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    Farewell Aptera

    Aptera Motors, the company behind the odd looking, three wheel electric vehicle called the 2e has announced today they're closing up shop.
    In a letter written by Aptera Motors President and CEO, Paul Wilbur, Aptera was unable to raise enough money from investors to keep it going until it received a $150 million loan from the Department of Energy's Advance Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program.

    "This is a difficult time for everyone connected with our company because we have never been closer to realizing our vision," Wilbur wrote.



    The closure ends a saga that started back in 2006 when the company made the announcement the 2e would get the equivalent of 300 mpg and cost less than $30,000. Production of the 2e was announced to begin back in 2009, but was pushed back to 2010, with no vehicles being built.



    In August, the company returned deposits it had taken from prospective buyers of the 2e, stating a six-month window with its credit card processor to launch production had passed.



    Wilbur's letter revealed the company spent the last year developing a hybrid-powered sedan, about the same size as a Toyota Camry, which would return the equivalent of 190 mpg and have a base price less than $30,000. Also, Aptera had been negotiating to use a closed auto plant in Moraine, Ohio, to build the car.



    "We remain confident, even as this chapter closes, that Aptera has contributed tech new technologies to build a future for more efficient driving. Through the dedicated staff at Aptera, our board and suppliers we have touched this future. All that remains is for someone to grab it. We still believe it will happen," wrote Wilbur.



    Letter is on Page 2







    After years of focused effort to bring our products to the market, Aptera Motors is closing its doors, effective today. This is a difficult time for everyone connected with our company because we have never been closer to realizing our vision. Unfortunately, though, we are out of resources.
    It is especially disappointing since we were so close...
    Aptera executives had been engaged in exhaustive due diligence with the Department of Energy (DOE) pertaining to an ATVM (Advance Technology Vehicle Manufacturing) loan. Our business plan was examined from top to bottom by internal agency representatives, independent consultants and experts in academia. They did an amazing job of vetting us and they tested every possible weakness in our plan. And after nearly two years of discussions, we had recently received a Conditional Commitment Letter for a $150 million loan.
    The ATVM loan would have provided funding for the development and commercialization of a five-passenger, midsized sedan (similar to a Toyota Camry) that would be base priced at less than $30,000 and deliver more than a 190 mile per gallon equivalent. The concept of this vehicle had been in place since the very beginning of Aptera, and we had been wholly focused on its development for the last year. The last remaining hurdle was finding new funds to match the DOE loan.
    We were so optimistic that the company would move forward that we were in discussions to reactivate a mothballed automotive plant in Moraine, Ohio. In the past months we had engaged with the labor union that operated that facility to discuss the hiring of 1,400 new job opportunities. These jobs would have reactivated talented workers who had been dismissed when the facility was closed.
    During the same time, we continued development of our patent-pending composite manufacturing system that enables energy efficient vehicle production by drastically reducing vehicle weight (by as much as 30%) while tripling its strength. This same patent pending system allowed us to finish the surface of our composites without manual finishing and without the high capital cost of a typical automotive paint shop. In all, the process would save nearly $750-million versus a typical volume auto assembly plant start-up.
    We were well on the way to satisfying the vision of efficiency on which the company was founded and we are confident that with time and capital we could still achieve our goal. The Aptera formula: aerodynamics plus light weight design (through composites) delivered efficiency of 206 EPA miles per gallon in tests at Argonne National Labs. That wasn't a simulation; it was real measured performance. Despite that promise of efficiency, this challenged market – specifically large private investors – did not have an appetite to lead an investment for the perceived low volume return of our three-wheeled vehicle. So we reprioritized our product plan to four-door sedans, which also cost us time.
    We remain confident, even as this chapter closes, that Aptera has contributed tech new technologies to build a future for more efficient driving. Through the dedicated staff at Aptera, our board and suppliers we have touched this future. All that remains is for someone to grab it. We still believe it will happen.
    Paul Wilbur
    President and CEO
    Aptera Motors


    Consumer Group Calls Out Hyundai's 40 MPG Elantra

    The Hyundai Elantra is one of the highest rated vehicles in it's class for MPG, with the car receiving an EPA rating of 29 City/40 Highway. But many people can't seem to match the EPA rating and that has caused a consumer group to take action.
    Consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog announced this week that it will be urging the EPA to re-test the Elantra due to complaints from consumers about the MPG.
    “The Elantra has attracted an unusual number of consumer complaints about real-world mpg averaging in the mid-20s, far from Hyundai’s stated average of 33,” said Consumer Watchdog in a statement.
    Hyundai rates the Elantra at 33 MPG combined. However, reviewers and people have seen lower numbers.
    When asked for comment, Hyundai pointed to the J.D. Power APEAL study showing that, "Elantra owners are the happiest in the entire compact segment competitive set in terms of fuel economy." Hyundai also said that real-world fuel economy results often differ from EPA results.
    Source: Autoblog, Consumer Watchdog
    Press Release and Letter To The EPA is on Page 2

    Consumer Watchdog Urges EPA to Re-Test Elantra 40 MPG Claim, Hold Hyundai to Account


