Ford unveils new Escape; EV and hydrogen action

November 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ford has revealed the new Escape SUV in Los Angeles today – one and the same as the next-gen Kuga we’ll get in Europe next spring. Engines on offer are the turbocharged 1.6 and 2.0-litre Ecoboost engines, plus diesels as in the Focus, and even three-cylinder engines may follow; US buyers will get the option of a normally-aspirated 2.5, however. Eco-tweaks include auto-closing grille slats to improve aerodynamics. Ford’s promising class-leading economy. More LA Auto Show news to follow…

  • In other news today: Mercedes-Benz will start taking orders for the SLS AMG E-Cell next year, reports Autoblog Green.
  • The Autovision Museum, near Hockenheim, has recreated a vehicle it claims to be “the world’s earliest EV”, the 1880, 8mph Starley Tricycle. Video of it in action at YouTube.
  • Smith Electric Vehicles is to open a manufacturing facility in the South Bronx to make the Newton, a Ford conversion. New York State is to fund some substantial buyer incentives to support EV sales (Green Car Congress).
  • How do you go ‘beyond the car’? Thoughts on, and sketches of, a new ‘sustainable mobility vehicle’ in an essay at Treehugger. Car-sharing – of tiny, autonomous EVs – and multi-configurable vehicles, integration with other forms of public transport… it’s not rocket science.
  • Los Angeles is “the epicentre for hydrogen cars”, says Treehugger – a “fledgling infrastructure” is growing, apparently.

Design Concept of the Day #6: Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow

November 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

And finally, the Mercedes studio’s entry into the Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge. Its would-be Hollywood hero is inspired by the classic Silver Arrow racers – specifically the W125 Silberpfeil of the late 1930s and the Uhlenhaut SLR of the 1950s, apparently – and the plot involves a pair of crash test dummies who take matters into their own hands against the evil Dr. Barrier. The reluctant heroes save the day, of course, “with a little old-school subterfuge.” More at the Design Challenge website.

Design Concept of the Day #5: Smart 341 Parkour

November 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

The cutesy one in the LA Auto Show Design Challenge. Smart’s entry is a car for a city in which you can’t park: its skyscraper-climbing and up-ending abilities (like parkour, see) help roving reporter Annie Angle investigate the case of the missing Smart Grannie Robots. Whatever. It has “favourable sleuthing capabilities” including a glass roof for a 360-degree view, retractable wheels with vacuum cups, a flying/hovercraft mode and a climb mode.
More at the Design Challenge website.

Design Concept of the Day #4: Honda IH (Intelligent Horse)

November 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Loving this one, Honda’s post-apocalyptic Western vision. Its entry into the Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge is called IH, standing for Intelligent Horse, a vehicle “that serves as a companion and protector in the inhospitable and lonely environment”, in a world “disrupted by the impact of a gigantic comet. IH has the vestigial traces of an equine in its high-tech structure, which features nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, and it can be maintained, produced and enhanced locally. More at the Design Challenge website; the images look as if they’re Photoshopped onto pictures of Pioneertown, btw, a former Hollywood set out by the Joshua Tree National Park.

Design Concept of the Day #3: Hyundai Stratus Sprinter & DB Atlant

November 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

This one’s a Hollywood horror story, not least due to the echoes of McCarthyism. Hyundai’s entry into the Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge is a double: two vehicles for the vampire, time-travelling Countess Elena of Siberia, Soviet spy turned anti-commie campaigner, fighter for freedom and justice. The Stratus Sprinter is a multi-purpose runaround with all-terrain and light combat capabilities, the DB Atlant an airship, both with “a magical stealth force that renders them invisible during daylight.” More at the Design Challenge website.

Tokyo Motor Show preview: Mazda Takeri

October 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mazda’s previewing the next-generation 6 saloon with a concept called Takeri, to be revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show (end of November). Takeri’s a mid-sized four-door featuring Mazda’s SkyActiv tech – lightweight structure, aerodynamic optimisation, new diesel engine, stop start – plus Mazda’s first regenerative braking system, which stores decelerative energy in supercapacitors and reuses it to power the car’s electrical equipment. It’s a taste of Mazda’s next-generation styling, dubbed ‘Kodo’, too.

  • In other news today: Honda’s going to launch the Fit (Jazz) EV at the Los Angeles Auto Show mid-November. It’ll do 100 miles and 90mph; no word on Euro sales as yet.
  • Battery-developer and manufacturer Axeon has signed a collaboration/supply deal with fellow lithium-ion specialists A123 Systems. A123 gives the nanophosphate tech, British firm Axeon the systems integration, design engineering and testing; the partnership is “already engaged with a major UK customer”, according to a statement today, “and additional projects are also on the horizon.”

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.

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