The first complete Vauxhall Ampera prototype completed a 170-mile drive between Vauxhall's plants at Luton, Bedfordshire, and Ellesmere Port, south of Liverpool today.
The drive was aimed at underlining the suitability of Vauxhall's forthcoming Ampera electric saloon for UK production. The ground-breaking car was accompanied by a cavalcade of other Vauxhalls.
Managing director Duncan Aldred drove the first leg, and described the car, due on sale at the beginning of 2012, as “extremely promising”. The Ampera, which uses a new Astra platform and is based closely on the US-made Chevy Volt extended range electric vehicle, has a battery range of around 40 miles. It also has a 1.4 litre petrol engine, driving a generator, which produces power for the battery once the car has exceeded its battery-only range. Aldred believes if the UK government maintains its promise of incentives of up to £5000 for early buyers of electric cars, there is “a very good chance” that the Ampera will be built at Ellesmere Port, because the UK will become the lead European market for electric cars.
Ellesmere currently tops the list of GM’s European plants on quality and productivity. However, the company intends to sell US-made Amperas at first, to establish the size of a demand its marketing experts are reluctant to estimate.