The summer doldrums are almost over and the world of automobiles is about to get re-energized as the new auto show season kicks off in Paris in September. Citroen has gotten the buzz started early by showing off its latest creation, the CXperience large sedan concept. Sadly, it looks at though the Citroen design team has been heavily influenced by the new Toyota Prius. That is not meant as a compliment.
Giga is the new mega. If it’s hip, hot, and happening in the world today, it’s gotta be giga. Elon Musk started it by naming his enormous new battery manufacturing facility the Gigafactory. Renewable energy enthusiasts think in terms of gigawatts and gigawatt-hours of clean, renewable power coursing through the electrical grid. Now Mercedes has taken the wraps off a concept car so in-your-face huge, so over-the-top gigantic, it could be aptly named the GigaCoupe. “Excrescence” is another word that comes to mind.
BMW is working overtime to imagine what cars of the future will be like. Some of their ideas are just silly, such as the ridiculous Rolls Royce Vision 100 concept unleashed on an unsuspecting world in London this week. At the same time, BMW is offering up somewhat more practical ideas about how its MINI division will fit into the future of mobility.
Rolls Royce, which is owned by BMW, unveiled its idea of what a self driving Roller of the future might look like in London this week. If owning a car is just a way of announcing one’s enormous ego, the Rolls Royce Vision 100 is the trump card in any “mine’s bigger than yours” contest.
Let’s start with the specifics. The Vision 100 is a battery electric car, so it can proclaim itself to be a zero emissions vehicle — although one suspects quite a few carbon emissions would be created during its manufacture.
It is just shy of 20 feet in length and stands nearly 5 feet tall. Aerodynamic efficiency is obviously not a consideration when it comes to this platinum plated, diamond encrusted showboat. Despite its bulk, it is only a two seater, intended to cater excessively to just two of the fortunate few at a time. Presumably, the staff will follow behind in a lesser car — a MINI, perhaps.
The carpet is made of “hand twisted silk” while the upholstery on the couch where the lord and lady rest their ample bottoms is also made of “extraordinarily soft silk.” No steering wheel or pedals of any kind are present because they would be “superfluous in this model,” according to Rolls Royce.
The rest of the interior is trimmed in Macassar wood. In front of the passengers, a full width OLED screen presents a full range of entertainment options. Rolls Royce has thoughtfully provided an artificial intelligence assistance called Eleanor. She is sort of like Siri but all grown up.
Eleanor will remember all the important details of your life, such as the route you normally take to your club, the birth dates and names of your progeny, and how many shots of espresso you prefer in your mocha latte.
There is an automated luggage compartment that allows your servants to conveniently load the necessaries for your journey. They will be stowed inside bespoke luggage that will tell the bellhop at your favorite hotel you are not someone to be trifled with.
“In a future where transport is commoditised—void of beauty, space and form—Rolls-Royce will stand apart,” says Rolls Royce on its website. There was a time when Rolls Royce stood for understated elegance. No more. The Vision 100 is intended to scream your prominence and provenance everywhere you go. It is about as subtle as Donald Trump.
Perhaps I am just jealous, knowing that I will never be able to afford such an exquisite motor car, but to me, the Vision 100 is proof that BMW is spending far too much time and resources creating absurdities for the über wealthy — like its own Vision Next 100 — and not enough on building real cars for real people in the real world. It is also a forceful argument for maintaining a hefty inheritance tax.
Source: Quartz, The Verge Photo Credits: Rolls Royce
Originally published on CleanTechnica.
This is a story that I’m sure will get my mom to perk up — she (like many) is a huge fan of the BMW Mini Cooper styling, which seems to bring us back to another era while still fitting in nicely with a modern life and especially the cities of today.
Once upon a time, BMW unveiled a “mini Mini” concept that it called the Rocketman. Back then (2011), it wasn’t an electric concept, and it was deemed too difficult to do because getting all of the organs and veins of a gasmobile packed into such a small car (with that design and adequate interior space) was an idea that just wasn’t based in reality. However, with the ongoing development and improvement of electric vehicle technology, the option is actually on the table now, and BMW is excited about it.
As a quick reminder, as well, there was a small pilot program with electrified BMW Minis, as part of BMW’s ActiveE program — which was the predecessor to the BMW i program that famously launched the fun & torquey BMW i3, the hot & sporty BMW i8, and, hopefully soon, will launch the practical + spacious (but still fun & hot) BMW i5.
