Vauxhall Ampera (2012–2014)
- March 2009: Vauxhall Ampera launched
- December 2010: Ampera prices and finance packages announced
- January 2012: Upgrades to the battery system
- September 2016: Ampera E announced at Paris Motor Show, not initially for UK market.
Vauxhall Ampera launched
Vauxhall Ampera (Vauxhall badged version of Chevrolet Volt) confirmed for UK market in 2012 at Geneva Motor Show. 300 mile extended range.
Ampera’s wheels are turned electrically at all times and speeds. For journeys up to around 40-miles, it runs on electricity stored in the 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery, and emits zero CO2. When the battery’s energy is depleted, electricity from the on-board engine-generator extends the Ampera’s range to more than 300 miles.
The Ampera can be plugged into any household 240V outlet for charging. GM Europe is analysing the requirements of a recharging infrastructure for plug-in electric cars with energy companies, including Iberdrola of Spain, parent company to Scottish Power.
The "first electrically driven automobile with zero-emission capability in Europe that’s suitable for everyday driving." With its Voltec electric propulsion system providing lively acceleration and high levels of refinement, the five-door Ampera seats four passengers in comfort, offers a useful boot for their luggage, and features an extended range of more than 300 miles.
Instantaneous torque of 370 Newton metres under your right foot feels like being in a sports car, but in almost complete silence. Electricity drives the Ampera’s wheels at all times and speeds. For trips up to around 40-miles, power is supplied by the electricity stored in the 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery.
While driving on electricity delivered by the battery, the Ampera emits zero CO2. When the battery’s energy is depleted, a petrol or E85-fuelled engine-generator seamlessly provides electricity to power the electric drive unit while simultaneously sustaining the charge of the battery. This mode of operation extends the range for several hundred additional miles, until the battery can be charged via a standard household 240V outlet. Unlike a conventional battery-electric vehicle, the Ampera eliminates “range anxiety,” giving the confidence and peace of mind that the driver will not be stranded by a depleted battery.
The Ampera's battery pack will be manufactured by GM at the first lithium-ion production facility to be operated by a major automaker in the United States. More than 220 lithium-ion cells in the T-shaped pack provide ample power. The nearly silent electric drive unit delivers 370 Nm of instant torque, the equivalent of 15bhp, zero to 60mph acceleration in around nine seconds, and a top speed of 100mph.
The Ampera will be well-suited to the daily driving schedule of most customers. For example, research by GM in Europe showed that approximately 80 percent of drivers travel less than 30 miles daily. Based on current fuel prices, Vauxhall predicts that the Ampera will cost roughly one-fifth of the current cost per mile of an equivalent petrol engined car.
Ampera prices and finance packages announced
After taking advantage of the £5000 Plug-In Car Grant, customers will pay just £28,995 for the Ampera. And it's not just the price that impresses; with the efficiency of up to 50 miles range on battery power, free TFL congestion charge, no Vehicle Excise Duty payments and 5% company car taxation, Ampera's overall running costs will be extremely low.
The Vauxhall Ampera is the only real-world electric car solution for a family. It is extremely efficient, unique in the market and has a number of operating modes, maximising performance in all circumstances. Its 50 mile battery electric drive range exceeds the UK's average commuting distance but when a longer journey is required, Ampera's range-extender engine/generator produces electricity on board. The generator engages seamlessly once the battery has reached a minimum level of charge. The 50-mile battery electric range is thus extended by 310 miles permitting the driver to travel up to 360 miles without the need for recharging or refuelling.
A full charge for Ampera's battery can be achieved in less than four hours via a domestic 240v electricity socket at an average cost of around £1, depending on tariff. Commuting within the 50 mile range will ensure very low running costs on battery electric drive only. Company car BIK on £1,700.
Upgrades to the battery system
General Motors announced enhancements to the vehicle structure and battery coolant system in the Chevrolet Volt/Vaxhall Ampera that would further protect the battery from the possibility of an electrical fire occurring days or weeks after a severe crash.
The enhancements come in response to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Preliminary Evaluation to examine post-severe crash battery performance.
NHTSA opened a Preliminary Evaluation on November 25, 2011 following a severe-impact lab test on a battery pack that resulted in an electrical fire six days later. The test was conducted to reproduce a coolant leak that occurred in a full-scale vehicle crash test last May that resulted in an electrical fire three weeks later.
The Volt is a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and has earned other safety awards from key third-party organizations. Through the first 11 months of 2011, Volt owners accumulated nearly 20 million miles without an incident similar to the results in the NHTSA tests
"The Volt has always been safe to drive. Now, we will go the extra mile to ensure our customers' peace of mind in the days and weeks following a severe crash," said Mary Barra, GM senior vice president of Global Product Development.
GM will conduct a Customer Satisfaction Program to further protect the Volt battery from the possibility of an electrical fire occurring days or weeks after a severe side crash. Modifications will:
- Strengthen an existing portion of the Volt's vehicle safety structure to further protect the battery pack in a severe side collision
- Add a sensor in the reservoir of the battery coolant system to monitor coolant levels
- Add a tamper-resistant bracket to the top of the battery coolant reservoir to help prevent potential coolant overfill.
GM conducted four successful crash tests between December 9 and 21 of Volts with the structural enhancement. The enhancement performed as intended. There was no intrusion into the battery pack and no coolant leakage in any of the tests.
"These enhancements and modifications will address the concerns raised by the severe crash tests," Barra said. "There are no changes to the Volt battery pack or cell chemistry as a result of these actions. We have tested the Volt's battery system for more than 285,000 hours, or 25 years, of operation. We're as confident as ever that the cell design is among the safest on the market."
Volt customers will be individually notified when the modifications are available for their vehicle. The enhancements are being incorporated into the Volt manufacturing process as production resumes this month.
The modifications and enhancements will be applied to all Volts, including vehicles sold in Europe. The European New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP) has awarded the Chevrolet Volt the top five-star safety rating.
Ampera E announced at Paris Motor Show, not initially for UK market.
The 2017 Ampera-e electric car, premiered at the Paris Motor Show is being evaluated in the UK by Vauxhall with the possibility of right-hand-drive models being produced in a future generation.
Sold as an Opel in Europe from 2017 with left-hand-drive, the Ampera-e has a class-leading pure electrical range that can exceed 310 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 236 miles under average, every day conditions.
The range of more than 310 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.
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.
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.