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First Look: Opel’s 2-Seat Battery Car

Targeting "green" teens.

by on Sep.08, 2011

Is Opel thinking about building this battery-powered 2-seater? It says it just might.

Opel aims to appeal to a new generation of eco-friendly buyers with the radical 2-seat battery car it plans to introduce at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week.

With a body looking something like an enclosed motorcycle – albeit with four wheels – the maker suggests the unusual concept has “production potential” and would “create a new class of lightweight, zero-emissions electric vehicles in the UK and Europe.”

Who might be interested?  An Opel release suggests it would target “younger drivers and those on a very tight budget.”

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Opel isn’t offering up many details yet – not even the name of the new show car – but it suggests it is “inspired” by the new Opel Ampera plug-in electric vehicle which recently debuted in Europe.  The sister to America’s Chevrolet Volt just garnered honors as the car of the year choice of influential British magazine What Car.


Volkswagen Nils Concept One of Many Odd Microcars Coming to Frankfurt.

Going solo.

by on Sep.08, 2011

VW is betting commuters wouldn't mind going solo as it reveals the Nils one-seater.

How small is too small? That seems to be one of the challenges that automakers are taking on as they prepare to roll out a flood of microcars during the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.

There are four-seaters not much bigger than the Smart fourtwo, two-seat concepts that turn to tandem seating to deliver an even smaller profile, and for those that are happy going solo, Volkswagen will officially unveil the pod-like Nils.

The VW Nils concept is about 20 inches shorter than the Up!, the new microcar that the German maker will soon put into production, the smallest offering in its line-up.  The face of the new show car is designed to be easily recognized as a Volkswagen but it features some interesting new touches, including the gullwing doors and the black surround that integrate front and rear bumpers.

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It’s not the first time we’ve seen an automaker propose what might be called the ultimate in truly personal transportation.  Over the years, Toyota has come up with some truly quirky one-seat designs at the Tokyo Motor Show – an event famous for its strange machinations.  The most recent from the Japanese maker seemed to take inspiration from the ubiquitous Japanese vending machines, dispensing its occupant almost like a package of gum.

By that measure, the VW Nils is almost conventional in design, though that word will not likely be thrown around much at the Frankfurt debut.


First Look: Audi A2 Concept

A good thing in a small package.

by on Sep.06, 2011

Audi's A2 Concept is one of a variety of production and prototype vehicles the maker will show in Frankfurt next week.

American motorists are used to equating price with pounds and inches.  The bigger and heavier the car the more it costs.  But Europeans have come to recognize that good things often come in small packages.  And with fuel prices surging to nearly $10 a gallon in some Continental markets there’s growing demand for small luxury cars like the Audi A2.

Measuring just over 12 feet, bumper-to-bumper, the German maker describes the four-seat A2 Concept debuting at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week as a “premium-class space concept.”  It’ll be a trick to pull that off considering the comparably-sized Mini Cooper fits four but just barely, despite its own innovative interior layout.

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The Audi A2 Concept is just one of an assortment of new products and prototypes the maker plans to unveil at the biennial Frankfurt show.  It’s also got new performance versions of its main line-up, with the S6, S7 and S8 models set for introduction.  But clearly, Audi’s emphasis is on downsizing.  One of its most unusual show cars in years is the tandem two-seater, the Audi Urban Concept.

The A2 is a bit more practical and more likely to show up in the Audi line-up.


Audi Offers Closer Look at Urban Concept

1+1-seater will be shown in coupe and roadster trim.

by on Aug.30, 2011

Two takes on the Audi Urban Concept theme: a roadster and a coupe.

Audi is offering up a closer look at the battery-powered Urban Concept vehicle it will formally reveal at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show – or, more precisely, the two Audi Urban Concepts it will plug in at next month’s automotive extravaganza.

The maker, it turns, out, has two versions of the unusual 1+1-seater design to reveal: a coupe and a roadster, both sharing the same e-tron battery drivetrain.

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The hotrod design, with its 21-inch outrigger wheels, is designed to give a sporty appearance to what is functionally an around-town commuter car.  The latest version of the e-tron drivetrain uses two electric motors drawing power from a lithium-ion battery pack.

But the styling is what is likely to draw crowds to the Audi stand.


First Look: Audi Urban Concept

Electric drive and 1+1 seating.

by on Aug.10, 2011

Audi's ultra-light Urban Concept will premier at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Taking its etron concept in a new direction, Audi will unveil the new Urban Concept battery car at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.  The latest in a series of innovative offerings designed to test the limits of high-mileage design, perhaps the most distinctive feature of the carbon fiber prototype is its use of a 1+1 seating arrangement.

Designed for congested urban roads, Audi says the Urban Concept “combines elements of a racing car, a fun car and an urban car into one radical new concept.”

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The prototype is assembled out of ultra-light carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, or CFRP, panels; light and strong, many experts believe the material will eventually replace steel if the industry can only figure out how to mass produce it and drive down costs.

The design utilizes offset seating with access through an aircraft-like sliding canopy and tailgate.