As GM forges ahead with developing its electric vehicle technology GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster has told just-auto that its first range-extended plug-ins will likely arrive in Europe with a €40,000 price tag including taxes.

“We won’t make a cent of profit on that €40,000,” he conceded.

Speaking to just-auto at the London Motor Show, he remarked that while future EV technology excites him as an engineer, as a businessman ‘we have to see’ and that it is a little bit early to be excited about making money with these vehicles.

“The battery is so very expensive and that’s why we believe we have to find new collaborative approaches with the utilities. For example, the utilities could finance the batteries at a subsidised rate – like mobile phones – and then sell the electricity.”

He also said that the first GM electric hybrid drive vehicles (or range extenders – GM’s Volt comes with a petrol engine that charges the battery) to sell in Europe would share plenty with the US-made Chevrolet Volt (and would also be made in the US) before other bodystyles followed (Opel’s ‘Flextreme’ concept is Zafira sized).

The initial priority is to get the new tech vehicles out there at as low a cost as possible

“We will be one of the first with a decent vehicle with a solution to overcome the range problem. When volumes are higher and the market is ready, more variants will follow,” Forster said.

GM is planning to launch the first Vauxhall/Opel range-extended EVs in Europe in 2011/2012, at the same time as the Chevrolet Volt will be hitting the market.

Does that create a branding problem, Vauxhall/Opel supposed to be ‘first-in-segment’ with new technology and positioned slightly above the value-driven Chevrolet brand outside the US?

 “I don’t see a branding problem with the first vehicles. We want to get them out to as many dealers as possible and get people acquainted with the new technology.

“Later on we can discuss branding.”

Dave Leggett