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Opel Monza Concept at Frankfurt features CNG extended range electric vehicle powertrain with new 1.0L 3-cylinder engine

Monza Concept. Click to enlarge.

Opel intends that its Monza Concept (earlier post), unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, serve as a role-model for next-generation Opel cars, with particular emphasis on design, maximum connectivity, and optimum efficiency, including advanced powertrain flexibility.

The Monza Concept is based on a modular design to allow highest-possible flexibility when selecting a propulsion system. A variety of sustainable powertrains based on increasing electrification of the automobile are conceivable, Opel noted. For the Monza Concept displayed at the Frankfurt show, engineers conceived an electric drive with a CNG (compressed natural gas) range extender—a further development of the Ampera’s technology.

The new-generation three-cylinder 1.0 SIDI turbo—which also makes its premiere at the IAA (earlier post)—takes over the task as range extender, but with natural gas as the fuel instead of gasoline, thereby further improving the car’s CO2 footprint.

The Monza Concept represents the Opel car of tomorrow. On one hand, it embodies everything that already characterizes Opel—German precision combined with innovative technologies wrapped in captivating design. In addition, it addresses the themes that will be the development-focus of the next generation of Opel cars: maximum connectivity and optimum efficiency.

Connectivity is demonstrated by a trailblazing LED projection technology for instrument and infotainment displays. Efficiency comes in many ways, with lightweight design, optimal use of interior space, and advanced powertrain technology. The Monza Concept is based on increasing electrification of the automobile in everyday driving, from range-extender to fuel cell. And as far as styling is concerned, we are expressing pure efficiency in a new, lean and athletic interpretation of our typical sculptural shapes. The Opel Monza Concept is nothing less than our vision of the automotive future.

—Opel CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann

HMI and connectivity. The Monza Concept does away with conventional individual, separate monitors that display different information; instead, a wide, sculpted dashboard sweeps from door to door is used as a single projection surface.

Information and decorative elements are displayed on the surface, which the driver can customize according to his or her needs, taste or mood. A total of 18 LED projectors create a continuous, adaptable multi-functional display. This is a world premiere of this technology in an automobile.


The Opel Monza uses a user-customizable LED projection system for instrument and infotainment displays across the dashboard, doing away with discrete monitors. Click to enlarge.

Both the area displaying information and the background can be individually configured, and operation is via voice control and steering wheel controls.

Opel engineers focused on the best and most personal way to make relevant data available to the driver. The approach was “simplifying the multitude” and so details on the car, the navigation and the smartphone settings and connection only appear when necessary or desired. Drivers can use a wide range of information without being overwhelmed by text or images. This also makes the Monza Concept a model of future HMI (Human-Machine-Interface) systems.

With three worlds of connectivity—called ME, US and ALL—drivers can focus solely on their driving experience, get in touch with friends and family or connect to the whole internet community.

With ME, the infotainment system virtually disconnects the drivers’ smartphone and prioritizes the information relevant for the driving experience. US enables the passengers of the Monza Concept to connect with a group of selected people such as friends and family members: these can log-in to the car’s infotainment system with their own communication device and exchange information, music and images, chat and make appointments, etc. ALL goes beyond US. It allows the driver and virtually the whole outside world to connect. Drivers can for example spontaneously share their planned route online over a tablet or smartphone so that people can catch a ride with them along the way.

The Monza Concept also previews advancements in “Car-to-Car” and “Car-to-X” systems—prerequisites for future autonomous driving.



Another sporty car with a tiny 3-cylinder engine.

Account Deleted

This is the next generation Opel Ampera/Chevy Volt engine.


One more step towards more efficient much small ICE for PHEVs.
In the not too distant future, improved lightweight compact 660 cc ICE will do the job together with improved batteries and energy recovery system.


Yeah, that sounds plausible. The current Ampera/Volt engine is far too big and bulky for the power it produces. In addition it also makes the Prius engine look like a big dinosaur (though efficient…). It will be interesting to see more data on this concept car.

The current Ampera/Volt engine is far too big and bulky for the power it produces.

As I wrote at the time, GM didn't even bother to put in an Atkinson-cycle cam.  It was a minimum-effort program.


