Disregarding the threats about car fires, crashes, various government conspiracies, and terrible marketing schemes, clearly European auto consumers are made of more resilient stuff than us. The Opel Ampera, which is our Chevy Volt in a Groß-Gerauian accent, is Europe’s best-selling electric vehicle—at least in the month of May.
In total, the Ampera enjoys a 20-percent market share in the electric vehicle market, where it goes against some cars we don’t get here. To be fair, it’s a pretty small market. The Nissan Leaf is its primary contender, as well as the jellybean-shaped Mitsubishi MiEV, which is rickety even by Europe’s masochistic standards. But it’s apparently popular enough to be rebadged as the Peugeot iON and Citroen C-Zero, which also factor into segment shares. Even the tiny the Smart Electric Drive is also a contender, even though it’s half the size of the Ampera.
Still, people in the Netherlands—where the Ampera comprised 77 percent of EV sales in May, and 50 percent total—and in Germany and Switzerland—where the Ampera sold 33 and 44 percent, respectively—have noticed. Opel is on track of reaching its goal of selling 10,000 units by the end of this year, and with approximately 7,000 already sold by April, it’s well on its way.
Hopefully, Opel touts this victory with more urgency than what it actually means. Because electric cars are still utterly insignificant in Europe: with just a 0.09 percent market share in Western Europe in 2011, the most electric vehicles sold in any country barely reaches over 2,500. (That country is France, with 2,630, in case you were wondering.) In total, Western Europe saw 11,563 electric cars sold in 2011, which is about how many diesel Volkswagen Polos are cranked out of Kaluga before lunchtime.
Cheer up, Ampera. Your makeup’s running.