Could the European version of the Chevrolet Volt be smarter than its American brethren? In so many words, that's what General Motors' Opel division in Germany is saying after the Opel Ampera extended-range plug-in vehicle was chosen to conduct a test involving intelligent navigation systems.

The trial, called iZEUS (short for intelligent Zero Emission Urban System), involves installing special navigation systems in the Ampera that will maximize efficiency. For instance, the system will factor in hills, weather, road conditions and battery temperature in order to calculate a route that provides the least drain. That theoretically maximizes the bang for the buck on the Ampera's approximately 35-mile all-electric range and minimizes the need for the gas-powered generator to kick in. It only gets better down the road, since iZEUS will eventually be calibrated to help the driver find charging sources that offer electricity generated by renewable energy. The trial is being funded by the German Ministry for Economy and Transport funding.

Last month, GM reduced the Ampera's pricetag by 7,600 euros (about US$10,000), which was significant but still means the car is in the $50,000-range. The Volt is priced at about $35,000 in the US, but it doesn't have access to that groovy iZEUS software. Yet. Read Opel's press release below.
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Opel Ampera and iZEUS: Intelligent electric driving and recharging

Starring role for Opel Ampera in iZEUS research project
Customer-oriented integration of electric energy networks and transportation
Project is funded by the German Ministry for Economy and Transport

Rüsselsheim/Stuttgart. The presentation of a specially-equipped Ampera to the Technical Institute Karlsruhe (KIT) marks the commencement of a field trial in the research project iZEUS (intelligent Zero Emission Urban System) in Stuttgart. Opel is researching the user-friendly integration of electric energy networks and transport in the fields 'Smart Traffic' and 'Smart Grid', together with its partners EnBW AG (consortium leader), ads-tec GmbH, Daimler AG, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, KIT, PTV Group, SAP AG and TWT GmbH Science and Innovation.

Thanks to the R&D carried out by Opel with the Ampera, drivers of electric vehicles in the future will reach their destination with maximum efficiency, zero range-anxiety and zero emissions. They will also pay for the renewably-generated electricity to recharge the car's battery in the way most convenient to them.

In the iZEUS project, the Ampera has a specially-designed navigation system which allows it to calculate the most efficient route based on road conditions, topography, weather, battery temperature and performance of the air-conditioning system.

"The Opel Ampera is the flagship of electric cars for everyday driving", states Dr. Christian Kunstmann, Head of Development for Power Train Electrification at Opel. "The connection between mobility and sustainable energy supply has always been of key importance to Opel, so much so that we offer our customers green-energy electricity contracts for the Ampera. The iZEUS project is about bringing this experience to the development of simple and customer-oriented accounting systems for battery charging."

Furthermore, electric mobility should fit into daily life: drivers can pay for the renewably generated electricity to recharge the battery via their regular electric-mobility contract or a pre-paid card.

Intelligent driving with Opel's Meriva battery research vehicles

Opel is also bringing Meriva battery research vehicles to iZEUS as part of the project's research into linking traffic and energy systems for intelligent driving. These vehicles already provided valuable insights into bi-directional loading and integration in a smart grid in the earlier MeRegioMobil project. The iZEUS Merivas will introduce intelligent battery charging communication based on current ISO 156118 standards as well as carrying out testing of charging communications and bi-directional energy management at the KIT's "Energy Smart Home Lab".

The inclusion of traffic and energy systems in forthcoming smart grid concepts will also enable the improved integration of renewable energy resources and the construction of sustainable distribution networks through decentralized energy and charging management. While electromobility offers real and tangible potential for the reduction of CO2 emissions, this can only be maximized if intelligent and customer-oriented systems can be linked with current energy systems.

A key project component is therefore the development of standards for controlled charging. This should be able to take into account oscillations in energy supply counterbalanced by the appropriate customization of charging intensity which at the same time does not place restrictions on the vehicle user. The project foresees the ongoing development of accompanying legal frameworks, norms and standards established on the basis of political procedural recommendations.


The research project iZEUS develops concepts and practical examples for the integration of electromobility in private- as well as in urban commercial transport. The goal of the research is to develop one uniform transport concept that will be tested and demonstrated with the help of fleet tests made up of a significant number of test vehicles. The cross-regional interlinking of transport- and energy systems, innovative account management- and fleet management systems will play a central role, as will decentralized energy- and charging management that uses stationary energy storage units for the improved integration of renewable energy resources and for the stabilization of distribution networks.

The project partners include, alongside the EnBW AG as consortium leader, Adam Opel AG, ads-tec GmbH, Daimler AG, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, the KIT, the PTV Group, SAP AG and TWT GmbH Science & Innovation. The project is funded by the IKT for electromobility through the German Ministry of Economy and Transport.

The iZEUS project website can be downloaded at the following link:

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