Wednesday, August 23, 2017

VW OKs Production Version of I.D. BUZZ Concept Car

Photo Credit: Volkswagen AG


During the late 1960s, the classic Volkswagen Microbus was recognized as a staple with the Flower Power culture and the early figures leading to the current environmental-minded motions. Driven or ridden in by individuals of vision almost fifty years ago, Volkswagen Group has heeded calls towards greener motoring.

Intent to have one million of their vehicles per year sold powered by an electric powertrain by 2025, Volkswagen had already pledged to construct a production version of last year’s I.D. Electric concept car for 2020. Coming shortly after the unveiling of the compact all-electric vehicle, the German auto giant wildly imagined one of their most celebrated shapes adhering to their vision for the fast-approaching future. Premiering at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ concept car explored the versatility afforded through an electrified powertrain. Styling of the electric concept car  wisely made no effort of hiding its inspiration of the beloved Microbus. Auto show goers were teased by an eight-passenger cabin with the ability of turning the rear seating into tables as well as a bed. Welcomed by audiences as another mix of classic design and modern technology, the Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ concept was also most recently awarded with 2017 Concept Truck of the Year honours at the Concours d’Elegance of America at St John’s. At the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Volkswagen chose to again thrust their utilitarian concept design into the spotlight announcing its future as a production car.

Scheduled to hit showrooms by 2022, the road-going version of the Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ is coming to life thanks to a flood of demand according to company CEO Dr. Herbert Deiss. "After the presentations at the global motor shows in Detroit and Geneva, we received a large number of letters and emails from customers who said, 'please build this car’,” said Deiss who felt the announcement was well-placed in California.


Photo Credit: Volkswagen AG



Saying that the Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ concept car will retain many primary aspects exhibited since Detroit, the statement on the production of the vehicle implies a considerable transfer of ideas are coming. Flexible seating and sizable cargo space thanks to the I.D. BUZZ’s all-electric layout will be pivotal to the vehicle. Volkswagen also indicates a version of the I.D. BUZZ will be developed specifically as a cargo van.

The concept car’s all-wheel drive system will be an option on the upcoming showroom variant. It will remain to be seen how close Volkswagen will be able to match the performance specifications of their show vehicle with the production product. Applying Volkswagen’s Modular Electric Drive kit design, the modern microbus design promoted 369 horsepower from a pair of electric motors. The I.D. BUZZ concept car’s 111-kWh battery pack would allow the vehicle to travel an estimated 270 miles (470 kilometers) on a single charge. Connectivity as well as autonomous driving technology will also be coming to the 2022 production vehicle.

Since the Dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen Group has shifted focus from their TDI engines in favour of the electrified path much of the automobile industry is pursuing. Planning to welcome at least two dedicated electric vehicles to the Volkswagen brand within the next five years, the German automaker may become a strong player in the zero emissions marketplace if they can inspire the same customer passion that has existed with their diesel lineup.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Infiniti Prototype 9 Shares Modern Classic Racer in Pebble Beach

Photo Credit: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.



How many of us have envisioned ourselves in a different time or place. To see or relive a moment in history in a manner you would not think possible or perhaps to be present with those we admire or love is to many the ultimate form of exploration. While time travelling is yet to be realized, many of us find ways to capture the essence of the past. This can be quite a difficult feat for those birth came after a time period.

Automotive design has been no stranger to recompile their past for a future creation. At the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, one corporate attendee chose to show up in a mid-20th century costume. A youngish brand born in 1989, Infiniti introduced a 1940s-1950s inspired concept car melding the past, present and future.

Photo Credit: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.



Classical in appearance, the Infiniti Prototype 9 is a vehicle that adapts its own image to a historical era of motor racing. The Prototype 9's open-wheeled roadster design embodies the sleek shape, long hood and stance that may have roamed grand prix circuits such as Monaco or the Nurburgring.

An after-hours project featuring the investment of time of many Nissan/Infiniti engineers and designers in Japan, the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance show car’s form came courtesy of handmade craftsmanship. "The creation of the real world INFINITI Prototype 9 was entirely and coincidentally organic. As we started work on a physical model, word spread beyond the core design team, and other departments started checking in and offering assistance. Eventually, the production team became aware of the project – and brought with them the desire and skills to build it." said Senior Vice President of Global Design Alfonso Albaisa. Aerodynamically-tailored steel body panels set on a steel ladder frame chassis is constructed using traditional, low-volume manufacturing techniques such as deep-stamping production. The Infiniti Prototype 9's exterior features also include a double-arch grille and period-derived cross-ply race tires mounted to 19-inch wire-spoke wheels.  


