Advertisement
If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email Niamh on [email protected] for help. Thanks :)
New AMA with a US police officer (he's back!). You can ask your questions here

Vauxhall Ampera

  • 17-10-2018 3:47pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 8,287 ✭✭✭ n97 mini


    463951.JPG

    Small write-up of my experiences of buying and running a Vauxhall Ampera.

    About the car
    The Ampera is a PHEV with a ~16kw/h liquid cooled battery, of which ~10kw/h is usable. The battery is T-shaped, and runs under the centre console and behind the back seats (hence it's a 4-seater). The electric rage is between about 55km and 65km, depending on driving conditions. There are two electric motors, a "big" one (148bhp) and a "small" one, and a 1.4L 4-cylinder petrol engine that is relatively conventional. There are three clutches with planetary gear sets etc (I tend to get lost after this point), but the short version is the big motor is used to get moving, the big and small are combined when accelerating hard, and the small motor is used when cruising. The small motor (only) can be driven as a generator by the ICE. The ICE can drive the wheels directly but this never happens in practice.

    When the charge is "used up", the ICE fires up and runs the generator. When I say used up, it is never actually used up, as around 30% is kept in reserve. So even if you have 0km electric range the car will spend a lot of time, in city traffic especially, running on battery.

    As the battery buffer is so large, even when the range shown is 0km, there is very little relationship between the throttle position and the engine tone (when it is running). There's no tachometer, so you can only really tell engine revs using your ears. At low revs the engine is virtually silent, but at high revs you will notice it.

    To avoid the engine oil going stale, the ICE will fire up after every 6 weeks of non-use for 10 minutes (i.e. if you're running 100% on electric). The fuel tank has a capacity of 35 litres and is pressurised to mitigate against the fuel going stale. However, the ICE will fire up to burn off petrol if a significant portion of what's in the tank is more than a year old (car keeps a log of petrol fills and dates).

    Model years
    Like with all cars it pays to do your research first. Probably the most important thing to bear in mind when buying one of these is that they were only made in for the model years 2012 and 2013, but were on sale between 2012 and 2015 inclusive. You may find a 2015 that is a MY12, and conversely you may also find a (very late) 2012 that is MY13. The easiest way to tell when looking at ads is that the MY12 has no arm rest in the back, whereas the MY13 does. It can also be confirmed if you ask the dealer for the 10th digit of the VIN. C=MY12, D=MY13. (There were apparently some MY14 models made, but never spotted in the wild, so assumed unsold)

    There are not many differences between the MY12 and MY13 aside from the arm rest. The MY13 I consider to be a version 1.1 in that some things were fixed and there are a couple of small differences in the software. The granny charger is also different.

    Warranties
    - 3 year whole car manufacturer warranty expires 3 year after the registration date.
    - 6 year corrision warranty. Expires 6 years after the registration date.
    - 8 year battery and electronics warranty. Expires either 8 years after registration or 100K miles, whichever is first. Covers granny charger too.
    - For warranty to be kept up servicing must be done in an Ampera authorised Vauxhall dealer (Charles Hurst in Belfast is the only one here).

    Things to look out for
    - Check recalls were done. Boot struts on MY12 were replaced under a recall. MY13 should have the new struts.
    - Keyless entry door buttons can fail. Covered by 3 year warranty only.
    - MY12 granny charger can fail. If your cable is orange it's the MY12.
    - Some MY12 cars had Michelin tyres fitted which fall apart internally. Not likely to be many of these left by now tho.
    - Rear reflectors (on the tailgate) fill with moisture. This is a design flaw that was not fixed under warranty. I've read though that there is an updated part number for them, which allegedly fixes the problem.
    - Charge door can stick in below freezing conditions. Lots of hacks to mitigate against this though.

