Reporter’s Blog: Vauxhall’s new car is a hybrid, even if they say it’s not

Vauxhall says their new electric car ticks all the boxes. The Ampera runs on an electric motor, costs around £2 to charge, has space in the back for the kids […]

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By Tom Gibson

Vauxhall says their new electric car ticks all the boxes.

The Ampera runs on an electric motor, costs around £2 to charge, has space in the back for the kids and even comes with an eight-year warranty on the battery.

The makers even go as far as saying the car, which “is not a hybrid”, offers drivers “all the benefits of electric driving, without any of the range anxiety associated with pure electric vehicles.”

Well, not all the benefits. When you’ve run down the 16 kWh battery after 25 or so miles “with no tailpipe emissions”, the car stops looking quite so green.

The Ampera has a range extender, otherwise known as a 1.4-litre petrol-fuelled engine. While the engine boosts the range by 300 miles it also means the car runs much like any other with a combustion engine, ie it spits out dirty fumes.

A spokesperson for Vauxhall told me it was “difficult to give a figure for its emissions” but that it was 13% more efficient than a petrol engine. Whatever that means.

In Vauxhall’s defence, the system seems fairly sensible. There’s a statistic the Vauxhall spokesperson told me “about 90-odd per cent of people travel 30 or so miles a day to work” so if that is just slightly accurate EVs like this make sense…

You travel all week on the electric engine and then when you go up to see your uncle Jim in Cumbria you can rely on the old trusty petrol engine to get you there.

So just call it a hybrid.