Monthly Archives: May 2014

Google Reveals Prototype Self-Driving Car

Following years of ambitious development as well as testing on public roads, Google has formally unveiled the first working prototype of its self-driving car which was designed and built in house by the California based tech giant.

The currently nameless prototype takes the form of a two door coupe with the overall profile of a 21st century bubble car, and those hoping that the firm would give it some visual flair will be disappointed by its function over form appearance. In a statement, Google representatives revealed that this simplistic approach was purely intentional claiming that engineers working on the project could learn from the car and easily make changes to the design of the car without affecting the overall design and platform of the vehicle. We here at Autoinfoquest like the prototypes compact dimensions, but we would like to see designers ditch the rather plain looking front fascia in lieu of a more purposeful unit in future versions of the car.

The interior of the prototype mirrors the simplicity of the exterior with the only appointments being two seats, a pair of cup holders for two cups of morning coffee, and a small storage space for small items. The car’s purpose as a completely autonomous vehicle allowed engineers to ditch typical vehicle items such as the steering wheel, stalks, and pedals though Google was quick to mention that future prototypes will come equipped with a steering wheel and the aforementioned pedals to allow occupants to take over in the event the self driving system malfunctions. Electronic gadgetry is limited to just a small start/stop button that turns the car on and off, and a large screen that displays the route the prototype is currently on. Simplistic perhaps, but it does limit driver distractions and allows occupants to pay full attention to making sure the car stays on course during trips.

However the centerpiece of the prototype is not the bare bones accommodations, but rather the company’s self-driving system which is quite revolutionary in terms of operation and ingenuity. A specially designed laser mounted on the roof of the vehicle helps generate a detailed map of the road ahead which is compared with maps preloaded inside the car to help it avoid obstacles such as pedestrians, light poles, as well as other vehicles during its journey. Separate radar units allow the car to obey all current traffic laws, and can also prompt the car to come to a complete stop if an obstacle darts in front of its path at the last minute. While similar systems are already making their debut in several high end luxury models, this variant ups the ante and would be the first system that requires no driver input and is something many automakers should be watching carefully over the next few years.

Performance details for the tiny prototype were not released, but Google did disclose that the car is powered by an all electric power-plant which allows the car to hit an electronically limited top speed of 25 mph which is mostly due in part to safety concerns as well as the car’s prototype status. Google will be building 100 units as part of a pilot program (based in its home state of California) that allows the company to give them to real world testers that will provide Google valuable input as well as ways of improving the car for real world driving scenarios.

Long term plans for the project are a bit murky, but the company could either market a mass produced version of its self-driving car, or perhaps allow a major automaker to utilize the technology in an upcoming model in some sort of partnership. We suspect that the latter option will most likely occur since the costs and challenges of marketing and mass producing a completely new vehicle are enormous and require a long term investment, wheras allowing an automaker to use the technology is more cost effective in the long run, and still allows Google to achieve the desired marketing effect. In the meantime Google has released a brief video showcasing the prototype in action which can be seen below.

 

 

 

Volvo Previews 2015 XC90’s Redesigned Interior

With the 2015 Volvo XC90’s world debut set to take place at the 2014 Paris Auto Show, Volvo has decided to reveal images of the new model’s interior ahead of its October debut and based on these images, it looks like the XC90 is in for a substantial round of updates which should help boost its relevance against rivals from BMW, Mercedes, and Cadillac

The images reveal that the overall design and layout of the interior has moved a notch or two more upscale with luxury oriented features such as real wood trim on the dashboard and center console, as well as a healthy amount of supple leather upholstery for ample comfort as well as enhanced interior quality. The highlight though is the new touchscreen which is tablet like in appearance and function, and is responsible for controlling the XC90’s infotainment system. This system (besides doing a good impression of Tesla’s unit) is light years ahead of the dated accommodations in the old XC90 which was noticeably behind rivals in regards to functionality and appearance.  Other goodies include a reworked three spoke steering wheel with built in satellite buttons, and a fully digital instrument cluster which is starting to become a current theme in many other luxury offerings, and it is nice to see the XC90 finally embrace this trend as well.

