As details about the Opel Flextreme, the VOLTEC-powered concept, which Opel will unveil at the 80th Geneva International Auto Show, begin to leak out, GM Authority pauses for a moment to note some larger trends.
First, this car is a perfect example of Opel/Vauxhall leveraging the advantages membership in a global automotive family confers, as Nick Reilly told employees the other day. Opel emphasizes that, “size and comfort do not have to be sacrificed for a vehicle to be environmentally efficient” explaining how the Flextreme will be positioned relative to the upcoming Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera twins. But by using the same powertrain in those clones, the Cadillac Converj, and the Flextreme, The General is utilizing its global reach by spreading VOLTEC development costs over as many models as possible.
Second, despite Manoli’s excitement with the concept’s “expressive design, environmental innovation and alternative propulsion systems,” GM Vice Chairperson Bob Lutz believes that history will ultimately forget this vehicle. While not a hybrid in the traditional sense, it does possess both a gas engine and an electric motor, making it what GM Authority has deemed an “interim solution.” So when declaring that the Flextreme will define the “company’s vision of future mobility,” Opel is [hopefully] committing to full electric-only vehicles when the technology becomes available. But before that vision is realized, the Flextreme is a crucial stopgap in the goal of “boost[ing] the company’s credentials as a leader in environmental vehicles.”
Finally, the launch details are not accidental. The Flextreme concept will likely be unveiled on March 4, 2010, the first day of this year’s Geneva show. Opel’s all-new (and flexible) Meriva will also don at Geneva before the show concludes on March 14. The Opel Ampera debuted at Geneva last year, but the Flextreme’s release location is more than sentimental. One of the historic advantages of the Geneva Auto Show is that it is held on neutral territory, i.e., the Swiss do not manufacture automobiles. Given the animosity breeding in Europe’s automotive sector due to massive capacity reductions and suspicions of Opel/Vauxhall soliciting bribes from European states, it appears that The General is fully exploiting Swiss neutrality.[Sources: Automobile Magazine, Inside Line]