By on November 20, 2019

If you’re keeping track, the Vision T Plug-in Hybrid SUV Concept is the seventh design study to roll out of Hyundai’s styling studio in recent memory. Appearing Wednesday at the L.A. Auto Show, the plug-in utility vehicle has the bad timing of debuting at the same moment Toyota unveiled a plug-in crossover you’ll soon be able to buy and drive home.

Unfortunate timing aside, the concept does give us a glimpse of Hyundai’s future. (Read More…)

By on October 23, 2019

nissan

Mazda wasn’t the only Japanese automaker to lift the sheet on an electric crossover at the Tokyo Motor Show today. Nissan got in on the game, revealing a crossover “concept” that looks ripe for the production line.

As opposed to past concepts like the IMk and IMx, this Nissan has a name — Ariya, which one assumes is pronounced “area.” The compact EV crossover also dispenses with the usual gee-whiz concept car trappings, looking very much like a vehicle bound for showrooms. Nissan leaves no doubt that the Ariya, or something almost identical to it, could soon become a reality. (Read More…)

By on October 2, 2019

Nissan plans to unveil a new concept at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. Suitable for the locale, the model is to be a fashionable EV aimed at urban commuters.

According to the manufacturer, the IMk Concept will be the best tool imaginable for that particular job. While it looks like a glitzy version of your typical Tokyo eco-box, the all-electric IMk is meant to serve as the template for the best city car ever built — likely trying its hand in markets around the world with a production version.

That said, the dimensions of the IMk will probably torpedo any ships heading to North America. At 135.2 inches long, 59.5 inches wide, and 64.7 inches tall, the model is slimmer than a Smart ForTwo and shorter/narrower than a Fiat 500. While the additional headroom will be a blessing, it’s still too small for our Rubenesque frames.  (Read More…)

By on September 18, 2019

Image: Mitsubishi

Either those fan-type objects are meant to exhaust vape clouds from the cabin (pods?), or the upcoming concept vehicle from Mitsubishi will need clearance from the FAA to visit grandma’s house. Are they speakers? Will drivers of this wildly unlikely production candidate create impromptu block parties wherever they go?

Mitsubishi isn’t saying. All we know is that the concept, bound for next month’s Tokyo Motor Show, is a plug-in hybrid, not unlike the Outlander PHEV. Interestingly, Mitsubishi opted to spell out the PHEV acronym, making the vehicle seem more futuristic than it actually is. (Read More…)

By on August 27, 2019

Audi is teasing a new model slated to debut at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show — an off-road specialist called the AI:TRAIL Quattro. With massive wheels and a nonexistent approach/departure angle, the conceptual crossover certainly seems ready to scurry up a mountain. But the overall design is more hyper-modern RC car than traditional baja beast.

It’s not coming entirely out of left field. Audi has shown several electrified concepts using a similarly futuristic design language, among them the AICON luxury sedan, PB18 supercar, and AI:ME city vehicle. Like the AI:TRAIL, each is designed to tackle a very specific portion of the market. All will be on hand in Frankfurt to showcase Audi’s vision of what a car could be.  (Read More…)

By on August 26, 2019

Toyota TJ Cruiser Concept

Toyota’s FJ Cruiser was big and brash — a gas-sucking, body-on frame bruiser that combined rugged off-road capability and distinctive looks with a clamshell door configuration that gives this writer goosebumps. While owners continue to enjoy high resale values, the FJ Cruiser is long dead, and pedestrian offerings like the RAV4 Adventure are not a valid alternative for true off-road minded individualists.

On paper, neither is the TJ Cruiser, a versatile 2017 concept vehicle that blends a unibody CUV with minivan trappings. It is, however, very distinctive, and it could be headed for a production line. (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 August 22, 2019

Electric concept cars are often a snoozefest, nothing but vaporware bait aimed at the techie crowd, but a vehicle coming to Tokyo’s annual auto show in October will likely herald a production vehicle. Specifically, the Lexus brand’s first EV.

Both Toyota and its premium division plan to field a total of 10 electric models by the middle of next decade. If a report detailing the Lexus concept is anything to go on, the brand’s first electric offering might be boxy, modestly sized, and — if Lexus designers really do plan on emulating an older concept — possibly pretty ugly. (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2019

Image: Acura

Acura pulled the digital wraps off its Type S Concept two days ahead of its public debut at Monterey Car Week, heralding the Type S designation’s return to the brand’s model line. The car seen here hints at what to expect of the looming next-generation TLX and its confirmed Type S performance variant.

