Vauxhall Ampera deal – Too good to be true ?

What do they say about something that looks too good to be true, that’s because it is too good to be true !.

The ‘deal’ which pulled me and no doubt many other suckers in isn’t a deal at all its just a bit of very smart marketing.

Essentially you can have the vehicle for £147.00 per month so long as you agree to pay the huge residual value, nearly  £18k at the end of the 36 month period, its not Personal Finance and you have to buy a car in 2017, by then it will probably be worth less than a second hand settee. Also the dealership we visited will not take your existing vehicle in part-exchange so you need to make a £5000 down payment, now the car will have cost over £27,292, all this for a Vauxhall four seater !. Just to top it off the annual mileage was only 7000 !

The Test Drive

We arranged by email and telephone to take a car out for a long test drive,  I wanted to try it out on the motorway and as Sheffield is v1rtually minutes away from the M1 I thought the local Sheffield dealer would be the best place to visit.

Mrs B and me arrived a little late, not that it mattered as no-one had a clue we were coming !. So I wasted some of the idle time asking them to move an ICE car out of the charging bay and attaching our Tekna for a bit of free fuel whilst we waited, and waited and ..eventually someone came free from their busy day and could attend to us. The person who was supposed to be seeing us was taking a day off, the car we were supposed to be driving had been taken home by a rep leaving our man the task of finding another car. The replacement car was a ‘for sale’ new one so no motorway test, the very reason I had come to Sheffield in the first place. I took the car around a half mile circuit which told me very little apart from the fact that it moved from A to B without breaking down. The instrumentation is interesting, if a bit ‘busy’ but the miles left looked to be pretty accurate, unlike the guess-o-meter on the Nissan Leaf range. My thoughts on the car were this.  The boot is odd, it seemed smaller than the Leaf’s and without a proper covering so if you were using it for overnight travel or you are a representative then all your goodies in the boot are on full view when you park up. The inside has quite nice leather or leather looking seats but the rest of the finish is a bit plasticy although Mrs B quite liked it. There is a huge rubber skirt on the front of the car and I heard it scrape as we left the forecourt, a bit disconcerting especially as where we live we have massive speed bumps in the access road to our property, I could see this getting ripped off on a weekly basis. The look of the car isn’t bad, bearing in mind we have a Leaf which is just plain ugly so I guess anything would be a distinct improvement !. A real no-no is the electric charging port, it can only take the domestic slow charger so all Dale’s nice fast DC ecotricity chargers are wasted on the Ampera. Overall I guess we could live with the car … so now for the financials …


Ha! yes it is £147.00 plus the £5k + the mandatory residual. So I asked for a Personal Finance Plan as we don’t wish to be stuck with the car in three years time. The car retails at £28,694.99, they only get £4,199.99 off the Government for this vehicle which means the Govt do not class this car as a real EV possibly as its range is so low in EV mode ?. You have to pay a Road Fund License of £55.00 making the on the road price £24,550.00. Putting £3000.00 down as deposit brings the car to a huge £322.35 per month over 24 months leaving a cash whopper balance of £17,125.00 to pay if you wish to keep it. Interesting that they would only PCP it over 24 months, the low Govt grant and the road tax which I did not expect. This was the Ampera Positiv 5 Door, there is another level of vehicle with Bose in-car entertainment etc but we didn’t even ask about that one.


Not a bad bundle if it really was £147.00 per month over 36 months with say 12000 miles per annum then return it for something else. The overall spec is good, it could make a  reasonable rep-mobile if the boot had a real cover for your goodies. The lack of a fast charging port is a really serious issue, ditto the low rubber skirt v road bumps the non P/X could just be this particular dealers policy as they seem to ‘stack em high and sell em fast’ so maybe another Vauxhall dealer would be more approachable as most people usually have a car to trade. I was very disappointed with the sharp sales tactics for getting folk in to look at the car, it should be sold on its features and benefits not by this sort of used car salesman approach. Honest solid sales result in customers returning over many years.

So the search continues for a hybrid that we can afford that actually does what it says on the tin ….. without the sale waffle  !.



About stevenbarrett23

I run a telephone & computer supply and maintenance business, mainly VoIP, traditional phone systems & Cloud office systems. I've been with the Company since 1981 so pre-mobiles pre-PC's. We are very keen on reducing our own and other businesses carbon output so we all work from home. The EV is just the next logical step towards being carbon neutral both in business and personally. Your kids will be thanking us for leaving a bit of the Planet for them once we push off !
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7 Responses to Vauxhall Ampera deal – Too good to be true ?

