Detroit Auto Show 2012 (1): Japanese OEMs
Toyota and Honda showcase multiple HVs while Nissan exhibits for the first time in four years
The 2012 North American International Auto Show (Detroit Auto Show) was held in Detroit, Michigan on January 9-22, 2012. Due to the recession, the production volume of vehicles had declined significantly in North America since 2007, but in 2011, new vehicle sales in the US totaled about 12.8 million, up more than 10% year-on-year for the second consecutive year. The economic climate surrounding the automotive industry has been improving.
In this climate for economic recovery, the US, Japanese, Korean and European OEMs exhibited eco cars including small cars and compact SUVs, hybrid vehicles (HVs), electric vehicles (EVs), and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs) in this North American International Auto Show. They also showcased various models such as sports car concepts and high-end cars. The venue was full of more energy than last year.
The exhibition report has been broken down into three reports - one each for Japanese, US, and European and Korean OEMs. This is the first report that covers concept cars and commercial models (planned to be launched) exhibited by Japanese OEMs.
Toyota (including Lexus/Scion brand), Honda (including Acura brand), Mazda, and Subaru, as well as Nissan (including Infiniti), which participated in the Detroit Auto Show for the first time in four years, showcased products including production models that are planned to be launched, PHVs, and EVs. Toyota exhibited a sports coupe concept, the LF-LC, and Honda a sports car concept, the Acura NSX, attracting attention.
Toyota exhibits multiple models centered on electrified vehicles including the Prius family and a PHV concept car, the NS4
Toyota exhibited its products in large booths for Toyota, Lexus, and Scion, separately, as it did last year. At the Toyota booth, the company showcased the NS4, a next-generation PHV concept car that is planned to be launched in 2015 and that achieves eco performance and safety performance in higher level. The Japanese company also exhibited the Prius v and the Prius PHV, which will be launched in the US this year, from the Prius family.
At the Lexus booth, a HV sports coupe concept, the LF-LC, was exhibited. At the Scion booth, models such as the FR-S, which is jointly developed with Subaru and which is scheduled to be released this spring, and the iQ, which was released starting on the West Coast, in the US, in December 2011, were showcased.
The NS4, a next-generation PHV 4-door concept car that features advanced design and that boasts environmental performance and safety technology
On the assumption that eco cars will be more popular around 2015, Toyota incorporates environmental technology, safety equipment, and technology that links "people, cars, and society," in the NS4, which is a PHV-only midsize 4-door concept car. This model is one that does not belong to the Prius family. Toyota says that the model achieves design, dynamic performance, and texture in higher level.
The NS4 is designed to have a flowing styling with low center of gravity, which boasts excellent aerodynamic performance. The model features a pop-up hood and Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB), and safety technologies including Pre Crash Safety System (PCS) and a rear-view camera. It adopts HMI （Human Machine Interface）, which uses a double-screen monitor that is located in the middle of the instrument panel; the company aims at "FUN & EASY" by improving the operability and visibility of the screen.
In addition, the model generates electricity with see-through solar panels and air-conditions the vehicle to lower the temperature of the interior in the hot sun, thus improving fuel economy. It has a size of 4,650(L)/1,770(W)/1,370(H)mm. A 2-liter gasoline engine is used in the powertrain of the PHV system.
|The NS4 4-door PHV concept||(From the right) Prius c (Japanese name Aqua), Prius v, Prius PHV, Prius HV (3rd-generation)|
|The New Camry (HV model), which was remodeled last year|
Prius family: Prius, Prius v, Prius c, and Prius PHV
Toyota exhibited five models - Prius c (Japanese name Aqua), Prius v （Japanese name Prius α）, Prius PHV, Prius HV, and the New Camry HV - in one row sideways. The Prius c ("c" means city) was launched in Japan as Aqua in December 2011 and is also scheduled to be released in the US in March 2012. The Prius c is a 5-door hatchback that is a little smaller than the Prius; Toyota considers it to be a fuel-efficient model that targets young customers who seek "fun-to-drive". The hybrid system of the Prius c combines a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and a motor which are shared with the Japanese model, Aqua. The fuel economy is 53 mpg (estimated), which is the highest in the city fuel economy of HVs.
