Category: Future Vehicles

By on July 11, 2017

Audi A8

For years, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class represented all the cutting-edge automotive wizardly you could hope to see trickle down into plebeian cars. That honor now belongs to the Audi A8. While Mercedes recently revamped the S-Class to better compete with Audi, the A8 is back with a vengeance — proclaiming itself, once again, to be the future of automobiles.

Now that “luxury car” really means “technology buffet,” Audi has adorned the 2019 A8 with the very best it can offer, hoping to find its way back into the premium vehicle market’s good graces. Read More >

By on July 10, 2017

electrify-america-ev-charging-station, Electrify America

Practically every major manufacturer is touting electric cars as the future of automobiles. There’s good reason to believe them.

With few exceptions, automakers are aggressively pushing toward battery driven vehicles to meet ever more stringent regulatory demands. Several brands plan on fleet-wide electrification within a few years and a handful already snub internal combustion engines entirely. But there may be a massive problem on the horizon ready to handicap the greener future many of us were prepared to embrace.

Volkswagen, a company that has been promoting its own electric revolution in the wake of its diesel emission fiasco, is anticipating a serious lithium-ion battery shortage by 2025. Based on targets of achieving 25 percent of Volkswagen’s total volume from electric vehicles in 10 years, Ulrich Eichhorn, VW’s head of research and development, dramatically increased projections made 13 months ago.

Previous estimates from the company had the number set at 150 gigawatt-hours of electricity.

“We will need more than 200 gigawatt-hours,” Eichhorn stated on June 30th during a presentation at Volkswagen’s proving grounds north of Wolfsburg.

Read More >

By on July 10, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Arteon cargo - Image: VolkswagenHumpback. Tailback. Silverback.

Paperback. Greenback. Kickback.

Payback. Setback. Buyback.

Notchback. Liftback. Hatchback.

Fastback.

Elmar-Marius Licharz, the director of mid and large car model lines at Volkswagen, makes it very clear that the 2018 Volkswagen Arteon, a successor to the Volkswagen CC, is not a hatchback. Read More >

By on July 7, 2017

Original Ferrari Factory Entrance - Image: FerrariCAR Magazine’s automotive insider, Georg Kasher, has confirmed Ferrari’s first utility vehicle will be unveiled in 2021. Codenamed F16X, the Ferrari SUV/crossover/high-sided vehicle will be a partner vehicle of the GTC4Lusso successor, itself a direct descendant of the Ferrari FF, Ferrari’s first all-wheel-drive vehicle.

Ah, it’s all coming together now. The FF was a trojan horse.

If the 2021 Ferrari F16X comes to fruition, it will be over the proverbial dead bodies of all those Ferrari executives who have denied the possibility of a Ferrari SUV. “We will not play with SUVs,” current CEO Sergio Marchionne said earlier this year in Geneva. “It’s not that we’re not planning an SUV for now — we’re not planning one at all,” former CEO Amadeo Felisa said in Frankfurt in 2015.

But a Ferrari SUV has nevertheless been long rumored, and the rumors were stoked when marketing chief Nicola Boari discussed at length earlier this year the way in which a Ferrari SUV would need to create a new segment.

Indeed, according to CAR, Ferrari’s first foray into the utility vehicle arena will be different: aluminum architecture, suicide doors sans B-pillars, a likely hybrid powertrain, and a price tag of roughly $350,000. Read More >

By on June 30, 2017

mercedes-gas-i6

While we knew Mercedes-Benz’s AMG sub-brand had plans to dabble in electrification for upcoming performance models, details of what that could mean for the sub-brand’s products remained pretty thin on the ground.

Daimler R&D head Ola Källenius explained back in January that future AMG-badged vehicles will gradually become “more and more electric.” Never mind the limited-production Project One hypercar that’s in the works — that model is just a plaything for the Dubai set. Well, now we know exactly what AMG has planned for the new rung in its model range, and it indeed makes use of charged particles to lend some extra grunt to the overall package.

