Frankfurt 2009: Vauxhall Ampera
* 2012 date for Ampera * Built on Astra platform * Production starts 2011...
The European version of the clever Chevrolet Volt has been doing the rounds of motor shows in concept and near-production form for a couple of years, but Vauxhall has confirmed it should finally go on sale in the UK in 2012.
What is it?
Possibly the most influential small family car that's expected be produced over the next few years.
The Ampera is driven entirely by electricity and can be recharged either from a domestic power supply or a plug-in point at work or in a city car park. Its range of 40 miles may not allay the 'range anxiety' suffered by many drivers, but GM reckons it's enough for most commuter journeys.
However, a small engine, which can be fuelled by petrol, biofuel or, looking further into the future, hydrogen, will be fitted to act as a range-extender.
In effect, this serves as an on-board generator to recharge the car's batteries on the move so that there will always be enough electrical supply to allow the car to undertake longer journeys of around 300 miles.
The car has the equivalent of 147bhp and pulling power of 273lb ft from standstill, giving it a 0-60mph time of around nine seconds and a top speed of 100mph.
The Volt is due to go on sale in America next year, with the Ampera coming to Europe in 2011 and the UK in 2012. Both are built on the platform of the next Vauxhall/Opel Astra that was revealed here at the Frankfurt motor show.
GM has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the Volt/Ampera project, despite its much-publicised cash crisis. Vauxhall is hoping to get the nod to build the European version at its Ellesmere Port plant on Merseyside.
Prices aren't confirmed but Vauxhall says the Ampera will hit the showrooms at around 35,000.