By on November 4, 2019

Celebrating 30 years of existence, Infiniti announced it was time for a sea change this week. While sales have improved since the recession, last year saw a modest decline in volume that carried over into 2019 in a big way. Year to date, Nissan volume is down 6 percent, with Infiniti posting a 17.1-percent loss — we discussed this earlier in the day, if you’re interested.

Most of this saga is occuring in the United States, where Infiniti sources the bulk of its sales. China and Europe are footnotes for the manufacturer. Yet Infiniti would very much like to improve its global appeal, so it’s banking on EV adoption as being the next global consumer craze.

Considering how many countries are embracing stringent emission goals, Nissan’s premium arm could be making a wise choice. However, the U.S. hasn’t been quite so eager to push (or embrace) automotive electrification — meaning Infiniti could be endangering the one market that’s keeping it afloat. Unfortunately, the status quo doesn’t seem to be working, either — encouraging the automaker to adopt alternative powertrains and design cues in the coming years.  (Read More…)

By on October 30, 2019

While the writers of this website do not universally endorse the designs coming out of Hyundai Motor Group, the general consensus is that there has been a concerted effort on behalf of the styling department to up its game. Pretty much everything the company as previewed for us over the last couple of years has at least been interesting. We even said so earlier this week, after Hyundai teased the new Azera/Grandeur.

While that model is likely to remained locked inside other parts of the globe for now, North America is getting boldly redesigned versions of the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. Whereas the Sonata is being prepped for sales this fall, Optima is a bit further out — likely arriving for the 2021 model year. But it should have a similarly ambitious and impactful design, assuming the latest mockups are indicative of the production car.  (Read More…)

By on October 15, 2019

No one really expected electric pickup trucks to take off as a concept, save for the people developing them. While EVs still need to improve their maximum range to truly surpass combustion-reliant vehicles, modern examples perform much better than their predecessors. But battery size and vehicle weight remain important issues for the segment, making the idea of an electric work vehicle seem about as useful as an edible diaper.

Then the concepts started arriving, sucking far less than most of us expected. There were loads of new ideas, like interesting storage solutions and auxiliary power ports for tools — all stemming from electrification. What’s more is that the vehicle itself seems like it could benefit from the instant torque and lower center of gravity furnished by electric powertrains. Battery packs can also be made larger (improving range), as pickups have more areas to stash cells without intruding into the passenger compartment. Maybe this wasn’t a dumb idea after all.

Ford and General Motors have both confirmed the development of electric pickups, with the former currently running prototypes. Meanwhile, Rivian and Bollinger have already shown off their designs. EV darling Tesla had a truck it wanted to debut over the summer, but the model saw its release pushed back. Now, CEO Elon Musk has confirmed that the vehicle will emerge next month.  (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2019

Hyundai is bringing a retro-future concept vehicle to the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. Called the 45, the car appears to be an electrified hatchback and has the stated mission of helping the brand shape future EV designs. While we’ve only seen a single teaser image of the model thus far, we like where this is heading.

The automaker says the 45 was “inspired by looking back at the brand’s first model in the 1970s,” meaning the Ford Cortina is (and probably always was) off the table. The South Korean manufacturer is likely referencing the rear-drive Pony subcompact. It certainly appears to be the correct shape and the taillight location is similar enough for us not to rule it out. However, the total package seems to be more inspired by the DeLorean DMC-12 and 1980s concepts like the Citroën Karin or Ford Maya.  (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2019

 

After our last installment, I feel nothing but regret for misrepresenting butchering TTAC Commentator Arthur Dailey’s query.  Because people do get in their car to warm it up before beginning the process of rooftop snow removal. And they’d prefer to remove roof snow, not snow that fell into power window switch pods.

So after multiple emails, a promise to try again. To which Mr. Dailey’s reply was:

“OK.  But perhaps you could expand that to explain something related to car design?  Which is why I sent the question to your attention.”

