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The best plug-in hybrids and pure-play EVs

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Vauxhall Ampera

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Less-than-stellar US sales - GM’s 2011 sales target was 10,000 units; come 31 December 2011, 2329 of them had yet to find a home - and a wholly unwarranted bashing by the idiots who make up the far right of the American political spectrum have knocked some of the shine off the Ampera aka the Chevrolet Volt. That’s a shame because of all the e-cars on the horizon, it’s the one I want the most. With a 50-mile electric range available from the 16kWh plug-in battery pack, the Ampera is all the e-car most people will ever need.

Vauxhall Ampera E-Rev e-car

On longer trips, the 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine fires up to recharge the batteries and power the 110kW electric motor. To my eyes, the sharper Vauxhall/Opel styling is far more arresting than the rather bland Chevy effort, so we Europeans get a car that’s both clever and stylish. It’s not going to be cheap though,coming in at around 30 grand even after the UK Government’s £5000 EV grant.

Reg Rating 95%
Availability May 2012
Price £29,995
More Info Vauxhall

Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid

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Volvo’s first e-car offering bears more than a passing technical resemblance to the Peugeot HYbrid4 3008, with its diesel-driven front wheels and electrically driven rear. But the Swedes have jumped in with both feet and gone straight for the lithium-ion plug-in option rather than a closed-cycle hybrid.

Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid

Like the 3008, the V60 is no slouch. The front wheels are driven by a five-cylinder 215bhp turbo-diesel engine while the rear are turned by a 70bhp (52kW) electric motor that gets its juice from an 11.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Drive carefully and full battery charge will get you a useful 30 miles down the road. Put your foot down and the on-demand four-wheel drive system will get you to 60mph in 6.2 seconds. The order books will open any day now and the first production vehicles will roll of the assembly line in the autumn.

Reg Rating 90%
Availability Late 2012
Price TBC
More Info Volvo

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