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GM Unveils Opel Flextreme: Plug-in Diesel Hybrid Variant of E-Flex

Opelflex
The Opel Flextreme.

GM has unveiled the third variant of its E-Flex electric vehicle architecture in Frankfurt. (Earlier post.) The Opel Flextreme is a plug-in diesel series hybrid that offers up to 55 km (34 miles) of all-electric range. A 1.3-liter turbodiesel powers an onboard generator to replenish the 16 kWh li-ion battery pack and extend the vehicle’s driving range to a total of 715 km (444 miles).

Based on the current European test procedure ECE R101 for range extender vehicles, GM expects the Flextreme to emit less than 40 g CO2/km in combustion mode.

Flex2
X-ray view of the Flextreme powertrain. Click to enlarge.

The electric traction system delivers 120 kW maximum electrical and mechanical power, with continuous mechanical power of 40 kW. The four-cylinder 1.3-liter CDTI engine produces 53 kW peak power output. The car accelerates from 0-100km/h in around 9.5 seconds and has a top speed of around 160 km/h (99 mph).

High-speed piezo sensors integrated in the glow plugs measure the pressure in the cylinder, so the injections can be matched to the actual combustion in real time. The 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine is the second unit from GM to feature this system, after the 2.9-liter V6 engine displayed at the Geneva Motor Show. (Earlier post.)

The lithium-ion (nanophosphate) battery pack has peak power of 136 kW and voltage of 320 to 350V. The Flextreme can be charged in around three hours via a standard 220 V electrical socket.

Opel packaged two Segway electric personal transporters packaged below the cargo floor of the Flextreme. The Segways can be used in areas that cars cannot enter, thereby adding an extra mobility option. The electric two-wheelers provide up to 38 km (23 miles) of range.

General Motors introduced two other E-Flex variants earlier this year:

  • At the Detroit Motor Show in January 2007, the Chevrolet Volt debuted with a 1.0-liter three-cylinder turbo gasoline engine designed to operate on gasoline or E85, a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. (Earlier post.)

  • At the Shanghai Motor Show in April 2007, GM presented the Chevrolet Volt with enhanced hydrogen fuel cell propulsion. With four kilograms of hydrogen on board,the fuel-cell powered Volt has a range of up to 480 kilometers. (Earlier post.)

Comments

mds

Neil,
I had the same reaction. 10 years warranty is extreme right now for guarantee, except for Altairnano. Bureaucratic attempt to torpedo by requiring too much? Gee, what is past history of CARB? Somebody on Altairnano board? No matter. Technology is here and will continue to gain ground.

jack

Your reference to 19th century is just a distraction.

To remind you, you were the one who breached that notion:
"Build PHEVs and EVs for the future not more efficient ICEs for the past."

If it's a distraction, you're the distractor. Let's keep that straight.

I'm talking about future trends, not past. There are quite a few pre-sales for the Tesla Roadster, but this is just one start. Look at price/performance compared to EV1 only 10 or 15 years ago. Consider that most of battery tech I listed above has not come to the market yet.

All of which is speculative until it gets used in the real world. Take a look at HEVs, for example. Produced by major auto producers, starting 10 years ago. In most of the developed world, fuel prices have been quite high, even when oil went for $10/bbl. Most people would consider the growth in sales of HEVs to be remarkable, yet what degree of market share do they have in terms of global sales? 1%? Less?

Compare that to EVs which, realistically, aren't really for sale and usable at this point (though this will change soon). Add to that the price premium for such vehicles is extreme compared to an HEV premium. Run that through and then it becomes fairly clear that even under optimistic projecting, BEVs and PHEVs are going to have a long road ahead. Meanwhile, all sorts of things can change which would influence that trajectory -- some which we can anticipate or consider possible (like lower oil prices), some that we can't (like breakthrough technologies).

Wind, solar, wave, tidal, geothermal, and maybe nuclear are all dropping in price. For solar this will be a radical drop. Can't miss.

Of course it can miss. We've seen inflation, not deflation, with PV prices the past two years because of high demand and raw material scarcity. Regulatory roadblocks have put some stall to wind in the US, and the other three renewables really aren't anywhere near primetime, either in capability or cost. Nuclear prices aren't going down. Plus with solar, most of the cost improvement curve has been traveled already. Non-subsidy PV systems (panels only) for average US conditions are maybe 12 cents per kWh at this point. Double the efficiency of the average panel to 25% at constant cost, and now that goes to maybe 8 or 9 cents (because of financing costs). It'll be a long time, if ever, before it reaches utility-grade cost levels of hydro and coal, which can be from 2-3 cents per kWh. That's not a strike against solar, but I would never bet on residential electricity prices to actually start dropping to any substantial degree, and I expect the exact opposite for quite some time because of the high reliance on natural gas in this country for peak and/or distributed power.

My view is near term economics for PHEVs are just about here.

Not even close. Optimistic payback periods are still in the 300-400K mile range.

mark

man, you guys are lame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
when it's ready it will happen.

jack

man, you guys are lame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!when it's ready it will happen.

On a site devoted to covering a great deal of research in progress. Irony delights.

LatteLiberal

Sad that we live in a day and age where cowardice would lead us to "alternatives" rather than proven oil energy sources that our forefathers would have gladly fought a bunch of islamics to get.

Domenick

It's sad that we live in a day where some would rather murder hundreds of thousands of humans and pollute our environment rather than take some initiative and create a better world.
Also, it's too bad "LatteLiberal" is too big a coward to use his actual name on his comment.

Rob Weir

Just in case anyone else is still looking for the figures on g CO2 per km...

