All posts in “Cars”

Confirmed: Mustang Shelby GT500 is on its way with 700-plus supercharged horsepower

Share

  • Pinterest

Here’s something to look forward to at the 2019 Detroit auto show: The Mustang Shelby GT500, a car which Ford says will be its most powerful street-legal production vehicle to date.

Yep, after taking the wraps off the 2019 Bullitt, and rolling out one of the original cars from the Steve McQueen movie alongside it for good measure, Ford decided to go one step further and tease an even more extreme take on the Mustang. You know, for those of you who thought the GT350 wasn’t quite enough car.

This isn’t a total surprise — we’ve suspected the GT500 has been in the works for a while now. But now we know exactly when we’ll see it. You can check out a few bits and pieces of the car in the teaser video above; that’s all we’ve got for now. It’s about one minute of creepy CGI snake eyes, tight shots of a wing, vents and mega-low front aero, plus a guest appearance by a vintage GT500.

Being a teaser, it’s short on anything substantive…except for the promise of 700-plus horsepower courtesy of its supercharged V8. That’s enough to handily best the 647 hp of the Ford GT (then again, the last-gen GT500 already did that with 662 hp), and put it within venom-spitting distance of the Dodge Hellcats — not that horsepower alone is the sole measure of a performance car. But if the GT350 is anything to go by, it’ll go around a track beautifully and sound wonderful doing it.

Maybe this is how it’s going to be from here on out: For every electric SUV, we get a nutso modern twist on a classic V8 pony car. If this is Ford’s idea of maintaining balance in the universe, we’ll take it.

Graham Kozak

Graham Kozak – Graham Kozak drove a 1951 Packard 200 sedan in high school because he wanted something that would be easy to find in a parking lot. He thinks all the things they’re doing with fuel injection and seatbelts these days are pretty nifty too.
See more by this author»

The Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept previews a robo-chauffeured luxury crossover for four

Share

  • Pinterest

Lexus has a shiny new flagship sedan in the fifth-gen LS, and a flagship coupe in the striking LC. But the Japanese automaker knows people are crazy about SUVs and crossovers — as well it should, given the mint it has made selling the RX over the past two decades. The Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept, then, is a glance at what a flagship crossover could look like, and it’s likely a hint at how Lexuses of all shapes and sizes will look in the coming years.

The fastback-ish four-door, which just debuted at the 2018 Detroit auto show, definitely resembles the current Lexus lineup right down to that spindle grille (we’re sure you’ll tell us how you really feel about that in the comments). But there are differences: Interestingly, the concept has ditched the RX’s “floating roof” design; with a well-defined rear pillar, it’s more like the NX. Its lines flow more cleanly from front to back, reminding us more than a little of the Mazda CX-9.

Lexus specifically says that the LF-1 is “more sports car than station wagon.” We disagree — this looks much more like a wagon than any sort of sports car. But we’re not complaining. We love station wagons.

2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration concept

Lexus LF-1 overhead view

Seating for four.

The concept is 197.4 inches long (on a 117.1-inch wheelbase), 78.2 inches wide and 63.2 inches tall. That makes it about 5 inches longer than the current RX, but only about a half-inch longer than the new three-row RX 350L. Its footprint, then, isn’t all that large — but the difference here is that all of the LF-1’s interior space is given over to just four seats; personal luxury, rather than space for the kids and their gear and a few of their friends, is the goal here.

The mission is complimented by the onboard tech; of course, since it’s a FutureCar, it’s got to have some kind of self-driving capability. Lexus says thing would get a conceptual Chauffeur mode — which, now that we think of it, is the coolest possible way to describe autonomous or semi-autonomous driving functions.

The automaker is vague about what the LF-1 is powered by. It could be anything, Lexus, says, which is why they put “Limitless” right there in the name. But it’s got to be futuristic. Batteries! A hydrogen fuel cell! Cold fusion! Anything is possible, apparently, even — gasp — an internal combustion engine or a hybrid system.

There’s no word on whether this car will reach production in anything resembling this form, but again, we wouldn’t be surprised if Lexus’ production vehicles end up looking more like this in the not-too-distant future. And given the popularity of crossovers, especially in the luxury space, this would be a logical and inevitable (and likely profitable) way to make a statement and round out Lexus’ design-forward lineup of range-toppers.

Lexus LF-1 rear 3-4

Lexus says this is more sports car than station wagon. But come on, this is totally a lifted station wagon.

Graham Kozak

Graham Kozak – Graham Kozak drove a 1951 Packard 200 sedan in high school because he wanted something that would be easy to find in a parking lot. He thinks all the things they’re doing with fuel injection and seatbelts these days are pretty nifty too.
See more by this author»

2019 Chevrolet Silverado: Meet Chevy’s redesigned full-size pickup

Share

  • Pinterest

Back in December at a Texas event celebrating Chevrolet’s 100 years of pickups, we got our first clear look at Chevy’s all-new Silverado. And it’s a major departure from the squared-off and safe design that has defined Chevy’s full-size pickups for decades.

The all-new Silverado, which will be offered in eight configurations, was shown in the new LT Trailboss trim which includes a 2-inch suspension lift and aggressive Goodyear Wrangler 275/65R18 tires. It looked tough to be sure. But what engines will the new Silverado use and what other models will be offered?

Tonight, at an event ahead of the 2018 Detroit auto show, Chevrolet gave us a closer look. The model line is comprehensive to put it mildly. Work Truck, Custom and LT occupy the bottom end of the equipment line. The RST is new and could be considered the sport truck trim. The LTZ and High Country, like today’s Silverado, represent the more luxurious end of the spectrum. The LT Trail Boss and lower priced Trail Boss Custom are the off-road models.

Silverado interior

2019 Chevy Silverado interior

GM is using a mixed material approach on the Silverado. The doors, tailgate and hood are aluminum, while the fixed panels are all steel. Eighty percent of the all-new fully boxed steel frame is made from high-strength steel. It’s also 88 pounds lighter than the old one and has 10 percent greater torsional rigidity. And despite a wheelbase up to 3.9-inches longer on some models, when you compare the old Crew Cab shortbox to the new 2019 Crew Cab shortbox, the new model is 450 pounds lighter. One thing that’s noticeable right away is that the huge rear doors on these new Crew Cab models will open to a ton of room in the back seat: Chevy confirmed rear-seat passengers will have 43.8-inches of legroom, up 3 inches over today’s truck. In fact, Chevy says the interior will be the roomiest of all full-size trucks. A power-operated tailgate will also be offered on some trim levels.

