Amped Up

Long, tight curves, beautiful uphill and downhill stretches, and attractive views too; the gentle hills around the Wasserkuppe could have been tailor-made for this special road trip. E-motoring enthusiasts from across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland met up in Fulda, Germany, for the first ever Ampera-e Meetup. A total of 17 Opel electric cars glided over the undulating landscape of the Rhön Mountains in glorious late-fall sunshine.

Both their sense of achievement on reaching the summit, at 940 meters, and the stunning view of the Hoher Meissner mountain massif were of no more than secondary importance to the intrepid adventurers; it was the Ampera-e’s energy recovery system that provided the main topic of conversation. “This up-and-down road is just made for it,” explained Thomas Wohlhüter, who traveled from Augsburg, Bavaria, to take part. Their in-depth discussions revolved around the drive mode, blipping the throttle, and the virtually silent 150 kW/204 HP motor powered by 60 kWh under-floor batteries. “It’s great to be able to have a really involved conversation about these things with like-minded people,” stressed Sebastian Strathmann, who lives in Winterthur, Switzerland.

E-Pioneer: Sven Möller, the man behind the inaugural Ampera-e Meetup.


An ‘e’-convoy in the Rhön: In Germany, historic cars carry a letter ‘H’ on their license plates. In the same way, electric cars carry a letter ‘E,’ which gives them permission to park at charging stations or use bus lanes.

The commuter: The Ampera-e is Thomas Wohlhüter’s second electric car.

 

Thomas Wohlhüter,
IT–Specialist, Augsburg, Germany

“The Ampera-e is the first car in this segment in my price range. I commute 83 kilometers from Augsburg to Munich every day and I can charge the car at work, which is ideal. But I’ve taken the Ampera-e on holiday to southern England as well, and that was pretty easy too.”

 


A charging station on the Wasserkuppe.


“Easily the best electric car
money can buy at the moment.”

 

The inaugural Ampera-e Meetup was certainly a special event. It all started with an idea by Hamburg-based e-mobility enthusiast Sven Möller. The 52-year-old is actually a certified petrolhead – he has previously driven machines with up to 500 horsepower. But years spent working as a project manager for a major energy supplier eventually led him to focus heavily on combating climate change and developing alternative drive systems – and convinced him he needed to walk the walk on electric vehicles.

He began his journey by giving up his spare time to test-drive every electric car on the market. He was left disappointed on more than one occasion, and quickly concluded that “if I can’t even do 300 kilometers on a charge, then it’s no use to me.”


Repeat offender: Matthias Peter (right) used to own the car’s predecessor, the Opel Ampera.

 

Matthias Peter,
Project Manager, Frankfurt, Germany:

“I had one of the original Amperas for three-and-a-half years – now I’ve got an Ampera-e. I’m very pleased with the battery and the motor. The meetup in Fulda has been really nice. I’d have liked to have found out a bit more about the future of e-mobility. So I’ll definitely come back next time if I can find room in my schedule.”

 


In 2017 he discovered the Ampera-e – and was immediately impressed: “It’s easily the best electric car money can buy at the moment.” Opel’s electric car will do up to 520 kilometers on a full battery – “Now you’re really getting somewhere.” The Hamburg native was similarly keen on the technology, comfort, and styling. And the money he saves comes in pretty handy too. “I drive about 25,000 kilometers a year. I used to spend 4,500 euros on fuel every year. Now I pay nothing at most charging stations. And even if there aren’t so many yet, they’re gradually becoming more common.”

 

Applying to be an E-Pioneer

All that meant he was quite prepared to jump through hoops to get his hands on his electric car. When the Ampera-e was first released, only 88 were delivered to 44 specially selected dealers. Getting one meant literally applying for the car. Fortunately for Sven, his application was accepted: “The key thing was that I have a good network and I’m happy to share my experiences of the car.” In fact, Sven Möller is a prolific blogger, and he can also be found on a number of Internet forums dedicated to alternative drive systems.

It was the contacts he made in cyberspace who turned the idea of the Ampera-e Meetup a reality. When he first raised it, 25 people contacted him immediately to register their interest, meaning he could start making arrangements straight away.

Fulda in the fall: The electric convoy makes its way through the city.

 

Magic numbers: The Ampera-e’s power consumption statistics.


Group photo on the Wasserkuppe: The slogan for the meetup was ‘Mit Strom gegen den Strom,’ or ‘Powering through the traffic.’

Sebastian Strathmann,
IT Specialist, Winterthur, Switzerland

“I work in Switzerland but often have to commute to the Stuttgart area in south-west Germany. So I was looking for an electric car I could use for long distances, even in the winter. And now I’ve discovered the Ampera-e, I have to say I can’t see myself going back to a gasoline engine. I met Sven Möller, who had the idea for the meetup, at a charging station in Denmark while we were both charging our cars up. He told me about this idea of his and I was in immediately. It was great to be able to spend the whole weekend with like-minded people. I’ll definitely be back next time.”

 

Convinced: Sebastian Strathmann is unlikely to go back to a conventional drive system.


Contrast: The latest technology meets baroque facades: The convoy arrives on Fulda’s Pauluspromenade.

Möller chose Fulda because of its location in the center of Germany and the baroque charm of the small city in eastern Hesse. He scouted out the city in advance to find out about hotels and restaurants and plan the route for the trips to the Röhn the Ampera-e aficionados were to make over the weekend. While he was researching, he discovered that Fulda has plenty of ambitions of its own when it comes to e-mobility. The number of electric vehicles registered in Fulda and the surrounding area is rising steadily, and seven public charging stations have recently been installed around the city. It is also home to the first electric bus in the state of Hesse.

Möller also found an enthusiastic ally for the planned meetup in the shape of the city’s environmental protection representative, Dorothea Hergott. On Saturday afternoon she made her way to the Pauluspromenade at the heart of the city center, where the Ampera-e owners had gathered on their return from the Rhön. About 100 other interested spectators were also in attendance. “They’re welcome any time,” one passer-by nodded approvingly, as the convoy pulled away in almost complete silence.  After the great success of the inaugural event, a second meetup is already being planned for 2019.


November 2018

Text: Eric Scherer, Photos: Thorsten Weigl