Monday, November 26, 2007

The Mercury Hybrid: Protect The Future

Ford is trying to catch up with the world's expanding hybrid car market as it takes its hybrid car technology research seriously and schedule the launch of more Ford hybrid cars in 2008.

Ford Airstream Concept
Together with travel trailers innovator Airstream, Ford has designed its Space Age vehicle using the HySeries Drive system. The system uses a 336 volt lithium ion battery to generate power to sustain a Ford Airstream for its initial 25 miles.

Ford Airstream is trying to pair its lithium-ion batteries with hydrogen fuel cells, giving it sufficient wattage to run the electric motor. The result is 305 miles of travel, much more than the 280 miles you get if running on hydrogen fuel cells alone.

Part of the costs in developing the HySeries Drive with Airstream was shouldered by the US Department of Energy. Ford also paired with Ballard, a Canadian company who makes the fuel cells for Ford hybrid cars. These partnerships are being undertaken to meet an expected demand of 3 million Ford hybrid cars by 2010.

A new Ford Fusion Hybrid to be released in 2008
It would have been named Futura, if not for a lawsuit filed by Pep Boys, an auto parts shop. Thus, Ford decided to call its latest hybrid entry Ford Fusion Hybrid after a midsize car popular in North America.

Fusion Hybrid will be the fourth among Ford hybrid cars already out in the market. Its predecessors include Mercury Mariner Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, and Mazda Tribute Hybrid.

Fusion Hybrid 2008 will maintain the PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) rating of the 4-cylinder 2006 Fusion. It will have a 2.3 liter engine which can generate 160 horsepower allowing you to drive at 30 mpg in highway conditions.

About the Author
Visit for useful information and resources about Ford hybrid cars, Honda hybrids and hybrid cars Toyota.

Vehicles Of The Future Showcased At LA Auto Show

The Los Angeles Auto Show is not just about showcasing new vehicles and concept vehicles. It is also the place where automakers' design studios competed to create the best design of vehicles of the future. Fifteen designs studios entered the competition with futuristic cars.

The competition is about designing vehicles which will be attractive to car buyers 50 years from now hence the competition being called "Design Challenge: Robocar 2057". Designers should be able to explain why their designs would be popular fifty years down the road.

Last year's winner of the competition is the Hummer O2. The said futuristic vehicle won the competition centered on eco-friendly automotive technology. The Hummer O2 design is powered by fuel cell and has the capability to purify the air around it. Algae-filled body panels of the futuristic vehicle transform carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen. Apart from that, the O2 is also made from 100 percent recycled materials.

This year's winner is the Volkswagen Concept Slipstream. Said vehicle is basically a pod fit for a single person. On city streets, it travels in an upright position to occupy less space than vehicles of today. On special highways, the pod will travel horizontally at speeds reaching 250 miles per hour. The Slipstream is the brainchild of designers at Volkswagen/Audi Design Center in Santa Monica, California.

Another vehicle which deserves recognition is the Mercedes-Benz Silver Flow. According to Marty Bernstein writing for The Auto Channel: "Designers of the Silver Flow envision a multi-dimensional vehicle composed of micro metallic particles that rearrange themselves to become a vehicle of a specific shape, literally by pressing a button on a magnetic assembler. The shape can be selected by the driver. Inspired by Mercedes-Benz racing vehicles from a bygone age this concept was created by the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America in Irvine, CA."
Japanese automaker Mazda put forth a radically-designed vehicle named the Motonari RX. Said vehicle is described by Bernstein saying: "Crumpled silver paper? No, the Motonari is made of a 100 percent, re-prototypable carbon fiber nano tube shape memory alloy weave with a photovoltaic coating (which, by the way, is yet to be invented). The interface between the driver and the vehicle is a driving suit made of millions of microscopic actuators, which enables the driver to experience the road psycho-somatically while making the driver and vehicle indistinguishable from each other. This sensational ride comes from Mazda R&D of North America in Irvine, CA."

While the design put forth by automakers at the Los Angeles Auto Show are futuristic, they are sure to have reliable parts like Bilstein shocks if ever they are mass produced.