  1. Duncan Booth says:

    I’m surprised that you would only get £4199 government grant as the Volt I bought definitely qualified for the full £5k. The dealer sounds pretty useless so perhaps they just got this wrong. I would definitely suggest you try visiting another dealer and see if the experience is any better.

    Otherwise, I agree the lack of a rapid charger is annoying, but it’s not much of an issue as you the whole point of the car is that you just use petrol on those rare occasions when you exceed the range (and if they aren’t rare occasions it probably isn’t the right car for you). The Volt/Ampera really will run just fine as a hybrid when you can’t charge or don’t have time to wait for a charge. The rubber skirt isn’t much of a problem (you just have ignore the scraping sound) but try to avoid scraping it when reversing as that tends to separate the flaps and you have to push them back together. My Volt is just under two years old and while the skirt is worn in parts it is still perfectly functional and scrapes on every speed bump just as loudly as ever.

    There is someone in the US who makes a solid parcel shelf for the Volt and at least one UK Ampera owner has bought one (check over on speakev).

  2. Hi Steven, Sounds like you got the typical ICEV dealer token effort and a pretty shabby one at that.

    Have you looked at the Mitsubishi Outlander? Someone I know has one on order… bit of a lump compared to the Volt but it looks like a very nice package, starting at £28k (inc grant). I would imagine Mitsu would address all the problems you found with the Volt deal – and dealer. It has a chademo port for starters. A bit more expensive, I know… just a thought!

  3. Thanks Duncan & Martin for your replies, I just need something with an onboard back up charger, you would think someone out there in motor-car land would have come up with a deal that doesn’t make your eye’s water. Then all they have to do is train the ICE dealers to sell the things on their features and benefits instead of bending one’s arm up your back !

    • Hi Steven,

      Have you analysed your vehicle needs in any depth? I would be interested to see it if you have. I’m just wondering if a reasonably priced EV with decent range (if it existed) would suit your needs if backed up with the occasional use of a ICEV – borrowed or hired. The main problem with hybrids being that you get all the disadvantages of an ICEV with only some of the advantages of an EV.

      I know you are going to say it wouldn’t matter because you’ll always need to know that, come what may, your car may have to get you places where there just isn’t any rapid charging infrastructure. This may be the case now but the government have committed to having a rapid charger at every motorway service area by the end of 2014 and 500 rapid chargers, country wide, installed by the end of 2015. I don’t know if you were aware of that or if it makes any difference to your particular circumstances.

      Speaking for myself, my experiences with my i-Miev suggest a 120 miles motorway range would mean an EV would suit all my needs quite comfortably – its current 60 mile motorway range whilst feasible, is not really practical for long journeys, even with a much-enhanced rapid charge infrastructure. For shorter distance driving – up to 100 miles (implying at least one rapid charge somewhere) it suits me very well indeed – without all the extra cost and Oilyness of lugging an ICE around everywhere I go. The only caveat is that there is no way in Hell that I would fork out £28k for one i-Miev. £8k for a very low (2k miles), 3 year old one is another matter!

      Regards, Martin.

      • Its a real issue for me Martin. Last week I had one phone system to sort out in Wakefield, by the time I had finished I had a computer job in Leeds then another phone system to sort out in Bradford then headed off home to Halifax making a round trip of over 100 miles due to location of the sites. I may hang on until the end of the year as Dale of Ecotricity says he will have his kit in every single motorway service station by then. Meanwhile I just hate having to take the greasy ICE off to the filling station every other day for yet another £50 worth of gas. Especially galling as I know my wife has the EV sat at work doing nothing !. I like the Ampera but think I will get a great PCP deal on a Volt with Chevy doing a runner from Europe next year, hence a PCP as I don’t want to be stuck with it. The problem seems to the be same old one, the sales people cannot understand or want to understand that EV’s and other fuels are here to stay but most of these dinosaur’s want the pre-2008 days of upmarket sexy advertising selling the cars for them, taking your car at a very low P/X and selling you the most expensive options with crummy residuals and high APR’s … Post 2008 the same market, they really do need to get down and dirty and give us what we want, a great deal with a high RV and a more realistic APR, how can they possibly want 9% when the interest rate is only half a per cent ? I’m just fed up with being ripped off …hence wanting the hybrid for £250 a month that’s more than fair, let the manufacturers take a bit of risk … just for a change

      • I’ve never, ever bought a new car and although I never really analysed it in depth (just hated the idea of losing 10% of the value of the new car as soon as I drove it off the forecourt) I guess it was for all the reasons you state. I’ve never met a car salesperson I liked. They are all like politicians – all half answers and very little eye contact.