    12/1/2011
    Consumers Seeking Best-MPG Car Get Much Less From Elantra, Say Drivers, Testing Groups
    Washington, D.C. -- As automakers make their annual pitch for holiday sales, Consumer Watchdog has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate Hyundai’s high mileage claims for its popular Elantra model (29/40 MPG city/highway, 33 MPG average).
    The Elantra has attracted an unusual number of consumer complaints about real-world MPG averaging in the mid-20s, far from Hyundai’s stated average of 33, said Consumer Watchdog.
    “Gasoline remains well above $3 a gallon and MPG is a key factor for car buyers, who expect to match the window-label MPG if they drive carefully,” said Judy Dugan, research director for Consumer Watchdog. “A loss of 6 or 7 miles per gallon, a conservative average for the Elantra based on tests and complaints, adds up to real money for drivers.”
    The letter said, in part:
    “As the holiday season commences, automakers are touting discounts and year-end deals; record-high gasoline prices for the season will make MPG a significant part of their red-bow advertising. …
    “This makes the accuracy of EPA MPG estimates all the more important, to prevent any maker from marketing autos on a stated city or highway MPG that substantially misstates the result that drivers will get on the road. In general, the new EPA MPG estimates seem to comport closely to real-world results. …
    “However, a notable exception to this rule has caught the attention of Consumer Watchdog. For the two most recent model years, Hyundai Motors has actively marketed its base models of the Elantra on their very high 29/40 MPG, and 33 MPG average, leaving a trail of disappointed drivers. An Edmunds online Town Hall discussion on the Elantra attracted scores of drivers who can't, no matter how hard they try, duplicate such numbers. One very public example of this was USA Today tech writer Jefferson Graham, whose Sept. 22 article on his new Elantra expressed his disappointment that he averaged only 22 MPG, a gap that no "break-in" period seems likely to fill.
    “Additionally, while Motor Trend named the 2011 Elantra Car of the Year in its class, the magazine's on-road testers achieved only a very disappointing 26.5 MPG average, bad enough to get special note in the review. Consumers Union found similar fault in with the 2012 Elantra, a redesign. While CU's highway mileage was 39, its city mileage, with experienced drivers who know how to drive a low-mileage auto, was only 20 MPG--very far from the listed 29 MPG. …
    “Gasoline prices remain at record high levels for this season, making efficiency a top purchasing issue for consumers. Neither Hyundai for any other car company should be allowed to misrepresent its efficiency standards or dupe consumers into buying its cars. We ask you, through prompt re-testing and action as needed, to send a message to the company and the auto industry that MPG misrepresentation will not be tolerated.”
    See the complete letter at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrepaelantra11292011.pdf
    Consumer Watchdog asked the EPA, if re-testing finds flaws with Hyundai’s original EPA-mandated tests, for fines against Hyundai and owner compensation.
    “The popularity and increasing sales of the Elantra make it all the more important that drivers get the same or nearly the same results as the EPA mileage,” said Judy Dugan, research director of Consumer Watchdog. “EPA’s current MPG testing model has been close to real-world results for other high-efficiency models, so at the very least Hyundai has some hard explaining to do about the Elantra’s shortfalls.”

    Next Viper To Appear At The New York Auto Show

    Chrysler has been teasing the next Viper for the past year with shots here and there. The rumors have been swirling around for the same time, ranging from a 8.7L V10 to the Viper being based on a sports car from the Fiat Family (Maserati GranTurismo).
    All of these questions will be answered next April. Chrysler's SRT Brand President and CEO Ralph Gilles told Viper magazine the next Viper will be shown at the 2012 New York Auto Show in April.
    Source: Autoblog
    Related:
    Rumorpile: 8.7L V10 For The Next Viper?
    Next Viper Going To Be Less Rough

    GM May Redesign The Volt's Battery *UPDATED*

    William Maley
    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
    December 1, 2011
    In a interview today with Reuters, GM CEO Dan Akerson said the company may redesign the Volt's battery in response to a NHTSA investigation.
    "We want to assure the safety of our customers, of our buyers, and so we're just going to take a time out, if you will, in terms of redesigning the battery possibly," Dan Akerson told Reuters.
    Back on Monday, GM announced they would offer loaner vehicles to 5,500 Volt owners after NHTSA opened a investigation into Volt's batteries last Friday.
    In addition, Akerson said the Opel Ampera would not go on sale until engineers and safety regulators had worked out how to deal with the 400-pound battery pack after any accident.
    Akerson also reiterated that the Volt is a safe car, pointing to the safety ratings the car has received.
    Source: Reuters
    UPDATE: Dan Akerson told the AP today that the company would be willing to buy Volts back from their owners. Akerson also said that if necessary, GM will recall more than 6,000 Volts on the road in the U.S. and repair them once the company and safety regulators figure out what caused the fires.
    "I think in the interest of General Motors, the industry, the electrification of the car, it's best to get it right now than when you have - instead of 6,000 - 60,000 or 600,000 cars on the road," said Akerson.
    Source: The Associated Press
    Further Reading:
    NHTSA Opens Investigation Into Volt Batteries
    GM Offering Free Loaner Cars to Volt Owners During Battery Investigation
    Chevy Volt Tops Consumer Reports Owner Satisfaction Survey

