Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturn Flextreme Concept, 2008

Saturn Flextreme Concept 2008

Saturn demonstrates that clean, practical transportation and stunning can go hand-in-hand with the electric-drive Saturn Flextreme concept, introduced at the 2008 North American International Auto Show. Featuring breakthrough E-Flex electric propulsion that provides up to 34 miles of all-electric, emissions-free range, as well as a sleek, monocab, the Flextreme looks as clean as it drives.

A collaborative effort between Saturn and GM's European Opel brand, the Flextreme concept was developed to showcase the future direction of both brands, which share many similar customer traits. This design partnership has resulted in several highly successful production vehicles in the U.S. and Europe such as the Saturn Aura; the Saturn Sky and Opel GT; Saturn Vue and Opel Antara; and the Saturn Astra and Opel Astra. The Flextreme concept debuted as an Opel at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show.

Saturn's commitment to innovation and clean transportation is further illustrated by the two high-tech electric Segway Personal Transporters ingeniously packaged below the Flextreme's cargo floor. With a twist of the handlebar-mounted release, the handlebar retracts and rotates downward for easy loading into the rear compartment. Once docked, the batteries of these modified Segways can be charged along with the Flextreme's batteries.

Exterior design that dares to be different
The Saturn Flextreme concept highlights the new elements of Saturn design language: more sculpted surfacing molding, clear style elements such as narrow, boomerang-shaped lights and a sloping feature line in the side graphics.

Aerodynamic details and lightweight materials help enhance the fuel savings of the electric-drive system. For example, the bottom edge of the windshield is pulled far forward so that the hood, with its characteristic crease, is very short. The integrated power socket is in the cowl panel.

The front grille and rims are covered by lightweight, polycarbonate transparent trim, which improves aerodynamics while maintaining visual aesthetics. Special light alloy wheels look like conventional wheels, yet are designed to avoid energy-robbing air turbulence.

All windows, including the windshield, are made of lightweight polycarbonate, as is a large part of the roof. The Flextreme's panoramic windshield provides a bright and spacious interior and stretches over most of the roof, which is reinforced by a spine-like composite structure that extends to the rear floor.

Innovative doors open up new possibilities
In keeping with Saturn's philosophy of challenging conventional thinking, the Flextreme concept design team set out to create a vehicle that combined GM's E-Flex chassis with a body style that is dynamic, yet efficiently makes the best use of space. To do so, it uses the FlexDoors and FlexLoad systems, two innovative, customer-focused solutions that enhance the Flextreme's functionality.

The rear doors are another key distinguishing feature of the Flextreme. While the front doors open in the conventional manner, the rear doors are rear-hinged. And as there is no center roof pillar (B-pillar), opening both doors on one side creates a large opening for easy entry. For families, this feature is especially useful when securing child seats and children into the rear seating positions.

High-tech interior features enhance convenience
The FlexLoad underfloor luggage compartment may be the Flextreme's most customer-friendly feature. A practical yet flexible stowage option that extends and retracts electronically, it eliminates having to lift luggage up, over and into a trunk. In the Flextreme concept on display, the rechargeable Segway Personal Transporters are docked in this underfloor luggage compartment.

The inside is the Flextreme concept are honeycomb structures that offer low weight and high rigidity. These functional, geometric structures can be found in the instrument panel's lower portion, cabin floor, cargo floor and above the center tunnel where the lithium-ion batteries are located.

The seats use lightweight construction and are anchored to the car's floor by a single track rather than the usual two, creating more foot space in the rear. Refined upholstery gives the seats a light and elegant look, with some parts in fabric/mesh and corners made of especially soft material. The steering wheel hub houses another high-tech feature: a full-size driver air bag packaged with a special vacuum technique that reduces its overall volume.

Large, panoramic, configurable displays are set directly under the windshield. They can show a complete, all-around view of the car's surroundings, using the two side cameras (one front-facing, one rear-facing) that replace the conventional side mirrors. The displays can also show information about vehicle systems such as the audio system, phone and other equipment.

A clever storage system at the front and back of the center tunnel allows front and rear passengers to stow items such as mobile phones, MP3 players, iPods and PDAs in two drawers. The best part about this system is that the electrical devices can be recharged in the drawers by induction, and Bluetooth-capable systems can transmit their data to the onboard infotainment system.
E-Flex System reduces emissions, trips to the gas station
The Saturn Flextreme concept is part of GM's ongoing commitment to develop vehicles that reduce emissions and the automobile's dependency on petroleum. Unlike conventional vehicles and gas-electric hybrids, GM's E-Flex System uses an electric motor, powered by a lithium-ion battery, to propel the Flextreme for up to 34 miles of all-electric and emissions-free range. The onboard engine creates additional electricity to extend the vehicle's driving range to a total of 444 miles (715 km).


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