Opel Unveils RAK e Electric Vehicle

"We want to develop electric vehicles that everyone can afford,” said Karl-Friedrich Stracke, Opel CEO, at the world premiere of the RAK at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week. “The RAK e experimental vehicle aims to deliver pricing that even younger customers can afford.

"We want to develop electric vehicles that everyone can afford,” said Karl-Friedrich Stracke, Opel CEO, at the world premiere of the RAK at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week. “The RAK e experimental vehicle aims to deliver pricing that even younger customers can afford. The RAK e has cool looks and production-potential.”

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The concept in question is a battery-powered EV that is predicated on light weight so as to up the power efficiency.

An interesting aspect of the car is that in order to achieve affordability, the Opel engineers opted to use a steel space frame covered in conventional polymers, with the frame providing safety and the skin providing the aesthetics.

But more to the point, according to Opel, they “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.”

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Realize that batteries and electric motors are comparatively expensive, and composite structural materials aren’t exactly a bargain (predicated, in part, on the chicken-or-egg scenario: until there is high-volume deployment, there won’t be significant cost reductions; until are there significant cost reductions, there won’t be high-volume deployment).

The RAK e weighs 838 lb., so the fact that the peak power output is only 49 hp, with 14 hp being continuously available, isn’t as anemic as it might seem at first blush, particularly given that typical small cars weigh about three times as much. The car has a usable battery capacity of 5 kWh, which provides a range of 61 miles. Given that this is essentially a two-seat city car, so that range isn’t all that bad either.

According to Opel, the batteries could be recharged with a five-square-meter 500-Watt solar panel mounted on the roof of a garage. . .which would probably be beneficial to people who work at night and don’t drive their cars during the day.

The name of the car is a tip of the hat to the RAK 2 of 1928, a car developed by Fritz von Opel. It was a rocket-powered car. Here’s hoping that we get to cars like the RAK e a whole lot sooner than the rocket cars that we still don’t have.