Opel RAK e Concept targets EV affordability at Frankfurt Motor Show

Opel RAK e Concept, a lightweight EV which debuts at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, needs 10 times less energy than a modern small car and one third the weight, making it more affordable for the masses.

As Opel formally introduced the RAK e experimental vehicle today – an all-new battery-powered electric vehicle based on a steel space-frame structure beneath a skin of conventional synthetic material, the company deliberately avoided the use of expensive composite materials in its lightweight-design philosophy, in order to make this electric mobility affordable for as many people as possible.

According to Opel news release, this allows a high level of safety as well as affordable pricing. Furthermore, the RAK e Cocnept can travel 100 kilometers (61 miles) for one euro ($1.36), weighs a third of a modern small car and can reach 120 km/h (75 mph) in less than 13 seconds.

"We want to develop electric vehicles that everyone can afford,” said Karl-Friedrich Stracke, Opel CEO, at the world premiere in Frankfurt. “The RAK e experimental vehicle aims to deliver pricing that even younger customers can afford. The RAK e has cool looks and production-potential.”

The name “RAK e” recalls the pioneering spirit inspired by Fritz von Opel and his revolutionary rocket-powered car in the last century. In 1928, RAK 2 catapulted the grandson of company-founder Adam Opel to a top speed of 228 km/h (142 mph). The “e” not only stands for electric, but also takes up again the idea of ground-breaking experimental vehicles.

“The RAK e is inspired by our wealth of experience in the area of electro-mobility, above all by the Ampera”; explains Mark Adams, vice president Design. “This progressive concept is creating a new class of electric vehicle; this is what future mobility with ‘my first e-Opel’ could look like. We are eager to see the reaction of visitors to the show.”

The potential of the experimental vehicle is reflected in its design. The bodywork is made of fully recyclable synthetic material; the tandem two-seat passenger compartment is reminiscent of glider. The large cockpit canopy creates a feeling of spaciousness and all-around visibility. The front seat, steering column and armrests automatically tip forward to enable easy-entry; remote control via smart phone enhances the optical effect of this action. The pedals and the steering wheel adjust to the size of the driver.

The two-seater features visible chassis components, such as the wheel-integrated front disk brakes and the motorbike-derived rear swing-arm. The rear wheels enhance agility with a tread width of only 600 mm.

Around three meters long and 119 cm (46.9 inches) high, the aerodynamic RAK e offers zero-emission driving. After charging the battery for three hours, the experimental vehicle can travel up to 100 km (61 miles) due to the combination of low weight, minimal frontal area, low rolling resistance, and highly efficient electric propulsion. The cockpit features displays showing battery state-of-charge or the nearest charging station, infotainment equipment, and heating and cooling


Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.