    Interactive Review: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

    Joining us this week for a review is the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 6-Speed manual with Autobahn Package and Navi. The Jetta in this trim stickers at about $26,445 (the fleet manager is getting me the actual sticker later), and has very few options left to select other than automatic transmission and small accessories.
    In May 2011, we reviewed a 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5. During that week, I took the Jetta on a 750 mile trip. I had no love for the 2.5 liter 5-cylinder included in that car. The fuel economy I observed over my 750 mile highway trip didn't even match that of a V6 Chevrolet Camaro and the power wasn't even close. Like most 5-cylinders, that Jetta also had a rough feeling under hard acceleration. About the only positive thing I could say about the power train was that it had good torque to scoot around town with. It looks like Volkswagen might agree with my opinions. Recently rumors have popped up that Volkswagen will replace the 2.5 5-cylinder with a smaller displacement turbo charged 4-cylinder.
    The interior was letdown if you didn't keep your perspective on this car's entry price. It was built well enough, but there were lots of button blankouts and dial deletes. Driving this car for 750 miles, I had to keep reminding myself, "$16k base price... $16k base price". Considering $16,000 barely gets you into a FIT over at Honda... that makes the lower end Jetta a not-to-bad proposition.
    So the question becomes: Can the budget minded Jetta, that bases just above $16,000, be transformed into a performance sport sedan worthy of the GLI badge at $26,000. After 70 miles so far today, the Magic 8-Ball says: "Signs point to yes"
    More on page 2
    First off, the 200 horsepower 2.0T in the GLI feels much more powerful than its rating suggests and part of that comes from the 205 ft-lb of torque also available. There is turbo lag present, but it is very easy to drive around and in fact makes things a bit more fun when you feel the surge kick in. The shifter has unusually long throws for a car with sporting intentions and the clicks between gears have a bit of grit to them. I'll get back to you more on that as I put more miles on the car.
    One of the main features that makes a GLI an upgrade over the other models is the completely replaced rear suspension. I haven't had a chance to try that improvement out yet.
    The interior feels decidedly upmarket. Flat-bottomed steering wheels are clearly the new black for sports cars and the Jetta GLI is no exception. Leather wrapped and trimmed with red stitching, it feels perfectly sized in your hand. The automatic dual zone HVAC system is upgraded from cable operation to electronic. My preliminary experience with the navitainment system has been positive so far, but I was listening more to the turbo whistle than the satellite radio. Even the gauge cluster has been upgraded.
    Naturally, interior dimensions don't change between SE and GLI models. The Jetta's interior room puts it almost into the mid-size class of vehicle rather than the Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus compacts it is priced against.
    Externally, the Jetta GLI gets some minor styling tweaks, but those tweaks seem to be enough to transform the pedestrian SE into something more aggressive looking. Personal opinion, but I really love the way the standard 18" alloy wheels with painted accents look on this car.
    We'll have this car until next Thursday when we swap into another Volkswagen. So fire away your questions in the comments section for our Interactive Review of the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI.
    In the meantime, here are some preliminary cell phone pics.

    Honda’s CEO Takes Responsibility Over New Civic

    The Honda Civic has been taking beating with reviews saying the car has dull styling and driving dynamics, poor interior materials, and many more reasons. Consumer Reports didn’t put the Civic on their list of recommended vehicles for this year.
    Honda’s CEO Takanobu Ito told reporters this week that he takes full responsibility for the Civic.
    "The ultimate responsibility rests with me. We take inputs from the various markets with sincerity ... and try to work out the best actions for what we have observed. Those decisions rest with me," Ito said.
    Honda has pushed up the refresh for the Civic to 2013 to fix the problems the current model has.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
    Related:
    Honda Moving Civic Refresh To 2013

    Chevy Volt Tops Consumer Reports Owner Satisfaction Survey

    December 1, 2011 - Drew Dowdell
    Of Volt owners surveyed by Consumer Reports, 93% of them replied that they would "definitely" buy another Chevy Volt. However, considering less than 6,300 Chevrolet Volts have been sold so far, that number could change.
    Another issue with the number is that the survey was complete prior to the NHTSA announced an investigation into potential Volt battery fires that can possibly occur in the weeks following a severe crash. Chevy announced a remarkable goodwill program to Volt owners offering them the option of a free loaner car, even a Corvette, while the NHTSA completed its investigation.
    Chevrolet had originally announced a goal of 10,000 Volt sales by the end of 2011. In a conference call today, they announced they would miss that goal, but that they would hit 10,000 Volt sales in January 2012.
    The other cars at the top of the Consumer Reports Survey are the Dodge Charger and Porsche 911 both at 91%.

    Rumorpile: Mazda MX-5 & RX-8 To Combine Into One?

    Mazda‘s global chief, Takashi Yamanouchi made some interesting comments during a press conference at the Tokyo Motor Show. Yamanouchi said a rotary powered MX-5 is a possibility down the road.
    “[We] can’t rule out the possibility [of a rotary-powered MX-5].”
    Even more interesting was Yamanouchi’s comments on merging the MX-5 and RX-8.
    “That kind of product is iconic for our brand. So the current MX-5 or RX-8 we have decided in the future to maintain that type of [sports car] product.
    “I can’t say, however, that they will be separate … they may be merged into one.
    This leaves many questions. If Mazda was to merge the two cars into one, what would it look like and when would it appear. The next MX-5 due out in 2013, will have a conventional gas engine with some Skyactiv bits. This means if Mazda is planning something to merge the two, it happen later on.
    As for the RX-8, there’s currently no definite plans for a replacement, though from Yamanounchi’s comments, development on the rotary engine will continue. The question is though, will the rotary remain as a internal combustion unit or be used as a range extending hydrogen fueled generator.



    Source: CarAdvice.com.au

    And Scion FR-S Makes Three

    So far this week, we’ve seen Toyota and Subaru introduce their versions of a small RWD coupe and now it’s Scion’s turn.
    At a event last night in Hollywood, CA, Scion showed off the production version FR-S. The FR-S carries the same design, direct-injection boxer 4-cylinder with a 12.5:1 compression ratio making 200 HP and 151 lb-ft of torque, six speed manual or optional automatic, and weight as it’s Subaru and Toyota brothers.
    And as with all other Scions, the FR-S will come with a range of parts and accessories. The FR-S arrives onto dealers next spring.

