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Called Intrado, Hyundai’s new concept car takes the form of a high-riding crossover with styling that takes its cues from the Korean automaker’s Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language. Designed and engineered in Germany, the concept bears the codename HED-9, a giveaway that it’s the ninth concept from Hyundai Europe Design. Inspiration is said to have been drawn from aircraft, with a lightweight form and a name borrowed from the underside of an airplane’s wing.
Hyundai isn’t saying much more, revealing only the teaser rendering above. But it has indicated that the Intrado concept packs a new hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain that’s both smaller and lighter than the one powering the existing ix35 Fuel Cell, which (last we heard) Hyundai was hoping to bring Stateside as part of its Tuscon lineup by 2014 with a $499/month lease.
As we move into the heart of the holiday season, folks are looking for all sorts of unique presents for loved ones (and themselves). This is the time of year, we are bombarded with ads featuring luxury cars with bows on top, and marketing suggesting that someone might actually buy a car as a present for a family member. While its likely more common for a parent to buy a clunker for a son or daughter, there are well-heeled buyers who line up for the annual Neiman Marcus Christmas car– and this year’s vehicle is quite fantastic.
Though Neiman Marcus has been around for more than a century, they luxury catalog started the car thing with the 1995 Christmas book. They have promoted everything from BMW Z4’s to a GMC Suburban “Sony Edition” in 1998. But there were a few years in which the cars sold stupendously fast.
In 2002, the catalog featured a 2004 Cadillac XLR, but not for long. In just 14 minutes, buyers snatched up all 101 examples. The following year, the BMW 6 Series coupe matched that pace, selling 50 cars in 7 minutes.
For the 2004 Catalog, 60 examples of the 2005 Maserati Quattroporte were offered, and they sold out in a scant 4 minutes. That’s nothing compared to the 2006 Neiman Marcus car– a 2007 BMW M6 Convertible. All 50 examples were gone in 92 seconds.
The most vehicles ever moved in the shortest time happened in 2010. Chevrolet had just released the Camaro, and while they are commonplace today– the Camaro had grown men weeping when it debuted the Detroit auto show.
Chevy allotted 100 examples of the Camaro Convertible to Neiman Marcus, at a price of $75,000 each, and they were gone in three minutes.
In 2011, Neiman Marcus chose to showcase the then-new Ferrari FF. Ten Ferrari’s were earmarked for the catalog. The V12-powered, four-wheel-drive, shooting brake (two-door vehicle with a wagon body style) sold out in just 50 minutes.
Last year, the vehicle of choice was the McLaren 12C Spyder. The drop-top McLaren was yet another convertible supercar with look that could kill from a mile out. At $354,000, the 12C was ridiculously expensive, but still managed to sell all twelve examples in less than two hours.
This year’s vehicle is the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante. This spectacular, head-turning convertible has the sense of occasion fit for the tax bracket that would be shopping for convertibles in the same place as Eau de toilette and five-thousand-thread-count bed sheets– for their guest room.
Despite the price of $344,500, the vehicle has already sold out. Aston Martin could not confirm how long it took to sell all 10 examples of the convertible supercar, but we would expect that probably only took hours– or minutes!
It’s fascinating to see how the cars have become exponentially more expensive, yet sill sell out. The older cars, though luxurious and tasteful, were far more attainable. Perhaps it speaks to the fact that the rich are just getting richer. Next year, Neiman Marcus could be selling the lunar rover– converted to run on beluga caviar and liquidized bitcoins.
Almost 50 years after Ford Motor Co.’s first Mustang introduced Americans to the fast and affordable pony car, the automaker is counting on a new design it unveils on four continents tomorrow to spur global sales.
A 1967 Ford Mustang ‘fastback’. The Mustang has long been a “halo car” that has helped Ford woo buyers to its broader lineup. Photograph courtesy Ford Motor Co.
Ford has kept a tight lid on its newest model, stoking speculation over how the automaker plans to handle a crucial tradeoff: honoring the look that has made the Mustang a classic, while also updating the car to compete with General Motors Co.’s more futuristic Chevrolet Camaro.
Getting the balance right has big implications for Ford’s rivalry with Chevrolet. The fifth complete Mustang redesign in five decades will arrive days after the Dearborn, Michigan-based company said the car’s U.S. sales dropped 7.7 percent in the year’s first 11 months and lagged further behind the Camaro.
