At GM we are sure, this technology is the future and will be sold all over the world. In wanting to do better than competitors, we sometimes forget that we should start by doing the same.
General Motors could have taken fifteen years ahead of the competition in zero-emission cars. They did this, marketing, from 1996, the EV1, the first 100% electric car produced by a large automobile group in series.
Three years after launch, despite satisfied customers and a substantial upfront investment, GM decides overnight to recover all of the customers’ leased cars before destroying them.
California’s airline law has just changed, manufacturers are no longer obligated to sell electric cars, GM will go back to making big 4X4s.
Fifteen years later, back to square one
During the 2000s, however, the market agreed with those who saw a green future. Toyota floods the world with its hybrid cars and Tesla explodes. At General Motors, drive around, there’s nothing to see.
It wasn’t until 2010 that the group finally decided to react. But out of the question of copying the competition, GM will design an electric in its own way. The Chevrolet Volt is announced with great fanfare.
It will disrupt hybrid car standards. Your secret? The car runs all the time in electric mode. But it will be helped by a four-cylinder combustion engine that powers a generator.
A global ambition
At GM, we’re so optimistic about the Volt’s chances of success that we’re going to turn it down in every sauce. In Australia it bears the name Holden Volt, in the UK it will be a Vauxhall and in Europe it uses the Opel Ampera emblem.
During the launch press conference, the head of General Motors, Fritz Henderson, promises an urban consumption of 1.02l/100 km! A record that would make the Ampera the most economical hybrid car in the world.
The car was very well received by the press and even won the title of “Car of the Year 2011” in the respected American magazine Motor Trend. But the reality will be harsher.
It’s not so economical
Innovative solution, Ampera’s inverse hybridization implies that it is interesting to reserve its use for small daily trips. After recharging overnight, the owner can drive in electric mode for 80 kilometers depending on the manufacturer, 35 or 40 depending on the user.
Once the battery is empty, consumption easily exceeds eight liters per hundred and can approach ten liters without straining. First big problem, when a classic hybrid is several liters less per hundred kilometers. But Ampera will also suffer from a positioning that is at least vague.
Hybrid, electric, thermal?
The German could be considered an electric car with a “range extender”, as the gasoline unit was never in direct contact with the wheels.
At a time when the hybrid car was still an exception, Opel will have all the work in the world to define what the Ampera is. We’re talking about a car that should only run in electric mode… but that consumes nine liters per hundred.
The manufacturer tries to explain that you can travel 500 kilometers with the thermal generator, nobody understands the point of bothering with so many technologies when a diesel does much better or a Toyota hybrid consumes five liters.
Due to lack of demand, the production line was regularly halted during the four short years of its career, before dropping out after only 10,101 copies were sold.
Ten years later, while the Ampera had an electric motor backed by a heat engine, all hybrids on the market have an electric powered heat engine. Magnifying glass.