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TECHIES 2012: Sparking plenty of interest

Date: 17 June 2013

Vauxhall, the winner of BusinessCar's Techie Award for Best Green Development last year, is experiencing previously unseen levels of eco interest thanks to its plug-in range-extender technology. The man in charge of the car that features it, the Ampera, talks Paul Barker through the vehicle's introduction to the UK.

Figures of 27g/km and 235mpg are guaranteed to pique the interest of business car managers under pressure to lower costs and fuel bills, let alone those that also have their company's environmental responsibilities and commitments to deal with.

Electric vehicles are all well and good, but not suitable for many fleet applications because of the limited range and lengthy recharge time. But Vauxhall's multi-award-winning Ampera, with its petrol engine back-up to the 25-50-mile-range electric motor, makes for a more flexible transport solution.

"We do have an advantage over full electric vehicles, especially in the fleet market, as the Ampera doesn't require in-journey or emergency charging," says environmental strategy manager Ian Allen. "In theory you need never charge this car up - you could run it on petrol all the time, although if you do that you'll only get around 50mpg and you've probably bought the wrong car!"

The company has had "unprecedented" interest in the Ampera since its launch last May, according to Allen. "We've had great feedback from the people who have tried the car, massive success on the evaluations by customers, and we're trying to satisfy a massive backlog of demonstrator requests," he tells BusinessCar. "We've had about 800 requests to fill, which is unprecedented for a new model." That demand has led to Vauxhall seeking a larger allocation of cars for its demonstration fleet, which it's trying to increase to 50 vehicles.