While Volvo has not revealed the production exterior styling of the 2015 XC90, look for it to utilize elements from the Concept Coupe concept which made its first appearance last September in Frankfurt as well as select themes from the XC Coupe and Concept Estate concepts which made their debuts at the Detroit and Geneva Auto Show respectively. Regardless of which concept it ultimately takes its inspiration from, look for the 2015 XC90 to be less boxy than it’s predecessor with more angles and curves to give it much needed visual punch especially when viewed side by side with competitors.

In addition to its revamped interior and exterior design, the 2015 XC90 will also be the first Volvo offering to be built on the company’s new Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA). Look for this platform to mirror Volkswagen’s equally versatile MQB platform in its ability to platform multiple vehicle segments which should prove beneficial to many of the company’s upcoming models especially the S60 and S80 sedans.

Look for more details regarding the 2015 XC90 to gradually trickle out over next few months before its official debut in Paris. Sales are expected to begin shortly after with the first units slated to arrive in Volvo showrooms here in the U.S. next spring, where they will be sold as 2015 models. In the meantime Volvo has released several images as well as a pair of videos highlighting the interior which can be seen below

 

 

 

 

 

Chrysler Lets The “Hellcat” Out Of The Bag, Unveils 2015 Challenger SRT8

After months of teases as well as speculation on the very existence of the fabled and often rumored 6.2 liter “Hellcat” V8, Chrysler has finally unveiled the 2015 SRT8 Challenger Hellcat which brings even more power to the Challenger lineup while also giving the company a legit competitor against rivals such as the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, and the Shelby GT500 Mustang.

The exterior styling of the Hellcat shares much of its basic layout and theme with the rest of the recently unveiled Challenger lineup, However, Chrysler designers have given the Hellcat a Viper inspired hood scoop which not only enhances the visual impact of its styling versus that of its siblings, but also teams up with the larger front air takes to funnel 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Supercharged (left) and Dodge Challengthe copious amounts of air required to keep the supercharger spooling. The rear end in contrast is standard issue Challenger, and features the same independent tail lamps and styling revisions that made their inaugural debut on lesser grade Challengers. A welcome addition is the slick 20 inch forged alloy wheels which are standard equipment on all SRT8’s and add a nice visual touch to the car’s profile.

Performance figures for the 6.2 liter “Hellcat” V8 have not been officially released as of this report, but in a prior statement to Hot Rod magazine in April.  SRT CEO Ralph Giles hinted that the “Hellcat” may actually be more powerful than the SRT Viper stating “We have a situation where, you know — we may have a situation — where the flagship car is not the most powerful car in our arsenal… how do we explain that to ourselves? So we have an internal horsepower race as well as an external one.

Our view on this particular issue is that while the new engine may indeed live up to Dodge’s claim of “600 plus horsepower”. It’s important to remember that the Challenger is one of the heavier entries in the pony car segment, and as such we suspect some of that excess weight (as well as its inferior aerodynamics when compared to the Viper) will perhaps keep it from truly beating the aforementioned model. In a curious move, torque 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Superchargedfigures were also not announced, but prior speculation did state that the engine is capable of producing 600 lb-ft of torque which would put the big Dodge ahead of the Chevy but behind the Ford in that particular area. All of this muscle is sent to the rear wheels through either a six speed Tremec manual gearbox, or an optional eight speed automatic with the latter being the most capable eight speed in the Chrysler lineup thanks to its ability to handle 30 percent more engine torque (which outshines its other eight speed offerings). Meanwhile the carryover 6.4 liter naturally aspirated V8 also returns for 2015 in standard SRT8’s, but has been tweaked to produce 485 horsepower and an equally potent 475 lb-ft of torque (gains of 15 horsepower and 5 lb-ft respectively).

