Does something look familiar? Do these pictures look a lot like something we saw in September ?
Opel and Vauxhall get their own versions of the Chevrolet Volt called the Ampera. Usually when cars are developed for other markets and other countries, there are some major changes, but that not the case with the Ampera. The electric car with a gas backing powertrain from the Volt (now called Voltec) was developed to recharge on 110V (standard U.S.) or 230V (standard Europe).
All the other major components of the Volt/Ampera, including the 1.4-liter gas engine, are also utilized in the Chevrolet Cruze , which was designed to be sold around the world. The most notable changes on the Ampera are the visual touches on the front fascia to give the car a family resemblance to GM’s other European offerings.
For journeys up to 60 km, the five-door, four-seat hatchback runs on electricity stored in the 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery, and emits zero CO2. When the battery’s energy is depleted, the gasoline engine will then be used to recharge the battery, and extend the Ampera’s range to more than 500 km. We didn’t bother to convert these figures because we wanted to give our metric-loving friends a break, and they are the same as already reported on the Volt .
Press release after the jump.
The revolutionary Opel Ampera today celebrated its world premiere at the 79th Geneva Motor Show. General Motors Europe president, Carl-Peter Forster, unveiled the extended-range electric vehicle and announced plans to put the car into production in late 2011.
The Ampera will also be offered with right-hand drive in the United Kingdom by Opel’s sister-brand, Vauxhall.
“The Opel Ampera further demonstrates GM’s leadership in the electrification of the automobile,” said Carl-Peter Forster. “Its ground-breaking Voltec electric propulsion system is the kind of game-changing technology the automotive industry needs to respond to energy and environmental challenges.”
The five-door, four-seat Ampera is influenced by Opel’s award-winning design language of sculptural artistry meets German precision, incorporating several styling cues from the innovative Flextreme and GTC Concept show cars
“There could not be a more fitting way to celebrate Opel’s 110 years of innovation in the car industry than by revealing the Ampera,” said Alain Visser, GME Vice President Opel.
The Ampera’s wheels are turned electrically at all times and speeds. For journeys up to 60 km (MVEG), it runs on electricity stored in the 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery, and emits zero CO2. When the battery’s energy is depleted, electricity from an engine-generator extends the Ampera’s range to more than 500 km.
The Ampera can be plugged into any household 230v outlet for charging. GM Europe is analyzing the requirements of a recharging infrastructure for plug-in electric cars with energy companies, including Iberdrola of Spain.
What is “Voltec”?
“Voltec” is the brand name for GM’s revolutionary extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV) technology that uses electricity as its primary power source and gasoline as its secondary power source to generate electricity. The main components of the Voltec electric propulsion system include a T-shaped battery pack, an 111 kW electric drive unit, and an engine generator of electricity.
The Opel Ampera represents a significant departure from conventional hybrids. In an E-REV, the wheels are turned by an electric drive unit, whereas in conventional hybrids the wheels are turned by an electric motor, a gasoline engine, or both. For short trips, E-REVs will run on battery power alone. For longer trips, additional electricity can be supplied by an internal combustion engine. The battery and propulsion systems are sized so that when sufficient energy is available from the battery, the engine is not required for operation. During this electric only phase of driving, the battery, motor, and power electronics are designed to deliver full performance, acceleration, top speed, hill climbing on electric power alone.
How Voltec Works
Energy is stored on board in a 16-kWh, “T”-shaped lithium-ion battery pack. The battery pack powers the electric drive unit, which is capable of meeting full vehicle speed and acceleration performance while driving the car electrically for up to 60 km (MVEG cycle) without using a drop of gas. For longer trips, the E-REV’s on-board range-extending engine is used to drive an electric generator when the battery’s energy has been depleted. The range extender, which can be powered by gas/E85 Ethanol, is able to generate additional electricity to power the car for more than 500 km.
There are many benefits of an E-REV. The main benefits include energy diversification, reduced oil consumption, and reduced emissions.
GM estimates that the Opel Ampera will save about 1700 liters of gasoline based on 60 km of daily driving and 22,000 km annually. For drivers that commute 100 km per day or 36,500 km annually, about 2200 liters of gasoline could be saved.
As a baseline comparison, GM estimates that the cost per km to operate a car with Voltec electric propulsion system is approximately 0.02 euro per km electrically versus 0.09 euro per km using gasoline priced at € 1.16/l.
Not a “hybrid”
In practice, hybrid vehicles typically require both sources – engine and battery – to provide full vehicle performance capability. In a hybrid vehicle, the combustion engine is typically the larger of the two propulsion sources, and provides most of the power during high power vehicle maneuvers like off-line starts and freeway cruising. A plug-in hybrid operates the same way, but can be recharged by plugging in. Even with useful energy in the battery, the engine will often be operating to achieve vehicle peak loads. An E-REV is unique from a hybrid or plug-in hybrid in that the vehicle’s wheels are always driven electrically by an electric drive unit.
