Report: Jaguar envisions future without V8 engines

Filed under: Performance, Jaguar, Luxury

Jaguar reportedly is considering a move away from V8s.

With tighter emissions and fuel economy regulations looming, Jaguar may have to do more than make a small, fuel-efficient hatchback to lower its model range’s consumption figures – it also might give up its venerable V8 power, Drive reports. But not anytime soon, says Steven de Ploey, Jaguar’s product and marketing director, who recognizes that the V8 can be replaced only by something that offers the same, or better, performance. But he has a word of caution: “We are not wedded to V8s.”

In the meantime, de Ploey says there are other ways to reduce emissions. One of the first steps Jaguar could take is to shift away from the use of superchargers, which aren’t as good as turbochargers at maintaining efficiency and making power. But he adds that supercharging still is “at the heart of Jaguar’s performance proposition,” and that the company has addressed the current downsizing trend by “replacing our naturally aspirated V8 with a 3.0-liter supercharged V6.”

Consider one of de Ploey’s comments on the cancelled C-X75 supercar (pictured) for some clue about Jaguar’s future: “Some of the stuff we have already exploited to the extreme in the C-X75 is the kind of thinking for us and is an essential test bed to see how we could evolve from today to something that is sustainable in the future.”

Confused by Jaguar’s direction? We are too. It doesn’t help that the C-X75 doesn’t seem to have the answer to replace the V8 – just some discarded mini-turbines, a 10,000+rpm four-cylinder generator and four electric motors. But the conservative British marque has been thinking outside the box lately…

Jaguar envisions future without V8 engines originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 21 Aug 2013 18:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Monza concept opens its wings and lets us in on Opel’s future

Filed under: Concept Cars, Frankfurt Motor Show, Coupe, Hybrid, Europe, Opel, Design/Style

Opel Monza Concept

Opel has done a lot to revitalize itself over the past few years, developing a solid product portfolio with hatchbacks, sedans, wagons, minivans and crossovers. What it’s missing, though, is a sports coupe – because, let’s face it, the Cascada cabrio hardly fits the bill.

Hopes were raised when Opel revealed it was working on a new Monza concept, reviving a nameplate borrowed from an Italian racetrack and previously used on a six-cylinder fastback version of the Senator sedan. Opel has now revealed the Monza in full, but it’s neither the sportscar we expected nor the harbinger of a new production model – much less one we could look forward to General Motors porting over as a Buick coupe, for that matter.

What you’re looking at instead is a design study that hints at the way Opel will style its cars moving forward. Sized in between the Astra and Insignia, the Monza concept has two giant gullwing doors to give access to both front and rear seats, which is probably your first clue that this is more of a show car than a pre-production prototype. Inside, the futuristic cabin features an LED projection dashboard with 3D graphics, new social interactive systems and a lot of swoopy forms and curved wood.

The concept is powered by a CNG version of the hybrid powertrain you’d find in the Opel Ampera or Chevrolet Volt, propelling a form that is more sedan than sports coupe, even if it does technically only have two doors. A successor to the original Monza it is not – let alone a replacement for the Lotus Elise-based Speedster or Pontiac Solstice-based GT that followed – but as an indicator of where Opel is heading, it looks promising. But we’ll reserve final judgement for when we see it at the Frankfurt Motor Show in a couple of weeks. For more details, check out our gallery and the official press release below.

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Monza concept opens its wings and lets us in on Opel’s future originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 21 Aug 2013 13:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tesla sold 5,150 Model S EVs in Q2, future $35k model will have 200-mile range

Filed under: EV/Plug-in, Tesla Motors

Finally, we know the number. Tesla Motors announced today that it sold 5,150 Model S electric vehicles in North America last quarter. Divide by three and you see that the California company sold around 1,700 cars a month, which puts it right up there with the current plug-in vehicle champions, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. That’s despite the fact that the cheapest Model S, which starts at $69,900 but often sells for a lot more with better options, costs at least twice as much as the sales leaders. Tesla said it was making “almost 500 vehicles per week” in the second quarter of this year.

Tesla says its “financial position and balance sheet have never been stronger.”

The sales contributed to an overall increase in net income (non-GAAP) of 70 percent compared to the first quarter, up to $26 million. Tesla said it achieved a gross margin of 22 percent (non-GAAP), “despite significant reduction in ZEV credits” (which was no surprise) and should hit 25 percent by the fourth quarter of 2013. That number is simply a company’s sales revenue with the cost of goods sold taken out, divided by total sales revenue. Put it all together and you get the following statement: “Our financial position and balance sheet have never been stronger.” Still, there was no talk in today’s conference call of an overall profitable quarter, as there was three months ago.

With all of the good financial news, Tesla and CEO Elon Musk said the primary focus now is on “expanding production to meet worldwide demand.” Tesla started delivering the Model S to Europe this week (the first lucky countries were Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands) and if demand there matches North America, which Musk said is likely, then the company predicts “annualized sales for Model S could exceed 40,000 units per year by late 2014.”