The Prius v was released in the last summer as a 5-seat wagon. As the Prius does, the model adopts a 1.8-liter hybrid system. By enlarging the rear part of the Prius to have a more spacious interior, the capacity of the model's cargo space is made about 50% larger than that of the Prius. It is equipped with Toyota's first resin Panoramic Roof. Toyota started to take orders of the Prius PHV in Japan, which is scheduled to be sold at dealers in the US of 15 states including California starting in March 2012. It is said to be marketed in 50 states in the US in 2013. It can run 15 miles in an EV mode (data from Toyota's catalogue).
The Camry, which was fully remodeled in 2011, comes with a 2.5-liter in-line 4-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter V6 engine in combination only with a 6-speed AT (MT is not available). In addition, the HV version that is also launched comes with an Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine and electric CVT.
Comparison of specifications of the four models of the Prius and the Camry HV
|Prius PHV||Prius / Prius v||Prius c||2012 Camry HV|
|Engine||Atkinson-cycle 1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder||Atkinson-cycle 1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder||Atkinson-cycle 1.5-liter inline 4-cylinder||Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder|
|System max. output||134hp(100kW)||134hp(100kW)||99hp(74kW)||200hp(149kW)|
|Engine max. output||98hp(73kW)||98hp(73kW)||73hp(54kW)||160hp(118kW)|
|Engine max. torque||105 lb･ft(142N･m)||105 lb･ft(142N･m)||82 lb･ft(111N･m)||157 lb･ft(213N･m)|
|Transmission||Electric CVT||Electric CVT||Electric CVT||Electric CVT|
|Motor||80hp(60kW) 153 lb･ft(207N･m) 650V||80hp(60kW) 153 lb･ft(207N･m) 650V||61hp(45kW) 125 lb･ft(169N･m)||143hp(105kW) 199 lb･ft(270N･m) 650V|
|Battery||EV: 51hp(38kW) HV:36hp(27kW) 207.2V,4.4kWh Li-ion(176lbs)||36hp(27kW) 201.6V NiMH(90lbs)||26hp(19kW) NiMH||244.8V NiMH|
|city/hwy/comb fuel economy (mpg)||87/49||51/48/50||53/46/50||43/39/41 (LE-version)|
|Fuel tank (gal)||10.6||11.9||9.5||17.0|
|Vehicle weight (lbs)||3,165||3,042(Prius)||2,500||3,545|
The LEXUS LF-LC, a 2+2 HV sports coupe concept
Calty, a California-based Toyota design studio, designed a concept coupe, the Lexus LF-LC. The model has a body covered with dynamic, flowing curved styling and is said to show the future direction of the design of the Lexus.
The model is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2+2 model and has both advanced performance of HV and driving performance. It is equipped with features that are suitable for a high-end sports car including a mesh patterned spindle front grill and glass roof, and two wide 12.3-inch LCD displays for the driver's seat. The model is part of design study and the details of the powertrain and the commercialization plan in the future have not been made public.
|The LF-LC, Lexus HV coupe concept-front perspective view||The LF-LC, Lexus HV coupe concept-rear view|
|The LF-LC, Lexus HV coupe concept-driver's seat|
SCION FR-S, which is jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru
The FR-S （Japanese name 86 (Hachi-roku)）, a fifth model under the Scion brand, is a Rear Wheel Drive compact sports car. It is scheduled to be launched in the spring of 2012. The model boasts driving performance and operability of a sports car, and styling for young users and fuel efficiency. The FR-S comes with a 2-liter horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder engine, which Subaru newly developed, and Toyota's D-4S fuel injection system that has a direct fuel injector and a port fuel injector in the system. It features a high compression ratio of 12.5. With this naturally-aspirated engine, the maximum output of 200hp (100hp per liter) is achieved. For the transmission, a 6-speed MT or a 6-speed AT is available.
Exhibition of models launched in 2011 or later, including the New Tacoma and the New Yaris
Models exhibited include the New Tacoma and the New Yaris hatchback, both of which were released in the summer of 2011 or later, and the 2013MY Lexus GS and Lexus LX570, both of which are scheduled to be launched in 2012.
In the New Tacoma, there are changes to the design of exterior parts such as the hood, front grill, head lamp, and bumper, and to the interior parts including the instrument panel and steering wheel. The bed of the Tacoma is made of composite parts and is lighter and costs less for mold than the bed made of iron parts. In addition, expensive optional parts are said to be unnecessary, including a thin plate-like resin liner that is laid on the iron bed and protects the painted surface from damage.
The 2012MY Tacoma
The wheelbase of the 2012MY Yaris hatchback is 1.9 inches longer than that of the 2011MY model. Significant changes are made to its interiors including seats. Although it is a compact car, the model has won the top G (Good) grade in the collision safety test of IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), which Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta also won. A 4-door sedan is not available in the 2012MY model, though it was available until the 2011MY model.