GM’s design team has created a practical, efficient electric car that builds on Opel’s award-winning design direction. The Opel Ampera offers optimal passenger space, futuristic equipment features in an aerodynamic, premium design.
“The Opel Ampera shows all the opportunities advanced propulsion technologies offer for car design. We had to maximize the aerodynamic efficiency but still offer ultimate everyday driving comfort,” said Phil Zak, Director, Exterior Design at GM Europe. “All of that is presented in an upscale, sporty look that builds on Opel’s theme of sculptural forms and expressive lines.”
Sculptural artistry gives Ampera its dynamic exterior
The Ampera’s exterior design takes up cues from the Opel Flextreme and GTC Concept show cars. For example, it features dramatic, boomerang-like headlights that seamlessly integrate with the lower fog lights. The car has a dynamic, almost aggressive low stance seen most prominently in the front and tail. The new, bold Opel logo emblazes the front grill and the chrome bar across the back.
Vertical slots in the outboard edges of the rear bumper not only give the car a low sporty look but also play a key role in creating a clean separation feature for the air, supporting the highly efficient aerodynamic performance. Its unique Pearl White Diamond color with matching rocker panels and rear bumper underline the dynamic appeal of the car.
Maximum efficiency through optimal aerodynamics
Aerodynamics, too, play a particularly important role in maximizing driving range. GM engineers and designers worked together to optimize the air flow around the front fascia and outside mirrors of the Ampera. Significant attention was also given to the rear with a specifically designed spoiler and clean separation features. Lightweight materials were added in the form of clear polycarbonate covers to the front grille and disk inserts on the 17-inch, five-spoke sport alloy wheels. These helped to reduce aerodynamic drag in critical airflow areas.
All amenities of an upscale hatchback combined with the latest technology
The Ampera offers the space, comfort, and convenience features that customers expect in a car with five-doors, four-seats and storage capacity of 301 liters. The interior features a Jet Black interior combined with Spice Red accents and Dark Argent Metallic paint on the instrument panel’s center stack for a sporty look.
The doors’ décor picks up on the car’s electric nature through the use of iconic themes. With an integrated shifter, two information displays and touch-sensitive infotainment center, the Ampera delivers an all-electrical user experience.
“On the Ampera we’ve continued to challenge the norm and have searched for new and exciting color and material combinations. To support the car’s innovative character we’ve worked with experimental trims and paints that you will see more of in future Opel models” said John Puskar, Director, Interior Design for GM Europe.
The revolutionary Opel Ampera will be the first emission-free, electrically driven automobile in Europe suitable for everyday driving. With its Voltec electric propulsion system providing lively acceleration and high levels of refinement, the five-door Ampera seats four passengers in comfort, offers a useful trunk for their luggage, and features an extended range of more than 500 kilometers.
"Driving electrically is not only about ecology," said global vehicle line executive and chief engineer, Frank Weber. "Driving electrically is also great fun. Instantaneous, silent torque of 370 Newton meters under your right foot feels like flying!"
Electricity drives the Ampera’s wheels at all times and speeds. For trips up to 60 km (MVEG), power is supplied by the electricity stored in the cutting-edge, 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery.
While driving on electricity delivered by the battery, the Ampera emits zero CO2. When the battery’s energy is depleted, a gasoline/E85-fueled engine-generator seamlessly provides electricity to power the electric drive unit while simultaneously sustaining the charge of the battery. This mode of operation extends the range to 500 kilometers, until the battery can be charged by plugging the vehicle’s on-board charge system into a standard household 230v outlet.
Ampera gives driver confidence and peace of mind
Unlike a conventional battery-electric vehicle, the Ampera eliminates “range anxiety,” giving the confidence and peace of mind that the driver will not be stranded by a depleted battery.
"An advanced lithium-ion battery system is the key to getting the Ampera into the hands of consumers”, said Hans Demant, GME’s vice president of engineering. “The engineers at our research and development center in Mainz-Kastel, Germany are testing the battery around the clock, 365 days a year to ensure that it meets the expectations of our customers.”
The Ampera’s battery pack will be manufactured by GM at the first lithium-ion production facility to be operated by a major automaker in the United States. More than 220 lithium-ion cells in the T-shaped pack provide ample power. The nearly silent electric drive unit delivers 370 Nm of instant torque, the equivalent of 150 horsepower, zero to 100 km/h acceleration in around nine seconds, and a top speed of 161 km/h.
The Ampera will be well-suited to the daily driving schedule of most European customers. For example, approximately 80 percent of German drivers travel less than 50 km daily.
Opel estimates that an electrically driven kilometer in the Ampera will cost about one-fifth compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle, at current fuel prices.