Apr 232012
 

Slow Recharging Times

With slow recharging times still a problem for the electric car market, the news that British Gas will team with Vauxhall, makers of the Ampera, will lead to a reduction in battery charging times, the two companies have announced.

Vauxhall Ampera - Electric Car

Vauxhall Ampera - Electric Car

The new alliance between British Gas and Vauxhall, whose Ampera is badged by Chevrolet in the US under the name Spark, will create a faster home charging service at an additional fee. Dubbed the British Gas Home Charging Solution, the new system will give the Vauxhall vehicles access to 16 amps of current, a great deal more than the 10 amps or six amps supply traditionally available. Overall, this will lead to a reduction in charging times from six hours to four hours.

Plug-In Set up £799

This will come at an additional cost, however, which may again serve to deter some car buyers from switching to electric vehicles. Users of the new system will be required to invest in a new plug-in set-up at home, which will cost £799 including installation, but will benefit from a three-year warranty on parts and access to the British Gas electrical repair service over the same period.

Plug-in Savings

These costs are offset courtesy of a Ministry of Transport discount, however, which entitles electric vehicle owners to a 75 per cent discount on plug-in areas, which include London, the Greater a Manchester are and Milton Keynes, designated by the British government.

Extended Car Range

For a vehicle like the Vauxhall Ampera, the new recharging service to be initiated by British Gas means the car’s range will be extended even further. The Ampera has already become something of a market innovator by combining electric power with a traditional petrol engine. That means for short runs, the vast majority of journeys undertaken by car owners who need to get to work or drive their children to school, the car can run on the electric motor that generates 148 break horsepower.

50 Mile Driving Range

The vehicle has a range of 50 miles for each charge, and Vauxhall said this can be used for roughly 85 per cent of commutes within the UK. When the battery runs out, the car automatically switches to the petrol engine, which has excellent range and efficiency all by itself; it can keep running for 310 miles on just one tank of fuel. Overall, Vauxhall claims the Ampera can reach 175 miles per gallon, emitting just 27g of CO2 per kilometre driven.

Ampera Hits the Roads Next Month

We’ll have to wait and see exactly how the Ampera performs when it hits roads in the UK next month. Retail prices start at just under £30,000, which includes a £5,000 grant by the government designed to spur take-up of electric vehicles.

This is a great deal more expensive than comparable petrol of diesel vehicles, even with the grant factored in, but then the Vauxhall Ampera could be a game-changer. Allowing drivers to switch between electric and traditional fuels affords versatility while keeping running costs extremely low. In that respect, this is a vehicle that bridges the gap between electric and fossil fuels, and the British Gas deal only helps it cause.


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