Not Bolt-with-new-badge. Opel Ampera-e has unique styling, C-pillar design similar to latest Astra

Not Bolt-with-new-badge. Opel Ampera-e has unique styling, C-pillar design similar to latest Astra

General Motors' European unit Opel said it would launch "a revolutionary" new battery electric car next year as part of its plan to launch 29 new models between 2016 and 2020.

The new five-door, five seat car will be called Ampera-e, reviving the nameplate Ampera used previously on Opel and Vauxhall versions of the US-made Volt range extender EV (which was also sold in Europe by Chevrolet, a brand since withdrawn from the continent).

Opel promised the Ampera-e "will not only have a longer range on a full charge than most electric cars, it will also be affordably priced".

Announcing the model at the CAR Symposium in Bochum, Germany, GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra said: "GM and Opel have always been convinced that electric cars will play a defining role in future mobility. The game-changing technology of the Ampera-e is a significant step toward realising that vision. Our new battery electric car is also another boost for Opel's reputation for making innovative engineering widely accessible."

"Electric vehicles have the potential to make a significant contribution to climate protection and emissions reduction", said Opel group CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann. "The new car will open the road to electric mobility by breaking down the barriers of high price and short driving range."

While the previous Ampera was sold also as a Vauxhall in the UK, a brand spokesman said it was too early to announce any plans for the market. "No decisions have been made," she told just-auto.

Nonetheless, having established some traction with the Ampera, and given the relative success of the Nissan Leaf and other EVs such as the BMW i3, it is hard to imagine Vauxhall not taking up a chance to pitch a new competitor into the mainstream EV sector, highlighting its range advantage, likely to be around the 200 miles claimed for the upcoming US Chevy Bolt. 'Alternative fuel' vehicles accounted for about 73,000 of the UK's 2.6m new car sales in 2015 with sales of plug-in hybrids more than doubling, according to the SMMT, while pure EV sales rose 50%.

Opel said the unique, compact proportions of the Ampera-e are due to the battery pack being mounted flat under the vehicle floor. The car's styling is broadly similar in outline but all panels appear different from the Bolt.

"The efficient packaging of the battery also enables a roomy interior providing comfortable seating for five passengers and [boot] space comparable with that of a car in the compact class," Opel said.

OnStar and various connectivity and infotainment technologies that integrate smartphones and other electronic devices with the vehicle will be standard or optional. Opel and Vauxhall advertising currently is touting the recently redesigned Astra's 4G LTE internet 'hub' capabilities and the services offered through the recently launched, pan-Europe OnStar service.