Photo Credit: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.



Conforming to vintage race car dynamics, the Prototype 9 utilizes a single-seat cabin. Lined in black leather, highly detailed touches include accents in contrasting red stitching. Infiniti Prototype 9's bucket seat incorporates extra touches in the form of Japanese flags. A minimalist cabin control layout is joined by a steering wheel that rotates on a fixed hub.

Applying to a classic design theme, Infiniti’s concept car actually harbours a high-tech fully-electric drivetrain. Powered by a single electric motor generating 148 horsepower, rear-wheel drive propulsion applies a considerable punch thanks to the Prototype 9's low 890 kilogram (1,962-pound) weight. Capable of a top speed of 170 km/h (105.6 miles per hour), the Infiniti Prototype 9 acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h is recorded at 5.5 seconds. The vehicle operates on a 30-kWh  lithium-ion battery providing enough energy for 20 minutes of heavy race track use.


Photo Credit: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.



The name of the Infiniti Prototype 9 is a creative play between Japanese and English language themes. In Japan, the number 9's pronunciation is similar to the way “Q” sounds in English. The Q branding is of course paramount to Infiniti’s current model range.

There’s little chance the Infiniti Prototype 9 will ever be produced but the vehicle mostly impresses us with the ingenuity of the luxury auto brand.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sky is the Limit for Mazda’s SkyActiv Towards 2030

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy


Despite the fact many of us are still enjoying the second-half of the summer of 2017, auto companies have already geared themselves for the future. With months remaining, we are already setting sights on 2018 vehicles in dealerships and on the road. A brand-new Toyota Camry, the super-sleek Kia Stinger and perhaps the odd Tesla Model 3 are some of the centerpieces for a year yet to come. For manufacturers, realizing the technology and designs for 2018 involved several years of development prior to the customary auto show debut. During the same time the 2018 automotive reality is taking shape, Mazda is launching a profound vision for their brand 12 years beyond next year.

Described by the automaker as “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030", long-term intentions of Mazda to flourish towards the end of the next decade through addressing environmental, safety and customer enjoyment factors. Systems adhering to the Mazda Proactive Safety philosophy aims to considerably reduce traffic accidents. Expansion of the brand’s existing i-ACTIVSENSE electronic safety features will result in greater standardization on all models in several markets for 2018. Future execution of Mazda’s KODO design language is also going to insure a driver visibility and seating position maximizing the safest possible vehicle operation. Along with a continuing emphasis of in-vehicle connectivity, Mazda’s technology suite is also set to include autonomous driving features. Inspired from the Mazda Co-Pilot Concept, a driver-assist system would be standard equipment on all 2025 model year vehicles.

Besides word of autonomous driving components, emission and engine efficiency planned for future Mazda models are another highly ambitious point of “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030". Mazda’s plans include a drastic reduction to the carbon dioxide emissions produced by their vehicles over the next 12 years. Greatly cutting the environment impact for their vehicle range, Mazda targets to reduce half their 2010 fleet level of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. Mazda even envisions 90 percent reduction of carbon dioxide by the year 2050. Electric cars added to the vehicle product range will play a role in decreasing emissions alongside improved fuel-burning engines.

Planning a full array of design and engineering production feats scheduled for release through the end of the next decade, Mazda’s masterpiece will be the introduction of an all-new SkyActiv gasoline engine. Classified as the SkyActiv-X, the upcoming powerplant line is touted to achieve enhanced heights in performance and efficiency. A key feature of the Mazda SkyActiv-X engine is the use of an advanced function called compression ignition. Also known as Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition, creates an ultra-efficient fuel burn inside the engine by pressing the air-fuel mixture together to the point it could ignite without a spark plug. The Mazda SkyActiv-X engine will appear to use a combination of compression ignition with traditional spark plug-based ignition for maximum performance and as much as 30 percent greater efficiency over the current SkyActiv-G technology. A supercharger will also be incorporated on the upcoming engine for greater power optimization and fuel economy. The full details of Mazda’s SkyActiv-X engine are set to be unveiled in 2019.

In all its ambition, Mazda’s “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030" plan will undoubtedly face the usual obstacles of any long-term visions. Exploration into new technologies requires engineers to iron-out any pitfalls. The compression ignition system has underwent significant research by several other automakers over the course of roughly 20 years including Nissan and General but have yet to employ the technology in a production engine. A relatively shorter term intention of Mazda to bring a diesel-powered product to the North American market proved to be a challenge that the company has now been able to meet. Mazda will also need to provide their overall vision in a manner that convinces a growing customer base.