Under that aluminum hood are six powertrain combinations that include revised versions of the 5.3 and 6.2-liter V8s as well as a new 3.0-liter Duramax diesel I6. Both V8s will use a new technology called Dynamic Fuel Management which can shut down any number of cylinders between one and seven. The 6.2-liter and diesel come paired with the 10-speed automatic transmission that’s shared with Ford. Chevy didn’t mention any horsepower or torque figures but did hint that its diesel would not be overshadowed by any other light-duty diesel (like, say, Ford’s new Power Stroke V6) in terms of output.

The suspension at both ends of the Silverado has been redesigned with new forged upper control arms in the independent front suspension. Out back, there are new live axles and a revised leaf-spring suspension design. Some models receive a carbon composite second stage rear spring borrowing a little from the Corvette’s playbook. And those springs save 12 pounds per side.

The beds of the new Silverados are deeper and wider with 63 cu-ft of cargo volume, which Chevy says is about 20 percent better than the competition. They are also made from a higher-grade steel than before. The bed floor has been widened by seven inches and there are new lockable cargo boxes on some models. In other words, the beds are bigger, tougher and more useful. And to keep those heavy loads in place, there are now 12 tie downs.

There’s still more to learn about the all-new 2019 Silverado. But we know enough to know these trucks will provide some stiff competition for Ford and Ram, and it’s definitely time to stage our own battle of the light-duty diesels.

UPDATED: An original version of this story stated the new Duramax diesel was a V6; it’s an inline 6.

Autoweek Podcast Ep. 19: Graham buys a Packard and Robin reviews a Mercedes-AMG GT4

Share

  • Pinterest

On this episode of the Autoweek Podcast, host Rory Carroll talks with Jimmy Pelizzari, Graham Kozak and Robin Warner about the 2018 Dakar Rally and news from the Roar Before the 24 in Daytona. The gang discusses the history of the Dakar Rally and mentions that rally legend Sebastian Loeb still races this race. It should be noted this was recorded before Loeb crashed during the race.

For those unfamiliar, the Paris-Dakar Rally ran from 1978 to 2007 and was an extreme performance rally that covered treacherous terrain and extreme conditions in Africa. The race was moved to South America because of various problems with the route in Africa. The 2018 races started in Peru and will wrap in Argentina after two weeks of constant racing.

After the racing section, Jimmy leaves and Wesley fills his place to join the discussion about Graham’s adventure in Florida. Graham went to Kissimmee, Florida, to cover the Mecum auction. He made the grave financial decision to bid and wound up buying a 1948 Packard. Because he bought a car, Graham explains the ins and outs of purchasing a collector car at auction.  

After Graham’s adventure in auctions wraps, the group talks about what we expect from the Detroit auto show. Afterward, Robin closes the show with his story of driving a Mercedes-AMG GT4 race car. We also give a shout-out to a listener’s letter.

Listen below, or on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts. Make sure to leave feedback on iTunes.

Mercedes-Benz’s latest art project: a hybrid of Gelandewagen und resin

Share

  • Pinterest

Some day, when all the cool cars are extinct, a mad scientist is going to come across this 1979 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen encased in a perfect block of resin — 44.4 tons of the stuff, to be exact — extract its DNA and revive the long-dead Gelandewagen species, which should have no problem dominating the feeble autonomous pods that will populate the future’s roadways.

But until that day comes, maybe 10,000 years from now we hope, we’ll all be staring at this G-Wagen and wondering what the heck Benz was thinking. We know there’s a new take on the rugged SUV headed to the Detroit auto show this year, but this is a way of reminding everyone about what came before.

Of course, there’s the whole “Jurassic Park” preserved-in-amber angle at play here, which is really played up in this disorienting teaser video. That can’t be accidental.

G-Class resin sculpture work in progress

The G-Class Cube under construction.

Is it a waste of an early G-Wagen? We love the things here at Autoweek, and it’s always a shame to see a good vehicle rendered inoperable, but rare as these trucks are in the United States (and when they are spotted, they’re typically tarted up to Rodeo Drive-ready AMG spec) they’re workhorses overseas — and not exactly uncommon. We’d imagine this would be like turning a minty CJ7 into an objet d’art.

Which, upon further consideration, does seem like sort of a waste. Ah well.

1979 Mercedes-Benz G-Class cube side view

A 1979 Gelandewagen trapped in amber-like resin, forever. Tragedy, art or both?

That aside, creating this thing was a feat. It took, according to the automaker, 90 days to create the object (would calling it a sculpture be justified?), adding about 1.2 inches’ worth of pseudo-amber in vertical height each day. In its completed form, the whole thing is a little over 18 feet long, 8.4 feet wide and nearly 10.5 feet high.

In other words, it’s unmissable — which, no matter what you think of it, is exactly the point.
 

Graham Kozak

Graham Kozak – Graham Kozak drove a 1951 Packard 200 sedan in high school because he wanted something that would be easy to find in a parking lot. He thinks all the things they’re doing with fuel injection and seatbelts these days are pretty nifty too.
See more by this author»

Just four hybrid supercars tucked in behind the spreader

Share

  • Pinterest

Michael Fux has a thing for unique hybrids. He happens to have one of the largest exotic car collections in the world, so it really isn’t a surprise one of his garages holds a BMW i8, Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder.

The above image originated in 2015 when a BMW dealer was dropping of a then-brand-new M4 and picking up the i8 for service and posted it to BMWi.bimmerpost.com. It recently resurfaced on Reddit.com.

Four of the coolest cars of the era — any era — blocked in by the snow blower and spreader.

Fux owns somewhere between 130 and 150 cars, depending on who you ask, one of which is an ultra-rare Ferrari FXX. Soon some of them will be moving to a museum to benefit Miami Children’s Hospital.

Fux’s first job after emigrating from Cuba in 1958 was selling used batteries and tires out of a garage he rented in Newark, New Jersey. Now he dominates the sleep industry as the proprietor of Comfort Revolution.

Check out the video below to see a few more of his cars. 

[embedded content]

By Greg Collins

Bentley Bentayga is finally getting that 550-hp V8

Share

  • Pinterest

The Bentley Bentayga will gain a third engine in its lineup: a V8 is making its way across the greater Volkswagen Automotive Group empire. Set to debut at the Detroit auto show next week, the V8 Bentayga will be offered globally with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 good for 550 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque that will occupy the middle rung in the powerplant lineup, above the diesel V8 but below the W12 gasoline version.

