Thursday, November 30, 2006

2010 Alfa Romeo small SUV

... or crossover, whatever! There is a new craze in Europe about small compact-based SUVs. We will have the VW Tiguan, the Focus small SUV, the Nissan Qashqai, Mercedes GLK, BMW smaller-than-X3-SAV... and also an Alfa 149-based crossover. It will, for sure, look very good and the mechanical credentials already exist (4-wheel drive with torsen differential is available in the Alfa 159). So why arriving so late? Hurry up Alfa!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The road to EV future: the new TH!NK city

Shall we put a name in this? How about: “The road to EV future”. This means you will be hearing a lot about Electric Vehicles in the future (and mainly the pure stuff not just fuel cells). And since this joint is named Auto-Future then… let’s start something about the electrification of automobile.

The news today is about a near future EV by Norwegian company Think that will present a modern version of the old Ford TH!NK EV with improved styling and internals (range now in excess of 180km). It does look very good for a small city-car and let’s hope it’s for real and available in all Europe

Monday, November 27, 2006

2010 Nissan EV

Another EV expected for 2010. Following the footsteps of, hopefully, Mitsubishi (i-EV); Subaru (R1e); Smart (Fortwo EV?), Nissan announced the introduction of a sub-compact EV using proprietary lithium-ion batteries. We are not sure of what sub-compact means: Yaris-size in the USA or something even smaller in Japan. Anyway, this is great news that can point to a future snowball effect in the EV market. The original news is from a Japanese journal via GreenCarCongress.

...hopefully better looking than this Hypermini thing...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

2007 Renault Laguna III (White Ghost)

Renault has been showing us the fashion-dressed Laguna III. White is not my cup of tea but hey, it’s more original than the usual black tape and plastics. Now AutoExpress has caught it in video which is nice to see more angles of the White Ghost. Check this link for their video and while at it check their video section for more on other cars and raise the volume for that BMW M3 V8 sound. Brilliant stuff!

The exterior final design of the Laguna is not known yet. The illustration below was presented by French magazine
L’Auto Journal and looks very good although it’s not entirely accurate. In a typically French manner the inside information is good but the illustration skills are poor. Although many people still speculate about such trickery as the availability of 4-wheel steering the underpinnings of the Laguna III are already well known and will be much more vulgar…

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Sniffpetrol issue!

There is a new Sniffpetrol issue. We usually wouldn't bother to spread the news but this one is very good indeed. The piece "BMW M5 in manual mix-up" is brilliant. And also the picture of Pischetsrieder with the Pope that we publish without permission below. We will miss Pischetsrieder... remember when he arrived at VW, he had this ideas of making a small MR roadster like Toyota´s MR2 and a uber-VW using the RWD transaxle platform of the Maserati quattropuorte... he was a funny dude, and the accountants that run the company must have found him funny too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hyundai Santa Fe

Warning: nothing about the future here! Pictured below is the engine bay of the Hyundai Santa Fe, the V6 version. Have a good look because we will get back to that. We already expressed some good will about Mitsubishi and will do the same about Hyundai or whatever other company that wants a piece of the European market: If you need help about choices for your cars that need to meet the tastes of European consumers just ask auto-future. We will be glad to help and for free! For example, consider the interior design of the Santa Fe. It uses some blue lightning for the instruments. Had Hyundai asked about that and we would approve. It’s a copy of other manufacturers choices but it looks good and suits the brand well. Now consider how they used wood in the interior. Had Hyundai asked about that and we would disaprove. There are some dos and dont’s about the use of wood inside cars and the way Hyundai did it it’s wrong because (assuming it uses real wood) it makes real wood look fake.

So the engine bay then. Doesn’t it look like the engine is off-centre? Well it isn’t, the problem is that Hyundai used the engine cover to make it look like it’s longitudinally mounted when in reality it is transversally mounted. And in the process they dit this illusion in a rather clumsy way. Hyundai is lucky because European consumers will mainly buy the diesel version so this litlle illusion in the V6 will go off notice. But next time please ask advice because consumers over here can be very critical of such moves.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

2009 Ford Mustang

New sketches for a future classic. The original article is from Auto Motor und Sport where they mention the possibility of a 3-door van-hatchback thing. Or in German language, a kombi.That would be a muscle kombi then. Please Ford, bring it to Europe this time!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

2008 Ford Fiesta

Pictured below is an interpretation of the 2008 Ford Fiesta. This is an important car for European Ford since it will replace a very successful model that doesn’t have a very exciting design but is indeed a very good product. This is typical of recent Euro-Fords. Now, with some excitement added in the design (just check the S-Max and the new Mondeo), Ford of Europe is up for a good fight against the native European brands.

This photoshop of the Fiesta is not new, and it is of course based on the Iosis concept. So it didn’t catch our attention at the time… until some spy-shots of the next Mazda 2 surfaced (photos by Lehman and
presented in Worldcarfans). The small Mazda and the Fiesta are evil twins, sharing most of the underpinnings and being manufactured in the same factory in Spain. But the thing that caught our attention in the Mazda spy-shots was the design of the wheelarches (plus a disturbing resemblance to the Yaris in the back and the fact that it will look gazillion times better than the current Mazda 2). This wheelarch design follows the theme presented in the CX-7 crossover and also previewed is a Mazda 6 CGI. And, most important, they are similar to the wheelarches previewed in the Fiesta CGI. Very interesting, indeed… could this Fiesta prediction be more real than we thought initially? Fact is, it looks too good to be true!

When the 2008 Fiesta arrives it will also bring a more youthfull interior with some interesting developments in the HMI. Expect a menu-based control system for some entertainment devices. And can we expect a multilink suspension? The latest reports don’t suggest that, although it would be very nice if Ford would lead the pack in this class like it did with the Focus back in 1998. 10 years since the introduction of the Focus-I could well be cellebrated by giving a multilink suspension to the Fiesta and being again the absolute leader in handling.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Future Human Machine Interfaces

The topic of HMIs has become increasingly important seeking to maximize safety, ease of use and ergonomy in dealing with more and more sophisticated car equipments. Arguably, the biggest technology jump was BMW's I-drive that was (and still is) much criticised although eventually copied by other manufacturers. Much of the future of HMI will use I-drive type controllers, eventually linked to head-up systems for increased safety. The picture below shows a concept for a future vehicle controller (and by the looks of it destined to an American car).
As a funny note we would like to remember an advert for Mercedes back in 2002 when the I-drive was under great fire of flame criticism. Mercedes took the opportunity to gain advantage on that. Of course, the advertising now looks ridiculous because the new S-series uses an I-drive type controller. The marketing people of Mercedes made a fool of themselves but not the engineers. Mercedes engineers are some of the best in the world and they knew when to change to a superior system.