Opel Ampera – Click above for high-res image gallery
General Motors recently started letting European journalists behind the wheel of prototype versions of the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera which is the re-nosed version of the Chevrolet Volt. While those of us on this side of the pond that have driven the Volt have been restricted to driving around cone courses in parking lots, Europeans are driving on public roads and at high speeds.
The cars being driven Europe have the same "65 percent" calibration level that we drove. That calibration and software level was locked in last Fall and still required quite a bit of work. As Andrew English from The Telegraph found, this software exhibited some drop-off in acceleration performance above 50 miles per hour.
English somehow came to believe that General Motors was working on an update for the launch of the Volt that would see the installation of a mechanical drive between the engine and wheels to bypass the mechanical-electrical energy conversion inefficiencies. While GM's two-mode hybrid system does exactly this with a pair of clutches, there are no plans to do this for the Volt. GM spokesman Rob Peterson told GM-Volt.com that the Volt's drive architecture remains the same as always with the engine only driving a generator.
The 2011 Volt is now at a 99 percent calibration level and going through its final certification and validation prior to the production launch in November.