The revolutionary Vauxhall Ampera will be 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.
"Driving electrically is not only about ecology," said Frank Weber, GM global vehicle line executive and chief engineer. "Driving electrically is also great fun. 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.
“Advanced lithium-ion battery technology is the key to getting the Vauxhall Ampera into the hands of consumers”, said Hans Demant, GME vice president of engineering. “The engineers at our research and development centre in Mainz-Kastel, Germany, are testing the battery round the clock, 365 days a year, to ensure that it meets the needs and expectations of our customers.”
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 150bhp, 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.