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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

critta

"The Segways can be used in areas where cars cannot enter, thereby adding an extra mobility option"

Or you could walk, just as a novel mobility option.

jack

Or you could walk, just as a novel mobility option.

Good one.

Mark

I'm falling behind, I'm still waiting for a Wankel!!!

Ben

Biking is also good. But for those that live to far away from their point B of necessity why can't they drive a PHEV?

jack

Biking is also good. But for those that live to far away from their point B of necessity why can't they drive a PHEV?

The reference was to a Segway, Benji. Please don't speak if you're not paying attention.

AES

Beyond the whole miles/kWh issue, here's my two cents on this E-Flex variant:

The 136kW battery pack is equivalent to about 182 horsepower. I don't know if the motor will be designed to handle this, but the Volt's motor was about 160hp. So is the electrical system different at all in the Opel?
Regardless, the range, acceleration and top speed are all lower.

In my estimation, this is probably because the diesel engine is heavier, and the efficiency of diesel has been mitigated by advanced emission controls mandated by Euro 5. So fat lot of good the advanced diesel technology has done for the overall equation.

That plus the dead weight of those...f'in segways (barely contained wrath).

jack

That plus the dead weight of those...f'in segways (barely contained wrath).

Reminds me a bit of the "Swiss Army Knife" design philosophy of the Aztek.

Roger Pham

A very aesthetically pleasing design, much more so than the GM Volt. Congratulation, GM!

However, please take the following quote with "a grain of salt", (as Rafael has eloquently stated so).

Quote from the article: "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."

80g CO2 /km is pushing it, which is equivalent to >60 mpg. 40gm CO2/km (>120 mpg) is pure hype!

Neil

The only gCO2/km number that would have any meaning would be for the vehicle operating in HEV mode once the batter is run down. Prior to that CO2 and other pollutants strictly depend on the power source. If you're in France it would be almost zero CO2. (but you'd have to calculate the rads/km)

Hal

Or you could walk, just as a novel mobility option.

Of course you could walk, but with Segway, thank God, you don't have to.

AES

@ Neil:

"The only gCO2/km number that would have any meaning would be for the vehicle operating in HEV mode once the battery is run down."
And from the article:

"less than 40 g CO2/km in combustion mode."

Hence, combustion mode seems mean the same as HEV mode.

I don't know the details of the ECE R101 protocol (anyone have a link to it?), so for the moment I don't have any objections to Roger and Rafael's incredulity over 40gm/km. But I will agree with them and Neil that "miles per gallon" is starting to become a rather murky concept.

jack

Of course you could walk, but with Segway, thank God, you don't have to.

I know. And one day, thank God, computers will be so smart we won't have to bother using our own brains, either.

jack

But I will agree with them and Neil that "miles per gallon" is starting to become a rather murky concept.

That's why I prefer BTU per passenger-km as well as the best lifcycle emissions per unit of work (in this case, per passenger-km). Using metrics such as "mpg" to describe what's really going on with vehicles like PHEVs is only useful if your only concern is petroleum dependence -- and even then it's not that useful.

Rafael Seidl

@ AES -

I have no *proof* that either GM or Volvo are cooking the numbers, so I'm not making a hard accusation. I'm just warning people to double-check their respective claims.

You proposed one method, let me suggest another. I'll use the Volvo ReCharge as an example because I have its numbers in my head.

Fuel economy in NEDC once ICE is active: 2.8L/50km = 5.6L/100km
1L gasoline = ~8.75kWh
Tank-to-wheels efficiency estimate: ~0.24
kWh/100km at the tread: ~12

Now, when the vehicle is running on grid power alone, it will need to deliver the same kWh/100km at the tread. It'll just take them from a different source.

Battery-to-wheels efficiency: ~0.95*0.93*0.85 = 0.75
Battery capacity: 12kWh
Est. range on grid electricity:
100% delta SOC, damages battery: ~12*0.75/12 * 100 = ~75km
95% down to 30% SOC: ~50km

Note that I've adjusted the battery charge/discharge efficiency upward to 0.95 after our exchange yesterday. Even so, Volvo's claim of 100km in the NEDC on grid electricity alone appears to be rather optimistic. However, there's really no need for them to shoot for the moon: even the lower number of 50km (30mi) off grid electricity alone would be very useful for daily commuting.

