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.
Toyota has released a new selection of teaser images and a video, showing off some of the many angles on its upcoming FT-Bh Concept car. The hybrid mini-car is touted to have emissions roughly 50 percent lower than current segment competitors.
What really makes the FT-Bh a big deal, however, is that unlike some recent mini car concepts from the likes of BMW and Audi, the FT-Bh uses low-cost materials (ie. no carbon fiber) and economical production methods, allowing it to be an affordable machine. As a result, Toyota says it weighs less than 1,800 lbs – surprising when you consider the heavy electric components used in the hybrid powertrain.
To reach maximum efficiency Toyota has focused on five factors with this concept: low weight, aerodynamic performance, powertrain efficiency, thermal energy management and electricity saving.
GALLERY: Toyota FT-bh Concept
Watch the video below:
Smaller than the Cruze. Smaller than the Sonic. The Spark is Chevy‘s new urban mini-car, designed for sale globally, the bowtie brand has now officially unveiled the Spark for the U.S. market, here at the LA Auto Show.
Powered by a 1.2-liter 4-cylinder it makes just 85-hp and will compete against cars like the Smart fortwo, Scion iQ and Fiat 500. For full details on the Spark, watch the video below.
GALLERY: 2013 Chevy Sonic
Watch the video below:
Toyota has just revealed its first ever mini-car for sale in Japan, the Paxis Space. Supplied by Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd., the car is the result of a partnership the two automakers signed last year.
Mini-cars are signified not by size or interior volume but by engine displacement, with the Pixis Space making use of a tiny 660cc engine. Hardly low-tech, the tiny motor receives Dynamic Variable Valve Timing technology as well as turbocharging, although power output numbers have not yet been released. Power is put to the ground to the front wheels through a CVT transmission.
It is, however, quite small, with a wheelbase of 98-inches – roughly two feet more than a Smart fortwo.
These factors combined and Toyota claims a class-leading fuel economy rating of 25.5 km/l, which translates to roughly 60 mpg.
GALLERY: Toyota Paxis Space
The production version of the Scion iQ will make its debut at the New York Auto Show next week reports Bnet. Shown at the same show last year, but in concept form (above) we don’t expect the road-ready car to be nearly so wild.
Instead, the iQ is likely to look similar to the Toyota version of the car (the original), which is currently sold overseas. And considering that version is already quite funky looking, it should suit Scion’s youth-appeal brand just fine.
As for the engine, expect the U.S. Scion model to get the most powerful engine offered in Europe – a 1.3-liter 4-cylinder with 99-hp. That might not seem like much but with how small the iQ is, it should provide peppy performance. In fact, the iQ, which is technically a 3.5-seater (three adults and a child), is roughly the size of the Smart for-two.
Scion has yet to confirm Bnets’s report and we’ve heard rumors of a different model debuting in NY City. It’s likely we won’t know for sure until next week at Scion’s NY Auto Show press conference. We’ll be sure to bring you all the details and photos with full coverage of the NY Auto Show starting March 31st.
[*Update*] Since publishing this story we’ve had the chance to contact Scion. While we didn’t learn anything about the NY debuts, they did tell us about a new website called ScionDimension.com which will tease photos of a car (or cars) ahead of the New York Auto Show, starting March 26th. The site also has a place to sign up to get more info and a downloadable widget to give you more info on new Scion products. It will also serve as a portal to get photos and information on whatever is unveiled in New York. Plus, it will host streaming video of the unveiling live on March 31st. [*Update*]
Visit the Scion Dimension site here: ScionDimension.com
And get more Scion iQ info at IQ-Forums.com
GALLERY: Scion iQ Concept
GALLERY: Toyota iQ
Despite competition from Tata, known for building the world’s cheapest car, Suzuki has no plans to compete head-to-head with the Indian automaker. Currently Suzuki has a stranglehold on emerging markets like India, but Tata is looking to take a chunk of that with the Nano, which undercuts the already inexpensive Suzuki models.
Slamming the Indian-made Nano, Suzuki boss Osamu Suzuki said that building an even lower model vehicle is not a part of the company’s plans as it, “wouldn’t be a car anymore.”
The main reason that Suzuki is letting Tata have the lower end of the market is that it feels an even lower model would devalue the brand. The Japanese automaker cites concerns that such a model would require reduced safety and comfort, two areas where it’s not prepared to perform cuts.
Aston Martin has just released a selection of photos of its Cygnet mini-car concept, giving us the first real look at what this luxury econo-box will be like. Officially still a concept, the Cygnet is expected to go on sale next year in the U.K. and is based on the Toyota iQ mini-car.
