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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Ladies and Gents. I'm looking forward to the comments stories and experiences of you EV pioneers. The Ampera certainly looks great. What I'm particulalrly looking out for is the everyday practicality of living with such a vehicle on a day to day basis, and particulary those of you that do a daily commute of more than 100 miles.

I currently drive a Toyota Avensis 2.2 T4D4D. Probably the toughest car I have ever owned, as I have put 140,000 miles on it in 5 years , never missed a beat. It is tough as anything, still pulls like a train with a huge amount of torque, handy for that 70+ surge of accleration you need to get out of harms way. I do a daily 140 mile round trip and average 49 mpg I'm wondering If I stick to diesel power or join the EV trend.What I would particularly like to know is this.

Does your Ampera accelerate with any pace from 50-70 mph when its fully charged, and when its running in ER mode?
Is the technology mature enough to give me reliability and economy I need, or will i need to pursuade my Office to supply electric recharge points at the work place?

I look forward to reading your updates and experiences

Regards

Paul H
 

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Hi Paul H

There seems to be a lot of Pauls on here!

A while ago I had the Toyota Verso with that 2.2 engine and agree it had quite a bit of umph. I had a long commute back then and often got 50+mpg - maybe I drive slower than you ;-)

Anyway, we should be talking Ampera... It is too early to tell how reliable the Ampera will be, but on the other side of the pond our Volt friends seem very happy and are giving good JD Powers ratings.

As for performance, I find no noticeable difference between EV and ER mode, against the stopwatch in US Volt reviews there was a fraction of second. Bear in mind that when in ER mode the battery is also used when you need to accelerate quickly. Autocar timed the Ampera 50-70 in 6.2s which is noticeably faster than the 8.1s (in 5th) of your Avensis. I guess you need a long test drive to find out for yourself :-D

Bear in mind that with your commute you would use a lot of petrol though - especially if you can't charge at work. Is it mainly motorway? So far I find that motorways are the worst for range in EV and use the most fuel in ER (I tend to drive at 70mph). I have a motorway drive home today (from a customer site) and will use trip counter B to see what the MPG is...

Regards

Paul R
 

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Hi Paul (another one but it is a good name! ;) )

Welcome to the forum. It is good that you are joing before having decided to get one. You can help keep us owner's feet on the ground!

As Paul R said, reliability is showing to be pretty good in the US with the Volt so as they are made at the same location at the moment I would imagine that the UK Ampera would be pretty much the same. It is worth remembering though that not only is it a new model but it is completely new tech and so I think it reasonable for us to expect some teething issues and I think that as the early adopters we cannot complain too much when the teething issues emerge... what is important though is that they are fixed quickly and so far Vauxhall seem to be responding pretty well.

I have worked out what I think your fuel useage might be on your 140 mile commute and like everything to do with fuel use and the Ampera it depends on whether you can charge at work or not. Of course, the beauty of the Ampera over say, the Nissal Leaf, is that you can do that commute even if you can't charge at work!

I am assuming a ER fuel consumption of 50mpg and a EV range of 45 miles (seems reasonable based on reports).

That will reduce your ER distance to 95 miles and so you will use 8.6L So at say £1.40p/L that is a daily fuel cost of about £12. Compared with your current cost os about £18. But you would also use about 12kWh of electricity at say, 12p/kWh which adds another £1.44 (this could be a bit less or more depending on the price of your electricity). So your total commute in the Ampera would cost about £13.44 vs £18 for your current car.

If you can charge at work then it get a bit better. That then will reduce your ER distance to 50 miles and so you will use just 4.5L So at say £1.40p/L that is a daily fuel cost of about £6.30. But you would also use about 12kWh of electricity at home at say, 12p/kWh which adds another £1.44 (this could be a bit less or more depending on the price of your electricity). So your total commute in the Ampera would cost about £7.74 vs £18 for your current car. Of course this assumes you charge at work for free!

It will be interesting to see if experience of owners confirms these approximate figures and estimates but my gut feel says it probably will.

Great to have you on board Paul.
 

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Hello Pauls (and non-Pauls)

On the M4 drive home on Friday, I covered just under 50 motorway miles in ER mode and achieved 46mpg. I was driving almost all the time on cruise at 70mph.

That is around was I was expecting before I ordered, so I have no issue with it. However, I can see the 'anti-Ampera' crowd crowing that they would "get more in an Astra diesel for half the purchase price". It does also emphasise that Vauxhall need to be careful that they explain the car is intended for drivers that can (a) charge the car and (b) drive a lot in EV mode!

I haven't tested using a full charge just on the motorway (my current commute starts 5 miles from the A34). I think 40 motorway miles on EV can be achieved, but I suspect you will have to drive slower that 70mph on a bright (no lights) warm (no heating or cooling) day ;-)

As part of my experimentation, this morning I drove on the M4 at 66mph - which was a tad boring! However, my test was scuppered due to a motorway jam as I was (very helpfully) rerouted off the motorway onto slower A roads!

Regards

Paul R
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Pauls and Non Pauls

Really good to hear your collective experiences, and that the performance of both economy and performance are stacking up with expectations.

