Tag Archive | "concept cars"

There’s Just too Much Stuff!

Once, in far-off days, people were satisfied with what they had when it came to material things. They expected things to last. They purchased a car and kept it pretty much until it had reverted to its original organic state. The thought never occurred to those thrifty folk of yore to even consider buying one of those bright baubles of the automotive future. Even the weak of will who may have been swayed to the dark side soon realised that selling a car just for the sake of getting another one was akin to buying a novelty sweater. It seems like a good idea at the time.

These days however there is simply too much stuff. The temptations are too great. Man cannot live by 3G alone, apparently. A fellow who insists that the pair of flares he bought in 1973 still have plenty of wear left in them would be looked at askance. The driver battling to keep a Ford Sierra on the road in 2014 would be thought of as mad. After all, a new car is announced by car makers almost on a daily basis. The mantra now is ‘change is good for you’; whether you want it or not.

Once there was just The Motor Show at Earl’s Court where serious looking men with pipes and leather patches on the elbows of their jackets would discuss cars in a serious manner. There may have been motor shows elsewhere in the world but they were of no consequence to our stoic British buyers. Now, thanks to the miracles of technology, manufacturers flaunt their wares at shows around the world. A day cannot pass without some new development or other.

FM There’s Just too Much Stuff!In the 21st Century, at least in terms of manufacture, when companies see a bandwagon they feel obliged to jump on it. Thus the car has become a lifestyle accessory to be changed as often as individuals change their smartphones. Take the Citroen DS3 or the Vauxhall Adam. Unlike a Ford Model-T you can have these in any colour combination that takes your fancy. The car as trinket. The car as personal ornament.

To have a choice is fine, to have too much choice is dangerous. What is going to happen when these cars come onto the used car market? What is a delicious beef lasagne to one person is just an old nag to another. Mark these words – if a car is too heavily personalised it will lose value not gain it. In the same way that magnolia paint is supposed to give maximum appeal to the majority of house buyers precisely because it is so neutral, so a silver car will always have the most mass appeal when it comes to resale time.

Manufacturers do these things because they can and consumers of the world are falling for it left, right and centre. For true petrol heads the ideal car has rear-wheel drive, a V8 engine and the desirability of Scarlett Johansson (but with lower running costs obviously). When driving, nobody really needs to be connected to the world. They just need to be connected to the road.

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Concept Cars – Has The World Gone Mad?

Soon, very soon now, the motor show season will kick start the Autumn and Winter months, bringing some light into our damp darkness. One feature that is sure to be of interest this year is just how mad some of the concept cars will be.

Concepts – often the result of years of research – are a way of introducing styling changes and possible future developments to the waiting world. In reality, the final production models will not look much like them at all.

Car designers are allowed free rein to come up with new ideas and the copywriters will have sharpened their quills to ensure that the greatest amount of florid hyperbole can be written into the smallest spaces on the page. Vehicles that are futuristic, wacky and just plain bananas are usually the result. The Citroen Cactus (pictured) is a case in point. This concept has ‘air bumps’ on the side to help minimise damage in the event of a minor shunt.

CAC21 Concept Cars   Has The World Gone Mad?It is crucial that all concept cars are given daft names. Presumably there is a point to it but who knows what it is? When Citroen were questioned about calling a car Cactus they got a bit prickly about it. (Only kidding! Citroen people are very nice!). Also, in today’s environmentally friendly world, the cars have to be clean and efficient. The aforementioned Cactus has an Hybrid-Air system. This is an innovative combination of tried and tested technologies: a petrol engine, a unit to store energy in the form of compressed air, a hydraulic motor-pump assembly and an automatic transmission working with an epicyclic gear train. Well done if you understand that but this technology could well be featuring in the brand’s vehicles from 2016.

If manufacturers are prepared to spend a pretty penny developing these cars then they make sure they make as much of them as possible. This usually results in the motor being loaded to the roofline with the very latest techno-gadgets and safety features. They will be bursting with touch screen technology and the appalling named ‘infotainment centres’. Whatever happened to radios? Now it seems it is possible to connect with the entire world and probably NASA as well. Houston, we have a puncture.

No news yet on what advances the car makers are planning to stop children destroying the back seats of cars or of special cloaking devices which makes the cars invisible to traffic wardens. These are the answers that motorists want yet they remain a distant dream. And they call it progress.

