AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Nissan is bringing back a nameplate once known in North America for cheap, affordable motoring.
General Motors as officially announced output figures for its new 1.0-liter three-cylinder turbocharged mill.
Caterham’s scheme to sell cars outside its traditional sports car niche is moving forward, but the brand won’t abandon its sports car heritage.
The 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show is just days away and more automakers are teasing what they’re going to be revealing at the event. Getting in on the action, smart released photos of and information about an electric concept they’ll be unveiling in Germany next week.
General Motors unveiled its 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine bound initially for the Opal Adam city car ahead of its Frankfurt Motor Show debut.
While small cars have had a difficult time catching on in North America, it seems as if cars in the UK market could never be small enough. A group of businessmen in the United Kingdom decided to resurrect the Peel brand and are now taking orders for both the Trident and P50 models.
0-60 times have not been measured as both Peel models are speed limited to 28 mph. The Peel Trident and P50 weigh 130 lbs and 198 lbs respectively, and are powered by either a 49cc two-stroke producing a peppy 3.35 horsepower or by two trims of electric motors. The first electric motor makes 1.6-hp at 2.5 lb-ft of torque while a more powerful 4-hp motor is available. Both electric motors deliver an operating range of approximately 50 miles.
As for the price, a Peel can be yours at prices starting just under $11,000. While this may sound like a lot of money for not a lot of car, it is worth noting that this little machine is one of Jeremy Clarkson’s favorite automobiles, as the video after the jump demonstrates:
Lotus and its parent company, Proton, will be releasing their City Car to rival the new Aston Martin Cygnet and will be a production version of the Ethos concept originally seen at the Paris Auto Show. The vehicle will first be offered as a Proton, with the Lotus version coming at a later date with a higher price tag.
Lotus will be making additions to the car, hoping to make the electric vehicle offer performance not seen on any other small cars. It will be about $3,125 (£2000) cheaper than the Aston Martin Cygnet, so pricing is estimated to be around $45,300 (£29,000).
The Ethos Concept featured a 1.2L, three-cylinder Lotus Range Extender engine that had a peak torque of 177 lb-ft with a top speed of 105-mph.
GALLERY: Lotus City Car
BMW‘s i3 may not be getting as much buzz as the 2012 3-Series, but their upcoming compact city car is probably the most important vehicle they’ll launch all decade.
With the i3, BMW is moving in a totally different direction, both in terms of technology and sustainability. The i3 will have a chassis made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, a first for a volume production car, and will help offset the weight of the car’s electric powertrain.
BMW claims that the i3 will make 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, good enough for an 8 second 0-60 mph time. While BMW has previously said that the i3 is a pure electric car, the vehicles spied here displayed decals declaring the i3 a “hybrid test vehicle”, leading us to wonder whether there will be some kind of range extender on board. Regardless, the i3 will require just one hour of charging to replenish the batteries by 80 percent, a figure that has us optimistic regarding the i3′s usefulness.
Our spy photographer noted that the styling is fairly close to the concept, and that the i3 will have rear suicide doors similar to the MINI Clubman, where the front door will have to be opened to access the rear doors.
Gallery: BMW i3 Spy Photos
An interview with BMW engineer Ulli Kranz conducted by Consumer Reports suggests that the BMW i3 city car will get a range extender similar to the i8 supercar – but the technology will come from two-wheeled transportation, rather than a conventional car.
With weight a key consideration for the i3 (materials like aluminum and carbon fiber play a key role in offsetting the weight of the electric drivetrain), one of BMW’s motorcycle engines seems like a much better fit than one of their current passenger car mills, the smallest of which is a 1.6L four-cylinder from the MINI range.
BMW’s bikes, on the other hand, have a range of engines ranging from a 652-cc, 48 horsepower single cylinder to a 1.6L inline-6 maiking 160 horsepower. If anything, the single cylinder, or the 800cc twin are the most likely candidates.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
Volkswagen‘s Up! city car will go on sale in the United Kingdom for £7,995 up to £11,180 ($12,422 to $17,371) with deliveries starting in the spring of 2012.
