North American International Auto Show 2013 (2)
Asian OEMs: committed to luxury
This is the second report from the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) held January 14-27 in Detroit, Michigan, USA.
The Japanese carmakers came into Detroit with a lot of momentum after recovering from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Thailand floods of 2011. Toyota Motor Corp. rebounded sharply in 2012, reclaiming the top global sales spot over General Motors and Volkswagen AG. Nissan and Honda also reported strong sales increases for the year.
Double digit sales gains in the US market have encouraged the Japanese OEMs to introduce several new and updated models. New concepts were unveiled hinting at the likely designs of upcoming production models, with renewed focus on the luxury brand segment. These introductions are expected to fuel continued growth in the North American market in 2013.
Korean carmakers Hyundai and Kia also made their presence felt with impressive design and production concepts. With the US market accounting for a significant portion of each brand's volumes, these companies continue to push their models into the luxury segment.
The sole Chinese company at this year's show was Guangzhou Automobile Group. They seemed focused on promoting their capabilities as they don't currently sell vehicles in the US. They displayed three vehicles with green technologies at varying stages of development.
This report focuses on the activities of the Asian automakers, particularly the Japanese and Korean companies at the 2013 North American International Auto Show. The first report on this topic highlighted the activities of North American and European OEMs.
Toyota reveals future of small vehicle design with Corolla Furia Concept; Lexus IS sport sedan adds zest to the brand
Toyota Corolla Furia compact sedan concept
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Corolla in the US. To mark the occasion, Toyota introduced the Corolla Furia Concept Vehicle. This is a clear indication of the future design for Toyota's compact segment. To make this sedan attractive to younger buyers, Toyota is promoting an expressive design to elicit "surprise and excitement."
|Toyota Corolla Furia Concept||Toyota Corolla Furia Concept: Rear View|
Short overhangs are meant to highlight a wheelbase that is about 4 inches longer than the current Corolla. Overall, the Furia is 2 inches longer and 1.6 inches wider. Its sloped roof line, swept windshield, sleek tail lights and sharp body wheel wells contribute to an aggressive posture. Carbon fiber dominates the front lower spoiler, continues along the rocker panels and finishes in the rear. The rear LED lighting matches the expressive yellow-orange fire-like color of the body. The 19-inch alloy wheels also echo this color with alternating silver and orange, contributing to the "ferocious" look of the design.
2014 Lexus IS 350 F Sport sedan and 300h hybrid
Lexus wants to add excitement to its lineup with the release of the all-new IS. The IS 250 comes with a 2.5-liter V6 with direct fuel injection engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The IS 350 has a 3.5-liter V6 with direct and port fuel injection delivering over 300 hp. The RWD edition of the IS 350 has an eight-speed automatic transmission. Drivers can choose among four driving modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, and Sport +. The IS 350 F Sport Sedan on display at NAIAS has electric power steering and adaptive variable suspension tuned for a sportier feel.
|Lexus IS 350 F Sport Sedan||Lexus IS 350 F Sport Sedan: Front View|
Most of the exterior styling of the IS is carried over from the previous generation. The F Sport has an upper and lower spindle grille forming an hourglass shape. The L-shaped LED daytime running lights are placed below the headlights. This body shape emphasizes the flair of the wheel arches giving the vehicle powerful stance.
The LFA inspired interior is slightly roomier due to a wheelbase that is 3 inches longer. The leather-trimmed shift knob, aluminum pedals, and dark silver interior trim add to the refined motif. The instrument cluster, center stack and console mimic that of the ES and GS sedans. As an industry first, Lexus offers real-time traffic and weather to IS buyers without requiring a subscription to HD Radio. Pricing hasn't been announced yet and sales are anticipated to begin in June.
|Lexus IS 350 F Sport Sedan: Rear View|
Lexus also announced that the IS 300h Hybrid will be available in Japan, Europe and other internationl market. The 300h combines an electric motor with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine. Lexus hopes to achieve CO2 emissions of less than 100 g/km and fuel use of less than 4.3 liter/100km (54 mpg). The total system power is 162 kW. The hybrid will also be available in an F sport version.
