Opel Ampera extended-range electric vehicle
Opel Ampera extended-range electric vehicle. Click image to enlarge

Rüsselsheim, Germany – Opel has begun testing two prototypes of the Ampera extended-range electric vehicle, which uses the Voltec system that will also be used in the Chevrolet Volt. The four-door sedan is on schedule for a late 2011 production date.

Engineers have installed the Voltec system, including the battery, motor, engine and electric generator, inside the body of an existing production car to test the system’s performance and overall driving impression. The company has also developed and is further testing the lithium-ion battery.

“The Ampera development cars show that a practical electric four-seater, with cargo space and the capability to be the first automobile in the household, is not just theory, but a car that will be reality by 2011,” said Frank Weber, vehicle line executive for Ampera development.

The Ampera is being developed in three distinct phases, starting with the engineering development vehicles that are used to analyze the behaviour of specific subsystems and get them to work together. In the next phase, integration cars are built with all of the systems coming together, while in the third stage, the cars look and operate nearly exactly as the final vehicle, and are the last phase before production.

The Voltec system uses electricity as its primary power source, provided initially by plugging in the vehicle to charge the battery and then, when that is depleted, starting a small gasoline engine that acts as a generator to produce electricity to power the car. Opel estimates that a kilometre driven electrically in the Ampera will cost about one-fifth compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle at current fuel prices

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