Total Range (715 km) less given Electric Range (55 km) makes 660 diesel based km from a tank of 26 Litre.

epa gives 10186 g CO2 per US Gallon
given 3.7854 Litres/US gallon :-

After battery discharge

grams CO2 per km is :-
10186 (g/gallon) * 6.8685 (gallonspertank) / 660 (km) = 106 g/km CO2
(equivalent to 4l/100km)

Link to Tank size:
http://www.netherlandscorporatenews.com/archive/en/2007/09/10/l009.htm

Link to epa on CO2 gramms per US gallon:
http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/420f05001.htm#calculating

This topic has generated a lot of interest, but the 40g/km media-bite will lead to dissappointment.

IMO 40g/km is going to need a breakthrough/new direction in overall vehicle weight (such a fundamental topic) combined with everything else.

Thanks to Rafael - good contributions as ever !

michel

..almost 15 years ago:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-TLYJyc5qM

MH

Thanks Michel,
That's really ahead of it's time. The cheap oil during the 90's killed all those ideas.

mds

jack,

Sorry, busy with real work.

'Build PHEVs and EVs for the future, not more efficient ICEs for the past' was a reference to our recent past not the turn of the last century. You brought that up. This really a lame nit-pick issue to me.

Yes, I'm speculating on the future of PHEVs and EVs, where you are being very conservative. You will believe it is happening after it is obvious to anyone. HEVs and EVs have not been adopted by the third world because of cost as you say, but this is changing. China and India are adopting electric transportation in the form of electric bikes and scooters. Both are starting to produce small EVs (NEVs). As production of new battery technology begins to hit the market and the cost advantage improves, this will accelerate.
Look at the Prius for example. I purchased mine at the end of 2005. It did not make economic sense at that time and still does not. The third generation Prius due at the beginning of 2009 is likely to change this. Toyota will reduce the cost and increase the mpg. Your gas savings will be for the marginal increase in price.
This will happen to PHEVs next. Large scale production of new technology batteries will reduce their price until it makes more economic sense to drive electric.
You're saying we're not there yet. I'm saying that's about to change. We're right on the cusp.
When you start to see a noticeable economic advantage we'll see geometric growth for 3rd world electric transportation, for better HEVs, and then for PHEVs. It will happen fast. No breakthroughs are required, just production scale up of existing technology. (Although batteries are likely to continue improving given the combination of anode/cathode chemistry work going on and the potential profits involved.)
There's a reason every car company out there is working on a PHEV design.

I'm not sure on nuclear, but wind will continue to grow and become more cost effective. It may not grow quite as fast.
"...the other three renewables really aren't anywhere near primetime, either in capability or cost"
You might say this about tidal, but you're way off on wave and geothermal. Wave power is more cost effective than wind in some areas and there are several very robust and mature designs. (West coast of USA is one of those areas.) Geothermal plants keep going in on a regular basis. Why is the Bank of Iceland (think that's the right name) putting $1 billion over 5 years into USA geothermal? Think those bankers want to lose money?

The only reason solar has been increasing in price is that demand has exceeded supply. The silicon shortage won't last. It's just produced from sand. 'You just have to build more production plants.' You can only purchase purified silicon at 2 or 3 times the 2004 production cost right now, if you have a long term contract with a supplier. (That's 100% to 200% profit for the supplier.) If you don't have a long term contract the price is higher. With these profit margins billions are being invested in new production capacity AND there are at least three new approaches of producing purified silicon at a lower cost. When supply catches up with demand, the cost will drop well below 2004 prices. Purified silicon will be cheaper than ever before.
The cost of silicon PV modules should be going up more, but a lot of silicon PV cell production is now being done using less raw silicon than ever before.
Combine lower raw silicon cost with less needed for PV cell production and prices are going to drop.

"Plus with solar, most of the cost improvement curve has been traveled already."
To steal your phrase: Not even close. All three forms of solar: CST, CPV, and PV can be produced and installed profitably at prices below peak power rates. All three are still dropping in price. They are dropping much faster than a thirty year price curve would lead you to believe. You can't see this right now because demand is too high.

In the near term you are probably right, electricity prices will go up. This is just because scaling up to the required level of production takes time. ...BUT there are several viable technologies ready now, there is a lot of exploitable power out there, production will catch-up with demand eventually, and the finally price will come down ..below what it is now.

Admittedly, I'm a "techno-optimist". I think you're way more cautious. You are well argued. It's nice to debate this with you. Take the last word dude.


Steve

Believe we need to accept that no one individual source of energy will solve all issues for all places. I live where hydro-electric still is the primary source of electricity (and the largest producer of bio-diesel in the US is located), so a PHEV-diesel option has prime. Others may better require ethonol or other solutions. Others live where solar is an avialable resource. Certainly Nuclear is another source.

Figuring out a workable platform for a PHEV with interchangeable alternative sources (for the "generator") seems where the succesful companies will be able to build a car type to solve most people's needs. Similarly are the battery choices as indicated by others. Where most don't talk about the benefit of a PHEV over today's gasoline engine is the maintenance costs (absent batteries) which are virtually non-existent for the electric vehicles.

I'm glad to see so many EV upstart companies as I'm too much of a synic when it comes to our friends in the White House and our friends running the oil companies having far too much control over what the GMs, Fords(Volvo), etc. of the world do. I certainly don't believe they are simply providing us "smoke and mirrors" at the car shows in hopes we may stay a tad longer and fall in love with the present Impala they have to offer us...

In the meantime, I read about Peugeot's vehicle for 2010, the Mistubishi iMiEV and others and believe we ought not be caring so much about form, but rather function. No vehicle will be perfect for all, more solutions require sacrafices (including ugly solar panels on our roofs to charge our PHEVs) and we can learn to live with things in a better way, but just different.

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