A range of 1.0L three-cylinder gasoline engines will power the Up! with power ranging from 58 to 73 horsepower. The base Up! will be quite spartan but will come with features such as an MP3 input jack, a full suite of airbags and body-colored bumpers. Premium versions will get a navigation system, alloy wheels and power mirrors.
For more information on the Volkswagen Up, please visit http://www.vwupforums.com/
[Source: Auto Express]
The Smart fortwo might be the butt of jokes Stateside, but the city car has managed to move 500,000 copies worldwide after launching in its second generation four years ago.
Sales this year are up 6.6 percent, and an electric version is due to launch in the spring of 2012. While other version of the Smart, such as the ill-fated forfour fourseater, haven’t fared well, Smart is looking to expand their horizons by launching products like an electric bicycle in the coming years.
Kia will unveil its first electric vehicle by the start of 2012, but did not say whether the vehicle would be sold in the United States.
The EV will reportedly be based on the Hyundai i10, a vehicle considered much too small for North American tastes. A production run of just 2,000 units is expected in 2012. A second electric vehicle is expected to follow in 2014 for Kia, with Hyundai launching a mass market EV in 2015. Hyundai currently has a small fleet of i10-based EVs testing in South Korea.
[Source: Automotive News]
Evidently, the third time wasn’t the charm for Think, the Norwegian manufacturer of small electric vehicles. The company has gone bust for the fourth time in its 20 year history. Think attempted to restructure, but was ultimately not successful.
“We needed some additional funding and although we had interested investors they were not able to come to table quickly enough,” Think spokesman James Andrews said to Automotive News Europe. Think will either be sold or have its assets liquidated.
Production of the Think City, the company’s sole model, was suspended in March. Just 1,043 were sold in 2010. Think was sold by Ford Motor Co in 2003 and has sold ever since. Think operates in North America, but its future is in doubt due to its reliance on the firm’s Norwegian operations.
[Source: Automotive News]
The Aston Martin Cygnet might seem like anathema to everything the company stands for, but Aston Martin is hoping that the Cygnet will become the number two seller for the brand.
With a projection of 1,500 units sold per year, the Cygnet would trail the Vantage as Aston’s stop selling model. Aston sold a total of 4,250 cars in 2010.
The Cygnet is based on the Toyota iQ city car, and Aston Martin is marketing the car not based on performance, but on luxury. ”Prior to Cygnet your choice was, you open the door and it smells of plastic; now you open the door, and you’ll be hit by this wonderful smell of leather,” Chief designer Marek Reichman told Automotive News.
[Source: Automotive News]
With the positive reception given to the very compact MINI Rocketman concept at this year’s Geneva Auto Show, MINI execs have given indications that the car will be produced sometime in the near future.
“We are good at looking at history and interpreting a future for it,” MINI sales and marketing chief Kevin Robertson told Autocar, noting that most MINIs end up making it from concept to production. While the Rocketman is supposed to provide visual cues as to MINI’s future styling direction, the underlying technology behind the Rocketman will also play a significant role in the brand’s future.
“The themes in the car are not just about a smaller Mini,” said Robertson. “Lightweight construction, and new types of components will go on to Minis. The BMW i-concept will be available to all members of the group.”
But with MINI USA head Jim McDowell telling AutoGuide that no larger or smaller MINIs were slated for America outside of the current lineup, it’s possible that we won’t see the Rocketman on our roads at all.
When the new MINI Cooper debuted back in 2001, it was impossible not to note how much larger the car was than its classic predecessor. The less-than-mini size of the vehicle is even more obvious in Europe, where the majority of cars on the road share roughly the same dimensions. It comes as little surprise then that the brand famous for thinking small is preparing to unveil a new more-mini MINI at the Geneva Auto Show next week.
Called the Rocketman concept, this isn’t a production car and it’s easy to see why, with a state-of-the-art carbon fiber spaceframe that allows it to be incredibly light – although oddly enough, MINI isn’t listing any figures relating to its weight.
Powered by what is rumored to be a turbocharged diesel 3-cylinder, the Rocketman is capable of 94-mpg. That’s imperial mpg’s however, with a U.S. number closer to the 78-mpg mark.
Size wise, its 11-feet 3-inches long, which just over a foot shorter in length than the current Cooper hardtop. For added perspective, the Smart fortwo is nearly 9-feet in length.
