back to article Vauxhall Ampera hybrid e-car

Only the most ardent electric-vehicle advocate would argue that the current state of battery technology and absence of recharging infrastructure isn’t an impediment to the widespread adoption of the e-car. On paper, the new Vauxhall Ampera – the European version of the Chevrolet Volt – has the perfect answer to this problem: …


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  1. Chris D Rogers

    Not impressed

    So the Kia Rio 1.1TD does more than 80mpg for less than half the price of this car and with similar emissions - not withstanding pollution from the battery pack system itself.

    In a nutshell, from where I live I cannot do a return journey via battery alone to Cardiff, never mind Bristol and over the life of the vehicle I'll spend more on fuel than with the Kia.

    Until we are able to see electric powered cars that can transverse a minimum of 100 miles before charging/ swapping to a conventional engine - what exactly is the point?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. jungle_jim

        Re: Not impressed


        is that quick now?

        Is it possible that people aren't trying to race you?

        1. jungle_jim

          Re: Not impressed

          just an FYI and my google fu might be weak.

          Rio 1.1 top speed 106mph

          Ampera top speed 100mph.

          I think id rather take a few year old big smelly diesel thanks :P

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not impressed

          yeah too busy saving fuel.

          yes I know I'm impatient.

          and I can't be bothered to justify it here, better things to do.

        3. Magnus_Pym

          Re: Not impressed

          "Is it possible that people aren't trying to race you?"

          Your daily commute includes the Nurburgring?

    2. fandom

      Re: Not impressed

      "Until we are able to see electric powered cars that can transverse a minimum of 100 miles before charging/ swapping to a conventional engine"

      That would be next month when Tesla will start delivering their model S.

      Although you can still complain about it being too expensive.

    3. Seanie Ryan

      Re: Not impressed

      Can one article on e-cars PLEASE tell me how much it costs to charge this thing?

      I have yet to read one article what doesnt conveniently leave this out. Leccy is not Free.

      Quoting MPG based on petrol is all well and good, but if you tell me that charging everynight adds £200 to my electricity bill each month, then the whole thing kinda goes up in smoke. (as the batteries most likely will after the first tip you have in the car!! )

      1. Pet Peeve

        do the math

        electricity prices vary by location, but this is not hard to figure out if you know the capacity of the battery bank.

        There's a 16kwh battery in this care, meaning you need to put 16 kilowatt hours into it to fill it up. Chargers are fairly efficient, let's say 85%. So, at my local cost of $.09 per kwh...

        16 * .09 / .85 = $1.69

        Another quick calculation - gas is running about $4.00 per gallon right now. So, that $1.69 would buy me about .4 gallons of gas. My current car gets 52 miles per gallon (I have a long commute and bought a prius, sue me), so I'd get about 21 miles on that amount of gas. The blurb says 35 to 60 miles on a charge, so this is a pretty good deal.

        I can only go about a mile and a half in EV mode (and the gas engine kicks in at 25mph), but I do use it in the neighborhood, and being that quiet is really cool. A car that mostly ran electric, but had gas backup like this, is about as good as it gets right now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: do the math

          and in English: I pay 6p per kWh over night on economy 7, a full charge (if you drive less you use less) would be about 14kWh = 84 pence, If that would get you 40 miles then it is 2.1Pence per mile.

          With Petrol at £1.40 litre you would need to be achieving better than 303mpg(uk) to be better-off on petrol.

          With a standard Tariff you could be paying up to 15p per kWh which would give you 5.25pence per mile, and your break even with petrol would be by achieving 121mpg(uk).

          For our US cousins our fuel price converts to $8.30 per gallon(US).

        2. DuncanB

          Re: do the math

          There are a couple of things wrong with your figures. First, the battery is 16kWh but the car never fully charges it nor does it let it run completely flat so the maximum used from the battery is about 10kWh. Secondly you forgot to allow for losses in the charging circuitry so from a 230V socket you can actually expect to use about 12.5kWh to charge (and another kWh or so if you only have 110V).

          However, ballpark your figures are about correct. In the UK people probably pay between about 5p and 14p per kWh for electricity giving 60p-£1.75 per charge which assuming a charge is about equivalent to 1 gallon of fuel compares favourably to the £6.50/gallon we pay.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not impressed

        Add up all the VAT and tax on petrol/diesel vs electricity. Not to mention you can install solar panels to help with electricity costs.

        Not to mention these things output so little CO2 that the VED is low or free. No congestion charge either.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not impressed

          "Not to mention you can install solar panels to help with electricity costs."

          Which would generate electricty during the day while your car is outside your work place and therefore can't be plugged into the free solar electric.

          I'm not anti solar panels, I have a 4kw system myself, just pointing out where you went wrong with the comment.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not impressed

            No doubt your solar panels were subsidised by the tax payer and you had enough ready cash to pay for them.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not impressed

              "No doubt your solar panels were subsidised by the tax payer and you had enough ready cash to pay for them."

              Sigh, here we go. No, you have it wrong. Solar panels are subsidised not from tax, it's a £15 increase on everyones yearly electric bill, yes a large portion will have jobs and pay tax and therefore be 'tax payers' but some will be on benefits or ultra rich tax dodgers, but they will also have to pay the electric bill.

              "enough ready cash" - Loan for a new car or buy a 2nd hand car and use a loan for an investment instead?

      3. Mark 65

        Re: Not impressed

        @Seanie Ryan: Another thing that should be included on any car review are the servicing costs. For the warranty services you should be able to quote a figure (which can be shopped around on). Also when do the batteries need replacing and at what cost as this (to me) is part of the fuel cost as it occurs way before an engine needs replacing?

