2007 Opel Flextreme Concept

Sam Smith
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The Opel Flextreme is GM's latest hybrid concept wunderkind, a pie-in-the-sky-looking show car that nevertheless boasts some very feasible, very real technology. Essentially, it's a plug-in, turbo-diesel hybrid that sports an exceptionally long electric-power-only range. If required, the Flextreme can travel up to 35 miles on electric power alone, or 440 miles when running in full-hybrid mode. When run in Europe's standardized fuel economy and emissions test cycle, the Flextreme is expected to produce less than 60 grams of carbon dioxide per mile.

A large lithium-ion battery lives under the Flextreme's hood; it powers an electric motor, and like the Chevy Volt concept from this year's Detroit show, it's the only form of propulsion connected to the wheels. (The 1.3-liter diesel exists solely as a means to produce electricity to charge the battery. As it always operates in its most effective rpm range and is heavily monitored by cylinder-pressure-based closed-loop emission controls, it also produces remarkably low emissions.)

The Flextreme requires a standard European 220-volt electrical outlet to recharge its battery; a complete charge takes approximately three hours. Like the Volt, the Flextreme is claimed to be a targeted production technology and not just traditional "ain't-gonna-happen" show-car technology. As an added bonus, two Segway electric personal transporters live under the floor (the standalone, rechargeable transporters have been modified to fold into a very compact space) and are recharged by means of twin hidden sockets.

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