Although automakers face tough times, Detroit is still alive and kicking, with several new launches set for the 2009 auto show. Honda and Toyota duke it out with their respective hybrid vehicles, while GM shows off a new direction for Chevrolet. Ford has an impressive new muscle car, plus its stable of hybrids and high-tech luxury Lincoln cars.
If size matters, the redesigned 2010 Cadillac SRX should hit the sweet spot occupied by the highly successful Lexus RX series.
The new Cadillac crossover seats five, like the RX, and is a mere 4 inches longer than Lexus' No. 1 seller. The SRX also has front-wheel drive, like the RX. All-wheel drive is optional.
Once asked why the current generation SRX wasn't successful, General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz blamed the vehicle's size--it is too big and it seats seven. The 2010 SRX is about 5 inches shorter than the 2009 model, and seating is reduced by … Read more
It turns out that weaning the auto industry off gasoline isn't as simple as turning out electric cars from a factory.
Auto industry executives say they will couple their first mass-market electric cars with a big dose of community outreach, with the hope of making the new generation of vehicles more desirable and convenient to consumers.
Car companies intend to target places where governments are willing to provide incentives to purchase plug-in electric cars and install charging stations. Utilities, too, need to be involved so that the grid doesn't become stressed by a rush of cars.
General Motors … Read more
WASHINGTON--Amid an uncertain future for the U.S. auto giants, one of the most exciting products is the Chevy Volt, one of dozens of electric cars under development.
General Motors showed off the 2011 Volt at the Electric Drive Transportation Association's Conference & Exposition this week. Several other vehicles--some still under development, some already commercial--were on display as well.
Britta Gross, General Motors' manager of Hydrogen and Electrical Infrastructure Development, walked through the highlights of the Volt with me on Wednesday at the conference. (See grainy YouTube video below.)
To say that GM has a lot riding on the … Read more
Automakers in Europe plan new business models for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids before 2011.
The business models will eliminate the need for gasoline stations. Energy will be supplied by utility companies. The automakers also will need to take into account the life span of batteries, which will depreciate and wear out quicker than the cars themselves.
Toyota Motor Corp., Daimler, Renault-Nissan, Volvo, and General Motors are among the carmakers that plan to bring plug-in hybrids and full-electric cars to market in 2011.
When that happens, carmakers, utility companies, and battery suppliers will need to be ready to take over the role of energy suppliers from oil companies. This will require a restructuring of energy supply arrangements and infrastructure.
But the industry also needs to examine such areas as calculations of operating costs, vehicle depreciation and billing systems.
"We have to prepare for a new era in our industry like never before," Thomas Weber, Daimler board member for R&D, told Automotive News Europe. "Managing financial conditions is crucial for a successful electrification of cars."
Discontent with Intel graphics goes back a few years. But the unsealing of 3-year-old e-mail exchanges between Intel and Microsoft reveals something about the present, too.
First some background. Intel makes integrated graphics silicon--that is, graphics functionality that is built into its chipsets. Performance is not the name of the game for Intel. Delivering power-efficient, adequate graphics that can handle everyday tasks and do basic gaming is the goal. Anything beyond this is left to the high-octane discrete chips from ATI and Nvidia.
"We've always been consistent that high-end gamers should use discrete graphics," said Intel spokesman … Read more
The Chevrolet Camaro was unveiled over a year ago, yet it's still not on showroom floors. With the Camaro being named the official vehicle of the 2008 SEMA Show, what can GM do to make us pay attention to its interpretation of the muscle car? Unveil a slew of special editions, that's what.
In all, four special edition Camaro concepts were unveiled at the 2008 SEMA Show Keynote speech, ranging from the relatively mild Black Edition to the high horsepower Camaro LS7 Concept to the full blown Camaro GS Race Prototype.
After many years struggling for recognition, electric cars suddenly are big news in Europe.
At the Paris auto show last month, Chevrolet, Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Smart displayed electric passenger cars. Other companies presented hybrids, battery-powered sports cars, light commercial vehicles and tiny electric city cars.
No model captured the change in attitude more dramatically than the B0 (pronounced "B zero"). The B0, a collaboration between French industrialist Vincent Bollore and the Italian design house Pininfarina, was unveiled on the Pininfarina stand alongside a Pininfarina-styled Ferrari California. The stylish, battery-powered B0 stole the attention from the Ferrari.
None of this would have seemed possible two years ago. But recent fuel price spikes and the threat of mandatory carbon dioxide emissions standards in Europe have led automakers to add zero-emission vehicles into their product plans.
In London, the city-center congestion charge has led to a number of tax-exempt, battery-powered commuter vehicles from start-up companies. Stockholm and Milan, Italy, also levy a congestion charge. With other cities likely to follow, automakers now are taking electric-car development much more seriously.
Big hybrids are dying an ugly death, GM and Chrysler not married yet, a look at the new Nissan Z, and a ride in the Lexus IS-F. Listen now: Download today's podcastSHOW NOTES
We didn't expect a tuner car from Chevy, but the Cobalt SS measure up in all ways. Two-liter four cylinder engine, check. Variable valve timing, check. Turbocharger, bonus. With 260 horsepower, the Cobalt SS has more power than a Honda Civic Si, and the Cobalt SS' limited slip differential, stabilizer bars, and suspension tuning lead to good handling in the corners. Put it in launch-control mode and you can achieve maximum grip and acceleration off the line. Chevy also steps up a bit in cabin tech, giving the Cobalt SS iPod integration and a bass-heavy Pioneer audio system.