It also brings a very sweet inline-six to the table. Baby steps, people. Read More >

By on June 30, 2017

Mag-X Lexus RX Three-Row Tokyo - Image: Mag-X via AutoguideThe Lexus RX is, by a massive margin, America’s top-selling luxury utility vehicle.

Through the first five months of 2017, Lexus had already sold 38,329 copies of the RX350 and RX450h in the United States. Most competing luxury crossovers won’t produce that many sales in all of 2017.

But Lexus wants more, and with car sales plunging — Lexus car sales are down 29 percent so far this year — there’s no better means of adding volume than by expanding the utility vehicle division. Lexus has already introduced the NX to sit below the RX, and it’s a verifiable hit. But the GX and LX at the top of the Lexus SUV/CUV heap add only incremental volume.

Thus, Lexus is readying a three-row version of the Lexus RX, a natural fit given the RX’s connections to the three-row Toyota Highlander. This much we knew.

Now, based on reports from Japan’s Mag-X, we also know the seven-seat Lexus RX will debut at the Tokyo in late October 2017. Read More >

By on June 30, 2017

2017 Audi RS3 sedan red - Image: AudiWhether A3 and Q5 and Allroad drivers in 2017 know it or not, much of Audi’s modern reputation is built upon a foundation cemented by the Audi Quattro rally car in the 1980s.

In the capable hands of drivers such as Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist, and Walter Röhrl, Audi brought dominant traction to the World Rally Championship and eventually found traction in the marketplace as well.

Fast forward to 2017 and Audi consistently reports meaningful growth in the North American market. Audi sales in the United States have grown in seven consecutive years, more than doubling since 2010. And while U.S. auto sales are dipping in the first half of 2017 — including declines at the only three premium brands that outsell Audi — the Audi brand is up 7 percent, year-over-year.

Audi’s methodology has been well and truly copied by many of its rivals. Quattro isn’t the only all-wheel-drive brand in town. Badges for 4Matic and xDrive are common on the trunklids of many a Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

How then can Audi stand out from the pack? With its high-performance models, the RS variants, Audi may well drop Quattro all-wheel drive on some models in a bid for rear-wheel-drive performance supremacy. Read More >

By on June 29, 2017

fuel gauge

A recent study from Consumers Union — the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports — shows continued interest among U.S. residents in seeing automakers improve fuel economy figures, even as gas prices remain fairly low.

While this should come as a shock to no one, nearly nine in 10 surveyed consumers agreed automakers should continue improving fuel efficiency standards on all vehicles. As well, only 30 percent believed manufacturers actually cared about lowering fuel costs for their customers.

This might be true but, then again, why would automakers do such a thing when the general populace has essentially turned its back on economical passenger cars? With little incentive to sell them, especially if the Trump administration alters 2025 emission targets, any top-tier automaker focusing exclusively on building MPG-focused automobiles would be placing itself at major financial risk.

The survey indicated fuel economy as the area perceived to possess the most room for improvement in modern vehicles. However, consumers have not used their wallets to bolster economy car sales. There appears to be a disparity between what the public claims to value and how it actually behaves. At a minimum, consumers may have misunderstood everything it would take to see fleet-wide fuel consumption decline. If they want to see higher MPGs, they’re going to have to make some sacrifices and the survey doesn’t allude to that fact.  Read More >

By on June 29, 2017

2018 Ford Mustang GT V8 - Image: Ford

Ford Motor Company, in a tremendously public product planning moment, revealed at the beginning of 2017 that the automaker would produce an F-150 Hybrid, Transit plug-in hybrid, and a Mustang Hybrid by 2020.

Then-CEO Mark Fields said at the time, “Ford is committed to being a leader in providing consumers with a broad range of electrified vehicles.” But now that Ford revealed plans for the 2020 Mustang Hybrid, the Blue Oval has a three-year gap in which to talk about a car that doesn’t yet exist.

How to talk about it now, three years prior to launch? Ford Canada is placing promoted ads on Twitter that are endlessly popping up in my feed.

