In an effort to popularize its range-extender hybrid technology, Vauxhall has given the Police Service of Northern Ireland one example of their Ampera extended range EV. Another one is already used as an ambulance, in Yorkshire.
The Ampera, which is basically a rebadged Chevrolet Volt and is offered as an Opel outside the UK, will be part of a trial designed to see whether or not such vehicles could be successfully used as squad cars and integrated into the existing fleet.
It will be used in Belfast, as an incident response vehicle, and since the country's network of charging points is well developed, keeping the Ampera's battery topped up should not be a problem. Apparently, in Northern Ireland, a charging point is never more than ten miles away – an impressive feat.
However, there is the danger of these more complex vehicles being misused, especially since the Ampera can run very happily on gasoline, in order to make power for the electric motor, in which case, it's not really 100 percent green. If the Irish cops use the car correctly (i.e. charge it regularly), they will see a substantial drop in the amount of fuel used.
Knowing how the system usually works, though, we suspect that those who will get to drive it will go through some kind of training before being allowed to hop aboard.
By Andrei Nedelea