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It Really Is A Mini Adventure! (But You Can’t Have One!)

Here at Motor Blogger we have remarked before on the ever increasing list of Mini variants available to buyers. Barely a month goes by, or so it seems, when another niche version is announced and why not? Well, over at Mini they are clearly not satisfied by their efforts so far and like buses, three more have come along all at once. Sadly they are only concept vehicles and there are no plans to offer them for sale which seems to us to be a right royal crying shame.

Parent company BMW have clearly noticed the popularity of camping, be it for holidays or for festivals, but not for them the flapping canvas tent of old – they’ve gone for the upmarket weekender market with a Clubvan Camper for the lone surfer (or two very friendly surfers), a Cowley Caravan and a Countryman with a tent on top. Genius. Sometimes you just can’t find enough superlatives!

The cars have been developed with the eco-mantra, “maximum touring pleasure with minimal footprint” at the heart of the idea. Nothing Mini has been lost in the conversions so the vehicles still have that unmistakeably Mini character.

The Mini Clubvan is designed to sleep one and has an extendable kitchenette with a stove and ‘fridge. The roof has a glass panel that can be opened for ventilation or to just use to gaze at the night-time firmament. The car has a rack for surfboards, canoes and the like. Imagine being able to say ‘how about coming back to my place’ no matter where you are on the planet!

Mini2 It Really Is A Mini Adventure! (But You Can’t Have One!)The Cowley is a Mini caravan and it is a little piece of design magic. It sleeps two and the rear hatch opens to reveal an alfresco kitchen with twin-ring stove, ‘fridge and a sink. It supposed to be an overnighter but the more hardy individuals to whom personal hygiene is slightly less important than having fun could probably make a week of it. It comes with a solar module to charge the on-board battery and there’s a connection to power the ‘fridge.

The magnificent trio is completed by an ALL4 Countryman Camp upon which you carry your home from home. We are all familiar with collapsible tow tents that are half caravan, well this takes the idea to its Mini conclusion. Picture this scene. It is late and you’ve decided to stop for the night with nowhere to stay except a B&B above a local shop run by an odd couple called Edward and Tubbs. The solution – climb the ladder, raise the tent and settle in for the night. It goes without saying that all the cars come with the usual accessories you’d expect to find, either as standard or as options.

The fact that, as things stand, these concepts are not going to be built is an absolute tragedy. Motor Blogger believes that everyone who has a need for one or other of these (and we number millions) should march down to the local dealer and demand your right to be happy campers.

Mini3 It Really Is A Mini Adventure! (But You Can’t Have One!)

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Vauxhall’s Monza Concept Teaser

Opel/Vauxhall (themselves subsidiaries of GM) are not giving away too much in the image above which features Company Chief Executive Karl-Thomas Neumann alongside the Monza concept, but there’s a fair amount of information on offer regarding the future direction of this long-established company. Their philosophy in the usual auto-speak – that has evolved like an alien language over the years – is going to be: The evolution of sculptural styling with innovative connectivity for individual mobility.

This then is the future and it pretty much falls in line with the general trend. The cars of the future are changing even as we watch although they still can’t make a decent cup of tea.

The Monza Concept will appear at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. It is part of the ongoing development programme of next-gen cars being worked on by a large workforce of engineers and designers. This is thanks to the not inconsiderable sum of $4 billion handed over by GM America that has been earmarked for future European developments.

Aerodynamics are clearly playing a big part as the car sits very low with a very defined bonnet and fluid shape. We have to admit it does look good. Although we have to assume that this is simply a design exercise it may herald the future ‘family’ look for Opel/Vauxhall products or even presage a new GT car. Expect a low-capacity, high-powered range of petrol engines with electrical assistance.

The Company are saying that we can also expect a ‘quantum leap’ forward in material use and of the infotainment systems. There’s a suggestion that the car may be based on the front-wheel drive Cascada platform although first whispers said rear-wheel drive. We’ll see.

It is interesting how these design philosophies filter down through the years. A long time ago, at the Geneva Salon in 1966 in fact, the company showed the world its XVR concept. That’s it in the bigger picture – note that the test driver is wearing a suit and tie! The design is widely indicative of the things that have actually come to pass. With its wide, low profile tyres you can see the design cues of cars to come.

monz2 Vauxhall’s Monza Concept Teaser

No major details yet, then, on the Monza Concept and none at all on the interior but Opel/Vauxhall are saying that with trend-setting technologies they will change the driving experience. We are very much looking forward to Frankfurt.

