The New ‘iVauxhall’ Cars For TeensPersonal mobility ‘solutions’ are the rage – after all, why go on foot or on a bicycle when you canride in a cigar-shaped podule controlled by a gyroscope? Mindful of such Luddite cynicismVauxhall/Opel have arrived at the personal mobility party armed with a new target audience:teenagers.You’re looking at the RAKe, a lightweight, tandem-seater electric vehicle concept. It can ‘do themaths’, as they say, with a 100-km range, 120 km/h top speed, 380 kg kerb weight, compact three-metre length and enough punch to make motorway driving feasible (though good luck dicing withthose 18-wheel Polish juggernauts in a 119-cm high plastic buggy).But let’s be fair, the RAKe is every bit as wieldy and well conceived as recent offerings from Audi(Urban Concept) and VW (Nils) and has a positive whiff of mainstream when considered next toGM’s other recent personnel pod, the Tron-like EN-V.
What’s really interesting about the RAKe is the target audience. ‘We want to develop electricvehicles that everyone can afford,’ says Vauxhall/Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke. ‘We aim todeliver pricing that even young people – even teenagers – can afford.More revealingly, Vauxhall say the RAKe ‘is packaged to appeal to a young and eco/technologysavvy audience to whom the cool looks of an electric vehicle are as important as its energyconsumption’. Manufacturers appear to be waking up to a truth we have been observing for sometime: that young people have become disenfranchised from car ownership, disillusioned with theescalating cost of motoring and less in need of the ‘freedom’ a car brings, because more of theirsocial interaction is now conducted electronically.
So, if, as Vauxhall suggests, the RAKe is cheap to buy, run, insure and fix, plus it creates no tailpipeemission and looks as cool as, say, an iPad, then maybe they’ve hit on something. It’s not just thetechnology, it’s the sell.