Owners looking to keep the engines full potential to themselves will be happy to hear about the all new Valet system which can only be unlocked with one of two key fobs. The mode alters the engine mapping to reduce overall output, and implements a 4,000 rpm redline, while the transmission completely locks out first gear, and also shifts earlier than usual which should keep overeager valets (as well as teenagers) from prematurely wrecking the car. The fore-mentioned 20-inch wheels also house some potent rubber with standard SRT8’s receiving either 245/45ZR20 Goodyear RSA2 All-Season tires, or optional 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Sepia Laguna leatherGoodyear F1 Supercar Three Season tires. Hellcat variants raise the wick an extra degree by offering stickier P275/40ZR20 Pirelli Zero Nero four season tires which boast a lofty Y-plus rating that allows the tire to be used at high vehicle speeds. When it comes time to bring all of this muscle to a full stop, the Hellcat also boasts the most powerful front brakes ever offered on a SRT product with meaty 15.4 inch Brembo two piece rotors and six piston calipers providing the bite necessary to bring this furious feline to a safe halt from any speed. The uprated hardware is also available on standard SRT8’s but only on those equipped with the optional Track pack.

Interested in putting an SRT8 Hellcat in your garage? Chrysler did not release official pricing for the Hellcat but expect it to be on par with the ZL1 and GT500 which means a low to mid $50,000 base price. While this is a lofty figure, the sheer amount of power and character the Hellcat wields is enough to justify paying the premium price tag, and should also allow the car to stand out from not only its domestic rivals, but also indirect ones such as the Nissan GT-R and the Porsche 911 Turbo. We look forward to perhaps sampling one ourselves, but in the meantime Chrysler has released pictures (the bright red is the Hellcat, black is the standard SRT8) as well as a brief video which can both be seen below.

 

 

 

Audi Launches Limited Production R8 LMX, Debuts New Laser High Beam System

Audi has talked about its revolutionary Matrix Beam laser headlight technology for several years now with it being a key part of its iconic LeMans racing program. However in an announcement earlier today, the company revealed the first production application of this technology the limited production Audi R8 LMX supercar.

The exterior styling of the R8 LMX shares much of its basic styling and overall profile with the standard issue R8 V10 Plus, but the LMX variant stands out thanks to additions such as lower profile tires on lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels, the use of a special carbon-fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) in the construction of items such as the front splitter, rear Audi R8 LMXdiffuser, and decklid cover, as well as a large rear spoiler which helps keep the rear end planted during spirited driving. While CFRP’s high cost of production currently keeps it from being used in mainstream offerings, Audi claims that the material will eventually be available on some of its more mass produced offerings in the next few years which should help improve fuel economy and performance thanks to the weight savings that the material provides versus whats currently used.

The LMX’s trump card though is not its CFRP components, but rather its headlights which feature the company’s new laser high beam technology as standard equipment. The new laser based system offers twice the illumination range ( 1,640 feet) versuAudi R8 LMXs conventional units thanks to a special module which shoots a tiny blue laser beam into a special phosphor converter which transforms the beam into usable white light. The system is active at speeds higher than 37 mph and has the capability to adjust the intensity and brightness of the beam projected when it senses another vehicle in its range which will please drivers concerned about the system possibly blinding them during night time driving. This system also trumps rival BMW which offers laser tinged high beams of its own on the i8 hybrid, but only as a piece of optional equipment.

The interior of the LMX also retains the basic layout seen in other R8’s, but handsome blue stitching on the black Nappa leather leather sport buckets, headliner, and door panels add some much needed contrast to thAudi R8 LMXe otherwise dark and teutonic inspired surroundings which have always been a gripe of ours ever since the R8 debuted. In addition, even more CFRP is used in other areas of the interior which helps trim weight even more, while also looking cool and sporty at the same time which should please style conscious drivers looking to project the LMX’s performance intent to lucky passengers .

