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Old 02-18-2009, 11:53 AM   #1
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Default Opel Ampera revealed ahead of Geneva debut

This is the new Chevrolet Volt Opel Ampera! As you can see the vehicle from the German manufacturer is based entirely on the American vehicle: only the front and the rear is modified. The propulsion system is the same found also on the Chevrolet Volt: the 1.4-liter petrol engine and the 150 kW electric motor. With this, the vehicle is capable to travel 60 km in pure electric mode (without activating the petrol engine) and achieve an impressive 161 km/h. More details to be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show!

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Old 03-25-2009, 01:30 PM   #2
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Default Opel Ampera: the full technical story

Opel/Vauxhall predict that the new Ampera production car will sell more in Britain than anywhere else in Europe. The extended range electric vehicle, unveiled at the recent 2009 Geneva motor show, will go on sale here in late 2011 and marketing bosses say the UK is more accepting of hybrids and alternative vehicles than other markets.
It’s not clear at this stage how much the Ampera will cost in the UK, but we’re looking at a likely cost around £20,000. GM hasn’t announced yet where the Ampera will be built, but Britain’s Ellesmere Port is in the frame and the Government is discussing grants to make it possible.
So what’s the new tech on the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera?

A quick recap of the details we already know, and then a few details that we didn’t. The Ampera uses Opel/Vauxhall’s small 74bhp 1.4 gasoline engine mated to a 16kWh lithium ion battery and an electric motor.
Unlike existing hybrid cars, which use petrol engines to drive the wheels when the battery gives up the ghost, the Ampera never uses the internal combustion engine for direct propulsion. Rather, the petrol motor is used purely to generate electricity, which always drives the road wheels.
So the Ampera’s a new sort of hybrid?

Sort of. Studying the electrification of the automobile reveals a murky world of claim and counter claim, but GM says the technology underpinning the US-market Volt and Euro-spec Ampera (they’re the same car, essentially) makes it an extended range electric vehicle.
The basic premise is that 80% of Europeans drive less than 50km a day on average. As the Ampera has a range of 60km on pure electric drive, that means that most journeys could be completed on silent zero-emissions mode. Get home at night, and plug the Ampera into your home 230v socket for a three-hour top-up so you can drive a similar distance tomorrow. Want to drive further? No problem. The petrol engine will kick in to generate electricity for an overall range of around 500km.
And the Ampera removes what Bob Lutz calls ‘range anxiety’ – you’ll never be stranded at the side of the road, because you just pop in some normal 95-grade unleaded (or biofuels, or diesel – depending on the powertrain installed by GM for each market) and off you drive.
So what are the key figures on the Ampera?

The production Ampera will produce ‘less than 40g/km’ of CO2 and consume ‘less than 1.6 litres per 100km’, which equates to 177mpg. Impressive stats. Indeed, a commuter travelling no more than 50km each day may never have to top up their car with fuel ever again, say the engineers. Which sounds great until you consider that the unleaded in the tank will degrade, so they’re planning to set the ECU to wake dormant engines automatically to give them a work-out and pump oil around the engine.
Energy is recaptured during coasting and braking to regenerate battery levels. The engine alone never actually charges the battery. GM points out that charging the car on a typical cheap overnight tariff will cost €0.02 per kilometre travelled, compared with unleaded at around €0.10. ‘Charging a battery through fuel is too expensive and makes no sense,’ says Gherado Corsini, GM’s E-REV implementation director.
Sounds a bit complicated to me!

Yes, the tech is complex. The batteries pack more than 200 lithium ion battery cells into four modules shaped like a T. The whole battery pack weighs 180kg and sits where a propshaft would on a rear-drive car and across the space normally occupied by a fuel tank. This is one heavy car, weighing in at around two tonnes…. In an Astra-sized hatchback!
Those complex batteries require careful thermal management and come with their own heating and cooling system to maintain the optimum operating temperature of 10-30C. All fans and ancillaries are electrically operated, leaving the petrol engine unfettered by pumping losses. And this car has a fleet of different radiators and cooling systems: one each for the engine, battery, charging mechanism and cabin.
GM is planning some kind of guarantee for the batteries to convince sceptical buyers worried about the cost of replacing a dud one. Have you seen how much Apple charges for a new iPod battery these days? It’s almost enough to write your MP3 player off.

They have yet to decide whether to sell or lease the batteries, but we understand it will likely offer both options to buyers. The internal targets for durability is for the batteries to last 10 years or 240,000km, although the customer warranty might not last that longWill there be other E-REV models from Opel/Vauxhall?

