Before we delve into the details of the RAK e electric concept, let's step back in time with a brief historical primer. The oldest industrial division within General Motors' current portfolio, Opel started as a sewing machine manufacturer way back in 1862. Evolving to the production of bicycles soon after, Opel's presence in wheeled transportation turned to automobiles in 1899. Now, at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, Opel looks to the future with its debut of the ultra-modern RAK e Concept.

Back in 1928, Opel captivated the media with its experimental rocket-powered RAK 2. Its streamlined shape and solid-fuel rocket propulsion system demonstrated Opel's vision of the future. Developed 83 years after the RAK 2, the RAK e tandem 1+1 concept projects Opel's take on personal urban mobility.

As an experimental design and technical platform, the RAK e is a narrow four-wheeler built around a steel space frame. Built with an eye toward inexpensive materials, the RAK e is a lightweight (838 pounds) concept presented as a vehicle that Opel says even the youngest of buyers could afford.

Propulsion for the RAK e comes from a 49-horsepower electric motor that draws juice from a five-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Range is listed at up to 62 miles and operating costs are claimed to be only one euro per 100 kilometers ($2.19 per 100 miles).

Follow the jump to read over the complete press release from Opel and be sure to check out our live photos of the RAK e in the high-res image gallery.
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Opel RAK e Concept: Lightweight EV Debuts in Frankfurt
Needs 10 times less energy than modern small car and is one third the weight


2011-09-13

FRANKFURT – Opel today formally introduced the RAK e experimental vehicle – an all-new battery-powered electric vehicle that 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 lightweight concept of the RAK e is based on a steel space-frame structure beneath a skin of conventional synthetic material. This allows a high level of safety as well as affordable pricing. Opel deliberately avoided the use of expensive composite materials in its lightweight-design philosophy, in order to make electric mobility affordable for as many people as possible.

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

Weighing only 380 kg (838 lbs.) the RAK e is about one third the weight of a modern small car. Peak power output is 36.5 kW/49 hp; 10.5 kW/14 hp is continuously available. The useable battery capacity of 5 kWh enables a range of 100 km (61 miles), which corresponds to fuel consumption of just 0.6 liters (0.16 gallons) of gasoline. Over an annual 10,000 km (6,214 miles) the RAK e's energy consumption would be 525 kWh. This could be supplied by a five square-meter, 500-Watt solar panel mounted on the roof of the garage.

General Motors (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM), one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 208,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 30 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall, and Wuling. The global Chevrolet brand celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2011. GM's largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Italy. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      Kris
      • 3 Years Ago
      A lot of similar cars in Frankfurt this year. This one looks the best to me. Unlike VW Nils it's 2-seater, same weight, more power, better range, sounds cheaper and looks better (but that is always the case with VW and Opel). If this is big city's future, I like it!
      tump
      • 3 Years Ago
      Glad to see somebody put hot guys in as booth babes for once!
      Hi There Paul
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would imagine that their idea of low co$t motoring would not match mine.
      Ak74
      • 3 Years Ago
      a lot better than Audi / VW crap
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ak74
        Your constant Audi/VW hating is quite hilarious. This all started when I proved you wrong on you thinking BMW had the only 500+hp N/A V10 lol.
      new isetta
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nicest design so far! Funny, it seems that Opel (Euro One), KTM (E3W) and Peugeot (Velv) have taken it upon themselves to bridge the gap between automobiles and motorcycles. Rightfully so. There is so much to gain. But a job worth doing, is worth doing right. Want to know more about the ultimate three-wheeler? Go to newisetta.com
      JR
      • 3 Years Ago
      OK. So for that brake system to work, the large diameter disk has to be attached to the wheel, right? How do you get the wheel off?