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Vauxhall to show shape-shifting 175mpg 125 mph Flextreme GT/E hybrid

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February 21, 2010

Vauxhall to show shape-shifting 175mpg 125 mph Flextreme GT/E hybrid

Vauxhall to show shape-shifting 175mpg 125 mph Flextreme GT/E hybrid

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Vauxhall will unveil a dramatic concept car at this year’s Geneva Show. The Flextreme GT/E uses what Vauxhall calls extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV) technology – the wheels at all times are driven by electricity, but a small petrol engine/generator provides enough electricity to extend the driving range to more than 300 miles. The Flextreme GT/E also employs active shape shifting. Above 30mph, a vertical panel extends along the body from the air extraction slot behind each rear wheel-arch, guiding high-speed airflow around the rear of the car, reducing the drag co-efficient to just 0.22.

Vauxhall calls the strategy underpinning Flextreme GT/E, ‘e-mobility unlimited’, which will effectively adapt the highly efficient E-REV drive system to vehicles across all market segments. In other words, the Flextreme GT/E concept shows that size really doesn’t matter when it comes to driving a car with zero C02 emissions.

Sleek and aerodynamic, the Flextreme GT/E achieves a projected drag co-efficient of just 0.22, allowing it to reach an estimated top speed of 125mph-plus while conserving energy and extending the driving range. Stand-out visual features include a low, wide stance, wing-shaped lights front and rear, a distinctive nose and grille, ‘floating’ C-pillars and muscular, sculptured bodywork.

Exterior design

The clean frontal styling features a low bonnet line and an extended nose section, which is clasped by wing-shaped, signature LED headlamps, which are in turn carved into the front wings and across the bonnet line. The new trapezoidal grille is slim but bold, with the prominent wing-shaped chrome bar carrying a large Vauxhall emblem, which doubles as a socket for charging the Flextreme GT/E’s battery pack.

The upper section of the grille is used to admit cooling air, the lower portion being covered by a translucent panel. The absence of additional air intakes allows a low frontal area for aerodynamic efficiency and also enables the Flextreme GT/E to meet future pedestrian protection requirements.

The sculpted bonnet, with a Vauxhall-signature central crease line, features narrow longitudinal vents on either side to draw air out of the engine compartment. The muscular wings and wheel-arches sweep back into the side-body.

In profile, the Flextreme GT/E is distinguished by innovative, stubbed C-pillars. This floating design allows the glasshouse to be extended rearwards under the arching roofline, emphasising the flowing lines of the side-body. Vauxhall’s signature blade motif is reinterpreted in a swooping swage line from the base of the C-pillar into the lower front wing.

Access to the cabin is enhanced by the adoption of rear-hinged rear doors, an evolution of the FlexDoors concept from the new generation Meriva. To preserve the clean exterior looks, all door handles are replaced by light sensors. These trigger the doors to open when covered by the driver’s or passenger’s hand. To reduce air turbulence, exterior front door mirrors are also absent, replaced by small camera pods in the base of the A-pillars.

At the rear, a strong shoulder line embraces sculpted wheel-arches that further emphasise the Flextreme GT/E’s wide, ground-hugging stance. The coupé look is completed by a steeply raked tailgate, carrying wing-shaped LED light units which echo the form of the front headlamps. And taking a leaf from the Insignia Sports Tourer’s book, the tailgate has a wraparound design for improved boot access, enhanced by a convex deep glass screen to improve airflow.

The transparency of the fixed glass panel in the centre of the roof is adaptive, allowing sunlight to warm the interior in the cold of winter, but darkening for coolness in summer. A duct at the rear edge of the roof is for additional cooling of the battery and electronic components.

Managing airflow and saving weight

Integral to the Flextreme GT/E’s dramatic looks is the efficiency of the design execution. The small frontal area, low roof height (1308 mm) and a flat, enclosed underbody all enable the car to cleave the air with a minimum of disturbance. A series of measures optimise airflow management.

