With the world premiere of the new Zafira 1.6 CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) at the International Automobile Exhibition (IAA) in Frankfurt, natural gas market leader Opel presents the new version of the best-selling natural gas vehicle in Germany. 20,000 units of the predecessor model were produced and the new Zafira CNG again features the unique Flex7 system, which allows it to be quickly turned from a seven to a two-seater without having to cumbersomely remove or stow away the seats.
Thanks to the clever underfloor arrangement of the four gas tanks around the rear axle, the Zafira's advantages in terms of versatility and spaciousness are not compromised in any way. In fact, the natural gas compact van offers even more space than its predecessor and has luggage compartment capacity of 645 liters in the five-seat configuration - the largest among the seven-seat compact vans (depending on seating configuration up to a maximum of 1820 liters). Like its successful predecessor, the Zafira 1.6 CNG features the innovative "monovalentplus" concept, which enables maximum efficiency with natural gas operation. Sales of the second-generation Zafira CNG start in spring 2006, while orders can be placed mid-September, when the prices are announced.
"Every third natural gas passenger car in Germany is a Zafira. We are proud that we have made natural gas vehicles so popular", says Hans H. Demant, Opelīs Managing Director and Vice President, Engineering, GME. "The ADAC crash test with the Zafira CNG helped to reduce preconceptions and fears regarding natural gas vehicles."
Significantly lower fuel costs and exhaust gas emissions
The Zafira 1.6 CNG boasts superb economic efficiency. Taking average fuel consumption of approximately 5.3 kilograms of natural gas per 100 kilometers* and the current price of around 0.76 euros per kilo of natural gas, fuel costs can be reduced by approximately
30 percent compared to diesel variants, or even around 50 percent compared to gasoline models. Taxes and insurance ratings are on the same level as those of its 1.6-liter gasoline counterpart. The Zafira CNG with an output of 71 kW/97 hp* also offers distinct advantages in terms of environmental compatibility: this type of propulsion generates
80 percent less nitrogen oxide than a diesel and around 25 percent lower CO2 emissions than a gasoline engine (diesel: minus 10 percent). In addition, the emissions are free from soot particles, ensuring that the Zafira CNG is not affected by potential driving bans in large cities.
High level of safety
The Zafira CNG is also optimally equipped when it comes to safety: the high-strength steel gas tanks and rust-free stainless steel gas pipes are safely located outside of the impact zone. This was also confirmed by ADAC in a crash test conducted with the first Zafira CNG in spring 2005. "The gas tanks stored in a metal compartment remained in their original position during both frontal and side collisions, despite body deformation. They are therefore optimally protected against damage. The entire gas system stayed tightly sealed, also a result of the safety valves that automatically close on the tanks", said the automobile club experts, summing up the test results. In addition, the results clearly showed that the risk of fire with natural gas vehicles is not higher than normal. This is also due to the fact that natural gas is much less flammable than gasoline, and in the highly unlikely event of a leak, it dissipates immediately. The new Zafira CNG also features the efficient SAFETEC system integrated into the passenger cell, which is reinforced by ultra high-strength metal plates. This ensured the Zafira the highest rating of five stars for adult passenger safety in the Euro NCAP crash tests.
Innovative monovalentplus concept: Maximum efficiency with natural gas operation
The CNG unit has an increased compression ratio, enabling high efficiency, and is designed for optimal operation with natural gas, biogas or any mixture of the two.
The engine has special pistons, valves and valve-seat inserts, as well as separate injection banks for natural gas and gasoline. In addition, the engine management system was optimized for natural gas operation. A 14-liter gasoline reserve tank ensures continued mobility on routes without a natural gas filling station. Switching between fuel operating modes is via a switch on the center console, or happens automatically when the primary fuel supply is too low. Thanks to low consumption and the four natural gas tanks' generous capacity of 21 kilograms, the Zafira CNG has a total operating range of more than 540 kilometers.
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