Alternative-fuel cars

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Alternative-fuel cars
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What Car? Staff
7 Sep 2011 19:10

Electric vehicles are now a serious proposition for millions.

Vauxhall Ampera

Go on, admit it. Youve thought about buying an electric car.

Its impossible not to be tempted by the numerous tax breaks, minuscule fuel bills and conscience-clear motoring they offer. Trouble is, very few of us have lives that allow us to work around the limited range and lengthy recharging times.

Well, now you can have all the pros without the cons, courtesy of Vauxhalls clever new Ampera. Its whats known as a range-extender, which means its an electric car with a back-up plan. It can manage around 40 miles on electric power alone, but rather than leave you stranded at the side of the road when the battery runs out of juice, it simply fires up a 1.4-litre petrol engine.

The engine acts as a generator, providing electricity to keep you going, which gives a healthy range of up to 310 miles. If you need to go even farther, you just pop to a petrol station then carry on your way.

As with any other electric car, you can charge the lithium-ion battery pack by plugging it into a domestic power supply or a dedicated charging point. A full charge takes less than four hours.

Impressed? It doesnt stop there, because the Ampera is also remarkably good to drive.

Its 148bhp electric motor delivers a hefty 273lb ft of torque, which is available whatever the revs, so its astonishingly flexible and can hit 62mph in less than nine seconds.

Yes, the Ampera is pricey, but a maximum 5000 Government grant lowers the price to less than 30k. It also qualifies for free road tax, Congestion Charge exemption and 5% company car tax.

Nissan Leaf
Price 25,990 (inc. 5000 grant)
CO2 0g/km
NOx 0g/km
Particulate emissions na
Average economy naRenault Fluence
Price 17,850 (inc. 5000 grant)
CO2 0g/km
NOx 0g/km
Particulate emissions na
Average economy na