GM Europe has revealed production version of the Opel Ampera ahead of its debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show this week.
The Opel Ampera is GM’s version of the Chevrolet Volt for European market, but with a significantly higher price tag.
The Opel Ampera goes on sale later this year with starting price at €42,900 in most European markets (that’s about $59,000 USD), but it includes Europe’s costly Value Added Tax, which adds about 20 percent to the purchase price.
Opel says it has taken in over 1,000 reservations for the Ampera across Europe, with half of those being corporate customers.
Opel claims the revolutionary Ampera will be the first emission-free, electrically driven car in Europe suitable for everyday driving. Unlike a conventional battery-electric vehicle, the Ampera eliminates range anxiety. It gives drivers the confidence and peace of mind that a depleted battery will not strand them.
The battery is recharged in about four hours at 230V by plugging the vehicle’s on-board charge system into a standard household outlet. Because the battery can be recharged conveniently, without the need for special charging equipment, most Amperas are likely to be driven in battery mode all the time. Independent research shows that around 80 percent of Europeans drive less than 60 kilometers per day, so the Ampera easily meets their requirements.
For the first 40 – 80 kilometers (depending on terrain, driving style, and temperature), power is supplied by the electricity stored in the 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery. While driving on electricity delivered by the battery, the Ampera moves free of gas and tailpipe-emissions. If a longer trip is required, the gasoline-fueled engine can seamlessly extend the total driving range to more than 500 kilometers on a full tank. This full-performance, range-extending technology makes the Ampera the first electric car with the everyday convenience of a conventional automobile.
The extremely quiet 111 kW/150 hp electric motor delivers 370 Newton meters torque 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.
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.[wzslider height=”400″ lightbox=”true”]