One thing i find a little perplexing is why the petrol engine can't be used to charge the battery up when the car is stationary. I understand that the petrol engine generates power for the electric motors when in motion, and maintains the battery at a minimum charge level, ensuring it isn't left completely drained. I have to admit I'm attracted to the tech as much as the owner experience. I can remember some years ago discussing why someone didn't invent a car powered on the same basis as a diesel electric train. We concluded that the power plants would take up most of the usable space.

Another point crossed my mind, I discussed the car with my brother in law who works in financial markets. What would the depreciation of Ampera's be. He reckons that the value of a second hand Ampera will fluctuate both up and down based on the oil price. At current rates after 3 years the car could depreciate by 40% (as most do). But what would happen when oil hits US $200 a barrel? Currently at $100, but reached $147 in 2008, so $200 is not an infeasible amount. He reckons that 3-4 year old Ampera worth £17k could actually go up in value, appreciating by 15% from its bottom value. This is because not every one could afford or be inclined to buy a new one, and the demand for used Ampera's would be very high.


I look forward to hearing more from you over the months.


Cheers :)

Paul H
 

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Paul H said:
One thing i find a little perplexing is why the petrol engine can't be used to charge the battery up when the car is stationary. I understand that the petrol engine generates power for the electric motors when in motion, and maintains the battery at a minimum charge level, ensuring it isn't left completely drained. I have to admit I'm attracted to the tech as much as the owner experience. I can remember some years ago discussing why someone didn't invent a car powered on the same basis as a diesel electric train. We concluded that the power plants would take up most of the usable space.
It's more efficient for the generated electricity to be used to directly power the motor than it is to charge and discharge a battery. It needs a minimum level of charge in the battery so it has a reservoir for accelerating, or a larger reservoir if you're driving up the Alps, but otherwise there's no benefit from topping up the batteries. I think you may find you can actually trick the car into recharging the battery while stationary if you pop open the bonnet, but you'll just be increasing fuel consumption.
 

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Re charging the battery from petrol - this would be a very expensive (cost and emissions) way to charge it. On a longer drive the idea is to arrive home, or stop at a public charging point, with a fully (or partly) discharged battery and charge it at low (ideally green) cost or even free. The axiom of the voltec system in RE mode is to use the least petrol to complete your journey.

For newbies reading the forum, note that in RE mode the engine is always off when stationary and typically off when driving at low speed. A common misconception is that RE mode is not good for urban driving; so far I have found it to be very efficient when driving in slow stop start city driving.

Re residual value - to avoid any disappointment, I ordered my Ampera with a very pessimistic view of the 3 year value and I expect to keep it at least 5 years. I am sure prices of similar and possibly better (e.g. 3 cylinder) range extender vehicles will come down and their petrol economy will improve and accept that as an early adopter of technology I will pay a higher price.

Regards

Paul R
 

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Re residual value : here is my slightly different slant on this "thorny" issue...

My last cars (2 of them both quite thirsty) would during a normal week burn about £80 in petrol on my normal commute back and forth to work.

So from that I get £80 x 52 weeks = £4160 in petrol burned year on year.

Add to that the 2x car tax @220 per anum.

This totals about £4,600.

Assuming we keep the car for 5 years we will have saved £23,000 in petrol, if the price we paied for the car is £35000, anything over £12000 that we get in second hand value for the car is going to be a profit.

How many other cars can you say that can potentially return a profit over their lives?

(This is all "beer mat" maths so it may have holes in it feel free to point them out...)

Cheers

g
 

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I can see the argument that we Ampera drivers will save a lot on petrol/diesel (depending on driving profile) but don't forget to include the cost of electric ;-)

Playing devil's advocate, it is possible (probable?) that the 3 and 5 year costs of a BMW 320D Efficient Dynamics will be less than an Ampera - particularly for drivers that user ER mode a lot.

For me, cost isn't the only factor - I wanted to drive something 'green' (or perceived as green) and a bit different...

Regards

Paul R
 

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Discussion Starter #10
With all the anticipated savings on petrol etc and the residual price etc, I would be interested to know the service intervals aand what servicing entails in comparison to the norm.

I'm so reliant on my vehicle for work I get my car main dealer serviced every 10K miles without fail. The intermediate service every 10K tends to be fluid and filters only, every 20K the same plus some parts, brake shoes typically, every 40K tends to require discs. Services range from around £200 for the intermediate and up to to >£600 for a major one.

I'm assuming that the consumable items such as brake shoes , brake fluid are a similar construction to the norm.

A question though? with the energy recovery during braking I'm assuming the resistance that builds in the electric motors that generate the energy reduce the wear and tear on brake shoes and discs.

Do the electric motors require much maintenance? Or are they pretty much maintenance free?


Thanks

Paul
 

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If you start reading US Volt sites be careful as American's LOVE to change their oil and rotate their tires [SIC] Maybe this is why GM fitted the 'oil life' display' to reassure them they could leave it alone a bit longer ;-)

We bought a Mazda 5 over there and the dealer expected us to change the oil and rotate the tyres every 6K or 3 months :-O We checked with Mazda US and they said it was unnecessary!

The Ampera has an annual (or 20K) service interval. I am setting my expectations low on residuals but I AM expecting low service costs! Perhaps Ampera Technician can advise more?

Regards

Paul
 
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