About the Author
Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.

Scion Launches Bigger xB at Chicago Auto Show

This year's installment of the Chicago Auto Show has seen the launch of great vehicles for the 2008 model year. One of such vehicles introduced to the public at the said event is the all-new 2008 xB from Toyota's marque, Scion.

The so-called urban utility vehicle was first introduced to the public in 2003 and from then on, it has received quite a warm welcome from car buyers. The Scion xB is characterized by its boxy design and this has already become a distinction for Scion cars. It would seem that Scion car buyers loved the boxy design of the xB because the latest model of the vehicle is made even bigger and still has a boxy design. The latest installment of the Scion xB is the result of the feedbacks of xB owners that they wanted a bigger car.

The all new Scion xB is the result of a designing process that aims for distinction. Some of its exterior design elements are from the Scion t2B concept car that the brand showcased during the 2005 New York International Auto Show. Style characteristics like the angles between the cars panels, the high beltline, inset taillights, rectangular grille, and the distinct fenders are all taken from the concept vehicle.

The result of the integration of such design elements to the new Scion xB resulted to a more aggressive looking design. The vehicle now comes with the radical design elements and is now popular among the younger car buyers. Sure enough, the all-new version of the vehicle will surely not disappoint.

The exterior design is not the only improvement that the Scion xB has over the previous model. The redeveloped xB is much roomier than the old models. The wheelbase was increased by four inches and the overall length by twelve inches. The width of the vehicle is also increased by three inches while the height was decreased by more than an inch to ensure a comfortable ride. The wheels are also bigger than the ones used by the current xB model - the newest xB sports 16-inch wheels.

Car buyers can also choose between three wheel covers. The brakes that the new Scion xB will use will also be bigger than what is being used on the current model. Brake discs for the front wheels will be a 10.83-inch ventilated disc, while a 10.98-inch disc will be installed at the rear. These are about a couple of inches larger than what the first generation of Scion xBs used. The vehicle can also perform better if OEM parts of high quality are used. Just like Volvo OEM parts which makes parts replacement easy and gives reliable performance.

The interior of the 2008 Scion xB is also given much attention. This is evident in the lounge-like interior of the urban utility vehicle. And since the vehicle is made bigger, the cargo space is significantly increased. The cargo hold behind the rear seats offer 29.1 cubic feet of space. If that is not enough, the rear seat can be folded down flat which would dramatically increase the cargo space. The rear seat's 60/40 split configuration makes this car one of the more versatile load carrying cars there is. In addition to the fold down rear seats, the front seats can also be fully reclined which would even add more to cargo capacity.

Power is also upgraded for the new generation xB. Its powerplant is a 2.4-liter double overhead cam four cylinder engine. The engine is equipped with a variable valve timing technology which increases its fuel efficiency. The new xB's engine can provide 158 horsepower which is a huge increase from the 103 horsepower that the previous models' engine can produce.

About the Author
Glady Reign is a 32 year old is a consultant for an automotive firm based in Detroit, Mi. she is a native of the Motor City and grew up around cars hence her expertise in the automotive field.

All-New X-Trail Unveiled At Geneva Auto Show

The ongoing Geneva Auto Show has seen the unveiling of many advanced vehicles. From concept to production cars, the event has seen them all. One of the production vehicles to have graced the event is the all-new X-Trail from Nissan.

The Asian brand has finally shown the European auto scene what they have developed to replace the previous generation of the X-Trail. It can be remembered that the first generation of X-Trail received a very warm acceptance from car buyers across the global market. Nissan is now hard pressed to come up with a new version of the X-Trail which will exhibit the characteristics of the old X-Trail and which also will add to the mix new features that will make the new Nissan X-Trail more convincing for car buyers to purchase.

To come up with an idea of what they need to do to the second generation of X-Trails, Nissan has conducted a survey among their customers and asked what areas and features of the X-Trail did they like. The result showed that the majority of Nissan X-Trail owners loved the vehicle for its practicality, design, ease of use, and, of course, driving performance.

