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Industrie 4.0

Opel was once a pioneer of electric mobility

If history had taken a slightly different turn, Opel and Hessen may have been making the tech magazine headlines instead of Tesla and Silicon Valley: back in 1971, Georg von Opel built a GT prototype with an electric engine, a fact that his family is now commemorating.

08 Oct. 2018
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Opel was once a pioneer of electric mobility (Photo: Opel)

Automobile fans know that the first Opel GT came off the production line in 1968. But few have been aware until now that the sports car also briefly created a stir as an electric vehicle . Together with Bosch, Varta and Continental, Georg von Opel also developed a prototype with an electric engine. The inventor wanted to demonstrate what it could do, especially as the oil crisis of the 1970s was looming. Racing on the Hockenheimring he set six world records with the sleek vehicle, which had a top speed of 188 kph.

A few changes were necessary for this pioneering achievement: all of the air inlets were sealed to increase the aerodynamics and an electric cooling fan was installed for the electric engines. The brake booster was given an electric vacuum pump, and the batteries were placed behind the driver’s seat and on the passenger side. But they went flat after 44 km all the same. A lot of work was still required, but Georg von Opel died in August 1971. His son, Gregor von Opel, recently put the car on show to commemorate his father’s pioneering work – and to promote greater use of electric mobility in Germany.