        Let us not even get started on how electric cars that need mains charging are a ridiculous proposition in the UK with the power infrastructure over the next, say, 10 years. I'm not talking power outlets and their availability, I'm talking availability of electricity.

    4. Bobter

      Re: Not impressed

      The point is... this car isn't for you. There are alot of people out there who drive < 35 miles each day. They may never have to visit a petrol station again. If it doesn't work for you, that's fine, but you alone are not the market.

      1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

        Re: Not impressed

        If you do drive less than 35 miles each day, there's not a lot of point spending an extra £17,000 ish to gain a bit of extra fuel economy.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not impressed

          Extra £17,000 over what?

          Seems there are 567 Cars between £35k and £50k.

        2. This Side Up

          Re: Not impressed

          and if you do drive less than 35 miles a day WTF is the point of lugging round and internal combustion engine and a completely separate drive train?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not impressed

      Electric is about less pollution in towns and cities plus less noise pollution. A diesel pumps out toxic soot.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The raw materials used to make this car far outweigh any Eco advantage. At this price it will only be cash rich celebs that will buy it in an attempt to prove they care for the environment.

      Just like the Prius, it's a car for smug self centred upstarts who like to lecture others on how to save the world. Sadly it still need fossil fuels and nuclear produced energy to charge it.

    7. Ru

      Re: Not impressed

      The 45mpg of the Ampera is indeed a bit disappointing. By the sounds of things, they've tried to be a bit too clever with the drive train (its a bit Prius-esque, and that's not brilliant, efficiency wise), which in turn means that they couldn't manage a purely electric drive system with a fuel-driven generator keeping it topped up.

      It isn't at all clear to me why they chose petrol instead of diesel, too. Maybe its a sporty car image thing, or maybe they don't like diesel cars over the atlantic? Oh well, maybe the next model will be better.

      But as for you '100 miles on battery' thing... it is possible that a purely electric drive train with a combustion engine generator could be more efficient than a plain old combustion. Roll on a commercial Bladon turbine driven IEP, eh?

  2. frank ly

    Just wondering ...

    "I can’t really say the same about the touch-sensitive buttons on the centre console though.

    They apparently use less electrical power than standard switches .."

    As far as I know, 'standard switches' use zero power and have done for many years. Perhaps Vauxhall didn't explain it properly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just wondering ...

      Yes in the off state, but in the on state they usually short to ground via a relay and resistor, constantly draining power, also they cannot be automatically reset or changed state.

      Perhaps real Push to contact buttons would be best.

      Anyway we wont have to wait long for James May to do a review in driving gloves..

      1. NogginTheNog

        Re: James May

        ...And? Since when does anyone with a brain listen to what the pillocks on TG have to say?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: James May

          I think the point was that he's the only twat who'd do a review in driving gloves, (which may not work the touch controls) unless you can think of anyone else?

          1. Eponymous Cowherd

            Re: James May

            "I think the point was that he's the only twat who'd do a review in driving gloves, (which may not work the touch controls) unless you can think of anyone else?"

            Abu Hamza?

  3. Robert E A Harvey


    Too complex, too heavy, too expensive. and too slow to charge.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No.

      Too Complex = lifetime Warranty.

      Too Heavy = 1715kg verses diesel focus 1630kg (ford figure here)

      Too Expensive = Petrol @£1.42 Litre, Electricity at 6p/kWh (eco 7 overnight)

      Too Slow to Charge = 4 hrs on 16amp. 6hrs on 10Amp (mains plug). Just how long do you sleep/work for?

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: No.

        > Petrol @£1.42 Litre, Electricity at 6p/kWh (eco 7 overnight)

        That's a short-term gain. Half the price of petrol is tax/duty, if everyone drove things like this the government would have to find some way to recover the lost income. You'll still end up paying it.

        If you want to do an accurate comparison, take the cost of petrol before tax and compare it with the cost of electricity before tax, The numbers look much less interesting.

        1. fandom

          Re: No.

          On the other hand, if everyone drives things like these, a lot of money won't be sent overseas to pay for oil, said money will be spent here increasing income from other taxes.

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: No.

            @fandom "if everyone drives things like these, a lot of money won't be sent overseas to pay for oil"

            Quite right. It will be sent overseas to pay for natural gas, instead. Did you think electricity comes from nowhere?

            1. fandom

              Re: No.

              Of course not, it comes from the huge shale gas reserves the UK has.

              But even if you'd rather leave fracking to the merkins, natural gas is dirty cheap nowadays.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No.

          There's also the fact that vast amounts of the population do not have off road parking and easy power access to charge these cars. If street chargers are aver installed you can bet they will cost much more that domestic rates (with or without TAX).

          And the big issue being that our eletricity grid is due to start failing in about 5-10 years anyway, due to all the power plants that are reaching end of life.

          1. Danny 14

            Re: No.

            even so, £1k per year in fuel isnt too unreasonable. so even in the vauxhall was giving fuel for free it would still be more expensive than the competition.

          2. Tom 38 Silver badge

            Re: No.

            Presumably this would get charged up over night, you know, the time of the day when our power grid is overflowing with excess capacity. You may even get into the situation where there are docking points along a typical residential street with free or subsidized electricity between the hours of 1 AM and 6 AM.

            Our excess overnight capacity will increase even more if we continue to splurge all our money on things like windfarms, which produce leccy whenever the wind blows.

