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Vauxhall Ampera: All you need to know

Date: 07 May 2009

General Motors' Andreas Lassota speaks to Julian Rendell about the new Vauxhall Ampera, due on sale within three years, and details the brand's plans for the electric-petrol vehicle

Vauxhall's Ampera hybrid promises fleet drivers exceptional fuel economy at around 176mpg coupled to remarkable emissions of 40g/km. Here, Andreas Lassota, head of the GM marketing team for the model, talks to BusinessCar at an event in Russelsheim, GM Europe's HQ where the 2011 Ampera launch for Europe is being masterminded.

How is the 40g/km emissions figure calculated?

The EU combined fuel economy figure is worked out in a lab test run over 100km (62.1 miles). Of that 60km (37.3mls) will be run entirely on electric power and the last 40km (24.9mls) with the 1.4-litre engine generating electricity, hence the very low number.

How will fleet drivers make a saving?

The Ampera is set-up to encourage drivers to re-charge from grid electricity. At the workplace, perhaps a factory, that could mean re-charging with electricity generated on site, perhaps by a wind turbine. Overnight at home it means cheaper, off-peak electricity.

What can you say about the running costs?

All our targets for the Ampera equal or better an equivalent-sized conventional car. That means an Astra. Our estimate is that over a typical 15,000km (9321mls) per year, an owner will save around £1200 on fuel alone.

And other costs, like insurance and warranty?

Again the target is a conventional Astra. We are already working on the insurance rating. And we will have a 10-year, 150,000-mile guarantee for the battery.

Have you any residual value predictions yet?

We are very early in the process and have no numbers yet. This is something that usually we work hard on in the final year before production, so it is something for next year. Then we will really get talking with the agencies. We need more knowledge about the users of the car. I've got three people working on it right now.

The Vauxhall's Ampera's Voltec powerpack is centred around lithium-ion batteries, whichmake up a big proportion of the suggested near-£30k list price. Do you expect owners to buy or lease the batteries?

All options are being discussed and have pros and cons. One fear is the residual value of the batteries, that they will be worthless after 10 years. But they will still have 70% of their capacity and will still be worth something.

Why is that?

In Germany, for example, there are projects for domestic storage of electricity generated by wind power or solar cells. Cells from a used Ampera battery could be used in those projects. There are 220 individual cells in the battery and they can be re-modelled.

So will you have a guaranteed buyback on the battery?

It's something we're looking at, but there's no decision yet.

How are fleets reacting to the prospect of the Ampera?

Fleets are very important to our plans for the Ampera. We've already had a lot of interest from lease companies; the Ampera is very interesting for firms with a green conscience. In Germany we have just had our first view of the Ampera with fleets.