The Detroit Motor Show has continued its crusade to bring us leaner, greener and cleaner cars. Gone was the doom and gloom that accompanied last year's show, replaced with optimism and a new rush of smaller cars. For the first time, show organisers debuted the Electric Avenue, a 37,000 sq.ft. feature on the main floor that showcased electric vehicles and technology from both traditional car makers and innovative entrepreneurs. The exhibit featured nearly 20 vehicles, along with a number of symposiums and special events. The press were even given the opportunity to drive some of these futuristic alternative energy cars.
Following the trend set last year, there were few pickup trucks and a definite reduction in SUVs. At the top end of town, the luxury car makers continued to roll out the cool and spectacular, with plenty of exotic machinery on show, some equipped with the latest fuel reduction and zero emission kit. There were a number of high profile absentees (Porsche, Rolls-Royce), but as usual there were still plenty of surprises in America's premium celebration of the automobile.
In the true style of world supercars, the Revenge Verde is far from a gas guzzling monster, but may be one of the first "green" supercars. Brainchild of Queensland born Peter Collorafi, the Verde uses less than half the amount of fuel of the most efficient petrol cars on the road just 2.2-litres per 100kms. This is achieved by using a frugal petrol-electric hybrid V8 engine called the HP2ge. It pumps out 300kW of power and a heavy hitting 680Nm of torque. Revenge say that their supercar is capable of better economy than Toyota's Prius.
'Green' isn't for everyone, and Revenge will also offer the Verde with a V8 sourced from Ford - perhaps a supercharged Corvette V8. The car features an aluminium and carbon fibre body, built on a tubular chassis design. The Verde has a long wheelbase and has been compared with the Ferrari 599 GTB. The Verde debuted at Detroit, and this totally inhouse production is expected to retail this year with a price tag of around $200,000. An export right-hand drive version is also on the cards for outside the USA.
Mercedes-Benz took the wraps off the final member of the E-Class family, unveiling the four seat convertible.
It not only completes the successful E-Class family, but also features a world first: the AIRCAP draught stop, an easily operated system that considerably reduces wind turbulence in the open interior of this all convertible.
The stars on show in Detroit also include the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, a Gullwing model that combines automotive passion and high-tech at the highest level.
The new Cabriolet sees Mercedes-Benz complete the successful E-Class family. Thanks to its classic soft top, the convertible four-seater delivers that unadulterated Cabriolet feeling. True to the motto "four seasons, four people", it combines comfort, elegance and year round usability. This is helped along by features such as the AIRCAP automatic wind deflector that can be deployed at the touch of a button. It also dispenses with the assembly required for conventional wind deflectors and leaves the side profile of the Cabriolet undisturbed. Equipment on board also includes the next generation of the neck level heating system integrated into the back rests of the front seats. It blows warm air from adjustable air vents in the head restraints and warms the neck area of the driver and front seat passenger.
The production standard sound dampening soft top comes with extremely high quality insulation to deliver comfortable travel with the top up. Thus, the closed E-Class Cabriolet offers one of the quietest interiors in the segment of four-seater premium soft top Cabriolets. The top can be open or closed at the touch of a button in only 20 seconds - even while driving at speeds of up to 40 km/h. It is powered by a choice of direct-injection diesel and petrol models.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
The new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, due to be launched later this year, offers automotive passion and high tech at the highest level. This Gullwing model dazzles with its purist design, lightweight construction and superior handling dynamics. It is Mercedes-AMG GmbH's first completely independently developed vehicle, and a highlight of its 40 year history.
The new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is an alluring proposition with its impressive technology package: an aluminium spaceframe body with gullwing doors, AMG 6.3-litre V8 front mid engine developing 420 kW peak output, 650Nm of torque and dry sump lubrication, seven speed double declutch transmission in a transaxle configuration, sports suspension with aluminium double wishbones - this combination guarantees driving dynamics of the highest order. This 'Gullwing' accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds, and has a top speed of 317 km/h (electronically limited). The purist design of the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG impresses with its passionate sportiness, and reinterprets the breathtaking lines of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. As the stylistic highlight, the striking gullwing doors give the SLS AMG an incomparable charisma.If as a kid you ever watched the movie 'The Blob', this nifty little piece from Mercedes-Benz might bring back memories. Or this is what happens if you sit a Benz on a hotplate at some really ridiculous temperature, and watch it melt! Whatever your take on this number, the official line is that this is "automobile design as an art form". More importantly it signals - albeit in a highly disguised form - future directions.