  4. Mat Child


    It's far too expensive, the dash is UGLY and the Electric only range is still very very small

    On the plus side it is by far the best looking of the breed on the oustide, most EV only cars (as opposed to conversions of IC models) are just plain hideous.

    I guess the clever tricks with the engineering, add to the cost, only time to allow the technology to mature will bring the prices down and ranges up, but they still have a long way to go till they replace pure IC driven machines

    1. tmTM

      Re: Nah

      he Electric only range is still very very small

      Yes but it's a step in the right direction, at least it can take me to work and then defiantly return me using petrol.

      Versus the Nissan Leaf which may or may not complete both journeys depending on traffic, weather, time of year etc etc.

  5. Ron1

    Ripoff price?

    The price of Volt/Ampera in US (after $7.5K tax rebate) is $32.000, in UK it is $50.000 (after £5000 e-car grant)! 60% mor for the same car?!?!?

    Why? Because GM can! In US, they calculated the payback time for the hybrid (compared to standard GM Cruze) is 14 years.

    With much higher fuel prices in UK, they can mark up the price 60% and the payback period is still about the same...

    That £12,000 premium over a diesel Focus gets you enough diesel for about 90.000 miles!

    And even if Volt was only driven in the e-mode for 90k miles, it would consume about 25MWh of leccy, costing about £2-3k. Not to mention the petrol price in a more realistic scenario, where you do not drive the 90k miles on electricity alone...

    If the Ampera cost the same as in US ( about £20K), they'd quickly outsell all other car models combined!

    Similar calculation is also true for Renault Zoe - marketed as costing EUR 15k on the continent (after 5k rebate), but they fail to mention the battery lease price of EUR 10k over 10 year period (+ leccy cost)...

    Total cost, again, is higher than a comparable diesel Clio IV will be.

    I'd been dreaming of owning an e-car for more than 10 years, but not at that clearly ripoff prices, thank you manufacturers!

    1. Piro Silver badge

      Re: Ripoff price?

      Yup, ripoff, nothing else to it.

      Taking the US price, converting and still adding 20% for VAT ends up being 24k.

      So that should be 24k after the subsidy, yet it's nowhere near? Not seeing where the extra cost has gone.. A bit of plastic changed up front?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ripoff price?


        US retail is $40,000

        Convert to GBP = 25,486.77 GBP

        + 20% tax = £30584.12

        So where did you get your figures from?

        The Chevrolet Volt is UK retail at £30k the Ampera is £32k but includes lifetime Warranty and different design elements.

    2. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: Ripoff price?

      Who gets the government's £5K?

      I STRONGLY suspect the makers of e-cars add 5K to the price so that they are getting the discount, not you.

      1. Parax

        Re: Ripoff price? @Robert E A Harvey

        I agree. But what would stop the manufactures pumping the price up? How could you get the money to the customer without it being nicked by the vehicle seller? The incentive still encourages the manufacturer to make and sell more electric cars its now in their interest so it still works as an incentive.

  6. Scott Earle
    Thumb Down

    Electricity is free now?

    Here's the other thing … after you have calculated how many mpg it does, how about calculating how much it costs to charge the thing up with electrons?

    Add to that the cost of the car (*HOW* much?), and that's an awful lot of very short journeys you'd have to do to justify buying one of these. Sounds like you'd be better off with one of the 80mpg diesels, or even a Prius or similar hybrid that simply saves energy from regenerative braking …

    (Also - a 1.4L Otto-cycle engine? Why not Atkinson-cycle - too hard for the Chevy engineers?)

    1. Jack Ketch
      Thumb Up

      Re: Electricity is free now?

      It costs between 25p and £1 a day to charge a fully electric car (so expect this to be at the cheaper end)

      The average commute in the UK is under 10 miles, so for many people, that's a lot of short trips right there.

      1. Andrew James

        Re: Electricity is free now?

        I'm with Jack on this.

        My daily commute is 17 miles each way. So the battery is just about the right size to get me to work and back without burning more than a few drops of petrol.

        If it costs even £1 a day to fill up the battery overnight, thats still only £5 a week, and i currently pay five times that to get to work and back in a pokey little renault clio diesel.

        1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

          Re: Electricity is free now?

          Depends what figures you feed it, but I reckon you'd be about a thousand pounds a year better off with a new diesel clio.

          (fuel cost per week * weeks per year * years ownership) + price of car

          1. Andrew James

            Re: Electricity is free now?

            I'm not an environmental nut job, but if i were, i might want to raise the question over use of only diesel which we know will run out eventually vs use of electricity which we know we could, if we wanted to, generate infinitely.

  7. Sean Houlihane

    45 mpg?

    How do they manage to get 45 mpg from an engine tuned to run as a generator? My CRZ (with a feeble battery assist) manages 48-52 at 70 mph once it's warmed up (for a long run) and I'm underwhelmed by that for efficiency.

    Seems like the numbers determined by the grid-charge procedure make the designers lazy. We need a 'litres/500km' or 'miles for 6 gallons and a full charge' metric. Something for the weekends where plug-in isn't convenient, a scenario which I guess is slightly more common that people guess.

    I'm tempted by the idea of a small plug-in as an additional vehicle, but struggling to find a cost saving - seems the price book is written for people with eco-guilt issues.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 45 mpg?

