Monthly Archives: December 2015

Ford Patents Rear Wheel Based Unicycle, Raises The Bar On Strange Ideas

We have seen our fair share of strange ideas here at Autoinfoquest but a recent patent from Ford could be the wildest idea we have ever seen, and could also add a new lease on life for a classic mode of transportation.

Featured as part of a recent patent filing, Ford’s urban mobility system would allow drivers to detach a rear wheel from their car and transform it into an electric unicycle. According to the patent, drivers would remove the rear wheel using a jack that is built into the car. The wheel would feature a mechanism to easily remove it from the suspension, and allow occupants to mount a unicycle frame. A motor on the wheelhub of the unicycle helps provide power. while a built in stabilization system helps keep the unicycle balanced under its own power. The unicycle could also feature a rudimentary interface and several buttons which would resemble what is found in many of today’s automobiles.

The patent also goes into depth on the potential uses for such a contraption with the document even citing one potential use for the unicycle ” As one example of this use, the driver may travel to a work office located in an urban setting congested by commuters by first driving the vehicle to a satellite parking lot in a less congested location spaced from the office and then driving the self propelled unicycle from the vehicle to the office.” This scenario certainly has us scratching our heads but it would make some sense in downtown areas where parking and congestion can be annoying headaches. However, with very few people making the trek to work on unicycles, Ford may have much bigger plans for this technology, and could make the system work for use as a bicycle which is a much more conventional form of alternative transportation, and would be able to move quicker and into more places than a unicycle.

Production however will most likely not occur with the technology possibly making its appearance either at an auto show or a consumer electronics show as a concept. Ford has also issued other patents that have yet to see the approval for production including reconfigurable seating for autonomous vehicles, and puddle lights that project the current state of charge of an electric vehicle’s battery on the ground below.

TVR Previews 2017 V8 Powered Sports Car

It has been a long time since we have heard any details regarding the recently revived TVR brand as well as its upcoming sports car offering, but a new letter released by TVR Chairman Les Edgar has revealed major details to fans and potential customers as well as a sneak preview of the mysterious new model.

The teaser image only showcases a side profile view, but the basic profile of the vehicle does hint at a futuristic take on classic TVR cues especially in regards to the signature Sagaris-esque headlights. The letter claims that the vehicle was designed and conceptualized using “the very latest state of the art CAD software,” while the designers have simultaneously tweaked the overall design using “old fashioned seating bucks and scale clay models.” A highlight that will please many TVR fans is that the new vehicle will feature “the world’s first affordable high volume carbon fiber chassis structure bringing Formula One materials and technology within reach of the everyday motorist.” this particular chassis was designed by the folks at Gordon Murray Design, and will be available to customers as a no cost option.

Confirming prior statements, TVR revealed that the model will still be powered by a Cosworth sourced V8 engine, but TVR remained mum on what kind of performance figures it will generate. Separate reports suggested that the engine is capable of producing between 450 and 500 horsepower with the final figure alternating depending on the application used with TVR revealing that the car can be equipped as a road car, a track oriented machine, or a state of the art missile that can tackle Le Mans type endurance racing.

While we will have to wait until the car has reached a stage where it can be extensively tested in both worlds, Edgar did reveal that development of the V8 is proceeding as planned with engineers already firing up the first engine and testing it on a dyno. While Edgar’s statement did not reveal any final figures, he went on further claiming “the power and torque figures and delivery characteristics are very much on target.” This is good news, and could mean that the engine will allow the unnamed model to compete with established sports car rivals while also arriving at a price point that is accessible to more enthusiasts.

With the updates proceeding at their current pace, the next major update will most likely be released sometime in 2016 and will include more detailed information about the location of the factory, the final design of the car, as well as detailed performance figures including horsepower, torque and acceleration figures, as well as the official top speed. We are eager to see the long term prospects of the revived TVR, and whether they can learn from the mistakes that doomed the original TVR motor company. In particular we are curious to see if the new company can improve build quality which was a notorious aspect of past TVR models especially during the early 2000s.

