From an emotional point of view, the Vauxhall Ampera is brilliant. I love everything about it and, although others may disagree, I think it’s one of the best cars I have ever driven.
It looks great, it’s fast, efficient, well-built, quiet and comfortable to drive, easy to use, practical enough for my needs and with 11,000 miles on the clock, perfectly reliable.
With an all-electric range of about 35 miles, I rarely need to use the petrol range-extender engine and when I do the system has worked perfectly.
On a recent 350-mile journey to Cheshire from Peterborough, the car averaged 65mpg, having spent much of the time on petrol power.
On average, though, I have achieved 140mpg and over its lifetime the Ampera has returned 160mpg.
When running on electric power, the Ampera covers about three miles on a kilowatt of electricity, costing around three pence per mile at standard consumer rates, compared with 13ppm in real-world costs for a diesel or petrol engine.
In the right circumstances, this is the definition of a perfect company car and I would urge any driver who has the opportunity to test one to get behind the wheel.
However, there are sceptics, whose most common challenges are: “Well you are just putting all the emissions somewhere else”, or “Effectively, it’s running on coal isn’t it?”, referring to the power station that has generated the electricity. They have a point, although it doesn’t just apply to cars.
According to the National Grid, generating a kilowatt of electricity using coal creates 800g of CO2, 500g from a gas-fired power station and 5g from a nuclear power station.
So, if the power comes from coal, the Ampera would ‘emit’ 165g/km. From gas, it’s a more encouraging 103g/km and from nuclear, it’s 1g/km and some gamma rays.
So from a fuel cost perspective, it’s great, but from an emissions perspective, the argument is more complex.
While preparing this article, my computer has burned enough kW to power the Ampera for five miles. The equipment in my office building consumes enough electricity in a year to power the Ampera for 192,000 miles.
So the Ampera is only part of the answer and if it is joining your fleet, it needs to be part of an energy management plan for the investment to really make sense.