The Vauxhall Ampera, European Car of the Year 2012, will be the first electric vehicle suitable for everyday use. Its sophisticated propulsion system offers drivers all the benefits of electric driving, without any of the range anxiety associated with pure electric vehicles (EVs).
The Ampera is not a hybrid. Electricity powers the wheels of the Ampera at all times, with a 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack feeding an advanced 150PS electric drive unit, delivering between 25-50 miles of battery-powered electric drive and zero tailpipe emissions.
But what sets the Ampera apart from other EVs on the market is its range extender, which boosts the car’s range by up to 310 miles. A small 1.4-litre petrol-fuelled engine/generator runs at optimum efficiency, generating enough electricity to power the electric motor (but not the wheels) and operates seamlessly as part of the Ampera’s powertrain. The results are a total driving range of up to 360 miles and, according to figures produced on the official European Test Cycle (ECE R101) the Ampera achieves 235.4mpg and combined tailpipe emissions of just 27g/km.
And the cost savings continue. As well as benefiting from the government’s Plug-In Car Grant, zero VED, zero Congestion Charge and a 50 per cent reduction in company car tax, the Ampera costs around £1.00 to fully charge, depending on tariff. But since it doesn’t rely on a public charging infrastructure for propulsion, it can continue to be driven normally on electric power if a charging point isn’t available.
Adding further to the car’s usability is a comprehensive customer support package. The Ampera comes with Vauxhall’s Lifetime Warranty and an eight-year, 100,000 mile warranty on the battery. Customers also have the choice of 24 specialist Ampera dealers spread across the UK, and the reassurance of the Ampera Customer Charter, which provides owners with exceptional levels of support.
On top of the cost and emissions advantages, the Ampera remains a thoroughly practical, everyday car that requires no compromise. It seats four adults in comfort and its hatchback design offers excellent practicality. Its performance is also impressive, reaching a top speed of 100mph and accelerating from 0-60mph in just 8.7 seconds.
Prices start from £29,995 inclusive of the government’s plug-in car grant, and the range will comprise three models, each with a choice of two interior trims. High levels of standard equipment will be available on all models, including DAB radio, a 7-inch touch-screen display, cruise control and alloy wheels. Positiv and Electron models are available to order now, with the entry level Ampera to follow in the summer.