Tuesday, October 30, 2007

EV Future: Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport

This car is ugly and has some silly fans in the front to generate energy. But also has a photovoltaic top that could be more usefull and Li-ion batteries placed low in the floor to lower the centre of gravity. It's ugly but it's electric and for real, mitsubishi will sell a more conventional design in 2009-2010 although it won't have in-wheel motors like this concept.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Honda says won't build plug-in hybrids

In an interesting interview to The Wall Street Journal, Honda's chief executive Takeo Fukui told journalists that the "so-called" plug-in hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles didn't do enough for the environment, so his company isn't going to pursue them.

We find this statement very interesting because it reminded us of other statements from Honda some years ago. In case the reader didn't notice, this auto-future joint is based in Europe, and some 10 years ago we remember Honda saying that they had no interest in diesel engines and doing a lot of talk about the benefits and advantages of their Vtec gasoline engines. Eventually time proved how wrong they were and eventually Honda had to make a diesel engine for the European market. In the meantime Honda lost a lot of marketshare in Europe and today is out of pace in the modern diesel engine market.

So now Honda does a lot of talk, again... well at least they are pursuing pure Electric Vehicles but we are sure plug-in hybrids will have great market possibilities. In any case, if in the future the folks from Honda have trouble finding their direction in this competitive market, just send an email to auto-future and we will help for free.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Peugeot 408

Pictured below is a recent interpretation on how the Peugeot 408 could look like. We say it looks too good to be true, unless Peugeot has decided to colaborate again with Pininfarina studio, which would be a great idea. There is, however, a theme present in the CGI that could be for real: a toned down of the front design that in the 407 is too cartoonish. Cars should have an emotional appeal expressed through design, but should also stand the test of time and deliver sales and profit for several years. We believe that the current 407 is not well accomplished in this matter hence the need to refine the front end.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Renault Scenic III

Just a CGI image for now, with some recent Renault design clues. The Scenic is an important car for Renault, maybe the most important in profitability of the current range. Renault will not mess with the design and the general theme in this image could be a good replacement for the current car.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Prodrive working on new Focus RS?

The next Focus RS has been an elusive machine with conflicting reports on whether it will exist or not. Apparently it will, but resulting from the very specialized work of Prodrive, the race-proven automotive development company.

The new car will be based on the recently-restyled shell (hence the illustrating picture below is old news), adequately beefed up in tyres, brakes, stiffness, etc. for the task of delivering to the tarmac an amount in excess of 300hp courtesy of an inline 6 cylinder 3 litre turbo engine. Wow, that should sound glorious, we just love inline sixes! Of course it can not handle such power with FWD so a 4WD system will be available. Much of this stuff is based on existing Volvo offers (the engine and Haldex AWD system) but with extensive modifying by Prodrive engineers. There are also rumours that the new car could get a torque-vectoring rear differential but this last info is for now unconfirmed.

The development story of this new RS reminded us of the old Focus I RS and how at a certain point we believed that machine would never be made. It turned out a glorious car even if a bit unrefined. We expect that the new one will also be a bit rough around the edges but with that turbo inline six it should be epic.

Something for our american readers

The famous words “the grass is always greener on the other side” frequently apply to car offers. Very often American enthusiasts complain on how European models like the Fiesta, Focus II or Mondeo should be on sale in the USA. And here in Europe we frequently complain on how such models like the new American-derivative Opel GT should not be on sale in Europe. Wait, something doesn’t add up, errr… whatever!

A new
comparison test by magazine Auto Motor und Sport further confirms the superb engineering of European Ford models. The article compares the Ford Mondeo 2.0TDCI and the Mercedes C-class C200CDI and… the Ford wins! Yes, it’s that good and AMS is no crap magazine, it’s the most respected German car magazine!

Not that the American Fusion is a bad car it’s just that in their latest models Ford of Europe really shines.

Friday, October 12, 2007

EV future: BMW's 4th brand could sell electric cars

It's not official yet (well the fact that BMW will have a 4th brand is), but rumours point to the possibility that BMW's new brand will compete in the small car category (think Smart or VW Up), focusing on new alternatives for urban mobility. A new architecture, new urban mobility, new design paradigm and... hybrid and full electric powertrains. Yes, full electric. Could use the name Isetta, an icon from BMW in the 60's, or get a completely new name.

There have been some indications about this new brand, even in Bangle's interviews and some famous marketing-related insiders have also hinted at the electric powertrain. We have a source from a tier-1 supplier that confirms the process is in motion. Just for illustration, an electric concept car from BMW in the 90's, the E1:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

EV future: Mitsubishi i-EV

CAR magazine did a first drive of the electric version of the brilliant Mitsubishi i. They really like the car and report the possibility for it being on sale in the UK in 2008. We would bet more on 2009-10 but anyway this car is on the frontline for the beginning of EVs for mass market. Enjoy the article from CAR.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

EV future: Toyota 1/X concept

Lots of electric juice lately, right? Well it's Tokyo show and back in January with the Volt presentation at Detroit show we already predicted that Tokyo would be the most interesting show of the year for electric vehicles and/or plug-in hybrids. And of course it turned out true with lots of concepts although no vehicles for sale, yet. The picture below shows the Toyota 1/X concept, a plug-in hybrid with a very small 500cc IC engine that moves the car because it is very light: 420kg only! However, the amount of carbon fibre used in the vehicle does not point to a future series production due to cost issues, even if (finally!) reducing weight is a new trend in the industry.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

EV future: Subaru G4e

Still a concept, the G4e packs lithium-ion batteries for an expected 200km range. Well, who cares about the range since it´s not for sale! But we are geting closer and closer.

Monday, October 08, 2007

EV future: Nissan Pivo 2

This is why we love Tokyo show, just check the concept, the design, the litlle robot inside. Brilliant! We also like that it's electric, although still a concept car.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

EV future: Volvo ReCharge Concept hybrid

Another series hybrid concept. The in-wheel motors are interesting but that feature proves that for now this is just a concept. In-wheel motors are for now a very difficult technology to master.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Seat Ibiza 2008

The picture below shows the next Ibiza, as presented in Auto Motor und Sport. Please visit their site for more photos and/or keep reading for more information. Lately we noticed CAR magazine uses a Q & A scheme in their articles. We are going to borrow that cuz we think it makes us look cool!
What is it?
It's the next Seat Ibiza at night in a road with snow. The car itself it's basically a Skoda Fabia with different body panels and interior. These cars are also closely related to the next VW Polo and even the Audi A1. Business as usual at VW group.

What are the differences then... any new engine?
The Ibiza will follow Seat's motto "sport and tacky" so the interior detailing and external design will be less classic than Skoda's or VW's. Nothing new on the technical bits, whatever is found on a Polo will have its place in the Ibiza. Maybe a more chip-tuned TDI with lots of red lettering in some sporty (and tacky) edition but that's it for technical differences.

Why should I care?
You shouldn't!