Performance for the Audi R8 LMX is derived from a tweaked version of the V10 Plus’s familiar 5.2 liter V10 engine which now produces a healthy 570 horsepower (a gain of 10 over the R8 V10 GT), and a healthy 398 lb-ft of torque. These figures not only help the LMX claim the distinction of being the most powerful street legal R8 model ever built by the factory, but also allow the car to make the sprint to 62 mph in a swift 3.4 seconds before reaching a final top speed of 198 mph (two mph shy of the 200 mph mark). All of this power is transmitted through a seven speed S tronic gearbox which should do a good job keeping the LMX ahead of rivals at the local racetrack, while also offering smooth shifts and good fuel economy during city commutes.

Look for the Audi R8 LMX to officially begin sales next month when it will make its formal debut at the 2014 Goodwood Festival Of Speed. Pricing will not be cheap with base prices starting at 160,025 ( $270,000 when conversion rates are applied) for each of the 99 copies that will be produced. At the moment, Audi does not plan to bring the LMX to buyers here in the U.S. due to laws that target its laser headlight technology and prohibit it from being used. Similar laws also keep the company from bringing its sequential turn signal and Matrix Beam technology stateside which is a shame since it deprives customers the chance of experiencing all three of these revolutionary technologies.

 

Ariel Unveils Faster, More Powerful Atom 3.5R

Ariel has always been known for producing mind blowing performance figures from its line of featherweight and exoskeletal Atom sports cars which not only scorch track days, but also moonlight as rolling facial reconstruction parlors as shown by Jeremy Clarkson several years ago on an episode of Top Gear. Aiming to live up to this well earned reputation, the company has pushed the envelope yet again unveiling the all new Atom 3.5R which promises to bring even more face warping power and track capability to the lightweight wonder when it arrives in Europe later this year.

The highlight of this model is an increase in muscle with Ariel engineers freeing 40 extra horsepower from the familiar 2.0 liter supercharged four cylinder (sourced from the Civic Type R) thanks to an increase in boost pressure which is now a stout 11 psi versus the stock car’s 7.5 psi. This subtle increase in psi also helps increase overall grunt with the Ariel Atom 3.5R 4engine now producing a healthy 350 horsepower ( a 40 horsepower gain) as well as a slightly higher 253 lb-ft of torque. All of this new-found muscle is channeled to the rear wheels through a six speed Sadev gearbox cribbed from the Atom V8 which goes through each of its gears via steering wheel mounted paddles. This gearbox (along with its svelte 1200 lb curb weight) allows the 3.5R to blast its way to 60 mph in a blistering 2.5 seconds with 100 mph arriving at an equally brisk 3.5 seconds flat.

The exterior shares much of its basic design with the standard issue Atom 3.5 model, but a rear spoiler (also borrowed from the V8 Atom) helps keep the rear end plantedAriel Atom 3.5R 1 while upgraded Ohlins springs and Ohlins TTX adjustable dampers sharpen handling and improve the Atom’s already lighting quick reflexes which should please buyers that crave quicker track times. In addition, a limited slip differential also helps the car utilize its muscle more effectively, while ventilated discs at all four corners ensure smooth and steady stops from any speed.

Looking to add a 3.5 R to your garage? Pricing will begin at £80,000 for a base model which is equivalent to $135,000 U.S. dollars when conversion rates are applied. Unfortunately for U.S. buyers the 3.5R will not be coming stateside due to emission laws that prohibit its Type R cribbed engine from being used on our shores, but Ariel’s official U.S. importer TMI Autotech claims that a model with similar specifications will be unveiled for our market in the near future. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on the 3.5R as they become available.

 

Alfa Romeo’s Return To The U.S. What Does It Mean For Consumers?