In comparison with the W12, output drops slightly, but most customers won’t notice; the W12 churns out 600 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque and will still be a little quicker from 0-60 mph, getting there in 4.0 seconds flat. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the Bentayga V8 will be able to propel itself from 0-60 in just 4.4 seconds and up to a top speed of 180 mph, so it’s not far off on paper.

The V8 model will be distinguished by a black and chrome grille, as well as figure-eight-shaped exhaust tips. This model will also offer optional carbon-ceramic brakes that the company calls “the largest and most powerful ever fitted to a Bentley, and the largest front brake system available on any production car.” The discs measure 17.3 inches up front and 14.5 inches in the rear, sitting inside 10-piston calipers, and this braking system can provide 4,425 lb-ft of maximum braking torque to all four wheels.

Speaking of wheels, the Bentayga will be available with a choice of 11 wheels designs (no, you can’t mix and match), including a new 22-inch design finished in black with a polished finish.

2018 Bentley Bentayga V8 rear

Several new trim options, as well as distinctive tail pipes, will set this Bentayga apart from the W12 model.

2018 Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Rolls-Royce Cullinan sneaks out in teaser images

The second age of the SUVs is upon us, and lest we forget that Rolls-Royce will debut a land crusher of their own, the Anglo-German automaker has released images of the upcoming Cullinan, its …

Inside, Bentley will offer high-gloss instead of matte carbon-fiber trim for the first time ever, perhaps reflecting modern tastes, but we wouldn’t bet on carbon fiber saving a lot of weight. New options for the interior will include a new three-spoke wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel, as well as chestnut-colored Cricket Ball leather.

Bentayga V8 models should get a drop in curb weight over the W12 model, allowing the Bentayga to dance a little easier in traffic. Don’t expect a significant change in handling characteristics, but it should still be noticeable. Similarly, the V8 model is expected to land a bit south of the $230,000 starting price of the W12 model.

U.S. pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but in the U.K. the Bentayga V8 will have a starting price of about $186,000. If this carries through to other markets, it shaves off almost $45,000 from the starting price of the W12 version (before options, which will probably add back $45,000). It’s not a lot in the world of new Bentley purchases, but it’s something.

The Genovation GXE is an electric Corvette with 800 hp and a manual gearbox

Share

  • Pinterest

Are you a current or aspiring C7 Corvette Grand Sport owner who would really prefer that your car were electric but still had a manual transmission?

Of course not. But bear with us here …

Genovation is your Corvette augmentation destination, offering electrification and renovation for C7 Grand Sports by turning them into the GXE, which stands for Genovation Extreme Electric. And they’re showing it off at the Consumer Electronics Show.

The Corvette Grand Sport trades its engine and transmission for two electric motors, front and back, that quietly pump out 800 hp at the wheels and 700 lb-ft of torque, drawing juice from a 61.6-kWh battery. The surprising bit is that, despite having two motors, the GXE keeps itself rear-wheel drive — the motors are connected to a common driveshaft that sends power to the rear wheels, reportedly providing perfect 50:50 weight distribution. On a full charge, the GXE is said to pack a range of 175 miles, but it’s unclear at what kind of speeds this range can be reliably achieved.

2018 Genovation GXE rear

Genovation plans to build just 75 of these. Photo by Genovation

2017 Chevy Corvette Grand Sport review A true happy medium

The GXE would be another glider-type conversion, akin to the first Tesla Roadster which used a Lotus body, were it not for the transmission options. The base GXE is offered with an automatic, as one would expect in an electric car. But there is also the option of a seven-speed manual transmission.

The car itself is not completely identical to Corvette Grand Sport on the outside, despite first impressions. There is a redesigned front bumper, and almost every interior surface has been trimmed with faux suede. Genovation also ditched GM’s stock magnetic ride control, replacing it with a third-party programmable suspension tuned to a variety of famous racetracks.

How much will all this goodness cost? Prepare to bring about $750,000, which is why the company plans to convert just 75 Grand Sports into GXEs.

2018 Genovation GXE motor

The two motors, fore and aft, produce a combined 800 hp at the wheels and 700 lb-ft of torque, according to the company.

Tesla Roadster sounds incredible but is itTesla Roadster

The bigger question here is whether there is anything beyond a 75-owner market for a soon-to-be-replaced Corvette Grand Sport that has been turned into an 800-hp electric car with a speed limit that cannot be exercised even at the tracks for which the car’s suspension can be tuned. The 3.0-second launches are certainly a good thing (not for the rear tires perhaps), but silent Corvette launches arguably defeat some of the purpose and appeal of Corvette launches in the first place.

The more important question, in our minds, is whether you want to be that guy or gal who tells people who ask why your Corvette is so quiet that it is in fact electric and that you paid $750,000 for it. You’ll need to be comfortable with answering the questions “What is it?” and “How much?” just about every time you go for a drive.

It’s not lost on Genovation that Tesla itself is planning a second-gen Roadster with 1.9-second launch times that will (hopefully) enter production in a couple of years at a price of $200,000. We just hope that, given the investment, the GXE’s battery packs will be upgradeable in the near future as battery technology surges ahead. 800 hp and a range of 175 miles aren’t going to remain impressive stats for much longer.

Toyota GR Super Sport Concept is the TS050’s prettier, friendlier cousin

Following a teaser last month, Toyota has finally revealed its mysterious sports car concept, and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s called the GR Super Sport Concept, the GR standing for Toyota’s racing division Gazoo Racing, and not only does it look like a prototype endurance race car, it pretty much is one.

Under the curvy bodywork is a chassis and powertrain that Toyota says “is composed of mostly the same main parts” as the company’s World Endurance Championship (WEC) hybrid-power TS050 race car. That would also be the same race car that came painfully close to winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans two years ago. You can certainly see the race car background in the car’s carbon fiber chassis. It also has race-ready 13-inch-wide slick tires at all four corners. But the highlight is the twin-turbocharged hybrid V6 that makes 986 horsepower.

Of course the chassis is only half the story. The other is that scintillating shell around it. It’s very clearly inspired by prototype race cars with the tall, wide fenders over the wheels, the large rear wing, narrow cabin and copious vents. It’s definitely sleeker, though. It doesn’t have the bulbous headlights of prototype racers. In fact, we’re not entirely sure it has headlights, but if it does, they’re probably in those hexagons on the front fender, which would match the taillights at the back. The rear wing has also been dropped down for a sleeker profile. It also appears that the cockpit sits higher than the race cars. This may have partly been a styling decision, but also possibly to improve visibility and make it easier to drive.

