Vauxhall-Opel boss Nick Reilly says the company's RAK e electric tandem 'is a very serious concept'
Richard Bremner Autocar
16 September 2011

Vauxhall's RAK e electric tandem two-seater 'is a very serious concept,' says Vauxhall-Opel boss Nick Reilly, adding that the company is investigating production feasibility and believes it could go on sale for around £9000.

The Vauxhall RAK e was unveiled at Frankfurt motor show this week. It has a range of 60 miles, a top speed of 75mph and can accelerate to 62mph in under 13 seconds. It weighs only 380kg, despite a core structure made from high-strength steels rather than the composites and aluminium that would usually be used in a car like this.

The rest of it is made from ‘a strategic choice of composite materials,’ says lead designer Richard Shaw, and it’s ‘very rigid'. It has also been designed ‘with production in mind'.

Though a four-wheeler, the RAK e’s rear track is very narrow, a pair of wheels attached to what could be the world’s narrowest live axle, mounted-in unit with a single swing arm. Reilly says that ‘we started with one big wheel, but it’s got two wheels because of the mass of the second passenger, and for stability'.

Reilly is keen to see whether the RAK e can provide a replacement for the now-abandoned electric version of the company’s city car, which has been scrapped for cost reasons. Pricey batteries are also an obstacle for the RAK e project.

'We've got to work on costs,' says Reilly, and 'we've got to refine it and do it right'. But it’s clear that this tandem electric car can be sold for considerably less than an electric conversion of a conventional car.

‘We want to show it to a few governments and see if they're serious about EVs,' he says. If they are, and Vauxhall can overcome the technological and manufacturing challenges posed by this car, we could very likely see it as an unusual sister EV to the Ampera.

The RAK e name comes from the rocket-propelled Opel RAK 2 driven by Adam Opel’s grandson Fritz in 1928, the e in this concept’s name standing for electric and experimental.

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