The 2012MY Yaris
Toyota exhibited the 2013MY New Lexus GS and LX570, which it plans to fully remodel in the near future. The 2013MY GS is scheduled to be launched in February 2012 and the company also plans to add a HV version in the spring. Compared to the current model, the new model is 19mm wider and 30mm higher. Only a V6 3.5-liter engine is available; a V8 engine is not available. The output and the city/hwy fuel economy are 306hp and 19mpg/28mpg for a model with a gasoline engine and 338hp and 29mpg/34mpg for the HV version. Toyota says that it would air a TV commercial of the New Lexus GS during the live TV broadcast of the Super Bowl that will be held in February (with a viewing rate of more than 40%). Subtle but fine-tuned changes to the exterior are made in the 2013MY LX570 including front/rear bumper and headlamp, rear tail lamp, the shape of the front grill, and around the fog lamp.
|Lexus GS||Lexus LX570|
Toyota also showcased a concept car, the Fun-Vii, and a next-generation fuel cell vehicle, the FCV-R, both of which were also exhibited at the Tokyo Motor Show. For further details of the two models, see the following report.
|Fun-Vii concept car||FCV-R, a next-generation fuel cell vehicle concept|
Honda exhibits a concept car of New Accord coupe and Acura NSX HV concept
Honda showcased models including a concept car of the New Accord coupe, which it plans to remodel in the fall of this year, the 2012MY New CR-V, which it started marketing at the end of last year (it was unveiled at the LA Auto Show in November last year), and the 2012MY New Civic. In addition, at the Acura booth, the NSX super car concept that has a low vehicle-height and a horizontally-long head light with a LED module attracted the attention of visitors. The company exhibited models such as a compact HV sedan, the Acura ILX concept, and a prototype of the Acura RDX, which is scheduled to be launched in the spring of 2012.
NSX, next-generation super sports concept
The NSX is an all-wheel-drive HV that adopts a newly-developed "Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system". A mid-mounted VTEC V6 direct injection engine works in concert with a dual clutch transmission (DCT) with built-in electric motor to drive the rear wheels, while the two (left and right) motors independently drive the front wheels. During cornering, the left and right front wheels are electronically operated separately to deliver excellent handling performance and fuel economy. With a next-generation high-performance V6 engine and DCT with built-in electric motor, the model achieves acceleration performance similar to that of super cars.
The first-generation (former) NSX was launched in 1990. The model was manufactured in Japan using the essence of the state-of-the-art technology of that time including a 3-liter V6 naturally-aspirated engine with a maximum output of 280ps and all-aluminum body. Production was discontinued in 2005. The NSX concept exhibited at this Auto Show is developed in the US and is said to be produced at a plant in Ohio, and is scheduled to be marketed within three years beginning in the US and then the worldwide.
4,330/1,895/1,160mm with a wheelbase of 2,575mm. The size of the front and rear tires is 255/35R19 (front) and 275/30R20 (rear).
|Acura NSX concept-front perspective view||Acura NSX concept-rear view|
2013MY Accord Coupe Concept
Honda exhibited the Accord coupe concept, one of the 9th-generation New Accord models, which is scheduled to be launched in the fall of 2012. Like the current model, it has a sporty style with a steeply raked roof. This is the first time Honda has used a direct-injection 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine in its powertrain for North America. A V6 3.5-liter engine is also available. A PHV version with two motors will be added. A direction-injection 2.4-liter engine is available only with CVT. A V6 engine is combined with a 6-speed AT or a 6-speed MT. A V6 engine that is used in a 6-speed AT model is equipped with a variable cylinder system.
Honda has adopted its new technologies that are called "Earth Dreams Technology" for the first time in a model produced in the US. The new technologies include the improvement of fuel economy by making engines and transmissions more efficient and electrification including development of HVs that use two motors, thereby achieving environmental performance and "fun to drive".
The company says that the Accord PHV model that is scheduled to be launched at the end of 2012 uses three drive modes - "EV", "hybrid", and "direct-drive" - depending on driving conditions in order to improve fuel economy. This PHV comes with an Atkinson-cycle 2-liter gasoline engine and a 120kW electric motor, and a Li-ion battery (6kWh), which can be charged within four hours using a 120V household outlet and in 1.5 hours using a 240V outlet. It can run 10 to 15 miles in an EV mode. The maximum speed is up to 62mph (100km/h).