    Estimating how much mileage was done on ICE
    Rough estimate is
    (40/LifetimeMPG)*Mileage = EstimatedICEMiles

    Our car showed 265mpg lifetime economy, with almost 21000 miles on the clock, so...
    (40/265)*21000 = ~3200 miles on ICE

    Models and Trims
    Earth = base model. I've never seen one of these in the wild.
    Positiv = Full spec, leather, front & rear parking sensors, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, etc.
    Electron = Positiv plus Satnav and BOSE sound system. Can play DVDs!

    Chevy Volt is the same car as the Ampera but with black plastic lower trims on the body, and different front and back bumpers. It also has more conventional (and nicer) alloys. Servicing was taken over by Vauxhall dealers approved to work on the Ampera.

    Driving and economy
    Charging is done via a Type-1 on the front passenger wing of the car. Max is 3.6kw on a home EVSE, or 10 amps or 6 amps on the granny cable. MY13 defaults to 6 amp when it detected the granny cable, but this can be changed.

    Drives like an EV all the time, even when the ICE is running. Plenty of poke. While the Leaf would beat it to 60km/h, it will beat the Leaf at all speeds above that. It's quicker to 100km/h and is definitely better at high speed overtaking. The car is much lower than the Leaf and somewhat sportier to drive, but at the expensive of visibility. Little body roll and the brakes work well.

    As mentioned the electric range is 55 to 65km. The GOM, unlike the Leaf, tends to be pessimistic. It might say 55km, but I'll nearly always get more. I don't really know what the urban fuel economy is like on petrol as I haven't driven it around town on petrol much, but it should be pretty good, as the ICE shuts off a lot at low speeds. High speed driving I got mid 50s mpg at 106km/h (indicated) and early 40s at 130km/h (indicated). Strangely, the car at those speeds will get better fuel economy on cruise control than it will on n97 mini control. This is a first for me! The Civic IMA would beat it at those speeds, but for a reason: Ampera is 1.7 tonnes, Civic is 1.2 tonnes.

    What I bought
    Like a lot of EVs, the prices of used Amperas has held firm in recent years, and in many cases cars have gone up in price. Combined with the fact that the car was around £36,000 new in the UK, you're not gonna get a €5k Ampera, as you could have done once upon a time with the Leaf. Starting prices are generally around £9000 for a high miler, and it goes up from there. Knowing that they were only made in MY12 and MY13 there is the point, where all things being equal (mileage, condition etc) a 2012 registered car will be cheaper than a 2015 registered car, both in purchase price and VRT, so the 2012 will make more sense. The only thing the 2015 will have that you'll be paying extra for is a number plate.

    I spent several weeks looking, and ruled out all MY12 cars. MY12 or MY13 makes no difference to the price, but it was an easy way to narrow my search. Eventually settled on a MY13 that was registered in December 2012, black, with 20,700 miles on the clock, with full dealer history, all previous MOTs (confirming mileage was accurate), 1 owner from new, etc etc. It needs a good polish and a small scuff needs to be repaired (no-one notices it, but I know it's there!). The one in the photo isn't mine, but you get the idea.

    Everything else.... aka what I like and don't like
    A lot of this is in the context of just having come from a 152 Leaf Tekna.
    - Car feels space age in a lot of ways. There's the whirring of the battery cooling pump, which reassures me that the battery should still have "all 12 bars" (there are no battery bars in the Ampera) for ever more. OTOH, I worry that the pump will fail some day :)
    - Not having DC fast charging doesn't bother me, as I'd hate to have to be putting up with the public network again, I do wish it had 6.6/7.2kw charging on AC. At home 6.6kw can add a meaningful range in an hour, not so much on 3.6kw, as I know from the Leaf.
    - TPMS actually shows tyre pressures without having to use OBD. I don't know why the Leaf doesn't. The downside is that when the car is in metric mode, tyre pressure is shown in kilopascals! Why?! Should be in Bar ideally, but I still use PSI anyway.
    - Nice comfort features on it that are probably standard on Vauxhalls, but new to me. Stuff like it will turn on the headlights if you unlock it in the dark with the fob.
    - Single biggest annoyance is the in-car entertainment system/heating controls. The buttons are touch sensitive rather than being actual buttons, and while everything you need is in there somewhere, the system has quite a learning curve to it. It's an order of magnitude more complicated than the Leaf, and it doesn't need to be.
    - No NissanEV Connect type app, but the fob has a 100 metre range. Preheating can be done from the fob, and is quicker and easier to do than on the Leaf due to the app being so slow. Side lights come on when preheating too, so you can tell at a glance.
    - The skirt on the front bumper is incredibly low to the ground. Ferrari low. Scrapes on every speed bump known to man. Fortunately they're cheap to replace (£30) and the bumper itself has average clearance.