“Performance.” That implies something more than just a racy appearance package and maybe an upgraded brake and suspension setup, right? Ideally, yes, but in this case Acura does promise more “go” to back up the show.
(Read More…)

By on May 14, 2019

Kia

Kia continues to tease the global market — well, most of it, anyway — with a small crossover it plans to reveal this summer. Our latest glimpse of the upcoming model is this artist’s rendering, which appears to be a rendering of a concept vehicle we’ve already seen.

Suffice it to say the new small Kia will look almost exactly like the SP Signature Concept, a vehicle that, unlike other concepts, looked perfectly ready for production during its reveal earlier this year. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2019

Genesis Motors revealed a small city car in The Big Apple this week. However, the model’s debut wasn’t part of the daily goings-on at the New York International Auto Show. Instead, the company decided to unveil the Mint Concept at Hudson Yards, ahead of the trade show’s official press days — utilizing terms like “urban icon” and “reductive versatility” while somehow expecting to be taken seriously.

“As a brand, Genesis embraces progressive design values, and the Mint Concept reinforces this commitment from a previously undiscovered perspective,” Manfred Fitzgerald, Genesis’ executive vice president, said at the vehicle’s introduction. “Mint belongs in the city, and we are proud to introduce our evolution of the ideal city car in New York.”

This is the kind of industrial-grade nonsense your author absolutely despises. However, I am elated Genesis did this, as it’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to be exceptionally critical of a Korean brand. Outside of Hyundai’s Nexo, the country’s been on a hot streak lately. It’s wonderful to be able to prove that I’m still an unpleasant crankshaft without bias.  (Read More…)

By on April 15, 2019

Audi’s pitching more than just new models at Auto Shanghai this month; it’s promoting a new way to drive. The AI:ME Concept is a summonable, self-driving urban electric, aimed at reshaping the company’s business model — or at least examining that possibility. While Audi refers to the vehicle as a highly specialized premium automobile that can be ordered as needed and offers “extensive possibilities for individualization as part of an on-demand offer,” the company also noted the AI:ME “need not pass into permanent personal ownership.”

The automaker was careful not to use the phrase, but these vehicles would operate under a loosely defined subscription or rental model where customers book a car via their smartphone or computer, stipulating how they need it to be configured for their journey. From there, the vehicle makes its way to the designated pickup point and applies the final adjustments based on previously established seating, climate, lighting, entertainment, and control preferences. (Read More…)

By on April 14, 2019

Right now, Volkswagen’s electric womb is holding onto a full litter. While we’ve long assumed that only a limited selection of its offspring will be birthed into the world to take their place within its I.D. sub-brand, it’s beginning to look as though most will make the cut. Its sixth prospective offspring, the I.D. Roomzz, was teased earlier this month — coming across as your standard concept EV. However, the vehicle that’s being shown off at Auto Shanghai is much closer to being production-ready than we had guessed.

The crossover (minivan?) the automaker is displaying in Asia has two rows of bucket seats, providing space for just four, but Volkswagen is saying the production version will have three rows and could furnish up to eight occupants if bench seats are optioned for the second and third rows. Access is granted through a full set of sliding doors, which we doubt will make it into production. But it’s okay to dream.  (Read More…)

By on April 7, 2019

Faraday Future is my favorite automaker and it’s not because they build the best cars. With the exception of a few prototypes of the FF91, Faraday hasn’t really built much of anything. But I’ve become enamored with the story of a mysterious automotive company, funded by a controversial Chinese backer, that continues to defy the odds by just surviving — despite a long history of ridiculous mistakes, financial shortfalls, and missed production targets. For me, its been a suitable substitute for soap operas.

The last time we checked in on Faraday, it had just broken ties with its savior-turned-destructor Evergrande.  The company announced in January that it had agreed to restructure its $2 billion investment in FF and that both parties had acquiesced to drop all litigation against each other. Now Faraday is back with a new joint partnership and a new model — a minivan straight out of a late 20th century sci-fi flick.  (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2019

Image: Kia Motors

When your author hears the word “Masterpiece,” his mind conjures up images of a coveted line of K-frame Smith & Wesson revolvers, one of which still exists on the market. Kia’s not thinking about guns, though the themes of toughness, precision, and premium appeal carry over to the automotive world.

Masterpiece is the name applied to one of two Kia concept SUVs unveiled Thursday at the Seoul Motor Show, but it’s the second of the two vehicles that might be most relevant to North American buyers. (Read More…)

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