The Mustang has long been a “halo car” that has helped Ford woo buyers to its broader lineup. The version that is being retired, a blunt-nosed and slab-sided design introduced in 2004 that evoked the models of the 1960s, juiced interest in the carmaker for almost a decade. It also presaged a Detroit design revival reminiscent of the postwar halcyon days when tail fins ruled the road.
More recently, the model has lost ground within Ford’s own lineup, with the Fiesta small car making a run at knocking it from among the automaker’s three best-selling passenger cars. Ford’s U.S. light-vehicle sales rose 7.1 percent in November to 189,705, more than a third of which were F-Series pickups. GM and Chrysler Group LLC led sales gains for the month with strong pickup sales to go with the best car lineup in a generation. Ford Fusion family sedan sales rose 51 percent.
“You can think about Ford as the Mustang and F-150 company,” said Eddie Alterman, editor in chief of Car and Driver. “Increasingly, that’s expanded to include Fusion and Focus. They’re becoming more and more known for these really well-designed, high-dynamic integrity sedans that are engineered in Europe.”
The 71,459 Mustang deliveries so far this year puts the muscle car further behind the Camaro — with 75,552 sold over the same period — for the U.S. sports-car crown.
“It would be great if we get that title, but we’re not going to do whatever it takes to get there,”Erich Merkle, Ford’s sales analyst, said yesterday on a conference call with analysts and reporters. “We’re going to launch the car and we’re going to let it speak for itself.”
Beau Boeckmann, who sits on Ford’s dealer product-advisory committee that saw the Mustang through its development process, said the company will honor the car’s history without giving short shrift to performance or avoiding visual changes that push its styling forward.
Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker behind Detroit-based GM, had to maintain just-retro-enough looks to pacify purists of the original American muscle car, Boeckmann said. Chevy’s Camaro, which hasn’t looked back since a redesign powered it past Mustang in the U.S. three years ago, pushed designers in the other direction. Add to those pressures the challenge of crafting the first Mustang that Ford planned to sell globally.
“The designers did an absolutely masterful job of bringing these almost juxtaposed positions together and making them work,” said Boeckmann, vice president of Galpin Motors, a Los Angeles-area dealership that is Ford’s top seller in the U.S.
Ford pioneered pony cars with the introduction of the Mustang in April 1964, and it appeared in Switzerland in that year’s James Bond movie “Goldfinger.” Four years later in “Bullitt,” Steve McQueen’s good guy drove a roaring, squealing Mustang in an extended scene that helped redefine the movie car-chase. Mustangs were characters in their own right in both 1974 and 2000 releases of “Gone in Sixty Seconds.”
Redesigning a car as crucial as Mustang is a fraught process akin to when GM updates its Chevrolet Corvette or Bayerische Motoren Werke AG reimagines its BMW 3 Series.
“At some point, you have to get revolutionary,” said Kevin Tynan, an auto analyst for Bloomberg Industries. “At some point, you have to let go because new buyers don’t really care about the retro cachet of the Mustang. I would like to think that this would be the last evolutionary redesign of the Mustang before we get something completely new.”
The Mustang scored its best sales figures in the 1960s, when Ford built more than 600,000 in a year. Ford was knocked for its second-generation model, which added weight from new safety and emissions equipment even as its dimensions shrank and its performance was diluted by weaker engines. The fifth generation that exits next year, developed under Hau Thai-Tang, who now heads purchasing at Ford, was largely credited with recapturing the Mustang’s mojo.
Car and Driver splashed the cover of its December issue with a picture of what it said was “almost definitely” the latest Mustang, and its website allows readers to scroll through a 360-degree view. The rendering retains Mustang’s low, nose-down profile in the front end and its trademark three-bar taillights in the rear.
The magazine predicts that Mustang’s exterior dimensions will shrink and that it will shed a styling that stands alone within Ford’s lineup, and instead share a number of design language cues that have been led by the Fusion sedan, including an “Aston Martin-via-Dearborn mouth” as its front grille.
