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Concept vehicles embrace living large

Feb. 5, 2013
Here’s a look at the concept vehicles that made it to the 2013 Detroit Auto Show

Authored by:
Stephen J. Mraz Senior Editor
[email protected]

Rinspeed, smart car,

For even more on concept cars, go HERE

 Auto companies from around the world came to Detroit this January to show off production cars and trucks, and to get customer response to their concept vehicles. Many of these concept cars, trucks, and SUVs will be in showrooms soon while other might have to wait until public acceptance catches up to their looks and styling.

Acura: NSX
The NSX, a concept supercar that will one day grace Acura showrooms, according to Acura, now boasts an interior based around the “Human Support Cockpit” theme. It is said to have outstanding visibility, put the driver in an “exotic” sitting position (low and reclined), and have minimal clutter that might distrsact the driver.
The two-seat NSX is powered in part by a direct-injected all-aluminum V6 mounted right behind the driver and passenger seats. There are also three electric motors, one working with the V6 and hub motors for each of the front wheels. Power from these four sources, probably somewhere around 400 hp, is distributed through the company’s Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-wheel Drive (SH-AWD)transmission. This dual-clutch transmission can handle torque vectoring, sending different amount of positive or negative torque to the front wheels for rock-solid cornering.
Engineers and designers are developing the car at Honda R&D Americas in L.A. and at the company’s facility in Raymond. Ohio, a town of about 1,500 people located nine miles from the company’s Marysville plant. A new plant will be built to construct the $100,000+ NSX close to Raymond.

Ford: Atlas
No downsizing around here. The Atlas Ford pickup-truck concept gives a hint of what the next F-150 might look like. It features an upgraded Ecoboost engine with direct injection and twin turbocharging. For comparison, the current F-150 carries a 3.5-liter V6 Ecoboost engine that cranks out 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. If the Atlas goes into production, designers will likely focus on getting fuel efficiencies of 20% and 15% lower CO2 emissions rather than more power.

For example, shutters behind the grill will only open when more engine cooling is needed, such as during stop-and-go travel or in hot weather. There are also shutters on the wheels that open and close. At highway speeds they close for better aerodynamics while at slower speeds they open to improve the vehicle’s looks. The turning wheels charge the batteries that power these shutters. The running boards tuck up against the truck when it is moving for cleaner aerodynamics, then deploy at stops to help passengers enter or exit. And a front wind spoiler drops down at highway speeds to improve airflow under the body. At slower speeds it raises for better ground clearance. These changes are said to add 2 mpg at highway speeds.

To make it easier to tow a trailer, Ford added a Dynamic Hitch Assist which lets drivers more easily align the truck as it backs up to the trailer coupling using visual cues on the center console screen. And for backing up with a trailer, one of the most intimidating tasks a trucker can face, according to Ford, the engineers added a faeture that lets drivers back up with the twist of knob.

Like a lot of concept vehicles at his year’s show, the truck carries a host of LEDs, including headlights and taillamps, as well as side mirror and cargo-bed lights. Newer LEDs are said to offer better illumination than halogen or high-intensity discharge (HID) lights, last longer, and use less electricity.

Honda: Urban SUV
Honda’s Urban SUV is an attempt to make SUVs more fuel efficient and more fun to drive. And though it looks like a two-door vehicle, don’t let the hidden rear door handles fool you; it’s a four door. Still, the vehicle is smaller than traditional SUVs. In fact, it’s nine inches shorter than the company’s popular CR-V.

Like the Honda Fit, the Urban SUV is based on the company’s Compact Series architecture which places the fuel tank underneath the driver’s seat. This frees up floor space in back and could let the company equip the SUV with the Magic Seat rear bench, which collapses and flattens for carrying cargo.

The SUV is likely to go on sale in the U.S. next year and cost less than the CR-V.

Hyundai: HCD-14 Genesis
Hyundai’s rear-wheel drive HCD-14 Genesis four-door concept coupe features back doors that opening rearward (aka suicide doors) on a single, oversized brushed-aluminum hinge. To simplify the driver’s many tasks, eye-tracking hardware identifies which controls the drive wants to adjust and then hand-gesture recognition lets him make adjustments without having to fumble for the controls while keeping an eye on traffic. The drive can adjust the navigation, stereo system, and HVAC, as well as operate a smartphone using this package. A head-up display (HUD), not a new feature in concept cars or military aircraft, also lets drivers remain aware of traffic while monitoring speed and other parameters.