      Simply its down to Electrical Generation Losses, because its a series not a parallel hybrid, the mechanical energy is converted to electrical energy for the motor this makes it less efficient, but teamed up with the battery (charged every night) and you will get figures of 100+mpg but still able to go that extra mile when needed. The Petrol is not designed for the majority of driving its a range extender only the battery is supposed to be the primary fuel source.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a heap of shit

    That is all.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Ahh, nice try

    But still useless for someone (like me) who needs to travel distances on short notice to locations that'd take at least a day and *many* changes on public transport, once the battery is done I get pretty much 'standard' fuel economy and bugger all luggage space for 50% more money than a more practical car.

    This is a car designed for those who could easily use public transport for their daily commute but won't because it's got the public on or is always late because of the idiots alone in their tin boxes doing the same 6 mile commute every day.

    Saying all that, for some perverse reason I like the looks even if it's of no use to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      bugger all luggage space

      from the article: The battery doesn’t take anything away from boot space, though, which is the equal of what you get in a Ford Focus. Read before commenting.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: bugger all luggage space

        And if you read my comment you'd see that I say it's useless for *ME*, there's bugger all luggage space in a Focus for my needs too.

        I drive a large estate car for my job and the luggage space is almost always full of kit. Said estate car cost much less than the Ampera and not much more than a Focus and has much more boot space.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Steve Ives

      Re: Ahh, nice try

      Useless for me too. I'm a train driver and need a vehicle that can carry upwards of 300 people whilst running on standard guage rail track.

      It would appear that GM haven't considered my needs at all in designing this.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Ahh, nice try

        GM do - if you don't mind driving a shed, and realising Brush EE and BREL did it better

        Yes GM locos are nicknamed sheds

      2. Pet Peeve

        nice try at nice try

        Here's the perfect diesel/electric hybrid for you:

      3. Tom 38 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        @Steve Ives

        I gave him a similar serve, but yours is much much better :)

      4. Magnus_Pym

        Re: Ahh, nice try

        Couldn't agree more. Compare this to the acceleration, top speed and distance covering capabilities of the SpaceX's new Dragon space vehicle. The Ampera just doesn't compare. Back to the drawing board GM.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ahh, nice try

          *sigh* OK, let's sort this out.

          I currently get ~45MPG out of the lower cost estate car that I drive. There's little to no improvement over that, there's nowhere near enough boot space for my needs, the Ampera is a nice looking (to me) car, I'm not knocking it for that.

          What irks me is that these cars are designed with the middle class eco conscience drivers in mind and not the people who really need a car for their work.

          If GM or any other car maker could crack the range and charge time issues to provide a vehicle with decent loadspace I would buy one as soon as possible.

          As it stands the only hybrids I can buy are totally unsuited to my needs and the needs of many thousands, perhaps millions, of other business drivers who contribute the vast majority of the pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that are blighting the environment.

          Be honest, which is the bigger environmental problem, the people who do average mileage or less per annum with the daily school run/shopping/work commute or people like me who clock up 35-40k or more a year?

          Is it so unreasonable to expect a car to be designed for the people who do the most miles and cause the most environmental damage?

    3. Andrew James

      Re: Ahh, nice try

      " ... designed for those who could easily use public transport for their daily commute but won't because it's got the public on or is always late ... "

      My commute is about 19 miles each way. From the wrong side of one town, the to the far side of the next. Getting to work in the car takes 40 minutes. Costs about £5 a day. Public transport would be a similar cost - I've priced it up - but would require 1x Bus from home to town. Then 1xBus to the next town. Then 1xBus to work. With waiting times etc and additional traffic of having to enter and leave two town centres, the time taken is more like 100 minutes.

      Of course, i could use the train instead. Which would still require a bus from home to town. Followed by a 10 minute walk to the train station. And then another 10 minute walk from the train station to the bus at at the other end. Unless i used a train for the last stage of the journey... which would require a 30 minute wait, followed by a train journey that took me to within 2 miles of work, leaving me either a bus ride, or a 30 minute walk.

      Unless you're lucky enough to live and work somewhere with a logical public transport link inbetween, public transport is an absolute joke.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It may be quite bad...

    ... but surely not so bad as to deserve "Our Rating: -1%" ?

  11. Eponymous Cowherd

    Rich nerd's toy

    £32,250 for a glorified Astra?

    Does it make economic sense? No, because you could buy a new conventional car with equivalent spec for £10,000 less. £10,000 buys you a lot of fuel. Then there is the issue of resale value when the batteries are on their last legs.

    What really irritates me about this thing is the £5k Government handout. With or without the subsidy, its still a rich nerd's toy. The subsidy would only make sense if it brought the price of e-cars down into a price range where us plebs would look at it (at or around £20k max).

    1. Stuart 22 Silver badge

      Re: Rich nerd's toy

      Does not compute. Giving a £5,000 subsidy to someone buying a bike would save more energy, save on our health costs and make the roads less congested for those that still want to drive a car.

      Everybody wins ... except the moto manufacturers. Oh, sorry!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rich nerd's toy

        yeah cos its the bike manufacturers that need to change their ways..

        It's called an incentive scheme for a reason.

  12. Jacqui


    Currently have a beaten up LDv400 van - is less than 70bph and can do 70MPH (just).

    Why such as large engine for what is supposed to be an e-car?

    1. MJI Silver badge

      LDV400 should be thirsty and quick

      Else why buy one?

      Sorry but I like the idea of an ambulance which shifts - pity they now use diseasels rather than V8s

  13. annodomini2

    I always wondered why they put such a large engine in a Series hybrid...

    ...because it's not a Series hybrid.

    It's a Parallel hybrid with 2 motors.