Anyhow, what spurred on all of this chatter?… Some recent statements by Mini product chief Ralph Mahler (coming to us via Autocar & Green Car Reports). Granted, they weren’t anywhere close to definite, but they indicated that BMW is very seriously considering the option.
“The Rocketman is inspiring us as of today, especially as an EV in the future,” said Mahler.
“It was something that was ahead of its time but is still inspiring. With a smaller car, it’s a bigger challenge. With Rocketman, and talking EV in the future, as the EV engine gets more portable, it’s give and take [as to whether it is possible to make such a small car].”
In addition to the Mini Cooper, Autocar notes that the Rocketman could take design elements from the MINI Superleggera Vision, a beautiful electric roadster concept that has got to be one of my favorite car designs ever (though, yet again, I’m having a hard time getting over the fake grille now that I’m used to and loving the clean front of the Model 3 and Model X).
Highlighting the popularity of the Superleggera Vision (come on, how could that thing not be popular?!), Autocar writes:
This was a collaboration between Mini’s design team and coachbuilder Touring Superleggera and previewed Mini’s future design language on a two-seat, rear-wheeldrive roadster concept.
However, the concept car has proven such a hit that Mini is investigating ways of putting it into production, although it would seem unlikely at this stage.
Mahler described it as “the second concept that’s inspiring us at the moment”.
There had been “very positive feedback on the car,” he said, but the “roadster segment is small and demand is going down, with new markets opening up. The growth is not there, so it’s always a challenge”.
Mahler added: “It fits perfectly into the brand, but we’re a small [on sales volume] car brand and have to be focused and know what we want to have. The Superleggera is playing a role but no decisions.”
I think the Rocketman is an awesome idea, especially with some more design cues from the Superleggera Vision, and I hope BMW can make it happen with a fully electric drivetrain, decent range (~150 miles), and competitive pricing. But I guess I’m just on a BMW kick today. Related stories published hours ago include:
What do you think about the electric Rocketman idea?
Jia Yueting is China’s Elon Musk. The self made multi-billionaire has made a fortune selling televisions and smartphones to his countrymen. Now he wants to take some of that money and create extraordinary electric cars to compete with those made by Tesla. Jia’s company, formerly known as LeTV, has been termed “the NetFlix of China.” Once the Chinese had all those electronic devices they bought from LeTV, they need stuff to watch. LeTV created its own production company to supply that content.
Is there an Apple Car? No one knows. Apple itself refuses to comment. No leaks have occurred that could help us imagine what such a vehicle might look like. But that didn’t stop the people at Motor Trend from assembling a team of noted designers at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California.
The team included Stewart Reed, ArtCenter’s chair of transportation design, Garrett DeBry, ArtCenter graduate and current industrial designer at Radio Flyer, Tim Huntzinger, professor of graduate transportation systems, ArtCenter faculty member Tim Brewer, automotive interior specialist Di Bao, and Akash Chudasama, a recent grad student with an aerospace engineering degree.
Their mission was simple. Motor Trend told them, “Imagine you are designing a car for Apple. What would it look like?” Unlike a typical design team, which often spends years creating and honing a design, the Motor Trend team of experts had only a few weeks to complete their task.
Reed began the discussion this way. “I just got out of a meeting with a manufacturer who is now calling their designers ‘experience designers,’ ” he says. “Their team sounds like a movie crew: acoustics, haptics, interpreters. To me, that would be an Apple approach.” DeBry adds, ” The core experience of an Apple vehicle is that it’s as easy to use as possible.”
Again the question is asked, “What would an Apple Car look like?” The discussion begins. “I would start from the inside out,” Bao says, “with usability coming first.” Brewer is next. “What’ll be most striking will be the quality of its parting lines, how materials come together. The big gaps on current cars make them seem dated.”
Chudasama chimes in. “It’ll be a mobility device. A way of life. It won’t be taking cues from an animal or something. Rather, it would be honest to what it really is. It’s not faking its meaning.” Huntzinger picks up on that. “Those haunches and big wheels are old memes we use just because people think they’re valuable,” he says. Chudasama again, “The new premium is ‘convenience’. We want our time back. That’s the most valuable thing we have.”