Nissan turns heads with the Resonance and Versa Note; Infiniti Q50 emphasizes performance and technology
Nissan Resonance midsize crossover concept
Winning the EyesOn Design award for Best Concept Vehicle at the NAIAS is the Nissan Resonance. The Resonance is a two-row crossover concept that is a likely a glimpse of the next generation Murano, expected to be released in about a year. This vehicle is targeted for customers who have "a bright and optimistic mindset for the future."
The Resonance is powered by a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine and an eco-friendly hybrid powertrain to help it compete against Toyota. It includes Nissan's proprietary "one-motor, two-clutch" system, which combines the gasoline engine with an electric motor/lithium-ion battery and advanced management system.
|Nissan Resonance Concept||Nissan Resonance Concept: Headlight|
Looking at the front of the vehicle, Nissan has adopted an edgy "V-motion shape" that starts from the grill and extends through the hood. The head lamp has a confident and expressive boomerang design. The "Flair Orange" color adds to the boldness of this concept. A unique glass-panel roof "floats" above the vehicle, presenting a sense of spaciousness and a panoramic view for passengers.
|Nissan Resonance Concept: Rear View||Nissan Resonance Concept: Interior|
The interior features an illuminated instrument cluster that presents a high-tech feel and cloud connectivity. Light, buttery leather and premium-stitched seats are intended to make the cabin feel like a VIP waiting room.
2014 Nissan Versa Note hatchback
Sharing the stage with the Resonance concept was the completely redesigned Versa Note. According to Vice-President and General Manager of Nissan Al Castignetti, the current version of the Nissan Versa is the best-selling nameplate in the entry-level segment. This vehicle touts the use of efficient packaging which contributes to 115.5 cubic feet of interior space and 21.4 cubic feet of cargo volume. Under the hood is a 1.6 liter 4-cylinder engine and next generation Xtronic CVTR. It also has an active grill shutter that opens and closes, contributing to a class leading 40 mpg fuel economy.
|Nissan Versa Note||Nissan Versa Note: Interior|
NissanConnect with navigation system is available in the Versa Note. This package includes Navweather, Navtraffic, Pandora, Bluetooth, and streaming audio. Nissan also claims a segment-exclusive technology for the Versa Note: a "round view" monitor that gives the driver a 360 degree view around the vehicle. Keeping with the theme of connectivity, hands-free text messaging is available as well.
|Nissan Versa Note: Rear View||Nissan Versa Note: Rear Corner|
The Versa Note will be assembled at the Aguascalientes plant in Mexico. Starting price will be $13,990 when it goes on sale in the summer of 2013.
2014 Infiniti Q50 luxury sedan
The Q50 replaces the current G37 and is the first to bear Infiniti's revised "Q" naming nomenclature. This harkens back to the heritage of the Q45 - Infiniti's first iconic flagship product in 1989. Starting with 2014 models, sedans and coupes will carry the "Q" badge, while SUVs and crossovers will carry the "QX" badge. The Q50 is the first to crystallize the future design, performance, and technological direction of the Infiniti brand.
|Infiniti Q50||Infiniti Q50: Side View|
More dynamic and sporty, the vehicle maintains the 112.2-inch wheelbase but is slightly lower and two inches wider than the G37 it replaces. The19-inch tires add to the athletic stance. To create a distinct look to the front end, Infiniti has enhanced its distinctive "double arch" grill and the signature round eye-like head lamps. The dynamic character line along the side creates the feeling of flow. The interior features a twin-display central information center. The Infiniti InTouch system enhances connectivity by integrating with applications on smart phones. The interior's elegance is further enhanced by high-end details like Fukiurushi maple wood.
|Infiniti Q50: Headlight|
The Q50 will have two powertrain options: a 328 hp (est.) 3.7-liter V6 or Infiniti's new Direct Response Hybrid System. The hybrid combines a 3.5-liter V6 and compact laminated lithium-ion battery with a 50 kW electric motor and intelligent dual clutch control. The hybrid system net power is estimated to be 354 hp. All models come equipped with a 7-speed automatic transmission. Both will be available in RWD or intelligent AWD.
