Monday, March 31, 2008

EV future: BMW's i-mobility solution

This is just a quick update on the issue of BMW's future "4th brand", "new iSetta" or whatever it turns out to be. The CGI below is not new and its origins are Auto-Bild. I'm showing it now because I got a sort of confirmation of its credibility both in design direction, packaging (rear-engine layout) and electric drive. By confirmation it means... you know what!... Obviously BMW wants to be the luxury choice in every segment and since we will have a new EV-urban-small-car segment BMW will say "present". And of course, establish another money-printing operation.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Future trends: Eco discounts

The European market is starting to present a new trend: to associate discounts to eco-value. This results from the manufacturers that are becoming interested in a "green" branding of their products (just notice the econetic, bluemotion, eco2... labels). But also because in several European countries the taxes applied to cars are now based on CO2 emissions wich favours lower pricing of more environmentally friendly vehicles. This trend is now starting in France, Spain and also in the UK due to the famous London congestion charge.

The example below is from a VW discount campaign in France. Being the king of mainstream discounts and regular promotions VW was very quick to adopt the new marketing strategies (and you can bet that the presented 3500€ discount can be further extended with adequate negotiation with the sales representative). Other brands are presenting similar campaigns that join together market-appealing promotions and image-boosting "eco" branding.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Renault Mégane III: coupe

The picture below is a reliable preview on how the next coupe iteration of the Megane family will look like. The image is actually older than the recent coupe-concept presented in Geneve by Renault but it already had shown some of the design lines of the concept, which point to its credibility. The new Megane III should be a very good machine building on a new platform (common with the Nissan Qashqai) with superb stiffness and passive safety as well as a new multilink suspension that will make the Peugeot 308 look like a jurassic machine from the torsion-beam era. Will the design of the new Megane work? It has to sell in order to overcome the cold reception of the new Laguna...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Auto-Future's Car of the Year 2008: Toyota IQ and also... the Star of Geneve Auto-Show

Yes, it's becoming a tradition: we don't expect until the end of the year to announce the most significant car of the year. Cuz we know the future. Yehaa baby, the future of automobile! So the Toyota IQ below is Auto-Future's Car of the Year. Because it's a very important car, an example of great downsizing, done with style, quality and several technical advances. For example, Toyota developed a new differential in order to achieve very small front overhangs in a FWD car. And worked on the packaging of the AC systems to make better use of space. In total, six innovations that made possible such a small car with a 3+1 seating configuration. But even better, it looks super cool, kind of an iPod of cars. Unlike the Smart that looks like a plastic toy car. Because it really is a kind of plastic toy car, unlike the IQ that promises a 5 star rating in EuroNCAP crash tests... I hope they deliver. On sale after the summer, the Toyota IQ is our car of the year!

And the star of Geneve Auto-Show is...
Actually, although being unveiled in Geneve the IQ was not the star of the show. In reality, the most talked about car in Geneve was available only for a few Very but really Very Important Persons to see. BMW was showing in a reserved VVIP area the new 7-series... and the reactions from people that saw the thing were great! There will be a new language at BMW, Bangle 2.0 is for real and will be spectacular!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Peugeot 408

A popular sight here at auto-future: the Peugeot 408. The CGI below is not a step in the right direction. Because the next Peugeot 408 needs to build on an emotional design but at the same time keeping timeless features that ensure a longer market-life and more profit in the long-term. Some of the latest Peugeot designs have been too cartoonish... but a company that can design the new Citroen C5 can certainly find a good path for Peugeot.

Friday, March 14, 2008

EV future: Project Better Place

One has to wonder why Israel was the first country to get involved with Project Better Place. In Project Better Place proposal electric cars will be able to travel throughout a network of charging spots and battery exchange stations, with easy access to electricity. A partnerships with car manufacturers and battery suppliers could also create huge benefits for a network subscribers, including lower car prices and batteries that cost far less than conventional fuel. Why the interest of Israel? Do they know something we don't? Well, these folks usually are well informed through their Mossad antenas but the truth is peak oil is not a secret anymore and we need to prepare ourselves for a change in our way of life. A network of charging stations and battery exchange stations to increase the range of electric cars could be a future viable proposition.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

EV Future: Fifth Gear tests the Smart ED

An entertaining review. Do notice that the electric Smart is based on the previous generation model, unlike the petrol that is the current generation. This could explain the handling results.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

EV future: Nissan Cube EV

Nissan will be showing at the next New York Auto Show a concept previewing an electric version of their Cube model. According to Nissan, the car will be on sale in the United States in 2010 (but limited to fleet sales) and for general public in 2012. Not a big fan of the design but at this point I wouldn´t mind a public selling real-life EV, even if it looked like a Seat.

Monday, March 10, 2008

EV future: New Th!nk concept Ox

This one looks like a real car unlike their production model Th!nk city. Th!ink is building momentum with new contracts with GE and battery manufacturer A123. Hopefully this will translate to a future production version of the Ox concept. Do check Th!nk site for more detais on the concept.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Auto-future revisited: Infiniti in Europe

The ongoing Geneve Auto-Show marks the announcement of Infiniti's arrival in Europe. To celebrate this fact I would like to revisit a previous post, from June 2006, on this great arrival. You can check the post here.
After reading the whole thing (actually, it was a sum-up of several previous thoughts) the reader can now hopefully understand the significance of this arrival better. And understand the importance of getting news about the future of automobile here, in Auto-Future blog. And also remember on how I used to write a lot back then, not just the one or two paragraphs per post as in the latest months.

However, there is still one thing that will keep Infiniti a rare sight in european roads. No diesels! Infiniti needs a good diesel offer to succeed here. And please, Renault, don't be afraid to use 4-cylinder diesels like the excellent DCI 175hp. It would suit the beautifull kind-of-SUV-thing below just perfect.