(Read More…)

By on May 15, 2019

Before Smart goes all-electric next year, Daimler plans to offer “an exclusive and strictly limited special edition” model as a farewell to its combustion-engine vehicles. Designed by Konstantin Grcic, a man known for designing mass-manufactured minimalist furniture, the automaker says these limited-edition cars are for the “most ardent collectors only.”

Presumably, Daimler is referring to collectors in the general sense, as we’ve never heard of anyone with a devoted throng of Smart cars.

While it may sound like a bit of a turd, the company also said Brabus’ involvement was essential in developing the 21 models slated to roll off the assembly line in August of this year. That means more grunt and improved noises coming out of the back end — something we can all appreciate, be it in the bedroom or out on the open road.  (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2019

Last week, Kia teased a mystery concept bound for a Geneva Motor Show unveiling as a way to show off its consistently improving skills in automotive design. With a second batch of teaser photos cropping up on Thursday, it’s now abundantly clear the brand made no small effort to create a shining beacon of vehicular style. But it also happens to have more screens than the TSA, indicating that Kia willingly engaged in one of this year’s biggest concept car styling trends.

Truthfully, the display bandwagon probably left town in 2018 — about the time when Byton revealed a crossover at CES with a screen that literally replaced the entire dashboard, plus one mounted on the steering wheel for good measure. The company could be seen disappearing beyond the horizon, whipping its horses while other manufacturers attempted to catch up and climb aboard.

Now, Kia is holding the reins. And it’s laughing maniacally.  (Read More…)

By on January 11, 2019

Audi unveiled the PB 18 e-tron Concept at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance with absolutely no assurance that it would ever be more than a fun idea. In fact, the company outright said it had no plans to put the vehicle into production. Miraculously, Audi flip-flopped, and the electrified hypercar is now slated for assembly.

You might hate it, but this is one of the few concept vehicles to ever make this author cream the proverbial jeans during office hours. Maybe it’s because I normally wait until the darkest point of the evening to unfurl my shame over a bottle of homemade wine and revisit vintage photo rolls of the Honda Unibox and Suzuki Regina — the latter of which was too good for this world.

However, whether or not Audi can successfully capture the magic of the PB 18 Concept remains to be seen. (Read More…)

By on October 1, 2018

Saying the Tesla Model 3’s interior is polarizing would be a massive understatement. While some absolutely love the minimalist design and singular, tablet-like interface, others criticize it for being too barren to be considered interesting. The vehicle also saw some blowback over its centrally mounted 15-inch display, which, for several reasons, can serve as a potential distraction to drivers.

In fact, it’s so big that one Washington resident found himself pulled over by a motorcycle cop for having what was presumed to be a computer attached to his dashboard.  (Read More…)

By on September 4, 2018

Kia is readying the unveiling of its Proceed for European buyers later this month, taking great strides to ensure it matches the concept version. While the Ceed five-door already exists, the Proceed is a full-blown wagon. However, it’ll probably spend the majority of its time referred to as an “estate car” or “shooting brake,” since it’s not supposed to make it out of Europe. That’s slightly tragic, considering the model seems bent on showcasing Kia’s new emphasis on extra-handsome designs.

Kia revealed the Proceed Concept last year at the Frankfurt Motor Show to much praise from the media. The brand claimed it would foreshadow the future of the Ceed lineup’s styling, which bodes well, as the car looks like a Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo and Nissan GT-R put up their bastard offspring for adoption in South Korea.  (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2018


Nissan may have discontinued the North American-market Juke earlier this year, but the model remains a popular item in the European market, dating back to its 2010 debut. There, its polarizing looks and role as an enjoyable to drive city car helped keep the model relevant.

