Automotive News reports Opel is delaying delivery of its Ampera extended-range hybrid to customers. The plug-in gas-electric hatchbacks have already arrived at dealers across Europe, but the automaker wants to ensure the vehicles' batteries are safe even in the event of an accident. The delay comes on the heels of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration evaluation which saw its Chevrolet Volt twin catch fire three weeks after a series of crash tests. Since the Volt and Ampera are mechanically identical, Opel says that it wants to set up a process to deal with the batteries to make sure they're safe.
Both the Volt and the Ampera are assembled at the General Motors plant in Hamtramck, Michigan, and both make use of lithium-ion batteries to power their electric motors. GM has offered to buy back any Chevrolet Volt models from owners concerned about the safety of their vehicle, but few have taken them up on the offer. The company is currently working on a solution to the fire issue, and the U.S. government is investigating why it took NHTSA so long to bring the battery pack problem to light.