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Vauxhall Ampera Hybrid – No range anxiety

Tue, 15 Jun 2010

The Vauxhall Ampera goes on a 350 mile run

We’ve been moaning quite a bit about the claims being made by car makers for their electric cars. We understand that a big drawback for buyers is ‘Range Anxiety’, a completely understandable concern when you can’t exactly pull over and top up your electric. So we asked Secretary of State Philip Hammond to look at legislation on range claims by electric car makers so buyers can make a judgement on the facts, not the fiction.

But there is a way round range anxiety and still be able to run your car as an electric car for short journeys – the range extender hybrid. With a range extender hybrid you have a smaller bank of batteries and the ability to plug the car in to charge the batteries to power the electric motor. Once the batteries deplete a range extender engine kicks in to recharge the batteries.

This is the system Lotus and Jaguar are working on with the Jaguar XJ Limo Green and the Lotus Evora 414E hybrid, and is the same system Vauxhall are using for the Vauxhall Ampera.

Sensibly, Vauxhall are promoting a publicity run by the Ampera round the UK to illustrate its genuine range of around 350 miles. Once the first 40 miles are done and the battery is run down from its overnight charge the small petrol (or E85) engine kicks in – at constant revs – to recharge the batteries and keep the show on the road for a further 300+ miles.

Vauxhall are billing this as “Longest single road trip ever for an electric vehicle in the UK”. Of course, that’s rubbish. This is a hybrid, even if it is the batteries which run an electric motor at all times. But it’s still a petrol engine which supplies the energy for nearly 90% of the journey.

Still, the best way to run an ‘Electric’ car.

By Cars UK