Nissan's Executive Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Product Planning, Carlos Tavares, emphasized on these attributes of the X-Trail in his speech at the unveiling of the vehicle. "Customers love X-Trail's convenience, its practicality, its strong performance and off-road capability. When we planned the new X-Trail, we were determined to keep those X-Trail roots, but enhance the entire vehicle," Tavares said.

It is apparent that Nissan has restyled the new generation X-Trail but it still retains the robust and strong shape that auto enthusiasts liked about the original X-Trail. The shoulder line, glasshouse, and the window lines are similar to the first generation X-Trail. The new generation of the vehicle looks good enough even without a Nissan car bra.

While there are design concepts copied from the original Nissan X-Trail, the newest version offers an improved interior comfort and a new kind of practicality for every driver or passenger. While the interior of the vehicle offers comfort and convenience, it also offers practicality. This is shown in the placement of the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel which makes it easily visible to the driver. While allowing that, the placement also provides ample room for the center console.

The versatility and practicality of the new generation Nissan X-Trail is evident in its trunk. When compared to the previously released X-Trail, the new generation sports 145 liters more of trunk space at 555 liters. The design of the trunk and the enlargement of the area behind the last row of seats allowed the integration of a sliding drawer under the trunk floor. The space underneath the floor gives the Nissan X-Trail owners extra luggage space and a place to stow away valuable items.

The versatility of the X-Trail is further exhibited in the drawer with its partition walls which can be positioned in various ways. But if the owner of the new X-Trail needs more luggage space without having to use the drawer underneath the floor, both the drawer and the floor can be taken out.

Since the Nissan X-Trail is made to handle not so ordinary road conditions, it is equipped with a four-wheel drive configuration. Nissan has introduced their all-wheel drive system ALL MODE for the first generation X-Trail. It is only logical that the new version of the vehicle should also have an improved version of the all-wheel drive system. The current version of the system is now called as the ALL MODE 4x4i.

Improvements over the previous version of the vehicle include the Downhill Drive Support (DDS), and Uphill Drive Support (UPS). The DDS is activated manually via a switch in the center console. This system maintains a speed of 7 km/h when going downhill. This means that the driver can concentrate solely on steering instead of having to worry about the speed of the vehicle. The UDS, on the other hand, is automatic in nature. The system kicks in when it detects more than a 10 percent incline. The system activates the brakes until the driver starts to move forward.

About the Author
Mike Bartley, 49, is a professional automotive journalist domiciled in Irvine, CA. He travels from one state to another to cover the hottest auto shows, racing events and automotive revelations. His penned compositions cover press releases, reviews, and suggestions. Where the auto action is, that's exactly where you can find Mike. Irvine, CA 92602

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tokyo Motor Show Presents The Future

Wonder where you can find the cars of the future? They are at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show. At this year's motor show, automakers embraced the wacky, weird and gorgeous futuristic cars.
Nissan Motor Co. introduced the egg-shaped Pivo 2, which can turn its wheels sideways to slot into a parking space. Inside the car is a "robotic agent" that recognizes that recognizes the driver's face, senses his mood and speak to him.

Honda Motor Co. flaunted the Puyo which features a gel-filled, squashable body covering as well as ludicrously small wheels at each corner. The "silky feel" interior is similarly flexible, with controls increasing through the stretching membrane when the fuel-cell Puyo starts up.
Toyota Motor Corp., not wanting to be upstaged, showcased the RiN that is said to encourage drivers to "to re-evaluate themselves and... to turn their attention to society and nature, producing a healthy rhythm for both mind and body".

One of the stunners at the motor show was the Audi Metro Project quattro. This car has more normal proportions than the lightweight A2, which was a car before its time, and with its giant, mesh-filled front grille and shapely roofline. It is quite the sporty coupe but it is a Quattro as well. But not as aficionados know it. The 1.4-litre engine is borrowed from the Volkswagen Golf and has 150 base horsepower, but there is also a 41 base horsepower electric motor. So it is a hybrid, and CO2 emissions are calculated at an average 112g/km by the EC official test method.
The crush around the Audi was almost frightening; the crush around the Nissan GT-R was even greater, but then this is the latest incarnation of Japan's most cult-sustaining supercar, said John Simister of The Independent. This version has a 480bhp, twin-turbo, 3.8-litre V6 and is designed to be able to maintain more than 180mph, whatever the outside temperature may be.
Mitsubishi Motor Corp. presented an electric coupé version of the i-car dubbed as the MiEV and Concept ZT, a ruggedly handsome wagon which is destined for production as a new Sigma. It flaunts a "clean" diesel engine, showing that the previously diesel-hating Japanese car market is slowly recognizing the diesel engine's advantages, provided it does not pollute.

