General Motors Co.'s Opel/Vauxhall unit will offer an eight-year warranty for the new Ampera plug-in electric car’s battery system. At the Geneva Motor Show, Opel CEO Nick Reilly said that the Ampera – the Chevrolet Volt’s sister model - will also be sold with Opel's "lifetime guarantee" in European countries that carry the warranty.
Reilly said the company has received 3,000 pre-orders and 1,000 deposits from private buyers for the Ampera, which will be sold in in Europe in November 2011 for EUR42,900. Reilly added that fleet users and governments are also interested in the Ampera.
GM, with the battery warranty, seeks to allay fears in Europe on the durability of a new wave of mostly untested lithium-ion batteries. Opel will not sell the Ampera at a lower cost while leasing the Ampera's battery pack, a retail model that certain automakers will use to bring the sticker prices of their EVs in line with conventionally powered vehicles.
The Ampera - like the Volt - will be electricity-driven at all times. In the initial 40km to 80 km (25 to 50 miles), the drivetrain is powered by electricity stored in the 16-kilowatt hour lithium ion battery pack, resulting in the car achieving zero emissions.
For longer trips, a gasoline-powered engine/generator supports battery charge and extends the driving range to 500km (300 miles). Opel says most Amperas are likely to run in battery mode nearly all the time since the battery can be recharged in about three hours from a standard electricity outlet. Research shows that about 80 percent of Europeans drive less than 60km a day.
When launched, the new Opel Ampera will be the first electrically driven car in Europe that customers could bring anywhere they want. It is powered by a Voltec electric propulsion system that allows the Opel Ampera to be driven at all times and speeds, with torque of 370 Newton meters available instantly.
Along with an equivalent output of 150 horsepower, this amount of torque allows the Opel Ampera to zoom from zero to 100 km/h in around nine seconds and reach a top speed of 161 km/h. Power is provided for this system, sourced from a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery that allows the new Opel Ampera to have a range of up to 60 km (MVEG) and deliver impressive acceleration. Of course, when the new Opel Ampera is driven in full electric mode, it emits no carbon dioxide.
If the battery drains while on the road, drivers need not worry. This is because, as soon as that happens, an engine-generator powered by gasoline or E85 will provide electricity for the electric drive unit while sustaining the charge of the battery.
This configuration allows the Opel Ampera to have an extended range of up to 500 kilometers. Drivers could recharge the battery just by plugging its on-board charge system into a standard household 230v outlet.
Frank Weber, global vehicle line executive and chief engineer, remarked that driving electrically is not only about ecology, but is also about having fun. While other conventional electric vehicles give rise to the so-called "range anxiety," the new Opel Ampera eliminates it.
This means drivers would not have to worry about being stranded on the middle of the road because of a depleted battery. Hans Demant, GME's vice president of engineering, quipped that the Opel Ampera’s advanced lithium-ion battery system will be its main selling point.
He noted that the GM’s research and development team in Mainz-Kastel, Germany, is testing the battery all the time to make sure that it satisfies the power needs of customers. GM plans to manufacture the battery pack for the new Opel Ampera at its lithium-ion production facility, the first for a major US carmaker. Each of these T-shaped battery packs contains over 220 lithium-ion cells.