2011 Audi A8 and GMC concept win Eyes on Design awards at auto show


The GMC Granite Concept and the Audi A8 were awarded top honors at the 2010 Eyes On Design Awards at the 2010 North American International Auto Show. The awards are judged by top design executives from automotive manufacturers and by academics from transportation design programs.

To be eligible for the awards, the vehicles must debut during the Detroit show.

In the concept category, the GMC Granite received top honors. The GMC Granite, a concept which combines functionality with what General Motors calls an “ urban-industrial design aesthetic,” made its worldwide debut in Detroit. The other finalists were the Nissan Mixim, Revenge Verde Supercar, and the Audi eTron concept.

In the production category, the 2011 Audi A8 won the “Award for Design Excellence” The fourth generation of Audi’s flagship car made its auto show debut in Detroit.
The Detroit show was its initial appearance at a world auto show, following its global unveiling in Miami last November. The 2011 A8 flagship sedan will be available at Audi U.S. dealers in fall 2010.

The other finalists for production vehicles were the Bentley Muslanne, Fiat 500, Ford Focus, and Lincoln MKX.


 Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Transit Connect win car, truck of the year

Ford swept the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards winning both prestigious awards for the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the 2010 Ford Transit Connect, respectively.

The North American Car and Truck of the Year awards recognize vehicles based on factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar. A jury of 49 automotive journalists in the United States and Canada vote for the vehicles, which must be “all-new” or “substantially changed” from the previous model to qualify for the award. The awards are presented annually at the opening of the North American International (Detroit) Auto Show.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid is America’s most fuel-efficient midsize sedan with an EPA-estimated 41 mpg rating in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, topping the Toyota Camry hybrid by 8 mpg in the city and 2 mpg on the highway.

Mark Fields, President, The Americas,
Ford Motor Company, raises the trophies
for the North American Car and
Truck of the Year.

The all-new Fusion Hybrid arrived in dealers in March, complete with a powertrain system that combines the best attributes of the gasoline engine and electric battery-driven motors to deliver the optimal experience for the customer in terms of driving performance and fuel economy.
The Fusion Hybrid also offers drivers a way to be more connected to the hybrid driving experience thanks to Ford’s SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide, a unique instrument cluster execution that helps coach them on how to optimize the performance of their hybrid. 

The Transit Connect is an industry-exclusive vehicle developed to be a smart new choice for small business owners; it offers double the fuel economy of full-size vans, generous and accessible cargo space, and the agility and maneuverability to operate in crowded urban areas.

Powered by a 2.0-liter I-4 engine with a four-speed automatic overdrive transmission, the
Transit Connect offers double the fuel economy of full-size vans, delivering an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

The Transit Connect also is available with the industry-exclusive Ford Work Solutions™, a suite of affordable technologies that provides customers with connectivity, flexibility, visibility and security to better run key aspects of their business.

Ford isn’t the only manufacturer to win both ends of this award, but it should be noted that it was only the third time in 17 years of the awards that one automaker has won both car and truck categories. Honda won both awards in 2006 for the new Civic and for the Ridgeline pickup. General Motors won both in 2007 for Saturn’s Aura and the Chevrolet Silverado. It should also be noted that if DaimlerChrysler had been DaimlerChrysler in 1994 it would have met the criteria of one manufacturer winning both awards as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Dodge Ram were the winners. No cigar for that one though.
Previous winners of the North American Car and Truck of the Year:

