Opel expands range of natural gas vehicles
World Premiere in Leipzig: Opel Prototype Combo Tour 1.6
Full Combo spaciousness thanks to underfloor natural gas tanks
Natural gas and gasoline tanks ensure range of up to 550 kilometers
Major savings in fuel costs, guaranteed tax advantage until 2020*
Rüsselsheim/Leipzig. The huge success of the Zafira 1.6 CNG
(Compressed Natural Gas) and the Astra Caravan 1.6 CNG has prompted
Opel to include a third natural gas vehicle in its range. Opel’s subsidiary
OSV (Opel Special Vehicles) will present its prototype of the Combo Tour
1.6 CNG at the14th Auto Mobil International (AMI) in Leipzig (April 17 –
25, 2004). The prototype will be shown at the natural gas suppliers’
association stand (Stand F32/Hall 3), and the market launch is expected
in the second half of 2005.
Like the Zafira 1.6 CNG and the Astra Caravan 1.6 CNG, which
accounted for a market share of nearly 60 percent of Germany’s natural
gas passenger cars in 2003, the Combo 1.6 CNG has three gas tanks
holding 19 kilograms or 110 liters of volume, as well as a
14 liter gasoline reserve tank. One advantage of this innovative
monovalentplus concept is that the driver can switch over to gasoline
supply directly from the cockpit when the gas tanks are empty and there
is no natural gas station nearby. CNG-Combo’s operating range then
increases from 400 to around 550 kilometers. Thanks to its unique,
space-saving underfloor gas tank system, the Combo 1.6 CNG offers as
much room as the Combo models with gasoline or diesel engines with
maximum loading capacities between 2,695 and 3,050 liters.
Adam Opel AG www.media.opel.com A member company of the GM Group
In addition to its spaciousness, the Combo 1.6 CNG’s economic efficiency
is its greatest asset. Taking average fuel consumption of 5.3 kilograms of
H-quality natural gas per
100 kilometers and the current price of 0.68 Euro per kilo of natural
gas, fuel costs can be reduced by up to 30 percent compared to the diesel
Combo or even 50 percent compared to the gasoline-fueled Combo.
Another advantage of driving natural gas cars is the fact that some 65
percent of all regional and local natural gas providers in Germany
promote this environmentally friendly form of fuel. They either
contribute an average of 1300 Euro to the purchase of a natural gas car
or supply the car owner with an average of 1500 kilograms CNG fuel free
of charge. Natural gas fuel is also tax-advantaged until 2020 – unlike
gasoline and diesel. It is also environmentally friendlier, as natural gas
engines emit far fewer pollutants than conventional combustion engines.
As a result, the Combo 1.6 CNG’s CO2 emission is only 140 grams per
The 1.6 CNG engine is based on the popular 1.6-Liter ECOTEC gasoline
engine and has power output of 71 kW (97 hp) at a maximum torque of
140 Newton meters. The engine was optimized for natural gas operation
and has separate injection bank for each type of fuel. With 130 octane,
natural gas is distinctly more knock resistant than gasoline. Opel focused
on maximum natural gas operation efficiency and raised the compression
ratio to 12.5:1. In spite of its economic efficiency, the Combo 1.6 CNG
impresses with lively performance, a top speed of 166* km/h and a 0-
100 sprint in 14* seconds (*preliminary data).
With a total capacity of 110 liters or 19 kilograms, the underfloor tanks
allow a range of approximately 400 kilometers. The gasoline reserve tank
increases operating range of the Combo 1.6 CNG to about 550 kilometers.
Switching over from natural gas to gasoline operation simply requires the
turn of a switch located on the center console or happens automatically
when the natural gas supply is too low. The system simultaneously
switches over to the corresponding pressure or gasoline gauge for the fuel
in use. A universal gasoline filler neck enables refueling without an
adapter in countries with different natural gas station norms, such as
Italy. The Combo 1.6 CNG can also be fueled with biogas.
The Combo 1.6 CNG meets highest safety standards, too. The entire tank
system is mounted to the underbody with steel retaining bands and the
tanks are additionally protected by an underbody panelling. Each gas
tank has its own valve and is made of high-strength steel, with stainless
steel gas pipes.
The location of the gas tanks outside of the impact zone guarantees
highest possible safety for passengers and environment. Moreover, natural
gas is potentially safer than gasoline in case of accident.
If a leak were to occur, the natural gas would dissipate into the
atmosphere because it is lighter than air, and at 650° Celsius its ignition
temperature is substantially higher than that of gasoline. Drivers of a
CNG-powered Opel model do not need to heed the signs in German
parking garages prohibiting entry to gas-powered vehicles. Entrance is
prohibited to gas-powered vehicles with fuel heavier than air, such as
liquid gas. Due to high safety standards, the technical inspection
association in Germany (TÜV – Technischer Überwachungsverein) makes
no differentiation between natural gas and conventional vehicles in
mandatory general inspections, with the exception of requiring separate
inspection of the gas tanks every ten years.
The entire gas tank assembly is installed in the series production models
by Opel Special Vehicles GmbH (OSV) in Rüsselsheim. Founded in
January 2000, this Adam Opel AG subsidiary currently employs 350
staff and has been manufacturing standard Opel natural gas models since
2002. Further OSV products include the sporty OPC models, the
modification of public authority and special-purpose vehicles for police,
driving schools and taxi cab companies as well as diverse customization
of Opel standard models. More than 56,000 Opel modifications were
completed by OSV GmbH in 2003.
The CNG models are part of Opel’s threefold strategy to decrease carbon
dioxide emissions to 140 grams per kilometer in its new vehicle fleet by
2008. The use of alternative fuels such as natural gas plays an important
role in this strategy, in addition to optimizing proven technologies and
developing ready for series production vehicles equipped with hydrogen
energized fuel-cell propulsion systems.
OSV General Manager Stefan Schrahe states: “With the Combo 1.6 CNG we
want to make our customers an offer no other manufacturer can match at
this stage. Its innovative technology makes it an extremely clean and
economical vehicle, with no limitations on everyday use or spaciousness.”