There are plans for more models using the Voltec system on both sides of the Atlantic; the Cadillac Converj concept car at Detroit proves that even GM’s premium cars are likely to get the new tech. Of course, these are conditional upon GM surviving its current financial woes, but we’re likely to see a whole family of extended-range hybrids assuming The General does continue trading.
One problem on the Ampera is that the bulky T-shaped battery pack restricts it to being a four-seater. However, it does come with a conventionally sized boot and the battery boffins we spoke to suggested that true five-seaters or even MPVs are possible. Remember, the Ampera uses many of the Delta component sets from the next-gen Astra/Zafira, including the steering and suspension systems.
Will the Ampera drive like a normal car?

We don’t know yet, although prototype drives are scheduled for later in 2009, once the first 80 prototypes have been built.
But the Ampera has some impressive figures on paper. Top speed is limited to 100mph (to improve battery performance) and 0-62mph takes around nine seconds. GM claims equiavalent ratings of 273lb ft of torque and 149bhp – enough to give it the spritely performance of a 250bhp V6, they say.
There’s no gearbox; the electric motor simply changes direction to select reverse gear.


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Old 08-29-2009, 08:25 AM   #3
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Default Drive/Vauxhall Ampera plug-in hybrid

The Vauxhall Ampera – also known as the Opel Ampera and best known as the Chevrolet Volt – is, according to one General Motors insider, ‘the most important car the company has ever built’. So our first chance to drive it is a significant event, even if it is just a test mule with the Ampera’s powertrain fitted to a Chevrolet Cruze.
Why is the Vauxhall/Opel Ampera so significant?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ll be aware that GM has been having a few financial difficulties. Building innovative, smaller and cleaner cars like the Volt is central to its recovery plan and the continued support of the Obama administration, now its biggest shareholder.
In Europe, the same technology is central to persuading someone else to take on GM’s loss-making European brands Opel and Vauxhall, though this week GM signalled that it may not need or want to sell after all; it would certainly rather keep the technology underpinning this car to itself.
Oh yes, the car…

The technology is as significant as the politics it’s caught up in. Again, unless you’ve been under that rock you should know how it works by now. But if not, the Ampera-Volt promises to be the world’s first extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV) when it goes on sale in the US late next year, in Europe in left-hand drive in late 2011 and in the UK as a right-hand drive Vauxhall in early 2012.
It’s always driven by its 150bhp electric motor, and can run electrically for up to 40 miles once its 16kWh lithium-ion battery has had a full three-hour charge. After that, a 1.4-litre petrol engine cuts in purely to charge the battery, operating at constant revs and allowing the Ampera to drive on for up to 300 miles before its 15-litre tank needs filled. GM reckons that 80% of European drivers do less than 50 miles each day, meaning that most days they’ll drive purely on tailpipe-emissions-free electric power at around a fifth the cost of petrol.
So how does it drive?

Very well for such an early mule. The powertrain is the important bit, and it’s close to finished. There’s no complex start-up procedure: just press the start button, select ‘D’, and go. Even by the standards of other electric cars the Ampera is very refined; the gentle whine and whirr you get from the electric motor and power control module in some others is already largely absent here.
It doesn’t yet feel as quick as the claimed 9.0sec 0-60mph time, but it does the by-now familiar (to motoring journalists, anyway) electric car trick of pulling strongly, silently and seamlessly from standstill. It felt completely within its abilities at the UK motorway limit, with more acceleration readily available; the top speed is limited to 100mph.

So the Ampera is no Tesla Roadster…

No, but it will easily keep pace with a conventionally powered hatch. As our test car was a mule its handling is irrelevant, but you can feel the impact of the 180kg of battery; both holding back the acceleration but also, mounted low and centrally in the car, keeping the Ampera level under cornering and heavy braking. The latter is regenerative but doesn’t slow the car noticeably as soon as you lift off the ‘gas’, as it does in some other EVs, and there’s unusually good pedal feel.
Downsides of the Vauxhall Ampera?

GM’s engineers wouldn’t let us drive the car until the battery ran low, so we don’t yet know what it’s like to drive with a petrol engine droning away at exactly the same pitch regardless of what your right foot is doing; the same GM engineers admit that it might take a little getting used to.
And then there’s the Ampera’s lofty price; despite early, hopeful and very unofficial speculation that it could be in the low twenties, GM would now prefer you to expect it to start in the mid-thirties unless you lease the battery separately, an option it is still considering and which might get the sticker price down to that original target.

For such an early test car, the Vauxhall Ampera is impressively engineered. The production car is still two years away; we don’t doubt that it will be great to drive. But who will be building it, and how many of us can afford to buy it are issues that have yet to be resolved.

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Old 08-29-2009, 09:19 AM   #4
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the car looks emo
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:55 AM   #5
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I like the looks of the Opel better than the volt. I know the only redeisnged the front end but I think it looks good. I don't get the "Americans want different styling" idea. I guess it's the test groups they use.
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