Sold exclusively to current Aston Martin owners and then offered to new car buyers, it will be available late in 2010. Aston Martin plans to retrofit the cars at its facility in Gaydon in the U.K., after receiving the basic vehicles from Toyota.
From the new photos the car gets a typical Aston Martin grill, which honestly doesn’t look a ridiculous as we might have expected. It also gets some aggressive hood vents, some larger Aston Martin-style wheels, some fender vents, Aston’s signature door handles and some LED taillights.
Inside it’s seriously luxurious with plenty of leather, as well as some high-tech goodies.
Under the hood we expect to find Toyota’s 99-hp 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine.
Aston Martin expects to sell from 1,000 to 2,000 units of the car but insists the decision to sell the Cygnet has more to do with offering well-heeled owners a practical city car, rather than to help the large-engined British automaker to meet increasingly strict corporate emissions regulations.
GALLERY: Aston Martin Cygnet
Mitsubishi has already announced plans to bring its electric mini-car, the iMiEV, to North America, but now the Japanese automaker is considering a gasoline version as well. The iMiEV is expected to arrive in the next two years and is now likely to be joined by a gasoline version, allowing dealers to benefit from higher volume sales.
In Europe the gasoline i gets a turbocharged 660cc engine, but that is likely to be tossed in favor of the same 1.0-liter three-cylinder found in what will be the car’s main competitor, the Smart fortwo, said Mitsubishi North America VP John Koenig. The decision to do so is an easy one as the Smart’s engine is already supplied by Mitsubishi.
Koenig also said that in order to make a business case for the gas-powered i, Mitsu would have to sell roughly 1,000 a month. That seems doable as Smart sold 20,000 units so far in 2009 and the i would likely be both more affordable and more functional, with four seats rather than two.
[Source: Automotive News via Autoblog]
If you polled the folks in Nissan’s design department to see what their favorite artist is, we have little doubt Picasso would be a popular choice. The cubist designs at Nissan have been popular as of late, but don’t expect to see the new Roox model heading to North America to join its big brother Cube any time soon.
The Roox is classified as a min-car, meaning that it slots in even below sub-compact models like Nissan’s Versa. The square design, however, makes it ideal for cargo. Nissan has also equiped the model with minivan-style sliding side doors, making it not only ideal for passengers in tight spaces, but also for use as an urban cargo vehicle.
More details about the Roox will be reveald when Nissan oficially unveils the new car at the Tokyo Auto Show on October 21st.
Electric mini car based VW's upcoming city-car chassis expected to hit market by 2013
Debuting alongside the 170mpg L1 concept car at the Frankfurt Auto Show was the zero-emissions E-Up! concept. As the name suggests, this is a pure electric vehicle and it is based on a chassis that will form the basis of a new line of VW city cars starting in 2013.
As a 3+1 seater the E-Up! is about the size of a SMART fortwo or Toyota iQ. It has a peak output of 60 kw with 210 Nm of torque (80-hp and 155 ft-lbs of torque). With a curb weight of 1,085 (2,392 lbs) the E-Up! Concept can hit 62 mph in 11.3 seconds and drive a total distance of 130 km thanks to stored energy in a lithium-ion battery pack.
Volkswagen is boldly declaring the car is the Beetle of the 21st Century and says this electric Up! model will go on sale in 2013.
GALLERY: VW E-Up! Concept
A rumored deal between Volkswagen and Suzuki has been revived after the VW CEO Dr. Martin Winterkorn told a German magazine that Suzuki would make an “interesting partner.”
“Suzuki would be an interesting partner because of its competency in small cars,” Winterkorn said in an interview with German publication Manager Magazin.
It is believed that Volkswagen is looking for a company like Suzuki to gain expertise in launching a mini-car in emerging markets. The partnership between the two automakers would see the development of a mini car to slot in under the upcoming small cars that will be based on the Volkswagen Up! concept. Currently, Suzuki’s Alto (pictured above) is the number one selling car in India.
In June, Reuters reported that Volkswagen was interested in gaining a 10 percent stake in Suzuki but the Japanese company’s Chief Executive Osamu Suzuki denied any contact between the two companies.
First shown as a concept (above) at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, Scion will reportedly bring the iQ to market by the Fall of 2010.
After receiving an excellent reception at the show, Scion’s VP, Jack Hollis has said he is fighting to get the car to market. One large Toyota dealer, has however, spilled the beans, telling the folks at AutoWeek that an agreement has been reached to bring the diminutive car to the U.S.
