Wednesday, October 12, 2016

#BMW Debuts X2 #Concept At Paris Motor Show [Auto Styling News]

The BMW Group chose the Paris Motor Show 2016 to present the BMW Concept X2. This new addition to the compact segment has a distinctive design that stands apart from that of the other X models and also draws on the BMW Group’s history of coupe-making. The result is a compact concept exuding urban sporting appeal.

“The BMW Concept X2 is a vehicle for active people looking for a combination of enjoyment and practicality,” explains Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “The concept displays a new and exciting facet of the BMW brand within the compact segment.”

The design, says BMW, is, "a successful blend of dynamic appeal and solidity." It certainly appears dynamic and solid. The overall low-slung proportions, small greenhouse, long hood, and slick back end make for a modern, fresh look, from all directions.

It definitely looks like the sporty coupe-like vehicle BMW was going for. The large wheels, long wheelbase and forward slanting C-pillar help.

The upper section of the car's flanks is dominated by sporty design elements. The elongated roofline and slim window graphic create a stretched feel. The greenhouse tapers towards the rear, forming an athletic shoulder.

The window graphic surrounds and integrated two-piece mirror bases (both made from brushed aluminum) add an extra touch of class. The thickness of the aluminum profile plays a contrasting role here. The window graphic is rounded off by a dynamic interpretation of the hallmark BMW Hofmeister kink. Like the logo on the C-pillar – a classically sporty coupe design cue straight out of the BMW history books – this represents a singularly unmistakable detail. The large, air-channeling roof spoiler in body color lies flat over the blackened rear window. Extending from the C-pillars, it gives the rear of the BMW Concept X2 its sporty contours.

Lower down the sides of the car, customary X-model features hog the limelight. Muscular surfaces, large wheel arches and stylistic underfloor protection around the door sills form an intriguing contrast with the dynamic elements further up.

Focusing for a moment on more detailed features, the surfaces of the car’s flanks bring together large, smoothly modeled sections with precise edges, showcasing the car’s athletic presence. The dramatic surfacing also emphasizes the almost squared-off wheel arches familiar from the car’s BMW X stablemates. In them sit large, 21-inch light-alloy wheels, whose striking, double-spoke, bi-color design with a strong sense of three-dimensionality continues the contrast between dynamic appeal and solidity into the car’s details. Tyres with chunky treads point to the potential for fun off the beaten track, while door sills in body colour with integral hexagonal elements set the seal on the robust appearance of the car’s sides at their lowest point.

The front-end design of the BMW Concept X2 also fuses dynamic elements with a robust use of forms. Clearly contoured volumes and subtle edges create a front-end impression with presence and sporting appeal in abundance.

The heavily raked windshield appears to extend seamlessly into the dark panoramic roof and teams up with the newly interpreted double kidney grille and large air intakes to give the front end a slow-slung look. The hood and front end look enormous, though that could be because of the windshield's curvature, but regardless, the car will have incredible presence when seen coming at you down the road.

The kidneys turn the familiar trapezoidal shape of BMW grilles on its head and instead widen from top to bottom. This clear statement accentuates the unique nature of the BMW Concept X2, as well as the width of the front and the car’s solid stance. Graphically modeled and heavily angled bars within the kidney grille create an undeniable “shark nose” effect, bringing additional depth and sculptural richness to this area of the car. One hopes this all makes it to production, because they're undeniably attractive.

The flat contours of the headlight tubes help to give the classical BMW twin circular look a more hexagonal form. The laser light technology used by the headlights enables very slim light graphics, while the blue X in the center of the hexagonal tubes adds a further technical accent.

The front of this sleek beast is dominated by the large central air intake below the traditional - but extremely large - kidney grille, which is functional, since it helps to quench the Concept X2's thirst for cooling air. The smaller, triangular air intakes on either side highlight the car’s broad stance. The robust, horizontal slats of the air intakes provide a solid counterpoint to the dynamic design of the front and add further detailed emphasis of the front-end’s traditional X-model character.

The rear of the BMW Concept X2 rounds off the exterior design in distinctive style. Width-accentuating elements such as the slim rear window and horizontal lines reduce the perceived height of the BMW Concept X2 and underscore its sporting pretensions. From this angle you can also see how the rear window emerges elegantly from below the air-channeling spoiler and underlines the car’s sporting character. The prominent tapering of the glasshouse along the sides of the Concept X2 also catches the eye, forming a powerful shoulder area, allowing it to highlight the car’s broad, muscular stance.