    I feel like I'm kind of rambling at this stage, so I'm gonna leave it there. Anyone with any questions, feel free.


«13456712

Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,468 ✭✭✭ Soarer


    Fair play n97, well wear.

    The Ampera is something I toyed with the idea of buying manys a time. Could never bite the bullet though.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,396 ✭✭✭ Alkers


    Good write up thanks, have been considering one for our next car for last few months but prices seem to be creeping up from what I can see.

    How did you get on with importing it? I've read conflicting accounts about the VRT rebates and home-charger grants being applicable / not applicable for them?

    How did you find it to insure, particularly if it was never officially sold here?


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,166 ✭✭✭ marklazarcovic


    Would 2nd that q on vrt and Grant .. love the look of them, 60km ev only would get me to work, charge,and home, without any range anxiety if I need to do something else .. pretty ideal


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,287 ✭✭✭ n97 mini


    Simona1986 wrote: »
    Good write up thanks, have been considering one for our next car for last few months but prices seem to be creeping up from what I can see.

    How did you get on with importing it? I've read conflicting accounts about the VRT rebates and home-charger grants being applicable / not applicable for them?

    How did you find it to insure, particularly if it was never officially sold here?

    Importing it was straight forward. A college buddy lives near where I bought it so I got him to check it out a week before I collected it, flew over, picked it up, went on the beer, and drove home on the ferry the next day. I did the payment using Currency Fair, which claims to have saved me €400 over a bank transfer! It took two transfers to pay for it owning to AIB's daily transfer limit.

    VRT -- check the Revenue's VRT calc is all I can advise. I paid the minimum rate of VRT, €280. Straightforward procedure as the VIN number is stamped into the body in the same place in all Vauxhalls/Opels -- under a little flap in the driver's foot well.

    As this is a PHEV, there is no grant for home charger installation. As I had one already (from pre-grant times) for the Leaf, it made no odds to me.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,287 ✭✭✭ n97 mini


    Soarer wrote: »
    Fair play n97, well wear.

    The Ampera is something I toyed with the idea of buying manys a time. Could never bite the bullet though.

    If hindsight was foresight, we should have bought the Ampera two years ago instead of the Leaf. It probably would have been cheaper, relatively speaking, to what they cost today. But not only that, the Ampera can do home to Co Waterford without stopping, something that the Leaf has never done, as it would probably double the journey time, and my wife values her time too much!


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 244 ✭✭ handofdog


    Great write up - thanks.

    I do have a few questions if you don't mind.
    • Are these expensive to service. i.e. Is the service cost more expensive due to having to service ICE and battery motor?
    • What would happen if the car wasn't put into ICE mode for a year? E.g. lots of small trips with regular charging. Would there be any damage to the ICE engine due to non-usage?
    Smashing looking car - well to wear!

    Thanks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,287 ✭✭✭ n97 mini


    handofdog wrote: »
    Great write up - thanks.

    I do have a few questions if you don't mind.
    • Are these expensive to service. i.e. Is the service cost more expensive due to having to service ICE and battery motor?
    • What would happen if the car wasn't put into ICE mode for a year? E.g. lots of small trips with regular charging. Would there be any damage to the ICE engine due to non-usage?
    Smashing looking car - well to wear!