At a length of just 117.5-inches, the iQ is only slightly larger than a SMART fortwo. Unlike the SMART, however, the iQ can fit three adults and a child… at least that’s what Scion says. Taking a look at the car, however, it appears as though seating for two is about all there’s room for.
While several engine options are available in Europe, the iQ will most likely get the largest (1.3-liter four-cylinder) when it debuts in the U.S. That engine makes 99hp and gets 66 mpg.
Scion is a company desperate to reinvent itself, as its popularity is based as much on fresh product as it is on customizing that product. “Scion is a good business mode that will be valuable and viable in the future, but for the business model to be successful, product freshness is key,” said Toyota North America president and COO Yoshi Inaba. And fresh-product isn’t something Scion has much of. Currently the company is working on a replacement to the tC coupe, while the iconic Scion, the xB, is already starting to lose out to new models like the Kia Soul.
CEO quashes rumors that Japanese automaker would sell off 10 percent stake to VW
After news reports late last week that Suzuki was in talks with Volkswagen, the Japanese automaker’s CEO has officially denied the story.
“So far there’s been absolutely no contact (with Volkswagen),” said Chief Executive Osamu Suzuki to the Chunichi Shimbun daily. “Lately, we’ve been the victim of a lot of rumors (of equity tie-ups and cooperation deals).”
Reuters cited an unnamed source claiming that VW was in talks with Suzuki to take a 10 percent stake in the automaker and engage in a partnership to build mini cars for emerging markets. The new vehicle was reported to be even smaller than the Volkswagen Up! concept, which is slated to go on sale in 2011.
Toyota will bring its iQ city car to North America by 2012, badged as a Scion model. Scion debuted a concept of the iQ (shown above) at the New York Auto Show this year. When it does launch, however, expect it to look significantly more tame.
Currently the mini car (about the size of a SMART fortwo) is sold in Europe and Asia and three engines are offered. Once it makes its way to North America we are likely to get the 1.33-liter four-cylinder with 99hp. Although according to Toyota a 1.6-liter engine will fit.
The iQ is technically a 3+1, meaning that it can seat three adults and one child. This is possible by locating the passenger seat ahead of the driver’s seat so that there is actual leg room for a rear passenger on the passenger’s side.
The iQ is also slated to be the base of an electric vehicle due out in 2012, and recently Aston Martin announced it was working on a concept, the Cygnet, that is based on the iQ.
The Scion iQ is expected in either 2010 or 2011 as a 2011 or 2012 model.
GALLERY: Scion iQ
[Source: Motor Trend]
Aston Martin has just released details of an upcoming concept car the luxury British automaker is working on… and it’s not at all what you might expect. Rather than a high-powered exotic, this new machine, called the Cygnet, is a tiny commuter car.
The Cygnet is based on the Toyota iQ and while it sounds like an April Fool’s joke, the reality is that this mini-car has a lot of potential. For starters, Aston Martin is working on giving the Cygnet a unique Aston Martin look and a serious luxury interior. No doubt owners, particularly in large European urban centers, could use a vehicle like this and then take their $300,000 DBS out to the country on the weekend.
There is, however, an additional (and very strong) reason the Cygnet may become a reality, and that is the increasingly restrictive fuel-economy regulations in both Europe and the United States. If Aston Martin builds a car like this with what will no doubt be a tiny fuel-efficient engine, it will offset the gas-sucking V8s and V12s that are used in the rest of the company’s lineup.
Currently the Toyota iQ is offered overseas with three engines, the most potent of which makes 99hp from a 1.33-liter gasoline engine.
“Now is the right time for Aston Martin to take this first bold step to embark on this special project – made possible with the support of an organization of Toyota’s stature and capability and the intelligent design and perfect city car package of the iQ,” said Aston Martin CEO, Dr Ulrich Bez. “Much work is still required, but I am confident that this project could become reality in the not too distant future. This concept – akin to an exclusive tender to a luxury yacht – will allow us to apply Aston Martin design language, craftsmanship and brand values to a completely new segment of the market.”
Dr. Bez even alluded to selling the Cygnet like an add-on package to compliment one of the company’s pricier models. “The offering of a ‘Cygnet’ with a DBS, DB9 or Vantage is a unique combination of opposites and a novel transport solution allowing intelligent and sensitive mobility on an exclusive and innovative level,” he said.
According to Automotive News, the Cygnet could be made available to current and prospective Aston Martin owners as early as next year with mass-market sales following the year after. The price of the Cygnet is expected to be around 23,000 Euros – or roughly $32,000.
