Blog: Dave LeggettOpel/Vauxhall Ampera

Dave Leggett | 3 December 2009

We were not actually driving Ampera electric drive cars at Millbrook yesterday. We were in mules which are slightly more dispensable 'components cars' designed to enable the manufacturer to robustly test the underpinnings and vehicle systems in a practical way without having to go through the palaver of making full-on prototypes. Mules also attract less attention than prototypes would.

Opel has put the Ampera's 'Voltec' running gear in a modified Chevrolet Cruze. We were allowed on a short circuit, which included a long straight. In a nutshell: it's pretty quick. And quiet – though there is road and wind noise, of course (I talked to an engineer at Lotus about EVs and noise earlier this year).

There was one quality comedy moment. After I'd had my turn behind the wheel, colleague Rob Golding took the helm. He got his big frame comfortable in the seat. The man from Opel issued the simple instruction: 'Okay, now, just put it in drive...' The selector knob promptly came off in Rob's hands. Cue general hilarity. Well, it was a mule and a bit rough and ready in terms of fit and finish. Very much a test vehicle. You had to be there, but it was a bit priceless.

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