The saga of Alfa Romeo has always captivated and also infuriated me at various points with each proclamation of its return either scrapped or delayed. However unlike those prior attempts, this one appears to be the real deal and if things hold up. The legendary Italian brand could be on the heels of a resurrection both in its home European market as well as the U.S. But what does this return to the U.S. market mean for consumers like you and me? read on below to find out.

Currently Alfa Romeo (like sister brand Chrysler) is limited to just three offerings the MiTo hatchback, the Giuletta hatchback, and the recently released 4C sports coupe. However look for the stable to double in the next 18 months with the help of a bigger engineering team which will add six more models to the lineup for a grand total of eight different nameplates which should allow the brand to compete in more segments than it currently does now with particular attention focused on the C and E-segments of the market. Look for the first salvo to appear late next year when a new mid-size sedan offering makes its official debut followed by the eagerly anticipated debut of “Cloverleaf”. The latter in particular has us keenly interested since “Cloverleaf” branded Alfa’s have traditionally served as the flagship of the Alfa’s mainstream offerings (as well as a simpler alternative to saying the tongue twister esque Quadrifolglio Verde designation). What is unknown is whether “Cloverleaf” will continue that established heritage or if it will become a competitor to AMG as well as BMW’s M division. Either way it sounds promising and we look forward to hearing more information on “Cloverleaf” as it becomes available.

Look for the tempo to substantially increase during 2016-2018 when Alfa will bring two compact products and two CUV/SUV offerings to consumers as well as a “specialty product”. Our best guess is the “specialty product” will most most likely be a version of the jointly developed next generation Mazda Miata roadster which would follow in the spiritual footsteps of the Alfa Romeo Spider a model made famous by actor Dustin Hoffman in the 1967 movie The Graduate.  A full-size and mid-size sedan will also make their respective debuts, but according to Alfa CEO Harald Wester all of these models will feature several distinct qualities including 50/50 weight distribution, class leading power to weight ratios, as well as the brand’s familiar take on styling and sleek design. All of these traits sound pleasing to us, but only time will tell if the new offerings will indeed deliver on these promises when they eventually make there way into the hands of buyers.

New Italian built engines will also be on tap during this crucial period and will serve as the source of motivation for many of the fore-mentioned models. The first two engines are a pair of six cylinders and while technical information was not released about them, expect one of the duo to be a diesel offering to cater to European buyers that want a seamless blend of efficiency and power. Two four cylinders will also make their respective debuts, and serve to round out the expanded engine family. These changes as well as the availability of either rear or all-wheel drive aim to drive sales up to 400,000 units by 2018 which would be a considerable gain versus the paltry 74,000 copies the brand sold in 2013.

While it is unclear if this will be enough to allow Alfa to pose a serious threat to the established sales advantage enjoyed by the German big three as well as a resurgent Cadillac in the long run, it should allow the brand to enjoy broader awareness and a renewed sense of relevance in the marketplace versus its current role as an afterthought brand. However a key challenge for Alfa Romeo will be rebuilding its reputation for quality among U.S. customers especially those that have fond memories of the quality woes that plagued their offerings back in the 80’s and 90’s. If they can succeed in achieving this as well as creating a pricing ladder that caters to a wide range of consumers, then the future should look bright and promising for Alfa Romeo.

Chrysler Unveils Ambitious 5 Year Plan, New Models To Play Big Role

As part of its highly anticipated announcement of its plans for the next five years, representatives from FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) laid out the groundwork of its plans for the next five years which not only build on new models, but also key shifts in strategy which aim to accelerate its recent resurgence in the marketplace. Check out the plans for each brand below and tell us what you guys think (Fiat, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Ferrari will be released in a separate piece).

Chrysler: The troubled division has certainly seen its fair share of ups and downs in recent years with its current lineup limited to a trio of models, the full size Chrysler 300, the Town & Country minivan, and the lamentable but recently redesigned Chrysler 200. However if today’s plans hold true to their word, look for that trio to welcome some new stablemates during the next few years. A key model we’re interested in is a “thoroughly refreshed” 300 sedan which is expected to appear at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. This arrival date is consistent with the current generation’s initial appearance back in 2011 and would be on par with the average shelf life of a vehicle (which is usually 4 years).