2009 -- Hyundai Genesis                   Ford F-150
2008 -- Chevrolet Malibu                   Mazda CX-9
2007 -- Saturn Aura                           Chevrolet Silverado
2006 -- Honda Civic                           Honda Ridgeline
2005 -- Chrysler 300/300C                Ford Escape
2004 -- Toyota Prius                           Ford F-150
2003 -- Mini Cooper/Cooper S           Volvo XC90
2002 -- Nissan Altima                        Chevrolet TrailBlazer
2001 -- Chrysler PT Cruiser               Acura MDX
2000 -- Ford Focus                            Nissan Xterra
1999 -- Volkswagen New Beetle        Jeep Grand Cherokee
1988 -- Chevrolet Corvette                Mercedes-Benz M-Class
1997 -- Mercedes-Benz SLK             Ford Expedition
1996 -- Chrysler minivans                 Ford F-150
1995 -- Chrysler Cirrus                      Chevrolet Blazer
1994 -- Mercedes C-Class                 Dodge Ram


Audi shows all-electric e-tron sports car

Audi is showing an uncompromising purist compact sports car with all-electric drive at the first major auto show of 2010. The Detroit showcar Audi e-tron is the name of this 154.72-inch long two-seater just a few months after the debut of the Audi e-tron at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. This is now the second electric concept vehicle from Audi.

Coupled with the Detroit showcar Audi e-tron’s low gross weight of around only 2976 pounds, high-torque power units driving the rear wheels guarantee commensurate road performance. Two electric motors with a combined output of 204 horsepower accelerate the coupe with ASF-design aluminum body from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in just 5.9 seconds. The Audi e-tron accomplishes the sprint from 60 to 120 km/h (37.28 - 74.56 mph) in a mere 5.1 seconds.

The Detroit showcar Audi e-tron is able to distribute its electric motors’ high torque between the wheels entirely as required. Its “torque vectoring” is the key to a thrilling level of active precision and excellent traction. Thanks also to its low weight, short wheelbase and perfect weight distribution for dynamic handling, the Audi e-tron has all the drivability of a go-kart — agile, good on bends and neutral right up to the very high handling limit.

Lithium-ion batteries, located for an optimal center of gravity behind the passenger compartment and ahead of the rear axle, make an effective energy content of 45 kilowatt-hours available.

All-new 2011 Audi A8 makes first auto show appearance in Detroit

Audi says its new A8 luxury sedan, to arrive at U.S. dealerships in late 2010, is a technical work of art. Its body is an aluminum Audi Space Frame weighing about 40 percent less than a comparable steel structure. "The interior is captivating, with its new and spacious design and uncompromisingly high-quality workmanship full of attention to the smallest detail. The comfort on board is first class — from new, emotionally charged ambient lighting to the luxurious, power adjustable seats in the rear," Audi says. 

The base engine in the A8 starts in a 4.2-liter V-8 making 372 horsepower. The engine affords increased power and torque, but the fuel consumption has dropped by around 15 percent, thanks to intelligent and efficient technologies like the recuperation system and innovative thermal management.

The standard new transmission also plays a large role in increasing efficiency. The 8-speed tiptronic finely graduates its eight gears while achieving a large overall spread. Its control system is purely electronic, operated with a selector level and rocker switches at the steering wheel. The quattro permanent all-wheel drive has a distinct sporty and rear-end character.



Bentley pulls wraps off flagship Mulsanne

Bentley Motors pulled the wraps off the all-new Bentley Mulsanne flagship sedan and ‘Series 51’ designer edition of the Continental GTC convertible during the vehicles’ first motor show debut in The Americas.

The new Mulsanne, designed and engineered at Crewe from the ground-up, reaffirms the marque’s intent to create a new flagship Bentley with refined performance and unparalleled levels of luxury with the coach building elegance for which the marque has long been renowned.

The Mulsanne, which goes on sale in the fall of this year, will be priced at $285,000 in the United States. The Mulsanne will offer customers a degree of choice when commissioning their cars which is unmatched in the industry.  The luxury Bentley flagship offers a palette of 114 paint colors, 21 carpet colors, nine wood veneers and 24 interior leather hides, all of which will be tanned using a decades-old process to ensure this future classic retains its distinctive scent.


