Back in the Vauxhall  Ampera driving seat for a hurtle round the Hampshire countryside then dinner with Ian Allen who is in charge of finding customers for the silent saloon.

Allen is not just the manager of the Vauxhall programme. He is chairman of the SMMT committee responsible for sparking interest in technology change.

It’s a tough job and somewhat akin to building a railway without being certain anyone wants to travel by train.

Ampera is a great car. The battery-laden chassis provides weight just where you want it to create handling stability. It’s solid, stylish and comfortable. But it is going to be well over GBP30K by the time it is on the road and that buys a lot of fancy motor cars. In fact it will be over GBP35,000 when the government withdraws the GBP5,000 launch incentive. Vauxhall is already chipping the price. It will offer an entry car without leather. It will give away an eight year, 100,000 mile warranty when Ampera officially goes to market on 23 April with UK TV ads.

This is not going to be a slam dunk; although there are 600 "expressions of interest" and "some" orders, no-one has yet parted with money as a deposit.

The early adopters will have to be drawn from among the young greys with surplus cash and an interest in automotive innovation. Tentative forecasts say that they could be good for 5,000 sales a year. Americans have bought 30,000 in half a year.

Forecasts that low can’t create much confidence for Ellesmere Port which has been fingered as the UK factory for Ampera manufacture. Why not just ship from the US? GM is already committed to reducing capacity in Europe, so much hangs on the progress of Ampera sales.

Much also hangs on the progress of tail pipe emissions from conventional diesel engines. They are cleaning up fast and could erode the advantage of a petrol-primed electric car.

There also has to be a reliability issue. Ampera depends on 288 liquid-cooled battery cells. Will they all perform flawlessly for the lifetime of the car? And do car owners really want to worry about the six hours that it takes to fully recharge the battery pack?

There is one other wild card in the pack. Renault (also in alliance with Leaf EV maker Nissan) retails its all-electric Fluence at half the price of the complex hybrid, range extender Ampera. 

Any guesses as to what happens next?