“Ford is just kind of evolving this car and not taking a huge swing toward a completely different concept,” Alterman said. Cars such as Porsche’s 911, Chrysler’s Jeep Wrangler and even the Corvette share “this slow, methodical evolution to bring the cars into the modern era but still retain their essence.”
Ford has attempted to stoke excitement for tomorrow’s debut — which it will host in Barcelona, Shanghai and Sydney, as well as New York, Los Angeles and Dearborn — with a 15-day countdown on Facebook and Instagram that called on users to share their Mustang stories.
Car and Driver’s Alterman said his first car was supposed to be a 1985 Mustang LX Notchback, with one of the car’s infamously powerful 5.0-liter, eight-cylinder engines. The owner of the Mustang, his father’s co-worker, crashed it a few months before Alterman earned his driver’s license and could take over the keys.
“I never got a chance to crash it myself,” Alterman said by telephone. “It would have been a potentially lethal error on my parents’ part to allow that to be my first car.”
Keeping the Mustang true to its roots evokes memories of the first three new cars driven by Boeckmann, whose father Bert Boeckmann pioneered auto customization in the mid-sixties and seventies.
Beau Boeckmann, 43, said his first Mustang was a blue 5.0 that he drove to school and to an Oingo Boingo rock concert. He said he met lead singer Danny Elfman backstage and gave him a parking-lot test drive of the car after the show.
“Almost everybody’s got a Mustang story, or something they did in a Mustang maybe they shouldn’t have done,” he said.
Of course, Ford’s ultimate goal will be more than just good vibes for a model that was the top-selling U.S. sports car for 24 years before losing the spot to the Camaro in 2010.
In a first, the latest Mustang will be sold in Europe despite having remained very much an American project. Ford executives have shrugged at the thought of any risks that the car will be a tough sell in markets where it’s never competed.
“Every time we talk about Mustang, there’s always been a demand and a want from some of the other markets that see the vehicle and see what it stands for,” Raj Nair, Ford’s product development chief, told reporters in April. “It’s an American icon, but it’s not just a solely American passion.”
Car and Driver predicts that Ford will offer the first turbocharged four-cylinder engine for Mustang since the 1986 SVO model, and introduce an independent rear suspension to improve handling and ride. The four-cylinder engine may make Mustang an easier sell in Europe, where gasoline prices can top $10 a gallon.
Still, Mustang is likely to play little more than a bit role in Ford’s push toward 8 million annual vehicle sales by mid-decade, Alterman said. He expects Mustang to be a “niche” player more of a “design statement” or “style car” than the sort of utilitarian models that sell well in Europe, such as the Focus compact.
“Even though it’s been trimmed up, it’s still a pretty American proposition,” Alterman said. “That’s smart. It’s boldly American and it should be. It shouldn’t be a watered-down Euro coupe.”
REPOSTED BY MIDWEST GLASS TINTERS FROM: BOOMBERG
In a small, pristine garage in North County San Diego, an unusual project is under way. Huddled around a single steel chassis, a team of expert automotive welders is fabricating a new high-tech supercar, dubbed the Lucra L148. It’s the brainchild of Luke Richards, a quixotic entrepreneur and former pilot, who founded Lucra Cars in 2006. If all goes as planned, Richards and his team of 12 full-time craftsmen hope to create one of the most technologically advanced American supercars ever made.
Unlike most supercar projects, which can take years, if not decades, to complete, Richards plans to deliver the first L148 in the summer of 2014, just one year after the initial renderings. He expects the price to be comparable to that of a new Ferrari or Aston Martin, around $260,000. “A lot of guys try to build a $100,000 car that’s as good as a $300,000 car, but then what you end up with is a failed, expensive, cheap car, all at once,” said Richards. “It needs the correct budget to be built right.”
That hefty budget will include a computer-designed carbon-fiber exterior, a lightweight, super-strong chassis made from chromoly steel – the same material used on Baja 1000 Pro Trucks – mated to a 700-hp GM LS V-8 engine, and several components Richards refer to as being “mil-spec,” or military specification, including a wiring harness typically found on most military aircraft. And unlike Richards’ first creation, the LC470, which was featured in “The Fast and Furious 6“ and on a recent episode ofTop Gear U.S., the L148 will come equipped with air conditioning, satellite radio, and GPS navigation. Hallelujah.