    A true series hybrid you can get away with a 15-20bhp engine.

    As for the article:

    "The ride is comfortable and the handling on the mountainous B-roads above and around Ruthin in North Wales proved wholly competent."

    Tells me F**k all!

    Does have 75 turns lock-lock like most US vehicles?

    Is it prone to heavy understeer?

    How is the steering weighted?

    Is it positive on turn in or not?

    Is it bouncy like a lot of US cars (over sprung, under damped)

    Not that I'll buy one, £37k!!!!!!! (Ok £5k tax credit from the government, but £37k!!!!)

    For £37k I can get a plethora of high end, but ok 2nd hand, super saloons such as the RS6 or M5.

    Yes they're not eco friendly, yes they're expensive to run and kill all the cute little bunnies as we drive past.

    But at least they are fun!

    At least Porsche has the right idea, build something with 900bhp and does 100bhp.

    Ok, I'll never be able to afford one without winning the lottery, but at least the price would seem appropriate for the sector.

    This is effectively competing with the Prius, but other competitors in the market would be the Focus 1.6 TDCI

    Which are £17,295 with the basic desirable options (not going to buy one of these either) or less than half the list price of this thing.

    At current prices, £17k @ the rated 60mpg combined is about 170,000 miles worth of fuel, not including inflation or the government.

    This thing just doesn't make any sense at this price.

    1. annodomini2

      Re: I always wondered why they put such a large engine in a Series hybrid...

      Should read 100mpg on the Porsche bit! :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I always wondered why they put such a large engine in a Series hybrid...

      It is series that's why it suffers from conversion losses, Parallels don't suffer so much but need more complex drive trains.

      There is no way that 15-20 bhp would sustain a car doing 90mph down an autobahn. The 75bhp engine does. In Petrol mode the instant power available is 160bhp (using battery reserve), but the sustainable is only 75bhp enough for an uphill motorway.

      As for cost, it's new, there is one factory, it is priced to sell the output volume not oversell it. If it were priced at £20k the demand would be so high it would be dangerous to the manufacturer, they'd have to re-purpose all their factories and would be in deep crap if the model had a serious problem requiring recall. it is new tech after all, small steps.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ancient car

    That car in the photos is an L reg. Hopefully the new ones have improved.

  15. Lallabalalla
    Thumb Down

    no use to me

    Still waiting for this kit in a Zafira so we can do the school run/shopping trips/awaydays with 4 bikes strapped on in various places/stuff the car to the gills for a couple of weeks' camping & festivals.

    Oh, and, How Much??

    When my kid-ravaged Zafira finally dies I'll be plonking down to the local dealer for another 6 year old one for about £3,500! But then, I don't really give a stuff about having a flash car. It just has to go when required (and stop on demand!)

    1. Eponymous Cowherd
      Thumb Up

      Re: no use to me

      That's my usual tactic, too.

      Buy something big and useful for £3k-£5k, drive it until it dies, then buy another, always for cash. I have spent under £10k on cars in the last 15 years. The price of the Ampera would pay for every car I've ever owned and give me over £10k change.

      When you think of the kind of used car you could actually buy for £32k (luxury, performance, 4x4, etc), you have to wonder at the mental state of anyone who would even consider this thing.

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        Re: no use to me

        You can get some quite decent motors for that sort of money:

        Older cars have done with breaking down, I reckon, and you can fix them yerselves

  16. Lewis Hamilton

    No good...

    Simply too big and heavy, too many seats, unneccessary luggage space and a poor implementation of KERS...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No good...

      Sorry Lewis but the KERS is actually good, the brake pedal is actually regen and then harder braking is hydraulic, just like in the F1 setup. Indirect braking would scare the bejesus out of the commentards above though so keep it quiet. You can also shift to Low Gear and the regen is massive.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Suggested Price: From £32,250

    Stopped reading after that.

    Unless these things are actually affordable they're doomed to failure.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Suggested Price: From £32,250

      It's still cheaper than a bmw or merc, but target audience an all that.

      Don't forget these cars come out of one factory, they are not trying to satisfy global demand, they are just trying it out at the moment to see how well it works in the market, small steps and all that. when production ramps up prices will fall. (Elsmere Port maybe?)

  18. Leona A

    missed a trick

    they should have fitted a diesel engine instead of a petrol, they are much better at generating electricity, which is why err they're used in generators, trains, etc. You would get more than 45 MPG then.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: missed a trick

      not quite, all small portable generators are petrol. only very large generators move over to diesel.

      Diesel is heavy, trains need to be heavy also

  19. nsld

    How much?

    Aside from the minor issue of needing 5 seats my Subaru Forester cost me £7500 from Subaru second hand, and costs me about £2000 a year in fuel and another £500 in servicing and £400 insurance, £240 in tax.

    So I get 10 years fully inclusive motoring just to get to the RRP of a car with not enough seats!

    Ok, so I take out a few polar bears on the way (if you believe the tree huggers) but I do wonder what the environmental cost of building these e cars really is given what goes into the batteries.

    Not only that, but when the Forester does finally go to the great Subaru parking lot in the sky it will have done probably around 150,000 miles and lasted me many years, whats the life span of those batteries?

    1. Danny 14

      Re: How much?

      to be fair, the inside of a forester could be described as "durable". Although no fan of this vauxhall it does look ok inside.

      1. nsld
        Thumb Up

        Re: How much?

        "durable" is an understatement, with my sprogs it has proven to be weapons grade armour given the abuse they throw at it.

