Is Vauxhall’s Ampera the missing piece in the EV jigsaw?

30 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Is Vauxhall’s Ampera the missing piece in the EV jigsaw? отключены
VAUXHALL Ampera Electric Cars

Is Vauxhall’s Ampera the missing piece in the EV jigsaw?

It is 2012’s Car of the Year and the Police want it as a pimped-out crime fighting machine. but does Vauxhall’s Ampera hold the key to opening motorists’ hearts to 100% electric motoring?

Maybe. There is plenty to suggest that the plug-in range-extender could appeal to those turned off by electric vehicles’ limited range or are left unconvinced by their loftier price-tag.

Eliminating ‘range anxiety’ was one of Vauxhall’s key aims with the Ampera and it’s fair to say they have been successful. The 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery can deliver up to 50 miles on a full charge, certainly enough for the average work commuter, but if it isn’t then a 1.4L petrol engine — backed by a 35-litre tank — kicks in to deliver up to 310 miles. Not only that but it actually generates electricity to recharge the depleted battery, through regenerative braking, so you can get back to zero-emission motoring without having to plug-in.

It is points like that this that means labelling the Ampera a mere ‘hybrid’ is doing it a disservice. There’s no argument that when all is said and done that this is a hybrid but would a Prius deliver a triple figure mpg?

Well yes, the forthcoming Plug-In version would, but forget about that; the fact that the Ampera can return a stonking 235.4 miles to the gallon (100+ miles more than the Plug-Inable Prius) is more than enough to warrant the Ampera’s freshly coined ‘range extender’ label.

Range extended, gap closed

From the outside, there is little to suggest that the Ampera is different to any other five door saloon. While the Nissan LEAF had that odd bubbly shape at the rear and an irregular feel that set it apart from everything that came before, the Ampera plays down its unique qualities, aside maybe from the more futuristic, ‘angry robot’ front grille, and lets the mpg do the talking.

The interior styling struck this writer as a bit tacky however the hexagonal designs on the door might be reserved for promotional purposes; press shots don’t include the irksome motifs.

With the press of a blue button, we’re ready. As with any EV and most hybrids, start-up is completely silent.

Driving the Ampera is a joy, the electric drive unit delivers 148bhp — 370 Nm of instant torque — and picking up speed is as swift and satisfying as any EV on the market. Reaching 60mph from a stand-still takes around nine seconds and speed tops out at 100mph.

VAUXHALL Ampera Electric Cars

Putting the Ampera through its paces round soggy corners further emphasises that it has its wheels firmly on the ground with no compromises made to the handling or ride.

Safety isn’t an issue either; Euro NCAP awarded the Ampera five stars back in August 2011, exceeded the maximum points needed to achieve the top rating in all categories. It turned out top results in occupant protection, child safety, pedestrian protection, safety assist and the side barrier test, thanks to its combination of solid core body structure, rigid passenger cell and efficient restraint systems.

With the journey complete, a screen shows the driver just how much of their motoring was powered by the battery and the fuel consumption.

Despite its triumphs and innovations, many still believe that buying an Ampera requires a hefty dose of faith in the technology.

Battery technology is constantly improving and developing so it highly probable that in time, the range-extender will be looked back on as one of the vehicles that brought people closer to the idea of having an electric vehicle on their drive. We’ll see.

The Vauxhall Ampera will hit UK showrooms this May, priced from ?29,995 when applying the Government’s ?5k Plug-In Car grant.

Residual value experts Glass’s and CAP suggest that the Ampera will be worth around 40 per cent of its new value at ?14,500 after three years/60,000 miles.

VAUXHALL Ampera Electric Cars
VAUXHALL Ampera Electric Cars
VAUXHALL Ampera Electric Cars

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