    Press Release is on Page 2
    2013 Scion FR-S Brings the SPORT Back to the CAR
    Los Angeles – November 30, 2011 – Scion tonight unveiled its 2013 FR-S compact rear-wheel drive sports car to a crowd of eager car enthusiasts. The high-performance coupe is the fifth model to join the Scion family and will go on sale in the spring of 2012.
    The FR-S, which stands for Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive, Sport; is Scion’s definition of an authentic rear-wheel-drive sports car with exceptionally balanced performance and handling, compelling style, flexible utility and surprising MPG.
    “Serving as a laboratory for Toyota, Scion is always experimenting with new things,” said Jack Hollis, Scion vice president. “The brand is iconic with the xB, adrenalized by the tC, and groundbreaking with the iQ. The FR-S will no doubt serve as the halo car, expanding Scion into a new dimension of driving performance.”
    The FR-S is a true “scion,” born into a lengthy history of Toyota performance cars and motorsports. The sports car is most inspired by the AE86 generation of the Corolla, better known as the Hachi-Roku, meaning “8-6” in Japanese. The front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe was lightweight and well balanced, making it a solid choice for driving enthusiasts.
    Inspired by the AE86, the FR-S is designed around the core goal of achieving, “Pure Balance.” The balance begins with the strategic use of the world’s only flat boxer engine in a front-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration. The engine’s compact size and flat shape allow it to be mounted mid-ship and extremely low, giving the car a dynamically favorable front-to-rear weight ratio of 53:47 and a low center of gravity comparable to some exotic supercars.
    The FR-S’s 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine is the result of a joint development between Toyota and Subaru. The partnership begins by combining Subaru’s newly developed horizontally opposed engine and Toyota’s cutting edge D-4S injection system that incorporates both direct and port injection. The D-4S system, partnered with a high 12.5:1 compression ratio, results in an impressive 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque.
    “We all know that it’s not hard to make horsepower and torque, but it is hard to do all that and still achieve impressive fuel economy,” Hollis said. “The FR-S accomplishes all three.”
    The flat-four mates with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. The manual offers quick, precise shifts with a short-throw; while the automatic transmission features aggressive up shifts and sporty rev-matched down shifts that are initiated by steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Power is transferred to the pavement via a limited-slip differential.
    The idea of “Pure Balance” is further realized by the FR-S’s lightweight design and compact size. The combination allows the car to be quick and nimble into and out of corners, with dynamic maneuverability and confident handling. The coupe’s weight is kept to a minimum by utilizing an aluminum hood, a solid roof, and by featuring a trunk design instead of a hatchback.
    The FR-S’s low weight is matched with a dynamically tuned suspension setup consisting of MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone system in the rear. Lightweight 17-inch alloy wheels and ventilated disc brakes are on all four corners.
    The fierce exterior of the FR-S is a solid reflection of its inner power. The profile, inspired by the Toyota 2000GT, reveals a hood and roof-line that is remarkably sleek and low, giving it an aerodynamic shape that channels air cleanly over to the top. The low stance continues to exaggerate the coupe’s menacing face, which is made up of sharp lines, a wide mouth and angular headlights. The aggressive front fenders protrude upward and boast the iconic ‘86’ piston emblem, which highlights the car’s AE86 heritage as well as its unique new boxer engine. The rear fascia sits low and wide, with aerodynamic lower treatments that surround the sporty dual exhaust system. LEDs illuminate the edgy taillights, while center-mounted backup lights finish the muscular design.
    The FR-S’s interior features a 2+2 seating configuration that is designed with both form and function in mind. The front seats are mounted extremely low and are comfortable yet assertive, while the rear seat folds down flat, creating flexible space. The large center-mounted tachometer is the focus of the three-gauge cluster, keeping the driver informed of the engine’s vitals. Speed is monitored by both digital and analog gauges.
    Scion FR-S Preliminary Specifications
    Length
    166.7 in.
    Width
    69.9 in.
    Height
    51.2 in. (not including antenna base)
    Wheelbase
    101.2 in.
    Track
    Front
    59.8 in.
    Rear
    60.6 in.
    Seating capacity
    4
    Engine
    Total displacement
    1,998 cc
    Type
    Horizontally opposed four-cylinder, D-4S injection, DOHC
    Bore × stroke
    86 × 86 mm.
    Maximum output
    200hp @ 7,000 rpm
    Maximum torque
    151 lb.-ft. @ 6,600 rpm
    Transmission
    6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters
    Driveline
    Rear-wheel drive
    Suspension
    Front
    MacPherson struts
    Rear
    Double wishbone
    Brakes
    Front
    Ventilated Disc
    Rear
    Ventilated Disc
    Tires
    Front
    215/45R17
    Rear
    215/45R17
    Fuel tank
    13.2 gallons
    Fuel
    Premium Unleaded

    Volkswagen CrossCoupe Concept Arrives At Tokyo

    Volkswagen unveiled their new CrossCoupe concept at the Tokyo Motor Show today. The concept gives us a glimpse of what the future of Volkswagen's crossovers will look like.
    The design of the CrossCoupe features a low window line and a simplistic style bolstered by frameless windows and flared fenders.
    The CrossCoupe length is 171.1 inches, which puts it between the Volkswagen Golf (165.4 in) and Tiguan (174.5 in).
    Power comes from a 148 HP TSI engine and a 54 HP electric motor for the front axle while the back axle has a 114 HP electric motor. The power goes through VW's seven-speed DSG to all four wheels. Volkswagen says the 3,854 lbs CrossCoupe can run up to 60 MPH around 7 seconds and travel on electric power up to 25 miles thanks to 9.8 kWh lithium-ion battery.