[Source: Automotive News]
Official release after the jump:
VW eager to learn from Suzuki's success in the mini-car market
Volkswagen is reportedly looking at purchasing a 10 percent stake in Suzuki as it looks to create a solid partnership with the Japanese automaker. Te reason for VW’s interest is Suzuki’s expertise in mini cars – like the Suzuki Alto, pictured above.
The Alto is currently the best-selling vehicle in India and Volkswagen wants to make sure it has a strong presence in emerging markets.
Suzuki, while a small player in developed markets like North America, is actually Japan’s second largest automaker if you count mini-car sales.
The partnership between the two automakers would see the development of a mini car to slot in under the upcoming small cars that will be based on the Volkswagen Up! concept (pictured below). The family of cars based on the Up! will be manufactured in Bratislava, Slovakia, are due out in 2011.
Representatives from both Volkswagen and Suzuki have denied to comment on the matter, but VW’s CEO Ferdinand Piech has previously expressed interest in the Suzuki brand.
GALLERY: Suzuki Alto
Convertible minicar could be branded as a Scion in the U.S.
Toyota appears to be readying a convertible version of the iQ minicar that is currently on sale in Japan and Europe. The report comes from Japan’s Best Car magazine, which suggests much of the basics will be kept including a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 99hp and 92 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel-economy for this engine is rated an an average of 51 mpg – although Toyota offers even smaller and more fuel-efficient powerplants including a 1.0-liter four-cylinder and a 1.4-liter turbodiesel.
Presumably cabriolet or roadster model would do without the two rear seats found in the coupe – which are by all accounts entirely useless.
Pricing in Japan could be 2 million Yen, which works out to a rather steep $20,300.
While it seems unlikely, there is potential for this car to make its way to North America. At the recent New York Auto Show, Toyota youth-brand Scion debuted a concept based on the iQ. This showed that Toyota is certainly interested in exploring whether or not to bring the iQ to the U.S. and apparently it sees the Scion brand as a better fit for the car. And as small a niche market as a vehicle like this may seem, the iQ Cabriolet already has a competitor with the SMART fortwo Cabriolet.
Best Car also suggests that Honda will bring back the Beat in order to compete with this new model from Toyota.
Indian automaker Tata has confirmed that it will bring the Nano to the U.S. in the next three years. The Nano, launched officially several months ago in India, holds the title of being the world’s cheapest car with base models priced at just $2,000.
David Good, a U.S. representative for the Indian automaker, which also owns Jaguar and Land Rover, confirmed statements made by company CEO Ratan Tata at Cornell University earlier this week.
“It might be two years and six months,” Good said in an interview with Automotive News.
Powered by a 624cc 2-cylinder engine that makes just 35hp, the Nano comes with a 4-speed gearbox with full power available at 5250 rpm and full torque (35 ft-lbs) on tap at 3000 rpm. Tata claims an average fuel-economy rating of 55.5 mpg according to the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), giving it the highest rating of any gasoline car in India.
The Nano is also tiny, measuring just 10.2-feet long, by 4.9-feet wide and 5.3-feet high.
The Nano “will meet all emissions and crash standards,” Tata said. The current model for India features a reinforced passenger compartment, crumple zones, intrusion resistant doors, as well as the mandatory seat belts.
Tata also plans to bring a version of the Nano to Europe in 2011.
[Source: Automotive News]
Tiny electric car will go on sale in July
Mitsubishi has just revealed the production model of its i-MiEV electric car in Japan and it plans to have models on the road by July. Initial sales of 1,400 vehicles will be to government entities with public sales starting in April of 2010.
As a full-electric vehicle the i-MiEV creates zero emissions and is powered by an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack that makes 63hp and 133 ft-lbs of torque.
It is based on Mitsubishi’s “i” minicar and by locating the drive battery under the floor and the power unit under the luggage compartment, it not only retains a great deal of usable cargo space, but is also a well-balanced vehicle.
Mitsubishi calls it the “ultimate eco-car, a solution to the various challenges the automobile faces today including environmental pollution, global warming and the depletion of petroleum-based energy supplies.”
The battery can be recharged using either a conventional household outlet, a 200-volt outlet or it can be quick-charged at special stations – which Mitsubishi is currently setting up in Japan. With a standard household outlet, charge time is 14 hours, but can be sped up to 7 hours using a 200-volt outlet. Quick-charge stations will be able to make the charge in just half an hour.
The i-MiEV is priced at 4,599,000 Yen ($47,600) but is eligible for a $14,400 tax break.
Mitsubishi did not give any details on when the car might go on sale outside Japan, but company representatives have already said the the i-MiEV is scheduled to be sold in North America.
GALLERY: Mitsubishi i-MiEV
More on the i-MiEV after the jump: