Vauxhall launches its Ampera range extender car next month through a specialist network of 24 dealers in metropolitan areas.
This, says product manager Simon Prior, will be the real test of the car, acclaimed earlier this month as European Car of the Year.
Seven hundred people have already expressed a genuine interest in the £33,000 car and the sales target for the rest of this year is modest at around 2,500 to 3,000. This is expected to rise to around 5,000 next year. The launch has been boosted by an order of 20 from a leasing company.
TV advertising starts on April 23.
Launch manager Ian Allen says that compared to an Insignia 2.0-litre diesel, annual savings on running costs for a company car driver could be as high as £4,000 thanks to benefit-in-kind discount, first year capital allowance, no road tax and fuel savings of £1,100 a year based on driving 12,000 miles a year.
High mileage drivers - those driving 25,000-30,000 miles a year - will be better off driving an efficient diesel, he said. Target customers for the Ampera are those driving 12-15,000 miles a year.
Ampera is launched with two models, the Positiv at £32,250 and the Electron at £33,995 (including the £5,000 government grant).
September sees the arrival of a sub-£30,000 entry model at £29,995.
The message that Vauxhall wants to convey is that although Ampera looks expensive to buy, it is very cheap to run costing around £570 per year to charge overnight against petrol or diesel costs of £1,350.
Allen said that estimates from Glass's and CAP, the used car pricing experts, suggest Ampera will be worth around 40 per cent of its new value at £14,500 after three years/60,000 miles.
Partnership with British Gas
Vauxhall has partnered with British Gas to provide fast-charge kits to customers of its Ampera from £799.
Discounts of up to 75% are also available on some charging solutions to people living in areas designated ‘plugged-in places’ by the Government.
Vauxhall will offer all Ampera owners a British Gas Home Charging solution, which will include the installation of a home charge point, three year warranty on parts and labour, and three year home electrical care.
The home charging solution allows the Ampera to draw 16 amps of charge, compared with the regular six or 10 amps normally available to householders, reducing the car’s total charging time from six to four hours.
When fully charged the Ampera will then be able to travel up to 50 miles with zero tailpipe emissions, while its range-extender boosts this figure by up to 310 miles.
Dan Taylor, director of new ventures at British Gas, said: “With our network of engineers, we can help make buying an electric car accessible and convenient through specialist advice and the installation of charging points.”