September 9, 2013 / 11:51 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Opel cuts Ampera electric car price by 17 pct in Germany

* Opel cuts price for first time by 8,000 euros in Germany

* Effective immediately in Germany, other markets to follow

* “No coincidence” it comes with arrival of new competitors

FRANKFURT, Sept 9 (Reuters) - General Motors’ European brand Opel has announced a 17 percent cut in the price of its Ampera electric car in Germany at this week’s Frankfurt car show, where rivals will be showing off their electric models for the first time.

“Effective immediately, we are lowering the price of an Ampera to 38,300 euros ($50,400), which is a cut of almost 8,000 euros in Germany,” Opel Chief Executive Karl-Thomas Neumann told an industry conference on Monday.

Speaking to reporters, Neumann said it was no coincidence that the price cut coincided with the premiere of key competitor models like the electric version of the Volkswagen Golf hatchback and Up minicar.

“We see a tremendous chance given all the talk about electro-mobility and we want to remind people that we have been in the market already for one and a half years,” he said.

Price cuts will also be made in other markets, but due to differing tax laws, the price-tag and the size of the reduction will be different from country to country, a company spokesman said.

Opel’s finance chief Michael Lohscheller said the price cut would not have any impact on its target of a slightly narrower loss for Opel this year given the relatively low sales figures.

He also said that a better-than-expected first half would not mean it would upgrade its outlook either. “The second half is traditionally weaker than the first half in the auto industry due to seasonal effects. We’re sticking to our full-year guidance,” Opel CFO told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.

Only 828 new Ampera cars were registered in Germany last year out of a market of 3.08 million vehicles, according to official figures from the KBA motor vehicle agency.

The Ampera can travel between 40-80 kilometres electrically. Once the battery is depleted, the car can drive another 500 kilometres with its combustion engine range extender.

Carmakers will be hoping that increasing critical mass of electric vehicles on the market will help boost the thus far less than impressive sales across the European region and beyond, IHS Automotive analyst Tim Urquhart wrote in a research report on Friday.

In France, Europe’s largest electric vehicle market, sales of Renault’s Zoe only amounted to 3,592 cars despite enjoying a 75 percent share of the market, he said. “If one takes the Zoe as an example, the omens do not appear hugely encouraging,” he said.

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