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Going Green in A Vauxhall Ampera #GoUltraLow

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The Vauxhall Ampera electric car

Going Green in A Vauxhall Ampera #GoUltraLow

I’ve been driving a red Vauxhall Ampera for 5 weeks this summer as part of an awareness campaign to get the word out about new electric vehicles. But whilst I’ve been in a red car, I’ve actually been going green!

Vauxhall Ampera passenger side view

Going green, making other road users ‘green’ with envy and also ‘saving green’ too as there are some serious cost savings to be had with an electric car!

The Ampera is electric with the back up of a petrol engine to increase the range, so I have reduced my carbon footprint whilst driving this vehicle, as the car has zero emissions! What this means in terms of money, is that there’s no road tax to pay on electric cars (or ‘ultra low emission vehicles’) because road tax is calculated on fuel and engine type as well as CO2 emissions.

Further savings can be made if you visit London regularly, because electric cars attract a 100% discount on the Congestion Charge fee (subject to an annual £10 registration fee). There are savings to be had with free parking and free public charging in selected locations, and even though these cars cost more to purchase upfront, the Government wants to encourage uptake on these vehicles so have introduced a Plug-in Grant to give new owners 25% off the purchase price of an electric car to a maximum of £5,000.

As a busy mum, running around after the children and doing short journeys in the week and often longer family outings at the weekend, I had chance to figure out some good points and bad points about the practicalities of running a car like this, so let’s share below:

Good points:
Let’s start with the good stuff! The car attracted a lot of admiring glances and people wanted to talk to me about it and ask questions, when they saw me with the vehicle. I was approached by other parents at school, the postman and a shopper in the town centre one day, all to ask questions about what kind of car it was and how I find it. It seems to get noticed, for positive reasons!

spot my car!

It stands out from the crowd!

I love the DAB digital radio in the dashboard. I used to live in London and when I did, Heart was my favourite radio station but I couldn’t listen to it when I moved to Yorkshire in my own car. Since having this vehicle I’ve been able to listen to Heart once again!

I adore the fact that I practically have not had to set foot in a petrol station for weeks! Most of my journeys have been local so I can do them using the electric engine and then I can charge up in my own home, meaning I am in control of my own ‘car powering’! No standing in queues to pay, no having to wet wipe the petrol smell off my hands, no having to find the time to go and re-fuel when I’m out and about. I do it all in the space and privacy of my home, when it suits me!

Bad points:
Sometimes I forget to put the car on charge. If I’m arriving home with hungry kids and bags of shopping, my main priority is getting inside and sorting everyone out so I lock the car for the night, go in the house and don’t think about it. I’ve been caught out twice when the next day I find I have 8 miles of battery life left. It’s not been a big issue as during the week I’m mainly local anyway and so after a school run (which is less than a mile) I can get back home and re-charge. I suspect I’d get into a proper routine if I had the car for longer but I do find I have to ‘think’ about this car more than my normal vehicle.

I want the charging station cord to be a bit longer to give me a bit more leeway in the position I have to park the car in to charge it. I normally reverse into the drive for a faster ‘getaway’ but when I’m charging I need to drive in front first to have the socket near the charger for plugging in! I’d also like to have a mechanism on the charging unit so that you press a button to wind the cord back in and store neatly – just like it does on my steam generator iron. The way I store the charger cord currently is to manually loop it around the wall mounted box, and due to space reasons I keep catching the cord on things like the bikes and tools I keep in my garage. As we all know, space is at a premium in many family homes, so design touches like this would just make the charging experience a little more pleasing.

Other stuff I’ve learned:
There are ‘three Ts’ affecting battery life: Temperature, Technique, Terrain.
You get more battery life in warm weather, and your driving style and the roads you are driving on all determine how much you will get from the battery. I have found that on normal roads doing short runs necessary to family life, I get an average of 38 miles from a full charge and it takes under 4 hours to charge the battery from zero to full. I like that the car is nippy to drive so when I need to get a bit of speed on I can but on the whole it is a very calm and trouble free ride.

Battery drain?
I don’t have personal experience of this as I didn’t have the car long enough to take a vacation from it, but I asked the question ‘what happens if you go on holiday and park at the airport for 2 weeks?’ I wanted to know if the electric battery drains if you are not using. I was advised by Vauxhall that you won’t notice a significant drop in power. You may notice a slight drop off if the vehicle is left for longer – say 6-8 weeks, but not for a 2 week holiday. Plus with the Ampera, you have the backup of the petrol engine, so you don’t have to worry, it will still work.

The Vauxhall Ampera electric car

For more information about the cost savings, performance and benefits of ultra low emission vehicles, visit the Go Ultra Low website

All of the Vauxhall Ampera posts I have written

Go Ultra Low logo

Disclosure: This Vauxhall Ampera was loaned to us for 6 weeks so that we could test how it fits into our lives and so I could produce three blog posts about my honest experiences. I was one of five bloggers in the #GoUltraLow campaign.

Article Categories:
Reviews · Tech & News · Technology

Comments to Going Green in A Vauxhall Ampera #GoUltraLow

  • I do not drive, My partner does though like my personal taxi ha! This car is very pretty though and stands out alot.It would bug the life out of me manually having to wrap the cord back up hopefully they look into this!

    leonii amber 25th August 2015 9:12 am Reply
    • How great to have a personal taxi!!

      Nadine Hill 26th August 2015 6:28 am Reply
  • Interesting, I’d love to be greener and reduce my carbon footprint but electric cars are just too expensive to buy in France, so until they bring down the costs I’m afraid I’ll have to stick with polluting fossil fuels!

    Phoebe @ Lou Messugo 25th August 2015 12:25 pm Reply
    • I guess we can watch and see what happens over the coming years as they become more popular – this could make the prices reduce a bit hopefully?

      Nadine Hill 26th August 2015 6:27 am Reply
  • I guess it’s a habit getting out the car and going in. They say it takes 21 days to break or retrain a habit so after a month effectively you’d do it withouth thinking. Our local Morrisons has electric ports my son was so excited when he saw a car actually charging the other day!

    Joanne 25th August 2015 4:13 pm Reply
    • It’s fantastic how there are more and more charging ports cropping up – it will make it so much easier in the future.

      Nadine Hill 26th August 2015 6:24 am Reply
  • This is really interesting I have wondered a lot about electric cars and how easy they are to charge. x

    Sarah Bailey 25th August 2015 8:41 pm Reply
    • The trial of this car was certainly a learning experience!

      Nadine Hill 26th August 2015 6:22 am Reply
  • I love the idea of electric cars! I don’t drive but if I did I think I’d go for one! x

    Fritha Strickland 27th August 2015 3:09 pm Reply
    • haha maybe for the future then!

      Nadine Hill 27th August 2015 7:56 pm Reply
  • We would actually consider an electric car when we come to replace mine. I do so few miles that it would be a great fit

    Jen 27th August 2015 9:48 pm Reply
    • That would be perfect for you then!

      Nadine Hill 28th August 2015 10:05 am Reply
  • these electric cars do impress me the more i see about them

    lisa prince 28th August 2015 3:52 pm Reply
  • I like the idea of an electric car. I like the fact that there is the petrol backup.

    Erica Price 29th August 2015 6:49 am Reply
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