Following that models unveiling, Chrysler will use 2016 to showcase the new 100 subcompact which will also be a key model, and finally give Chrysler a legitimate contender in a bustling C-Segment that is populated by rivals such as the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, and Honda Civic. Joining the 100 will also be a new Town & Country minivan which not only kills of its badge engineered sibling the Grand Caravan, but also features a new plug-in hybrid model that is capable of achieving the equivalent of 75 miles per gallon. This lofty figure is impressive and would make the T&C one of the most fuel efficient minivan offerings on the market. 2017 is primarily focused on the refreshening of the 2014 200 sedan, though look for a Ford Escape fighting CUV to debut sometime in 2018. Look for all of these unveiling to help achieve its sales target of 800,000 units by 2018 while also allowing the brand to become more mainstream (versus its current semi-luxury theme) and better prepared to meet the varied needs of buyers in the near future.

 

Dodge/SRT: Dodge’s resurrection as a performance oriented brand kicks off with the unexpected announcement that the SRT brand will return to the fold. Existing as a separate entity for the past few years, the unexpected reunion will not only prevent sales cannibalization between the two brands, but also help Dodge hone its sales towards enthusiast minded buyers. The reunion also spearheads a slew of new product which aims to appeal to a wide range of buyers and enthusiasts. A refresh for the slow selling Viper is upcoming for 2015 which is expected to try and address the car’s rather sluggish sales against rivals such as the Chevrolet Corvette. The following year will bring a refresh to the Dart lineup and also mark the debut of the Dart SRT. Serving as a spiritual successor to the original Neon based SRT-4, the SRT Dart will feature a tweaked turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive to aide to its performance intent, but other details were kept under wraps. However look for more information to slowly trickle out closer to its official unveiling. In addition to the refreshed Dart, 2016 will also mark the debut of a new Dodge Journey with an SRT variant (shocking we know) making its arrival sometime in 2017.

2018 however will serve as the most ambitious part of the brand’s five year plan with the debut of an unnamed B-segment sedan and hatchback as well as an all new Challenger/Charger. Look for SRT versions of the fore-mentioned models to arrive towards the end of the year with rumors suggesting that motivation will be provided by the upcoming 6.2 liter “Hellcat” supercharged V8. Wrapping up things are the demise of two models (the Dodge Avenger and the Dodge Grand Caravan) with both models meeting the axe later this year and 2016 respectively. The Caravan’s demise in particular appears to largely conform more to Dodge’s revamp as a performance oriented brand versus its goal of 600k sold units for 2018 (a figure the company currently achieves with that model already in its lineup).

 

Jeep:  Look for the iconic off-road brand to spend the next five years in a period of great expansion in not only its sales numbers but also its lineup with the brand aiming to transform from building five nameplates solely in the U.S.A to building six nameplates in six different countries (part of a bid to expand the brand’s global footprint). To help makes this goal a reality, Jeep will expand its roster of dealerships to include 1,300 new franchises that will all do their part to meet the brand’s other goal of doubling its overall sales numbers by 2018.

The first wave of new models will be headlined by the recently unveiled Renegade CUV which will make its appearance in showrooms later this year alongside its Fiat cousin the 500X Crossover. As a neat bonus, the brand revealed that a 2017 refresh is in the cards for the compact Renegade. Meanwhile a new three row model based on the Grand Cherokee will herald the return of the iconic Grand Wagoneer nameplate. Designed to target rivals such as the Cadillac Escalade and the Range Rover, brand CEO Michale Manley claimed that it will be “the most premium Jeep we will have ever made”. This sounds promising considering the great leaps in luxury and quality that many of its models have made in recent years especially the Grand Cherokee and we look forward to seeing what the Grand Wagoneer will have to offer when it eventually makes its debut in 2018.