Bah, GCC's comment links don't work past the first page.  Try this link.


With an Atkinson-cycle cam (and no turbocharging) it would have to be even bigger and bulkier.

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The 2007 Chevy Volt Concept had a 1 liter turbocharged motor. Then GM went into bankruptcy in 2009 before the Chevy Volt was introduced, so the 2010 Chevy Volt received the 1.4 liter which was available at the time. Later Ford would introduce it's 1 liter turbo Ecoboost which became very successful. The new GM engine is similar except it has 115 hp and an aluminum block. An Atkinson or Miller cycle could be added and would increase efficiency. Of course, the Chevy Volt engine is only there if you need the extra range, which as most owners claim is rarely used.


So, the Volt engine was a last minute compromise... Miller system is a good concept to retain decent power density when Atkinson cycle is used. However, with currently available turbocharging, they could not achieve as much as 115 hp with Miller system, so it would have to be a compromise between power density and how much “Atkinson effect” they want. For sure, it would be more efficient than the engine they use now.


The 38 kW/liter output of the Volt's 1.4 liter is not incompatible with Atkinson-cycle operation.  Toyota is getting 73 kW out of the 1.8 liter Prius engine, a bit better than 50 kW/liter.  GM was just not putting any effort into it.


Generally speaking, if you use 20% "Atkinson-effect" on a particular engine, it will lose ~20% in power density. In addition, 73 kW from a 1.8-liter engine is nothing to get excited about. Of course the power density of the 1.4-liter GM engine would be reduced with an Atkinson cam.


My math error; the Prius engine is getting slightly more than 40 kW/liter.

40 kW/liter from 1.4 liters would be 56 kW, more than the 53 kW in the Volt.  GM could have used an Atkinson cam and still maintained the same rated power; it is obvious that it was feasible, but someone simply chose not to.  And that's why the Volt's fuel-burning economy rating of 35 MPG is so poor.


The Toyota Prius engine is not available in a “conventional” version without Atkinson cycle, so we have nothing to compare directly to. However, we have a recent very good example on this site. Peugeot 208 is equipped with a 3-cylinder 1.0-liter VTi at 68 hp. When they modified it to Atkinson cycle (I prefer not to use the denotation Miller cycle, which is incorrect in this case), they had to increase the engine size to 1.2-liter to maintain 68 hp. Peugeot could easily have achieved 68 hp with the 1.0-liter version if they had used Miller cycle which, per definition, utilize some kind of supercharging, e.g. turbocharging. A few horses more would for sure be possible but not as much as 115 hp. For that, we need better turbocharging.

So, now I just have to wait for EP to state something completely opposite, which he always does when I post something on this site. However, I will shortly go on a business trip and I will not have time, nor bother about to post any more comments on this topic.

they had to increase the engine size to 1.2-liter to maintain 68 hp.

68 hp is roughly 51 kW, for about 42 kW/liter.  It looks like Peugot and Toyota both know something GM didn't.

now I just have to wait for EP to state something completely opposite

Why?  Your numbers keep demonstrating my point, which is that GM should have been able to get 53 kW out of 1.4 liters even with an Atkinson cam.


You fail to recognize that Peugeot has proven my point!


So let me see if I have this straight:

  1. Toyota gets 73 kW out of 1.8 liters using the Atkinson cycle, or slightly over 40 kW/liter.
  2. Peugot gets 51 kW out of 1.2 liters using the Atkinson cycle, for about 42 kW/liter.
  3. From this, you are claiming that GM would need a BIGGER engine than the 1.4 liter Ecotec to get its rated 53 kW (38 kW/liter) in the Volt if they also used the Atkinson cycle.
That does not follow.

GM being too cheap to e.g. make a new cam and some slightly longer connecting rods makes far more sense.

Roger Pham

Good point, E-P.
The real issue behind this is that OEM's have little incentive to push for PHEV. The immediate profit margin is not necessarily higher than for conventional cars, yet, due to the greatly enhanced reliability of PHEV's and hence reduced service business later on, dealers may object to selling too many PHEV's, while being content with just a low-volume PHEV sales as green washing. The Chevy Volt is a case in point, that offers too large a battery pack that results in too high a cost and reduced passengger capacity, in order to guarantee minuscule sales. Saving on oil consumption is the last of GM's objectives. GM investors perhaps invested far more money in oil industries than in auto industry. It will take much higher oil prices before the consumers will demand higher volume of PHEV's and the OEM's will have to comply.

