We have recently taken delivery of a Vauxhall Ampera electric car, and it is a great success. The reason we looked at electric vehicles was because one of our employees, who gets their fuel paid, moved from within 3 miles of Kinspeed offices to 38 miles from the office. His vehicle, a Toyota Hilux pick up, did 28 miles to the gallon of diesel. At £1.40 per litre this would cost the company another £15.77 per day or £4000 per annum if he kept the Pickup. Vauxhall claim the Ampera will return 235 miles to the gallon. This would cut the fuel costs to around £500 per annum saving £3500 per annum. We calculated that if he only used the car to drive to work and return home at night we could cut his fuel bill to £0 as the car purports to give 50 miles on a full charge.
The repayments on the pickup were £390 per month and on the Ampera this jumped to £490 per month, mainly because of the high initial cost of £34000. We received a £5000 grant from the government otherwise the car would have been £39000.
The car is very impressive. It reminds us of the car from the Knight Rider TV series, Kitt, but it is now getting a bit monotonous the amount of times the theme tune is played on PC’s when it pulls into the car park. It is very quiet and very nippy. The only thing that we have found on the downside is the fact that there are only 4 seats and our driver has two kids already. Looks like it is a contraceptive as well !
The car is plugged in at work each day and at his home each night with the supplied cable. We are going to have wall chargers fitted at both places rather than just dangling a cable out the window, see picture below !
The most interesting thing we have found out is that unlike some other electric vehicles the Ampera does not stop after 50 miles when it runs out of juice, neither does a hybrid engine kick in. The petrol engine in there actually charges the battery rather than runs the car, and is very small. What we have found though is that the 50 miles claim on a full charge is optimistic and is nearer 38 miles even when you drive as per the good driving widget on the dash board.
We have to now weigh up the cost savings over the higher initial costs. The model we bought, an electron, is £34,000 even after the government initiative of £5000. We would normally buy a £25,000 vehicle but we do run them over 5 years. We have no indication if it will keep any of its value as it is such a new car, however I think after 5 years most cars are pretty worthless despite dealer claims. It does come with a hefty 8 year guarantee as well.
Based on keeping the car for 5 years, we estimate we will save £17500 on fuel and an extra £1000 on road tax. By the way it’s great putting a tax disc with £0 on it !. Extra costs over 5 years will be the extra repayments of £6000 and the electric we use to charge it. We recommend this car wholeheartedly and what is really good to see is actual savings happening. It is not like telephone and heating companies telling you what you can save by switching and then you barely noticing the difference. We are seeing £100 savings per week on our fuel card bill already.
If you would like any more information about the car give Darren Brooke, our Technical Director, a call