Making an easy-to-drive TS050 actually is the goal of Gazoo Racing. During the press conference for the car’s unveiling, Gazoo Racing’s president, Shigeki Tomoyama, said that they’re continuing to test the GR Super Sport Concept’s chassis and tweaking it “with the aim of developing a sports car that will more directly convey the TS050’s appeal, while offering easier handling.” This also makes it sound as though Toyota and Gazoo Racing are interested in building a real, production sports car of some sort, perhaps an evolution of this concept. Further evidence to this is Tomoyama saying, “Although it will be some time before you all have the opportunity to get behind the wheel, I hope that the GR Super Sport Concept will give you a taste of what we aim to achieve with our next-generation sports cars.”

But if Toyota is going to build some sort of TS050-based super car, it could be awhile before it’s produced. Remember, it took a number of years for the LFA to finally hit production. But we think we can wait, since the GR Super Sport looks awesome, and the LFA was excellent.

Related Video:

2018 McLaren 570GT can be as sporty as the 570S

We’re getting the feeling that McLaren is not a company that likes compromise. When it introduced the 570S Spider, it had the exact same performance as the coupe, and barely weighed any more than the coupe, despite having a retractable top. Now, McLaren is bringing the 570GT up to 570S performance parity with the Sports Pack.

The Sports Pack costs an extra $5,950, which isn’t cheap, but shouldn’t scare someone willing and able to drop over $200,000 on a car. For that money, McLaren swaps in the 570S Coupe’s steering rack, shocks, and stability control and driving mode settings. And now that all 570GTs get standard carbon ceramic brakes, there shouldn’t be much of a difference in driving experience between the GT and S Coupe. Except for the fact that you’ll actually be able to bring more than a large wallet with you on the drive.

In addition to the Sports Pack, McLaren now offers an electrochromic glass roof option for the 570GT which allows the driver to pick the preferred amount of tinting. A number of new color options are also now available on the 570GT as well as the 570S Coupe. Finally, the entire 570-line now puts the rear-view camera display in the instrument cluster, when the camera option is added.

Related Video:

More crew-cab Silverado and Sierra pickups are on the way

Share

  • Pinterest

General Motors is increasing capacity to produce crew cab versions of its next-generation pickups, according to product boss Mark Reuss.

The automaker, according to Reuss, has been “constrained” when it comes to output of larger, four-door pickups that have significantly increased in popularity in recent years.

“We’re solving things like that,” Reuss, GM’s executive vice president in charge of global product development, purchasing and supply chain, said Tuesday during the J.P. Morgan Tech Forum at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

A GM spokesman declined to elaborate on Reuss’ comments, which come days before GM is scheduled to unveil the fourth-generation Silverado, on Saturday in Detroit.

Crew cabs have grown from more than 50 percent of GM’s large truck sales in 2013 to more than 60 percent today, a Chevrolet spokesman said.

U.S. sales of the Silverado rose 1.9 percent to 585,864 last year while the large pickup market grew 5.6 percent.

GM produces the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra light-duty crew cab models at a plant in Silao, Mexico, while regular cab and double cab versions are produced in Fort Wayne, Ind. Heavy-duty crew cab models are built in Flint, Mich.

The company reportedly spent nearly $3 billion to retool plants to build the next-gen pickups, which Reuss said will be “more profitable” than the current-generation trucks. He added that the company had a “laser focus” on customer needs when developing the next-gen trucks.

Chevrolet introduced the 2019 Silverado LT Trailboss, one of eight 2019 Silverado models planned, at the Texas Motor Speedway last month before hundreds of truck owners as part of celebrations to mark 100 years of truck output.

GM is adopting more lightweight materials and is expected to add a 10-speed automatic transmission and enhance aerodynamics to improve the fuel economy and overall competitiveness of the pickup.

GM to hike output of large crew cab trucks with redesigned 2019s” originally appeared in Automotive News on 1/9/2018

By Michael Wayland at Automotive News

2019 Honda Insight hybrid is back to battle the Prius, and this time it’s a sedan

Share

  • Pinterest

The Honda Insight is back for a third generation, after being on hiatus since 2014. An all-new Insight will debut at the Detroit auto show, and it will be very different from the first two.

How different? Let’s back up a little first. The first-gen model was a very small and very aerodynamic hatchback that debuted in the year 2000, when gasoline was not particularly expensive. It was very much a two-seat car and it featured tapered rear wheel arches. The second-gen Insight that debuted in 2009 was a five-passenger hatchback with a raised, elongated tail that made it hard to distinguish from the Toyota Prius. The all-new third-gen Insight that will debut in prototype form in a matter of days will ditch the Prius look entirely, instead offering the shape and packaging of a four-door sedan with a premium look and feel. It appears Honda has decided the best hybrid is one that doesn’t look like a traditional, wedge-shaped hybrid with slabby sides.

What the all-new Insight will offer is fuel economy north of 50 mpg, Honda Civic and Accord looks, and the versatility of a four-door sedan. In fact, Honda says that the Insight will be positioned above the Civic as a “premium compact,” offering a roomy interior and civilized road manners. A long wheelbase ensures rear seat passengers aren’t short on space, and available perforated leather seating will guarantee that the Insight does not feel like a gas miser of yesteryear.

2019 Honda Insight hybrid sedan side

The new Insight will take a shape of a sedan, positioned above the Civic and just below the Accord.

2018 Honda Accord 2.0T review and test drive

The Insight will be powered by a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine in addition to an electric motor paired with a lithium-ion battery. Honda says that in most driving conditions the Insight will operate using its electric motor, using the 1.5-liter engine as a generator or drawing juice from the battery. That battery, by the way, will be located under the rear seats and won’t rob the Insight of the ability to fold the rear seatbacks for longer cargo.

“The new 2019 Honda Insight signals we are entering a new era of electrification with a new generation of Honda products that offer customers the benefits of advanced powertrain technology without the traditional trade-offs in design, premium features or packaging,” said Henio Arcangeli, Jr., senior vice president of Automobile Sales and general manager of the Honda Division, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “The Honda Insight is anticipated to receive fuel economy ratings competitive with the best hybrids in the segment, with styling that will have universal appeal inside and out and best-in-class passenger volume.”

