Before the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight opened the green road of hybrid cars, another Japanese model, namely the Nissan Tino, was laying the first inches of pavement. But unlike the Prius and Insight that were built from the ground up as hybrids, the Tino was just a normal passenger car fitted with Nissan’s NEO HYBRID system.
The standard Tino was released in 1998, while the Hybrid arrived two years later in 2000. The vehicle was produced in a limited number of 100 units and was available solely on the Japanese market, being considered by many as only a prototype used to test the public’s reaction to this type of technology.
Compared to its gasoline-engine brother, the Tino Hybrid improved fuel economy by more than twofold, while also cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by over 50%.
Hit the jump to read our full review on the Nissan Tino Hybrid. Full story
In the world of supercars, carbon-fiber body panels are old news and now carbon-fiber tubs are the new rage. Within the average car-buyer’s reach, carbon fiber anything is just about out the window. Well, Ford may have something to say about that in the future.
Currently Ford is working with the folks at Hightech.NRW to develop a carbon-fiber body panel development process that could revolutionize the construction of every car on the road. See, the reason carbon fiber is so expensive is because it takes many labor hours to build even the smallest piece. What Ford is working on is developing pieces in just a fraction of the time it currently takes, starting with constructing a Ford Focus hood in less than 15 minutes.
The main goal of this project is to ultimately reduce the weight of these panels by about 50 percent in an effort to lift fuel economy. A cool side effect of this process could possibly be the use of these panels on more high-performance Ford products, like the Mustang GT and the Ford Focus ST.
Ford’s plan is to lower the weight of its cars by upwards of 340 kg (749 lbs) by 2020. This would take a car like the Focus ST and suddenly drop its curb weight to as low as 2,300 lbs. That would jump it to an impressive-for-its-class 9.12 pound per horsepower. To boot, it would sharply increase its already stout 23 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.
Now, are there really 700-plus pounds of weight to be dropped from the Focus ST’s body? Likely not, but that gives us an idea of the benefits that this fuel-saving measure can have on us performance junkies. Ford does not plan on these panels being ready for use any time in the near future, but eventually they should be a part of Ford’s complete lineup. With the automotive world being a copycat-heavy realm, all of the other manufacturers will likely follow suit quickly.
Click past the jump to read Ford’s press release.
If, about 15 years ago, we would have said that Kia would turn out to be an innovative and trend-setting car company today, you likely would have looked at us in amazement as you laughed us off. Well, here we are in 2012, and Kia – along with its parent company, Hyundai – is setting the bar pretty high for the likes of Honda and Toyota.
Onto one of the odder and somewhat trendier vehicles in Kia’s lineup, the Soul… Kia has just announced that, along with the 2014 redesign of the Soul, it will also boast an all-new electric variant. No, not a hybrid or a extended-range EV: straight electric.
The details are still very scarce on the upcoming Kia Soul EV, but we do know, via Kia’s president of the European division, that it will be released in the middle of 2014. This isn’t Kia’s first EV, as it already sells the Ray EV in its home market. Likely, the Soul will feature a drivetrain based off of the Ray’s 50 kW electric drivetrain that also boasts a 16.4 kWh lithium-ion battery that nets it an 86-mile range.
As for styling, we have seen a few spy shots of the upcoming Kia Soul and we anticipate that the EV model will feature the same styling language, sans a few minor modifications. We know from these shots that the headlights are a little more square than the current generation, the grille is positioned slightly higher, and there is something new going on in the back end, which was covered in heavy camo. The remaining details on the 2014 Soul’s exterior are a mystery.
We’ll keep an eye on this upcoming EV and add to our review as the info becomes available.
ABT Sportsline is known for tuning a variety of Audi models, providing excellent upgrades and aesthetic modifications to the already luxurious models. Their latest AS3 package gives the new generation Audi A3 its time to shine with an aerodynamic package and a considerable engine upgrade.
The most impressive upgrade offered for the engines of the A3 is the 2.0 TFSI engine which now delivers a total of 280 HP, up from the standard 220 HP. The 1.4 liter turbo engine’s output has also been increased, taking it to 170 HP from 140 HP, as was the 2.0 liter diesel engine’s output which can be taken to 210 HP or 180 HP from the standard 150 HP.
The aerodynamic package includes a new front grille and front spoiler, new side skirts, a new rear skirt insert, a striking double two-pipe exhaust, and a new rear spoiler. The final pieces of the exterior package are the wheels: customers can choose between CR and DR series, in 18 or 19" sizes.
Fresh from managing to nickel and dime an extra $100 million from private investors, Fisker is all but admitting that it needs more help – significantly more. In a rcent interview, Fisker let the cat out of the proverbial bag that it is currently looking to ink some partnership deals with larger manufacturers.
Though there is no mention of who Fisker may be looking to partner up with, its CEO-for-the-moment, Tony Posawatz, said that a partnership is “on our radar screen.” Chances are it will be looking for deals similar to the ones that Tesla has entered into with Daimler and Toyota. The real question is who would be interested in tying themselves to Fisker at this point in the game?
With the financial, quality, and safety issues that Fisker has endured lately, it may be more of a burden than it’s worth. This is almost the identical reason that no one is interested in Lotus to date; it’s just too risky of a venture.