BMW 7-Series going back to six-cylinder power

Six-cylinder power is making a return to the flagship BMW 7 Series with 2011 740i and 740Li models. Housing the German automaker's twin-turbocharged, direct-injection 3.0-liter inline-six engine under the hood, the new 7 Series will output 315 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque — 15 horsepower and 30 pound-feet more than in the 335i — when it hits showrooms this spring.

The eight-cylinder 750i and 750Li will continue to be sold alongside the six-cylinder model.

The 2011 740i and Li models will feature an adaptive six-speed automatic transmission and brake energy regeneration to further boost the car's efficiency.

According to BMW, the new engine and transmission will allow for a V-8-like driving experience, but with improved fuel economy. Both the 740i and Li will be available with all of the current option packages.



China’s BYD targets BEV for 2010 production

China’s fourth largest automaker BYD unveiled an all electric vehicle at the 2010 North American Show International Auto Show.

The e6 is an all electric vehicle designed as a conventional small minivan with seating for five. BYD claims its Fe battery will power the e6 with an estimated acceleration time from zero-to-60 mph in less than 14 seconds, and with a projected top speed of 87 mph. The company claims a range of over 200 miles on a full charge. Estimated costs for the battery alone are estimated to be in excess of $35,000.

BYD claimed it plans to launch the “e6″ in the United States later in 2010 although they refused to discuss the number of dealers or locations for the new BEV (battery electric vehicle).



From left, Jeep Islander, Jeep Mountain and Jeep Liberty Renegade

Jeep displays three new editions of current vehicles in Detroit

There are no new Jeep products at the Detorit Auto Show, but the Jeep brand is broadening its vehicle lineup with the introduction of three new rugged, versatile and innovative editions of current Jeep vehicles.

• Liberty Renegade boasts classic Jeep design, a premium, rugged appearance and numerous standard features that deliver renowned Jeep capability. The Renegade will be positioned between Sport and Limited models and available in Jeep showrooms first quarter 2010

• Jeep Wrangler Islander theme returns after 20-year hiatus, delivering unique fun-and-freedom packag. It will be available in Jeep showrooms first quarter 2010.

• Available in the second quarter 2010, the Jeep Wrangler Mountain edition boasts a rugged outdoor theme with 32-inch tires and unique wheel, grille and bumper appliqués.

“While clearly appealing to our core customers, these three new Jeep models will attract new customers to the Jeep dealer showroom,” said Mike Manley, President and CEO — Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “The new Liberty Renegade delivers renowned Jeep capability and an array of standard features in a stunning new rugged, premium design, while both Wrangler models expand the iconic anchor of the Jeep brand with unique, limited-edition versions that consumers have told us they want."



Next-generation Ford Focus unveiled at Detroit Auto Show

The next-generation Ford Focus makes its worldwide debut today at the Detroit Auto Show. Ford says it will provide customers with more affordable technologies and features than ever in this segment, as well as detailed craftsmanship, outstanding fuel economy and a new standard for driving quality.

Focus spearheads Ford’s new generation of global C-cars, all based on a common platform that will underpin up to 10 vehicles around the world and account for 2 million units of annual production by 2012

Sleek, stylish and sporty, both the four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles of the next-generation Focus are previewed prior to their production start for Europe and North America late in 2010 and market launch early in 2011.

The new Focus will be nearly identical in all markets, with 80 percent parts commonality around the world. “The new Ford Focus is a clear demonstration that our ONE Ford strategy is providing global consumers with great products that harness the best of Ford Motor Company,” said Alan Mulally, Ford’s president and CEO.
“The efficiencies generated by our new global C-car platform will enable us to provide Ford Focus customers with an affordable product offering quality, fuel efficiency, safety and technology beyond their expectations,” he added.


2011 Lincoln MKX upgraded with latest Ford driver connect technology

Ford has introduced a freshened MKX crossover with new technologies and features — and an upgraded V-6 engine.

