The new Ampera-e electric car, which will be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show later this month, will be evaluated in the UK by Vauxhall with the possibility of right-hand-drive models being produced in a future generation.
Due to be sold by Vauxhall’s sister company, Opel, from 2017 with left-hand-drive, the Ampera-e has a class-leading pure electrical range that can exceed 250 miles without recharging (purely electrical range measured, based on the New European Driving Cycle, or NEDC, in km: > 400; provisional figure). However, even taking into account the real world impact of driving style, road and weather conditions, the car can still achieve a range of over 185 miles under average, every day conditions.
‘Vauxhall is committed to having a future EV presence in its range,’ said Rory Harvey, Vauxhall’s Chairman and Managing Director. ‘The technology which underpins the new Ampera-e is of great interest to us, and we will be evaluating LHD cars from next spring and demonstrating them to clients. The fact that Ampera-e is not an eco-luxury or second car for customers broadens its appeal greatly, but it’s obviously vital that the car we sell in our market is right-hand-drive, and that won’t be available in the current generation.’
The class-leading range of 250 miles (provisional figure measured, based on the NEDC) of the Ampera-e – which beats the maximum 186-mile NEDC range of its closest competitor, the BMW i3, fitted with its optional, large 33kWh battery – is not the only feature which will be part of Vauxhall’s appraisal. Clever integration of the ten battery modules means that the 4.17 metre-long car can accommodate five people, yet still offers a 381-litre boot. The battery package is located in the underbody and is tailored to the contours of the vehicle, with no space wasted. The battery, developed in cooperation with LG Chem, comprises 288 lithium-ion cells and has a capacity of 60 kWh.
Sports car acceleration
With maximum torque of 360Nm and power equivalent to 204PS, the Ampera-e’s standing-start and mid-range acceleration figures are on a par with many a sports car. Zero to 30mph takes a mere 3.2 seconds, while 50-75mph – a particularly important yardstick for overtaking performance – takes just 4.5 seconds (preliminary figures). Top speed is electronically limited to 93mph for the benefit of overall range.
The Ampera-e also has the ability to re-charge its batteries while being driven. To do so, the driver just eases off the accelerator in the normal ‘Drive’ mode. The Ampera-e recuperates automatically in overrun and wins back energy from the electric motor, which doubles as a generator. The motor’s braking effect is increased when the driver switches to ‘Low’ mode, therefore increasing recuperation. Furthermore, the driver can switch to ‘Regen on Demand’ for maximum energy recuperation, via a paddle at the back of the steering wheel. The drag torque is so high in ‘Low/Regen on Demand’ modes that the brake pedal need not be applied to reduce speed to a full stop in normal traffic, leaving the Ampera-e to be safely controlled by the accelerator (naturally, the brake pedal still needs to be applied in an emergency).
Initial vehicle simulation models show that drivers can increase the range by up to five per cent compared with ‘Drive’ mode, when applying ‘One Pedal Driving’ with the corresponding full recuperation in dense city stop/go traffic.
Fully connected with OnStar and smartphone integration
The Ampera-e has both the latest generation IntelliLink infotainment and OnStar on board, with the award-winning connectivity and service assistant offering a powerful WiFi hotspot for up to seven devices (depending on market). The Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-compatible IntelliLink systems bring the world of smartphones into the Ampera-e, allowing passengers complete access to their favourite music, or the luxury of streaming movies.