Los Angeles Auto Show: Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

This Caddy’s no gas-guzzler: it’s an exploration of how to offer all the usual Cadillac comforts in an economical, compact package. The Urban Luxury Concept is a spacious four-seater despite its 3.8-metre length, with scissor-opening doors,  full leather upholstery, wood, aluminium and ceramic trim, touchscreen and voice controls, projected displays and the latest digital communications systems. Of most interest, however, is its mild-hybrid powertrain: a turbocharged 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine with stop-start, electrical assistance, brake energy regeneration and dry dual-clutch transmission. It’ll do 56mpg (US) in the city and 65mpg (US) on the highway, around 78mpg in European terms. Purely a concept at this stage, but you never know; this could be one Cadillac we Europeans want.


Los Angeles Auto Show: Toyota-Tesla RAV4 EV

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here’s that Tesla-converted RAV4. Toyota’s going to make 35 for a test programme next year, with full production in the US in 2012; target range is 100 miles and Toyota aims to get the car feeling as near to the conventional RAV4 as possible despite its extra 100kg weight. Modifications have been made to accommodate this, including redistribution of weight, retuning and relocation of major components, modification of suspension and steering. Styling changes include a unique front grille and bumper, new headlamps and foglamps, a custom dashboard and unique paint finishes and special badging.

The North American-market RAV4, and the basic vehicle for the EV conversion, will continue to be built in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, but Toyota is considering a specific location for final assembly of the EV. Tesla will be making the battery and its related components in Palo Alto, California.

Los Angeles Auto Show: Honda Fit EV

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Scheduled for production in 2012, says Honda. The Fit EV (aka Jazz, Honda’s supermini) promises a range of up to 100 miles and three modes – Econ, Normal and Sport (self-explanatory). Performance in Sport mode will affect the range – reduced by up to 25% compared to Econ – but is said to be comparable with that of a 2.0-litre petrol engine. Neat features will include interactive ‘coaching systems’ to help the driver get the maximum range, advising on driving style and the shutdown of accessories and suchlike; there’ll be standard connectivity with smartphones or PCs, giving remote controls to monitor state of charge and initiate charging, apps for charging alerts and optimised utility rates, sat nav and charging point locators.

Honda has also shown off its own swipe-card EV charging station, and a platform for a midsize plug-in hybrid saloon, which will combine a 120kW electric motor and a 2.0-litre petrol engine to give a 10-15 mile range and 62mph top speed in all-electric mode.

Los Angeles Auto Show: Nissan Ellure

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

The work of Nissan’s US design studio, the Ellure concept is only a design study; this glass-roofed four-door saloon is unlikely to see production. However, it shows Nissan’s latest experiments in aerodynamics – check out the deep front bumper spoilers and solid grille with air-deflecting openings, the rear-view cameras in place of mirrors, and the transparent wheel covers over the alloys, with low rolling-resistance tyres. Its engine is a supercharged 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, paired with a 25kW electric motor and CVT gearbox; further fuel-saving features include regenerative braking and electronic steer-by-wire.


Los Angeles Auto Show: Kia Optima Hybrid

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Hyundai Sonata’s sister: the Kia Optima Hybrid uses a direct-injection 2.4-litre petrol engine in a parallel-hybrid system which allows for all-electric operation at up to 62mph. It’s got stop-start and delivers an average 40mpg (US). Unlikely to come to the UK, however.

Best of the rest

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

In non-LA Show news:

  • Volvo has reduced the carbon dioxide emissions of the C30, S40 and V50 DRIVe models to 99g/km, and all three now return up to 74.3mpg (combined). Exempt from the London congestion charge soon, too.
  • Spy shots doing the rounds: a claimed Range Rover plug-in hybrid (Detroit News).
  • Positive feedback from the Mini E trial Stateside: participants reliably achieved an 80-mile range, sometimes getting 100 miles per charge, and three-quarters were keen to go on and buy an EV (Edmunds Green Car Advisor).
  • California’s Coda Automotive is displaying its electric saloon at the LA Show this week, but production is delayed (Wired).

Tuesday newsbriefs

November 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

This red box is the plug-and-play MotoCzysz/Remy International D1g1tal Dr1ve system, launched last week and available next spring from $8999. It’s a complete electric powertrain unit, including gear-reduction, cooling system and a differential, which can simply be mounted into a chassis for a home-built EV or conversion of an existing vehicle; this D1 model develops 100bhp and up to an incredible 848lb ft of torque (peak, or 627lb ft continuous), but other versions will follow.

  • LA Auto Show: GM’s Buick is launching its eAssist system in the LaCrosse. eAssist is a kind of microhybrid; the alternator is replaced by a starter-generator, with regenerative braking, stop-start, electric motor assistance at speed and under acceleration, plus electric-only start-up. Combined with a new six-speed auto gearbox and aerodynamic enhancements this 2.4-litre LaCrosse will now do 37mpg (US) on the highway and 25mpg around town.
  • Ford’s launching the Focus Electric in 19 US cities late 2011. It’ll be on offer in Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Florida, San Francisco, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Richmond, Seattle and Washington DC, plus more when there’s judged to be adequate infrastructure.
  • Volvo’s going to expand its electric C30 test-programme across Europe, China and the US, says Edmunds Green Car Advisor, which has the full lowdown plus a road test report.
  • Renault’s going to do a hot-hatch Gordini version of the Zoe EV, says Autocar: it’ll get the Nissan Leaf powertrain, good for 134bhp and 200lb ft of torque.
  • Chinese car-maker BAIC is making an electric version of the last-generation Saab 9-5; on sale 2011, reports Autoblog Green.
  • Oh no, oh my: Neil Young’s LincVolt, his custom-built 1959 Lincoln Mk IV Convertible with multi-fuel turbine-hybrid powertrain, has been badly damaged in a fire. More details – plus videos – at Autoblog Green.

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