        The Vauxhall looks fine, it has a pleasant interior but I didnt buy a Forester for its aesthetics, I bought it because Subaru's simply last better than any other car I have owned, I am on my fourth (one legacy GTB, two Impreza turbo wagons and now the Forester Turbo) and without exception they have been reliable in all conditions.

    2. J. Taylor

      Re: How much?

      Tree huggers?

      Try any and all scientific bodies, with the exception of those funded by shady characters like the Koch brothers...

    3. Chezstar

      Re: How much?

      > Aside from the minor issue of needing 5 seats my Subaru Forester cost me £7500 from Subaru second hand, and costs me about £2000 a year in fuel and another £500 in servicing and £400 insurance, £240 in tax.

      Oh No!! A second hand car is cheaper than a brand new one! Quick! Someone call the money police, people are selling second hand cars cheap!

      Please, stop trying to compare apples and oranges.

      This car would be great for me as my daily driver to and from work on the cheap, with the ability to take it anywhere else I felt like without having to worry about running out of leccy power. I'm sorry if you can't afford it, just accept you are in the have-not basket, and buy a second hand car.

      1. nsld

        Re: How much?@chezstar

        Affordability or stupidity, that is the question.

        Could I buy one, yes, would I, no because the economics don't add up, nor do the environmental credentials of the car itself.

        Anyone who buys a brand new car is an idiot, for the simple reason that depreciation alone means you just burnt 20% of the value of the car driving it off the forecourt.

        In the case of this or any other electric car you have the double edged sword of general depreciation plus the onerous cost of battery renewal.

        As for the battery itself, I doubt when you take into account the environmental cost of making it and disposing of it it will ever add up, the lifespan is simply too short.

        Its an expensive item for a short commute, get a bicycle and then use the remaing £34,000 to hire a car when you need it.

  20. Johnny G

    Where will all the extra electricity come from?

    If/when they do take off, how is the UK going to cope with the increased demand for electricity? They're STILL stumbling over nuclear power generation, which is clearly the only viable option currently

    1. Colin Miller

      Re: Where will all the extra electricity come from?

      Most people will charge their cars at night, when most offices are closed.

      Aslong as people turn of their work computers, lights and AirCon, then there is plenty of spare capacity in the grid, even with a large number of electric cars.

  21. Mark Fenton

    In the winter count on electric range being <10miles

    In normal British weather you need a heater of some sort in the car. Try powering that from a battery and see how far you get on a charge...

    1. Danny 14

      Re: In the winter count on electric range being <10miles

      I'd also like to see how much charge the battery will hold at -10C

    2. gort

      Re: In the winter count on electric range being <10miles

      Users report all-electric winter range with heater at around 25-30 miles. In extreme cold the petrol motor kicks in to help warm things up, and the battery has a climate control system to keep it warm when plugged in.

  22. CCCP

    No-one is forcing you to buy it or killing babies to make it

    The venom on here is quite staggering. In order to make new tech work we usually have to research it and get real-life experience from making and running it. So what if the middle class eco-nerds are subsidising the whole shebang early in the product cycle? You feel sorry for them?

    The gubbermint free dosh is probably on the high side, but it seems a good idea to push this lekky lark forward. I wouldn't buy one either, but this is v1.0 (or v1.5 counting the stuff early last century).

  23. Steve Renouf

    The basic problem

    is that most/many people can generally only afford 1 vehicle to suit their all their circumstances.

    i.e. If they have 3 kids and a couple of pets, they will probably need a people-carrier. This then gets used for every journey (long, short, single person). If they could afford a separate vehicle to suit each circumstance (single-person vehicle, 2 person vehicle, short commute vehicle, trip to seaside vehicle etc.) then we might make in-roads into "saving the planet".

    I still don't understand why they're not pursuing the vehicles generating their own H2 fuel whilst being driven (ala Joe's Cell, or similar, technology).

  24. Nev Silver badge

    Better than a classic Hybrid...

    ...but still pointless in countries where the bulk of electricity generation is coal/gas fired.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better than a classic Hybrid...

      Not strictly true.

      The generation isn't done at the point of use, which while it means that there is transmission loss, it does mean that there are no emissions at the point of use, which can be a benefit depending on how you look at it.

      You can also use the spare capacity which is available - everyone has a mix of generation sources, and while coal and gas can be conveniently spun down at night, wind, wave, and nuclear aren't so reactive and so there's plenty spare overnight which has little or no carbon emissions (nuclear arguements aside).

  25. TeeCee Gold badge

    ISTR, that should be:

    "The system that General Motors’ engineers have cooked up licensed from Toyota..."

    IIRC, the original spec for the Volt in the US was that it did only ever drive the wheels electrically, specifically to skirt around the Aisin/Toyota patents on using either/or/both through a single transmission. Poor hill-climb performance and lack of grunt in extended range mode identified in testing forced a rethink, a swallowing of pride and a license agreement.

    They'd have saved a lot of time, effort and cash by just choosing up front to buy the proven working HSD transmissions off Aisin-Warners directly.

    Incidently, the technique of using the 2nd motor/generator to apply countertorque to the transmission, allowing the driving motor to run at a more efficient revolutions, is called "energy recycling mode" in Toyota speak, or "heretical mode" in internet parlance when it was first spotted in anger. Yes, that's not new either.

    1. gort

      Re: ISTR, that should be:

      No, the Voltec transmission is significantly different from the Toyota one, and is not licensed from Toyota. See for example.