But to understand what makes the L148 unique, and not just some cobbled-together custom car, it’s important to understand how Lucra Cars came to be.
Richards, 42, was born in England, the son of an English father and an American mother. When his parents divorced and his mother returned to the United States, Richards became the product of an intercontinental breakup, spending half his time in Connecticut and the other half in London.
Along the way, he developed a simultaneous appreciation for American muscle cars and finely-tuned European sports cars.”My dad always said you can have a car that goes fast in the straightaways or handles well in the turns, but you can’t have both,” he said. “And that was the attitude for a long time, that you couldn’t merge them together at all.”
Following numerous stints in the car business, Richards moved to San Diego and launched Lucra Cars, promising to build a car that would marry American power with European precision handling. “I couldn’t afford an automotive franchise at the time, so I created Lucra,” he said, noting that prior to starting the business, he had taken up residence on his small vintage boat docked in San Diego Harbor. “Besides, owning a dealership would not have done anything for my creative needs.”
Interestingly, Richards says he credits his extensive automotive expertise to an early passion for 1:8 scale radio-controlled cars. “I learned all about aerodynamics and I had all this gear – slicks and extra tires, different bodies and wings, fully adjustable suspensions – it was like running a little Indy Car,” he said, noting that he holds fond memories of racing RC cars with his father at London’s now-defunct Crystal Palace circuit. “They were like little cruise missiles on the ground – sway bars, shocks, disc brakes, gears – everything a real car has, they have.”
The early days of the company were challenging as Richards struggled to find footing in California’s highly competitive custom car scene. But after the introduction of the LC470, a lightning fast, Lister-inspired roadster, he was able to catch the eye of legendary movie car designer Dennis McCarthy, who asked Richards to consult on numerous high profile projects, including several of “The Fast and Furious“ movies.
“Profit is kind of an equal spread between selling our own cars, helping to design vehicles for Hollywood, and a bit of restoration work,” said Richards, adding that he has sold 57 examples of the LC470, which range in price from $90,000 to $130,000, depending on engine options.
With interest in the LC470 at an all-time high and the introduction of the L148 just a few months away, Richards hopes to be selling between 100 and 200 cars per year within the next five years. “From there I would like to see the next stage of Lucra happen where we get a much larger level of funding and where we go forward and build a big production car — where we move up to the level of Lotus,” he said. “Basically, everything should multiply by 10 every time you make a jump.”
He’s also aware that most niche-market automotive manufacturers often struggle in the face of heavy competition from larger brands. But he doesn’t care. Richards explained that he is out to change the landscape, instead of conform to it. “If you’re in a band, you can play cover songs all day long and play in the local bar down the street till the cows come home,” he said. “If you want to make something of yourself, you have to go write your own music at some point. Otherwise, you are never going to be Van Halen.”
After its debut at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show, the Gallardo marked a turn for Lamborghini, as the Italian automaker cranked up its production rate, from about 250 cars per year to around 2,000.
That’s why the Gallardo is the best-selling model in its history — the company made a whole lot more of them than of anything else.
In 50 years, Lamobrghini has built about 30,000 cars, 14,022 of them Gallardos. Over the past decade, there have been a wide range of special versions with names no one can keep straight. We’ve seen the Gallardo Spyder, Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera, the Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder Performante, the Super Trofeo Stradale, and the Gallardo LP 570-4 Squadra Corse. Each has been very cool, very powerful, and very fast.
We’re sorry there will be no more.
The last unit built is a Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder Performante in Rosso Mars (red), and is being purchased by a private collector.
When it comes to its plug-in hybrid SUVs, Volvo is willing to sacrifice a bit of range to go a lot further, in the global sense. The Swedish automaker started producing a diesel plug-in hybrid version of the V60 late last year but doesn’t plan to make that model available around the world. Instead, Volvo will replace it with a gasoline-drinking plug-in hybrid XC90 crossover, Australia’s Drive.com says, citing Volvo executive Lex Kerssemakers. The new plug-in hybrid will use a gas-powered four-cylinder turbo as its engine and deliver at least 300 horsepower. Production of that SUV will start late next year.
Volvo says moving from diesel to gas will shave about five percent off the model’s 120 miles per gallon equivalent fuel economy rating (per the more lenient European standards), so the SUV will still have fuel economy worth bragging about. Kerssemakers said that gas power, as opposed to diesel, would be an easier sell outside Europe. Volvo started making the diesel plug-in last November. The company said at the time that it initially planned to make 1,000 units for the 2013 model year but that advance orders caused them to boost that number to as many as 6,000 vehicles for the 2014 model year.
The Accord is a mid-sized family sedan that is available in hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions as well as fully gasoline-powered versions with four- and six-cylinder engines.
“Mainstream buyers have long found the Accord a popular choice because of its efficiency, functionality safety and value,” Green Car Journal editor Ron Cogan said in a statement. “With the addition of exceptional hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions to the already fuel-efficient Accord line, Honda (HMC)’s Accord becomes an even more compelling choice.”
The Accord Hybrid gets EPA-estimated 50 miles per gallon in city driving and 47 on the highway. (Hybrid cars often get better fuel economy in low-speed city driving than in highway cruising.)
The Accord Plug-in gets slightly lower city and highway mileage than the non-plug-in hybrid but it can go 12 miles on a charge before using any gasoline, according to EPA estimates.
Even gasoline-powered Accords are very fuel-efficient for their class. The V6 gets 34 mpg on the highway while the four-cylinder gets 36.
The other finalists for the award this year were two diesel-powered cars, the BMW 328d and Audi A6 TDI. Diesel cars are more fuel efficient that gasoline-powered cars. Two compact cars, the Toyota (TM) Corolla and Mazda3, were also finalists for the award.
To be eligible for the award, a car must be all-new or have significant changes for the new model year.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Auto Show opens to the public Friday after two days of media previews. Here are some of the most buzz-worthy vehicles being introduced at this year’s show:
BMW 4 SERIES CONVERTIBLE
BMW adds a convertible to its 4 Series line of two-door coupes, which debuted over the summer. The 4 Series replaced the 3 Series coupe; BMW is now reserving the 3 Series name for four-door sedans. The convertible, which goes on sale in the U.S. early next year, has a three-piece retractable hardtop that can be automatically lowered in 20 seconds at low speeds. To keep away the chill, the car has optional neck warmers in the driver and passenger seats. As in the 4 Series coupe, there are two engine choices: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower in the 428i and a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder with 300 horsepower in the 435i. Both have an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 428i is offered as a rear-wheel-drive or an all-wheel-drive, while the 435i is only offered as a rear-wheel-drive. The 428i starts at $49,675, around $8,000 more than the starting price of the coupe. The 435i starts at $55,825.
Porsche is entering the fast-growing small SUV market with the Macan. The Macan — the name comes from the Indonesian word for “tiger” — is six inches shorter than its sibling, the Cayenne SUV, but features the same muscular look. It also uses some tricks to look more substantial, like a broad, wraparound hood that encompasses the headlights. Porsche designed two versions: The Macan S, with a new, 3.0-liter V6 engine that gets 340 horsepower and the Macan Turbo, with a new 3.6-liter V6 that gets 400 horsepower. Standard features include an off-road mode, which adjusts the torque, shifter and other functions for off-roading at the touch of a button. There’s an optional air suspension chassis, which can set the vehicle’s ground clearance at three different levels. Porsche says the feature is unique to the Macan among small SUVs. The Macan goes on sale this spring at a starting price of $50,895 for the Macan S and $73,295 for the Macan Turbo. Sales of small luxury SUVs are up 25 percent so far this year, making them the fastest-growing segment in the luxury market.
FORD EDGE CONCEPT
Ford says its Edge concept vehicle previews the design direction and technology of the company’s future SUVs. The lines on the concept are sharper and more angled than the current Edge, and it adopts the trapezoidal grille shape and narrow headlights of Ford’s newer products. Advanced safety features include an automated parking system that can find and park in a perpendicular space. The system can even be activated remotely, pulling the car out of a tight spot before the driver gets in. The Edge concept also will automatically steer away from obstacles and brake to avoid a collision. The Edge mid-size SUV has recently been overshadowed by Ford’s newer SUVs, including the small Escape and larger Explorer. This will be the Edge’s first full redesign since it was introduced in 2007. The new Edge will also target a global audience — it will be sold in Europe, China and South America for the first time. Ford isn’t yet saying when the new Edge will go on sale, but it’s likely to arrive sometime next year.