Audi switches on e-tron
The Audi E-Tron is a compact sports car with all electric drive. Called the e-tron, it is a two seater measuring 3.93 metres long (22cm shorter than the R8), 1.78 metres wide, but just 1.22 metres tall. The Audi e-tron debuted at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Coupled with the Detroit show car Audi e-tron's low gross weight of around only 1,350 kgs, high torque power units driving the rear wheels guarantee tidy road performance.
The two electric motors, which have their own cooling system, are mounted on the rear axle. This special package, featuring a 40:60 weight distribution, ensures perfect balance, which contributes to the driving dynamics. The two electric motors have a combined output of 150 kW and 2,650Nm, and accelerate the coupe with ASF-design aluminium body from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.9 seconds. The e-tron accomplishes the sprint from 60 to 120 km/h in a mere 5.1 seconds.
The Detroit show car Audi e-tron is able to distribute its electric motor's high torque between the wheels entirely as required. Its torque vectoring is the key a its excellent traction. Thanks also to its low weight, short wheelbase and perfect weight distribution for dynamic handling, Audi says the e-tron has all the drivability of a go-kart - agile, good on bends and neutral right up to the very high handling limit. Lithium-ion batteries, located for an optimal centre of gravity behind the passenger compartment and ahead of the rear axle, make an effective energy content of 45kW available. This provides a range of up to 250kms.
As with the first e-tron concept car shown in Frankfurt, Audi again bases all components in this electric vehicle on an integral concept with many revolutionary details: a heat pump as an efficient means of heating up and maintaining the interior temperature. The drive system, power electronics and battery have innovative thermal management - crucial for maintaining a high operating range coupled with outstanding interior comfort. The cockpit has one large central built-in display with integrated MMI functions. The MMI is controlled via a scroll pad with a touch-sensitive surface on the steering wheel.
This very cool car is the Peugeot SR1. Peugeot would only talk about it at Detroit, preferring to unveil it at the Geneva motor show in March. It is a stunning concept car, that is balanced, dynamic and dare we suggest, quite sensual - a pure expression of the Peugeot style of tomorrow. The Peugeot SR1 is a vehicle with ideal proportions, revisiting the great traditions of grand touring cars of the past: a large bonnet, flowing wings and a very low centre of gravity.
The SR1 incorporates HYbrid4 technology, which will be launched in Europe in the Peugeot 3008 in 2011. In the SR1 a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine with maximum power of 160 kW is combined with an electric motor developing 70kW. The petrol engine in the front powers the front wheels, while the electric motor is located in the rear and drives the rear wheels.
Blue Will Plug in Hybrid Chances are that if I didn't tell you, you wouldn't guess the brand of this car. It is hybrid from Hyundai, a car company that is rapidly stamping its authority on the world automotive stage. Locally sales are up a massive 39 percent, which is testimony to their first class portfolio of vehicles.
This concept is called the Blue-Will Plug-in Hybrid (really), the fourth in a series of innovative concept vehicles from Hyundai's Namyang Design Centre. Hyundai say it uses just 2.2-litres of fuel per 100km. The car incorporates a number of new ideas, ranging from roof-mounted solar cells to drive by wire steering, lithium polymer batteries and touch screen controls. It foreshadows future focused hybrid production vehicles from Hyundai, and promises an electric only driving distance of up to 64.4 kilometres on a single charge. Hybrid Blue Drive architecture powers an all aluminium 113.3kW Direct Injected (GDI) 1.6-litre engine mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). A 100kW electric motor is at the heart of Hyundai's proprietary parallel hybrid drive architecture with wheels turned by power coming directly from the petrol engine, the electric motor, or both together, as conditions demand.
Power push electric cars to go
As witnessed by the creation of the Electric Avenue at the Detroit Show, carmakers are rapidly rushing out concept cars that are energy efficient and highlight concepts of alternative energy, and low emissions.
Twenty vehicles were on display, while a number of other fuel efficient hybrid powered vehicles were headline acts on manufacturer exhibits including the Audi E-Tron. Mitsubishi i Miev, Nissan Leaf, BMW Concept Activee, Honda CR-Z, Volkswagen Ncc, Chevy Aveo and General Motors Volt.
The Triac has a 130km/h top speed and a 200km range (25% more with optional boost battery pack). It has zero emissions and batteries are charged in 6 hours. I suppose there is a place for a vehicle like this - perhaps down the garden covered in flowers? - in a tight urban environment where space and emissions are critical factors. The BugE is an all electric, three wheeled, single person ride with a rocketship inspired design. It offers a range of about 100kms and 90 km/h top speed using lead acid batteries. I'd hate to get cleaned up by a Mack truck though!
Source: March 2010 JUST Cars Magazine