Inside there’s seating for 3+1 (similar to Toyota’s iQ) with three seats for adults and an occasional use seat for a child. Getting into and out of the car is made easy thanks to innovative doors that have double hinges, allowing them to open extra wide when there’s room or to almost slide open when in tighter spots. Improved ease of access is also possible as when the doors open there is no sidesill to step over. Instead the bottom of the car moves with the door, as the carbon frame means rocker panels no longer have to be structural elements.
In terms of styling, it’s always hard to tell how close a MINI concept is to production. Most automakers get pretty wild with their concepts, but MINI’s designers are too concerned with crafting the car to look like a MINI to be overly creative. There are, however, a few unique elements, like the 18-inch carbon fiber wheels designed with aerodynamics in mid. And let’s not forget the glass Union Jack roof.
Inside, it’s typical MINI too, with a large center speedo (oh how we loathe you) that has a 3D display, and a futuristic look at MINI Connected with a joystick on the center console and steering wheel mounted controls to help you stay more connected.
MINI says the Rocketman concept is a look at a possible future model, taking into account the brand’s core values, which include premium trim, a creative use of space and a dynamic driving experience.
Will MINI bring the Rocketman to market? Possibly, however, it’s not likely to make it across the Atlantic. In a recent interview with AutoGuide, MINI U.S.A. boss Jim McDowell said he didn’t foresee any smaller or larger MINIs in North America.
Expect news on the production possibility when the car debuts next week at the Geneva Auto Show. Until then, see all the previewed cars for Geneva here.
GALLERY: MINI Rocketman Concept
Get more on the Rocketman Concept with the official release after the jump:
While rumors of the new BMW sub-brand have been floating around for months, February 21st has been marked as the official announcement date for details the sub-brand, and the apparently revolutionary MegaCity electric vehicle.
Many suggest that the new sub-brand will be a re-imagining of the Isetta microcar of nearly a half century ago, and use some of the advanced materials that the Megacity also uses. Smaller internal combustion engines are a possibility, with the MegaCity setting itself apart by using the all electric drivetrain used in the BMW ActiveE.
Although the Smart ForTwo hasn’t been warmly received by American buyers, there is hope for the quirky maker of diminutive city cars, as parent company Daimler is backing the brand with new products and utilizing their alliance with Renault-Nissan to give the lineup a boost.
A Smart representative confirmed that a four seat model will arrive sometime in the future, a vehicle that will doubtlessly expand Smart’s appeal to a much broader customer base. While this car will arrive in a few years, a 5-seater hatch with 5-doors reportedly based on the Nissan Micra is set to bow in the last quarter of 2011. A revised ForTwo, which will share a jointly-developed Renault-Nissan platform will also debut, but on an unspecified time frame.
BMW is looking for an alternative to traditional purchasing options for their upcoming MegaCity urban vehicle, as the high cost of developing substantially new technology may result in the vehicle becoming prohibitively expensive for consumers. Among the projects being considered are a car-sharing service similar to the one operated by Daimler for their Smart car EVs. “More and more people in large cities are looking for an alternative to the ownership of a vehicle,” said Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief, in an interview with Automotive News.
The Megacity represents a radical shift from the traditional automobile by using a full electric drivetrain combined with a passenger cell constructed entirely from carbon fiber. The vehicle’s construction is said to be different from a traditional unibody, and doesn’t require things like paint or conventional crash protection methods. Naturally, the cost of the new technology will be astronomical, and the 6-year engineering time needed for the car will seem paltry compared to the challenge of selling and marketing such a car.
[Source: Automotive News]
Volkswagen is planning to spread the platform love with its new Up city car, with Czech subsidiary Skoda being the first VW division to get the tiny car, with a SEAT-branded version to follow.
Packaged as a three-door five-seater, a 1.0L gasoline engine and a 1.2L diesel engine will be offered, with an all-electric version to follow. Starting at less than $10,000, the Up variants will go against the Toyota iQ and other cars deemed too small for North American tastes.
With Skoda and SEAT representing downmarket brands for VW in Europe, giving them the minicars is a no-brainer, and we expect them to be very popular, especially in light of how a Volkswagen Golf is something of a luxury good in high-tax countries.
[Source: Inside Line]