JAGUAR F-TYPE COUPE
The F-Type convertible, which went on sale in the spring, was Jaguar’s first two-seat sports car in 50 years. Now the company’s adding a hardtop version. The 2015 F-Type coupe, which goes on sale this spring, starts at $65,000, or $4,000 less than the convertible. The base model of the all-aluminum coupe — made, in part, from recycled metal — has a 340-horsepower V6 engine and a top speed of 161 mph. For $77,000, buyers can upgrade to a V6 with 380 horsepower and a top speed of 171 mph. At the top of the lineup is the $99,000 F-Type R, which has a 550-horsepower V8 engine and goes from zero to 60 mph in four seconds. It has a top speed of 186 mph. All versions have an eight-speed transmission and a hidden rear spoiler that automatically rises at 70 mph and tucks back in at 50 mph or less. Jaguar’s U.S. sales are up 36 percent so far this year, thanks to the F-Type convertible and the recently redesigned XF sedan.
MERCEDES VISION GRAN TURISMO/GLA45 AMG CONCEPTS
The Vision Gran Turismo super sports car, with its wild and fluid lines and extreme proportions, will draw viewers to Mercedes’ stand at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Gran Turismo is pure fantasy, designed for the PlayStation racing game Gran Turismo 6. The virtual model (a scale model of the show car, complete with Mercedes’ signature gull-wing doors) will be available for download next month. While a car like this won’t ever be produced, look for some of the design elements — like the LED lights that replace louvers on the grille — on future super sports cars. The GLA45 AMG concept, a small SUV from Mercedes’ AMG performance division, is closer to reality. Like Porsche and Lincoln, Mercedes is entering the fast-growing, compact luxury SUV market with its upcoming GLA series. The GLA45 concept has a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 355 horsepower. No word on when it will hit the market.
Volkswagen announced that its first fully electric car, the e-Golf, will go on sale in the U.S. at the end of 2014. The e-Golf is based on the seventh-generation gasoline-powered Golf, which is headed to the U.S. this spring. VW says the new Golf was designed from the outset to house either a gas engine or an electric motor and battery. The e-Golf, which will be a five-door hatchback, has a 115-horsepower electric motor and a 264-cell lithium-ion battery that’s tucked into the frame beneath the front and rear passenger seats. Both the motor and the battery were developed by Volkswagen in Germany. Volkswagen says the car can go 70 to 90 miles on a charge, depending in part on which of three modes (normal, eco or eco-plus) the driver selects. Among its energy saving features are a special pump that uses heat from the driving components — instead of the battery — to warm the cabin and Volkswagen’s first standard LED headlights. VW says the e-Golf will be sold, at first, in states that have adopted zero-emission vehicle targets, including California, Connecticut, New York, Oregon and Maryland. Pricing hasn’t been announced.
While they’re just starting to catch on en masse in the U.S., diesel-powered vehicles have long been in service around the world. Diesel cars offer a more miserly approach to fuel consumption but not to the detriment of performance, which consumer-grade hybrids tend to suffer from.
A new round of emissions standards punched a dent in diesel sales, but since then, their numbers have seen steady increases, and more manufacturers are developing cars and trucks that are readily compliant with America’s newer diesel standards. Even American companies are jumping on the bandwagon.
Here are six new diesel models slated for 2014, hand-picked by GreenCarReports, each offering some not-insignificant fuel consumption advantages over traditional internal combustion engine-powered vehicles.
1. Audi A6
Audi has a whole slew of new diesel models bound for the U.S. next year, and the A6 is one of them. The midsize sedan achieves a combined 29 miles per gallon from a 3-liter V6 turbo diesel that puts out 240 horsepower and an impressive 406 pounds-feet of torque. Diesel variants of the A7, A8, and Q5 will be joining the A6 as well as the incumbent Q7.
2. BMW 328d
In BMW’s revival of the 328d, the new car will use a 2-liter, four-cylinder power plant, good for 180 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque. The new 328d is aimed at improved fuel efficiency, with 37 miles per gallon combined, whereas the previous generation was more power and performance oriented.
