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Debuts to Watch at Frankfurt Motor Show

From ragtop microcars to the world’s most expensive SUV.

by on Sep.14, 2015

The exterior of the 2016 Audi A4 doesn't change much - but there's more here than meets the eye.

With automotive sales and profits soaring, the industry mood is jubilant heading into the biennial Frankfurt Motor Show – and that should translate into good news for car buyers not only in Europe but also the rest of the world.

The first big show of the 2016 model-year is expected to see dozens of new models make their world debut during the two-day media preview. Not surprisingly, some of the biggest news will come from German makers like Audi, which has erected a three-story building of its own at the sprawling Frankfurt Messe, and BMW, which has set up a quarter-mile test track inside its own hall.

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Among the German makers, “The coffers are full and confidence levels are high — as, it seems, is the desire to one-up neighbors and closest competitors on home turf,” said Tim Urquhart, an analyst with IHS Automotive. (more…)

Ford Moves Up-Market With New Vignale

Free car washes for life?

by on Sep.12, 2013

Ford's new Mondeo Vignale makes its Frankfurt debut.

With the European market showing tenuous signs of revival after plunging into its worst downturn in decades, Ford Motor Co. is prepping a major product offensive that includes a push into more up-market segments it abandoned with the sell-off of its former Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo brands.

Ford is leaving room for the eventual European launch of its North American luxury brand Lincoln, until then the maker is betting its new Vignale brand-within-a-brand can attract the sort of demanding buyers who might otherwise migrate to other high-line marques – and that it can deliver better sales while earning higher margins, in the process.

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While Vignale is still a work in progress, Ford pulled the wraps off the first model to carry the new name during this week’s Frankfurt Motor Show. The Ford Mondeo Vignale is a fancier version of the maker’s midsize model line – which is sold in the U.S. as the Ford Fusion – and slots above the current Mondeo Titanium model. (more…)

Porsche Marks 50th With Special Edition

Venerable 911 stands the test of time with small changes.

by on Sep.12, 2013

The Porsche 901 became the iconic 911 after the maker changed the name to avoid a fight with Renault in 1963.

Even the venerable Model T lasted barely two decades in production despite the stubbornness of Henry Ford. The number of vehicles that have made it to the half-century mark can be counted on one hand. So, it’s not surprising the folks at Porsche are in the mood for a celebration this week.

The German maker’s iconic 911 sports car made its debut exactly 50 years ago on the stands at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and Porsche is marking the occasion by introducing a special anniversary edition at this year’s car show, with a limited run of just 1963 to honor the year the 911 made its debut.

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What’s particularly unusual about the sports car’s longevity is the fact that despite all the changes that have been made under the skin, as well as to the interior, today’s Porsche 911 maintains the same basic exterior profile of the original. (more…)

Volkswagen Goes Electric

German giant reverses long-standing reluctance to launch flood of hybrids, plug-ins and battery-cars.

by on Sep.12, 2013

Volkswagen's e-Up! concept reflects the maker's turnaround about having electric vehicles in its lineup.

With the launch of the new e-Golf model at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, along with the smaller e-Up! model, Volkswagen AG begins a high-voltage push into the emerging battery-car market. And that’s just the start, senior VW officials promise.

Add in models as diverse as the plug-in hybrid Audi A3 Sportback and the new battery-assisted Porsche 918 supercar, and Europe’s largest automaker begins the process of rolling out a planned 40 hybrids, plug-ins and full battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, by 2018.

Shocking!

So aggressive is the Volkswagen campaign that CEO Martin Winterkorn is projecting the maker will become the largest manufacturer of battery-based vehicles in the world, noting, “We have developed the know-how for electric motors and battery systems at our own components plants, we have recruited 400 top experts for electric traction and qualified almost 70,000 development, production and service employees in this new technology — the biggest electrification training program in our industry.” (more…)

Day 3: Frankfurt Motor Show Wrap Up

by on Sep.12, 2013

Opel's Monza is a hint at the troubled European maker's future design direction.

The world’s automakers are now departing the 65th International Motor Show 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany today. TheDetroitBureau.com is also wrapping up its coverage as well with more pieces about the new vehicles and people who made news during the show, as well as the reports filed during the show.

With dozens of new model introductions, the unveiling of a variety of new technologies and executives providing insights on all facets of the global automotive industry, the show lived up to expectations.

Here are today’s stories: (more…)

First Look: Mercedes-Benz S-Coupe Concept

“Black diamonds” and pillar-less windows.

by on Sep.10, 2013

Mercedes S-Coupe concept turned heads at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

This year’s Frankfurt Motor Show is awash with concept vehicles. Some, like the Lexus LF-NX, are simple design exercises designed to gauge consumer reaction. But with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe Concept, what you see is what you’ll soon get.

Well, almost. There are a few fanciful design details and on-the-edge technologies not likely to carry over into production, but the S-Class Coupe will reappear with only the most minor tweaks as the replacement for the aging Mercedes CL-Class.

