Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, but they’re not exactly new. Far from it actually as they’ve been around for over a century and a number of companies have experimented with them over the years.
Opel was no exception and they used the Frankfurt Motor Show to highlight both the past and future of electric vehicles. While the Corsa-e is the future, the company also showcased the 1971 Elektro GT.
As the story goes, Georg Von Opel – a grandson of the company’s founder – was convinced that electric vehicles were the future. However, they weren’t popular in the 1970’s so he decided to showcase their potential by conducting a record attempt at the Hockenheimring in 1971.
In order to prove electric vehicles could be competitive with their conventionally-powered counterparts, he created an EV-based on the Opel GT. It featured a host of modifications including a more aerodynamic exterior that had a streamlined front fascia and partially covered wheels.
Of course, the biggest change was to the powertrain as the four-cylinder petrol engine was replaced by two massive electric motors from Bosch. Each produced 118 hp (88 kW / 120 PS) and this setup enabled the car to accelerate from 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in six seconds. That’s pretty impressive even by today’s standards, but the car only had an “operating radius” of 27.3 miles (44 km). Given that, it’s not surprising the car didn’t achieve its goal of being able to travel 62 miles (100 km) on a single charge.
While the Elektro GT was limited by the technology of the day, modern electric vehicles don’t face the same problem as many can travel more than 200 miles (322 km) on a single charge.
Opel knows this and is preparing to launch an assortment of new EVs in the coming years. At the Frankfurt Motor Show, CEO Michael Lohscheller confirmed the company’s entire lineup will be electrified by 2024 and there are four new electric vehicles on the horizon. The Vivaro Electric will arrive in 2020 and be followed by electric versions of the Combo Life, Combo Cargo and Zafira Life in 2021.
If that wasn’t eco-friendly enough, Opel reconfirmed their commitment to fuel-cell vehicles. The company was coy on specifics, but confirmed the Zafira Life will become the “first model to feature the new generation of fuel cell powertrain.”