    Press Release is on Page 2

    VOLKSWAGEN CROSS COUPÉ MAKES ITS WORLD DEBUT AT THE TOKYO MOTOR SHOW


    Compact hybrid crossover SUV mixes style, performance, and efficiency
    Wolfsburg/Tokyo , Nov 29, 2011 - At the Tokyo Motor Show, Volkswagen is revealing the Cross Coupé, a concept SUV that looks towards the future. This all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid vehicle shows how Volkswagen designers could envision a crossover that’s part four-door coupe, part compact SUV. The design team, led by Walter de Silva and Klaus Bischoff, has created an intriguing study that impressively combines the best of the two worlds. Original, strong in character, and sculptural and dynamic, the Cross Coupé hints at the future of SUV design at Volkswagen.
    The sporty Cross Coupé concept is based on Volkswagen’s new modular transverse matrix (MQB)—the first time a vehicle has been shown off this platform. The four-seater SUV is powered by two electric motors and a direct-injection turbocharged gasoline (TSI®) engine. The Cross Coupé can drive a distance of up to 25 miles purely on electric power.
    Long wheelbase, short overhangs
    The concept car is longer than a VW Golf and shorter than a Tiguan at 171.1 inches overall. At 73.5 inches wide and 60.0 inches high, it also falls neatly in between these two bestsellers. The Cross Coupé is thus sized in the globally popular A-segment. With a very long wheelbase of 103.5 inches—two inches longer than a Golf and an inch longer than the Tiguan—compared to its overall length, the Cross Coupé has correspondingly short overhangs: 33.7 and 33.9 inches, respectively, at the front and back. The powerful, muscular proportions are underscored by the wide 62.4-inch front and 63.5-inch rear track dimensions.
    The Cross Coupé is still designed to be practical off-road as well as on pavement. The front approach angle, for instance, is 24.2 degrees and the rear departure angle is an impressive 32.5 degrees. The Cross Coupé reinforces its off-road credentials with excellent ground clearance.
    Forward Looking Design
    The defining features of the Cross Coupé’s styling are the long hood, a completely new frontal aesthetic, the set-back passenger compartment, and the low window line for an SUV. The Cross Coupé looks like it has been milled from a solid block, with extremely precise and modern lines. It also shows the direction in which Volkswagen design is developing.
    One striking element is a shoulder line—the tornado line—that looks as if it has been cut with a razor blade. This runs just below the frameless windows, extending from the front to the rear fenders. The decidedly flared fenders create a very powerful stance and produce a silhouette that is reminiscent of a sports car, allied with the robustness of an SUV. The 20-inch alloy wheels, equipped with 265/45-section tires, enhance the sporty look. At the rear, a voluminous coupe-like C-post rises up over the wheelarches.
    Radical Front Lights: The potential of the Volkswagen design DNA developed by Walter de Silva (Group Chief Designer) and Klaus Bischoff (Volkswagen Chief Designer) is shown in the concept car’s front section. In this instance, the characteristic horizontal lines of the “Volkswagen visage” become a link between present and future. Unlike today’s models, the designers have physically merged the twin bi-xenon headlamps with the radiator grille’s chrome-plated fins. Two chrome bars that ascend to the sides of the vehicle and link the headlamps are part of an entirely new lighting concept; the lower of the two chrome fins contains the Daytime Running Lights and the fin above it incorporates the turn signals.
    The center of the bumper has an area painted in the vehicle’s color: a precisely shaped character line extends upwards to form a homogenous unit with the bars of the radiator grille. Right at the bottom of the bumper is another air intake, which is fitted with two additional smaller chrome bars. To the left and right of each inlet are the LED foglights.
    Coupe-style roofline: The shallow line of the side windows also influences the rear of the car. The steeply raked rear window is typical of a coupe. The rear edge of the hatchback is finished off by a spoiler, which optically extends the roof surface and also optimizes the aerodynamics. The rear light clusters are kept slim and, in similar fashion to their counterparts on the latest production models such as the new CC, they feature a delicate, pale, horizontal bar that makes them look very elegant. The chunky rear bumper is, however, typical of an SUV and features integrated exhaust pipes on either side.
    The Best of Both Worlds
    Inside, the worlds of the SUV and the coupe form an exciting alliance. This four-seater has a significantly sportier design than conventional SUVs. For example, the dashboard has the precise lines of a coupe’s, yet is raised up like an SUV’s. The surface of the dashboard exudes a very refined quality, yet is also very robust. This robustness is also a feature of the controls and touch points inside the vehicle: for instance, the stability control systems and driving modes are controlled via two aluminum-alloy rotary switches, with the button for the electric parking brake located between them. The strikingly wide shift lever for the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (DSG®) transmission is also made of aluminum: as well as providing some visual fun, it also is pleasing to the touch. Two robust but elegant grab handles are a feature of the center stack, which also incorporates the HVAC controls and air vents, and a touchscreen display that monitors all relevant vehicle functions, from on- and off-road navigation to the sound system.
    Programmable instruments: Arranged behind the three-spoke steering wheel is a user-programmable instrument cluster. The driving mode‘s rotary control knob can be used to select between “Sport,” “City,” and “Offroad.” The screen display varies according to the mode selected: for instance, “Offroad” mode features a compass and a topographic map. Each of the three modes has a customized screen layout and different color scheme. Positioned centrally between the twin round dials is another multifunction color display that shows vehicle information, the phone menu, audio details, and additional navigational information.
    Designed for long journeys: The Cross Coupé is fitted with four individual bucket seats that have solidly integrated headrests. The four passengers have ample leg-, head- and shoulder-room. The backs of the rear seats and the front passenger’s seat can be folded fully forwards to accommodate bulky items such as surfboards and bicycles. The seat backs have an outer synthetic covering so that they form a durable surface for such loads when they are folded down. There’s 13.4 cubic feet of trunk space behind the rear seats, which expands to 43.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
    Innovative Hybrid Powertrain
    The Cross Coupé has not one but three power sources, which work together efficiently as a hybrid system. Underhood, there’s a 148-horsepower (110 kW) TSI engine that delivers 155 pound-feet of torque as well as an electric motor that makes 54 hp (40 kW) and 133 lb-ft. Together or individually these two motors power the front axle. If the Cross Coupé is to be used in all-wheel-drive or pure electric mode, a further electric motor that is integrated as a co-axial drive unit in the back axle powers the rear wheels. This second electric motor generates up to 114 hp (85 kW) and develops 199 lb-ft of torque. The overall output of the system (gasoline engine and electric motors) is a maximum of 262 hp (195 kW).
    Because the battery is mounted low, inside where a conventional driveshaft would run in the “transmission tunnel,” the vehicle has a low center of gravity. Combined with the balanced layout of the power sources, the concept has the dynamic handling of a coupe while retaining the functionality of an SUV.
    Electric Avenue: When the vehicle is being driven purely on electric power, the motors receive their current from an eight-module 9.8 kWh lithium-ion battery. An electronic power control module, operating at around 370 volts and integrated into the engine compartment, manages the flow of high-voltage energy to and from the battery and the electric motors. Meanwhile, the Cross Coupé’s low-voltage electrical system is supplied with the necessary 12 volts through a DC/DC converter. The battery is charged either via 230-volt external sources or—when in motion—via the TSI engine and front- and rear-axle regeneration.
    Highly Efficient: With a full tank of fuel the Cross Coupé weighs 3854 pounds, distributed 58 percent front and 42 percent rear. The payload is 992 pounds.
    In purely electric mode, the vehicle can be driven up to 25 miles, emissions free. In the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), the fuel consumption is 87 mpg (2.7 liters/100 km), equating to CO2 emissions of just 62 g/km. With a 14.5-gallon fuel tank, the theoretical range in hybrid mode is 506 miles: add in the electric range, and the Cross Coupé can do 531 miles without stopping for fuel.
    Sustainable and Sporty: Despite the focus on sustainability, the concept car is still sporty. The Cross Coupé accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in just 7.0 seconds and has a top speed of 125 mph. In electric-only mode, the top speed is governed to 75 mph. Both the gas mileage and driving performance are positively influenced by the Cross Coupé’s excellent aerodynamics and low overall height (for an SUV), with an overall drag coefficient of just 0.329.
    How the hybrid drive system works: Both electric motors help (boost) the gasoline engine (TSI) during acceleration. As mentioned above, however, they can also power the concept car on its own for a distance of up to 25 miles, depending on conditions. In this instance, by opening the clutch, the TSI is disconnected from the drivetrain and switched off. The clutch on the gearbox side, however, remains closed and the seven-speed DSG thus remains connected. Cross Coupé drivers can also choose to drive relatively long distances on pure electric power (as long as the battery has enough charge). To do so the driver simply presses the relevant driving mode button on the centre console next to the shift lever. As soon as the TSI needs to be brought back into play due to the battery’s level of charge or any other parameters, the engine starts up—almost imperceptibly for driver and passengers—and smoothly engages with the drivetrain.
    Charging at the press of a button: Whenever the Cross Coupé’s brakes are applied, both electric motors act as generators, utilizing the braking energy to charge the battery (regeneration). The driver can (via another button next to the shift lever) also consciously charge the battery from the TSI engine—for instance, in order to have sufficient electric power to drive later in a regulated zone that’s preserved exclusively for zero-emission electric vehicles. At all times, the current electric range and the Cross Coupé’s overall range are displayed on the instrument panel.
    Multi-mode Drivetrain: Based on the amount of drive (for instance, loss of traction on the front axle) or through the driver consciously switching to all-wheel or electric mode, the rear electric motor engages in an instant. In general there are three driving modes available to the driver: City (eco-mode with minimal fuel consumption); Sport (dynamic driving); and Offroad (permanent all-wheel drive).