Slowly, the group’s thinking coalesces around the windshield of the car. If Apple is building a car, that’s where the action will be. “If the iPhone 6 screen is the Mona Lisa of multitouch, an automobile’s windshield and dash would be a blank Sistine ceiling,” says Motor Trend editor Kim Reynolds. “The vehicle will become an extension of your Apple device,” adds DeBry.
The Apple Car, then, will begin with an interactive, alternate reality windshield that displays all the information a driver and passenger need. In addition to a view of the outside environment, it will display all necessary information about the operation of the car itself.
The dashboard will be devoid of gauges, switches, meters, dials, and other mechanical devices. Carefull readers will have an Ah hah! moment at this point. Isn’t that exactly what Tesla tells us the dashboard of the Model 3 will be like?
“[T]he future of automotive glass isn’t laminated safety glass. It’ll be in the realm of hard-coated polycarbonates that allow expansive glass surfaces for augmented or, as I prefer to call them, ‘merged-reality’ projections,” says Stewart Reed. Elon Musk would probably agree.
As a person who has had a long and passionate involvement with the automobile, I had an epiphany while looking at the design sketches the team came up with. One of them reminded me of a car I had seen a long, long time ago, the Dymaxion penned by Buckminster Fuller in 1933. Just goes to show that good design is indeed timeless.
Source: Motor Trend. Photo credit: Motor Trend/Wikipedia
Students at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research have been collaborating with Toyota for the past two years. The project, code named Deep Orange, immerses students into every aspect of automotive development — from market research and design studies to engineering design and manufacturing. The result is an innovative, flexible concept called uBox that is intended to appeal to the next generation of car buyers — Generation Z.
When the next version of the Honda CR-V is introduced next year, it will be built on the same platform as the 10th generation Honda Civic that went on sale last fall. It will also offer a plug-in hybrid option according to multiple news sources, including Digital Trends and Left Lane News. The popular crossover vehicle from Honda is expected to take its styling cues from the new Civic as well.
Honda CR-V Hybrid Rendering
Japanese website Response reports the CR-V will be offered with an optional plug-in hybrid drivetrain consisting of a 2.0 liter four cylinder gas engine and at least two electric motors. The 2.4 liter gasoline engine found in the current AWD CR-V will continue to be offered as well as a smaller turbocharged four cylinder engine.
It is expected the new CR-V will be available with front wheel drive and four wheel drive powertrains. There are also rumors that a long wheel base version with seating for 7 passengers will be offered, although whether that configuration will be available in the American market is not known at this time. All CR=V’s will be equipped with automatic transmissions.
Since it was first introduced, the CR-V has been identified with vertical tail lights mounted high at the rear of the car. In line with its new Civic based architecture, the 2018 car will have more conventional tail lights with C shaped LED inserts. All manufacturers are focused on building as many models as possible on a single platform. That reduced development costs and maximizes flexibility at the factory to meet shifting trends in the marketplace.
Honda likes to reveal its next genearation cars as lightly disguised concepts shortly before they go into production. That way, it can benefit from any feedback it gets from the public and the press to make any changes it deems necessary before final production values are confirmed. Expect to see a CR-V concept either at the Los Angeles auto show in December of this year, or else the Detroit auto show in January of 2017.
This story was originally carried by Indian Autos Blog.
Last fall, Mazda brought its stunning Vision concept to the Tokyo auto show and lit the flame of hope for all of us who have ever owned an RX-7. Those of us who did can never get the thrill of its nearly vibration free rotary engine spinning up to 8,000 rpm and beyond. That engine made a satisfying growl like no other. It was music to the ears of plenty of gearheads, myself included.
Yeah, it was thirsty. And yeah, it burned a little oil. But that was one sweet motor. By comparison, the pushrod lump in my MGB felt like it was from the Stone Age. The last time Mazda sold a car with a rotary engine in America was in 2011. Since then, fuel economy and emissions challenges have kept it out of production. Gone but not forgotten, it seems.
Mazda has just filed a patent application for a modified rotary engine design. According to AutoBlog, this one places the intake ports as the bottom of the engine and the exhaust ports at the top. The changes are said to allow the engine to sit lower in the chassis of the car it is mated to. A lower center of gravity leads to better handling.
The top mounted exhaust is also supposed to make it easier to turbocharge the engine — something that would be necessary in order to help the little screamer meet upcoming emissions standards. The short distance from engine to turbo should make the old bugaboo of turbo lag nothing more than a memory.
