Electric vehicles arrives at Vauxhall

 The Ampera is an electric car, but it also has a small petrol motor which keeps the lithium ion batteries charged. Vauxhall gave the most persuasive demonstration yet of its new Ampera’s core strengths of ultra-low emissions and real-world usability when a prototype electric car traversed seven UK counties; its production version would have enough energy left to do the same again.

The 175-mile journey started at Luton, Vauxhall’s home for the last 105 years, wound its way up the M1 and M6 motorways via Birmingham, and ended up with a tumultuous reception at the company’s UK manufacturing plant in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

Every mile covered by the Ampera E-REV (Extended-Range Electric Vehicle) was electrically driven, yet on reaching Ellesmere, its range extender meant that it could travel still further. In full production guise, the Ampera would have made it back to Luton.

This 350-mile potential is unique in an electric vehicle and made possible by the Ampera’s range-extender, a small petrol engine/generator that seamlessly cuts in after around 40 miles to sustain the battery’s charge. The lithium ion battery then continues to power the Ampera’s electric drive unit, which in turn drives its front wheels.

Duncan Aldred, Vauxhall’s Managing Director drove the first leg of the journey, and was waved off by Griffin House staff at 10am this morning. “This is truly a red-letter day for Vauxhall,” said Duncan. “The Ampera will offer British motorists a groundbreaking solution to low emissions car ownership, and will prove that running an electric car no longer means being anxious about charge levels after the first few miles. What’s more, its performance and refinement will surprise motorists, as will its practicality – it’s a genuine proposition for green-thinking families and businesses alike.”

Tony Francavilla, Plant Director at Ellesmere Port, was optimistic about the car’s future in the UK: “The Ampera will re-adjust people’s attitudes toward electric vehicles as crude, slow and compromised. It’s none of these, yet has the potential to be used every day with zero tailpipe emissions, and without a trip to the filling station. Our workforce here at Ellesmere Port is right behind the Ampera, and we look forward to seeing it on British roads at the start of 2012.”