3. Chevrolet Cruze
As one of the more affordable options shown here, General Motors (NYSE:GM) has slid a diesel unit with 151 horsepower into its compact car, which is good for 33 miles per gallon combined — 27 in the city and 46 on the highway. The 2014 Cruze is Chevy’s first diesel passenger car in 28 years.
4. Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
Like the Chevy, the new Grand Cherokee with the EcoDiesel option is Jeep’s first foray into the oil-burning market in several years. The 3-liter V6 turbo diesel unit produces 240 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque, and is offered courtesy of Jeep’s parent, Fiat (FIATY.PK). It’s good for 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on the highway when equipped with four-wheel drive.
5. Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
The Ram represents the only diesel-powered light-duty pickup in the market, as its competition only uses the diesel units in its heavy-duty trucks. The Ram uses the same 3-liter V6 that’s fitted to the Jeep, presumably with similar consumption figures. Ram says owners can make back the higher purchase cost — $2,850 over the standard ICE model — in fuel savings within three years,depending on how many miles the truck covers and the local price of diesel fuel.
6. Volkswagen Golf TDI
The Golf TDI has long represented one of America’s top-selling diesel models, andVolkswagen (VLKAY.PK) is throwing a redesigned version at the market next year as a 2015 model, though no 2014 model will be introduced. Currently, the car manages around 30 miles per gallon in the city and 42 on the highway, but it wouldn’t be outlandish to expect higher figures upon the car’s release.
DETROIT (AP) — For years, the joke in the auto industry was that a mass-produced car that runs on hydrogen was always a decade away.
“These things are now ready for prime time,” John Krafcik, Hyundai’s North American CEO, said last week. His company plans to announce details of the new Tucson on Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Even as the industry focused on battery-powered and hybrid cars, automakers such as Hyundai, Honda and Toyota kept up research on fuel cells. Now they appear to have conquered obstacles such as high costs, safety concerns and a lack of filling stations. These vehicles could help the companies meet stricter future fuel-economy standards.
Automakers have been dabbling in hydrogen-powered cars since the 1960s. General Motors announced a test fleet of hydrogen-powered Chevy Equinoxes in the mid-2000s, and Honda leased about two-dozen FCX Clarity models for $600 per month starting in 2005.
President George W. Bush allocated $1.2 billion for hydrogen research and said in his 2003 State of the Union address: “The first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen and pollution free.” But the program was largely scrapped by the Obama administration, which focused more on battery-powered vehicles.
Hyundai now is making Bush’s forecast come true, beating other auto companies to the mass market with Tucsons that have electric motors powered by a stack of hydrogen fuel cells. Hyundai plans to start selling the vehicles in Southern California and eventually spread to other areas as filling stations are built.
Hyundai says it has overcome safety and storage issues with a rear-mounted tank that has passed numerous crash tests without incident. As for filling stations, the California Air Resources Board says there currently are nine open to the public in the state. Legislators recently allocated about $100 million, or $20 million a year, to build 100 more.
Also at the Los Angeles show, Honda Motor Co. is scheduled to show off a fuel-cell concept vehicle, which it says hints at the aerodynamic design of the next generation fuel-cell vehicle to be launched in 2015. Further details weren’t available.
Toyota Motor Corp. is scheduled to unveil its own concept fuel-cell vehicle at this week’s Tokyo Motor Show. That one also is likely for distribution in the mass market in 2015.
General Motors continues work on its fuel-cell vehicles.
The largest U.S. automaker, which has spent a lot of time and resources on battery-powered cars such as the Chevrolet Volt, has no fuel-cell vehicles currently in its new product pipeline, spokesman Dan Flores said Monday. He said more work needs to be done on cost and infrastructure to make the cars viable.
Hyundai is expected to introduce prices and details of how its cars will be sold or leased at the Los Angeles show. Automakers usually offer leases when they put new technology on the market.
Hydrogen cars likely will help automakers meet new goals from eight key states to put more zero-emissions cars on the road. The states, including California and New York, pledged late last month to work together to put 3.3 million battery-powered cars, plug-in hybrids and other clean-burning vehicles on the roads in those states by 2025. That’s more than 15 times as many zero-emission vehicles projected to be in use in the entire U.S. by 2015.
The other states in the pact are Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont. The eight states together represent about 23 percent of the U.S. auto market.