|Infiniti Q50: Front View||Infiniti Q50: Rear View|
The Q50 is the world's first production vehicle to employ the "Direct Adaptive Steering" system. This system uses electronics to streamline the steering mechanism for a more precise feeling behind the wheel. This transmits the driver's intentions to the wheels faster than a mechanical system minimizing the need for constant, subtle adjustment, This steering technology also allows customization to the driver's preferred settings. The vehicle also employs the new "Predictive Forward Collision Warning" feature that monitors the vehicle beyond the car directly in front of the Q.
This vehicle will be introduced in North America in late summer 2013. Afterward, the vehicle will be rolled out to Europe, China, and then the rest of the world.
Honda unveils Urban SUV Concept, Accord plug-in hybrid; Acura presents MDX prototype, NSX concept, and RLX flagship
Honda Urban SUV small crossover concept
At approximately 9 inches shorter than the CR-V and based on the same platform as the Fit, Honda is carving out a niche with the Honda Urban SUV. Other OEMs are watching this development carefully. This includes Toyota, who is reconsidering entry into this segment after previously saying that they were not going to add a crossover below the RAV4.
Honda describes the Urban SUV as a "dynamic and youthful concept" targeted toward younger, active consumers in urban areas who need versatility, advanced connectivity, and high-fuel economy. The hidden door handles add to the sleek design giving the vehicle a coupe-like appearance. The very long and lean LED headlights, and complimentary fog lamps add to a very modern look. The long horizontal tail lights and five-spoke wedge-shaped wheels tie together the sporty design.
|Honda Urban SUV Concept||Honda Urban SUV Concept: Rear View|
The vehicle economizes space by using the "Magic Seat" system which folds flat to allow items of different sizes to be loaded easily. The fuel tank's center-layout frees up even more interior room. The vehicle will offer three powertrains: gasoline, hybrid and diesel. This lets Honda adapt to the needs of different markets.
Both the Fit and a compact SUV based on this concept will be built for the US market at Honda's new $800-million plant which is under construction in Celaya, Mexico. The first version will go on sale in Japan by the end of 2013. Sales are expected to begin in the US before the end of 2014.
2014 Honda Accord plug-in hybrid
The all-new 2014 Accord plug-in hybrid is already available for sale in New York and California. Honda claims that this is the most fuel efficient sedan in America, in part because of the new two-motor hybrid series from the "Earth Dreams Technology" line-up.
|Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid|
Earth Dreams Technology combines a 2.0-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine with a powerful 124-kW traction electric motor that can function as an electric continuously variable transmission (e-CVT) and a 105-kW electric motor for power generation. This system will also power the new Accord hybrid due out this fall.
|Honda Accord Plug-in: Battery Behind Rear Seat||Honda Accord Plug-in: Engine Compartment|
|Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid: Rear Seat Vents||Honda Accord: Standard Rear Seats|
On display at NAIAS is a pre-production version of the Accord plug-in hybrid, which is expected to get approximately 115 mpg. The actual production version was released while the show in Detroit was taking place. The battery is located behind the rear seat taking up valuable space in the trunk compartment. Honda has added air vents alongside the rear seats for the plug-in hybrid version to improve air-flow to the battery.
2014 Acura MDX crossover prototype
As the fastest growing luxury brand in America in 2012, Acura is introducing several new and improved models. In the luxury truck segment, the MDX prototype provides a strong indication of the vehicle's exterior design when it comes to market by mid-year.
