Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lancia Delta 2008

Definitive, we guess. Not bad...although we see too much Bravo in the profile. But what about Lancia's future? Does this car really matter?... wouldn't something much more impressive be needed?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Autozeitung presented a new article on "VW vs Opel" dealing with future cars of the two German mainstream manufacturers. Amongst several CGIs this one of the next Polo looks really good, the new car (if it turns out like that) should have no problem fighting against the Opel Corsa. The Golf VI vs Astra will be a different story considering how VW is working hard right now on incentives and campaigns in Europe to keep the Golf in the top 3... can the next model win against the next Astra in the big German mainstream battle?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Auto-Future's public service: Eco labels

Lately we noticed, particularly in Europe, that several manufacturers are using Eco labels and making special editions of cars that are frienly to the environment. Examples: ECO2; Ecomotion; Econetic; bluemotion... We would like to warn the interested consumer about these labels and a general lack of real improvements, unless at the expenses of safety and/or driver enjoyment.
For example, Renault uses the ECO2 label for cars with emissions of CO2 lower than 140g/km, amongst other features. Is that a really big improvement?... many cars from the competition achieve better emissions than 140g/km and don't use any Eco label...
Other example: the VW Passat bluemotion gets better fuel consumption and 136g/km by using a diesel 105hp engine(!)... wow, better call this thing the Passat blue-slowmotion...
A particular worrying example is concerned with safety: recently, tyre manufacturer Continental suggested that new low rolling resistance tyres could have bigger stoping distances loosing on safety in order to achieve lower emissions. We checked the target of these statements, the new Michelin energy saving tyres, and had a look at recent comparative tests of the Peugeot 308, one of the first cars to have the new Michelin tyres. And guess what, the Peugeot 308 performed really well in both handling and braking tests being amongst the best of its class. So, not to be worried about Michelin energy-saving tyres, but be worried about Continental's Public Relation stunts...
Finally, a word of advise on this new ECO-movement. Be carefull of claims and check the facts, as exposed with the unfortunate Continental statements. And be ready to wait a litlle bit until real energy saving technology becomes cheaper... many of the stuff BMW is using in their "Efficient dynamics" portfolio is really good and provides lower consumption and emissions without loosing driving pleasure... but it's expensive! However, expect during the next two years for several of BMW's pioneered technology to be available in mainstream cars as prices go down.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ford Fiesta

Autoexpress presented new spy-shots and reliable CGIs of the new Fiesta: it looks great, as expected. Click the picture for the original news. We would like to give opinion on the following: the article refers that the Fiesta uses the same platform as the Mazda 2, as expected. However, we hope the new car is bigger than the Mazda equivalent that we believe looks a bit small compared to its competitors. The other thing is that Ford people are referring weight-saving in the new car and future cars from Ford. We believe that, at this stage, it's not wise to make a lot of PR talk about weigh-reduction. We believe customers are not prepared yet to embrace the concept. If that weigh-saving means CO2 emissions are smaller then great, have your marketing people bragg about that... but don't mention weight. Just focus on reduced CO2 emissions and consumption because that's what customers want to hear.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Renault Scenic 3

The poor image below shows a different angle on the next Renault Scenic. Currently the Scenic is the money-maker in Renault range, something Ghosn said would like to change in order to be less dependent on a single model. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like the new Laguna is going to change that... and seeing the new design of the Citroen C5 we feel that Renault will have a hard time in its home market.

Concerning the next Scenic, whatever the design of the Megane from which it is based, the Scenic will be carefully toned down to please everyone... no weird lines and creases in the family's favourite. It will be interesting to follow how the European market develops for family cars: cars like the Scenic/C-Max/Picasso have been hugely popular but the main brands will be pushing small SUVs like the Tiguan/Kuga... will image factors of the SUVs prevail or environmental responsability will keep people choosing compact minivans?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Smart Fortwo achieves Audi safety standards

Or put in other words, the new Smart Fortwo got a 4-star rating for occupant safety in the EuroNCAP crash test the same as, for example, an Audi Q7. The two cars are not directly comparable, of course, and the EuroNCAP always highlights that cars from different classes are not directly comparable. However, another key difference is that in the Smart class of vehicles 4-star is a very good rating since neither the 107/C1/Aygo or the Renault Twingo have 5-star results. The same can not be said about the class of cars where the Q7 competes... unless the Q7 is in a class of its own... a 4-star class of car.

