The production version of the extended range electric vehicle Opel Ampera—the Chevy Volt’s European cousin—will make its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show. Around 1,000 people across Europe have reserved an Ampera to date, with half of those being corporate customers.
Opel will offer the Ampera for a uniform price of €42,900 (US$58,000) (RRP incl. VAT) throughout Europe. Because trim levels will differ from market to market, prices in each country may vary. Opel says that its pricing scheme eliminates confusion by listing the total cost of the car and battery.
The production version of the Opel Ampera does not deviate from the targets set during the development phase.
For the first 40 - 80 kilometers (25 - 50 miles), depending on terrain, driving style, and temperature, power is supplied by the electricity stored in the 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Independent research shows that around 80% of Europeans drive less than 60 kilometers (37 miles) per day. If a longer trip is required, the gasoline-fueled engine can extend the total driving range to more than 500 kilometers (311 miles) on a full tank.
The battery is recharged in about four hours at 230V by plugging the vehicle’s on-board charge system into a standard household outlet.
The 111 kW/150 hp electric motor delivers 370 N·m torque (273 lb-ft) from a standstill. It accelerates the Ampera from zero to 100 km/h in around nine seconds and enables a maximum speed of 161 km/h (100 mph).
Via a “Drive Mode” button in the center stack, the driver can choose Normal, Sport, Mountain or City modes. These modes optimize energy management according to the prevailing driving and road conditions.
The Normal mode is the default setting for the Ampera and is expected to be used most of the time to provide maximum efficiency. When the energy level of the battery drops below its state-of-charge operating window, the Ampera enters extended-range operation, during which the gasoline engine automatically runs to sustain the charge and enable extended-range travel. The battery’s state-of-charge is sustained by regenerative braking, allowing the gasoline generator to rest during long downhill stretches.
The Sport mode automatically reconfigures the accelerator pedal to provide a quicker response. While Sport mode doesn’t provide a higher power output, it does provide a more sensitive reaction to driver inputs.
The Mountain mode automatically adjusts the system to provide necessary power in mountainous environments, when the performance of conventional electric vehicles could be compromised. Mountain mode enables the range-extender to switch on before the battery reaches its minimum state-of-charge. Drivers should select this mode after a full charge or 10 to 15 minutes before entering mountainous terrain to enable full vehicle capability up sustained grades.
The City mode adapts battery management to the demands of modern commuter travel. Selecting City mode engages the range-extender immediately, saving the energy currently stored in the battery. When City mode is switched off, the range-extender stops and the Ampera is then able to use the energy saved in the battery for pure electric driving, for example in urban areas or restricted zones.