The new version is 1.5 inches lower than the previous MDX. The wheelbase has been stretched out to improve drive quality, second row leg room, and access to the third row. The low, wide and sleek proportions contribute to an "Aero" image, which is intended to create a sense of air flowing around the vehicle. Improvements to aerodynamics lead to a 16% reduction in drag. Acura boasts that the interior will be more spacious and versatile than the previous version.
|Acura MDX Crossover Prototype||Acura MDX Crossover Prototype: Rear View|
An all new rigid and lightweight chassis combined with improved front and rear suspensions lead to a quiet, comfortable ride. For the first time, Acura will offer a two-wheel drive option in addition to all-wheel drive. The 3.5L direct-injected SOHC i-VTEC V6 engine is expected to contribute to class leading fuel economy.
|Acura MDX Crossover Prototype: Front View||Acura MDX Crossover Prototype: Headlight|
Safety features include adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning, and lane-departure warning. Other features include the next generation AcuraLink, Aha by Harmon streaming audio, and Pandora Internet radio.
MDX production will remain in North America, moving from its current location in Alliston, Ontario, Canada to the plant in Lincoln, Alabama.
2014 Acura NSX hybrid concept
The latest NSX supercar concept is the second iteration of the model that was introduced in Detroit last year. This version is slightly longer and wider than the earlier version and adds exterior details, such as air scoops and dams, Although this model continues to evolve as it gets closer to market, it is still very close stylistically to the original concept. Production is about 2 years away.
Enhancements include a lightweight chassis and a high-output sport hybrid system. Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling - All Wheel Drive) combines the engine with a newly-developed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) that has a built-in high efficiency motor, and two electric motors that drive both front wheels independently.
|Acura NSX Hybrid Concept||Acura NSX Hybrid Concept: Front Corner|
|Acura NSX Hybrid Concept: Front View||Acura NSX Hybrid Concept: Rear View|
The NSX exhibits Acura's overall styling direction, intended to illicit a strong emotional experience. A low, wide stance, sleek design, modern surfacing, and edgy details like the Jewel Eye LED headlights communicate a high-tech feel. The interior strives for a simple interface that minimizes clutter and promotes greater visibility.
2014 Acura RLX sedan
This flagship RLX sedan is important to Acura because it sets the tone for the entire brand. The company is promoting what it calls "the synergy between man and machine." This is expressed through three characteristics: performance, connectivity, and style. Synergy between man and machine emphasizes the responsiveness of the vehicle to the will of driver.
Although the RLX made its debut at the LA Auto show in December, this vehicle attracted a lot of attention in Detroit. Several engineers from a large US OEM took measurements of the vehicle, particularly of the interior.
|Acura RLX Sedan||Acura RLX Sedan: Interior|
|Acura RLX Sedan: Jewel Eye Headlights|
Features on the RLX include the signature Jewel Eye LED Headlights, the next generation AcuraLink satellite navigation system, and precision all-wheel steering. This vehicle goes on sale March 15. The base price is $48,450 with the top-of-the-line "Advance Package" coming in at $60,450. Later this year, Acura will launch the RLX "sport hybrid super handling" model (SH-AWD) with a three-motor hybrid system. It will have a 30 mpg combined fuel economy rating.
Mazda brings the Mazda 6 Grand Touring to Detroit
2014 Mazda 6 Grand Touring sedan
Another significant vehicle on display in the hotly contested mid-size sedan segment is the Mazda 6. Although previously released, Mazda showed off the "Grand Touring" edition at the NAIAS. It is powered by the Skyactiv-G: a 2.5L DOHC 4-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission that produces 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. The combined fuel economy is 30 mpg. This top-end version retails at $30,590. A Skyactiv-D clean diesel option will also be available in 2013 for the MY2014 Mazda 6.
|Mazda 6 Grand Touring||Mazda 6 Grand Touring: Headlight|
The "soul red" Grand Touring was accompanied by almond colored leather trim sport seats. The headlight cluster is much more aggressive than the outgoing model, with a chrome stripe that connects the headlights to the front grill. The wheels are slightly more stylish than what Mazda has had in the past. The chrome accent trim is continued in the rear across the trunk area.
Hyundai exposes design future with the HCD-14 Concept
Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis concept
Hyundai unveiled its design direction for future premium vehicles with the HCD-14 Genesis concept. The focus of this concept is on driving dynamics and technology. This is 14th concept to come out of the Hyundai California Design studios.