The car is powered by Hyundai’s Tau V8, a 5-liter, fuel-injected engine with dual continuously variable valve timing (D-CVVT). The 424-hp engine is said to have an 11:1 compression ratio and generate 376 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. The power gets sent through an 8-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission. The exhaust is ceramic lined and tuned for minimal backpressure and maximum high-rpm horsepower.

Lincoln: MKC
The MKC, a small luxury utility, which Lincoln believes will be the fastest growing segment of the luxury market, looks like an upgraded and refined Ford Escape. It does have a glass roof, which should open up the interior space. And the vehicle carries LED lighting. There’s also a refrigerator between the rear seats, not really a must-have feature for anyone. And a retro push-button shifter saves space on the console for more storage.

Lincoln engineers have not chosen an engine yet, but there’s a good chance it will be a 1.6- or 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, both of which can be found in Ford’s Escape. Ford also has a stable of hybrid powerplants it could choose from.

Nissan; Resonance
The Resonance, a crossover from Nissan painted in Flare Orange, is similar to the Lincoln MKC in that it sports and all-glass roof and plenty of LED lighting. Unlike the MKC, however, which could be in showrooms in two or three years, the Resonance is strictly a concept car. It carries Nissan’s proprietary “one-motor, two-clutch” hybrid, a small gas engine coupled with a electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. The all-wheel drive vehicle uses Nissan’s next-generation Xtronic continuously variable transmission. Designers were also told to envision first-class space travel when they designed the interior.

smart cars: forstars Sport Utility Coupe

The all-electric forstars is powered solely by a 60-kW motor pulling electricity from a lithium-ion battery pack with 17.6 kW-hr of power. The car has a top speed of 80 mph and can generate 100 lb-ft of torque. The batteries can be recharged using a standard extension cord and socket. The two-seater also has a transparent roof, a popular feature in this year’s concept vehicles.
The car makes good use of a driver’s smartphone. For example the smartphone can remotely set the interior temperature. The phone has a cradle at the top edge of the windshield where it serves as a rearview mirror. Video of what’s behind the car is sent to a dashboard display. The forstars is almost two-feet longer than most other smart cars, giving it more cargo space.

This car also carries one of the stranger features, a video projector in the hood. It lets drivers set up impromptu drive-in movies using any flat white or grey wall. The projector is controlled by a smartphone and engineers added extra loudspeakers in the ventilation openings for a theater-like sound system.

Toyota: Furia
The Toyota Furia concept car could be a preview what the next-generation Corola will look like. It is about two inches longer and wider and sits lower than the current Corola, which hasn’t had a major makeover in several years, It sports a new shape, as well as LEDs front and back. Toyota didn’t even hint at the car’s performance or horsepower, or when it might hit the market.

Volvo: Polestar
Unlike other concept cars on the floor at the Detroit Auto Show, the S60 Polestar from Volvo focused on speed and performance. Its upgraded T6 inline six-cylinder engines cranks out 508-hp and 424 ft-lb of torque, thanks to turbocharging and tuning. That compares to the T6’s original 300 hp and 325 ft-lb of torque. The chassis has also been lowered, widened, and reinforced. The all-wheel drive Polestar goes from 0 to 62 mph in 3.9 sec., and top speed is over 186 mph.

VW: CrossBlue SUV
The CrossBlue is a diesel-powered plug-in hybrid aimed at the U.S. and Canada markets. It should get a total of 35 mpg (combined) and 89 mpge in electric mode. But in all-electric mode, it will be limited to a top speed of 75 mph, and only travel 14 miles if the 9.8 kW-hr lithium-ion battery is fully charged. In hybrid mode, the SUV boasts 306 hp and 516 ft-lb of torque. If the battery is charged and the 18.5-gal gas tank filled, the VW will travel 661 miles.
The SUV carries six individual seats and a dozen air bags.

microMAX: Standing Room Only

The microMAX, from Frank M. Rinderknecht and his designers at Swiss-based Rinspeed, have developed a small-scale people mover built for short-distance urban traffic. The all-electric microMAX measures 3.6 meters long by 2.2 meters high, enough for at least three passengers plus a driver, given the unique near-standing position passengers have in the somewhat abbreviated seats. There’s even room left for the passengers’ luggage, a coffee maker and refrigerator, as well a stroller. The barstool-like seats do have seat belts.

Rinderknecht also believes the vehicle could be used by repair companies and craftsmen to carry equipment and parts to jobs, as well as serve as taxis.

© 2013 Penton Media, Inc.

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