2019 Honda Insight prototype interior

Honda promises class-leading interior room, as well as available perforated leather seating.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Limited review

When it comes to interior tech the new Insight will have an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and a 7-inch LCD instrument cluster display for the driver. The new hybrid will also feature Wi-fi-enabled over-the-air software updates, as well as a full suite of Honda driver safety tech including a collision mitigation braking system, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow ability (for traffic jams), road departure mitigation, lane departure warning and recently-developed traffic sign recognition.

Honda is keeping other details and performance specs under wraps for now, but we’ll get them all in a matter of days when the Insight debuts in Detroit early next week.

The all-new Insight will go on sale later in 2018. Pricing details and trim specifics will be announced closer to launch.

Mercedes’ new MBUX system will listen to you … and respond

Share

  • Pinterest

Mercedes showed off its new infotainment interface at CES, the Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX for short. Will owners call it M-bucks? Who knows? Regardless, it’s supposed to make life with your Benz all the better.

Mercedes calls it “an intelligent multimedia system.” Its features appear on the new high-resolution screen that is part of Benz’s “Widescreen Cockpit.” You can communicate with the MBUX several ways: There’s the touchscreen, a touch pad on the center console and touch-control buttons in the steering wheel. Or you can just talk to it and it’ll respond.

“Hey Mercedes” is one thing it’ll answer to, or “Hello Mercedes,” or just “Mercedes.” You can follow up with your request or, if you wait, it’ll ask what you want. We got a drive around the block at CES in Las Vegas to see the new interface in action. My German engineering hosts said to ask it a question.

“Will Bayern Munich take the cup this year?” I asked.

“You must ask it a driving-related question,” said one of my Mercedes hosts from the back seat. (Ha! So it does have limits!)

A-Class hatch in the streets of Vegas

We got a ride with MBUX in this A-Class hatch in the streets of Vegas, displayed here at CES during the system’s worldwide introduction.

My Mercedes driver then asked it, “Hey Mercedes, will I need an umbrella tomorrow?” This is something Mercedes engineers are particularly proud of with this new system — the fact that MBUX will respond to somewhat more vague colloquialisms. On the show stand the day before, a Mercedes exec asked MBUX, “Can I wear flip-flops tomorrow?” These particular questions result in a weather report update for the next day in Las Vegas.

“The language understands even if I say it indirectly,” my driver, Christoph, said proudly.

Subsequent questions usually resulted in an appropriate response from MBUX, though not every time. You have to learn to time things a little bit. But overall it seems promising.

The navigation system in our North American MBUXes will include every street in America and Canada, for instance, which Christoph demonstrated by asking for directions to the Vancouver Aquarium. MBUX replied by displaying the route in Mercedes’ “brilliant” 3-D maximum-resolution graphics.” Vancouver is a long way from Vegas.  

MBUX on the widescreen

MBUX on the widescreen

The widescreen displays information in three levels of information density. The first is the “Homescreen,” which shows the main apps like phone, nav and radio. From that, the “Basescreen” offers controls for specific applications, providing more detailed info on navigation or radio, for instance. Then the “Submenu” goes into even further detail. The system also offers gesture control for things like pinch/zoom of the navigation screen. You can even use handwriting on the screen if you want. The more you use it, the more it learns your favorite destinations and music preferences.

You can configure the screens -– including the instrument cluster — however you want. The screens’ 3-D renderings are highly detailed, thanks to a Nvidia chip previously used on gaming consoles. It’ll read your texts to you but you have to select which text by touching the screen. It won’t read your emails because that is considered “too distracting.” That previous point is still in discussion at MB. If they ever decide to let you read emails, for instance, an update could come via an OTA (over-the-air) upgrade.

“New technologies must focus on the people using them and make their life simpler,” board member Ola Kallenius had said the day before at the Mercedes show stand. “That’s why we combine intuitive and natural operation with intelligent and learning software in MBUX.”

“With MBUX, we have come another step closer to turning the vehicle into a mobile assistant,” said Sajjad Khan, vice president digital vehicle & mobility at Daimler. “The system’s ability to learn is spectacular and unique to date in the car industry. We are using artificial intelligence to give the user individual suggestions based on their habits. The algorithm we use for this is optimized for on-board use in the vehicle and exploits the opportunities afforded by the latest chip generation.”

MBUX debuts in Amsterdam next week in a production Euro-spec A-Class hatchback, which was the vehicle we got a ride in at CES. We in the U.S. will get MBUX in September in our own A-Class, a three-box sedan. We’ll try it out in more detail then. 

Report: 2018 Mustang Bullitt all but confirmed for Detroit auto show

Share

  • Pinterest

Ford Motor Co. is planning a surprise reveal of a special edition, high-performance Mustang Bullitt GT at next week’s Detroit auto showAutomotive News has learned.

The Bullitt will be unveiled as a 2018 model, a source said, timed for the 50th anniversary of the eponymous Steve McQueen movie that made the car an icon among enthusiasts.

Ford spokesman Mike Levine on Wednesday said, “We don’t have any Mustang news to share today but we love the interest in America’s favorite muscle car.”

A Mustang Bullitt was not among the vehicles that Ford previewed for media earlier this month.

The 1968 movie Bullitt features an iconic car chase starring McQueen’s Highland Green Mustang GT 390 fastback.

The 2018 pony car likely will get similar dark green paint, as well as the five-spoke black wheels with a chrome lip that appeared in the movie, in addition to other unique cosmetic features. It’s unclear what the car’s performance numbers will be or how many Ford plans to produce in what is sure to be a limited production run.

Ford first sold a Mustang Bullitt in 2001. The car returned in 2008 and 2009.

Rumors of a 2018 Mustang Bullitt have been swirling for months.

Spied: This could be the 2018 Bullitt Mustang

Spied: Is this the 2018 Ford Mustang Bullitt?

A sharp-eyed member of the Mustang6G Forum spotted this dark green Ford Mustang with the ubiquitous five-spoke Torq Thrust-style wheels found on Bullitt-edition Mustangs. This is a …

Spy photographers caught what appeared to be a dark green 2018 Mustang filming a commercial in Chicago late last year. And earlier this week, a Mustang forum unearthed an auction-site listing for a “special new Ford Mustang” to be sold on Jan. 19. The listing says all proceeds will go to Boy’s Republic, an all-boys school in California that boasts a notable alumnus: Steve McQueen.