The jewel headlights are beveled, focusing the light in a way that gives the vehicle an alert expression. Surrounded by LED fog lamps, the corner air intakes let in air to cool the brakes. The imposing front fascia surrounds the brushed metal grill with a deep vertical grill opening. The grill meets the very long hood, hinting at the powerful Hyundai Tau V8 engine underneath. Hyundai is trying to convey the idea of a "cat with its ears pinned back" With the frontal view of the vehicle.
|Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis Concept||Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis Concept|
The long hood, long wheelbase, prominent front-to-back character line, and low-slung roof contribute to the overall sleekness of the vehicle. The paint color suggests a liquid-metal feel, while the stainless steel trim along the lower part of the vehicle is inspired by the steel adornments on a fine timepiece. Themes from the front of the vehicle are repeated in the back, including beveled taillights and LED exhaust surrounds.
|Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis Concept: Rear View||Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis Concept: Eye-Tracking|
Inside, Hyundai introduces an innovative human machine interface. Optical recognition is used to identify the driver and initiate the starting sequence. Eye-tracking combined with 3-D hand-gesture recognition allows the Genesis to recognize driver commands, free from the distractions associated with manual controls. The driver can direct navigation, infotainment, audio, HVAC, and even smartphone connectivity functions while keeping his eyes forward, using a windshield heads-up display (HUD) for minimal driving distraction. An additional benefit to this system is that buttons and knobs are minimized, adding to the uncluttered quality of the interior.
Kia moves upmarket with the new Cadenza
2014 Kia Cadenza premium sedan
A significant entry for Kia is the new Cadenza that shows the brand's upscale aspirations in the US. The Cadenza, which is sold in Korea as the K7 and shares a platform with the Hyundai Azera, is slotted above the Optima in the premium-sedan segment. The Cadenza sedan is expected to go on sale in the second quarter of 2013.
The powertrain is managed by a 3.3L gasoline direct-injected V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. The GDI power plant produces 293 hp at 6,400 rpm and 255 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm.
|Kia Cadenza||Kia Cadenza: Rear View|
The Cadenza offers a wide range of equipment that is typical of vehicles in this class. Safety features include advanced smart cruise control, blind spot detection, and a lane-departure warning system. The premium package comes with a full-length panoramic sunroof with power retractable sunshade, HID headlamps with adaptive front lighting system (AFLS), 7-inch LCD instrument cluster, premium Nappa leather seats, heated steering wheel, and a power rear sunshade. SiriusXM Traffic and UVO eServices are also available.
|Kia Cadenza Headlight: Front View||Kia Cadenza Headlight: Top View|
Cadenza's overall design is European inspired. The contoured, rippled hood slopes toward the "Tiger Nose" front fascia. On each side of the grill are HID quad headlights with LED positioning lights. The lower fascia is wide with chrome trim accents around the fog lights. In the rear, the standard LED taillights are positioned very high on the deck lid. The twin oval tail pipes round out the design.
Guangzhou Automobile Group comes to Detroit with three newly developed cars
GAC Trumpchi hybrid sedan; Trumpchi GS5 BEV prototype SUV; E-jet range extended concept
Guangzhou Automobile Group made its first trip to Detroit following in the footsteps of previous Chinese manufactures. To show off its capabilities, GAC displayed three vehicles in varying ranges of development.
The Trumpchi hybrid sedan is a near-production vehicle. This four-wheel-drive vehicle is powered by a 1.8L four-cylinder engine and an electric motor with a Li-ion battery at the rear. It also has a starter/generator between the engine and the transmission at the front axle. The Trumpchi GS5 is a battery electric SUV with peak power of 150 kW. The E-jet is a range extended EV sports sedan concept that combines a 1.0L engine with an electric motor and a generator.
|GAC Trumpchi||GAC Trumpchi: Engine Compartment|
|GAC Trumpchi GS5||GAC Trumpchi GS5: Engine Compartment|
|GAC E-jet||GAC E-jet: Headlight|
Many analysts believe that the Chinese manufacturers will continue to close the gap with western quality standards over the next few years, eventually entering the US market.
<Automotive Industry Portal MarkLines>