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ME.WE: Toyota’s Eco-Car.

If, as an animal lover, you keep a Panda as a pet then you should steer clear of this new Toyota – should it ever make it in into production. In line with current thinking, this new concept car from the Japanese giant has been christened with a silly name. It is made, at least in part, with bamboo.

This is the latest in an increasingly long line of cars that care for the environment. Now, we don’t want to bamboozle (heh) you with a load of eco-babble about rain forests and future human challenges; suffice it to say that this is Toyota’s idea of how we can all own cars in a world without petrol.

The name ME.WE is supposed to express the company’s concern for your personal well-being (ME) and that of others (WE). It might be well meaning but it’s all a tad sickly isn’t it? Still their heart’s in the right place: – this car is, as you would expect, electric and uses the same in-wheel motors as the I-ROAD, Toyota’s city-trike concept. The batteries are under the floor as they are in the iQ. Building in this way means that all the available space can be used for passengers and luggage. See image.

Toyota see this concept as being adaptable to most lifestyle choices. It responds, so they say, to people’s behaviour and expectations. Truly a people’s car then, because it allegedly surmounts social status. The company state that “the concept should propose an alternative synthesis based on personal choices”. Terrific, but will somebody please explain what ‘alternative synthesis’ is.

Still, enough levity. This is the shape of things to come. Get over it. The purpose is clearly to demonstrate that a perfectly serviceable car can be made using the lightest of materials – in this case polypropylene panels built around a tubular aluminium frame – knocking off twenty percent of the weight of the average supermini. The body panels are 100% recyclable.

The floor is made from bamboo, as are all the horizontal surfaces in the cabin. The ME.WE is said to be easy to keep clean with just a simple wash – no expensive waxes required. So, easy to use, cheap to run, a choice of two or four wheel drive, simple to clean and kind to the environment; what’s not to like? Nothing, apart from the daft name. If it does come to market then, as a second car at least, it could do well. And if you don’t like it, feed it to the Panda. Now that’s recycling.

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VW Show The Shape Of Things To Come

Volkswagen have a plan and it involves the future design direction of their range of SUVs; and very nice it is too. The photo shows the five-seat CrossBlue Coupé which will make its debut at the Shanghai Motor Show later in the month.

Here at Motor Blogger we think this one is a bit special. Size-wise, it’s about the same size as the mighty Touareg although it sits lower and has a wider, more aggressive stance. Yet this is not just a design exercise. In line with current technology this car is also a plug-in hybrid.

The engine is a turbo V6 with direct petrol injection mated to not one but two electric motors driving front and rear, generating 40kW at the front and a gutsy 85kW at the back. Combined, 516lb ft of torque is on offer. Power is via a six speed DSG gearbox and the combined whole will take the CrossBlue to 62mph in a scant 5.9 seconds.

In other words this is a family sized vehicle with the performance of a sports car. Incredibly, Volkswagen reckon that despite the bulk the coupé will sip fuel to the tune of 94.1mpg. In reality this is not likely to be achievable, as ever, but even 70+ miles per gallon is a bit of an achievement in a large car.

The CrossBlue is built on VW’s new Modular Transverse Matrix component set. Although this does not really tell us much it can be assumed that this is about shared modular construction across company products with front driving transverse engines. It will presumably allow the company to rationalise components across their vehicle range. This is much the same thinking as used by other manufacturers and clearly makes sense. Apart from anything else it helps to keep pricing competitive and that’s good for everybody.

Driven on battery power alone the car is said to cover 20 miles as a standalone EV. In E-Mode only the rear electric motor provides drive and the petrol engine is shut off. The engine will not engage until speeds of seventy five mph as long as there is battery power to spare. Once electric power is depleted the engine cuts in instantly.

Aside from plug-in recharging the car has a variety of ways to generate electric power on the move and, if necessary, the TSI engine can stand alone and drive the front wheels.

It is probably said every time a new Volkswagen comes out but it’s true – it looks like they’ve done it again: but there’s a problem. The company say that there are no plans to put the CrossBlue into production. This is a tragic mistake. Clearly this is an idea of the shape of things to come but we want it now!

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It’s Another Motor Show!