Let's hope this design - or most of it - makes it to market. This looks like a nearly complete design study, so it's likely a 2019 design at the latest.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

#VW Teases "Revolutionary" Electric Vehicle By 2020 [Auto Styling News]

At next month's Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen - seeking to turn the page on its scandalous gaming of emissions standards - will urge us to "Think New." And the concept car it recently teased ahead of the show is actually something pretty good, if may live up to the hype, if it makes it off the drawing board.

Volkswagen says the concept electric vehicle it will launch by 2020 will be based on it's "modular electric toolkit" (MEB in German) the basis of battery-electric vehicles with ranges of  249 to 373 miles. Several vehicles up and down the product line will apparently benefit from this new technology, including a beefed up electric car with greater range before 2020 (the current one gets a mere 83 miles out of a full charge.) By 2025, VW hopes to be selling between 2 million and 3 million electric vehicles every year.

This one-of-a-kind concept car, says VW, signals the brand’s entry into a new era, as revolutionary, it claims, "as the Beetle was seven decades ago, before it evolved into the world’s best-selling car of the last century." This car, too, they claim, "has the potential to make history with its completely new vehicle concept."

All well and good. The car, which we have only seen teased in the photos here, sure looks nice. The headlamps and tail lamps alone look revolutionary. And even if it had a regular gasoline engine in it, it looks like a winner (assuming, of course, consumers forgive them by 2020 for lying about earlier models' emissions!) But a note of caution here: VW, not unlike GM, Toyota and many other brands, have a history of teasing big changes and gorgeous concepts, only to have bean-counters ratchet down the beauty in the production phase.

One hopes they not only ARE able to deliver on these astounding range figures, but that the vehicles continue to evolve into something beautiful, like these indicate they will most certainly will be.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

#Mercedes Stuns With Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Concept [Auto Styling News]

Every August classic car fans from around the world converge on Pebble Beach in California for a very special beauty contest. This gathering of magnificent classic cars was the perfect place to premiere the exclusive Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6, a sensational luxury-class coupe.

The 2+2-seater, billed as a 2018 model year vehicle by Mercedes, pays homage to the glorious age of the aero coupes and consciously carries this tradition forward into the future with its design. The coupe reinterprets classic, emotional design principles in an extreme way, following the Mercedes design philosophy of "sensual purity."

The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6, which measures over 18.5-feet  in length, is designed as an electric car. The drive system has an output of 738 SAE hp. The shallow underfloor battery allows a range of over 200 miles.

With its sensual, emotional design ("hot") and intelligent details ("cool"), the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 represents the ultimate in luxury. The classic aesthetic proportions of the show car - an extremely long hood, low roof line and rearward positioning of the greenhouse - recall the aero coupes of the 1930s and 40s. But this is not retro design - this is a reinterpretation of classic, aesthetic principles.

It's amazingly rakish rear is unlike anything on the market today. This beast looks FAST even when standing still. It makes the heart pound, and excites the senses. All that a concept car should do, and all that a Mercedes, and a Maybach, MUST do.

Even without aids such as spoilers, the airflow hugs the contours of the vehicle body and breaks away very late at the tail end of the vehicle. Then there is the surprisingly sleek character of the narrow lights, partially transparent rims and split rear window.

The front features a daring grille - which of course it must have. But the hood's amazing length is the signature look of the car, even when a less daring design would be absolutely defined by that grille, which is truly massive.

Now, let's come down from the sugar high for a moment. It's almost 100% guaranteed that this concept car is a design study, rather than a production car slated for 2018. but if it comes anywhere near this concept's radical lines after the bean counters take charge of it, Mercedes is going to have a major hit on its hands, if it goes forward with something like this design.

Mercedes has done itself a wonderful favor putting the Maybach name into the Mercedes line-up.
Both young children and young professionals in their 20s who may never own one will still dream of them and will be making them their screensavers for the next decade.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

#AstonMartin Reveals Hot Vanquish Zagato #Concept [Auto Styling News]

Aston Martin brought a real head-turner to this year's Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach this year, the latest concept Vanquish Zagato, which debuted at the Villa d'Este show on Lake Como in Italy this past spring.