Finally, consider this: maybe - just maybe - the EV1 program was cancelled precisely because someone figured out late in the game that the NiMH batteries used would not in fact last very long at all, given that the high range per charge event advertised to customers implied fairly aggressive deep cycling.

gr

GM is folding some of the Opel design work into their Saturn sport car line - SKY. This design looks like the greener extension of that. VOLT is scheduled for a 2010 introduction (road testing has begun) - I suspect this will be a year later to the sales floor. All in all another good move by the company we love to hate.

Ben

Wait, the GM actually closed down the EV1 because of engineering problems? But the conspiracy theories sound so good!

Craig Bartle

And remember, walking is for the unemployed.

Nick

Am I the only one who thinks that the PHEV concept makes for a kinda complicated, high initial cost, high maintenance cost vehicle? Wouldn't it make more sense to have a small BEV commuter vehicle and use a separate, high-mileage (say clean diesel micro-hybrid) vehicle for road trips? Here in the USA, families own multiple vehicles by default, almost. Why drag that genset around all the time? A BEV commuter could be much lighter and almost maintenance free.

jack

Am I the only one who thinks that the PHEV concept makes for a kinda complicated, high initial cost, high maintenance cost vehicle? Wouldn't it make more sense to have a small BEV commuter vehicle and use a separate, high-mileage (say clean diesel micro-hybrid) vehicle for road trips? Here in the USA, families own multiple vehicles by default, almost. Why drag that genset around all the time? A BEV commuter could be much lighter and almost maintenance free.

Careful, Nick -- don't start suggesting ideas which don't just involve building a better mousetrap. Next thing you know people might think of how to lure the mouse out of the house. Remember - one vehicle must deal with all potential situations, just like the Pontiac Aztek. ;)

swen

I wish they would forget about diesel & gasoline unless
it's biodiesel. I want us weaned from M.E. oil as soon
as possible. I prefer ethanol. After all, if it's a
plug-in, you don't have to worry as much about how much
less mpg you get per gallon. If you're a commuter, it's all electric. Most of my mileage is to work and back, a
total of 21m. I can spend a little extra for the long trips. We need to focus on setting up the infrastructure
for dispensing ethanol now.

Gerald Shields

I could care less. GM is grand at displaying a lot of "vapor cars". Either ship one or more of those vapor cars or pack it in. All of you should be ashamed of yourselves for gushing at this obvious visual snake oil that GM keeps selling. What good is innovation if it doesn't make the car lot?

Ben

Remember when GM came out with the "skateboard" car design concept.

AES

@ Raf-

My calculations were intended to show that the range provided by 50-70% DOD of these concept battery packs fits within reasonable efficiency ranges exemplified by other technologies that are reasonably well-documented. Thus, the misconception that was evident in the beginning should be cleared up:

"the portion driven on grid electricity may have been maximized for marketing purposes by starting with a fully charged battery and deep discharging it"

Thus implying that volt/flextreme systems require the full 16kWh to travel 40 miles - even with my cruder math that's 2.5 miles/kWh. Which is rather horrible, yet obviously not the case.

Adjusting your final data for the ReCharge with my simpler method yields:

70% DOD of 12kWh pack from 95% SOC is about 7.8kWh. The range achieved by this power, taking into Raf's calculations for transmission losses, is about 30 miles. So 30/7.8= ~3.84 miles per kWh. Still fairly reasonable compared to established real world data.

Even with that pessimistic efficiency as an assumption for all PHEV's, that would give a deep discharge range of 60 miles for the eflex. Which would be a bad idea obviously...

itsme

will the engine not run like a generator and so run at a very high efficiency?

i think we are more likely in the range of 4l/100km then around 5.5l/100km

clett

Remember the Daihatsu UFE-III concept, which looked a fair bit like the Flextreme, managed a cool 34 g/km CO2 (170 mpg US) in "combustion mode" only, and that was with a gasoline engine.

http://www.daihatsu.com/motorshow/tokyo05/ufe3/index.html

Perhaps they really do have a car capable of 40 g/km "in combustion mode"?

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