At GM we are confident that this technology is the future and that it will be sold worldwide. When we want to do better than our competitors, we sometimes forget that we have to start doing it too.
General Motors could have taken fifteen years ahead of the competition in zero-emission cars. They even did so, marketing, from 1996, the EV1, the first 100% electric car produced by a large automotive group in series.
Three years after the launch, despite satisfied customers and a substantial initial investment, GM decides overnight to reclaim all cars rented to customers before destroying them.
California air law has just changed, manufacturers no longer have an obligation to sell electric cars, GM will re-manufacture large 4X4s.
Fifteen years later, we come back to the case
During the 2000s, however, the market coincided with those who saw a green future. Toyota floods the world with its hybrid cars and Tesla explodes. At General Motors, driving has nothing to do with it.
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 one in its own way. The Chevrolet Volt is announced with great drive.
It will go beyond the standards of the hybrid car. 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 are so optimistic about the Volt’s chances of success that we will decline it in all sauces. In Australia it is called Holden Volt, in the United Kingdom it will be a Vauxhall and in Europe it bears the Opel Ampera badge.
During the launch press conference, the head of General Motors, Fritz Henderson, promises a city consumption of 1.02 l / 100 km! A record that would make the Ampera the cheapest hybrid car in the world.
The car was 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 tougher.
Not so cheap
An innovative solution, the reverse hybridization of the Ampera means that it is interesting to reserve its use for small daily trips. After recharging overnight, the owner can drive in electric mode for 80 miles depending on the manufacturer, 35 or 40 depending on the user.
Once the battery is empty, consumption easily exceeds eight liters per cent and can approach ten liters without forcing. First big problem, when a classic hybrid is several liters minus one hundred kilometers. But the Ampera will also suffer at least a vague position.
Hybrid, electric, thermal?
The German could be considered an electric car with a “range extender”, as the petrol 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 trouble in the world to define what the Ampera is. We are talking about a car that is supposed to only run in electric mode … but that consumes nine liters per cent.
The manufacturer does try to explain that with the heat generator you can travel 500 kilometers, no one understands the point of bothering with so many technologies when a diesel is much better or a Toyota hybrid consumes five liters.
Due to lack of demand, the production line stopped regularly during the four short years of his career, before giving up after selling only 10,101 copies.
Ten years later, while the Ampera had an electric motor assisted by a heat engine, all hybrids on the market depended on an electric motor assisted by electricity. Lupa.