In China, the Model S will have an “executive back seat” instead of the current “family back seat.”

Musk said the upcoming new-market Model S versions (right-hand-drive for Japan and the Chinese model) are taking up most of Tesla’s resources at the current moment. In China, for example, the company is trying to improve the comfort level of the rear seat, because it is common for people in The People’s Republic to be driven around. The Model S was designed to be the perfect driver’s car, Musk said, but in China it will have an “executive back seat” instead of the “family back seat” the car has now. Things like this mean that work on the Model X won’t really start to ramp up until the end of this year. Deliveries of that car should start at the end of 2014.

Looking further down the road, Musk said that the next-gen Tesla vehicle, the long-rumored $35,000 (without any subsidies) EV, should be a compelling option with a 200-mile range. That vehicle is still quite far away – he wondered aloud how his company might need more battery cells than the laptop industry does if it’s making a half-million cars a year – but at least his automotive competition now has targets to shoot for if they want to beat Tesla in the longer-range EV game.

Tesla sold 5,150 Model S EVs in Q2, future $35k model will have 200-mile range originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Wed, 07 Aug 2013 18:50:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Mercedes knows its buyers, designs golf cart of the future

Filed under: Concept Cars, Mercedes-Benz, Design/Style, Electric

Mercedes-Benz Vision golf cart concept - rendering - front three-quarter view

The Mercedes-Benz Vision golf cart isn’t a golf cart at all, it’s an electric luxo-buggy that you can use on the greens and that should have its own model-line designation, like Tee-Class. The Germans gathered suggestions from around the world for the ideal golfer carrier, and the top poll findings are wrapped in a design language that the doodlers at the Advanced Design Center call “Sensual-Purity.”

The doors can be clicked in or out. There are solar cells on the roof to charge the batteries. It’s driven by a center-mounted joystick so that the driver or passenger can take the helm. There’s a head-up display, docking station and touch screen monitors for control of amenities like air conditioning, stereo and Bluetooth, weather updates and maps of the course layout. And a refrigerator and retractable lightning rod. And then there’s the “fore button” – press it and it tells the other nearby Vision golf carts to sound “a warning signal” about an errant shot.

Mercedes says of its creation, “Simplicity is the key.” Obviously. You can read about the rest of its amenities in the press release below.

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Mercedes knows its buyers, designs golf cart of the future originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 23 Jul 2013 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Mercedes FWD platform to last until 2018, convertible and two-seater future uncertain

Filed under: Convertible, Sedan, Mercedes-Benz

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA sedan - front three-quarter view, silver

Mercedes-Benz seems to be expecting a lot of success from its front-wheel-drive CLA-Class. Automotive News is reporting that the sub-C-Class sedan could grow when its second generation arrives in 2018.

The current FWD platform for MB underpins the CLA, the B-Class, the GLA-Class, and the A-Class. The B-Class will arrive in North America as an EV for spring of 2014, while the production GLA crossover will arrive three to four months after that. The five-door A-Class won’t be crossing The Pond. Sad faces all around.

According to AN, another model will be based on the front-drive architecture, but it won’t be coming to the US market. Set to arrive next year, rumors are that it’ll be a wagon version of the CLA, sort of like the ill-named five-door CLS Shooting Brake that is also a Europe-only item.

As for the rumored CLA convertible and two-seat roadster, if those two arrive, it’s not going to be until the second-generation of the current architecture hits the market. Even then, their future is in uncertain, as Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG told Automotive News, “We are considering the final portfolio of the next generation of our compact cars. We have to define it and we may expand the portfolio.”

Mercedes FWD platform to last until 2018, convertible and two-seater future uncertain originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 22 Jul 2013 18:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Renault-Nissan debuts new Common Module Family for future vehicles

Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing, Technology, Nissan, Renault

Renault-Nissan Alliance's Common Module Family platform - exploded parts diagram view

Platform sharing is nothing new for the 14-year-old Renault-Nissan Alliance, but this partnership is set to introduce new modular platform components that will eventually underpin 11 Renault models and three Nissan vehicles by 2020. Rather than being a typical platform, the Common Module Family (CMF) actually represents five segments of a platform that can be used in various applications, and one of the first vehicles to use this architecture will be the 2014 Nissan Rogue (spy shots of which are shown below) when it arrives “in late 2013.”

As pictured in the image above (click to expand), CMF is composed of four chassis component, principally the front underbody, rear underbody, engine bay and cockpit as well as a common electrical system. Besides the next-gen Rogue, future Nissan models to share CMF will include the Qashqai and X-Trail, while Renault models will start using the platform next year on vehicles including the Scénic and Laguna. The CMF architecture is expected to help the Alliance reduce the parts cost of a vehicle by up to 30 percent and reduce the entry cost by up to 40 percent. The official press release with more details about CMF, and what it means for Renault-Nissan, is posted below.