    Nissan Shows Their New 2.5L Supercharged Hybrid System

    Back in October, we reported that Nissan was working on a new hybrid system that would use a supercharged motor to be used in the next Altima. Today, Nissan is showed off their new supercharged hybrid powertrain.
    The system uses a 2.5L supercharged four-cylinder engine and a compact lithium-ion battery pack. Nissan engineers told Autoblog the hybrid powertrain can match the output of Nissan’s current 3.6L V6 (260 HP and 250 lb-ft of torque) while returning a 10% increase in fuel economy over the 2011 Altima Hybrid when equipped with the CVT.
    2011 Nissan Altima Hybrid: 33 City/33 Highway MPG
    2013 Nissan Altima Hybrid (Est): 36.3/City/36.3 Highway MPG

    Engineers also claim the hybrid powetrain’s torque curve is the same as the V6 and so is the power delivery. Nissan says the powertrain will arrive in 2013, most likely in the new Altima.



    Source: Autoblog

    Honda Surprises All With New Engines & Transmissions

    Honda is known for many things; one of those things happens to be engine technology. The Civic CVCC and VTEC are some of technologies to done by Honda. However, during the past few years, Honda's engine technologies haven't changed much or fall flat on it's face (IMA Hybrid tech comes to mind).
    But now, Honda is coming out swinging with new powertrains and transmissions. At a event before the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda introduced a new range of four-cylinders ranging from 1.5L to 2.4L and a new 3.5L V6. All of the new engines will come equipped with direct injection and stop-start technology.
    The four-cylinders come with a new VTEC arrangement with an Atkinson cycle lower load cam plus extensive friction reduction technologies. The 3.5L V6 will replace the current 3.7L and 3.5L V6 and come with cylinder deactivation.
    Also new for Honda powertrains is a two-mode hybrid system. Replacing the disappointing IMA system, the new system will use a brand new 2.0L four-cylinder paired with electric motor and batteries. Honda claims the system will be the most efficient and deliver “enhanced driving performance.” First car to use the new system will be a plug-in hybrid model due next year while a non plug-in system will be out the year after.
    And, along with these new engines come new transmissions. Honda showed off a new range of CVT transmissions (alright stop moaning, they can hear you in Japan). The CVTs come with Honda's new “G-Design Shift”, which was created to help deliver more immediate throttle response. The transmissions are expected in the Civic, Accord and CR-V soon.



    Source: Auto Guide, 2

    The Nissan Juke Nismo Concept & Future

    Nissan rolled out another Juke concept in time for the Tokyo Motor Show. Though not as crazy as the Juke GT-R, the Juke Nismo does come with some goodies. Nissan's performance division has added a stiffer suspension, new 19-inch alloy wheels, tuned the 1.6L DI turbocharged four-cylinder, new body parts, new seats, and a pearl white exterior paint job with red highlights.
    But the Juke Nismo concept also signals a change at Nismo. Nissan announced today that it will expand its lineup of Nismo models, parts and accessories and move to a new global headquarters in Yokohama, Japan in 2013.
    "We aim to bring Nismo's passion and focus on driving excitement to mainstream models and the Juke Nismo Concept shows what we can do," said Nissan president and CEO, Carlos Ghosn.
    Currently, Nismo activities have "been restricted to halo performance cars like the Z series in a small number of markets," the automaker said in a statement. "That is about to change."

    Press Releases are on Page 2
    NISSAN REVEALS JUKE NISMO CONCEPT IN TOKYO
    Lower, faster and visually even more dramatic, Nismo know-how redefines the Nissan Juke
    TOKYO, Japan -
    Nissan Juke Nismo Concept gives first glimpse of Nismo's future
    Purpose-designed body kit enhances looks and aerodynamic efficiency
    More power from tuned engine
    Stiffer chassis and larger tyres for even better handling
    Distinctive sporting interior treatment
    Finished in Nismo signature colours

    Nissan Motor Co., Ltd will reveal a bold new future for its Nismo performance arm. One of the undoubted stars of the Tokyo Motor Show will be the Nissan Juke Nismo, an idea of how a premium sports version of the hugely successful compact crossover could look.
    With its distinctive styling Nissan Juke has redefined the highly competitive B-segment, but the Juke Nismo Concept is even more dramatic. It's lower, wider and has a tougher stance. Even standing still, it's clearly a performance car.
    Aimed at a car-loving audience looking for a car that reflects an edgy personality, Juke Nismo Concept magnifies the standard car's unique mix of compact car agility, coupé-like responses and SUV strength.
    "The global sales success of Nissan Juke has proved beyond doubt that customers are looking for something different," said Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. "The Juke Nismo Concept takes that idea to the next level. It's energetic, distinctive and highly desirable."
    Finished in signature Nismo colours of pearl white with red highlights, the Juke Nismo Concept wears a body kit created by Nismo's aerodynamic specialists whose skill has been honed perfecting racecar bodywork.
    And as on a racecar, the Juke Nismo Concept body kit is designed not just to look good, but also to be dynamically highly efficient. New parts include revised lower bumpers front and rear, wider fenders and sill side skirts.
    The grille pattern has been changed while the tailgate spoiler has been modified by the addition of side elements to control airflow more efficiently. Even the shape of the door mirrors has been altered to enhance the car's aerodynamic performance and reduce front and rear lift without increasing drag.
    This reduction in lift means the contact patch of the tyres has been increased to improve grip, which is further enhanced by the arrival of stylish new 19-inch alloy wheels.
    Naturally the Nismo treatment extends to the chassis which has been lowered and stiffened using proprietary parts of the sort that will be available from the expanded Nismo's parts catalogue, while the 1.6-litre direct injection turbo gasoline engine has been uprated to deliver more power and performance.
    And Nismo touches can also be found in the interior of the Concept, where parts that interact with the driver's sense of sight, sound, look and feel -­ such as the steering wheel, pedals, gauges, shifter knob and door trims - have been redesigned to provide greater involvement when driving. Further underlining the performance aspects of the car, special leather-trimmed bucket seats have been added while the importance of the tachometer means the dial and needle are illuminated in red.
    A feeling of enhanced sporting quality in the cockpit can be attributed to a matt effect applied to previously reflective surfaces, while the dramatic centre console - shaped to resemble a motorcycle fuel tank - has been given a metallic coating to enhance the purposeful feeling of the Concept.
    "As the Concept shows, Nismo brings new levels of individuality to mainstream Nissan cars like Juke. The future for Nismo is to develop premium sports designs for an ever-widening range of customers," said Nismo President, Shoichi Miyatani.
    "Our forthcoming range of cars will be just as accessible and innovative as every Nissan product, but with added Nismo energy they will be even more fun to own and drive," he added.
    NISMO PERFORMANCE ROAD CAR STRATEGY REVEALED
    Legendary international motorsport division Nismo to apply its performance expertise to Nissan product range
    TOKYO, Japan -
    Major growth planned for Nissan's performance arm
    Nismo-tuned examples of mainstream models promised
    Nissan Juke Nismo Concept shows what the future might bring
    Wider range of after sales performance parts to be developed
    New global HQ due to open in 2013
    Highly successful motorsport campaign in 2011

    Nissan Motor Co., Ltd has announced a major expansion programme that will see Nismo, the company's legendary performance arm, applying tuning and performance expertise learned on the racetrack to Nissan road cars.
    This ambitious expansion programme will see the Nismo name become synonymous with performance and premium sports variants of mainstream Nissan models.
    "Nismo adds even more excitement and innovation to Nissan products. We now plan to inject that style and excitement into other models in the Nissan range," says Shoichi Miyatani, President of Nismo.
    As an indication of what the future might hold, one of the highlights of the Nissan stand at the show is the Juke Nismo Concept, a high performance version of Nissan's genre-creating compact crossover. Finished in Nismo's signature colour scheme of pearl white with subtle red highlights, the Concept boasts performance tuning for the suspension, more power from the 1.6-litre direct injection turbo engine and a stylish yet functional aerodynamic body kit.
    Nismo - the name is derived from Nissan Motorsports International Co., Ltd - has long been a highly respected performer on the race tracks of the world.
    In 2011, Nismo-developed Nissan GT-R racecars won the Drivers' and Team titles in Japan's SUPER GT championship and also took the Drivers' title in the FIA GT1 World Championship. Nismo-developed engines won their class in the Le Mans 24 Hours and the company has also developed the remarkable trail-blazing LEAF Nismo RC, the world's first all-electric racing car. Its arrival heralds a new era of eco-friendly motor sport.
    But the company's road car activities have, until now, been restricted to halo performance cars like the Z series in a small number of markets. That is about to change.
    "Nismo has carved out an enviable reputation in motor racing," said Carlos Ghosn, Nissan President and CEO. In fact, in 2011, Nismo cars and engines won in every category they competed in... the first time we have achieved this milestone.
    "The time is now right to let ordinary drivers experience what our racing drivers enjoy every time they head out onto the track. We aim to bring Nismo's passion and focus on driving excitement to mainstream models, and the Juke Nismo Concept shows what we can do," said Mr Ghosn.
    As well as producing complete performance versions of Nissan models, the company plans to expand its range of performance parts and accessories while another element of the expansion programme will see Nismo relocate to an all-new purpose designed global headquarters in Tsurumi, Yokohama at the start of 2013.
    By bringing all Nismo's activities under one roof, the move will create a global centre of excellence for race and performance road car development. As well as a race shop, the centre will have a large maintenance area for service work, a heritage area where famous Nismo race and road cars will be displayed and a specialist store - the Omori Factory, named after Nismo's current base - where customers can buy performance parts and items from the Nismo Collection.
    The larger site will also have ample space to hold more of the popular Nismo events for fans. The annual Nismo Festival, for example, attracts more than 30,000 fans ready to celebrate the company's racing heritage and achievements.
    About Nismo
    Nissan Motorsports International Co., Ltd (Nismo) was established in 1984 primarily to look after Nissan's motor sport activities. Nismo currently operates at the highest levels of GT and sports car racing, including Japan's domestic SUPER GT series as well as global campaigns in the FIA GT1 World Championship, the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Le Mans series and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC).
    In 2011, Nismo-developed Nissan GT-R racecars won the driver's and team titles in SUPER GT and the drivers' title in the FIA GT1 World Championship, while Nismo-developed engines won LMP2 class at the Le Mans 24 Hours, and took LMP2 class titles in the ILMC and Le Mans Series. Nismo also won the driver and the team titles in the National class of the All-Japan Formula 3 championship.
    Nismo connects with its supporters through the hugely-popular Nismo Festival, drawing upwards of 30,000 fans to its annual year-end extravaganza. The festival represents "Nissan Racing DNA" and features the cars and stars from Nissan's sporting past, as well as examples of its current racecars.

    Test Drive Videos of the Toyota 86 appear

    A couple of days ago, Toyota unveiled pictures of the production Toyota 86 ahead of the Tokyo Auto Show. Today, a bunch of Toyota 86 test drive videos have surfaced.
    This car will be sold in Japan as the Toyota 86, in Europe as the Toyota GT-86, and in the US as the Scion FRS. Subaru will get a version called the BRZ that will be Subaru's first car offered without AWD in over a decade.
    The JDM Toyota 86 features a new 2.0 litre flat four producing 197 horsepower and 151 ft-lb of torque while running premium gas. The very low center of gravity, 53:47 weight distribution, and limited slip rear differential should make for an excellent handling little 2+2.
    But lets head over to Fuji speedway to see what we can see.



    http://youtu.be/0Jr-iYAtpWM

    Coming To Detroit: Honda NSX Successor Concept

    If there is one thing that has bemoaned enthusiasts for the past few years, it's the lack of the NSX from the Acura/Honda lineup. Orginally, Honda had originally planned out the NSX replacement, but was canned due to the global economic crisis.
    But within the past year, Honda has hinted at a return of the NSX, with their CEO Takanobu Ito adding fuel to it.
    If a report from Autocar is to believed, Honda will be showing a concept version of what could be the successor to the NSX at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The car, known as the Super Sports Concept will follow the Small Sports EV Concept that will be shown at the Tokyo Motor Show.
    Not much is known about the Super Sports Concept, but expect either a hybrid or electric powertrain.



    Source: Autocar

    Subaru BRZ finally bares all

    What you're seeing in the image below the header is the 2013 Subaru BRZ and everything shown is pretty much what you should have been expecting all along. Although it has been slightly toned down, there are very few deviations from the BRZ STi concept shown at the LA Auto Show.
    In fact, upon close examination nothing much is really all that different from the recently revealed Toyota GT 86, the BRZ's mainstream-badged benefactor. The taillights and headlights have slightly different detailing, the fender vents are enlarged, and the BRZ trades in the GT 86's scowling maw for a faintly Peugeot-esque smile. Like the GT 86, the BRZ's curb weight is 2,662 pounds and the 2.0-liter, 197-hp boxer-four is exactly the same as well, although there are rumors that the BR-Z may eventually get an exclusive, uprated 300-horse version.
    It doesn't look like any past Subaru, that's for sure. And considering the fact that this Subaru is rear-wheel drive only, it probably won't drive like any past Subaru either.
    More photos and information will be released soon, so stay tuned.



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