Last year we had a car that almost no one is buying – the Nissan LEAF – voted Car of the Year. And having set a precedent for barking mad choices on a COTY panel, the European Car of the Year panel has followed suit this year and voted as the winner another car that no one is buying – the Vauxhall Ampera (and Opel Ampera and Chevy Volt – they’re all the same).
Don’t misunderstand, we think the LEAF is a technical triumph – and it feels like a very quiet, regular car to drive – but the charging infrastructure is poor, the range is woeful and there’s no real idea of what residual values will be. It’s not a car for the normal budget-conscious motorist.
We can say the same about the Ampera and Volt. We think the range-extender option is the right way to go if car makers must experiment with adding costly and complicated technology to their cars to produce headline grabbing (but ultimately disingenuous) economy and emissions figures, but it’s the car buyer and taxpayer who foot the bill for comfortably off car buyers to play at polishing their green halos.
In fact, so poor are sales of the Chevy Volt that GM has had to shut up production until April as sales targets slither along at about a quarter of their (already downwardly revised) projected volumes. As for the £35,000 Vauxhall Ampera, that hasn’t even launched yet but looks set to suffer a similar fate with a price that’s probably twice what it would cost without the hybrid gubbins.
The VW Up! and the Ford Focus were second and third respectively and would have been perfectly sensible winners.
Vauxhall Ampera Photo Gallery
(11 photos – click any thumbnail for full gallery)