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Renault-Nissan debuts new Common Module Family for future vehicles originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 20 Jun 2013 10:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Read This: Meet TVR’s new owner and learn his plans for the future

Filed under: Performance, UK, Luxury, MISC

TVR Sagaris

It’s hard not to be worried about the reborn TVR. The company’s new owner, entrepreneur Les Edgar, recently sat down with PistonHeads to discuss his plans for the fabled brand. Unfortunately, Edgar was no less dodgy about the future of TVR in his latest interview than he has been in the past. Evasive on everything from what the TVR brand means to him to which of the company’s cars he’s owned in the past, the former video game developer is either the most cautious individual to ever get into the automotive manufacturing game or is woefully unprepared for his new undertaking.

When asked what’s at the heart of TVR, Edgar responded, “I think it’s the people that buy them. We’re looking [for] a demographic that is probably different from what it was 15-20 years [ago]. We build cars that hopefully people want to buy, and they may not be the same type of people that bought them 10 years ago. At the base of it – the DNA – has got to be the same thing running through.”

Right.

Edgar then went on to dance around the question of what that DNA is, exactly. You can check out the full interview by heading over to PistonHeads. We sincerely hope we’re wrong about Edgar and his intentions for the brand, but the executive’s early comments haven’t quite passed our sniff test.

Meet TVR’s new owner and learn his plans for the future originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 16 Jun 2013 12:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Despite being big in Canada, Toyota Matrix future unsure

Filed under: Budget, Hatchback, Toyota, Canada

2011 Toyota Matrix

2011 Toyota Matrix – Click above for high-res image gallery

Toyota may not invest in a next-generation version of the company’s Matrix when the 2013 Corolla arrives. According to Ward’s Auto, the hatchback’s sales have fallen off of a cliff, with just 14,592 deliveries last year. That’s down from a height of 66,836 units in 2002. But that’s just here in the typically hatch-averse United States. In Canada, the Matrix is still kicking in teeth, though the Corolla still outsells its long-roof twin by more than twice the volume.

While there’s been some speculation that the upcoming compact Prius variant will supplant the Matrix in the Toyota family tree, Bob Carter, Toyota’s Group Vice President and General Manager, says that the two vehicles are expected to appeal to vastly different audiences.

Still, we have to think that Toyota would be wise to invest a little coin in the aging Matrix when the Corolla gets a revamp in a few years. American buyers seem to be slowly warming to the idea of hatches and wagons, and competitors from Hyundai to Ford are all offering five-door variants. As Ward’s Auto points out, 43 percent of 2012 Focus sales have been hatchbacks to date.

Despite being big in Canada, Toyota Matrix future unsure originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 01 Jun 2011 15:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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IndyCar unveils future car concepts created by Dallara

Filed under: Motorsports

2012 dallara indycar chassic concepts

2012 Dallara IndyCar Concepts – Click above for image gallery

In 2010, Dallara was announced as the new chassis manufacturer for the 2012 IndyCar Series. Now, two concepts have been presented; both of which use the same chassis but have different skin so as to show off what’s possible as far as aerodynamic tweaking is concerned.

One version is set up for oval racing while the other is prepped to run a road course. The idea behind the two cars is to show the IndyCar teams that the 2012 Dallara chassis will allow for a lot of ingenuity and engineering. The race cars can be outfitted in a manner that works best for a specific team, yet still adheres to IndyCar rules.

While the aero stylings shown on these two concepts are simply serving as a mock-up of what might be, Dallara is still putting its concepts through all sorts of testing programs. The company wants to ensure that safety and performance come together, while it also keeps cost as low as possible without affecting the finished product.

IndyCar unveils future car concepts created by Dallara originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 11 May 2011 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Plastic Fantastic: Are composite engines the future?

Filed under: Aftermarket, Technology, Ford

plastic engineFlorida engineer Matti Holtzberg has spent the last 40 years trying to perfect and implement a way of building useable engine blocks from composite plastics. With the advent of carbon fiber and its subsequent permeation of all things high-performance, Holtzberg decided to apply the technology to his composite engine idea.

Armed with a vast base of research and immense skill, Holtzberg retooled his operation to mold carbon composite engine blocks, with an eye toward selling them to racing teams. Holtzberg’s blocks are based on the venerable 2.0-liter Duratec mill that sees duty in the Ford Focus.

Holtzberg’s carbon-fiber block has the potential to save more than 20 pounds over the aluminum equivalent, but at an enormous cost. There’s no definite word on pricing just yet, but it should be at least $2,500 per pound saved, which pretty well limits the technology to race teams… for now.

The technology could make huge leaps forward in weight saving and fuel economy should it ever hit the streets, but don’t figure on that happening for quite a while.

Plastic Fantastic: Are composite engines the future? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 10 May 2011 14:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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