Aerodynamic, small frontal area, low RRc tires and < 840 pounds? Oh Boy
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Sept. 21, 2011
In Frankfurt last week, Opel let loose their RAK e 2-seat battery-powered electric vehicle that weighs just a third of a modern small car.
According to Opel, the RAK e aims to deliver pricing that even younger customers can afford while providing true production-potential and looking cool.
The lightweight concept is based on a steel space-frame structure beneath a skin of conventional synthetic material. This supposedly allows a high level of safety and future affordable pricing. Opel deliberately avoided the use of expensive composite materials in this design in order to make electric mobility affordable for as many people as possible.
The name “RAK e” is a throwback to a much earlier time when Fritz von Opel and his revolutionary rocket-powered car took to the road. In 1928, the RAK 2 catapulted the grandson of company-founder Adam Opel to a top speed of 142 mph.
The potential of the experimental vehicle is reflected in its design. The bodywork is made of fully recyclable synthetic material and although Opel is not saying plastic, it may as well be plastic for cost effectiveness. The tandem two-seat passenger compartment and large cockpit canopy creates a feeling of riding a motorcycle with all-around visibility. The front seat, steering column and armrests automatically tip forward to enable easy-entry. The pedals and the steering wheel adjust to the size of the driver.
RAK e Concept Interior
Add some airbags, an FMVSS complaint structure and keep
the weight down and they may just have something.
The two-seater features visible chassis components, such as the wheel-integrated front disk brakes and the motorbike-derived rear swing-arm. The rear wheels enhance agility with a tread width of only 23.6”.
Just under 10 ft. long and 47 inches high, the aerodynamic RAK e has a 61 mile AER (probably NEDC so maybe 50 or so miles real world) and can be fully charged from empty in just 3-hours. With its low weight, minimal frontal area, low rolling resistance tires, and efficient electric propulsion, it’s a bike that only needs a longer range to make it saleable. The instrument cluster displays battery SoC and the nearest charging station along with integrated infotainment controls, and heating and cooling.
Weighing only 838 lbs, the RAK e is about one third the weight of a modern small car. Peak power output is 49 HP with 14 HP continuously available. The useable battery capacity of 5 kWh enables the AER range of 61 miles which corresponds to fuel consumption of just 0.61L/100 km or 385 MPGe. Over an annual 6,200 miles traveled (Europeans travel about ½ the distance that North American’s do) the RAK e’s energy consumption would be 525 kWh which could be supplied by a smallish five square-meter, 500-Watt solar panel mounted on the roof of the garage.
Enclosing a motorcycle for safety and climate control while incorporating a comfortable car like seat and controls with all the amenities (including a quiet ride???) with the small frontal area is something I would love to try to live with for a while. If it works, talk about an energy savings. I would even forgo the all-electric drivetrain if something like an upgraded Yamaha WR250X’s engine with car based longevity design features was installed.
How about you?