The company says that it will make the size of the sedan version, which was not exhibited this time, smaller without reducing the interior space in order to make it look sportier.
|2013MY Accord Coupe Concept||Features of Earth Dreams Technology that the company plans to use in 2012MY Accord Coupe Concept (To enlarge)|
|A direct-injection 4-cylinder VTEC engine that the company plans to use in 2013MY Accord Coupe Concept||A CVT that the company plans to use in 2013MY Accord Coupe Concept|
2013MY Acura RDX prototype and Acura ILX concept
The second-generation RDX is a 5-seat crossover that is scheduled to be launched in the spring of 2012. The model is made larger than the current model and has a wider interior and cargo space. The engine is switched from a 4-cylinder turbo 2.3-liter (240hp) engine to a V6 3.5-liter (273hp) engine; the transmission is from a 5-speed AT to a 6-speed AT. Updating its image from the Acura version of the CR-V, the second-generation RDX has an aerodynamic and luxury style that is similar to that of the Acura MDX, which is a model one level higher. The engine displacement is increased in order to enhance dynamic performance, but the city/hwy fuel economy of the FWD model is improved by 1mpg/4mpg from the current model to 20mpg/28mpg (estimation by Honda).
Honda also showcased the Acura ILX concept, which is an entry sporty model for young customers under the Acura high-end brand. Three engines are available - a 2-liter or 2.4-liter gasoline engine, and HV with a 1.5-liter engine (first under Acura brand). The Indiana plant in the US produces the model. It is scheduled to be launched in the spring of 2012.
Vehicle dimension is as follows: The wheelbase of the ILX concept is the same as that of the CIVIC.
|Unit: mm||RDX prototype||ILX concept|
|2013MY Acura RDX prototype||2013MY Acura ILX concept|
Exhibition of New CR-V and New CIVIC, which are launched in 2011
Honda exhibited the New CR-V (unveiled at the LA Auto Show held in November 2011), which was launched at the end of last year, and the 2012MY New Civic, which it started marketing in April last year.
The CR-V is a crossover-type compact SUV. Although the size of the interior space is nearly the same, the model is about 25mm shorter than the former model. The output of the in-line 4-cylinder engine is upgraded by 5hp to 185hp. The city/hwy/combined fuel economy is 23/31/26mpg, which is improved by +2/+3 /+2mpg (FWD model) from the 2011MY model. In addition, Honda has adopted a system in which a text message received by a cellular phone is communicated to the driver by a voice message through Bluetooth for the first time in its models.
The New CIVIC was launched last year. An HF grade, which means High Fuel Economy Version, is added. The model shares the i-VTEC 1.8-liter engine with the other grades. By adopting an under body panel and aluminum wheels exclusive for the HF, the resistance of the vehicle body is reduced to improve fuel economy. The specifications of the HF and the other grades are as follows:
|CIVIC LX||CIVIC HF||CIVIC HYBRID (reference)||CIVIC Si (reference)|
|T/M||5-speed AT||5-speed AT||CVT||6-speed MT|
|city/hwy fuel economy (mpg)||28/39||29/41||44/44||22/31|
|2012MY CR-V||2012MY CIVIC HF|
Fit EV, which will be leased starting in the summer of 2012
Honda exhibited the 2013MY Fit EV, which was unveiled at the LA Auto Show held in November 2011. The company will produce about 1,100 units during the next three years. It will start leasing the model on the West Coast, in California and Oregon, in the summer of 2012, planning to expand into six States on the East Coast at the beginning of 2013, in order to monitor the response of the market.
The Fit EV has a 20kWh Li-ion battery under the floor. The 92kW electric motor is shared with a fuel cell EV, the FCX Clarity. The cruising range (city/hwy) on a full charge (it takes three hours using a 240V outlet) is 123/95 miles (estimation by Honda). Reflection Blue Pearl is the only body color exclusive for the EV version.
Fit EV, which will be leased starting in the summer of 2012
Nissan showcases New Pathfinder and INFINITI JX35, which are scheduled to be launched in 2012
New Pathfinder concept
Nissan (including Infiniti) participated in the Detroit Auto Show for the first time in four years. The company exhibited a concept car of the New Pathfinder, which is scheduled to be launched in the fall of 2012. The New Pathfinder is a 3-row, 7-seat SUV that has a new rounded styling from engine hood, fender, to bumper. By adopting a monocoque body, the weight of the vehicle is reduced. By improving the V6 engine and adopting a CVT transmission, the city fuel economy is said to improve by 29% from the current model (14mpg) to 18mpg. Nissan expects that sales volume of the new model will triple or quadruple from that of the current model.
