Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Opel Ampera E (Chevrolet Bolt)

The journalists of German magazine der Spiegel have tested the e-vehicle Opel Ampera E (in the US known as Chevrolet Bolt) and were enthusiastic about the results. They picked up the car in Brussels and drove to the Opel HQ in Rüsselsheim, a journey of ca. 400 km. At the finish they still had 97 km left in their battery, with a total capacity of 60 kWh. The realized range was a result though of a restrained driving style, deliberate slow acceleration and avoiding top speeds at the Autobahn.

The car, produced in Orion, Michigan, is able to recuperate kinetic energy during braking. The price is relatively low: €40,000, if you can get one, because Germans and other Europeans will have to wait until at least the end of 2018, because most available cars will go to e-vehicle Mecca Norway first, where 20% of the new cars are e-vehicles, thanks to government subsidies [*]. The German website through which interested customers could pre-order their Ampera had to close down after two weeks: sold out.

There have been proposals to sell the Bolt on European markets, since Americans aren’t really interested in e-vehicles and certainly not in the Chevy Bolt, but that’s problematic for several reasons. An additional complication is that Opel was recently sold to French PSA. Der Spiegel predicts that customers will prefer the Renault Zoe and BMW i3.

Der Spiegel concludes that the Opel Ampera E is a very “useful” e-vehicle (“alltagstauglich“), but that the marketing strategy is a “tragedy”.

[*] Over the las fews months that figure accelerated to 50%.

A 6 MW offshore windturbine generates on average 144,000 kWh/day or 1.6 kWh/sec. Assume that the turbine rotor completes a 360 degree turn in 6 seconds and generates 10 kWh. The Opel Ampera E needs 60 kWh for 500 km or 8 km/kwh. The average distance a car drives par day in a country like Holland is 34 km, requiring 4 kWh. So an Ampera on average needs to be recharged once in every 14 days. In order to keep the Ampera going for 34 km, the car merely needs less energy than half the turning of the turbine’s rotor. One 6 MW offshore wind turbine can power 36,000 Opel Ampera’s for 34 km each, day in, day out. If the 8 million Dutch car fleet would consist of Opel Ampera’s, 222 wind turbines would suffice. Throughout history about 19,000 churches were built in the Netherlands, almost all “by hand”. Surely the Netherlands is able to build a few thousand 6 MW turbines in a few deacdes, mostly in automated processes, to carry out the energy transition.


Power: 150 kW (204 PS)
Speed: 150 kmh
Mass: 1619 kg

[] – Opel Ampera E, Zu früh gefreut
[] – Autogramm Opel Ampera E, Jetzt reicht’s
[] – Chevrolet Bolt
[] – Opel

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