Fisker may be willing to sweet the pot on a potential deal by covering more production costs or giving up partial ownership to help draw in an industry leader, like acquisition-happy Volkswagen, in order to get some much-needed cash flow. As it stands right now, Fisker needs help and a partnership may be its only way to survive.
We’ll keep an eye on this to see if Fisker can convince a fellow automaker to take a risk by inking a production deal of some sort.
The Kia Picanto is not a model you’ll find zipping through the streets of the U.S., but it has been a relative hit in developing markets, thanks to its low price, and even in the U.K., thanks to its stellar gas mileage. In the 2013 model year, Kia is releasing a series of “Originals” 3-door collection.
The most recent addition to this new collection of 3-door Kias is the all-new Picanto City. This model is, from the outward appearance, almost identical to any 3-door Picanto you’ll see frolicking through the streets of the U.K., but under the hood, in the wallet, and at the pump, it is much different than you would expect.
The U.K. super-mini segment is already overcrowded, so how well can Kia expect to do with this ultra-economic super-mini car?
Click past the jump to read our full review on the 2013 Kia Picanto City and find out how well it stacks up to the growing list of super-minis in the U.K. Full story
We saw the first rendition of the Golf BlueMotion Concept about five years ago and it was impressive, boasting a 62.8 mph rating and emitting just 119 grams of CO2 per km. We then got a look at the second-gen model in 2009 with its 74.3 mpg and 99 g/km of CO2. Here we are at the 2012 Paris Auto Show and Volkswagen has the third generation BlueMotion Golf ready to show off.
Volkswagen really has something to prove in the mpg department, as it is one of only a handful of automakers available in the U.S. that has openly protested the new CAFÉ standards. VW has attempted to make it clear that its reasoning behind protecting the standards is not because it doesn’t want to build fuel-efficient vehicles, but rather because it feels the yearly improvement numbers are skewed to making it easier on American car and truck manufacturers.
Well, here stands a chance for VW to truly prove that it is all in on saving us money at the pump. So let’s have a look at what Vee-dub-ya has served up.
Click past the jump to read our review on the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion Concept. Full story
This year’s Paris Auto Show will feature the seventh generation Volkswagen Golf, but we’ve long known what that will look like, so we’re eagerly waiting for its GTI version to be let out. Unfortunately, the Paris Auto Show will only bring us a concept version of the GTI, so we created rendering for the production version in an attempt to help us all get a better idea as to what it will look like. Let’s face it, the concept version always comes out looking stellar with a ton of technological goodies and the production model is always less appealing.
Rumors suggest that the production version Golf GTI will be powered by an updated version of the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that will deliver about 260 HP. With the extra 60 HP, the next GTI will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.7 seconds and will be capable of hitting a top speed of 153mph.
The official debut of the Volkswagen Golf VII GTI will be made at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.
With the Paris Auto Show quickly approaching, we are awaiting the release of the GTI version of the Golf Mk VII. Unfortunately, VW has been pretty stingy with its information on the upcoming GTI trim, but the sneakiness that is the Internet, has picked up on some images and information on the upcoming Golf VII GTI Concept that is reportedly a near-production version.
We have already received just about all of the information available on the 2013 Golf Mk VII, but this sports edition is one that tuners everywhere seek out. The outgoing GTI is peppy enough, boasting a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that rips off a 0-to-60 sprint in just 7.3 seconds. While that’s no Ferrari, it is pretty sweet for a hatchback that gets 33 mpg on the highway.
With the performance and stylish appearance that the 2013 Golf VII GTI offers up, can VW really do anything to make this compact hatch even more desirable?
Click past the jump to read our full review on the Volkswagen Golf VII GTI to find out. Full story
Since 2009, Honda has had hydrogen fuel cell vehicles running around in Europe and in 2011, Honda joined the Clean Energy Partnership in Europe to help bring hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to the forefront. Now Honda is set to expand its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle production in a huge way by replacing the existing FCX Clarity with an all-new fuel cell vehicle in 2015. What’s more is that this car will be marketed in Japan and the U.S., as well as Europe.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen to create electricity and the electricity is used to power the car. This means that there is literally no non-renewable fuel used and the only emissions created are water vapor. The details are still pretty sketchy on the entire project and Honda has pretty much only let us in on a little bit of information. In a statement, Honda stated that this new fuel cell vehicle will “showcase further technological advancement and significant cost reduction that Honda has accomplished.”
The latter statement is thanks to a new manufacturing process that Honda will adopt that allows it to produce its cars at the same time around the world, as opposed to staggering the production around the globe. Per Honda’s research, and general consensus agreement, this will reduce the cost of producing all Hondas, not just FCVs.
The biggest issue that Honda will run into in the U.S. is the hydrogen-delivery infrastructure. You can’t really head on down to your local BP station and top off your hydrogen tanks at will. It definitely takes a little planning and we are interested to see what Honda has up its sleeves for this. Don’t be shocked to start seeing Honda offering up filling stations at local dealerships that sell these cars.
We’ll keep you up to date on the production and details on this upcoming Honda FCV.