  26. HP Cynic

    How odd, my car died this week and when looking at a replacement "Small Family Hatch" I saw this rated the "2nd best" by What Car and started reading all about it last night.

    First off the Chevy Volt is available here for less but still a huge mark up over the US prices (£35K -£5 Gov. Grant).

    It's electric range has been revised to 25-50 miles since initial claims of 50 miles proved bogus.

    Charging from your home 230v supply takes 6 hours and since I don't have a driveway I'd not be able to charge it at all.

    Finally I saw the discussion about "Payback time" vs the Chevy Cruz and pretty sure it said 26 years not 14 which made it utterly pointless for the US market where fuel is far, far cheaper.

    Not sure what sort of payback time it would have here with our insane fuel prices (thanks to 70% Duty) but I think the car would have long-since failed before you made any efficiciency gains.

    1. DuncanB

      No, 50 miles isn't bogus, but it was never claimed as more than a best case range. Over on the Ampera Owner's club a few UK owners have already got more than 50 miles range on a single charge. 25 miles does seem to be about the worst case, usually reported by journalists hammering the car for a review in the middle of winter. Typical range seems to be more around the 40 mile mark which is more than enough for a lot of people's typical commutes though oubviously it won't fit everyone.

      Payback versus the Chevy Cruze is a bit of an arbitrary figure: the Cruze is a much lower spec car so why not calculate versus the car that most Volt/Ampera owners would have bought if the Volt didn't exist? The most traded-in car for a Volt in the US is apparently the Prius, but the main car to compare against seems to be the BMW 3 series. Cabin noise is a good one to compare: you can pay a lot of money to get a car that is as quiet as the Volt.

  27. Bodhi

    Point Being?

    Just comparing this to my current steed, a 10 year old BMW 330d

    Purchase price - 32k for the VX, 3.5k for the BM

    Performace - 8.7s to 60 for the VX, 100mph top speed. A little slower than BM quote for mine, which is 7.1s to 60 and 149mph top speed.

    Economy - 45 mpg for the VX, currently getting 41.1 out of the BM on a 40 mile mixed road commute.

    Tax - zero for the VX, 220 pa for the BM.

    Add in the fact that the BM is driven from the correct wheels, plus has the added bonus of not being a Vauxhall, and I really am struggling to see the point? If you want a cheap to run car there are a range of thrifty hatchbacks you can choose from a variety of budgets, if you want to spend 32k on a car I'm sure BMW have a very efficient 3 series you could choose. Now I'm sure a cretinous tree-hugger will be along in a minute to suggest I think of the polar bears but seriously, what is the point of this? And who the hell is going to buy one?

    1. gort

      Re: Point Being?

      In the US GM is targetting early adopters and techies, and I imagine it will go for a similar group in the UK. People who would otherwise be buying a new Lexus or Beemer, but want to drive into the congestion charge zone in the latest thing, and love the whole idea and experience of an electric car. I'd certainly buy one if I could afford it, and I never buy new cars.

      Saying it gets "45mpg" is missing the point, the people most likely to buy it will be using it mostly in electric mode and get triple-digit petrol mileage.

      1. Bodhi

        Re: Point Being?

        Oh. That market positively bristling with customers, techies who live in London and have 32k to spend on a car.

        Silly me.

        1. gort

          Re: Point Being?

          The Opel Ampera has 7,000 pre-orders already and is basically sold out till the end of the year, so someone must want them. Also the average UK new car list price is 28k (source DrivenData) so 32k for something this high spec is not unreasonable.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Point Being?

      > BM is driven from the correct wheels

      What has that got to do with anything? Good luck in the snow!

      PS. I like the 330d, but would prefer a 530d touring, and would get one, if I could afford either.

  28. jai

    -1% rating?

    is -1% like a division-by-zero = infinity type of thing?

    cos, -1% makes it sound like it's utter rubbish, yet the bulk of the review sounded quite positive.

    too confusing for this early in the week

  29. Snar
    Thumb Down

    I'd rather have by balls ripped off and fried in battery acid rather than buy another Vauxhall.

    My current car is an 06 Vectra VXR and it's cost me shedloads to keep the thing on the road - hadbrake failure (£400), a/c fan failure which took out the control (£550), two new computers, wing-mirrors falling off and recently a new clutch (£1200) and has now failed its MOT because the suspension all needs replacing (£750). The car has done less that 56k miles.

    You rarely see them on the road, maybe because they have all fallen to bits.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      That is because it is a Vectra

      Not good cars. I would not buy one.

      Best Vauxhalls were made in Russelheim and shared a common floor pan.

      Decent cars

  30. Jay Zelos
    Thumb Up

    In the east of england, you can join a club for £10 a year and charge for free at any source east charging point. My company have just popped two in, one in Bradwell, Great Yarmouth (outside a fonehouse mobile shop) and another outside our offices in Oulton Broad, Lowestoft. (sealake road). I think the Renault dealerships have them as well.

    (The charging points are subsidised by grants.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Charging schemes are a waste of time and effort.. pay at the meter 20p/kWh job done.

      why join a scheme that only covers the area you live in? you will be able to charge at home, then when you drive out of area you cant charge because you are too far from home in a different scheme area. whoever came up with the idea of regional schemes was an idiot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I beg to differ

        "whoever came up with the idea of regional schemes was an idiot."


        Whoever came up with the idea of regional schemes was pretty smart. Whoever pays him for the privilege of using them is an idiot.

  31. 0laf

    Good try but not there yet

    An innovative way of doing the hybrid thing but just too expensive

    Other have given good examples of the price saving between this and other cars. Possibly it might make sense with business taxation but I'm not an expert on that so I'm guessing.

