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Vauxhall to reveal sub-40g/km Ampera hybrid

Date: 27 January 2009


Vauxhall's sister firm Opel will reveal a new electric car at the Geneva motor show in March.

Dubbed Ampera, the car is a four-seat five-door hatchback driven by an electric motor, and while it will be revealed as an Opel, the car is expected to reach the UK with Vauxhall badging at the end of 2010. The Ampera is based in the underpinnings of the Chevrolet Volt - already revealed in the US. However, in Europe the Ampera will arrive first.s

For journeys of less than 38 miles the Ampera can run on batteries charged using a standard household socket. For longer distances "the car will continue to drive on electricity that is generated by a small internal combustion engine", said a spokesman.

"With the Ampera, Opel will be the first European automobile manufacturer to provide customers several hundred kilometers of non-stop electric driving," said Alain Visser, GM Europe chief marketing officer.

Unlike the hybrid cars it will rival, including the new Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, the Ampera's petrol engine does not power the wheels. Instead the small petrol engine is used as a generator to charge the batteries. The batteries in turn power an electric motor, which dives the car's front wheels. Using this set-up means the small petrol engine can be run in a very efficient way, rather than relying on the driver to be efficient.

While Vauxhall is not commenting on fuel figures for the Ampera, it has set a sub-40g/km CO2 target. And given that fuel figures are linked to CO2 emissions, expect the car to be capable of significantly better mpg than existing hybrid cars, which come in around 65mpg.