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No surprise, the concept features a decidedly more aggressive and adventurous design than the S-Class sedan that was introduced only a few months ago. The show car features the fanciful perforated grille that we first saw on the CLA-Class concept, and overall appearance is more sporty than the sedate S-Class sedan, which is to be expected. (more…)

Range Rover Diesel Hybrid Coming to U.S. – Eventually

High-mileage option to appear on two models initially.

by on Sep.10, 2013

Even the folks from Land Rover are getting into the hybrid segment with the Range Rover Sport Hybrid.

It seems like everyone is getting into the battery-car game, whether with hybrids, plug-ins and full battery-electric vehicles. Among the latest to reveal plans is Land Rover, the British maker pulling the wraps off the new diesel-electric Range Rover hybrid during the opening day of the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show press preview.

In a bit of a surprise, a senior official has told TheDetroitBureau.com that Land Rover has apparently reversed course and will be bringing the new high-mileage package to the United States at an as yet-unspecified date.

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“It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when,’” revealed Andy Goss, the outgoing CEO of Jaguar-Land Rover’s U.S. operations, who will soon become the company’s global marketing czar. (more…)

BMW i8 Plug-in Will Carry a Supercar Price Tag

New battery sports car will hit 60 in 4.4 seconds yet still get 94 mpg.

by on Sep.10, 2013

BMW is looking to take the lead in battery electric luxury vehicles with the introduction of the i8.

European automakers are hoping to electrify customers with a range of new battery-based offerings debuting at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and few manufacturers are staking out a bigger presence in the emerging electrification market than BMW.

The maker has been rolling out an array of hybrids over the last several years and recently revealed the first entry into its all-new sub-brand, BMW i. The little i3 is a relatively affordable pure battery-electric vehicle that will anchor the new battery marque. At the other end of the spectrum is the plug-in i8 sports car making its official debut at Halle 8 at the Frankfurt conference center – and carrying a six-figure price tag.

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The i8’s numbers are likely to surprise those who think electric vehicles have to trade performance for energy efficiency.  All the more shocking is what the BMW is squeezing out of the combined 1.5-liter 3-cylinder gas engine and electric motor combination: a total of 362 horsepower. Thanks to a lightweight carbon-fiber body and unique, low-mass platform, that will let the new BMW i8 rocket from 0 to 100 kmh – 0 to 62.5 mph – in just 4.4 seconds, the maker claims. Top speed in electric-only mode is 75 mph. (more…)

First Look: Jaguar C-X16

Jaguar offers a hint of a sports car to come.

by on Aug.17, 2011

A hint of one or more sports cars to come? A sketch of Jaguar's new C-X16 concept, which will debut in Frankfurt next month.

Stretch your mind a bit and this sketch will give you a hint of what’s the come at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, when Jaguar officially unleashes what it’s calling a “precursor” to a future sports car it hopes will do for the brand what the classic E-Type did precisely 50 years ago.

What that means, well, the British maker isn’t saying much more beyond calling the concept the C-X16, and suggesting its ambitious goal is to “set new class benchmarks in design, vehicle dynamics and technology.”

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“Jaguar has set in place bold, ambitious plans for the future,” suggests Adrian Hallmark, the marque’s global brand director. “This production concept demonstrates the depth of design and engineering ability we have within Jaguar to make these plans come to life. I look forward to sharing this latest, exciting step at the Frankfurt Motor Show.”

If you have a sense of déjà vu, no surprise.  There is certainly some hint of the current Jaguar XK in this sketch, though it’s clear Jaguar design chief Ian Callum wants to take the styling to a new level, going beyond the somewhat generic look of the current 2-door.  But it will nonetheless be a tall order to even come close to the classic E-Type, which was a revolutionary breakthrough that even rivals adored.

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Toyota Shows 2010 Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept

Even though the company is skeptical about plug-ins, regulations are forcing it to hedge its bets.

by on Sep.14, 2009

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The Prius Concept can drive in full electric mode at speeds up to 62 mph with a range of 12.5 miles.

Toyota is determined to keep its leading position as a manufacturer of “sustainable” with the ultimate eco car as one of its main goals, whatever that means.

The Japanese company is striving for more diversity of energy usage and see the plug-in hybrid (PHV) as another step in the ongoing development of hybrid technology.

At the IAA, Toyota showed the 2010 Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept, which is based on the third generation Prius now on  sale. It expands Toyota’s hybrid drive technology with the use of the lithium-ion batteries.

A plug-in hybrid vehicle basically operates as an electric vehicle on short trips and as a conventional hybrid vehicle on longer ones.  Its electric vehicle attributes mean it has a longer total cruising distance and better overall fuel efficiency than a conventional hybrid; this means lower fossil fuel consumption and, thus, reduced CO2 emissions and atmospheric pollution. But because it is a hybrid vehicle, it can run regardless of battery charge and is not completely dependent on a battery-charging infrastructure.

Plugged In!

Plugged In!

The Prius Concept can drive in full electric mode (EV mode) up to 62 mph with a range of some 12.5 miles, after which it will revert to hybrid mode and work as a normal Prius. This might allow it to run proposed regulatory tests in electric mode only and come  up with credits so it can  sell larger cars.

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