Vauxhall Ampera 'offers nothing over a normal car', eco blogger claims

Some critics are unconvinced by the Ampera's green credentials. One author in particular says once you blow away the eco smoke screen, this car offers the world nothing over a normal car.

Automobiles

UK journalists have this week been testing the Vauxhall Ampera -- an extended-range electric vehicle that purports to offer all the electric driving benefits of the Nissan Leaf, with the range and peace of mind offered by an ordinary petrol car. The car is, Vauxhall would have us believe, the cat's pyjamas, the wombat's combats and the fruit bat's suit hat, but not everyone has fallen for the hype.

Some critics remain unconvinced by the Ampera's green credentials. One author in particular, Ben Rose of the Jaffa's Juicy Bits blog, has analysed the Ampera's electric-only driving range, CO2 emissions, fuel economy and recharge time and has concluded that, "Once you blow away the eco smoke screen, this car offers the world nothing over a normal car." FIGHT!

Rose, a member of CNET UK's elite Twitter 50, vociferously questions Vauxhall's claims that the car "can be recharged from a 230V socket in under 4 hours". His article says this simply isn't possible due to the fact that household plugs supply a maximum of 3kW. To supply the Ampera's 16kWh battery with a full charge would take between 5 hours 20 minutes and 7 hours 16 minutes, depending on the efficiency of the Ampera's charger. Even with a 16A ESVE special socket, claims the site, a full recharge would take 4 hours 20 minutes -- significantly longer than Vauxhall claims.

Rose also questions Vauxhall's claims the Ampera can travel 50 miles in its electric-only mode. It suggests this might be possible, but only if Vauxhall allowed the car's battery to run until it is completely exhausted. This, according to the article, is not the case.

Vauxhall has programmed the petrol generator, or engine, to recharge the batteries when they reach a minimum state of charge of 20 per cent. The site claims that since only 80 per cent of the battery's capacity can ever be used, the 50 miles of EV-only driving is more likely to be in the region of 40 miles. Charging the battery from 20 per cent to full might be possible in less than four hours, but Vauxhall can't have it both ways, Rose claims.

Vauxhall's economy and emissions figures get a kicking, too. The blog believes the company's claimed 175mpg is more likely to be in the region of 40-45mpg, and that the official CO2 emissions of 40g/km are more likely to end up being 112.5g/km, once you take into account UK National Grid emissions, which is more than is spewed by your average diesel.

Be sure to read our preview of the Ampera's American cousin, the Chevy Volt, for a rundown on the car's technology and an idea of what it's like to drive, then read Ben's findings in full by visiting the Jaffa's Juicy Bits blog. When you do, be sure to let us know your feelings on the Ampera and Volt in the comments below.

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