    Thanks.

    I believe the service costs are in line with an ordinary ICE. Oil, filter changes etc.

    Your second question I answered in the first post:
    To avoid the engine oil going stale, the ICE will fire up after every 6 weeks of non-use for 10 minutes (i.e. if you're running 100% on electric). The fuel tank has a capacity of 35 litres and is pressurised to mitigate against the fuel going stale. However, the ICE will fire up to burn off petrol if a significant portion of what's in the tank is more than a year old (car keeps a log of petrol fills and dates).


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,468 ✭✭✭ Soarer


    How big are they on the inside? Boot?


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,632 ✭✭✭ zilog_jones


    handofdog wrote: »
    Are these expensive to service. i.e. Is the service cost more expensive due to having to service ICE and battery motor?

    There's nothing else to service really, the electric motor-generators are maintenance-free. It has multiple cooling circuits (for ICE, inverter and battery, I think), so will need a bit more work when the coolant needs changing, but that's probably on like 8-10 year intervals.

    I'm not sure if they recommend changing the transmission oil (Toyota/Lexus don't on their similar-ish transaxles).


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,396 ✭✭✭ Alkers


    Any issues with insurance?


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 611 ✭✭✭ slicedpanman


    Soarer wrote: »
    How big are they on the inside? Boot?
    I've just moved, about 2 weeks now, from a Prius to an ampera and they are fairly similar in terms of space inside.

    The ampera is slightly smaller, rear passenger footwells and boot but not by much. We've already done our regular family trip to the grandparents with the kids and all their gear and everything fit in as normal... Just a bit more snug than the Prius.

    The glovebox, on the other hand, is ridiculously tiny :D


  • Registered Users Posts: 611 ✭✭✭ slicedpanman


    Simona1986 wrote: »
    Any issues with insurance?
    Nope


  • Registered Users Posts: 611 ✭✭✭ slicedpanman


    I'm not sure if they recommend changing the transmission oil (Toyota/Lexus don't on their similar-ish transaxles).

    I must check the service manual. I've managed to download a copy... Might take a while, if I recall correctly it was about 1000 pages long


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,287 ✭✭✭ n97 mini


    Soarer wrote: »
    How big are they on the inside? Boot?

    The centre console is noticeably large, and it extends into the rear, making it a 4-seater. Boot is about as big, if not a little bigger, than the 2011 Prius we used to own.
    Simona1986 wrote: »
    Any issues with insurance?

    Going from the Leaf to the Ampera added €30. Not sure of exact figures but it's less than €400 a year.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,763 ✭✭✭ coolisin


    I'll be honest, this thread has made me consider one of these!
    Its reassuring seeing the High Miles people have put up on some of them.

    Sad to see these did not survive that long.
    The Chevy Volt appeared to be popular in america, and the newer model looks good also.

    So thanks OP.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,166 ✭✭✭ marklazarcovic


    coolisin wrote: »
    I'll be honest, this thread has made me consider one of these!
    Its reassuring seeing the High Miles people have put up on some of them.

    Sad to see these did not survive that long.
    The Chevy Volt appeared to be popular in america, and the newer model looks good also.

    So thanks OP.

    Only problem is getting one .. I'd have one too


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,460 ✭✭✭ Kamili


    I'd read on another thread here that they don't service them in Ireland - so its a trip up north. Is that still the case?
    That had put me off getting one in the past.

    If the service interval isn't as frequent then that would negate that.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences as I think in future this is a car I would really love to own.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,632 ✭✭✭ zilog_jones


    Yeah, if maintaining the battery warranty means having to go to a Vauxhall dealer for servicing that's a complete non-runner for anyone as far south as me.