The article “Ford to reveal 2018 Mustang Bullitt at Detroit auto show” at Automotive News on 1/10/18.

By Michael Martinez, Automotive News

Official: 2019 Mini Cooper Hardtop and Convertible are here ahead of Detroit auto show unveiling

Share

  • Pinterest

Brace yourselves, Mini fans: The Cooper Hardtop and Convertible are coming to the 2018 Detroit auto show with a slew of updates for the 2019 model year, and they’re more German British than ever before.

Off the top, new optional LED headlights help modernize the front end aesthetic and headlight performance of the Mini. The BMW-owned automaker didn’t stop with the front lights, however. No, it went and made the rear taillights light up in the pattern of the Union Jack. What’s next? Is a hologram of the Queen going to be projected into the sky soon?

Anyway, lighter wheels and a new barebones “Mini” logo round out the exterior adjustments made for 2019. The powertrain package carries over from before, so expect the same turbocharged three- and four-cylinder engines making 124 and 189 hp respectively -– the John Cooper Works version gets a brawnier 228 hp. There’s no indication of an electric version of the small Mini Cooper despite the Electric Concept it displayed at the 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show. We might have to wait a while longer for that to become a reality.

An updated infotainment system with a 6.5-inch display makes its way to the interior, with an 8.8-inch touchscreen display as optional. Support for Apple CarPlay is there, but not Android Auto. Wireless charging is making its way into many new cars nowadays, and the Mini adds it as an option for 2019 as well. 

Union Jack photo

You’ll know it’s a 2019 Cooper Hardtop if its brake lights are screaming Great Britain at you.

Finally, more choices in appearance options for the already extremely customizable Minis should thrill the unique fan base. Customers can design side scuttles, decorative interior strips, LED door sills and LED door projectors to their choosing — yes, that includes text customization. Mini then uses 3-D printing and laser engraving to make the custom work come to life.

Zac Palmer

Zac Palmer – Editorial Intern Zac Palmer has probably spent more time in a car than any other 21-year old in the country. He likes anything that can go around a corner, and is surely talking about a car wherever he might be.
See more by this author»

CES is a gold mine of weirdness; here are some of our top picks

Share

  • Pinterest

While the big car companies with their fancy technology concept cars get all the attention, there are hundreds of cool little items sprinkled throughout the almost 3 million square feet of Las Vegas Convention Center where CES buzzes for a full week. Here are some favorites from those hundreds.

Nvidia Roboracer

Nvidia Roboracer

Roboracer

Roborace is a series planned for autonomous, driverless electric cars to be run on the same tracks used by Formula E. Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag announced in 2015 that the FIA’s only all-electric open-wheel race series would add a driverless, autonomous support series. While the Roborace series has hesitated and chugged and not yet gotten off the ground a few years later, the race cars themselves are really, really cool. One was parked at the booth of chipmaker and current series sponsor Nvidia at CES, and if it wasn’t all robot all the time, with no seat nor any accommodation for a human anywhere inside it, you’d want to jump in and take it for a few laps of the Convention Center’s North Hall.

The cars are just under 16 feet long, weigh just over 2,200 pounds and are powered by massive 540-kWh batteries. They are festooned with sensors, as robocars must be: 5 LIDAR, 2 radar, 1 GPS, 5 cameras and 15 ultrasonic sensors. There are electric motors in each of the four open wheels, which allows for all kinds of traction control and cornering tricks. Competition would come down to which team could best program its car to lap the track. In theory, it would be fast, close racing with no fear of injury to any driver. It sounds like a great new spectator sport. But, as noted, the series is still stalled in the pits.

Electra Meccanica Solo

The Electra Meccanica Solo is a one-seat electric car that sells for $15,500. Or will sell. This year, they say.

Electra Meccanica

Remember Intermeccanica? The company that made the Imp, Apollo GT, Indra, Murena and the Italia now makes 356 and Kubelwagen replicas in Vancouver. That company was founded by Frank Reisner. Frank’s son Henry now runs it and is a partner with Jerry Kroll in making the car you see here, the Electra Meccanica. Since 2014, they have been developing this three-wheel, all-electric single-seater ultimate commuter pod. So the rig has provenance.

And while it sure looks similar to a Corbin Sparrow, company representatives I spoke with outside CES said it was not related to that ill-fated flop. This one has a 16.1-kWh lithium-ion battery, bigger than a Mitsubishi iMiEV’s, good for a claimed range of 100 miles. Top speed is listed at 82 mph, 0-60 at 8.0 seconds. The chassis is aluminum honeycomb. Plans are to build 2,000 of them this year in China and 75,000 a year by 2020. U.S. price will be $15,500. What could possibly go wrong?

myfc

myfc makes a tiny fuel cell for recharging devices, but has plans to make fuel cell range extenders for electric cars.

myfc

While you may have the newest/most expensive/most whatever mobile phone, you probably still have to charge via one of those little Snickers bar-size portable batteries. And you call yourself a tech nerd! You haven’t charged until you have your own pocket-size fuel cell. Yes, a fuel cell smaller than a pack of Las Vegas playing cards. myfc is a Swedish company that makes this coolest of gizmos. You have a fuel card the size and shape of a credit card that houses water, salt and a proprietary mix of various scientific goop. You slide the card into the charger — the larger playing card pack-thing — and the resulting reaction makes hydrogen. The hydrogen goes through the fuel-cell stack that starts separating the electrons from everything else and voila, you’re making electricity! You will be King Nerd, with all the rights and responsibilities therein.

What does this have to do with cars? They are planning to make a fully working car powered by this technology this year. They can also make range extenders for electric cars using these. If you need me, I’ll be in Sweden.

Connected Signal

Connected Signal takes signal light data from municipalities and sends it to your phone so you never hit red lights!

Connected Signal

Do you hate red lights? Do you shake your fist and recite the same speech at every red light about how it’s a conspiracy against you and it only turns red when it sees you coming, and if we can put a man on the moon why can’t we use technology to turn lights green when there’s no one even coming from the other direction, etc.? I know I do. Well, by simply downloading this free app, you can have a readout on your phone that tells you what speed to drive your car to catch only green lights. Your life will be transformed.

How do they do it? It turns out that many, if not most, big cities control their traffic lights. That control information is available to the common man if you know where to look. Connected Signals takes that information and combines it with GPS so it knows where you are, which direction you’re going and what light you’re getting close to. It then sets a pace for you so you’ll never have to wait at a red light again. At least that’s what I hope it does.

