The Vauxhall Ampera

The Vauxhall Ampera is, as you may have guessed, the European version of the Chevrolet Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle (or E-REV) for short. It is essentially a hybrid car that uses electric motors for 100% of the driving and a small 1.4 litre petrol engine for recharging the batteries on the go, a similar system to the one used in the upcoming Fisker Karma luxury sedan.

Chevrolet have been trying to distance themselves from the word “hybrid” as they feel it more accurately describes a Prius style drivetrain with a small electric motor providing an assist to the main internal combustion system. The Society for Automotive Engineers agrees with them and their official definition of a hybrid is “a vehicle that has two or more energy storage systems both of which must provide propulsion power, either together or independently”.

The Ampera has the same basic spec sheet as the Volt with a 40 mile range on batteries alone and an additional 310 miles using the petrol engine to generate electrical power. Studies have shown that the average European has a daily commute of under 40 miles, so most Ampera owners won’t actually need to use the petrol engine unless they decide to head further afield.

The Ampera is expected to be built in Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port, near Liverpool in the UK (just across the river from the Jaguar plant) and deliveries are expected to begin in 2011. The price of the Ampera will be between £20-25,000 and the UK government will offer a £5,000 tax break for those who buy the car. This is going to make it a very good deal in the UK and the ability to avoid the petrol pump in a country where fuel tax is amongst the highest in the world will be another, very significant motivator.

If you live in the UK and would like to register your interest, head over to the Vauxhall site.

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