2012 Opel Ampera

Most gearheads know the Opel Ampera is the European near-twin of the Chevy Volt. There are obvious exterior differences, such as the Ampera's "boomerang" headlights and Opel badging, but inside, the only noticeable difference is another Opel badge on the steering wheel.

Bradley Hasemeyer and the Translogic crew traveled to Germany to find out if the trans-Atlantic differences were more than skin deep. Surprisingly, he found one rather interesting revision.

In the U.S., Volts get three driver-selectable operating modes. We get Normal, Sport and Mountain modes. But German Amperas get a fourth mode: Halten mode. When cruising the Autobahn, drivers can restrict the use of the Ampera's battery and run only on the small, fuel-efficient engine. Once back on surface streets, they can turn loose the battery and bask in bank-account-boosting, ridiculously good, low-cost electric motor cruising.

Why don't we get Halten mode in the U.S.? Well, the obvious reason is probably that most Americans don't speak German. Beyond that, though, Hasemeyer can only guess that government regulations might hold back implementation here. The again, maybe General Motors just likes Germans more.

Watch the video after the jump.