The new engine design uses port fuel injection. According to the patent filing, it has a triangular rotor that covers part of the exhaust port which allows for different exhaust flow characteristics. The filing claims that that two of the four possible orientations allow for less airflow resistance in the exhaust port. That would also boost turbo performance.
The Mazda Vision is one of the sexiest designs this side of the original Jaguar XK-E, before it got crapped up with federalize headlights and bumpers. Will a rotary equipped Vision ever see production? The odds, frankly, aren’t that good. It is unlikely that Mazda will ever be able to tame the Wankel engine to meet modern regulatory constraints.
But if it does, and I was forced to choose between a rotary powered Vision and an autonomous transportation pod like the Tesla Model 3, I’m pretty certain my love of sports cars with real engines and transmissions that have to be stirred by hand would carry the day.
Hyundai has applied for a patent on a new design it might use to convert vans into campers. Back in the 60’s, Volkswagen invented the camper van when it made a tent-like pop up opening in the roof of its Microbus. Suddenly, camping was transformed all across America. For the first time, people could drive to the mountains, the deserts, or the oceans and then sleep in their vehicles when they got there.
People have been going to Moab, Utah for the annual Jeep Easter Sarfari for 50 years. Very often, Jeep teases them while they are there with design concepts that may or may not ever see production. The concepts create some buzz for the Safari participants and also give Jeep valuable feedback on what appeals to its customers. This year, Jeep is previewing 7 new concepts. Which ones are just one offs designed to amaze and amuse and which might have a shot of actual production? Let’s take a look and let you decide.
This tasty concoction takes a Jeep Wrangler and stuffs if full of 6.2 liter supercharged V-8 madness. The 707 horsepower engine from the Dodge Hellcat is mated to a six speed manual transmission. A custom shifter features the Hellcat logo. Designers had to add 12 inches to the wheelbase to squeeze the motor in. Just the thing if you plan to tackle steep canyon walls!
Jeep Crew Chief 715
throwback to the Kaiser M715 military pickup, the Crew Chief 715 is an open air design based on the Wrangler. It has a five foot cargo bed painted in what Jeep likes to call “Tactical Green.” It rides on 20-inch beadlock wheels and 40-inch military tires.
This concept pays tribute to the classic Jeep CJ-5. It is over a foot shorter than today’s Wrangler and evokes the first post-war civilian Jeeps. The Shortcut rides on 17 inch red steel wheels and features a two inch lift kit to clear its 35 inch tires.
Jeep Renegade Commander
A lifted version of the brand’s new Italian-built subcompact, the Renegade Commander rides on 29.5-inch tires mounted to 17-inch aluminum wheels. Painted in a color Jeep calls “Fluorescent Gray,” the Renegade Commander has been lifted two inches and outfitted with rock rails, skid plates and a modified exhaust.
This concept pickup truck is a modified Renegade, not a Cherokee. The Renegade’s wheelbase was stretched six inches to allow designers to attach a five foot bed that includes a spare tire mounted inside. It’s powered by a 2.0-liter diesel inline four-cylinder engine, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Jeep FC 150
A modified version of an iconic cab over design from 1960, the FC 150 concept rides on a 2005 Wrangler chassis with a Dana 44 front axle and Dana 60 rear axle. The FC 150 is powered by Jeep’s classic 4.0-liter Inline 6-cylinder engine mated to a three-speed automatic transmission. Inside the cab, it features a headliner wrapped in a duck hunting pattern and a CB radio. An old fashioned analog compass is a nice touch.
A rolling showcase for Mopar’s Jeep Performance Parts line, the Trailstorm concept features half doors for extra visibility, a two inch lift kit and 37 inch tires mounted to 17 inch wheels. Its interior is painted with bedliner to allow it to be hosed out after a day of playing in the mud.
Tells us which of these concepts tickle your fun meter. Jeep isn’t saying it plans to build any one of them. But if enough people show interest, they just might. After all, the key to a successful business is giving customers what they want and plenty of it.
Source: Automotive News
Earlier today, Ford announced plans to bring four new SUV nameplates to the US over the next four years. More specifically, the company plans to offer new SUVs “in segments in which company does not currently compete” (their words). While details on which SUVs, specifically, Ford is talking about, there are good reasons to believe we’ve already seen the bones of Ford’s new SUV plans. Now, we just need to “flesh them out”.
