Archive for the ‘Automotive reviews’ Category
Automotive Industry Goes Green: 2014 DC Auto Show
Ladies, the DC Auto Show isn’t about glamour as much as it’s about policy making and the future of the car industry. In honor of Earth Month, we’ve collected information from the DC auto show to share more about the greening of automotive.
Front page: For the 2014 Washington Auto Show, Nissan rented an Amtrak train car and ferried a group of journalists from Penn Station, NYC to Washington, D.C. Since the show took place during an epic East Coast snowstorm, the train was both a pleasant and efficient way to arrive. And it’s consistent with Nissan’s push into the future of environmental changes. That objective encompasses Nissan’s NV200 vehicles (the taxicab of the future and NYC’s official taxicab) as well as some new initiatives they are rolling out with FedEx.
The scoop: The Washington Auto Show is known as the “Public Policy Show.” It is unique on the global industry circuit because of its proximity to the U.S. Congress, international diplomatic corps and federal agencies.
When it launched in 1921, the show’s purpose was for 20 Washington-area car dealers and distributors to sell the public on the horseless carriage! The show continued for 18 years in the National Guard D.C. Armory and went on hiatus twice – once for war and once due to poor economic conditions.
In early 1983, The Washington Auto Show found a new home at the recently opened Washington Convention Center. By this time, the event had grown to cover almost eight acres – nearly four times the size of the Armory shows, with three times as many models.
Today, the Washington Auto Show, now held in late January to coincide with Congress’ return from recess, capitalizes on the business of Washington. It has become one of the industry’s most prominent events that also include automotive shows in Detroit, Chicago, LA and NYC.
From Ford: Keynote speaker, Ford Motor Company Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields, announced new projects with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University to research and create solutions to the technical challenges surrounding automated driving, the key to Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility. The blueprint outlines what transportation will look like in 2025 and beyond. With its automated Fusion Hybrid research vehicle, Ford is exploring potential solutions for the longer-term societal, legislative and technological issues posed by a future of fully automated driving.
$50 million in funding: U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced $50 million in funding for fuel-efficient vehicles. The investment includes backing for the Department of Energy’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, a program launched in March 2012 to make plug-in EV’s more affordable and convenient than gas-powered vehicles within the next ten years.
Moniz noted, “The new research and development funding announced today will help support our domestic automakers’ continued growth and make sure that the next generation of advanced technology vehicles are built right here in America.”
Eric Gottfried, Director Customer Quality for Nissan North America, said that Leaf sales have grown to 100,000.
In my interview with Gottfried he noted, “Almost every time we do research we find that the Leaf becomes the most used car in the house. In fact he noted that Nissan has heard that people fight over the use of the Leaf because it’s the fun car to drive.
“It’s innovation on a budget,” he stated. “A fair number of our customers have two Leafs… it’s the kind of car that populates Facebook pages.”
FedEx Express and Nissan will also begin testing the Nissan e-NV200, a 100 percent electric compact cargo vehicle in Washington, D.C. as part of FedEx’s EarthSmart program. This effort aligns with Nissan’s “Blue Citizenship” initiative that focuses on increasing the number of vehicles that emit no greenhouse gases.
From Hyundai: The Tucson Fuel Cell will be available in spring 2014.
Mike Moran, Hyundai Vice President of corporate and product planning, noted, “Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles represent the next generation of zero-emission vehicle technology. The range and refueling speed of our Tucson Fuel Cell is superior to the range and charging limitations of competing battery electric vehicles.”
From Toyota: Toyota’s fuel cell concept, FCV, planned for 2015, is an electric drive vehicle with a range of 300 miles. The FCV mixes hydrogen and oxygen with emissions of …. H20!
“Savvy consumers have been waiting to see an active change in fuel cell development, and we’re almost ready to hit the streets,” said Toyota’s Vice President of North American Business Strategy, Nihar Patel.
From Cadillac: Cadillac ELR received the Green Car Journal‘s 2014 Green Car Technology Award™. Cadillac Director of Emerging Markets Jim Vurpillat, said, “The Cadillac ELR “marries the fun-to-drive characteristics with electric propulsion and wrapped it in a beautiful package…We have a 112-year history, but it feels like a startup. We have momentum on our side.”
