One vehicle which got some press recently at the Frankfurt Motor Show is a new concept from Opel, which is a German subsidiary of General Motors. It is a range-extended electric vehicle, much like the Chevy Volt, but instead of making use of a gas generator to provide additional power to the electric propulsion, it is fueled instead via natural gas.
Opel, which distributes the European version of the Volt known as the Ampera, said the Monza Concept is based upon a modular design offering a high degree of flexibility for selecting a propulsion system. These choices include a variety of sustainable powertrains, and for the purposes of the Frankfurt show,
engineers conceived an electric drive with a CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) range extender – a further development of the Ampera’s pioneering technology. The new-generation three-cylinder 1.0 SIDI turbo – which also makes its premiere at the IAA – takes over the task as range extender. But it does so with natural gas instead of gasoline, further improving the car’s CO2 footprint.
While we will leave the debate of how much more sustainable natural gas is versus gasoline for another time, it is novel to note that the Monza Concept, regardless of what more environmentally friendly option is under the hood, is years ahead of theoriginal Monza in green versus not green thinking. It originally debuted in 1977 as “a large coupé with a silky smooth-running six-cylinder engine,” and was in production until 1986, which is long before there was much thinking about how to make drivetrains more eco-focused.
What you have now, besides the greener propulsion, is a vehicle described as “the role-model for the next generation of Opel cars.” It has a lot of innovation designed into it, as is typical with most concepts. It does still pay homage a bit to its namesake though, sporting a “beautifully shaped hood with the distinctive center fold [that] continues the tradition of the Monza front with the typical Opel crease. The large boomerang shaped air intakes in front of the wheel arches complement the elegant chrome bar that proudly holds the brand logo.”
In terms of interior technologies, this design study sports LED projection technology to convey driver related information. This data appears on a “wide, sculpted dashboard that sweeps from door to door, and is used as a single projection surface.” It reflects, according to Opel, “all important functions from precise vehicle and driver information to internet and communication options as well as decorative elements. Both the area displaying information and the background can be individually configured, and operation is via voice control and steering wheel controls.”
One other interesting item of note from the technological perspective is a preview of systems which are “prerequisites for future autonomous driving.” Opel engineers are studying what’s being showcased in the Monza Concept so that “by comprehensively connecting road users, intercommunication can be enhanced, as can safety, because dangerous traffic situations are registered earlier and more accurately than before.”