    45mpg for an 85hp motor seems very poor. I can get 40mpg from my 200hp turbo petrol.

    The mpg figures for this car just point out how unsuitable the standard mpg tests are for this sort of motor. We'll end up with cars being designed for the test and not the road, which is where we are now with cars that do 60mpg in the test 40mpg on the road and have odd flat spots in the power delivery to suit the tests.

    I'd also have to wonder is there a better way to generate that 85hp than a 4 cylinder car engine?

    It's probably cheaper for GM to use a stock of small car engines already in use even if it's not the ideal option. Small gas turbine?

  32. The answer is 42

    Battery life?

    Who is going to pay for a new set of batteries when they die? The first owner or the 4th? GM products ain't gonna last any longer than that! Can you imagine the poor owner trying to cram the batteries into the battery disposal box in the local supermarket?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Battery life?

      Same person who pays for a new engine when it dies.. However most 16+year old cars go the the scrapper if the engine fails. The Ampera Battery is Guaranteed for 8 years, (Expected depreciation 10% max warrantied 30%) so lets be mean and say 25% over 8 years, then say 50% at 16 years it still works exactly the same as day one except the electric only range is half. Its not as fucked as your 16yr old petrol that is on its way to the breakers. So why would you replace the battery if it still works? In addition the chemicals in a battery are not burnt up during its lifetime they do have residual value for recycling, in fact they battery may be worth more than your whole petrol car. In short, the battery is a lifetime component, just like an engine often is.

  33. jason 7

    Would prefer to see a similar sized car...

    ...with new materials making it lighter (say 1200kg) and using a 1200cc twin turbo engine.

    This is after all a daily commuter is it not? You just want to get from A to B in a modicum of comfort and safety for minimum travel cost.

  34. irneb
    Thumb Down

    Same old


    So they made yet another excessively complex over engineered silly car, just so they could say "We have a hybrid eco car."

    Why all the back-n-forth between the ICE and the Elec Motor(s). And then just to increase the complexity add yet another "generator" .... that's just adding huge amounts of stupid.

    THROW THE DAMNED GEARBOX OUT! Use the elec. motors only and charge the battery from the ICE when it gets low. No need for these breakage prone, less efficient revving up-down gears at all!

    Would probably cut the price in half, not to mention much less raw materials. And ... wait for it ... be more efficient and "eco" FRIENDLY! But ... as always ... stupid is as stupid does ... even if you need several engineers to engineer stupid!

    1. gort

      Re: Same old

      The price premium is nearly all in the battery and the associated parts, and the flashy extras thrown in as standard to appeal to those willing to pay the premium in the first place. The transmission, development costs aside, is relatively small and cheap. It's there because it improves performance and fuel economy over what is currently possible with a pure series hybrid.

      There is no way having it as a pure series hybrid would "cut the price in half", look at the pure-electric Nissan Leaf, a smaller car which is UKP30.5k before the 5k grant.

  35. MrXavia

    Just not enough range

    Who really has a commute short enough that they won't be burning petrol?

    and if your commute is that short, your probably on a decent public transport system, which you should be using instead!

    A minimum 100 mile range on electric seems to be the minimum needed to be practical, as then it could even be used for motorway journeys with fast charge points available at the service stations.

    As an alternative to petrol, has anyone looked at using methanol fuel cells?

    distribution networks would barely have to change then...

    1. Magnus_Pym

      Re: Just not enough range

      "decent public transport system"

      Where would that be then? Not round here that's for sure. £4 and an hour each way per day to go 5 miles.

  36. gort

    The average car trip length in GB is 8.5 miles, average commute length 9 miles, around 90% of all car trips are less than 25 miles, and around 70% are less than 10 miles (National Travel Survey 2010). Also only 20% of car trips and 26% of car mileage are for commuting.

    People don't use public transport because it's usually slower and less convenient than driving.

  37. A J Stiles

    Better idea innit

    What would really help would be if, instead of subsidising the purchase price, the UK government simply declared a moratorium on all patents relating to electric and hybrid vehicles. Open up the technology to everyone, without the cost of royalties artificially inflating prices, and let the Free Market find its own solution.

    (It's all just practice for when the patents inevitably expire, anyway .....)

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Up-front cost...

    Any calculation of electricity cost / mpg / etc. is relatively meaningless unless it takes into account that you have to spend over £30k for something that without the fancy electric motor wouldn't set you back £20k, unless you keep the car for enough years to nullify that extra upfront cost.

    It's sadly easy to forget that upfront cost is still cost!

    1. Van

      Re: Up-front cost...

      I hope to have saved half the cost of a new van in Diesel by buying a new economical van over a cheap thirstier van.

      I imagine the fuel costs through the life of this EV vehicle would be substancial.

      One of the problems seems to be that in western culture people change cars for fun and never reap the benefits of long term ownership.

      It seems everyone having a pop at EVs expect it to be changed for something fancier in 3 years.

      Vauxhall sell one of the best and most successful vans in the Vivaro. If the Ampera is as good, then forget the tales about the odd Vectra dying after 50k.

      At a minimum, the people generating their own electricity will be interested in these cars. There's also a growing DIY conversion scene with EV vehicles. Conversions that cost up to 10k just for the parts.

      Vauxhall are working on an electric Vivaro van, that they hope will save delivery companies money. I wonder how the EV naysayers here, will try to spin that in the oil companies favour?

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

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