Mar 22

Amperas on ice – video

 

Why take a ferry across the Baltic Sea to local islands from Estonia when you can drive your Opel Ampera?

But then, you probably knew that. Just don’t try it in your Volt from San Pedro, Calif. to Santa Catalina Island, unless you get a real cold snap.

red_white_blue
Amperas left-to-right: white, red and blue. These are good colors, but we’d suggest a more appropriate ordering would be: red, white and blue.

That’s not likely, no doubt, and coming back to reality – a frigid one – Opel wanted to show how over-engineered its Volt variant’s battery thermal management system is by driving on 10-inch thick ice across the frozen salt water.

(That doesn’t sound all that thick to support 4,000 pounds, though, does it?)

Merged with gee-whiz visual imagery, info snippets, and the neato factor of travel not possible in too many places on the globe, it was a good opportunity to assure people in other cold parts that winter driving is no sweat for the Voltc powertrain.

Map
 

The cars can run in 14 deg F in all-electric mode, and do alright with front-wheel-drive on snow and ice, although surely winter tires would help in really full-time frozen conditions.

Today is the second day of spring, and with even the cold states in America looking forward to an imminent warming up, blooming plant life, and chirping birds, the Volt has made it through another winter.

For those of you who have a Volt or Ampera (outside of America) and had to deal with inclement weather and a severely dipping thermometer, are you impressed with how it does in the cold, snow and ice?

This entry was posted on Friday, March 22nd, 2013 at 12:05 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 21


  1. 1
    Eco_Turbo

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (7:07 am)

    Some might complain about the gas engine. But it seems a reasonable use of fuel. Keeping occupants and devices warm, while putting some charge in the battery at the same time. Then like your home heating system, it shuts up until needed again.


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    Mark

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (7:42 am)

    Just finishing the second winter in my 2012 volt and it is performing great! Considered taking the under skirt off a couple of times but decided it really wasn’t required as I usually have time to shovel the driveway after a snowfall and the streets are well maintained in Toronto. The weight of the car also seems to really help traction on ice. The only annoyance is that the gas ICE keeps coming on every now and then when it is -5c or colder, but I understand it is To keep everything warm so no worries.


  3. 3
    Dave G

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (8:14 am)

    Every couple of years, we get a really big snow storm here. Traffic comes to a halt, snow plows become useless, and a normal 20 minute ride home from work turns into 3 hours. I’ve been in this situation more than once.

    With the Volt, the gas engine will keep you warm for 3 hours. With a pure BEV, this would be a nightmare.


  4. 4
    Mark Brooks

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (8:46 am)

    The reason I don’t like driving on Ice roads is that I get to see some interesting stuff from the air. This picture is from march 2 over lake Simcoe in Ontario.
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_zYDcMvKFWbbXliR1o0ZkhPblE/edit?usp=sharing


  5. 5
    jdan

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (9:09 am)

    My Volt performed well in the winter. Certainly (like many) I was a bit bummed by the reduced AER and the engine running more often due to temps, but good just the same. Sort of makes spring seem even better (like you need something to make it any better). :)

    One incident may have been caused due to the extra battery weight. I spun out taking a corner a bit too fast. I wasn’t really going very fast, but it was icy slick so any car may have had the same reaction. The Volt just felt a bit like a pendulum as it swung around. Fortunately my rear end slid up on a sidewalk ramp to a stop just short of a utility pole (whew). The lady waiting at the light had her hand slapped to her mouth with a look of horror as I slid by. No harm done, so I shrugged, smiled and went on my way. She probably thought I was nuts, but I’m a pretty calm person. Other than that the Volt plodded through the snow and ice with no (other) issues.


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    George S. Bower

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (9:30 am)

    Well, I have a Volt and I think that, if you replaced the flexible air dam with a rigid one, the Volt would make a good SNOW PLOW.


  7. 7
    Jim I

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (10:28 am)

    My Volt has worked well through two winters.

    I just wish that this winter would end!!!!

    I see that a lawsuit has been filed against the groundhog. They are asking for the death penalty!

    http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/weather/winter/ohios-butler-county-indicts-punxsutawney-phil-over-late-spring-asks-for-death-penalty

    That seems just a bit harsh……………… :)

    C-5277

    Cool Ampera Video, BTW!!!!!!!!!!!


  8. 8
    Darius

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (11:08 am)

    Congrats to my neighbours Estonians. May be some day Ampera will come to the Lithuanian dealership as well.


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    pjkPA

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (11:59 am)

    Eco_Turbo:
    Some might complain about the gas engine. But it seems a reasonable use of fuel. Keeping occupants and devices warm, while putting some charge in the battery at the same time. Then like your home heating system, it shuts up until needed again.

    I’ve been commuting for 3 months now here in cold PA using 95% electric… had to do a long errand last night… the engine had to be used for about 12 miles… I used .3 gal of gas… this is not level easy miles… this is very hilly bumpy cold PA miles. The Volt has done very good in the PA winter… does very good in snow .. may be the weight… the tires are new too… so far so good.

    How much does a Volt cost in Finland and Sweden… you can easily get Volvo’s here in the US without tariffs.


