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Automotive News - August 2013

2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Some of the older brands are finding themselves reinventing themselves these days, lest they become staid and relevant only to the aging population. Cadillac recently underwent a metamorphosis, and it looks like Lincoln is working on it with their MKZ.

The First Show of the Season- Los Angeles

While Europe is getting a head start, those of us here in North America are eagerly anticipating automotive show season. This year's North American round of events kicks off on November 22 in Los Angeles, California.

With a new team at the helm, this show promises to be the first North American unveiling of over 50 new models during the press-only days, on November 20 and 21.

Cadillac Elmiraj

General Motors has approved a rear wheel drive large sedan to go up against the Mercedes S-Class and other luxury rivals, set to enter production in the next couple of years. We're thinking it will be the Cadillac Elmiraj.

We've been seeing sneak peeks of Cadillac's concept for a little while now, along with the Ciel. Cadillac chose last week's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance to show it off in real life for the first time.

While Cadillac hasn't given the go ahead for the Elmiraj to enter production yet, even Bob Ferguson, the senior vice president of global Cadillac thinks it's a good bet. "Sometimes you go through these exercises to make a design statement," he said. "This car is marketable. It's practical enough to be put through the production process." He also added that the two door coupe "is very doable," and "Our dealers really want a vehicle like this."

Lincoln Offering New Black Label Level

Eager to hold it's own against the luxury German brands, Lincoln is about to take their game up a notch by offering a new trim level called Black Label. This will put them in the same ballpark as BMW's Individual and the Mercedes-Benz Designo luxury marquis.

Honda and Hyundai Win Awards

Honda proudly announced today that it's Honda Civic coupe and Honda Civic sedan both won the highest rating in crash tests from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). The First Choice Security + rating from the IIHS is given to vehicles that achieve a GOOD rating (the best that can be acquired) in 4 of the 5 assessments and they must not be less than ACCEPTABLE in the fifth grade rating. To get "more", you must obtain a GOOD rating or ACCEPTABLE in the crash test low overlap.

2015 Cadillac Escalade K2XX

GM has announced that it will reveal it's redesigned 2015 Cadillac Escalade K2XX to the world for the first time on October 7th in New York City. It will be the only member of GM's family of large SUVs that will not debut at the Texas State Fair.

GM is describing it's next-gen K2XX as a "bold, evolutionary statement." GM is planning to introduce 10 new or redesigned Cadillac models during the next two years, as it seeks to overhaul it's overall image and attract new customers. Along with the Escalade is the redesigned CTS. We're also anticipating Cadillac to launch a new small crossover and a large, RWD sedan.

The Toyota Hilux Invincible

Recycling the Hilux name from a few years ago, Toyota is bringing out a new model called Invincible to boost it's presence in the pickup market.

Distinguishing itself from the others, Invincible carries a whole different aesthetic featuring a lot of chrome trim at the air intakes and fog bezels, the sidebars and steps. It's definitely an attention getter, especially when all that chrome is paired up with the Island Blue metallic paint option.

Inside, the cabin is more opulant, with cloth upholstery, a leather wrapped handbrake. Options include leather interior and 17 inch alloy wheels. Hoping to expand it's customer range, this variation is available with an extended cab, a choice of two or four wheel drive and a selection of engines and transmission options.

2014 Honda Civic Tourer

Following the concept that debuted earlier this year, Honda is getting closer to bringing it's Honda Civic Tourer to reality. The automotive manufacturer is releasing photos of the wagon, in advance of it's official unveiling at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show. It's very similar to the concept that we met before, though missing the big wheels and centre-mounted exhaust. While specs have not yet been officially released, here's what we can tell you.

2014 BMW 13

At the end of July, BMW unveiled it's new electric car named the i3. BMW chose to stray from it's current design range, though retained some elements related to the brand. In truth, the BMW i3 is a few inches shorter and narrower than a MINI Countryman, while being a little bit taller. The i3 is also much shorter than a Nissan LEAF. Inside, the BMW i3 is designed to maximize space and the movement of it's occupants. Instead of an electric current group in a BMW, the i3 has been developed into an electric car. Therefore, there is no transmission tunnel in the cockpit. The designers have also taken advantage of it's absence and placed the centre console lower, practically at the front seats.

