Opel revs up RAK e concept car

Posted by Aaron Colter, EarthTechling

Only a few days ago we reported that the GM subsidiary manufacturer in Europe Opel was announcing details of its new electric concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2011.

At the time, news of the vehicle didn’t include much information, but the automaker has now released more specifications about the concept, including the product’s name, calling it the RAK e.

Opel has stated that the company is looking to target younger buyers who may be more open to the RAK-e’s somewhat strange tandem seating arrangement, as well as a lower priced electric vehicle that can be used for urban commuting.

The youth-appeal for the new electric car campaign is apparent, as you can see in the images below, but the design of the RAK e is strong, and perhaps even more practical than other concept vehicles, like the Audi Spyder, that we’ve seen from the international automobile convention this year.

As seen in the image above, the RAK e has a unique opening-roof for the driver and passenger to essentially slide into the vehicle as the steering column and arm rests tip forward, an action drivers can control from a wireless iPhone application.

Roughly nine feet long and only a little over three feet tall, the RAK e is definitely small, even for only two passengers.

As well, the concept car only weighs a stunning 838 pounds. But the miniature design helps make the RAK e very efficient as the manufacturer claims a roughly 60 mile journey would cost less than $1.50 in energy costs.

Equipped with a relatively tiny 49 horsepower system and 5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery package, the RAK e has a range of about 60 miles, and a top speed of only 28 miles per hour. With such a small powertrain, Opel says the car’s annual energy needs could be supplied by installing a 5 square-meter, 500 watt solar power system on a home’s garage.

It’s unclear if the RAK e will be made into a production vehicle, but Opel says the real-market introduction of the car is possible. While the car is certainly stylish, it’s unclear if consumers would adopt the tandem seating and low range and speed specifications.

Perhaps a European market would be more likely embrace the RAK e over drivers here in America, but if Opel can keep the cost under $20,000, and push a strong at-home, solar charging station program, the company may have the chance to change’s minds and driving habits.

* Aaron Colter, EarthTechling