Vauxhall has taken 200 retail deposits for its Ampera EV eight months ahead of it going on sale in the UK through a network of specialist dealers.
The Ampera is a range extender electric vehicle in the same vein as the Chevrolet Volt on which it is based. Although it runs off a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack which can be charged up from the mains over night, when this gets close to depletion during normal operation a 1.4 litre turbo petrol engine kicks in to keep it charged. The petrol engine doesn’t power the car’s wheels directly, only being used as a generator rather than for direct motive power.
The battery pack is connected to 111kW/150hp electric motors to deliver between 30 and 50 miles of pure electric operation with zero emissions when fully charged. With the petrol engine assisting and a full tank of unleaded the Ampera can cover over 300 miles before needing a top-up — and a visit to a petrol station is a much easier and quicker exercise than recharging the batteries, of course, enabling Vauxhall to pitch the car as an EV without ‘range anxiety’ (the fear you’ll be stranded when you drain the batteries).
Provisionally the Ampera has achieved 175mpg in European tests, although no CO2 figures are available.
The Ampera costs £28,995 on the road after the Government’s £5,000 Plug In car grant has been applied. It goes on sale at the end of 2011.