As even the freshest of takes can get stale after seven years, the Juke is due for a redesign. But will Nissan change the formula to give the small crossover broader appeal, or will weirdness, once again, rule the day? Considering Americans no longer have to contend with its quirks, as we have the subcompact Kicks working as its replacement, there’s real no reason for the brand to pull any punches. Likewise, Nissan global design boss Alfonso Albaisa’s description of the second-generation model promises anything but an average automobile.  (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2018

Concept vehicles have been a bit of a snoozefest for enthusiasts lately. Despite the fact that automakers are still plenty capable of bringing out gorgeous designs, the autonomous angle has become so pervasive that it’s overridden the idea of having fun.

Then, during this week’s Monterey Car Week festivities, Audi dropped the PB 18 e-tron concept at Laguna Seca and fun slapped us across the face. This is the kind of car you have on your bedroom wall as a child and work your entire life to put into a garage as an adult.

With three electric motors (one driving the front axle and two out back) providing a combined output of 671 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque, the PB 18 should already be a menace. However, it can also temporarily bump itself up to 764 hp using stored energy via a kinetic energy recovery system. As a result, Audi claims the car is capable of a 0-to-62 mph rush in just over 2 seconds.

Combine that with an ultra-modern design that’s within the boundaries of what’s currently possible and several scoops of driver-focused tech, and you have one of best concept vehicles we’ve seen in years. The PB 18 expertly rides the line between fanciful and plausible. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2018

Last summer, Infiniti revealed an open-wheeled racer that merged the sex appeal of yesteryear with the electric powertrain of tomorrow. It was called the the Prototype 9 and it was stunningly beautiful. This summer, the brand attempted to repeat that success with the Prototype 10.

While the vintage maxim of “lightning never strikes the same place twice” isn’t scientifically accurate, it’s applicable here. Unveiled at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Prototype 10 is a rehash. It’s another reimagining of mid-century racing, bestowed with an electric motor and some modern flair.

It’s an incredibly handsome automobile, but unnecessary, as it’s representative of absolutely nothing. Infiniti isn’t planning on building single-seat race cars and doesn’t appear prepared to jump into the mass assembly of high-performance EVs. This has been a problem with Infiniti for a while now. The company embraces forward-looking and completely fantastical concept vehicles at the expense of something that might enter into production within a few years. Ultimately, it feels like a wasted effort.  (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2018

Porsche has grown rather chummy with the video game community of late. In 2017, the automaker used North America’s largest gaming expo as a platform for the debut of the 911 GT2 RS. You can attribute that to a relatively recent marketing push that resulted in its vehicles appearing in interactive media after a long-standing absence. Porsche, for whatever reason, spent years being exceptionally choosy about which developers can license its vehicles for their games. This usually results in blockbuster titles using “RUF” as a placeholder or simply abandoning Porsche vehicles entirely.

The last five or six years have been different, however. Automakers want to broaden their marketing approach and get away from the big industry trade shows. For Porsche, that means video games, and the relationship is only getting stronger.

This week, Porsche Epic Games and the graphical processing wizards at NVIDIA gathered to showcase what they claim is a major breakthrough in computer design rendering. While we can’t say with any authority that this will forever change automotive design, what they’ve managed to accomplish certainly looks impressive.  (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2018


Hyundai’s vice president of design, SangYup Lee, says the brand should be more than just a value nameplate and is setting his target extremely high. He thinks the company should be producing vehicles that are “sexier than Alfa Romeo.”

While we used a photo of a 2011 Hyundai Accent to head the article as a bit of a goof, the idea is only patently ridiculous if you don’t give it any serious thought. Hyundai’s designs have historically been a festival of mediocrity, but that’s not really the case anymore. The Korean brand has stepped up to meet is rivals and has even managed to surpass them in some respects.

Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo continues to impress enthusiasts but that has as much to do with its greatest hits as its does the modern cars. There’s still over dramatic, oddly attractive, and exceptionally fun — sort of like someone you dated during college but outgrew when you amassed enough self-respect to finally break it off. However, with the exception of the 4C, we’re not confident Alfa’s current lineup is their best visual work to date.  (Read More…)

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