Once upon a time in the distant past of the Twentieth Century there was the Earl’s Court Motor Show. Serious looking chaps with pipes wearing serious looking hats would reveal new cars and that was pretty much it for the year. These days it seems that every city has a show. The good councillors of towns like Truro or Scarborough are clearly missing a trick.

This time it’s the turn of Seoul in South Korea and most of the usual suspects rocked up from the Korean branches of worldwide manufacturers and from the indigenous car makers. We were going to show you a picture of the truly magnificent Lexus LF-LC concept car together with gratuitous posing model, but for this article we are concentrating on concept vehicles from the Korean companies so it’ll be the Kia Cub instead.

In many ways the rising stars of the motor industry are companies like Hyundai, Ssangyong and Kia. In the early days these manufacturers were derided for producing third rate cars. This is no longer so. There has been a spectacular rise in quality, so much so that their cars are a match for most offerings from Europe.

Ssangyong are a case in point. This is not a name that has inspired much confidence in potential buyers but the new Korando, for example, is a smart 4×4 that is well made and competitively priced although the world could still probably do without the dire Rodius. Never mind – they have now shown us the LIV-1, a concept SUV that is designed to look robust, purposeful and sporty. The car features a sizeable body with large bumpers front and rear, yet with slim A and B pillars, a glasshouse silhouette and, intriguingly, a full length glass roof.

Hyundai meanwhile have been busy with the HND9, a luxury sports coupé that hints at their future direction in design. HND9 comes with gull-wing doors and a 3.3L GDi (gasoline direct injection) engine driving the rear wheels. A product of the design centre at Namyang it is another evolution of Hyundai’s so called ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ philosophy.

Finally Kia have popped up with an urban design surprise called the Cub. There are no production plans right now but not to build this one seems like a shame. Like the Mini Paceman it has four individual seats but the rear doors open in a rearward direction and there is a complete absence of B-pillars making access easy. The Cub is small and sleek with a turbo-charged GDi engine of 1.6L driven through a six-speed gearbox. We like this very much.

All in all the Seoul Show deserves to be part of the global motor industry experience and it is good to see some interesting designs emanating from the Korean players.

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New Cars, Concepts And Rumours

Regardless of what the world thinks of Alfa Romeo there can be no denying that they really know how to style a car. This time they have let twenty ‘Master in Transportation Design’ students loose on the drawing boards. The prototype sports saloon so dramatically pictured is what they have come up with.

It is codenamed ‘Gloria’ although why they would want to name a car after the barmaid down at the Ferret and Trousers Public House is not known. What is known is that it is absolutely gorgeous and that AR should rush it into production, like right now. In the meantime, now that the flawed but beautiful 159 has gone, they will be selling the new Guilia saloon from 2014 into the executive sector.

Staying in Italy it seems clear that Dacia’s assault on the European market with budget priced cars has rather aggravated directors at mighty FIAT. As a consequence, rather than leaving a beef lasagne in the beds of Dacia staff as a warning, they are now considering a rival low-cost new car.

In the knowledge that premium car sales are flatlining and with some manufacturers in trouble the company thinks that dormant build capacity outside of Europe could be used for a suitable vehicle with an eye especially on developing markets. The rumour is the cars could be branded Innocenti, a budget marque that FIAT purchased in 1990.

After the Geneva Show fans of cabriolets will be able to get their hands on the terrific Vauxhall Cascada that Motor Blogger featured a while back but on the concept front they appear to be getting down with the kids with the Adam Rocks. The Adam, Vauxhall’s new small car has been well received so the company is showing the Rocks as a possible advance on the model.

It’s apparently an ‘urban mini-crossover’ that could well herald yet another sector within the industry as car makers strive to boost sales with variants. The Adam Rocks is taller, wider, tougher yet more compact allegedly (How?) than its sibling and offers a cabrio roof. Certainly the Adam is almost infinitely customisable so where are they going to go with this? In addition Vauxhall intend to take the Adam rallying with an R2 version that meets FIA regulations and can be set up for tarmac or gravel conditions. Interesting.

Finally, for now, Peugeot have a strategy for reducing fuel consumption with its Hybrid Air technology that follows on from our recent article about compressed air cars. The 2008 Hybrid Air combines petrol with compressed air in a fully hybrid configuration. This, Peugeot say, moves forward their plan to one day soon achieve 140mpg. The sooner the better as far as Britain’s motorists are concerned.

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