Vauxhall Ampera police car: Chevy Volt’s European cousin goes blue

Vauxhall Ampera front three quarter motionThe Chevrolet Volt is donning a police uniform. As part of a trial Vauxhall, General Motors’ British division, gave the keys to an Ampera to Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) at a press event in Belfast.

The Ampera is a nearly identical twin of the Volt sold in the U.K. by Vauxhall and in Continental Europe by Opel. It uses the same 1.4-liter gasoline range extender, electric motor, and 16.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack as its American cousin.

“We’re looking forward to putting the revolutionary Ampera through its paces responding to incidents while also reducing our emissions and providing significant savings on fuel costs,” said Marcus Belshaw, head of transport for PSNI.

Vauxhall says Northern Ireland is a good environment for the Ampera because of its well-developed charging infrastructure. It says drivers there are never more than 10 miles from a charging station.

PSNI said the Ampera would be used as an “incident response vehicle,” but didn’t say exactly what police work it would be used for. The Ampera definitely won’t intimidate criminals like the defunct Carbon Motors E7, and it probably won’t be much good in a high speed chase.

The New York Police Department uses a few Volts as traffic enforcement vehicles, really an ideal assignment considering that those units spend a lot of time driving at slow speeds or idling.

Portugal’s national police force, the PSP, operates eight Nissan Leafs. They’re primarily used to patrol school zones, another job that’s well suited to a zero-emission vehicle.

It’s too early to tell if the electric police car will catch on, but what car doesn’t look cooler with a set of flashing lights?