Monday, January 13, 2020
Sony says it wants us to re-imagine mobility as we know it. To that end, its electric, self-driving vehicle prototype, the VISION-S, was unveiled this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and ... it looks a whole lot like a Tesla.
Considering its company name, Sony will no doubt be up to the challenges of creating a technologically stunning vehicle, albeit its first one. It will (says the company) feature 33 sensors around the car, offering 360-degree vision of the road. It can park itself, with a "summon" feature similar to Tesla's, and of course has self-driving capabilities. Like the Tesla, it will feature ongoing software updates.
Now to the looks: From a side profile, one might be forgiven if you mistake it for a Tesla S. It has the same general shape, including the squared-off rear end. But there are some interesting differences. The Tesla's front looks as though it forgot the grille, placing a flattened panel in its place. The VISION-S, however, looks somewhat nicer, with an almost Porsche-like rounded front end. It headlamps are attractive, and a bar with a stylized feature that looks like two hands coming together, meeting in the middle.
The rear-panel window, as with all of the side windows, are squared off and form a straight line from front to back. That gives it a rather conventional style, and a bit out of step with current design of most other vehicles (including the Tesla S) which have door panels that swoop gently upward as they work their way to the back of the vehicle.
The rear, aside from being squared off like a Tesla, also has lights that resemble the Musk vehicle. And many following this car will undoubtedly believe they are following a Tesla.
Of course, this is a "prototype" (not a CONCEPT, says Sony) so things *might* change between now and actual production, a date for which was not announced in Las Vegas.
Overall, this is not an ugly vehicle, and will give Tesla a run for its money, especially if it can offer greater tech inside the cabin than Musk's car, at roughly the same price. And Sony brings with it a credibility and name recognition for high quality technology, so Elon must be slightly nervous,
Friday, December 13, 2019
How do you stoke both controversy and excitement among auto enthusiasts at the same time? If you're Ford Motor Company, you launch your first all-electric SUV with an iconic CAR nameplate.
The Mustang Mach-E, slated for car lots in late 2020 as a 2021 model, did just that when it was released to the public last month. To put that venerable, nay, iconic, nameplate on an SUV of any kind of new vehicle (other than a traditional sedan) was going to be controversial. And it was. Internet reception was at times brutal, and scathing.
A small sample from ONE ad Ford ran on Twitter:
"I’ve owned 2 mustangs, you can call this a mustang, but it’s not."
"This ain't a damn Mustang, Ford."
"What’s next, a Mustang truck? Or scooter?"
"I'm holding out for your Mustang minivan."
"@Ford hit me up for the $500 to reserve one of these, if the following conditions are met:
1. Remove all ‘Mustang’ from the name of this vehicle 2. Remove all pony’s from the vehicle. 3. Never refer to this as a ‘mustang’ again. Never."
"Mustang or Rav4? That thing is hideous."
And, damning with faint praise...
"It has the possibility of being a great vehicle but I agree should not have been called a Mustang."
Of course, the SUV-ing of the Mustang is par for the course for American automakers, who have all but declared a jihad on sedans with their traditional hood-and-trunk designs, which they've deemed "unsellable" to the American auto buyer. Tho, the American auto buyer apparently can't get enough of sedans produced by KIA, Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, BMW, Volvo, Volkswagen, Mazda, Mercedes, Audi, and others. Maybe they haven't got the memo.
In the Mach-E, which is advertised as going 300 miles on a charge and cost between $45,000 and $60,500, the hood, like a 1963 VW Beetle, houses trunk space, due to the electric motor not needing an up-front location, and its air-cooling capabilities. This leads to the somewhat odd-looking grille, which isn't a grille at all, but a flat space, at the front end.
The white colored Mach-Es will show more prominently the "fang" feature on this part of the car, a cut-out that adds at least some character to an otherwise blank space. That space on the darker (dark blue, dark silver, black offerings) looks like what a kid forgot to punch out of a plastic car model. To be fair, this mimics front ends on various Tesla models, which also look like they don't know what to do with that space. The space does include a Mustang "leaping pony," and the front end has headlamps that resemble the Mustang car's.
