NEW_CAR_PREVIEW

Concept-Saturn Flextreme Preview

2/24/2012
Critical Knowledge:
  • Provides hint of Saturn future design

  • Extended-range electric concept vehicle

  • Sleek, sporty compact design

  • Collaborative design effort with GM's European Opel brand

  • Up to 34 miles of all-electric, emissions-free driving range

  • GM's E-Flex system

  • Cameras replace side-view mirrors

  • Butterfly-style rear tailgate FlexDoors

  • FlexLoad underfloor luggage compartment


Introduction
The Saturn electric-drive Flextreme concept, which debuted at the 2008 North American International Auto Show, is a collaborative effort between Saturn and GM's European Opel brand that showcases both brands' future design direction. The plug-in concept promises fewer trips to the gas station while producing fewer vehicle emissions and an electric-only driving range of 34 miles. The Saturn-Opel partnership has already resulted in several U.S. and European production models like the Saturn Aura, Sky, Vue and Astra, and the Opel GT, Antara and Astra. The Flextreme concept debuted first as an Opel at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show.

Design
With a focus on design-driven, innovative attributes, Saturn's Flextreme concept shows off a clean design and functional features.. Use of lightweight materials and aerodynamic details also help to enhance the electric-drive system fuel savings. The hood is very short, due to the windshield's bottom edge pulled far forward, and the cowl panel features an integrated power socket. Lightweight, polycarbonate transparent trim covering the front grille and rims improves aerodynamics, Saturn says. Light alloy wheels, which look just like conventional wheels, are specially designed to avoid air turbulence that saps energy, the automaker explains.

Lightweight polycarbonate material is also used to make all Flextreme's windows, including the windshield and a large part of the roof. The panoramic windshield, reinforced by a composite structure, stretches over most of the roof.

Two examples of functional innovations are the cameras that replace side-view mirrors, and butterfly-style rear tailgate doors-called FlexDoors-that individually swing open upward along the vehicle's central axis. The doors permit side access to the trunk when parked snug against a wall or close to another vehicle, or when there's a bicycle rack attached in back. Flextreme also features rear easy-entry, easy-exit doors. With the front doors open in the usual manner, the rear doors are rear-hinged. Because there's no center roof pillar, opening both doors on one side provides a large opening, especially handy for securing children and child seats.

Saturn also designed a practical stowage option in the FlexLoad underfloor luggage compartment that provides maximum flexibility. FlexLoad extends and retracts electronically, thus eliminating the difficult task of lifting luggage up into a trunk.

Hardware
The Saturn Flextreme concept vehicle features the GM E-Flex system that uses an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery to provide up to 34 miles of electric-drive-only. The 1.3-liter, turbo-diesel onboard engine generates additional electricity while on the road to replenish the battery and extend the vehicle's driving range to a total of 444 miles. The battery can be recharged in three hours at a household outlet. When fully charged, the 34-mile, all-electric driving range permits most U.S. daily commuters to travel without using any fuel or emitting any CO2 emissions.

While diesel fuel is used in the Saturn Flextreme, the GM E-Flex system has also been shown in other gasoline and hydrogen fuel cell concepts. GM says it has already begun production engineering for the E-Flex system. Actual production timing, however, depends upon continual advancement in key enabling technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicle applications.

Technology
The Saturn Flextreme includes a second display on the vehicle's center console featuring touch-screen operation. Designed like computer shortcuts, the programmable, one-touch buttons provide quick access to various functions: navigation, air conditioning, and communication/infotainment. There's also the touch-screen drive selector gate with D, P and R (drive, park and reverse) driving positions. Gear selection is also accomplished via touch-screen control.

Additional storage is provided at the front and back of the center tunnel. Here, front and rear passengers can deposit MP3 players, iPods, PDAs and mobile phones in two drawers. Induction in the drawers recharges electrical devices, while Bluetooth-capable systems are also able to transmit data to Flextreme's onboard infotainment system.

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