The Mustang Hybrid is not shown. But the future earns a prominent mention. Read More >

By on June 26, 2017

google prototype-early

Earlier this month, Apple and Google both announced plans to kill off their self-driving car projects in favor of focusing on developing the underlying technology. We reported it here. But it’s a little weird that one announcement came so close on the heels of the other. Apple’s Project Titan, formerly a self-driving car project, will presumably continue to compete with Google’s Waymo, which is a subsidiary for Google’s efforts thus far in the field. It’s a race, even if neither company has acknowledged it as such.

Last we knew, Project Titan was testing self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs around Silicon Valley, which were first spotted in late April. Waymo was arguably more successful, since they’d actually succeeded in building a fleet of the Firefly self-driving car pod.

Apple and Google are both being vague about this change in plans, as usual, but we already know a fair amount about how these companies interact with auto manufacturers. We just need to look at Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Some automakers eschew these systems entirely, in favor of their own native smartphone integration and infotainment interfaces. A handful of manufacturers have chosen to support just one or the other.

Many car brands, though, have decided to offer both interfaces to appeal to the most broad range of customers. In this way, Apple and Google both exert considerable influence on automakers based simply on the fact that they sell smartphones.

If Project Titan and Waymo both succeed at becoming functional and user-friendly self-driving car systems, car buyers can expect something similar. Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

2018 Nissan Leaf [Image: Nissan]

After hemming and hawing for what seemed like forever, Nissan will bring American electric vehicle enthusiasts a long-overdue new Leaf later this year. Say goodbye to that old, swoopy body and 107-mile range (at best), and give a cheerful hello to a not-yet-revealed body, undisclosed driving range, and these headlights.

Okay, so there’s not a whole lot known about the next Leaf except that it won’t be an ancient thing that appeared at the dawn of the electric car resurrection. You might be able to drive to a nearby city and back. However, we now know that trip doesn’t have to be as hands-on as it once was. Read More >

By on June 22, 2017

lynk-and-co-model-02

Geely may be pushing the Lynk & Co brand as the most connected and tech-savvy in existence but its senior vice president Alain Visser believes its sales strategy should remain simple. With cars supposedly rolling out in Europe and North America for 2019, Lynk & Co is only planning to offer an extremely limited number of trim choices that rotate seasonally. It’s a fine strategy for an unknown element breaking into the marketplace but it does omit the ability to rake in the additional dough via optional extras. However, it also permits for lower production costs and a flat rate Lynk & Co claims buyers won’t need to bother negotiating.

How convenient for everyone.  Read More >

By on June 21, 2017

2018 Subaru WRX STI and WRX - Image: Subaru

Even thought Subaru’s new Impreza is already here and riding on the company’s new global platform, an updated WRX appears to be a long way off. In fact, it might be another three years until we see an updated performance sedan from the (mostly) all-wheel-drive automaker.

While the current incarnations of the WRX and its hotter STI variant still provide balanced dynamics and remain well liked by driving enthusiasts, seven years without a significant upgrade is a long time to wait. Read More >

By on June 21, 2017

Polestar logo, Image: Volvo Cars

Think of it as a green brand known for producing some very blue cars. Polestar, Volvo’s performance wing, will be spun off into an electrified automaker under a new plan from the Swedish car manufacturer.

Expected to do battle with the likes of Tesla and BMW’s i sub-brand, future Polestars — like their gasoline-powered predecessors — will stake out space in the performance arena, only this time in a different niche. Read More >

By on June 20, 2017

2018 Kia Stonic, Image: Kia

After Hyundai dropped the curtain on its B-segment Kona crossover last week, corporate cousin Kia wasn’t far behind, pulling the wraps off its own new subcompact crossover earlier today.

The Stonic, which will go on sale in Europe in the third quarter of this year, rides atop the same platform as the Kona, but arguably wears it better. Sporting a more cohesive design, a sharp, contemporary face, and headlights in all the right places, the Stonic aims to gra Kia a slice of the growing subcompact utility vehicle market. In Europe, the segment is expected to grow to more than 10 percent of all new sales in just a few years.

That’s money Kia wants to take home to Korea. It’s not just overtaxed European buyers on Kia’s hit list, either; automakers are hurriedly adding missing CUVs to their North American lineups to boost sales and market share. Read More >

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