New Pathfinder concept, which is scheduled to be launched in the fall of 2012
At the INFINITI booth, Nissan showcased a new model, the INFINITI JX35. Like the Pathfinder, the model is a 3-row, 7-seat crossover SUV. It has a Backup Collision Intervention (BCI) system, which prevents collisions when reversing. The BCI system not only warns the driver of potential hazards behind the vehicle with audible and visual alerts, but also automatically applies the brakes.
The JX35 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and CVT. The hwy fuel economy is planned to be 23mpg (estimation by Nissan).
INFINITI JX35, a new model to be launched in 2012
2012MY New Versa sedan
Nissan also exhibited multiple commercial models including the Versa sedan, which was fully remodeled in 2011.
A sedan and a hatchback are available for the Versa. The sedan alone has a completely new interior and exterior. A 1.8-liter engine is not available. A 1.6-liter engine alone and a 5-speed MT or CVT are available. The fuel economy of the CVT model is 30/38mpg (city/hwy), which is each 4mpg higher than that of the former model with a 5-speed MT (26/34mpg).
2012MY New Versa sedan
INFINITI ETHEREA HV concept
Nissan exhibited the INFINITI ETHEREA concept, which it also showcased at the Geneva Motor Show held in March 2011. The ETHEREA is a European style model similar to the coupe for young customers. It is a concept car that is considered to be a 4-seat entry car. It features rear-hinged back doors and the absence of a B-pillar. The maximum output of the ETHEREA HV, which comes with a supercharged 4-cylinder 2.5-liter engine and CVT, is 245hp. At low speed, the model runs in an EV mode. It is Infiniti's first front wheel drive model.
|INFINITI Etherea HV concept car||INFINITI Etherea HV concept car|
Subaru exhibits BRZ, which it jointly develops with Toyota
BRZ sports type small car
Subaru showcased the BRZ, Subaru's first rear wheel drive （RWD） vehicle that was also exhibited at the Tokyo Motor Show last year. The BRZ is a sports type small car that is jointly developed with Toyota. The model will be released as the Subaru BRZ and Toyota SCION FR-S in the US in the spring of 2012. The shape of the front bumper and grill is different between the BRZ and the SCION FR-S. In order to achieve a low centre of gravity, a 4-cylinder horizontally-opposed engine is mounted at the lower part of the vehicle body. To reduce weight, the front hood is made of aluminum. The newly-developed boxer engine, which is shared with the SCION FR-S, is Subaru's newly-developed 2-liter horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder engine in combination with Toyota's D-4S fuel injection system that has a direct fuel injector and a port fuel injector in the system. The maximum torque is increased to 7400 rpm. Featuring a high compression ratio of 12.5, the maximum output of 200hp (100hp per liter) is achieved. A 6-speed MT or a 6-speed AT is available.
BRZ, Subaru's first RWD vehicle
2012MY New IMPREZA
The 2012MY New IMPREZA was launched in the fall of 2011. The wheelbase of the model is 25mm longer. Its platform is newly designed. By using high tensile steel at the core portion, the body is made highly rigid, while it is about 75kg lighter than the former model. The horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder engine is downgraded from 2.5-liter (SOHC, 175hp) of the 2011MY model to 2.0-liter (DOHC, 148hp), and the city/hwy fuel economy is improved from 20/27mpg to 25/33mpg (comparison of the models with 5-speed MT). A 4-speed AT is not available in the 2012MY model, while the CVT (linear-tronic) is added.
2012MY New IMPREZA
Mazda exhibits 2013MY New CX-5 SUV
The CX-5 is a crossover SUV that is scheduled to be launched in Japan in the spring of 2012. The model features SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY - fuel saving technology by improving the efficiency of the engine and transmission, and body and chassis technology that achieves weight reduction, rigidity and collision safety. The company also plans to start marketing it in the US in 2012. It says that it aims at the highest fuel efficiency in the class through the combination of a direct-injection 2.0-liter gasoline engine and a 6-speed MT or a 6-speed AT. In addition, Mazda used a 1,800MPa ultra-high tensile strength steel sheet for the first time in vehicles in order to achieve rigidity and weight saving.
|CX-5, which features SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY||The body structure of the CX-5. Ultra-high tensile strength steel sheet is used in bumper reinforcement.|
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