2012 Opel Ampera gets five star rating at the Euro NCAP crash tests

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 27, 2011

It’s now Opel Ampera’s turn to undergo Euro NCAP’s tests, the same ones that the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Nissan LEAF were subjected to. This new EV has a balance of structure, interior and restraint system that’s well-optimized, enabling it to get the maximum points in the side pole test. Using the new rating scheme, the Ampera scored 85% in adult occupant protection, 86% safety assist, 78% in child occupant protection, and 41% in pedestrian protection.

The standard equipment for the model includes Electronic Stability Control and a seatbelt reminder system for the driver, front passenger and rear seats.

These tests indicated that in a frontal impact, the passenger cell that may hold adult occupants stayed stable. Also fitted as standard equipment on this car are the driver and passenger airbags. The tests with the dummies showed that the knees and femurs of both front seat occupants are well protected.

But then, the tests also determined that the dashboard had structures that presented a possible hazard to occupants of various sizes and in different positions.

The highest points were also scored by the Ampera in the side barrier test as well as in the more difficult side pole impact. On the other hand, the tests indicated that the Ampera offered marginal protection to whiplash injuries in a rear-end collision. The model that was tested by the safety organization was a 1.4/electric LHD. What happened next was that the car was checked for electrical safety and no issues were found.

When launched, the new five-door Opel Ampera will be the first electric-driven vehicle in Europe that could be used for daily trips. It is powered by a Voltec electric propulsion system that makes it possible for the Ampera to operate in electric mode at all times and speeds. When the trip requires travelling up to 60 km (MVEG), an innovative 16-kWh lithium-ion battery provides the needed electricity to the electric drive unit for zero-emission propulsion.

Once the four-passenger Opel Ampera uses up all the energy stored in the battery, a gasoline/E85-fueled engine-generator will kick in to provide electricity for the drive unit while sustaining the charge of the lithium battery. This allows the Opel Ampera to travel up to 500 kilometers, when needed. Users could recharge the Ampera’s battery just by plugging its on-board charge system into a standard household 230v outlet.

This effectively gets rid of the so-called "range anxiety," which is usually an issue with a conventional battery-electric vehicle. This means that drivers would be extremely confident that they would not be stranded somewhere in between trips because of a depleted battery. Hans Demant, GME's vice president of engineering, considers the Ampera’s 16-kWh lithium-ion battery as key to making the vehicle appealing to consumers.

He noted that to ensure that the battery meets expectations of customers, GME’s r&d engineers at its Mainz-Kastel center in Germany are testing the power source around the clock and 365 days a year. GM will produce this 16-kWh lithium-ion battery at its lithium-ion production facility in the United States. Featuring over 220 lithium-ion cells, the Ampera’s T-shaped battery pack provides power to the electric drive unit, which in turn develops 150 hp of output and 370 Nm of torque at any time.

These figures allow the Opel Ampera to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in around nine seconds and achieve a top speed of 161 km/h. Global vehicle line executive and chief engineer, Frank Weber, remarked that driving electrically is not just about ecology, but also about having great fun.

Press Release

Five Euro NCAP Stars for the Opel Ampera

The Opel Ampera has been awarded five stars by the independent consumer organization Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme). With this, the first electric vehicle from a European manufacturer suitable for everyday use achieved the maximum safety level, joining the current Opel models also tested by Euro NCAP. The Opel Ampera scored more than the maximum points needed to achieve the top rating in all categories including occupant protection, child safety, pedestrian protection and safety assist. The five-door sedan also turned out top results in the side barrier test. The best values the Ampera achieved here are thanks to the combination of solid core body structure, rigid passenger cell and efficient restraint systems.

“It has been a long tradition at Opel to offer highest possible safety standards, and the Ampera impressively continues our leadership role in safety technology. The Ampera not only meets but exceeds the most stringent requirements for top ratings in each of the Euro NCAP test categories. This is a unique achievement we are very proud of”, says Opel Chief Executive Officer Karl-Friedrich Stracke.

The Ampera is the first car tested by Euro NCAP to score maximum points in the side pole impact test that has been mandatory since 2009. In this test, the car tested is propelled sideways at 29 km/h into a rigid pole that simulates a tree. Thanks to the outstanding crashworthiness and stiffness of the Ampera’s core body structure, occupants are very well protected. Crash impact protection is provided by an extremely rigid passenger cell. It has been designed to ensure the least possible deformation and the largest possible survival space in the event of a crash. To help dissipate high impact forces, the front, sides and rear of the passenger cell are protected by energy absorbing zones that deform in a controlled manner.

The electrical safety of the car was also checked after all the impact tests. The battery pack of the Ampera, comprising 288 cells in nine different modules, is located in the center of the vehicle, and the vehicle structure is built around it. Thanks to the clever vehicle structural design, the battery pack, is efficiently protected from both front and side crash impacts and remains in its location. While post-crash electric safety aims to achieve absence of high voltage, in an emergency, the high voltage battery pack can be easily disconnected by rescue parties. After a crash, the Ampera is required to have no electrolyte spilled into the passenger compartment, and no more than seven percent of the electrolyte can be found outside the passenger compartment and the battery.

Active and passive safety features on the Ampera include:

Standard Four-wheel Anti-lock Braking System, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist and Electronic Stability Control
Eight airbags including front-, side- , knee- air bags as well as roof-mounted head-curtain air bags that help protect occupants in a side or rollover crash
Optional rearview camera system featuring a display integrated into the navigation system screen
An ISOFIX child seat installation system for the rear seating positions
Adjustable head restraints on the front seats which helps provide protection against whiplash injury in the event of a rear-end collision
Collapsible pedal assembly (Pedal Release System) for lower leg protection in a frontal impact.
Electric mobility suitable for everyday use

The Ampera is the first electric vehicle to enable “go anywhere at any time” mobility. The five-door sedan offers space for four adults and their luggage, and will be on the market at the end of the year. A 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack feeds the 111 kW/150 hp electric drive unit. Depending on driving technique, terrain and temperature, it delivers between 40 and 80 km of pure electric operation with zero emissions. Independent research shows that this is perfectly sufficient to meet the daily needs of 80 percent of European drivers, who drive less than 60 km per day. Whenever the battery has reached its minimum state of charge, the gasoline engine automatically turns on and powers a generator to feed the electric drive unit. This extends driving range to over 500 km without the need to stop at a filling station.

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