The rear features a by-the-numbers Mustang-like look, with three, evenly spaced lights and another leaping pony. The side view resembles the Jaguar I-Pace electric car and the weirdly named non-electric E-Pace. From the side, the rear also has a quick-drop-off featured on the Tesla X SUV. And one could also be forgiven for squinting and seeing the Ford Edge in the side view, and possibly also in the rear. The side also features the "almond shape" rear window design featured in DOZENS of bland SUVs on the market. Is there a Federal regulation that requires this?
Which is all to say: this design rips off a lot of other SUVs, and lacks originality.
The company will offer a variety of identical-looking versions of the Mach-E, including a "Select" at nearly $44,000, at "Premium" nearing $51k, a "California Route 1" at nearly $52k, at "First Edition" at $59,900 and for just a bit more, $60,500, a top-of-the-line "GT" model. It's unclear what features will be offered to warrant such a premium, and how these near-identical cars will justify the cost differential.
But some of these terms (Premium, Select) have appeared on Ford Tauruses in the past, and usually amount to hipper rims, leather interiors, or more powerful engines. With a base electric range already advertised (the aforementioned 300 miles) it's hard to see how the more expensive versions will justify the higher cost.
(Photos: Ford Mustang Mach-E website)
Monday, November 11, 2019
Kia Motors has revealed its new Futuron Concept, an illuminating all-wheel drive SUV coupe which signals design cues for future electric vehicles.
The Futuron Concept represents the modern and confident image of a progressive electric SUV coupe envisioned by Kia. The Futuron name itself is a portmanteau of ‘future’ and ‘on’, hinting at the switched-on, electric nature of future SUV designs from the brand.
The Futuron made its public debut this month at the 2019 China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
The Kia Futuron Concept is built around a ‘360-degree’ design notable for its pure, smooth form devoid of ornament. The delicate diffusion of the body’s surfaces creates a series of taut, flowing shapes which twist, expand and contract around the body. The result is a sleek and streamlined shape, creating an aero-efficient profile.
The Futuron’s elevated ground clearance is matched with a low, lean body to create a dynamic, confident posture, that's at once aggressive and beautiful.
The Futuron’s fully-electric powertrain makes this shape possible. A high-capacity battery is mounted low in the vehicle’s body, beneath the cabin floor, providing electrical energy to four in-wheel electric motors. The elevated stance of the car is therefore matched with a low center of gravity and a cutting-edge e-AWD system which delivers lightning-fast responses to driver inputs.
The front fender flows backwards from the front of the hood before plunging into the cabin itself, establishing a connection between the driving seat and the road ahead. The concept’s roof is a diamond-shaped panoramic glasshouse which sits atop the 360-degree core, in the best traditions of UFO and flying saucer design. While flooding the cabin with natural light, it also extends down the bonnet to give drivers an unparalleled view ahead.
The glasshouse also incorporates a network of LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors capable of providing Level 4 autonomous driving features, enabling hands-off and eyes-off driving in most conditions.
Furthermore, the 360-degree theme is evident in the lighting that illuminates a sharp character line encircling the Futuron’s body. A playful and interactive new feature, this lighting responds to physical gestures and movements made outside the car, eliciting a close connection between vehicle and driver before they even set foot in the cabin.
The front of the Futuron features a new reinterpretation of Kia’s ‘tiger nose’ grille, a signature for Kia design now for over a decade. While maintaining the basic principle of the design – a clear outline with tabs in the middle – Kia’s designers have expanded the boundaries, widening the shape across the front of the car to create a restrained, yet elegant ‘tiger face.'
The newly-designed front of the car, like that of the Imagine by Kia Concept first revealed earlier in 2019, expresses a new design interpretation for Kia’s future electric vehicles.
With a wider ‘tiger face’ shape, the grille incorporates the Futuron’s headlamps, an innovative ‘Star Cloud’ design which gives the car a dazzling new night-time identity. The concept’s Star Cloud lighting not only highlights a new design form for the front of the car, but also embodies a new lighting concept for Kia, taking inspiration from nebulae in the night sky to create a geometric patchwork of matrix LED lighting. The Star Cloud is also incorporated into the rear of the car, displaying a distinct light signature to anyone following the Futuron.
