By DANNY KING September 14, 2011
General Motors’ Opel division on Wednesday unveiled an all-electric two-seat concept car that has a single-charge range of 61 miles and is less than half the weight of Daimler AG’s Smart ForTwo two-seater. The Opel RAK e, which is being presented at the Frankfurt Auto Show, has a tandem-seating set-up as well as a 49-horsepower all-electric engine that can propel the car from 0 to 75 miles per hour in less than 13 seconds, General Motors said in a statement. GM did not provide any information on whether or when the 838-pound car would be sold to the public.
GM is one of a number of automakers toying with the idea of so-called “city cars” that are better suited for electric propulsion than conventional vehicles because of their lighter weight and shorter driving distances. Audi this week debuted its so-called “urban concept” in Frankfurt. That vehicle, which weighs 1,058 pounds, has an unusual 1+1 seating set-up in which the passenger sits parallel to the driver but about a foot behind him in order to keep the body narrower. The car can go about 45 miles between charges and can accelerate from a standstill to its governed top speed of 62 miles per hour in about 17 seconds.
The RAK e — the name is a nod to the rocket-powered RAK 2 that Opel family scion Adam Opel drove to a top speed of 142 miles per hour in 1928 — has a body made up of fully recyclable synthetic material. The car is about 3 meters (118 inches) long, or about a foot longer than the Smart ForTwo. General Motors started selling its plug-in hybrid-electric (PHEV) Chevrolet Volt last year and last month said it would bring Cadillac’s Volt-based Converj Concept to market, although it declined to provide additional details. Opel will start selling the Volt’s sister car, the Ampera, in Europe this year.
Danny King: is a frequent contributor to AutoObserver.com.