The 21-inch alloy wheels are relatively narrow, to reduce wind resistance, and are fitted with 195/45, low rolling resistance tyres. Clear, flush-mounted trim inserts also minimise air turbulence.

The small front intake improves airflow around the nose of the car and the underbody sweeps up, venturi-like, at the rear to further reduce drag. The Flextreme GT/E also explores the potential for active shape shifting.

At speeds above 30mph, a vertical panel extends along the body from the air extraction slot behind each rear wheel-arch. These 350 mm-long side spoilers guide high-speed airflow around the rear corners of the car, further reducing the amount of turbulence.

Mass reduction measures for the body include the use of lightweight, carbon composite outer panels, polycarbonate window glazing and aluminum alloy structural components. Compared with conventional materials, these offer a 40 per cent weight saving which further contributes to reduced energy consumption and an increased driving range.

Powertrain

The Flextreme GT/E concept also includes the groundbreaking E-REV drive system, already developed for the Vauxhall Ampera. Despite its greater size and a maximum speed of more than 125mph, the Flextreme GT/E is estimated to offer performance similar to that of the Ampera: a battery-powered driving range of up to 40 miles – with zero CO2 tailpipe emissions – and a total range of over 300 miles. Average fuel consumption is estimated at 175mpg, with CO2 emissions of less than 40g/km.

Unlike a traditional hybrid vehicle, the wheels of the Flextreme GT/E are powered at all times by electricity. For typical journeys up to 40 miles, energy is supplied by a T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack located under the floor and rear seat.

The Flextreme GT/E eliminates any possibility of range anxiety through fear of being stranded without power. The small petrol engine/generator is seamlessly engaged to provide electricity whenever the battery’s supply becomes depleted. In this mode, the driving range is extended to more than 300 miles, until the plug-in battery pack can be recharged or the car is refueled.

The motor in the electric drive unit delivers a substantial 370Nm of instant torque, giving lively performance and projected zero to 62mph acceleration in less than nine seconds.

The Flextreme GT/E concept is a logical next step towards Vauxhall’s emerging strategy for the electrification of the car, which will in time include products using battery, extended-range, hybrid and fuel cell technologies.

13 Comments

Thumbs up. I don't understand the approach to aerodynamics but hey, it;s a giant step in the right direction. I would seriously look at buying this, especially it the engine was turbo diesel.

foghorn
22nd February, 2010 @ 05:19 am PST

Foghorn: I bet you would seriously think again about buying it when you found out the price! Let's face it, this baby ain't gonna be cheap!

What intrigues me about hybrid vehicles, is their ability to get high mpg by using a small petrol engine to run a generator, to charge a battery, to drive electric motors, to turn the wheels. This chain must have energy losses. If you think about it, surely it would be more energy efficient to just use a small engine to drive the wheels? Can anyone tell me if my thinking is wrong?

windykites1
22nd February, 2010 @ 06:04 am PST

a good brushless motor should be in the 80 to 90% range for efficiency, some even topping 90%. A combustion engine is in the 20% to 30% range,..however, under acceleration , the combustion engine can drop into the low single digits. The majority of the energy you use is going from zero to 40 and the electric power system is far more efficient there. Yes, you're generating far less energy to "put in the tank" (batteries) with the small combustion engine,.. but instead averaging 5 to 10% efficient use of it (averaging acceleration and cruising), you're up in the 80 to 90 range in efficiency. Say you have a gallon of gas and the combustion engine extracts 30% of the energy and stores it in a battery, then you use that energy in an 80 to 90 percent efficient manner,.. you end up using 24% to 28% of the energy out of the gallon of gas. if you were using the combustion engine alone, then you're going to use something at least twice as large, so for the sake of easy math say 2 gallons of gas. With the horrible efficiencies of the combustion engine You'll probably end up averaging at best 15% efficiency,.. so to do the same work as the electric with double the fuel. yes, there are losses as you mention, but the greater average efficiency of the electric system simply makes better use of the energy. if you were to add in regenerative braking, using the kinetic energy of your motion as supplemental energy to charge batteries, you skew the argument even further

Facebook User
22nd February, 2010 @ 06:57 am PST

windykites1, the power train in this thing is electrical wiring. That's a much more efficent transmission of power than a mechanical train of any kind that I know about.