Mazda Motor Corp.'s Taiki joined the three other concept cars in the company's Nagare - it means "embodiment of movement" series. More than any of the others, this latest interpretation, with its rear wheels remote from the body in separate pods, looks as if its body was moulded by the passage of wind or water, said Simister. Whether future production Mazdas will be able to use this idea will be interesting to observe, he continued.

The future is just around the corner. And expect things to evolve with it soon. In less than no time, water pump Canada and other auto parts accessories may not be the same as what they are today.

About the Author
Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.

Green, Mean, Wacky Cars At Tokyo Motor Show

Are you looking for green, mean and wacky cars? Well, do not look too far. They could be in the Asia Pacific - in Japan in particular. At the 40th Tokyo Motor Show, expect to see idiosyncratic and stunning cars.

This year's motor show is aimed at showcasing thrilling cars designed to captivate the hearts of the next-generation drivers. Amid declining sales in their home market, Japanese automakers have strived to unravel the best concepts that they could offer.

From bubble-shaped fantasy vehicles to sleek petrol-guzzling sports cars, lightweight hybrids and cars designed to feel like riding a rollercoaster, automakers touted their own unique visions of the future, reported the AFP. Rivals flaunted their green credentials with an array of environmentally friendly vehicles crammed into a convention centre near the capital, as record high oil prices prompt unprecedented interest in fuel-efficient motoring.

The auto industry is entering an "era of unprecedented change," said Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn, adding that his company hopes to start mass marketing of electric cars by 2012. "The age of sustainable mobility is closer than anyone realizes."

The Toyota Motor Corp. is among automakers trying to lighten the load so as to reduce fuel consumption, unveiling the 1/X (pronounced one-Xth) plug-in hybrid. The concept car is said to be two-thirds lighter than the Prius and twice as fuel efficient thanks to the use of carbon fiber materials.

"We have gone back to the basics and reconsidered everything," said Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe, who trundled onto the stage on the i-REAL, which resembles a high-tech armchair on wheels.

Both Toyota and Honda Motor Co. strived to alleviate the image of sports cars as gas guzzlers with concept hybrids running on a mix of gasoline and electricity. Honda flaunted the Puyo with a "gel body" to improve safety and "the feel of an adorable pet."

"Nobody's ignoring or bypassing any particular technology," said Ghosn. But it is not all about saving the planet: Nissan took the wraps off its hotly anticipated GT-R supercar, hoping that there is still a market for high-performance muscle machines despite the buzz around hybrids.
And from the Mazda Motor Corp. came Taiki, a concept sports car with a captivating styling and wind-swept design.

"Generally my observations of most sporty cars are: they look great and sales start out great but they decay very rapidly," said Christopher Richter, auto analyst at investment bank CLSA. "You can imagine why makers put sporty cars into their line-ups rather sparingly."
Among the more wacky designs on the motor show was Suzuki's Sharing Coach which looks more like a small spacecraft than a car, with two smaller one-person PIXY pods on wheels that fit snugly inside.

"The Japanese market is still ranked third in the world. But the situation is not good for Japanese automakers," said Hirofumi Yokoi, an analyst at auto consultants CSM Worldwide. "Young Japanese have a different lifestyle. They are not interested in purchasing big-ticket items like cars."

Apparently, it is high time to step on EBC Active Brakes Direct and try more environment-friendly auto technologies. "The future is not just about hybrids," concluded Richter. "When I talk to automakers I sense a lot of uncertainty about what is going to be the dominant technology going forward."

About the Author
Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.