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Vauxhall/Opel RAK E Concept - Web Exclusive

Despite its futuristic appearance, the carmakers are claiming RAK e has real production potential.

Greg Emmerson
Sep 13, 2011

Again, we brought you photos of this concept before it was unveiled today in Frankfurt, but now we have more details about this radical machine from GM’s European division, Vauxhall and Opel.

Eurp 1109 01+vauxhall opel rak e concept+cover Photo 2/4   |   Vauxhall/Opel RAK E Concept - Web Exclusive

Called the RAK e concept, it’s aimed at revolutionizing emissions-free urban transport for younger drivers.

Despite its futuristic appearance, the carmakers are claiming RAK e has real production potential. It’s zero-emissions electric power is said to give it a range of 60 miles and a top speed of 75mph.

At 840 lb, it also weighs around one third of a conventional small car and has been designed to be affordable for young drivers.

The name ‘RAK e’ was plucked from the illustrious heritage of Opel. In 1928, the grandson of founder Adam Opel drove a rocket-powered car to 140mph, a remarkable achievement at the time. The car was named RAK 2 and is preserved in Opel’s heritage collection. The ‘e’ of today’s car not only stands for ‘electric’, but also ‘experimental’.

“We want to develop electric vehicles that everyone can afford,” said Karl-Friedrich Stracke, Opel/Vauxhall CEO. “The RAK e aims to deliver pricing that even younger customers can afford. It also has cool looks and has production potential. In future, efficiency will be measured in money-terms, not mpg.”

Eurp 1109 02+vauxhall opel rak e concept+side view Photo 3/4   |   Vauxhall/Opel RAK E Concept - Web Exclusive

The lightweight RAK e is based on a steel spaceframe beneath a fully-recyclable synthetic body to allow a high level of safety with affordable pricing, which would not necessarily be the case had a more expensive composite material been used.

The tandem two-seat cockpit is reminiscent of a glider’s cockpit. Thanks to its large canopy, the occupants enjoy spaciousness and visibility, despite the car’s compact dimensions.

Eurp 1109 03+vauxhall opel rak e concept+rear view Photo 4/4   |   Vauxhall/Opel RAK E Concept - Web Exclusive

The front seat, steering column and armrests automatically tip forward to enable easy entry, a function which can be controlled via a smart phone. The pedals and steering wheel adjust to the size of the driver.

Neat visual touches, like the visible chassis components, wheel-integrated front disc brakes and motorcycle-derived rear swingarm all add to the charm. The twin rear wheels, which are positioned almost next to one another, have a tread width of just 600mm.

After charging the battery for three hours, the car has a range of up to 60 miles, thanks to a combination of low weight, a small frontal area, low rolling resistance tires and efficient electric propulsion. Energy consumption per person is ten times lower than a typical small car.

Inside, the cockpit features displays showing the battery’s state of charge, the nearest charging station, as well as infotainment equipment and a heating/cooling system.

Peak power is 49hp, with at least 14hp being constantly available. Based on an annual mileage of 6200 miles, the RAK e’s energy consumption would be a modest 525kWh, which could be supplied by a 500-watt solar panel mounted on the garage roof!

By Greg Emmerson
1078 Articles

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