Revealed for the first time in Shanghai, the Futuron also incorporates Chinese legend in the design and form of its new Star Cloud lighting. The Dragon Skin surface which covers the lighting area emulates the scaled armor that adorns Chinese dragons, both in mythology and modern-day cultural celebrations. The Star Cloud lighting incorporates a kinetic surface, enabling the car to alternate between daytime running lights and full-beam headlamps as the scales open and close.
Monday, September 16, 2019
Hyundai Motor has unveiled a stunning look at the future with it's retro "45" Concept.
The 45, envisioned as an electric vehicle signalling a more electrified future for the Korean automaker, was unveiled at the 2019 Frankfurt auto show. The angular concept looks in many ways like something the German hosts would create, especially those at Volkswagen.
The concept, "reimagines the in-car experience in the age of electrification and autonomous technologies," says Hyundai. And does so by evoking "emotional connections from the past to create a consumer lifestyle brand for the future of mobility."
The angular and stunning 45 foreshadows a new era of Hyundai’s automotive design focused on electrification, autonomous technologies and intelligent design. The progressive 45 puts a twist on a 45-year-old icon, the 1974 Pony Coupe Concept, and of course looks thoroughly like a 21st Century vehicle.
In fact, the sharp angles are a radical departure from the current extremely curvaceous lineup. The front view is dominated by beautiful, squared off headlamps, that look a bit like the car is rather impatient with us for not buying it right away.
"As an icon of Hyundai, the 45 clearly reveals how Hyundai heads towards the future through heritage," said SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and the Head of Hyundai Design Center. "Through the 45 built upon our design language 'Sensuous Sportiness', Hyundai wants to present our vision on how we want to reshape people's in-car lifestyle in the era of electrification and autonomous driving."
The 45 reinterprets the concept’s distinctive lattice radiator grille with a ‘kinetic cube lamp’ design. The iconic front-end presence with the kinetic cube lamps evokes analogue emotions, while at the same time applying cutting-edge technologies. It also takes Hyundai’s lighting architecture to the next level, allowing people to instantly recognize the vehicle at a distance.
By exhibiting a modernized fastback profile, 45 epitomizes stability and dynamism, characteristics accentuated by the vehicle’s significant width and forward-oriented posture.
As a progressive electric vehicle, new technology is visible in 45’s design. At the bottom of the door, a special garnish highlights its long-distance battery capability and, through active LED lights, drivers can intuitively know how much longer they can drive even before they get in the car. These thoughtful elements are designed for a user who is experiencing an EV for the first time.
Monday, August 26, 2019
Acura recently unveiled the Type S concept, which it insists will be the basis of future vehicles and help it differentiate itself from its lesser sibling, Honda.
The concept will, says the company, heavily influence the character of the upcoming, second-generation TLX Type S cars, and they will develop two Type S performance variants in the next two years.
The "S" probably stands for "Stunning," because this concept is just that.
It has a clear, unmistakable silhouette, and a powerful and aggressive front end that will turn heads.
Building on the style of the Acura Precision Concept, the Type S Concept's powerful form is characterized by a wide track and low stance, with an expansive hood that stretches forward from the A-pillars.
The large "A" symbol within a top-to-bottom pentagon-shaped grille (which is seen on many cars today, notably Lexus) and the stunning, cat-like - "Jewel-Eye" Acura calls them - LED headlamps work together well. One hopes a strong exhaust note in the rear of the vehicle combines to give it enormous presence as it approaches its destination. Indeed, this marks the return of the S Type performance range after an absence of decades.
Functional large center and side intakes, capable of supplying required airflow to a high-performance engine and brake package, round out the front. If "round" could be used in describing the shapes, which are angular, masculine, and, again, aggressive.
The side view features jutting lines that arch upward, ending in muscular wheel arches at the rear.
