Plug-in hybrids are the next big wave in automotive technology, as the slew of concepts being released in anticipation of the Frankfurt auto show attest. Yesterday, Volvo announced its ReCharge plug-in hybrid concept. Today, it's Opel's turn to join the ranks.
The Opel Flextreme shares some technology and a similar frame with the Chevy Volt, although the Euro version uses a diesel motor to charge the batteries. Range on battery power alone is expected to be in the neighborhood of 100km (62 miles). Combined range is an impressive 775km (480 miles). Once the lithium-ion batteries are sufficiently depleted, the diesel motor will kick in to top them up.
A completely unique feature of the Flextreme is the storage compartment designed to hold two Segway scooters. And don't worry if your Segways need some more juice to make it from the lot to the shops: the Flextreme can charge them on the spot, directly from its electrical system.
An electric motor driving the front wheels generates up to 120kW and 320Nm, and is also capable of regenerative braking. The generator connected to the diesel engine provides 53kW of charging power. The fossil-fuel motor is a 1.3L turbodiesel with intercooler. When functioning solely to maintain the charge level, the motor can be adjusted to maintain between 1,500rpm and 1,800rpm. However, if the batteries are sufficiently depleted, and the entire power of the diesel is required, it can increase up to 3,200rpm.
The Flextreme's futuristic looks blur the line between hatchback and micro-van. The extensive glasswork should provide excellent forward and side visibility, although the blocky C-pillars and a pillar down the center of the rear window may hinder rearward vision. Expect more details and photos to come next week.
GM TAKES VERSATILITY TO THE FLEXTREME…
* Flextreme concept to debut at Frankfurt Motor Show
* Features European-tuned version of E-Flex propulsion system
* Less than 40g/km of CO2
* FlexLoad and FlexDoors offer new types of loading solution
Visitors to the Frankfurt Motor Show will get a vision of the future thanks to GM’s Flextreme show car.
The MPV-style concept showcases the very latest development of GM’s E-Flex architecture, first previewed on the Chevrolet Volt Concept unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January.
The Flextreme uses the same electric hybrid drive system seen on the Volt, but coupled to a 1.3-litre turbo diesel engine rather than the Volt’s petrol power unit. Using an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery, the Flextreme is capable of a range of up to 55km on electric power alone – a range well within the needs of most European daily commuters, meaning they can travel to work and back without using any diesel or creating any CO2 emissions.
The 1.3-litre diesel engine is based on the award-winning CDTi found in Corsa and Astra, and is not connected to the wheels. Instead, the engine charges the batteries when they are empty and no plug-in facility is available, thereby extending the operating range.
But the Flextreme is more than just a demonstration of GM’s latest environmental technology. The concept itself is a clear reflection of Vauxhall’s latest design language – with narrow boomerang-shaped lights and a sloping swage line in the side. The smart monocab body is still designed with the environment in mind, however, and lightweight polycarbon panels, optimal aerodynamics and reduced weight alloy wheels add further to the car’s potential propulsion range,
As you’d expect from Vauxhall, the Flextreme is also highly innovative, with new loading systems including patented Flexload and Flexdoors, mixed with the latest advanced materials inside the cabin.
The Flexload luggage compartment allows access through a pair of butterfly-style rear tailgate doors which swing open upwards along the car’s central axis, making the tailgate accessible not just from the rear, but from the side of the vehicle where space is tight.
The Flextreme’s other innovation is its Flexload doors. While the front doors open in the conventional fashion, the back ones are hinged at the rear, while there is no central B-Pillar. This provides unparalleled access into the car’s cabin.
The seats are anchored to the floor in single rails in order to free up extra foot space, while a selection of cameras mounted in the car’s bodywork present the driver with a complete all-round view of the car’s surroundings.
And for the Frankfurt Show, the Flextreme carries a cargo that’s well in tune with its electric propulsion system in the form of Segway Personal Transporters. The Segways have been modified to mount neatly inside Flextreme’s body, and can be released from the car’s luggage compartment with a twist of the handlebars, allowing commuters to continue their carbon-free commute.