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GM Europe Premieres Opel Ampera,Chevrolet Spark at Geneva Show

The Opel Ampera. Click to enlarge.

GM Europe staged the world premieres of the Opel Ampera, the European cousin of the Chevrolet Volt, and the Chevrolet Spark mini-car, at the Geneva Motor Show. The Ampera goes on sale in Europe in 2011, the Spark in early 2010. The company also held the European premiere of the Cadillac SRX.

Opel Ampera. The Ampera is an extended range electric vehicle based on the Voltec technology used in the Chevrolet Volt. Equipped with a 16 kWh Li-ion battery pack, the five-door, four-seat hatchback has a battery-powered range of up to 60 km (37 miles) (MVEG cycle). An on-board gasoline/E85-fueled engine-generator extends the Ampera’s range to more than 500 km (311 miles).

GM will manufacture the Ampera’s battery pack at the first lithium-ion production facility to be operated by a major automaker in the United States. (Earlier post.) More than 220 lithium-ion cells in the T-shaped pack provide power.

Recharging uses a standard 230V outlet. GM Europe is analyzing the requirements of a recharging infrastructure for plug-in electric cars with energy companies, including Iberdrola of Spain.

The electric drive unit delivers 370 Nm of instant torque, the equivalent of 150 horsepower, zero to 100 km/h acceleration in around nine seconds, and a top speed of 161 km/h (100 mph).

Approximately 80 percent of German drivers travel less than 50 km daily. Opel estimates that an electrically driven kilometer in the Ampera will cost about one-fifth compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle, at current fuel prices.

The Spark. Click to enlarge.

Chevrolet Spark. Chevrolet’s mini-car features newly-developed, all-aluminum 1.0 and 1.2-liter gasoline engines, generating 66 hp/49 kW and 78 hp/58 kW respectively, with combined cycle fuel economy of below 5.0 L/100 km (47 mpg US), together with CO2 emissions of less than 120 g/km. The Euro-5 compliant, 16-valve engines are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The 1.2-liter engine is expected to deliver zero to 100 km/h acceleration in 12.4 seconds.

Spark also delivers a level of running refinement and NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) typical of a larger car, according to GM. A three-level noise suppression program focused on effective insulation in the floor, the front bulkhead and inner body panels. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) will be offered as an option.



They should try the Ampera with a 8 KwH battery as an Ampera-Lite - it would be light in terms of cost and weight.
If they could then optmise the use of the battery so there was always enough electricity to do the stop/start bits on e-power and do the longer runs on ICE, you would have a decent vehicle.

(using GPS and machine learning techniques to learn and characterise the daily commute).

Focusing on the number of electic miles seems like misguided marketing - they should focus on real annual fuel usage (but a milage number is nice and short and appeals to men).

Also, why is the range on ICE so short - 311 miles??

At least it only has 220 Li cells, not like the 6800 in a Tesla - that sounds like a CEO shouting at the engineers ... "I don't care how many it takes, just do it!"

But try one with 110 cells and a smarter controller and see how many you can sell.

It doesn't matter how perfect it is if it is so expensive only a few people can buy it. They would be better to take a leaf out of Toyota and Honda and build something people can afford.


The only question about EREV technology is how rapidly the batteries will improve and drop in price. It's technological superiority is unmatched for mid to small size range of vehicles.

Petroleum substitution is the only true way to get out from under the Oil Sheiks and oil Commissars and their nationalized Oil cartels. Conserving helps but you can't conserve your way to Petroleum independence, by simply relying on HEVs.

However, there is still almost two years until the first EREV is built. The first years production is limited, so price could be subsidized that first year; or prices aggressively reduced the second year, closely following the battery price learning curve reductions. That would let early adopters pay full price. Three years is almost an eternity in that rapidly changing environment. Increases in price/ performance is not the only way to skin that cat.

Merely increasing life expectancy expectations to insure 150,000 mile reliability, would halve the EREV battery price question.

I am delighted that the Spark, (aka Beat), is now introduced. It modernizes GM offerings at the extreme low end. Surprising enough, GM has introduced a new line of all alloy I4 16v engines. I'm sure these will eventually over time replace the Family 0 engines found in the Cruze and Volt gen-sets, which are not fully modern, but are certainly competitive.

Good for GM. This is an unexpected plus. With those new engines GM will have a set of completely modern gasoline engines from the very smallest to the very largest. Note that the Spark has Stability Control already. Something that you would not see in bottom end models; but the coming 2012 NHTSA standard made that essential to engineer into the platform. It also indicates that lots of time was invested to incorporate necessities for legal sale in the USA.

I know that GM scrapped the Ultra V8, but I frankly could not understand what was wrong with the North-Star that a little TLC in the form of engineering for reliability improvements could not cure.

Unfortunately the scene is not quite as rosy on the diesel front, especially at the high end. There a Chrysler merger would help, providing access to the contracted Cumins v6 and v8 T2B5 turbo diesel engines.


The Ampera should do very well in Europe. As gas pricing is certain to rise over the next two years - by the time the first Amperas roll out - there will again be a large appetite for fuel efficiency.

Yes, Good for GM. They have made enormous strides in only four years. And their goal of removing fossil fuel from the transportation sector is proceeding apace.

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