Opel has begun testing two development cars (mules) of the Ampera extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV) (earlier post) at its Dudenhofen proving ground, keeping the four-seater on schedule for a late 2011 production date.
|Ampera and mule. Click to enlarge.|
The Ampera is based on the Voltec electric propulsion system applied in the Chevy Volt. A 16 kWh Li-ion battery pack provides all-electric range of up to 60 km/37 miles (MVEG). An on-board gasoline/E85-fueled engine-generator extends the Ampera’s range to more than 500 km (311 miles). The battery can be charged by a standard European household 230v outlet.
Engineers in Rüsselsheim are testing the Voltec system’s performance and the overall driving impression. In addition, engineers in Mainz-Kastel have developed and are further testing the lithium-ion battery pack. Opel is analyzing the requirements for standardization and a recharging infrastructure for plug-in electric cars with energy companies, including Iberdrola of Spain.
The Ampera is being developed in three distinct phases. The first stage analyzes the behavior of specific subsystems and gets them to work together. These are not complete vehicle tests but work to prove individual subsystems.
In the next phase, “design-intent” integration cars are built. In the final development stage, cars look and operate for all intents and purposes nearly exactly the same as the production cars.