The trend-setting Opel Monza Concept makes its world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) from September 12 – 22, 2013. The visionary concept car at the Opel stand in Hall 8 shows what people can expect from the Rüsselsheim automaker in the future. Efficiency and connectivity are the two major themes on top of the priority list for development of the next generation of Opel models. These intrinsic values are also visibly expressed with an evolution of Opel‘s design philosophy of “Sculptural Artistry meets German Precision”, in which body contours now convey a new sense of lithe athleticism rather than pure muscle power.
“The Monza Concept is our vision of Opel’s future in pure form,” says Opel CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann. “It also continues a long Opel tradition of presenting ground-breaking concept cars at the IAA. After all, Opel was the first carmaker in Europe that built a study and presented it to the public at the IAA in 1965.”
Among all European car manufacturers, Opel has the longest tradition of presenting concept cars featuring futuristic and innovative ideas at the Frankfurt Motor Show. There has not been a new concept car from Opel at each IAA, but many of them have been significant milestones expressing or foreseeing new trends. Here’s an overview of the most important Opel concept cars that have premiered at the Frankfurt Motor Show in the last five decades.
The concept car as a ground-breaking preliminary stage for series production
The first concept car ever came from Opel parent company GM. In 1938 GM Design built the Buick “Y?Job”, a vehicle intended not for series production, but rather to stage new technologies and design ideas. While in Europe, only coach builders had so far built and presented futuristic body designs, Opel was the first car manufacturer to demonstrate its innovative power with a concept car that had been entirely created in its own design facilities: This was the Experimental GT that premiered at the IAA in Frankfurt in 1965. The Opel Experimental GT presented the trend-setting concept of an affordable, sporty dream car. It was enthusiastically received by the press and public alike and, just three years later, the concept became reality: The 1968 Opel GT was the first European concept car to go into series production and be a role model for the industry.
But Opel soon went one step further: In 1969 the Rüsselsheim automaker presented the Opel CD at the IAA, a thoroughbred Gran Turismo based on Opel Diplomat technology. This concept was also further developed and ultimately built in low-volume production.
The Opel concept cars of the 1960s were actually so successful that a few years later other European competitors also began to develop and present concept vehicles themselves.
Not only great cars, but also technology leaders
During the first phase of Opel concept cars, emotional, elegant coupés took center stage, but the first oil crisis in 1973 turned the spotlight on new subjects such as fuel consumption, aerodynamics and efficiency in general, including safety and interior.
This was first seen in the Opel GT2 that amazed the 1975 IAA visitors with its futuristic wedge shape and sliding doors. The interior was also ahead of its time: the bucket seats were constructed of individual plastic-foam components, the cockpit consisted of interchangeable modules with digital displays and there was even an on-board computer.
The research vehicle TECH 1 was a further development that created a buzz at the IAA in 1981. With a front fascia and a flowing silhouette that inspired the first Omega generation that premiered five years later, the TECH 1 set an aerodynamic benchmark with a drag coefficient of 0.235. Its interior was just as ground-breaking: electronic digital instruments and electronic touch keys controlled all functions except the brakes, gas and clutch.
In the early 1980s, marketers, designers and engineers started focusing on affordable small cars that would enable new customers – especially young people, women and inhabitants of growing urban areas – to access individual mobility.
At the 1983 IAA, Opel presented the Opel Junior concept car. It was 3.41 meters long and 21 centimeters shorter than the first generation Corsa that had just been launched one year earlier. In retrospect, the Junior can be considered the forerunner of the current individualization champion and chic urban car ADAM. It offered a host of interior ideas from easily exchangeable instruments to seat covers that could be transformed into sleeping bags and an absolutely visionary navigation system – and today the Opel ADAM is the best connected small car.
As new, severe European emission standards were announced for the future (like the Euro 4 norm for 2005), Opel Advanced Engineering and Design departments figured out what a future, cleaner compact car could look like. They presented the first result of their reflections, the extremely low-emission Opel G90 Concept, at the 1999 IAA. The G90 weighed only 750 kilograms. Its name says it all: thanks to its light-weight construction, a new-generation 3-cylinder gasoline engine and a very low cd of 0.22, it achieved CO2 emissions of just 90 g/km.
In 2001 Opel cheekily challenged the rules for conventional small cars with the “crazy, sexy, cool” Frogster Concept. It did not have a customary roof, but rather a stable, electrically-powered roller blind. With the four individually foldable seats, the driver could turn the Frogster into a roadster, convertible or pick-up at the push of a button.
Two years later, at the 2003 IAA, Opel presented a completely new vehicle concept with the Insignia. This upscale concept car gave more than its name to Opel’s new generation top-of-the-line model in 2008: Its design language – similar to the Monza Concept for the future – also had considerable impact on following Opel series production models. The Insignia Concept featured progressive, elegant design and innovations like LED lighting technology and new pantograph opening mechanisms for the rear doors.
With electric propulsion suitable for everyday use into the 21st century
As the automaker is always searching for increased efficiency and cleaner propulsion modes, Opel’s latest concept cars have very much focused on electric mobility.
The IAA study of 2007, the Opel Flextreme Concept, was a milestone in the development of electric propulsion with its innovative E-Flex architecture. The basic idea was that commuters could travel completely CO2 emission-free in pure electric mode up to 55 km on the car’s lithium-ion battery. Then a small diesel engine would enable the production of electricity to extend the car’s range, enabling it to cover many hundreds of kilometers without stopping. The Flextreme Concept was expected to emit 40 g/km CO2 or less for fuel consumption of just 1.54 l/100 km (according to European test procedure ECE R101 for range-extended vehicles). The front graphic of the Flextreme Concept inspired the Opel Ampera that was launched in 2011 and that was named 2012 European Car of the Year thanks to its similar technology.
The latest chapter of IAA concept cars from Opel was the RAK e in 2011. The experimental car with intelligent light-weight construction showed with minimal energy costs that electric mobility, attractively packaged, can also be possible and affordable for young drivers from 16 years of age.
And Opel is intensively working on the next chapter of visionary studies. The result, the Opel Monza Concept, will be exhibited at the 65th Frankfurt Motor Show from September 12 (press days September 10 – 11), 2013. With the Monza Concept, Opel is moving into the next era of individual and shared mobility.