The plan is to integrate this technology into onboard navigation systems and into autonomous cars for better traffic flow and to increase gas mileage. Yay!

Derive

Derive stops the bad drivers in your family or company from driving bad. Or is it badly?

Derive

Don’t trust your teen behind the wheel? Don’t trust the kid you hired to deliver pizzas? Attach a Derive monitor to the car and the 16-year-old won’t be able to exceed the speed limit. Add enough Derives and they can all intervene in the fleet’s powertrains to keep the squadron of pizza delivery boys you’ve hired to run your pizza empire all under the legal speed limit. The Derive Automotive Platform upgrades your car’s software to dynamically cap top speed and/or keep drivers safe with seat belt-dependent ignition. The Derive VQ hardware plug-in uses 4G LTE and Bluetooth to offer things like crash detection, dynamic speed governors and even torque management. No more drag-racing delivery boys!

AEV Technologies electric truck

AEV Technologies electric truck

AEV Technologies electric trucks

This is sooo cute! AEV Technologies makes little electric trucks that you can register for the street as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles. Granted, they don’t go over 25 mph, but it looks like maybe you wouldn’t want to go faster than that anyway. Pictured here is the AEV 411 with swing-down truck box. But you can also order it as a flat bed or a van box. You can even get a dump truck! The price starts at $14,999. It’s all-electric with a range of 50 miles from the 13.4-hp motor. There’s even AM/FM radio and a backup camera. The 511 model is AWD all-electric, while the 311 is a tandem-seat commuter with open sides. Did I mention that it’s cute?

Kia Niro EV Concept: This 238-mile-range electric crossover looks production-ready

Share

  • Pinterest

Kia is getting as much eco-mileage as it can out of its Niro, which already comes as a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. Now the mini crossover has turned fully electric at CES 2018. Called the Niro EV Concept, it claims an impressive 238-mile range on a full charge and is capable of charging up to 115 miles in 30 minutes.

All this range is accomplished through a 64-kWh lithium-polymer battery pack paired with a single electric motor. No performance figures are available, but we’d expect it to be similar to the Chevy Bolt’s 0-60 at 6.5 seconds.

This one isn’t technically a production car, but it’s mighty close to what a Niro EV production car would look like. The body and shape is all Niro-like, but with some revisions to make it more tech- and future-focused.

Kia Niro EV interior photo

Kia’s human machine interface supports face and voice recognition that allows the car to recognize who’s piloting it, and then adjust the settings to their programmed preferences.

For this concept, Kia decided to come up with an active safety feature to warn pedestrians that a silent, electric vehicle is coming –- certainly a CES thing to do. A combination of front-view cameras, object recognition sensors and front speakers detect pedestrians or cyclists, then the car sounds an alert targeted at that person to warn them of the giant, rolling piece of metal about to run them over.

The interior of the car gets much more concept-like, with an airy, wraparound dash devoid of most the buttons you’re used to seeing on production cars. It looks pretty standard for CES, but don’t expect much of the interior to transfer over to the production car. Kia using a crossover for its first long-range electric is a sign of the times we live in where manufacturers are working hard to satisfy everybody’s tall-car needs.

Zac Palmer

Zac Palmer – Editorial Intern Zac Palmer has probably spent more time in a car than any other 21-year old in the country. He likes anything that can go around a corner, and is surely talking about a car wherever he might be.
See more by this author»

Here’s how the latest autonomous driving systems handle real-world scenarios

Share

  • Pinterest

The latest autonomous driver-assist systems now navigate busy city streets, responding to traffic lights, pedestrians, unexpected road closures and erratic driving by other cars. The Level 4 prototypes of today can make U-turns, steer themselves along with other cars on road surfaces with no lane markings, respond to hard-to-see traffic lights and make decisions when there are no traffic lights at all.

Indeed, there is a tremendous gap between the Level 2 cars of yesteryear — Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist system is technically a Level 2 — and the decision-making requirements of Level 4 cars in a dense urban setting with the complexities of stop-and-go traffic, convoluted and contradictory traffic signs, and bicyclists and pedestrians sharing the road space. The computing power alone required to process it all and make decisions on the fly isn’t something many industry observers predicted being operational in 2018 — even in prototype form.

2018 Volvo XC40

To see just how much progress autonomous driving systems have made, have a look at Torc Robotics’ Asimov Level 4 self-driving system in the video at the top. Torc uses LIDAR, cameras and radar, and is among the systems closest to being worthy of the once-shunned “self-driving” label in development today.

Still, there are plenty of traffic situations we can think of that would require action by the driver that some autonomous systems would have difficulty addressing, at least for now.

Is the best software in prototype stages today advanced enough to pull over when an emergency vehicle approaches from behind or in the opposite direction? Developers are working on systems that can detect the approach of emergency vehicles based on sound. Or how about a police officer stopped in the opposite lane, facing the opposite direction and holding his left arm out the window of his car to direct traffic in your lane to stop? Or a school bus that pulls over in the opposite lane or a couple lanes over to your right in the same direction of traffic as your car. And what about that not-uncommon situation where the car in front of yours stops at a red light and then backs up just a little, and you notice that the driver never engages the forward gear in anticipation of a green light. You would probably tap the horn a couple times, in the hope that the driver ahead of you gets the point before they mash the gas pedal in reverse gear as soon as the light turns green.

ZF TRW Highway Driving Assist

We go autonomous on the Autobahn

Autonomous vehicles are coming. A couple of months ago we went for a spin in a Freightliner 18-wheeler featuring the Highway Pilot system, an autopilot of sorts that lets the driver take his …

And then there’s the situation where another car flashes its high beams, which can mean a lot of things depending on the context: a signal to proceed, a signal to move over, a warning about a road hazard or a warning about a police officer up ahead measuring speed.

You probably have to deal with at least a couple of these nuanced situations at least once a week, not counting maneuvering in parking lots and queuing up at gas stations, and there are still plenty of situations in which LIDAR, radar and cameras may not be enough to detect signals or unusual hazards.

The latest autonomous driving systems are on their way to solving these complex but everyday traffic issues that might not stump a human but can be difficult for machines to comprehend and negotiate quickly and safely. In the video at the top, which Torc posted ahead the Consumer Electronics Show — during which it is demonstrating its systems in real-world Las Vegas traffic — you probably noticed that the Asimov software can already respond to unsure pedestrians who may look like they want to cross the street but then retreat back. These are the types of situations which the latest crop of autonomous vehicles is learning to solve and predicting the actions of unpredictable pedestrians is one of the most important tests that truly self-driving cars will need to solve daily.