The Vanquish Zagato is the fifth car to emerge from a collaboration that stretches back over five decades, pairing Aston Martin's acclaimed dynamic and material qualities with Zagato's signature design language. As well as spectacular sporting ability, Vanquish Zagato showcases the very best of Aston Martin’s bespoke luxury.

The collaboration with Zagato began with the beautifully muscular DB4 GT Zagato racing car of 1960 – now valued at over £10 million -, and includes the V8 Vantage Zagato launched in 1986, the 2002 DB7 Vantage Zagato and the V12 Vantage Zagato revealed in 2011.

The design of the production Vanquish Zagato will be closely related to the concept. With proportions that remain quintessentially Aston Martin. The new bodywork is entirely shaped from carbon-fiber, with the split lines on the body significantly reduced by the use of large one-piece panels.

The beautifully wrought hood looks very muscular indeed, as if it's going to leap forward while sitting still. The grille is larger than on current models, making it an extremely aggressive and drop-dead gorgeous. The lamps and fog lamps are equally sweet, and add to the overall handsomeness of the concept.

Other design elements include devastatingly beautiful round tail light reflectors that are meant to evoke the classic Zagato, using the same 'bladed' LED technology as the Aston Martin Vulcan, while the wing mirrors are closely related to the units developed for the One-77.

The Vanquish Zagato's sculptural rear end resembles the DB11's aerodynamic profile, complete with retractable spoiler and rear hatch for easy access to the luggage compartment. Rippling carbon fiber sills run around the lower body to create a pronounced line from front to rear, with a quad-exhaust nestling within the curvaceous shapes.

The Vanquish Zagato’s glasshouse wraps around the bodywork like a visor, enhancing its aggressive stance. The classic strake is larger, running from the wheel arch all the way to the door, like the new DB11. A sharp crease on the rear wheel arch transforms into the rear flanks, where it meets the cascading roofline.

The roof has a gorgeous "double bubble," continuing into the rear window glass, like few other cars has ever accomplished, but has been a staple in Zagatos going back to the 1950s as a way to make room for racing helmets, so this is clearly an homage, which may or may not make it into production, if this car actually does. (The Peugeot RCZ, which IS a production vehicle, has an equally gorgeous, and perhaps even more pronounced "bubble" on its roof and rear window. Sadly, we don't ever  get to see Peugeots in the US, so Google it.)

In short, Aston should definitely build this. It's a testament to this concept that all of these elements not only look beautiful together and work together seamlessly to bring about a true work of art (as all Astons are, but here, even more so.) But also, they separately would be assets on ANY luxury vehicle - and are actually improvements over many in its class. They would dramatically elevate any vehicle of a lesser class.

Photos: Courtesy Aston Martin

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

#Buick Avista Concept Named N. American Concept Of The Year [Auto Styling News]

The Buick Avista has been awarded the 2016 Concept Car of the Year and the Most Significant Concept Vehicle of the Year at the 2016 North American Concept Vehicle Awards at the Concours d’Elegance of America in Plymouth, Michigan.

The awards recognize the vehicle that makes the strongest impact in terms of automotive design, engineering and market responsiveness. According to Buick, the Avista is both an indicator of Buick’s future design direction and a celebration of its design heritage.

"The design process of the Avista brought the team together to unite around a future direction for the brand and the great teamwork and enthusiasm it generated," said Bryan Nesbitt, executive director, Buick Global Design. "While looking to the future, we also wanted to honor the rich heritage of Buick by integrating timeless design cues in this beautifully progressive concept vehicle."

Judges praised the Avista’s futuristic interior and intuitive design, and Detroit Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan said the vehicle "cements Buick's surprising status as one of the auto industry's most intriguing brands."

The aggressive stance of the Avista is immediately apparent. The wide grille features Chrysler-like wings and Mercedes-like mesh background that are no doubt titanium (at least on the concept) and the boomerang headlamps are striking. Buick says both the grille and headlamps forecast future design elements.
© General Motors

It will be great if the low stance and small greenhouse remain in the final model (if indeed this goes to production) because it's incredibly sporty.