However, it remains encouraging to see more and more OEM's offering PHEV's, albeit for purposes other than aiming at high-volume production.
This Monza concept is a case in point. Opel's (GM) emphasis is more on Green Washing than on maximizing sale volume of future PHEV's. Thus, they'd rather compromise the sale potential of this NG-PHEV by using bulker and costlier CNG version instead of lower cost and more roomy gasoline version. Adding a battery pack already compromises a car's internal space and increases its weight, thereby reduce handling, while significantly increases the sale price. Adding furthermore a CNG system will add thousands more dollars and hundreds of pounds more to to an already space-compromise and expensive and heavy vehicle. The result will ensure that only a few PHEV's will leave the factory...great for bragging right but not for petroleum sparing effort, since too few can afford to buy a PHEV.

This has been a recurring theme for other PHEV offerings from Toyota, Honda, Ford, VW, BMW, and MB, most notably a $145,000-BMW PHEV with 1 liter engine. With high-strength steel and a 5-seat cabin and simplified power train, this PHEV can be made much more affordable...

Perhaps secret forces are keeping auto OEM's from making PHEV's price affordable with comparable internal space and weight to comparable ICEV's, hence highly appealing to the mass of people. In simple engineering principles, it is quite easy to do, as I've discussed this many times before...but it's frustrating that it ain't happenin...yet!

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The BMW i8 has a 1.5 liter 231 hp 3 cylinder engine (362 hp total), fiber composite/aluminum body, laser headlights and many other high tech gadgets. Of course, BMW does not compete on price.
The electrification of the auto is happening, however, slowly. The secret forces are reluctant auto execs that prefer selling half-ton pickups. Even visionary CEOs like Lutz, Ghosn, and Piech had a tough time selling their PHEV.
PHEV are proving that even the most challenging requirements can be met. Look at the Porsche 918 which just broke the lap time at the Nurburgring by 15 seconds, or the Audi diesel hybrid that has won LeMans multiple times, and the Tesla S proves that an electric can be the best auto period.
There is hope, too. Just read about the GE "water based" Redox Flow battery. They have revealed few details, though after reading research papers and patents, it appears that this is similar to the ACAL fuel cell, except with a regenerative direct organic hydrogen anode. The components have been investigated as far back as 2006 and the ACAL fuel cell just broke a 10,000 hr endurance record.
While this really is a fuel cell, technically it is a battery even Elon Musk would like. It can be recharged at home or filled up at a refueling station like gasoline.


...and electric can be the best auto period....

Yes, that will probably to be true by 2020 or so when new compact lower cost batteries are mass produced. Small long range EVs should then cost about $20K and mid-size about $30K (in 2013 $$).

Meanwhile, for people with access to home charging facilities, PHEVs with compact smaller (660 cc?) ICE genset and compact smaller battery pack will be a worthwhile compromise.

People without access to home charging facilities will have to use high quality HEVs like the Prius III or IV etc.

Roger Pham


An optimized, clean-sheet-design PHEV with a small 2-3-cylinder ICE of about 1 liter displacement, coupled with a small but high-power-and-energy-density battery pack will be much more advantageous than a pure BEV.

This is because a pure BEV will need fast-charging infrastructure to be built everywhere, yet is not often used, hence a very poor business model for this to takeoff. A PHEV takes advantage of existing fast energy fill-up at all existing gasoline stations, thus no new infrastructure investment.

Furthermore, for long trips through desolated areas, a PHEV can carry extra fuel in external tanks to cover distances as far as thousands of miles. A pure BEV will have problem with that.

A pure BEV will suffer from calendar life degradation of the battery pack before its cycle life can be used up. A PHEV can have a much smaller battery pack replaced several times during the life span of the car, thus is able to max out the battery's cycle life without significant calendar life degradation.

Existing engine and battery technology is sufficient to create a PHEV that is price competitive with existing ICEV as well as having comparable internal space and curb weight. The OEM's simply do not yet want to build such a PHEV!!!

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