exterior, such as the front end’s angular “boomerang” headlights and obvious Opel branding.

Recently, though, Bradley Hasemeyer and the Translogic crew headed across the pond to Germany to see if the differences between the Volt and Ampera are indeed simply visual. Interestingly, they found one distinction between the two.

While Chevy Volts feature three driving modes: Normal, Sport, and Mountain. German Amperas include a fourth mode: Halten, or “battery hold” mode. Halten mode gives drivers the ability to limit the use of the Ampera’s battery and power itself with the vehicle’s fuel engine. The idea being that fuel economy on highways, like the Autobahn, will yield higher fuel efficiency and battery power can be saved for city driving where fuel economy is typically low.

Even though the Volt doesn’t feature the fourth driving mode, the Ampera’s Halten Mode is similar in some ways to the Volt’s Mountain Mode. The main difference between the two is that while the Volt’s Mountain Mode is in engaged it recharges the battery at 45 percent state of charge, while the Ampera’s Halten Mode does not. Instead, it holds that charge at whatever level it was at when engaged and doesn’t try to recharge the battery.

We’re not entirely sure why Halten Mode was omitted from the Volt, but Hasemeyer guesses government regulations may have played a part. And while the Opel Ampera has been deemed a success in Europe – and is on its way to meeting GM’s sales targets for the year – the Chevy Volt, while critically acclaimed, has struggled with sales in America. Issues regarding battery safety and a seemingly high price tag haven’t helped matters either.

In Europe, GM has already received 7,000 orders for the Ampera in February alone. It took the Volt’s a full year of production before it reached that level, selling 7,671 in 2011.

Unlike its American counterpart, the European Ampera has been basking in the warmth of affection – at least sales wise. So much so, in fact, that the Volt might be developing an unhealthy inferiority complex over its European brother. Could the Ampera’s more stylish design and additional drive mode be the proverbial straw to break the Volt’s back? We doubt it. And besides, it could just be a matter of time before some industrious and tech savvy Volt owner figures out a way to “jailbreak” the Volt and allow us Americans to utilized Halten Mode this side of the Atlantic.

Check out the video below:

Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is the pinnacle of luxury SUVs, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.

Aston Martin bets classic car owners will choose volts over carburetors

Aston Martin has converted one of its most sought-after classic models to run on electricity instead of gasoline. The roadster uses electric components sourced from the upcoming Rapide E sedan.

Volkswagen may be planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car may head to the Nürburgring in 2019 for a lap-record attempt, according to a new report. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car.

600-hp, $155K Polestar 1 is the alluring Volvo coupe you’ve been waiting for

Volvo's return to the coupe segment just took an interesting turn: the model will join the Polestar lineup, and it will get a 600-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain. The Polestar 1 will be built in China starting in 2019.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.

The Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake is the sexiest wagon ever

Aston Martin has revealed new photos of the limited-production Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake. The Vanquish Zagato line now includes the Shooting Brake, Coupe, Volante, and Speedster, each with bespoke styling.

Nissan and Italdesign’s GT-R50 concept will become a $1.1 million reality

The Nissan GT-R50 is a customized sports car built to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the GT-R and design firm Italdesign. Underneath the sleek bodywork sits a 710-horsepower engine fortified with race car components.

Ford’s new Shelby GT500 Mustang will have 3D-printed brake parts

Ford's new $45 million Advanced Manufacturing Center will focus on emerging technologies, including 3D printing. One of the staff's first jobs is to print parts for the 700-horsepower Shelby GT500 Mustang.

World’s fastest electric race car to display at Petersen Museum

The Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak race car smashed the all-time record at the hill climb for which it was named. The all-electric VW record-holder will be on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles until February 1, 2019.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

This freewheeling Army truck-turned-tiny home is a labor of love

Most tiny homes are models of efficiency but one British metal worker has redefined the idea, converting an old Army truck into a mobile tiny home that comes with a bed, a sofa, a shower, and a beer garden.

Take a friend stargazing at 202 mph in the 2019 McLaren 720S Spider

McLaren has introduced the 2019 720S Spider. As its name implies, it's a convertible variant of the 720S coupe. The company promises the Spider retains the coupe's dynamism and agility thanks in part to the widespread use of carbon fiber.