Leading the wide-ranging innovations is the all-new MyLincoln Touch driver connect technology, which delivers a smarter, safer, simpler way to connect drivers with in-car technologies and their digital lives. MyLincoln comes standard on the 2011 MKX.

Ford officials, Mark Fields, President, The Americas, (left); Alan Mulally,
President and Chief Executive Officer, (center); and William Clay Ford Jr.,
Executive Chairman, introduce the 2011 MKX in Detroit.

“With its combination of style, performance and uncompromising luxury, the Lincoln MKX has brought new customers into the Lincoln showroom in a way that very few products have before,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. “Lincoln customers tell us they care most about style and technology, and the new Lincoln MKX meets these needs perfectly. The new MyLincoln Touch technology will change the way customers interact with their vehicles while its new design language gives the vehicle a distinctive and stylish silhouette we know customers will love.”

The dramatic freshening of the MKX extends to all areas of the vehicle: new features and technologies not available anywhere else, new exterior design, new interior design with increased use of genuine materials, new powertrain with unsurpassed fuel economy, improved driving dynamics and new tires and wheels all combine to deliver an unparalleled luxury experience.
The MKX is powered by a 3.7-liter Duratec V-6, which employs advanced technology and clever control strategies, such as Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) to increase horsepower and torque without compromising fuel economy.

Customers of the 2011 Lincoln MKX will drive a luxury crossover that has best-in-class power and torque versus all V-6 competitors with highway fuel economy of 25 mpg on regular fuel. Horsepower has been increased to 305 — a 15-percent increase compared with the outgoing product — while torque is up to 280 foot-pounds, a 12-percent improvement.



Cadillac introduces luxury sedan of the future

Cadillac unveiled the XTS Platinum Concept at the 2010 North American International Auto Show, suggesting a new paradigm for the luxury sedan of the future. The concept showcases Cadillac’s emerging top-of-the-line Platinum series of models, emphasizing new expressions of luxury and technological features, including a plug-in hybrid propulsion system.

The XTS Platinum Concept was designed from the inside out, re-imagining the luxury sedan as a personal headquarters, built for efficiency, luxury and connectivity. The concept introduces a new approach to in-car electronics that improves the form and function of the car’s entertainment, navigation and information systems.

“The XTS Platinum concept is the next expression of Cadillac’s Art and Science execution philosophy, reflecting our drive to deliver the latest innovations in the most artful manner,” said Bryan Nesbitt, Cadillac general manager. “We envisioned this concept as an automotive personal headquarters, using advanced technology to enable new levels of connectivity and luxury.”

GMC capability taken in new direction with Granite

Combining a decidedly urban-industrial design aesthetic with functionality aimed at young professionals, the GMC Granite concept takes the brand’s trademark capability in a new, more progressive direction. It was introduced at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

If brought to market, the Granite would be the smallest GMC ever – but has been optimized to feel much larger. Its length is a full 2 feet (0.6 m) shorter than the new Terrain compact crossover, but its open interior was designed to be spacious and flexible to fit the needs of active people. Generous cargo space and unique flipping/folding seats, for example, enable a mountain bike to be loaded completely inside with the tailgate closed.

“Granite was conceived as a new type of vehicle from GMC – one that could stretch people’s ideas of what a GMC can be,” said Lisa Hutchinson, product marketing director for GMC. “We call it an ‘urban utility vehicle’ and our goal was redefining what the GMC name could mean to a new generation of customers looking for both bold design and functionality.”

Like GMC’s current lineup of trucks, SUVs and crossovers, the Granite delivers style and capability, with advanced features, high-quality materials and exceptional attention to detail. An industrial-influenced exterior is combined with a spacious interior that features precise instruments and leading-edge technology. The climate system, navigation and infotainment technologies, for example, are viewed via an extra-wide, next-generation organic light-emitting diode technology that is more dynamic than the conventional screens used in most production vehicles.