Wrapping up the proceedings are launches of the all new Grand Cherokee and Wrangler as well as the brand’s 76th anniversary in 2016 which will not only highlight the brand’s 76 years on the market, but also mark the anticipated exit of the mediocre Patriot and Compass CUVs with a new C-segment CUV taking their respective places.

Ram: Like its sister brands above, Ram is also pushing to not only expand pickup truck sales, but also the influence of its commercial vehicle business and the next five years should prove to be a key period for both fronts thanks to several new models, as well as its alliance with Fiat’s “Fiat Professional” brand. The first salvo for 2016 will bring the Ducato’s smaller cousin the Doblo to U.S. buyers where it will be re-badged as the ProMaster City. The ProMaster City aims to lure buyers away from the Ford Transit Connect while also offering Ram buyers a smaller alternative to the Bigger Ducato based ProMaster. A new Fiorino compact van will also be unveiled in 2016 but expect that model (also known as the Citroen Nemo and Peugot Bipper) to remain out of reach of U.S. buyers due to our market’s chilly reception of similarly sized offerings while a refresh of the Ram 1500 set to appear next year, will allow the truck to compete more effectively with the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado as well as the aluminum bodied F-150.

An all new 1500 will appear to replace the refreshed version in 2017, while its more capable HD siblings will also receive a refresh in 2016 before being replaced also by a new redesigned HD lineup in 2018. The commercial models will also receive a balanced mixture of updates with the ProMaster slated to receive a new diesel power-plant to supplement the existing 3.0 liter diesel currently offered while the Ram Chassis Cab will receive a modest update for the 2016 model year which builds up to a crescendo of major updates for not only that line, but also the Heavy Duty and Light Duty lineups for 2017 and 2018 respectively.

This all adds up to a very ambitious plan that should help propel Chrysler and its stable of brands to new-found levels of relevance, as well as allowing the brand to extend its influence to segments that it either abandoned or largely ignored prior to Fiat’s acquisition of the brand (the C-Segment in particular). While the future certainly looks more promising for Chrysler than it did during the dark days of its complete and utter domination by Daimler and later Cerberus, only time will tell whether these five year plans will meet their objectives and goals. We at Autoinfoquest are fans of many aspects of these plans and look forward to seeing the fruits of these efforts in the near future. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for part two of our series where we cover plans for Fiat, Maserati, Ferrari, and Alfa Romeo for the next five years and share our thoughts in particular on the return of Alfa Romeo to the United States.

Kia Reverses Course On New Sports Car Plans

Despite compelling concepts such as the GT four door concept, as well as the GT4 Stinger concept that we raved about earlier this year in Detroit, Kia’s overseas marketing chief Lee Soon-nam now claims that the brand is not ready for a sports car offering, and that it has no plans to officially produce one at this time claiming ” The volume would be smaller and then we cannot enhance the brand image fully” in a statement to the folks at Automotive News.

This new development not only contradicts previous reports of Kia’s consideration of an entry level sports car, but also a prior statement released by Lee himself late last year where he revealed that the company had formal plans to build a small roadster with a target launch date of either 2016 or 2017.

The GT4 Stinger concept in particular appeared to be a veiled showcase of what a production spec Kia sports car would’ve looked like with the final production version perhaps going head to head with iconic rivals such as the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Ford Mustang, as well as the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ Coupes in the hotly contested sports car segment which is primarily dominated by young buyers. In addition to attracting more young people to the brand, it would’ve also served as a welcome “halo” offering in Kia’s lineup luring in new buyers that would’ve either bought the fore-mentioned model, or perhaps choose to spend their hard earned dollars on other members of Kia’s lineup instead which would’ve helped boost sales across the board.

Overall while today’s news may have eliminated the chance of seeing a sports car from Kia anytime soon, that does not mean that the company could reconsider and perhaps add one when the perfect opportunity arises. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on this story as they become available.