New Spyker Convertible

Spyker is teasing us with sneak peeks at it's new convertible, the B6 Venator Spyder Concept, which is set to debut at Pebble Beach. The Concours d'Elegance, held in Pebble Beach on August 16th this year is where the Dutch sports car maker has decided to unveil it's convertible B6 Venator. Spyker is not saying much yet, but we're pretty sure that it will be similar in styling to the coupe model that we saw debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March. The coupe features all carbon fibre bodywork, and a lightweight aluminium monocoque chassis. Under it's hood is a 3.5 litre V6 that is mid mounted and produces 375 horses, mated to a six speed automatic transmission sending power to the rear wheels. The coupe's weight to power ratio is 8.21 pounds/HP and it weighs a total of 3,080 pounds.

Volvo Solar Charging Station

Taking green cars to a new place, Volvo has just unveiled a new portable solar charging station that can fit in a vehicle's trunk. The solar charging station is foldable, so it can be broken down and stored in the trunk of a car. Volvo is Sweden's biggest manufacturer of cars. The solar charging station is called a "Pure Tension Pavilion" and was developed by a Los Angeles design firm. The plan is for the charging station to accessorize Volvo's upcoming diesel V60 plug-in hybrid. The car is expected to debut at the Rome auto show held in September. It's essentially a canopy that surrounds the car, capturing energy from the sun.

Volkswagen XL1

We'd love to say that this car will be hitting VW showrooms soon, but sadly, there are no plans to bring Volkswagen's futuristic XL1 to fruition. Featuring sporty, aerodynamic looks including a strong, lightweight carbon fibre body and gull wing doors, you might not realize this is a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid. Most plug-in cars suffer from acute range anxiety. That doesn't seem to be an issue with this extreme high-mileage commuter car. It's been tested at an incredible 261 MPG. Small and fun to drive, it's about the size of a Miata and can reach 60 MPH in about 12 seconds, which is definitely respectable for a plug-in hybrid, and it can hit a max speed of 94 MPH. It's powered by an 830cc 1-litre, 2-cylinder turbodiesel engine, mated to a 20 HP electric motor and a 7-speed dual clutch transmission with paddleshifters. Together this combination generates 48 horses and 89 lb-ft of torque. The car's battery is good for 31 miles at 62 MPH, and can be fully recharged in about 90 minutes. As with most other plug-in hybrids, the XL-1 uses the electric motor to start.

The Scion FR-S Will Keep It's Top On

Only moments after it's debut at the 2011 Tokyo Auto Show alongside the Subaru BRZ, the Scion FR-S / Toyota GT86 (as it is sold in Japan) immediately aroused lust. However, someone in the crowd asked "Will there be a version that could stand it's ground against the Mazda Miata?" Later at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, Toyota introduced the FT-86 Open Concept, foreshadowing Toyota's answer in the affirmative. Apparently, this is not the case though. Toyota and Scion have abandoned their plans for a convertible version because the development and assembly of this beautiful car would increase the price to a prohibitive level. The car would be too expensive to compete with the Mazda Miata. In addition, it would be launched in 2015, at the same time as when the fourth generation of the Miata will be unveiled, along with the Alfa Romeo Duetto.

Audi Upgrades A8

Audi is upgrading it's A8 flagship car, positioning it to compete with the new generation of the Mercedes S class. Currently, Audi trails it's competition in the executive sedan segment. Last year they sold only 38,600 A8s, compared to 59,200 BMW 7-series vehicles and 80,300 Mercedes-Benz S-class. Famous for bringing it's eyebrow styled LED headlights to the mainstream, Audi will be including it's new Matrix LED headlight technology in the redesigned 2015 Audi A8. This lighting system allows the driver to leave the high beams on continuously, as the LEDs are individually controlled. Any beams that might blind an oncoming motorist are automatically split to block out those sections. This feature will be available everywhere outside of the U.S.

Leasing Boosting Sales To Highest Level Since 2007

Auto sales in the U.S. are at their highest level in 6 years, and leasing is a big reason for it. Leasing in North America is at it's highest level in over a decade. In every month this year, leasing has counted for at least 22.5 percent of all new car sales. These new sales are helping to drive sales to a six year high. Sales are expected to jump from 14.1 million last year to 15.8 million this year. In 2007, 16.1 million vehicles were sold in the U.S. Many manufacturers moved away from leasing options during the financial crisis when credit markets froze, but most have brought it back in the last few years. GM has since acquired it's own financing arm and Chrysler has partnered with a South American bank for their leases. Offering more ways for consumers to acquire a new car definitely moves more of them off dealer lots.