John Weiss
22nd February, 2010 @ 10:58 am PST

windykites1: The clue is in the 370Nm of torque. That is impossible to deliver using a small combustion engine of ANY description. Remember that the fuel consumption is a 'combined' (plug-in electric range extender) fuel consumption average. Electric motors are much more efficient than internal combustion engines at turning the 'potential' energy (from a battery) into the real energy needed to drive the wheels. I sometimes wonder (haven't attempted the maths) that using a small generator at home (running off petrol or diesel) to charge batteries for a car like this is still a better use of the fuel than using an internal combustion engine in the car.

Pete E
22nd February, 2010 @ 11:39 am PST

Just think what kind of mileage this car could get with normal sized wheels and tires. 24" wheels puts alot of rubber out there at the edge of the rim. Physics and all that.

I don't need any swoopy bodywork. Give me a normal body/chassis already on the market like a Saturn/Opel Astra and put this drivetrain in it. Ought to be MUCH cheaper b/c the driveline is not in a unique to the GM lineup vehicle!!!

That savings can translate into alot of gas or electricity!

Why does GM need all the Star Trek/Star Wars styling to sell a plug-in hybrid???

JoeAverage
22nd February, 2010 @ 04:16 pm PST

looks like Vauxhall have come up with a serious challenge to all the doubters out there,so many of them think a vehicle has to have 4 wheels, seat 7, be of a certain configuration, be as things used to be

robinyatesuk2003
22nd February, 2010 @ 06:03 pm PST

Will it be drivable in snowy conditions? If not then I wouldn't be able to use it 9 months out of the year.

hydra
23rd February, 2010 @ 01:02 pm PST

Actually its pretty efficient because they make the engine run at its optimum rpm and torque all the time, this makes it basically more efficient overall.

Chris7527
23rd February, 2010 @ 01:08 pm PST

electric motors are way more efficient, it's just the battery technology w're still waiting for. makes me wonder why we can't put electric cars on the public production line right now since an electric care with drive by wire technology is cheaper than a car with mechanical linkages.

It'd be good if we could build recharge stations like we build petrol stations today where you drive into the station and you have a group of electrical recharge "pumps" where you "refill" your batteries like you do your petrol tank. this would also have your typical garage with shop attached.

Facebook User
23rd February, 2010 @ 10:03 pm PST

Thanks to everyone who replied to my comments. I live and learn.

I remember reading an article in Popular Mechanics in the mid 1950s where someone suggested using a small petrol motor to generate electricity, to drive electric motors. The efficiency was improved by running the petrol engine at a constant speed. This may be the answer, as you get more mpg by driving at a constant speed. Electricity is more flexible in its application and not affected by fuel inefficiency. Another advantage of using electric motors is that a gear box is not needed.

Pete E, have you heard of a Combined Power & Heat unit for home use? A deisel motor runs a generator, and the engine waste heat is used to supply hot water. As it is possible to run on waste cooking oil, this looks like FREE energy!

windykites1
24th February, 2010 @ 06:05 am PST

Very good explanation @Facebook User

Unfortunately, as to @hydra's statement, if this car does indeed use lithium batteries, the efficiency of the battery energy storage drops exponentially as the temperature drops. At temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, Lithium batteries start to become useless.

For an experiment, try using your digital camera when you're out skiing one day. You'll be lucky to get 10 pictures out of a fully charged battery at temps below freezing.

Ed

Ed
24th February, 2010 @ 01:33 pm PST

A fine combination of low aero drag and optimization of current technology. The engine would generate heat to warm the batteries and the passengers. A ceramic turbine would be more efficent yet bu would cost more. The 175 mpg figure does not include the speed. A current 125cc cruiser style motorcycle is listed at 95 mpg hiway.

Grant-53
27th February, 2010 @ 01:48 pm PST
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