Vauxhall are expecting to give a boost to the electric car sector by launching a new model in their showrooms. The Ampera is one of the newest vehicles eligible for the Coalition’s £5,000 plugged-in car discount scheme and they claim it will end the fears over range anxiety due to a limited battery life.
Last year, the then transport secretary Phillip Hammond claimed that 2011 would be the year the electric car finally took off. However, only 1,000 were sold last year, and figures for the first four months of this year show that registrations of new electric cars have disappointingly flat-lined. Vauxhall however are confident they will sell 3,500 units of the £30,000 car this year, or 5,000 in a full year. The car goes on sale in twenty-four dealerships throughout the UK and Vauxhall predict it will be a “conquest” vehicle that will lead to drivers deciding to buy from the company for the first time and that car insurance providers will be inundated with quote enquiries.
Marc Rinkel, senior analyst at analysts IHS Automotive, said “In 2011, the Nissan Leaf accounted for most of electric vehicles sales in the UK. The launches of the Vauxhall Ampera and the Renault Fluence ZE are a stepping stone to broaden the electric car offering. In addition to the Leaf, early adopters can now go for the range extender with the Ampera or a cheaper option with the Fluence. Although currently low consumer spending is not in favour of expensive vehicles, these models shall become popular amongst company car buyers as the exemption of company car tax for electric vehicle drivers looks very appealing indeed.”
The Ampera’s biggest selling point is that when the battery runs out after fifty miles of electric power, a petrol engine will provide back-up power for up to 310 miles. But because the petrol will be driving the electric motor, Vauxhall claim the car should be classed as a “range extender” and not a hybrid car.