        Unfortunately I can understand entirely their attitude to EVs – why would they want to have to learn all about them (it is quite a departure from what they are used to, particularly if they are not terribly bright or technically minded) especially when EVs require virtually no servicing? They are almost selling themselves out of a job. Or at least I’m sure this is what most of them think.

        Anyway, your 100 mile day would be just about feasible in a low range EV like the LEAF or i-Miev given the number of RCs there are in the Leeds/Bradford area but I can understand you not thinking so! There is a new ecotricity rapid (to use the right terminology) charger ‘planned’ (according to their web site) at Batley Ikea… That should make things a bit easier but a rapid charger at every MSA will make a big difference, I think, though I’d prefer to have at least 2 RCs at each installation – queuing is not going to be fun.

        You’ve confused me with the UK Ampera Vs US Volt bit. Aren’t they Amperas on the Continent too? But, yes, you will probably get a good deal if they are closing down their operations – though what are you going to do about servicing etc? Or have I misunderstood you?

        Interesting reading the Tesla forums. US car buyers can get HP at 1.5%! And/or Tesla will do a guaranteed buyback after a 3-4% finance deal. So you know exactly what it’ll cost and how much it’ll be worth at the end of the term. I must confess, I am putting a plan together to buy an MS next year, much to my wife’s horror – it still won’t be ‘new’ though. Again, they do nearly new ones at a price dictated by a formula for age & miles that are still eligible for rebates/grants (or they do in the US at least). Otherwise it’ll just be a straight ex-lease or used one. At £45k or so, it’ll be the most expensive car I’ve ever bought but I’ll probably keep it for ever – free long distance travel is a serious hook especially with retirement looming!

        Regards, M

      • Yes the Ampera and Volt are the same vehicle produced in the same US factory. Chevrolet are leaving Europe but the cars will all have their 100,000 mile warranty which can be used at Vauxhall dealers. I have tried my Leaf for the 100 mile runs but to be fair range anxiety was a factor that stopped me taking it out and about for business. I do long runs in it though, all on a weekend. Its that ‘what if’ factor, what if the charging station is out of order, ecotricity ones are often faulty such as Wetherby and Woolley Edge Northbound over the past months, making the return trip a bit seat-of-pants My local Sainsbury pod-point was faulty for three months then vandalised then last week it was faulty again plus it was also ICE’ed. I cannot risk being caught out by non functioning chargers when I’m working, people are depending on me getting out to fix their faulty phones or computers all day long. Today I’m in Bradford so I will use the Leaf, Friday I’m in Sale Manchester so that’s got to be the ICE unless I stop at the Trafford Centre for a couple of hours on their Type 2 chargers, snag is I won’t have a couple of hours to spare. IKEA Birstall are getting a 20 minute charger from ecotricity but its not there yet. They do have one at the Aston under Lyne store on the way in to Manchester though and I have used that one quite a bit. I would love a Tesla but I cannot pay more for this ‘burro’ than it would cost to run an ICE car which is about £3k per annum for my diesel Golf 1.6, that’s just under £200 per month PCP plus £50 in fuel plus insurance and £30 pa road tax so roughly £3k pa Why would I want to pay more ? well to save the planet but that doesn’t wash when you also have to put food on the table, car v eat = eat always wins !. Stabilise your monthly outgoings ? a good one, as its great to know exactly to the penny what you are going to spend each month, like the Leaf a known cost is good, whereas the Golf costs vary with how much fuel I need to put in.
        Right now I can pick up on PCP a small car for well under £100 pm plus say £60 pm in petrol so with everything else its well under £200 pm to run which makes renting an I3 at circa £400 to £500 pm a bit unrealistic. I’m not after a social statement I’m after getting from A to B for as little as possible. Ideally I don’t want to leave my home office at all as that’s what underpins what we do for a living in my business, we want everyone to work all or part of the week from home, getting cars off the road is our target, take a look at We received a low-carbon award last year for our efforts so I guess that’s my main reason for keeping with the EV’s or assisted EV’s but the cost has to be a factor. I think BMW have calculated how much it costs to fuel a car for the year and added this into their monthly leasing figures so they make the money instead of the oil Companies. I cannot see my clients being happy receiving bigger bills for me to drive an I3 !

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