Vauxhall RAK e concept
Known as the RAK e, Vauxhall/Opel's radical concept places the spotlight firmly on minimal energy costs and weight, in addition to opening a new chapter for the company in electric mobility.
Aimed at young – even teenage – drivers, the RAK e has real production potential, zero tailpipe emissions, a range of 60 miles and a top speed of 75mph. At 380kgs, it also weighs around one third of a conventional small car and has been designed to be affordable to even very young drivers.
"We want to develop electric vehicles that everyone can afford," said Karl-Friedrich Stracke, Opel/Vauxhall CEO. "The range-extending concept of the Ampera demonstrates our leadership in electrification of the car. The RAK e aims to deliver pricing that even younger customers can afford. It also has cool looks and production potential. In future, efficiency will be measured in money-terms, not litres per 100kms."
The lightweight RAK e is based on a steel spaceframe beneath a body formed from a conventional synthetic material. This allows a high level of safety combined with affordable pricing, which would not necessarily be the case had a more expensive composite material been used.
The name ‘RAK e' has been plucked from the long and illustrious heritage of Vauxhall's sister company, Opel. In 1928, the grandson of founder, Adam Opel, drove a revolutionary rocket-powered car to 140mph, a remarkable achievement at the time. The car was named RAK 2 and is still preserved in Opel's heritage collection to this day. The ‘e' in the name of today's car not only stands for ‘electric', but also ‘experimental'.
"The RAK e is inspired by our wealth of experience in the area of electro-mobility, underpinned by the Ampera," said Brit, Mark Adams, Opel/Vauxhall's Vice President of Design. "This progressive concept is creating a new class of electric vehicle; we're eager to see the reaction of customers at the show."
Design – connecting fun and functionality
The RAK e's potential is illustrated by its innovative design. The bodywork is made from fully-recyclable synthetic material, while the tandem two-seat cockpit is reminiscent of a glider's.
Thanks to the large cockpit canopy, the driver and passenger enjoy a feeling of spaciousness and all-round visibility, despite the car's compact dimensions. The front seat, steering column and armrests automatically tip forward to enable easy entry/egress, 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 swing-arm all add to the charm of the RAK e. The twin rear wheels, which are positioned almost next to one another, have a tread width of just 600mm.
Fully-electric power with minimal running costs
The RAK e's development objectives – low mass, optimum efficiency and maximum simplicity – are packaged to appeal to a young and eco/technology-savvy audience, to whom the cool looks of an electric vehicle are as important as its energy consumption.
At around three metres long and 119cm high, the RAK e offers zero-emissions driving with minimal running costs. 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 tyres and efficient electric propulsion. Energy consumption per person is ten times lower than that of 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.
Weighing just 380kgs, the RAK e is one third the weight of a small modern car. The turning circle is 5.5 metres, making it agile and wieldy in towns and cities. But with a top speed of around 75mph and a 0-60mph time of less than 13 seconds, the car can still be used comfortably on motorways and main roads.
Thanks to the RAK e's light weight, very little energy is needed for the car to perform well. Peak power is 49PS, with at least 14PS being constantly available, while a 5kWh battery capacity ensures up to 60 miles of range. Based on an average annual 6,200 miles, the RAK e's energy consumption would be a modest 525 kWh, which could even be supplied by a five square metre, 500-Watt solar panel mounted on the garage roof!