A prototype of the Ampera extended range electric vehicle (E-REV) drove 170 miles from Vauxhall’s UK headquarters in Luton to the Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire today.
It is the longest distance ever travelled by an electric car on UK roads and signals a significant step forward for zero-emissions technology in the UK.
The journey was driven as a relay, with five drivers taking a turn driving the low-CO2 model to its final destination at the home of the Vauxhall Astra, where it was met by Ellesmere Port plant director Tony Francavilla.
The driver of the first leg, Vauxhall Managing Director Duncan Aldred, described the journey as ‘historic’ and claimed it would be the starting point for the future of E-REV vehicles in the UK.
While many electric cars have been criticised for their price, the availability of charging points, long charging times and the short range, the Ampera is capable of up to 350 miles before it needs refuelling.
It isn’t a purely electric vehicle – the 16kWh lithium-ion battery is capable of powering it for 40 miles before a petrol engine provides energy for the generator – but the Ampera boasts a longer range than electric vehicles and lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption than conventionally-powered cars.
The Vauxhall Ampera will go on sale in the UK early in 2012, but Vauxhall has not named venue for production so far. The Ellesmere Port plant, where the prototype ended up after the groundbreaking drive, is being considered because the Ampera shares a platform with the Astra.
If the Cheshire plant was to be chosen as the site for Ampera production, it would be a significant boost to the local area and secure jobs in the plant, which was described as one of the most efficient in Europe by Vauxhall CEO Nick Reilly in a recent interview.