    My Prius Plug-in may only have about 1/3 of the battery, but Toyota Ireland have no problem supporting it despite only 6 of the cars existing in the country. The battery warranty can be maintained up to 10 years as long as I bring it in for an annual inspection (€50), and I started doing servicing myself as the 3 year full warranty was up - absolutely no problem getting parts from my local dealer (mechanically it's largely identical to the standard Prius).


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,287 ✭✭✭ n97 mini


    I got a few PMs on the back of this post. Looks like we might have another Ampera in the Irish fleet early next week! I'm sure the proud new owner will give us an update when the time comes!


  • Registered Users Posts: 611 ✭✭✭ slicedpanman


    n97 mini wrote: »
    I got a few PMs on the back of this post. Looks like we might have another Ampera in the Irish fleet early next week! I'm sure the proud new owner will give us an update when the time comes!

    I think our owners list will be a bit shorter than the ionic one :D


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 611 ✭✭✭ slicedpanman


    BTW first gripe about the car from my oh... Not happy there are no tram lines on the reversing camera - likes them on her leaf for lining up a parking space

    Doesn't bother me though


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,599 ✭✭✭✭ ted1


    I like it. Pity you can’t fit three in the back.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,287 ✭✭✭ n97 mini


    BTW first gripe about the car from my oh... Not happy there are no tram lines on the reversing camera - likes them on her leaf for lining up a parking space

    Doesn't bother me though

    I *think* the Electron has the lines. On the flip side the reversing light is nicely positioned to light up the camera's view in the dark. So you win some you lose some.


  • Registered Users Posts: 611 ✭✭✭ slicedpanman


    n97 mini wrote: »
    BTW first gripe about the car from my oh... Not happy there are no tram lines on the reversing camera - likes them on her leaf for lining up a parking space

    Doesn't bother me though

    I *think* the Electron has the lines. On the flip side the reversing light is nicely positioned to light up the camera's view in the dark. So you win some you lose some.
    I've read on some forums that the early build models had the lines... Then there were some insurance claims after people were reversing into things and the legal dept asked from them to be removed.

    No idea what truth is in that though


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,763 ✭✭✭ coolisin


    So is the only place you can get this serviced Belfast.
    Or is it you need to drive up Belfast once a year to have the battery checked.

    Jaysus what’s wrong with me!! Convincing myself to buy one.

    I saw one today and a wine Chevy volt.


  • Registered Users Posts: 611 ✭✭✭ slicedpanman


    I've been told that any place can service them... Except for the EV specific sections. Also been told that the ice uses standard Opel parts. So not worried about servicing... Certainly not traveling from Limerick to Belfast for a service :)

    If you wanted to keep the warranty on force then Belfast is where you'd need to go but, if I recall correctly, the warranty only applied to the first owner... So no point in going to Belfast anyway.

    The only issue I see is if I need body panels might be very hard to come by


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,763 ✭✭✭ coolisin


    Thanks SlicedPanMan, yeah body panels and that low skirt on the front!


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,287 ✭✭✭ n97 mini


    I've been told that any place can service them... Except for the EV specific sections. Also been told that the ice uses standard Opel parts. So not worried about servicing... Certainly not traveling from Limerick to Belfast for a service :)

    If you wanted to keep the warranty on force then Belfast is where you'd need to go but, if I recall correctly, the warranty only applied to the first owner... So no point in going to Belfast anyway.

    The only issue I see is if I need body panels might be very hard to come by

    To keep up the 8 year warranty on the drivetrain it has to be serviced in an Ampera approved Vauxhall dealer: Charles Hurst in Belfast.

    The first owner got a lifetime warranty but it doesn't transfer when the car is sold.


  • Registered Users Posts: 611 ✭✭✭ slicedpanman


    @n97 mini - with all the 12V battery chat on the ionic thread, do you know how the ampera handles charging it's 12V battery?

    I ask as I'm also in the camp of lots of short trips and only charge 2 or 3 times a week


  • Advertisement
Advertisement