In this coupe style, especially in the rear pillar window, rear pillar, and the entire rear of the car, one can squint and see the Honda civic, but that styling seems more elegantly wrought here. The rear lamps are large and luxurious, as must be said of the deep, rich "Dark Sapphire Jewel" color on this concept.

The exterior boasts titanium and carbon-fiber accents that make for optimal durability. The sleek design reinforces the balance of beauty and precision during the driving experience.

Following its introduction at the 2016 North American International Auto Show, the Avista also received the EyesOn Design Excellence Award and was named “Best Future Concept” by Detroit News readers. It should be noted that the concept was wildly popular when released earlier this year. A good sign that GM may be motivated to bring something like this to market in the coming years.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

#VW Teams Up With LG To Create "Connected" Cars [Auto Styling News]

Today's marriages of tech companies and car companies continues, and is likely to give birth to amazing technological advances in the next decade.

The Volkswagen Group and LG Electronics are the latest to team up. Earlier this month in Wolfsburg, Germany, both signed a memorandum of understanding on the joint research and development of a next-generation connected car service platform.

The two companies have pledged to work together on Volkswagen's Cross-Over-Platform, which is aimed at enhanced vehicle connectivity and convenience. Using the latest in cloud technology, it will offer drivers seamless digital access to extensive features such as smart home and location-based services.

Vehicles like the VW zero-emission BUDD-e electric van concept (at left) imagined as a 2019 vehicle, will likely benefit from this alliance.

Another beneficiary will be concepts like the GEA, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2015. It was already a collaboration between LG Electronics and VW, having seven key components supplied by LG, including the holographic display, connected smart watch, tail lights and rear camera. In July, LG was selected as Volkswagen's strategic electronics supplier and also listed as a partner company on its FAST (Future Automotive Supply Tracks) program. At CES earlier this year, the two companies attracted great attention showcasing a smart home system that could be controlled remotely from the vehicle.

Over the coming years, the two companies say they will be concentrating on:
• Developing technologies that bring together the connected car and the smart home
   so that drivers are able to control and monitor smart devices in their homes —
   such as lights, security systems and domestic appliances — from out on the road.
• Developing a context-sensitive notification center that can deliver messages in an
   intuitive and safe manner and provide optimized recommendations to the driver in
   real time.
• Developing next-generation infotainment technology for connected cars.

LG was one of the first electronics companies to commit itself to the automotive industry. It has been supplying audio-visual products for vehicles since 2007, establishing a reputation for reliability and technological innovation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

#BMW Collab. Promises Driverless Cars By 2021 [Auto Styling News]

BMW, Intel, and Mobileye are teaming up to make self-driving autonomous vehicles a reality by 2021. The collaboration could be a very positive sign that even driverless cars could be headed to our driveways within a decade.

Announced at a July 1 press conference in Munich, Germany, leaders from the three companies - leaders in the automotive, technology and computer vision and machine learning industries - announced their collaboration.

BMW believes the path to get to a fully autonomous world is complex and will require end-to-end solutions that integrate intelligence across the network, from door locks to the data center. Transportation providers of the future, they said, must harness rapidly evolving technologies, collaborate with totally new partners, and prepare for disruptive opportunities.

The BMW iNEXT model will be the foundation for BMW Group’s autonomous driving strategy and set the basis for fleets of fully autonomous vehicles.

The goal of the collaboration is to develop future-proofed solutions that enable the drivers to not only take their hands off the steering wheel, but reach the so called “eyes off” (level 3) and ultimately the "mind off" (level 4) level transforming the driver’s in-car time into leisure or work time. This level of autonomy would enable the vehicle, on a technical level, to achieve the final stage of traveling "driver off" (level 5) without a human driver inside.

BMW believes this technology lays the foundation for entirely new business models in a connected, mobile world. If it comes about, this could clearly revolutionize the way we view vehicles, and could disrupt driving as much as Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry, or cellular disrupted the old "tethered" telephones our parents grew up with in the 20th Century.

Dangers for the project are not more clearly highlighted by the first fatal accident involving a self-driving Tesla S in May, which raised serious questions about the viability of the autopilot technology at this stage. Mobileye supplied some of the tech behind Tesla's automated driving car. It was founded in 1999 and was a pioneer in developing advanced collision avoidance systems.

BMW is wise to reach out to tech leaders to collaborate in this way. Hopefully the technology really will be ready to deliver what's being advertised by 2021.