Opel RAK e Concept could see a production version

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 17, 2011

Vauxhall-Opel boss Nick Reilly said that the company is studying the production feasibility of its RAK e electric tandem two-seater, which he describes as a “very serious concept.” He added that it could sell for about £9000. Vauxhall unveiled the RAK e at the Frankfurt motor show this week. Its range is 60 miles.

Its 0-62mph acceleration time is less than 13 seconds and it has a top speed of 75mph. Its weight is just 380kg eve when its core structure is built from high-strength steels instead of the composites and aluminum that would be typical in a car like this one.

Lead designer Richard Shaw said that the other parts are built using a “strategic choice of composite materials” that’s said to be highly rigid.

He shared that the model was designed with a plan for it to enter production soon. The RAK e has four wheels but its rear track is very narrow. It comes with a pair of wheels linked to what may be considered as the world’s narrowest live axle, mounted-in unit with a single swing arm.

Reilly says that the project began with one big wheel but it now has two wheels due to the mass of the second passenger and also for stability. Reilly is eager to determine if the RAK e could provide a replacement for the scrapped electric version of Vauxhall’s city car, which was abandoned due to high costs.

Another challenge for the RAK e project is its expensive batteries. Reilly said that it has to be refined and it has to be done correctly. However, it has become apparent that this tandem electric car could be sold for a significantly lower price than the electric conversion of a conventional car.

The unveiling of the new Opel RAK e Concept at Frankfurt should push forward and expand the carmaker’s role as a pioneer in alternative drive systems. With energy cost of just 100 km per one Euro, the RAK e Concept defines how efficient it could be. Opel chief executive Karl-Friedrich Stracke remarked that the carmaker wanted to develop affordable electric vehicles, and the Opel RAK e should be able to appeal even to younger customers.

He quipped that the cool-looking RAK e has production-potential. Stracke added that in the future, efficiency will be measured in Euros, instead of liters per 100 km – and the RAK e Concept is a representation of that measurement. Capable of travelling at a maximum speed of 120 km/h, the RAK e Concept weighs just around a third of that of a modern small car, as it is underpinned by a steel space-frame structure and wrapped in conventional synthetic material.

This allowed Opel to create a car that is not only light, but is also safe and affordable. Moreover, Opel was able to make the RAK e Concept affordable as an EV by not employing costly composite materials in its lightweight-design philosophy. Mark Adams, Vice President for Design at Opel, remarked that the RAK e takes inspiration from Opel’s experience in electro-mobility and from the Ampera. He quipped that the RAK e is creating a new class of EV and is a representation of what future mobility with 'my first e-Opel' could be. The concept derived the "RAK e" name from the 1928 RAK 2 rocket-powered car of Fritz von Opel, grandson of company-founder Adam Opel. Meanwhile, the "e" name refers to electricity as its power source as well as its status as a ground-breaking experimental vehicle.

Topics: opel, concept

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