BusinessCar shifted the goalposts for this year’s Green Model of the Year award. In years gone by the winning car had to be clean, efficient and suitable for company car drivers, but we decided a change was in order for 2013 to move with the times and reflect the increasing number of alternative-fuel vehicles available to business car operators.

In line with where the Government’s taxation system and the way legislative changes are headed, we altered our parameters for the category to include cars emitting 75g/km or less. Not only did this limit BusinessCar readers’ selections to either full electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, but it also reflects the planned change to the London congestion charge, which is to switch from applying to cars emitting 100g/km or less to 75g/km or less. It’s also relevant to fleet drivers’ benefit in kind payments, as this is the emissions level at which staff qualify for the 5% rating – at least until the Government’s planned changes to the tax system in 2015.

It’s testament to the Ampera’s qualities that it met all of our stringent criteria to qualify for the award. Granted, the number of rivals was smaller for the same reason, but it’s no less a feat of engineering from the likes of Toyota with its Prius plug-in and Nissan‘s all-electric Leaf to be eligible in the first place.

The technology behind the Ampera represents the most realistic and practical solution to fleet operators of all the alternative-fuel vehicles on the market. The electric drive system is good for up to 50 miles of powering the car at any speed (although you’ll get around 30 miles unless you take it very easy) and it’s backed up by a conventional 1.4-litre petrol engine and a proper tank of unleaded fuel, so you don’t have the constant worry of running out of juice as you do in a fully electric car.

It’s good looking, well specced and, importantly, represents a genuine and pragmatic step forward in the way business cars are run and operated. The snag is the high purchase cost of £29,995-£33,995 after the £5000 Government grant, but that’s an issue with every plug-in vehicle, so the Vauxhall is far from the sole offender, and prices are expected to become more palatable as the technology beds in.

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