The sharp and distinctive tail features a deck lid with a sharply creased center line (drawn from the hood) and integrated forged carbon spoiler. "Chicane" LED taillights, a large rear diffuser and quad chrome exhaust outlets complete the look.
In addition to the rear decklid spoiler, forged carbon – created by bonding layers of carbon on top of one another to exceed the strength of traditional interwoven carbon – is applied to the front and rear splitters, side sills, rear decklid spoiler and multi-spoke 21-inch wheels.
The Type S concept's bespoke "Double Apex Blue Pearl" paint reflects a liquid and electric hue that pays homage to blue Type S heritage models, including the acclaimed 2007-2008 TL Type S. "Double Apex Blue Pearl" employs Nano pigments and a color-infused clear coat that impart a sense of fluidity and motion, and enhance the paint's luster and brilliance.
One hopes future production models feature an option to drive home a shade a stunning as this.
Friday, June 28, 2019
Recent research reveals that the youngest generations of car buyers – millennials and Generation Z – may have their sights set on sedans, meaning American auto manufacturers may have erred when they pulled the plug on producing future sedans.
According to a survey of American car owners commissioned by Nissan, desire for sedans remains strong. Among overall respondents who don't currently own a sedan, 78% would consider buying one, and younger respondents reported an even higher affinity for the body style.
For its part, Nissan recently unveiled its latest sedan, an all-new version of its subcompact Versa, which features an energetic new design inside and out along with technology not generally seen in the subcompact class.
Last year, Nissan also introduced the sixth generation Altima, sporting lower, wider and more athletic proportions than its predecessor. Nissan also recently unveiled the refreshed Maxima, adding safety and convenience features along with updated styling.
"We see great opportunity in the sedan segment, which is why we're continuing to launch all-new and refreshed products," said Rob Warren, director and chief marketing manager at Nissan North America. "Sedans are still extremely popular with our customers, so as our competitors exit the category, they're creating even more prospects for Nissan."
Nissan surveyed car owners and non-owners in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 65 and found: A top choice: 78% of American drivers
eration X car owners agreed.
Perhaps a major rethink is in order over at Ford, GM and Dodge/Fiat, before they lose an entire generation to Japanese and Korea automakers.
Monday, April 22, 2019
At the New York Auto Show, KIA unveiled its vision of the future of electric vehicles, the HabaNiro concept. It's a fully-electric, all-wheel drive, four-seat car with an All Electric Range of more than 300 miles, level-five autonomous model. KIA claims that this is no "fanciful supercar that will likely never be built," but instead, a prescient look into the future.
Tom Kearns, vice president of design for Kia Design Center America, said the designers wanted the concept to be "comfortable navigating city streets, carving turns on a coastal road and off-roading with confidence to remote wilderness adventures." In other words, he says, "for everyone and nearly everything."
But there's no doubt it looks bold. With its rugged 20-inch wheels, short overhangs and big haunches, the HabaNiro exudes coiled muscularity and capability.
The HabaNiro design is defined by the energetic interplay between the protective metallic grey cladding that encompasses the front wheels and extends onto the body sides and the bright
Lava Red" aero panel that defines the C-pillar and extends up and over the roof. The gull-wing doors may be mentioned in passing here, and then ignored, since they cannot be mass produced and won't make it to production.
These two elements create a vibrant energy and a forward-leaning posture that suggests the HabaNiro is ready to pounce. This latent forward energy is reinforced by the single elegant character line that wraps around the front end, extends through the shoulder, and ends dynamically pointed at the rear wheels.
The HabaNiro grille resembles a shark’s snout, complete with a slit-like gap full of gloss black aluminum “teeth” similar to the cooling blades found on high-end electronic equipment. The EV chassis architecture allowed the wheels to be pushed to the corners, giving the HabaNiro its wide and confident stance.
The rear of the HabaNiro is surprisingly bland, with a long panel rear gate that is without character. They must fix this in production if it make it to car lots.
Satin aluminum skid plates, milled billet aluminum tow hooks, anodized Lava Red aluminum accents, and the embossed HabaNiro name complement the upscale look while suggesting the vehicle’s adventure-ready attitude.