“We think of the Granite as the automotive equivalent of an urban loft apartment,” said Dave Lyon, executive director of North American Interior and Global Cross-Brand Design. “The exterior has an unmistakable industrial look, but the interior is warm and personalized.”

Power for the Granite concept comes from a 1.4L turbocharged engine that is part of GM’s new family of small-displacement, highly efficient four-cylinder engines. It is matched with a six-speed transmission.

Buick shows high-performance 4-cylinder in Regal GS

With an estimated 255 turbocharged horsepower, a six-speed manual transmission and an advanced, adaptive all-wheel-drive system, the Buick Regal GS show car is a high-tech, high-performance version of the brand’s newest sport sedan. It was introduced at the 2010 North American International Auto Show.

The power is derived from a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder Ecotec engine with the capability of completing 0-to-60 in less than 6 seconds, GM says.

The mechanical elements were developed with the aim of delivering a driving experience that is sporting, confidence-inspiring an
d refined. It has a performance-oriented drivetrain, a lowered body and lower center of gravity.

Exterior and interior cues include two additional vertical front air intakes; large, forged aluminum 20-inch wheels and performance tires; a racing-inspired sport steering wheel and metal pedals. Recaro high-performance front seats feature four-way lumbar support and cushion extensions.

“We designed the Regal GS to explore the appeal of a high-performance variant of the Regal,” said Craig Bierley, product marketing director for Buick. “Like the Regal, the Regal GS is based on the award-winning Opel Insignia, and we believe it will reinvigorate Buick’s storied Gran Sport legacy.”

The Regal GS exterior is distinguished by vertical air inlets in the front fascia, as well as unique rocker panels, an integrated rear spoiler, dual exhaust outlets, Olympic White paint and satin metallic accents.

“The idea behind the Regal GS was taking the production model in a more aggressive direction to appeal to performance enthusiasts,” said John Cafaro, Buick design director. “But along with its aggressive stance, there’s sophisticated style in the design that complements the driving experience.”

Chevrolet reveals next-generation Aveo

Chevrolet has announced the world debut of the Aveo RS show car at the 2010 North American International Auto Show. It features a European-inspired hot hatch look designed to appeal to young enthusiasts, and hints at the next-generation Aveo.

Longer, wider and more spacious than the current production Aveo, the Aveo RS showcases the car’s upscale-looking design cues both inside and out, and presents the many personalization options potentially available on the next-generation car.

“We hope the Aveo RS show car will demonstrate that we are as serious about redefining the Aveo and its place in the small-car segment as we were about reinventing the Malibu,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet general manager.

The car has a six-speed manual transmission and the same 1.4-liter, 138-hp turbocharged engine that will be available in the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze.

The next-generation Aveo will be built next year at GM's plant in Orion Township, Mich. The current Aveo is built in South Korea.

Cadillac CTS-V Coupe — 0-to-60 in 3.9 seconds

The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V coupe, with its LSA 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 engine, will debut at the Detroit auto show next week as the latest V-Series model from Cadillac. The car will come with a six-speed manual transmission supplied by Tremec or a Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The engine produces 551 pounds-feet of torque.

The rear-wheel-drive car accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds.

Other performance equipment includes Brembo brakes and suspension sensors that gather information every millisecond to adjust damping. The driver can keep the suspension in touring mode or switch to sport mode for performance driving.

A raised center section of the hood provides clearance for the engine's Eaton supercharger.



Honda introduces 2011 CR-Z sport hybrid coupe

The all-new 2011 Honda CR-Z sport hybrid coupe, making its U.S. production debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, introduces sleek styling and sporty handling to the hybrid segment, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today.

"The CR-Z is a personal sport hybrid coupe for people with a spirit of adventure and an elevated sense of responsibility toward the environment," said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda. "It's the first hybrid designed to maximize style and fun, in addition to efficiency and economy."

Set to go on sale late summer in the U.S., the CR-Z is powered by a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine with Honda's compact and lightweight Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid-electric system. The two-passenger CR-Z introduces a new three-mode drive system that allows the driver to select between Sport, Econ (Economy) and Normal driving modes.

The system delivers a combined peak output of 122 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 128pound-feet of torque at 1,000 to 1,500 rpm (123 lb-ft on CVT-equipped models). Preliminary fuel economy estimates are anticipated to result in a rating of 36 city/38 highway on CVT-equipped models. Manual transmission models are anticipated to achieve an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 31 city/37 highway.


Blue-Will foreshadows future hybrid production from Hyundai

Hyundai’s Blue-Will Plug-in Hybrid concept made its North American debut in Detroit on Monday.

The Blue-Will serves as a test bed of new ideas that range from roof-mounted solar cells to drive-by-wire steering, lithium polymer batteries and touch-screen controls, and foreshadows future hybrid production vehicles from Hyundai.

The Blue-Will promises an electric-only driving distance of up to 37 miles on a single charge and a fuel economy rating of more than 100 miles per gallon.

“Blue-Will’s bold character lines and fluidic sculpture design language give the perfect expression to the advanced eco-friendly technologies found beneath the skin,” said Oh Suk-Geun, executive vice president of design, Hyundai Motor Company. “At a time of rising concern about the environment and our energy future, Blue-Will demonstrates to eco-conscious car buyers everywhere that Hyundai has practical hybrid solutions that will appear on the next generation of vehicles.”

Hyundai puts more fuel-efficient engines in 2010 Santa Fe

Hyundai has updated its mid-sized 2010 Santa Fe crossover with more high-tech features and new, more efficient powertrains.

The most noticeable update is under the hood where Hyundai has replaced both engine options with more frugal powerplants. Gone is the 185-horsepower 2.7-liter V-6 in favor of a new 175-horsepower four-cylinder engine, which produces 169 pound-feet of torque.

Though the four-cylinder takes a hit in the power department, down 10 horsepower and 14 pound-feet, it makes up for it in fuel economy. Where the old six-cylinder could only manage 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, the new four-banger returns 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

For those requiring more power, the Santa Fe's top-range 242-horsepower 3.3-liter V-6 has been replaced with a 3.5-liter V-6 and now produces a more impressive 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, up 34 horsepower and 22 pound-feet over the old engine.

Where the four-banger's extra mpgs came with a power hit, the new V-6 allows you to have your cake and eat it too, with city fuel economy up by 3 mpg to 20 mpg and highway fuel economy up by 2 mpg to 26 mpg with towing capacity increased to 3,500 pounds.

A pair of six-speed transmissions help both engines achieve better fuel economy.



The Mercedes E-Class drop top is shown. At right, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Dr. Thomas Weber, Dr. Joachim Schmidt and singer Janelle Monae

Mercedes-Benz shows new E-Class Cabriolet

It not only completes the successful E-Class family, but also features a world first — the AIRCAP® draught-stop, an easily operated system that considerably reduces wind turbulence in the open interior of this all-year convertible.

The stars on show in Detroit also include the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, a Gullwing model that combines automotive passion and high-tech at the highest level.

Mercedes-Benz is adding a particularly attractive and emotionally appealing member to the successful E-Class family with the new Cabriolet. Thanks to its classic fabric soft-top, this four-seater convertible provides open-air driving pleasure in its purest form.

In line with the motto "Four seasons, four people," all-year suitability was at the top of the specification list for the developers. Features ensuring year-round open-top driving enjoyment include the automatic AIRCAP® air deflector and draught-stop system. This can be deployed at the touch of a button, and considerably reduces wind turbulence in the interior of the new Mercedes E-Class‑Cabriolet, so that a "warm air bath" is created even when the roof is open.

Comfortable travel with the roof closed is ensured by the standard acoustic soft-top, which has a particularly high level of sound insulation. With the roof closed, the E-Class Cabriolet has one of the quietest interiors in the four-seater premium convertible segment with a fabric roof. The roof can be fully automatically opened and closed within 20 seconds — and even on the move up to a speed of 25 mph.



Mini Beachcomber open-body concept makes debut

The MINI Beachcomber Concept vehicle made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The MINI Beachcomber Concept is a four-seater designed for maximum driving pleasure, incorporating key features of the new MINI and combining them with the vision of a radically open body concept.

A new all-wheel drive system, ALL4, and a flexible interior for the Beachcomber Concept is designed without doors or a conventional roof allowing the driver and up to three passengers to connect with their surroundings – whether cruising through town, enjoying rough tracks in the mountains, or breezing along the beach. The vehicle’s space concept, partnered with a modern drivetrain technology, ensures a highly emotional driving experience says MINI.



Nissan Mixim concept powered by two electric motor/generators

The Nissan Mixim, a one-off compact concept car powered by a pair of innovative “Super Motor” electric motor/generators, makes its first U.S. appearance as part of the Michelin Challenge Design display in Detroit. Now in its ninth year, the Michelin Challenge Design celebrates original creative thinking and innovation in vehicle design.

The Mixim has the same wheelbase as a production Nissan Cube, but is more than 11 inches shorter, nearly 10 inches lower and four inches wider – giving it a distinctive, aerodynamic coupe shape. The exterior styling is highlighted by LED driving lights, a wraparound windscreen inspired by the visor of a safety helmet, a dramatic angular slash running through the center of the doors and triangular side windows that link the sloping roofline with the sweptback rear hatchback.

Inside, the innovative design continues with 3-person seating – with the driver sitting in the center position flanked by passenger seats on each side. An occasional fourth seat is available in the large rear cargo area. The Mixim’s steering wheel and gauges are inspired by computer game interface design, reflecting the young, technology engaged and connected target audience for the vehicle. Diamond-shaped styling cues are also featured inside and out.

At left a teaser picture of the Nissan Juke, which Nissan officials say will resemble the Qazana concept, right, that was shown in Geneva last year.

Nissan to introduce its smallest crossover yet in the U.S. in September

Nissan will grow its crossover lineup this September with the addition of the Juke, officials said on Monday. It is one of eight product launches the Japanese automaker has planned for the United States in the next 12 months. The Juke will be unveiled at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show in March. Nissan said more details on the small crossover will be released in February and the Juke will go on sale in the United States in September.

The Juke will be smaller than the Rogue, currently Nissan's smallest crossover. The Juke will ride on Nissan's small-car platform, used for the Versa. The styling will closely resemble the Qazana concept shown at the Geneva motor show in March 2009.

"We are doing so well with the Rogue that there is no reason to think we won't do better with the additional of a smaller crossover," said Carlos Tavares, chairman of Nissan Americas, during a meeting with journalists on Monday at the Detroit auto show.

Tavares said it is important to show that Nissan has continued to spend on new products even though the economic downturn has caused a large drop in auto sales.


Subaru announces new packages for its best-selling Forester

Subaru, which just announced best-ever sales of 216,652 vehicles for 2009 — a 15-percent jump over calendar year 2008 —  introduced new versions of its top-selling Forester compact crossover SUV at the North American International Auto Show today.

The Forester was Subaru's top-selling model in 2009, with 77,781 sold — a 28-percent increase over 2008.

Arriving in February, new option packages expand 2010 Forester choices and demonstrate the market agility that allows Subaru to respond quickly to customer trends. The Forester 2.5X with Special Edition Package adds 16-inch alloy wheels and roof rails for a discounted package price of $400 over this model's $20,295 MSRP.

The Forester 2.5X Limited, already equipped with leather-appointed interior, 10-way power driver's seat, automatic transmission, panoramic power moonroof and other amenities, offers a new Navigation System and Convenience Package for $2,300.

At $500 more than the regular Navigation System, the new Convenience Package also includes the Forester line's first-ever HID headlights, plus a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, one-touch folding rear seats and a cargo area cover.