Another interesting bit is that we can safely guess that the Smart will not get a 5-star rating in the future... but then we predicted long ago that Audi would improve the Q7 to get a 5-star rating but since then that prediction failed to materialize. And we hate to fail our future predictions.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fiat Bravo SUV

The previous post on the Bravo SW reported on a bland design but the SUV version should be much more interesting. Actually we are not even sure if this generation Bravo will get the break version, in a couple of years many customers in this class of cars will prefer the SUV or a compact minivan. This Bravo-SUV proposal looks great and will be a major contribute to lower CO2 emissions and... wait, oh dear!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fiat Bravo break

The CGI shows a possible interpretation of the next break version of the Fiat Bravo range. At this point can't really say if the Bravo will be a great success like the Grande Punto... certainly the design is very good but Fiat always had a difficult time in this segment. The break version could help sales although this design seems too bland for the latest practice in fiat design.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Renault Mégane III

A really nice CGI of next year's Mégane III has surfaced. It looks very good in this image, but as usual, it's not likely that Renault makes the car with such small windows. Wich is a pity really, Renault should look at the citroen C5 and check how wonderfull that coupe-ish design looks while just reducing window size a bit... a much more elegant profile than the new Laguna!

Technically the Mégane III will present a new entry-level diesel engine: a reworked version of the current 1.5DCI enlarged to 1.6. This will be the norm in this class of cars, considering the future small diesels from VW, Fiat and of course the ubiquitous 1.6HDI. Another interesting technical feature is related to suspension: the new Mégane will actually have a more sophisticated rear suspension than the new Laguna, because it will use the same multilink setup has the Nissan Qashqai. However, no rear-wheel steering is available with such system.

Friday, November 09, 2007

EV future day: Subaru G4e concept

G4e actually means "Good for earth"! But what's with the video, no sound? And about that green colour... oh wait, now we got it! Green colour besides this concept actually looks very good. And we particularly like those sharp creases in the front, it reminds us of the... Toyota IQ concept.

EV future day: Denmark and electric vehicle plans

More interesting and relevant news on our EV future: Denmark has plans to promote the use of electric cars, suppported by a network of about half a million charging stations around the country that would work as gas stations in a way that users wouldn't notice significant differences. The Government of Denmark is also looking for a formula via tax exemptions to make the plan attractive both to the public and to investors. We know how Nordic countries favour the environment so we have great hopes that these plans go ahead.

EV future day: Fuel cells

What all of this lithium batteries news bring to fuel cells? It means that what was once the next big thing and the biggest promise for future clean transportation could be totally scrapped, at least for some years.

This week Ballard sold their fuel cell business to a consortium of Daimler and Ford (!). This news bit is relevant because for many years Ballard was THE (that's right, capital and bold) fuel cell company. In the last years almost every fuel cell concept-car presented by manufacturers used a cell from Ballard. Now it seems the company lost breath regarding this technology.

Also recently a VW senior engineer said that "fuel-cell cars are not going to live up to the hype that is surrounding them" and that these "are not the future of alternative power and are only getting so much attention because of the strict emissions laws in places such as California". We wouldn´t totally scrap the idea of fuel cells (at least they are used to power electric cars) but now it seems the development of batteries will at least delay fuel cells for some years.

EV future day: VW and Li-ion batteries

Today it's EV day at auto-future. Only EV related news, because in the last days a lot of interesting stuff surfaced.

Starting with the news that VW is joining forces with other German companies (including Bosch and BASF) to develop lithium ion battery systems. That's a good move by VW because, if Li-ion is going to be important in the future, it's better for car companies to master the development process and develop its own technology. By the way Toyota is pursuing the same route. This news bit also gives further credit to the rumours that the future Up small car family would have electric drive available. Of course, this is highly relevant, except for auto-future that has been covering EV news obssessively since more than one year.
Are other German car companies working with Li-ion batteries? Well, Mercedes will be the first company to actually sell a hybrid with lithium batteries, while recent rumours of BMW wanting to buy a major component manufacturer could be related with EV interest? What, you didn't know about that rumour? We are asking for trouble on this one!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


A new CGI of the BMW X1 has surfaced, originated from CAR magazine. It looks really nice although it's still too early to assess its reliability. Currently the new small SAV from BMW is in early development stage and some weird-looking "structures" have been spotted in Germany testing basically weight distribution, handling, stiffness prior to development of mules and prototypes. Business as usual for BMW that usually spend a lot of time testing their new cars. The X1 should use most of the bits from the next 1-series platform that is as such optimized for allowing this new element in the family.

Friday, November 02, 2007

5-door Volvo hatchback

The CGI below previews how a new 5-door C30-derived Volvo could look like. It looks like a V50, so expect the final version to be a bit different from this image. The good people at Volvo must be very happy with their S40-V50-C30 line. These cars are successfull in different markets and bring a nice profit. Remember, these are essentially modified versions of the Ford Focus platform, adequately packaged with smoother looks, improved perceived quality and more high-scale marketing investment and targets. The usual strategy of Audi that manages to make a lot of profit from "Seats in disguise". We wonder why people don't choose the offers from Mercedes or BMW that are real luxury cars, not just mainstream-derived premium, and don't cost that much more... Anyway, who cares, it works for Volvo and Audi.
The new 5-door hatch should use the same engines as in the current Focus platform as well as any new offer, like DSG gearbox smaller turbo engines, etc. We would like to see a plug-in hybrid like a recent C30 concept from Volvo but such version is not in the program, at least not now.