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Vauxhall studies potential of electric Ampera

Opel electric crossover could in future come to UK market.

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The Opel Ampera-e, set to be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show at the end of September, could yet become a Vauxhall.

There are no plans to build right-hand-drive (RHD) versions of the electric crossover when it goes on sale next year, but Vauxhall has announced that it will evaluate the car on British roads with a view to future generations being offered on the UK market.

Opel states a class-leading pure electric range of potentially more than 250 miles in test conditions for the Ampera-e, which significantly beats closest rival the BMW i3 which quotes a range of 186 miles with its largest battery option.

Opel also claims that even under real-world conditions affected by driving style, road and weather, the Ampera-e can still achieve a range of more than 185 miles between charges.

Vauxhall chairman and managing director Rory Harvey insists that the brand is committed to having a future EV presence in its range. “The technology which underpins the new Ampera-e is of great interest to us, and we will be evaluating LHD cars from next spring and demonstrating them to clients,” he says.

“The fact that Ampera-e is not an eco-luxury or second car for customers broadens its appeal greatly, but it’s obviously vital that the car we sell in our market is right-hand-drive, and that won’t be available in the current generation,” Harvey adds.

Vauxhall will not only be evaluating the car on its range but also the packaging of the 10 battery modules. These are located under the body and built into the car’s profile, allowing 381 litres of boot space to be retained.

The Ampera-e offers the equivalent power of 204hp with torque of 360Nm. With the instant delivery of electric torque, the Ampera-e will pass 30mph from rest in 3.2 seconds, and take only 4.5 seconds between 50 and 75mph.

A notable feature is the ability to recharge the batteries while driving, adding around five per cent to the range. The driver eases off the accelerator in the normal ‘Drive’ mode, allowing the car to recuperate automatically in overrun and recover energy from the electric motor, which doubles as a generator.

The motor’s braking effect is increased when the driver switches to ‘Low’ mode, therefore increasing recuperation. Finally a ‘Regen on Demand’ mode provides maximum energy recuperation, activated via a paddle at the back of the steering wheel.

The drag torque is so high in ‘Low/Regen on Demand’ modes that the brake pedal is not needed to reduce speed to a full stop in normal traffic, allowing control merely by the accelerator except in emergency situations.

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.