To wrap it all up, Warren Brown, award-winning Washington Post columnist, noted. “We are moving towards the autonomous car, which many people call the “driver-less” or “self-driving” car. The first manufacturer to produce a safe, reliable, retail worthy version of such an automobile will win the race to control the future of the car. Nearly every major car manufacturer is involved in the contest.”
Brown explained that the objective is to maximize traffic safety.
“Autonomous driving technology is designed to significantly reduce fatal mistakes (on the road). Examples include lane monitoring and blind-side detection systems, parking monitors and more,” he noted.
“The aim is to produce more than gee-whiz automotive technology.”
A day in Charleston, South Carolina with the 2014 Toyota Highlander:
In California with new Range Rover Sport
By HOLLY REICH
Special to Bumper to Bumper
People always ask me what my favorite car is. And I always answer tactfully, “Whatever I am driving this week.” If pushed, I concede to the one vehicle I’d have in Manhattan, the MINI S.
Why? It will park anywhere, gets great gas mileage and has enough power to move ahead of traffic on the New Jersey turnpike. And I’m taken by the MINI’s retro look.
My latest MINI experience was driving the 2013 MINI S hardtop (4 seats and 2 doors) in pepper white paint with green bonnet stripes, carbon black checkered cloth seats, a leather wheel, 16” black wheels, a rear spoiler and a Harman/Kardon sound system.
Our destination: Long Beach Island, New Jersey. “The Jersey Shore.”
The drive: The S stands for supercharge and the MINI S packs plenty of power for a little guy. At its heart is a 1.6-liter turbo-charged engine (181 hp and 177 pound ft. of torque) with a 0-60 of 6.7 seconds for the automatic version. One can either use the sport mode or Formula 1 inspired paddle shifters for a stiffer drive. Basically, it was difficult keeping this baby to the speed limit on the New Jersey Turnpike.
All said—the steering, brakes and drive are responsive and flexible. The only drawback —the MINI is bumpy on cranky city streets. But sex appeal wins over all. The mpg for our automatic was 26-city/34 highway.
The look: The 2013 MINI S stays true to its original 50’s form with a happy face flanked by large circular headlights, a contrasting roof and go-kart proportions with wheels placed at the four corners.
Inside: The cabin centerpiece is a huge speedometer—the MINI trademark— where the 6.5-inch infotainment display is located. Between the two front sport seats there are two large sized cup holders and a streamlined center covered compartment to hold cell phones and keys. Bluetooth, USB and an iPod adapter come standard.
What I love about the MINI is the deco-inspired interior – the way that the outside paint repeats on the inside, the comforting round shapes of the dials, the toggle switches and adjustable vent controls. The front has plenty of room for adults; the six way adjustable seats get you in the perfect position for driving. The anatomically correct headrests took some getting used to, but I got the knack of it quickly and my neck felt so comfortable. As for the back seat—OK, you can get a big person to sit there for a short bit but it would be the best fit for mini kids.
Talking about space: So how much stuff can one actually get into a 4 person MINI? The answer is plenty. With the back seats flipped down (24 cubic feet) we easily fit a bike, a couple of soft suitcases and a few bags of wine and groceries. With the seats up you have 5.7 cubic feet.
Options: MINI can be configured in a variety of materials that include natural woods, hand-sewn leathers, chrome surrounds and ambient illumination. There are over 10 million potential customization combos, with 100’s of accessories so customers can trick out their wheels in numerous fashions.
Honorable mentions: This summer MINI USA partnered with Miles Ahead to launch the MINI Performance Motoring School at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Miles Ahead is the only driving school in the 104-year history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway licensed to conduct driver training on its grounds. The school consists of performance driving instruction from internationally accomplished professional race car driver, and offers the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a 2013 high-performance MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop.
For more details about the MINI Performance Motoring School or to reserve a spot in one of the summer sessions, go to the Miles Ahead website at www.BeMilesAhead.net.
Vehicle pricing starts at $23,300. Our version cost $29,000 including destination.
Bottom line: A small footprint with lots of sparkle!
I take my 85-year-old Aunt Mimi on the track in an Aston Martin Rapide!