Does the Opel Ampera solve the E.Vs shortcomings?
This week in Motors we saw that Renault has chosen to lease batteries for its electric vehicle line-up and this is something we have also discussed in this week’s Irish Times Motors Podcast and the truth is that until more of the major manufacturers have their electric vehicle solutions on the ground then there is going to be hesitancy on the part of the customer.
Following on from the announcement of the Renault range of electric cars, I jumped on a plane and went to The Hague, where Opel were showing off their Ampera, which Michael McAleer had driven in the previous weeks in Motors and this would prove to be an altogether different approach to the electric vehicle. The thing with this is, that there is literally none of the stress that you now find as a feature of the current batch of pure electric vehicle. The Nissan Leaf is a car we have already spent considerable time in and it does do a great job, but in the back of your head and flashing on the dashboard in front of you, there is always the reminder that you are restricted in where you can go and to when you can go (if you have to sit and wait for the car to charge) and that removes one of the facets of motoring that we love, which is total freedom.
With the Ampera, you can play the EV ‘game’ if you want and you can be graceful with your right foot and glean as many kilometres as possible from the batteries. But having done all that, if heaven forbid, you get a call from your other half to say that you need to get home in a hurry for an emergency, you don’t need to think. The small petrol engine that sits there like an old trusted dog will bark into action when required to bring you home. It is that added sense of security that might make the Ampera the perfect solution.
The main drawback of the Ampera seems to be the price. If you consider that it will cost around €45,000 in Ireland, then it is in some pretty serious company, with cars like the BMW 520D, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi, A6 and Jaguar XF now well within the grasp of a buyer with this sort of money. That makes the Ampera a very serious lifestyle choice and you would need to have green blood coursing through your veins to be able to drive past any of these showrooms into an Opel one, regardless of how clever the technology might well be.