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    kdawg

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (12:21 pm)

    From wikihow:

    In general, the rules for ice thickness measurements are:

    3″ (7 cm) (new ice) – KEEP OFF
    4″ (10 cm) – suitable for ice fishing, cross-country skiing and walking (approx. 200 pounds)
    5″ (12 cm) – suitable for a single snowmobile or ATV (approx. 800 pounds)
    8″ – 12″ (20 – 30 cm) – suitable for one car, group of people (approx. 1500 – 2000 pounds)
    12″ – 15″ (30 – 38 cm) – suitable for a light pickup truck or a van

    So 10″ may be pushing it.


  11. 11
    kdawg

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (12:26 pm)

    And here’s info from the MN DNR. (note saltwater ice is not as strong as freshwater)

    ice_zps8b6a5776.jpg


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    CaptJackSparrow

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (3:38 pm)

    The colder the ice keeps my beer the better!!!!
    :-P


  13. 13
    James

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (7:33 pm)

    It was a mild winter in a mild climate here in Seattle, but….IT SNOWED THIS MORNING!
    How appropriate for today’s story. The Volt has that center weight and the nice T
    section of the battery pack nicely placed for traction , except for good ole Front Wheel
    Drive.

    Our Prius is AWFUL in snow – if there’s any snow – we just park it and take my
    4X4 truck. The Prius is also bad in heavy rain even from a stop where there is
    standing water… The traction control pops on and everything dies right as you’re
    merging out into traffic! So the Volt may inspire confidence for some …kind of like
    VW Beetles used to be famous for being in snow since all the weight was over the
    drive wheels in back —- But Volt, being fwd will never be a trooper in heavy snow
    and it may be darned right scary on ice!

    I’m the type of guy that stays home at all costs when it snows – I’m sure our Volt
    friends who live in snowy states venture out with more bravado, but even a quick
    YouTube view will show folks in Wisconson, Colorado or Minnesota spinning, and
    wiping out all over – fwd in snow just is dicey no matter the big battery weight
    or not.

    Winter tires or studs would help a lot, but they definately would bite into mileage
    just like they bite into the ice.

    Bottom line: Err on the side of caution – ARRIVE ALIVE as they used to say.
    Just stay home and make yourself a nice hot Irish coffee! :)

    Volt Fifty/Fifty! ,

    James


  14. 14
    kdawg

     

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    Mar 22nd, 2013 (9:03 pm)

    James: But Volt, being fwd will never be a trooper in heavy snow

    FWD in snow is great. Its RWD where you have problems. AWD is the best, but every car has AWB (all wheel brakes).


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    pat

     

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    Mar 23rd, 2013 (12:30 am)

    Any stats on how many Amperas sold in Europe? I have never seen these stats .. Of course current economic issues may be impacting their sales too!
    I always thot that Amperas will be a hit in Europe where most folks have short drives in urban areas and more environment concious plus high cost of gas.


  16. 16
    Darius

     

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    Mar 23rd, 2013 (2:37 am)

    pat:
    Any stats on how many Amperas sold in Europe?I have never seen these stats .. Of course current economic issues may be impacting their sales too!
    I always thought that Amperas will be a hit in Europe where most folks have short drives in urban areas and more environment conscious plus high cost of gas.

    I would say that in Europe vague sales strategy (except Holland) therefore no major achievements. Easter part of Europe dealerships have not seen Ampera at all. Ampera could be competitor to very popular BMW here but Opel has very poor image “Opel remont” (‘Opel repair’ engl.) and may be stops prevents active Ampera sales as luxury eco option.


  17. 17
    James

     

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    Mar 23rd, 2013 (6:22 am)

    kdawg: FWD in snow is great.Its RWD where you have problems.AWD is the best, but every car has AWB (all wheel brakes).

    Yes, but remember the big weight of the battery pack over the center of the car
    and it’s rear wheels.

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


  18. 18
    Jackson

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    Mar 23rd, 2013 (10:22 am)

    However good the Volt may be on ice, you have to consider the other drivers. You can still get messed up pretty bad if your car gets slammed into.

    In Atlanta we typically have at least one notable winter episode a year, usually black ice; which few people here know how to drive on. I remember one year, I got in my Saturn SL1 and drove pretty much wherever I wanted on mostly empty streets, but got off the roads by noon when other drivers began to venture out.

    Driving like you’re 80 years old is most of the ice driving secret (having a Saturn SL1 helps, too). Another part of it is not coming to a complete stop at intersections, which no traffic makes a lot easier. ;-)


  19. 19
    Jackson

     

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    Mar 23rd, 2013 (10:32 am)

    SL2. They were great cars. I had two.

    … anybody know the admin password? :-P


  20. 20
    haroldC

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    Mar 23rd, 2013 (12:48 pm)

    Just name one front-wheel-drive race car…..other than minis racing minis….


  21. 21
    Jean-Charles Jacquemin

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    Mar 25th, 2013 (4:05 am)

    The winter has been very long here in Belgium with still snow until yesterday but is a pleasure to drive my Ampera on iced or snow covered roads : winter tyres, gears in “L” and light foot on the gas pedal and you travel without problem. Ok the front air dam sometime plays the role of a snowplow.

    best regards