Opel has announced pricing and started taking reservations for the European sibling of the Chevy Volt – the Opel Ampera. Although prices between countries may differ due to different trim, Opel says the suggested retail price for the base model throughout Europe will start at 42,900 euro – that’s just over US$58,500 at the current exchange rate – which has raised eyebrows since the base price of the Volt in the U.S. is $41,000.

As if to offset concerns about the seemingly high price GM says: “Some competitors choose to split their offers for electric cars into two portions: a base price for the car and a leasing rate for the battery pack. This does make the price appear attractive because the battery leasing rate is not highlighted. However, battery leases are paid monthly for several years, so the total cost is roughly the same as a car whose total price includes both the car and the battery. Opel's pricing scheme eliminates confusion by listing the total cost of the car and battery."

Officially launched at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, the Ampera, like the Volt, is dubbed an electric vehicle although it is actually a hybrid that gasoline-fueled generator to extend the vehicle’s driving range to more than 500km (310 miles). Although the company says it’s ability to travel the first 40 to 80km (25 to 50 miles) on battery power would be enough for the 80 percent of Europeans that drive less than 60 km (37 miles) a day.

The main difference between the Volt and the Ampera is in the looks department, most notably the front end with the Ampera sporting distinctive boomerang headlamps. Mechanically, however, the only real difference between the two vehicles is the charging port, with the Ampera’s designed to suit the higher voltage supplied by most European outlets.

The Ampera’s battery pack can be fully recharged in about three hours at 230v via a standard European outlet, which is much faster than the 10 to 12 hours the Volt takes to charge via a standard U.S. outlet. However, it’s comparable to the roughly four hours the U.S. Volt takes to recharge using a 240-volt fast charge station.

Opel is taking reservations for the Ampera now ahead of a fourth quarter 2011 release.

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