Tesla Autopilot operation

Hyundai NEXO proves hydrogen fuel cells still have potential

Share

  • Pinterest

Hyundai’s new fuel-cell vehicle finally has a name — NEXO — and a range — 370 miles. Details about the crossover SUV were revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show, underway now in Las Vegas.

The name is fine, sounds like you’re “next o” or something, but the 370 miles of range is a noteworthy improvement over the current Tucson fuel cell’s 265 miles. The extra mileage comes thanks to three big cylindrical tanks stowed under the NEXO’s floor and seats. Hyundai says the onboard tank farm doesn’t intrude on interior space, claiming the space inside matches that of a gasoline-powered equivalent CUV.

To make room for all that H2, Hyundai built an entirely new platform for this FCV, a not-inexpensive proposition. There was much debate internally as to whether it was worth investing all that money in what will at first be a low-volume crossover. But word is Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-koo wanted it and what Chung Mong-koo wants, he gets. So they built it. Hyundai doesn’t need the fuel-cell vehicle to meet California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate, since it sells enough ioniq electric cars to meet that requirement. So the company must see hydrogen as the future. Unless it sees electricity as the future, a propulsion option it offers in its ioniq and coming Kona EVs.

The NEXO is the latest in the recent line of “eco vehicles” from Hyundai, starting with the Sonata Hybrid in 2011, the fuel-cell-powered Tucson in 2013 and the ioniq in 2016.

“NEXO embodies everything we have learned in five years of the Tucson fuel-cell vehicle,” said senior vice president of Hyundai’s Eco Technology Center Ki Sang Lee.

2016 Toyota Mirai

Is Toyota’s bet on hydrogen paying off?

Toyota is one of several automakers experimenting with hydrogen fuel cell technology as a form of zero-emission transportation, and it’s one of just a couple offering hydrogen cars to the general …

The NEXO’s electric motor has a 120-kW output, or 161 hp, along with 291 lb-ft of torque, figures which Lee says are comparable to the company’s internal combustion engine for an equivalent-size CUV. It can also start at temperatures below minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit, which the Tucson fuel cell couldn’t do. The NEXO’s 0-60 time is 9.5 seconds, 20 percent faster than the Tucson FCV.

The NEXO will also feature a few technological functions recently developed by Hyundai like a blind-spot monitor that uses three cameras to show the driver rear and side views on the center cluster screen during lane changes. Lane Follow Assist keeps the NEXO between the lines at speeds up to 90 mph. With Remote Smart Parking Assist, it’ll even park itself with or without a driver in it.

NEXO is just one of 18 eco vehicles that Hyundai will market by 2025, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electrics and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. It plans to do this despite what Woong-chul Yang, vice chairman of Hyundai R&D, says is a money-losing deal.

“We lose money on every eco vehicle we sell,” he said during a roundtable at CES. “Selling product, losing money, it’s not good business.”

Unless his boss, Mong-koo, is right about hydrogen being the future. In that case, it’s a smart investment. Check back with us in 10 or 15 years and we’ll have an answer to that.

The Byton Concept SUV: A digital, self-driving EV from China washes ashore in the US

Share

  • Pinterest

With a focus on the digital experience over the driving experience, Byton is trying to make a splashy, yet believable, debut at CES.

The Nanjing, China, company introduced its debut vehicle concept at CES Sunday, rolling out its connectivity-focused electric crossover.

Byton’s unveiling comes one year after Faraday Future made a grandiose splash at CES, only to widely scale back its ambitions within months.

With wide infotainment screens and individual adjustable seats, Byton’s concept focuses on affordable comfort and utility rather than an ultra-luxury driving experience.

“Our first Byton is actually a high-tech digital space,” said Byton CEO Carsten Breitfeld.

Breitfeld and Daniel Kirchert, Byton’s president, drove one concept on stage, with two identical vehicles parked on either side. The executive then brought out his teenage son, Winston, to vouch for the concept’s usability.

“It’s as intuitive to operate as any smart device you’ve ever seen,” Breitfeld said.

Byton, which recently opened an office in Silicon Valley, plans to sell its first vehicle in China in 2019, and later begin sales in the U.S. The company’s first vehicle will be modeled after the CES concept, which the company said contains 85 percent of the same design and parts as the production vehicle.

Toyota brings toaster like transport to CESToyota e-Palette

The flagship crossover, which customers can reserve starting Jan. 7, will start at about $45,000, with an entry-level trim that will have a range of 250 miles, and a high-end trim with a range of 325 miles.

The concept’s sloping exterior replaces standard parts with “smart” technology. Instead of door handles, facial recognition sensors can detect drivers and passengers and open the doors accordingly. Side-view cameras replace mirrors. The crossover’s narrow headlights are placed high on its face, with three individual light “modules” per headlight. In place of a grille, a screen displays intersecting lines of light. Antennaes are flattened into the roof for cloud connectivity.

Autonomous driving

Byton said its first vehicles will be equipped with Level 3 autonomous driving capability — which means the vehicle can drive itself in certain conditions and under human supervision.

Byton photo

The Byton SUV will be built and sold in China before making its way to the US and Europe in 2020. Photo by Byton

The automaker expects to install Level 4 capability — which requires no human supervision under defined conditions — some time in the next decade through a partnership with an unnamed manufacturer, and has designed the concept’s interior with upcoming self-driving upgrades in mind.

A 49-inch screen that can be controlled by touch, voice or gesture spans the cockpit, and is customized for both the driver and the front-seat passenger, with an additional 8-inch touchscreen on the steering wheel. The vehicle can limit the amount of information available depending on whether a human or the vehicle is driving. The car will also be able to connect to passengers’ smart devices, such as phones and watches, for individual entertainment and other information.

Volkswagens ID Buzz to get artificial intelligenceVW ID Buzz

Alexa on hand

Byton is also working with Amazon to integrate the tech company’s Alexa virtual assistant into its vehicle.

The concept’s interior contains four seats, with front seats that can rotate 12 degrees inward, designed in collaboration with French supplier Faurecia.

Kirchert said the ability to personalize infotainment for each passenger primes Byton’s vehicle for both individual ownership and use in shared mobility services.

The article Chinese EV startup Byton unveils first concept at CES” originally appeared at Automotive News on 1/17/18.

By Katie Burke, Automotive News