We – the Ampera team – have been watching the lively discussion in the German blog regarding heating with great interest. I’d like to clarify one important point about this and explain our philosophy a bit. The Opel Ampera is above all an electric car. As such, it has electrical heating. This decision was made quite early in the development process and was made for a good reason. The lithium-ion battery supplies the heating system with power when the car is in operation, as does electricity from the socket when the car is parked. This is an effective yet simple and easily understandable concept.
Now we come to the key point: When ambient temperatures drop to under -4°C as they have in the last days (we could have also set -7°C or -2°C as the threshold), we use the specific strengths of the Ampera, the first electrical vehicle suitable for everyday use. Under these conditions we pull out the ace we have up our sleeve, and that is the range extender. Thanks to the range extender’s double duty capabilities, the Ampera practically turns into a mobile block-type thermal power plant. Basically we’re not doing anything other than cogenerating electricity and heat. The waste heat from the engine is immediately used wisely while the electricity produced by the gasoline-powered generator supports both driving and heating operation. This concerted work runs according to the specifications we have programmed and takes place irrespective of variables such as ambient temperature, interior heating needs, battery charge level and driving performance requirements.
Not to be overlooked is the Ampera’s unbeatable starting ability thanks to battery heating. I’m happy to repeat it here: to -40°C plugged in to the charging cable and even still down to -28°C when unplugged.
Our development goal was an electric vehicle with highest possible efficiency that is easy to operate, that transcends the boundaries of “normal” EVs and that can be used by everyone as their main car in any weather. And I contend we reached our goal.