Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Vauxhall Ampera Electron

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Vauxhall Ampera Electron

Article excerpt

Byline: Ian Donaldson

DID you know petrol can turn stale? Neither did I until ipping idly through the handbook for Vauxhall's interesting Ampera, the company's current take on planet-saving cars.

Charge the Ampera's battery of batteries (they sit out of harm's way down the spine of the car) and you'll enjoy around 40 miles of near silent motoring with an electric motor pulling you along.

When the juice runs out the clever car switches to a modestly-sized petrol engine to produce enough current to keep you on the move. You have to listen hard for the changeover to detect the faintest hum of internal combustion doing the work.

So, if your daily drive never exceeds those 40 or so 'electric' miles the petrol engine, pinched from an Astra, will never have to start up. Unlikely, I know, but it might happen if you live, say, 20 miles from work and never venture further aeld.

at's where the prospect of stale petrol enters the scene. e car knows if the engine has done no work in the past 12 months and tells you it is starting, so the fuel in the tank is used and you are persuaded to rell with fresh supplies. Very clever, if unlikely to happen in the real world.

And it's the real world that intrudes in other ways with the Ampera and why you hardly ever seen one on the road. ey are rarer than a new Ferrari, a scarcity that has little to do with the car itself, which is handsome, spacious and well equipped.

Simple economics banish the Ampera to the interesting but unseen end of the car market, for even after the Government's handsome PS5,000 green grant is deducted, this is still a car that costs more than thirty grand as it stands on the showroom oor.

ere are no end of diesel powered cars with posher badges than the gri"n from Luton that make more sense on purely economic grounds, especially if you manage more than the 40 miles a day that a fully charged Ampera o-ers at minimal cost for its electricity.

After the current dwindles, the car uses fuel from its tank like any other non-hybrid and calculates your economy on the trip computer, giving less impressive gures as the miles roll by. …

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