Peugeot Onyx Supercar

We see supercars all the time these days. High performance, precision tuned track worthy vehicles that provide an instant testosterone boost. Rarely though do we get to see one so beautiful and futuristic looking as the Peugeot Onyx. Debuting at the Paris Motor Show, Peugeot wowed the crowd with their Onyx concept. Not simply a display model, the Onyx actually runs, hitting 124 MPH in testing and capable of reaching the 200 MPH mark. Did we mention that it's a hybrid? Sporting slim LED lights and a glistening copper finish, the Peugeot Onyx is more than a pretty face. This 21st century supercar innovatively uses raw materials. Utilizing a striking contrast of materials and colours, it immediately fascinates you. The bodywork is ingenious- a master craftsman hand carved the doors and front fenders from a sheet of pure copper.

Honda Ridgeline disappearing?

At least this is what Motor Trend magazine claimed last week. When Honda released a message on it's blog about the rumours of the demise of it's Ridgeline truck, they wrote " the Ridgeline has a significant role in the Honda range and it is expected that it will be so in the foreseeable future." It seems that the "foreseeable future" stops in September 2014, according to a recent report from Ward's Auto. They predict that Honda will stop production of the Ridgeline in September 2014, with a new model launched in 2016, after a two year hiatus. The Honda Ridgeline, built in Alabama, was supposed to remain in production until the spring of 2016, when a new generation would take over. It is now expected that the new Ridgeline will enter production in the second quarter of 2016. Honda has not returned requests for clarification of the claims made by the famous American magazine.

In The City, A Car Is Not Always Enough

Often, the car is the means of transportation most used in the city. This is not always the case though. Toyota is working to develop a new type of personal transportation called the Winglet, and is currently testing it in the city of Tsukuba, in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. The tests are being conducted in a designated area called the "Tsukuba Mobility Robot Experimental Zone." Much like the well known Segway, the Winglet is a means of transportation where the user stands on a self-balancing two wheeled vehicle. Toyota calls it a "Personal transport assistance robot ridden in a standing position." Created to contribute to a society where transportation is safer, the Winglet is a personal transport robot that allows the user to expand their world in a safe manner. The Winglet is easy to use, offers exceptional performance and it is well suited to a modern living environment. The electric powered WInglet can travel 1 hour on a single charge and hits a top speed of 3.7 MPH, comparable to that of a brisk walk. Riders step on it and simply lean in the direction in which they wish to move. It takes up a smaller footprint than the Segway, making it better suited to long, indoor travels such as large factories and airports.

Hyundai HCD-14 wins Concept Car of the Year

Automotive writers at the North American Concept of the Year Awards have named the Hyundai HCD-14 as the 2013 Concept Car of the Year. The judges were impressed with the car's size, saying that it was "big, comfortable and luxurious." They were also impressed by the common sentiment of disbelief- they were surprised that the car is a Hyundai. The Hyundai HCD-14's design is pointing directly to Hyundai's next premium sedan. It reveals clues about the evolution of Hyundai's styling, and the technology that we can expect to see in future production cars from the Korean automaker. The HCD-14 Genesis retains the same engine as the current model. It's a 5.0-litre Tau V8 paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the car's rear wheels. What's new in the concept is a system where once the car acknowledges the driver via an optical recognition system, it fires up the engine immediately. The car's platform features a rigid multilink front and rear suspension. It's loaded with a stability control system and electric-assist power steering, all of which can be adjusted to the preferences of the driver.

2014 Toyota Harrier

Toyota has just released images of it's new 2014 Toyota Harrier, a crossover intended for the Japanese market. North American's shouldn't fret, this crossover SUV is nearly identical to the Lexus RX, which will be easy to get our hands on. That being said, we can consider the launch of the Harrier as a preview of the next generation of the Lexus RX, slated for 2015. The 2014 Toyota Harrier is set to make it's public debut at the Tokyo Auto Show later this year, and available for sale this winter. In North America, the Lexus RX version will go on sale next year, up against the Lincoln MKX, Cadillac SRX and Audi's Q5. The Lexus RX is the best selling premium level crossover in the United States, and has been since it's introduction. It sold over 45,000 units in the first half of 2013 alone.

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