In addition to the new option packages, the Forester also features other enhancements for 2010, including a standard 10-way power driver's seat for the 2.5X Premium and Bluetooth wireless capability for the available navigation system in Limited trim lines.

Subaru shows unique hybrid concept

Subaru showed its Hybrid Tourer Concept car, which was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in October. It features gull-wing doors and adjustable foot pedals mounted to the floor, as opposed to being mounted above from the instrument panel.

Tom Doll, executive vice president of Subaru America, said Subaru hopes to have something like the Tourer out in 2012.



Tesla Model S prototype

Tesla displays its 1,000th roadster; sedan may reach market by 2012

Tesla's goal is to make more mainstream cars. The electric-sports car company's future product plans beyond its current roadster include two more models that could build volume and expand it beyond its current status as a producer of niche sports cars.

The Model S, an eye-catching sedan, is due in about two and a half years. A third car, which would perhaps be the most affordable, could arrive about five years.

“The roadster is really a stepping stone,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the Detroit auto show. He compared the Roadster, which sells for about $110,000, with early Porches and said he hopes it will become a collector's item.

Musk said the Roadster could sell 700 to 1,000 units a year, while the Model S could reach 20,000 annually if things go well. The Model S will also be available through leasing. Starting price of the Model S has been reported to be $60,000.

“The strategy has always been to get to mass-market electric cars,” Musk said.

Musk was in Detroit to show off a prototype of the upcoming Model S, a battery-powered luxury sedan with seating for five and an electric-only range of up to 300 miles that the company expects to launch in 2012.

The company did click off a milestone recently, producing its 1,000th car, which it displayed at the Detroit auto show. It will be auctioned for charity, with three in the Detroit area among those to benefit.



Toyota unveils compact dedicated hybrid concept, FT-CH

Toyota today unveiled the FT-CH dedicated hybrid concept.  The FT-CH is a concept that would address Toyota’s stated strategy to offer a wider variety of conventional hybrid choices to its customers, as it begins to introduce plug-in hybrids and battery electrics in model year 2012, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in 2015 in global markets.

It is smaller and projected to be less expensive than the mid-size Prius.

 “Within the next 10 to 20 years, we will not only reach peak oil we will enter a period where demand for all liquid fuels will exceed supply,” said Jim Lentz, TMS president.   “A century after the invention of the automobile, we must re-invent it with powertrains that significantly reduce or eliminate the use of conventional petroleum fuels.  One of many alternatives is through what is commonly called the electrification of the automobile.  By far, the single most successful example of this has been the gas-electric hybrid.”
The CH stands for compact hybrid as in compact class and it’s a concept that can best be defined by comparing it with the mid-size class Prius.  The FT-CH captures the spirit and functionality of a car that thrives in the inner-city environment; sized right to be nimble, responsive and maneuverable. 
“It’s a package Toyota dealers and customers have been asking for,” added Lentz.



Volkswagen reveals hybrid coupe with 8.1-second 0-to-60 potential

For Volkswagen, this marks the beginning of an action-packed year, in which more new models will be introduced than ever before in the company’s history. First on the list of new products for the 2010 calendar year is a car based on entirely new concepts and technology, a coupe with a hybrid drive that is extremely fast and yet futuristic in its fuel economy.

It has sports appeal and sharp styling yet is remarkably elegant —- positioned between the Europe’s bestselling sports car, the Scirocco, and the internationally successful CC.

The New Compact Coupe (NCC) combines fuel consumption of 45 mpg with a 0-60 mph time of 8.1 seconds.

These are made technically feasible through a high-tech alliance of sorts — a TSI gas-powered engine that is as fuel efficient as it is sporty, an electric motor and a 7-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG).

The New Compact Coupe shows, both technically and visually, how Volkswagen envisions a front-wheel drive hybrid for the compact class.