Thursday, January 21, 2010

Electric Dreams


2011 Honda CR-Z
In assessing the kinds of cars we will be driving in the future, only one word is needed to describe this changing automotive landscape—electricity. By the looks of cars ready for production and futuristic prototypes, battery power will play an increasingly important role. It will be used to boost the power and range of conventional powerplants, plus be used as the sole source of motivation in other applications.

Ready for production is the 2011 Honda CR-Z, a fun, 2-seat sporty hatchback that incorporates the company’s electric engine assist, which is already seen in the Insight and Civic hybrids. The CR-Z harkens back to a time when Honda offered a similar car called the CRX. In addition to its smart-looking wedge shape, the Honda CR-Z is the first hybrid to offer a 6-speed manual transmission as standard equipment. With that gearbox, it is capable of returning 31 mpg city/37 mph highway, while the optional CVT transmission delivers an even better 36 city/38 highway. The CR-Z goes on sale this fall.

Building on experience gained by the Mini E, German automaker BMW showcased an advanced electric car based on its 1 Series. Called the BMW ActiveE, this 4-passenger coupe will go into limited production and be leased to consumers on a test basis. In keeping with the company’s theme of spirited driving, the ActiveE promises 0 to 60 mph acceleration of 8.5 seconds. Its lithium-ion battery back can be recharged in about 3 hours and will deliver a range of about 100 miles, along with a top speed of 90 mph. The electric motor in the BMW ActiveE is rated at 170 horsepower.



2011 Volvo C30 Electric

Similar in range and performance to the BMW ActiveE is the Volvo C30 Electric, which will also see limited production and testing. Based on the Swedish company’s C30 hatchback, the 4-passenger electric has a 111-horsepower electric motor. Range and performance estimates are slightly more modest, with a 94-mile range and a top speed of 80 mph. This pure electric Volvo is designed primarily to test the durability and practicality of electric power in everyday driving.

The benchmark hybrid is clearly the Toyota Prius, and the Japanese automaker is looking to build on its reputation by offering a wider range of these gasoline/electric vehicles. The Toyota FT-CH is proof of this, a plug-in hybrid that can be operated in pure electric mode for 40 to 50 miles. If the small 4-passenger hatchback looks familiar, it’s because it follows the same design theme as the Lexus LF-CH that made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Further out in the future is the Hyundai Blue-Will concept, a hybrid that capitalizes on the range and torque of a diesel powerplant. Equipped with a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder oil-burner, the Blue-Will puts out a combined 152 horsepower when the 100-kw electric motor is employed. Like the Toyota FT-CH, the Blue-Will is a plug-in hybrid (using a technology similar to that which will appear later this year in the Chevy Volt) that can be driven up to 40 miles on electricity alone, with no help from the diesel engine. The Blue-Will’s futuristic shape hints at a more fluid design theme being developed for Hyundai.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Peugeot SR1 Hybrid Roadster Showcases New Design Language, Marks the end of Gaping-Mouth Grille Era


This here is the Peugeot SR1 hybrid 2+1 seater roadster concept that will be displayed for the first time at the upcoming 2010 Geneva Salon in March. The significance of the SR1 lies in its styling as the French automaker revealed that it foretells the stylistic design trends for its future models.

In short, this concept car showcases the firm's new design language that abandons the chunky shapes and the much criticized gaping-mouth grille of the current Peugeots in favor of more elegant and sharper looks that hark back to the Pininfarina-era Pugs.

The concept itself, which bears a passing resemblance to Aston Martin's Vantage V8, is a proposal for a low-slung roadster model with a hybrid powertrain.

The SR1's interior, is pure concept though we might see the driver-orientated center console making its way into Peugeot's future production models. The roadster can seat up to three in a 2+1 layout with the rear seat mounted centrally.

The roadster makes use of Peugeot's HYbrid4 technology, which will be available in the company's 3008 crossover from 2011. A front-mounted 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a power output of 218 bhp is combined with a rear electric motor developing 95 bhp.

When the two power trains work simultaneously, the SR1 develops a potential maximum power of 313bhp and also benefits from four-wheel drive.

Peugeot said that in electric only mode, the car becomes a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV), with a combined cycle fuel consumption of 4.9 lt/100km (48.0mpg US) and CO2 emissions of just 119 g/km.

The concept model also benefits from the adoption of 4-wheel steering with the turning angle of the rear wheels controlled as a function of the vehicle speed, via motorized links on the rear wishbones.


Chevrolet Aveo RS Concept Previews GM's New Ford Fiesta Rival


The 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week will host the world premiere of the Chevrolet Aveo RS Concept car handing us our first look at the next-generation Aveo that will be sold on both sides of the pond competing with superminis like the Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris.

Longer, wider and more spacious than the current production Aveo, the five-door concept adopts several styling cues including the dual element grille, round tail lamps and fender flares from other Chevrolet models such as the Spark and Cruze.

Being an RS version, the concept model sports several unique features like the 19-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels that cover the large Boracay Blue brake calipers, a roof spoiler, a specific front bumper with large air vents, exposed motorcycle-inspired rear taillamps that feature tinted aluminum housings and a rear diffuser with a center-mounted exhaust and chrome exhaust tips.

Though virtually production ready, the concept model's interior has been adorned in leather with contrasting blue stitching, special decorative trim and a pair of sport front seats.

Under the hood, the Aveo RS houses the same 138-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four Ecotec engine that will be available in the upcoming Chevrolet Cruze. Power is transfered to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox.

Needless to say, the series production model will be far less aggressive in the details inside and out, though there is a chance that we might see a similarly styled and powered sporty RS model added in the Aveo's range.

GM said that the production Aveo will be manufactured at its Orion Assembly in Orion Township, Michigan starting from 2011.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Nissan to Show Nine Models at Tokyo Auto Salon, Including Skyline Sports Sporty Package and 2010 GT-R Nismo



Nissan, together with Autech Japan and NIMSO have announced that they will be displaying a total of nine models equipped with the latest custom and after-market parts at Japan's equivalent of the U.S. SEMA Show and Europe's Essen Motor Show in Germany, the Tokyo Auto Salon to be held from January 15-17, 2010 at the Makuhari Messe.

Nissan's range of standard road cars stylized with the latest factory aero body-kits will include the Roox Highway Urban Selection and the 2010 Skyline Coupe and Sedan facelift equipped with the Japanese firm's new Sporty Package.

Autech Japan will show its Rider Series comprising of the Nissan Serena, Cube and Note cars.

Last but certainly not least, NISMO plans to exhibit the Xanavi GT-R race car, the Fairlady Z Version NISMO (370Z) and the 2010 GT-R model with the Club Sport Package and the newly developed "NISMO Data Logger Kit", which it says, makes it possible for the driver to download their driving data via USB and view it on a computer.

 

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