The first two guesses are easy, since we already know that Ford is bringing a new Ranger to market soon. The most likely scenario has Ford bringing the same Ranger it already sells in Europe and Australia back home, along with the Ford Everest SUV that shares a lot of components with it.
Ford Everest Truck-based SUV
The Everest may come to the US wearing a Bronco badge- another already-confirmed nameplate. Assuming it follows Ford’s established naming tradition, then, the Everest may end up being called the Bronco II, leaving room for an all-new, aluminum-bodied, F-150 based Ford Bronco.
Ford F-150 Bronco Full-size SUV
The next guess is also a no-brainer. Subcompact SUVs like the Chevy Trax, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, and Fiat 500x are one of the hottest segments in the market in these days, and Ford’s own Escape is just a little bit big to play in that field. Ford does have a product in its global portfolio that fits that bill, however- the Fiesta-based Ford Ecosport shown, below.
Ford Ecosport Compact SUV
So, those three are easy guesses. No points awarded to anyone for already knowing these were coming- especially in light of lower fuel costs and increased emphasis on trucks and SUVs from Dodge and Honda. The last one, though? That one is a bit of a reach, but I’ll make a bold prediction and eat crow later, if I’m wrong: Ford is bringing the Troller to the US.
Ford Troller SUV Will Compete With Jeep Wrangler
The key to this guess comes in Ford’s own language, when it says it wants to compete “in segments in which company does not currently compete,” and there is no segment quite like the Jeep Wrangler segment.
Sure, the Land Rover Defender and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen occupy a weirdly similar niche, but they’ve grown far too expensive to attract serious Jeep guys- and, besides, the Jeep brand carries just as much equity as LR and MB, these days. Maybe more, in fact, when talking about SUVs, specifically. Jeep Wranglers have a fanatical and evangelical following- exactly the type of following Ford wants and needs if it’s going to win over the millennial dollars it so desperately craves … and the Troller? The Brazilian market, Ford-built SUV is rugged, cute, cheap, and ready to launch its own devoted car cult.
You heard it here, first.
So, those are my predictions- what are yours? Check out Ford’s official SUV launch announcement from the Chicago Auto Show floor, below, then let us know what you think is coming from the blue oval boys in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
FORD TO ADD FOUR NEW SUV NAMEPLATES AS MILLENNIALS, BOOMERS, GLOBAL DEMAND DRIVE CONTINUED SUV GROWTH
Together, millennials and baby boomers give Ford 160 million good reasons to expect the surge in SUV sales will continue into the next decade.
In a breakfast address to the Midwest Automotive Media Association today, Mark LaNeve, Ford Motor Company vice president of Marketing, Sales and Service, explained why growth in SUV sales is expected to continue – not only in the United States, but around the world – and why Ford is adding four new SUVs in the next four years – all four in SUV segments in which the company does not currently compete.
“As members of the 80-million-strong millennial age group enter their prime child-rearing years, a leading indicator of more SUV sales, nearly 80 million aging baby boomers continue to prefer their SUVs,” said LaNeve. “It’s a demographic double whammy and it all points to one thing – more SUVs for the foreseeable future.”
LaNeve cited recent Ford research that shows once millennials even begin thinking about starting a family, their interest in shopping for SUVs goes up significantly. And as many have delayed starting families, these yet-to-form family households represent additional SUV growth opportunities for the company.
Yet millennials alone aren’t expected to drive SUV growth – aging baby boomers tend to stay with or return to SUVs, in part because it’s easier to get in and out of a vehicle that sits higher off the ground than a passenger car. LaNeve also noted that many boomers feel younger and more active driving an SUV.
While low gas prices have contributed to the growth in SUVs in recent years, much improved fuel efficiency in the latest generation of utility vehicles leads Ford to believe a potential rise in gas prices wouldn’t push consumers back to passenger cars.
“Some SUVs now rival the fuel efficiency of V6-powered midsize sedans from only a few years ago,” said LaNeve, “and as baby boomers grew up with much less capable, much less efficient vehicles, they tend to appreciate the efficiency of Ford’s newest SUVs.” Even if gas prices go up, he added, refueling costs for owners of modern SUVs will be much less than they were during the last SUV boom.
Source | Images: Ford.