Mercedes Unveils Santa Sleigh Configurator

Looking for a way to get the kids involved in helping Santa that does not involve monitoring NORAD’s radar system to make sure their presents are on the way? Mercedes Benz has unveiled the next best thing, a special configurator that allows them to help craft a special sleigh for St. Nick.

Visitors to the website will have the choice of three different Sleigh styles a futuristic looking Silver arrow design, an F105 Concept derived sleigh, or the tried and true G-Class spec sleigh. Once you have picked a sleigh, you’ll get to choose from several different Christmas themed hues including Pine Needle Green, Reindeer Red, and Silent Night Black. The extent of the customization available even extends to the sleigh “runners” with  three different options (Avant-garde, Exclusive, and AMG) to choose from.

Reflecting the changes that have occurred in automotive propulsion during the past few years, the sleigh can be powered with three different power sources. A base 4-Matic setup features four reindeer, and represents the traditional view of Santa and his steeds. A mid range “Hybrid” options features two fuel efficient horses hooked up to the two rearward reindeer. However our favorite option (and the one that brings out your inner Krampus) has to be the top level AMG choice (pictured) that features four steroid infused dark reindeer complete with glowing red eyes. Look for that particular choice to come equipped with reinforced present containing straps to help keep errant packages from exiting the sleigh at high speeds.

Wrapping things up is the expected suite of optional equipment with the sleigh boasting several pieces of equipment. They include a Safety Plus Package (a guardian angel), a navigation system (a shooting star), and an intelligent lighting system (a gnome holding a flashlight). Once the sleigh is configured to their liking, visitors can post their creations to popular social media websites, or text it to friends and family. We have posted a link to the configurator here, and you can also see Autoinfoquest’s rendition of Santa’s sleigh below.

 

Mercedes Sleigh

Dubai Based Jannarelly Previews Retro Inspired Design-1 Roadster

The Shelby Cobra is a tough automotive act to follow, but Dubai based Jannarelly Motors reckons it has just the thing, showing off a set of computer generated sketches of it first production model.

Formally known as the Design-1, the 152 inch long roadster takes the majority of its inspiration from 1950’s and 1960’s era offerings with the front fascia sharing a subtle resemblance with the fore-mentioned Cobra.

In addition to its stylish lines, the Design-1 will also float like a butterfly yet sting like a bee thanks to its 1,565 lb curb weight which is reminiscent of some Lotus models. The company claims that this is possible thanks to the use of carbon fiber, fiberglass, and other featherweight 1c3187_27a9fe54977b4ae49710708d1a459f5bcomponents in the construction of the car. The sketches also revealed that it will not be initially equipped with a formal windshield or a convertible top, but look for both items to be eventually added to comply with safety standards.

Unlike its V8 powered ancestors, performance for the Design-1 will come from a 3.5 liter Nissan sourced V6 that has been tweaked to produce 304 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. A six speed manual transmission is the sole choice available, and allows the Design-1 to make the sprint to 60 mph in four seconds, before topping out at 130 mph. While the loss of two cylinders will undoubtedly bring back flashbacks of the Plymouth/Chrysler Prowler, it should be able to keep up with other tracks day weapons out on the racetrack.

Pricing will also mirror that of rivals with the base model starting at $55,000 before options are factored into the equation. Buyers interested in owning a Design-1 will have to deposit $5,000 to Jannarelly to secure a spot on the waiting list. The company plans to build only Design-1 side views30 examples, with the bulk of them most likely ending up in the hands of Dubai motorists. However, the company hopes to also generate interest in both Europe and the United States and could either send some of the initial allotment or expand production to cover those markets if necessary.

 

 

Nissan Admits Defeat, Pulls GT-R LM Racecar From Competition

After a shockingly poor showing in various racing events this season, Nissan has thrown in the towel revealing that it is pulling the plug on its groundbreaking but flawed GT-R LM NISMO racecar.

The Japanese company initially planned to exploit a loophole in the regulations when it entered the endurance racing grid last season. Nissan put its fortunes on a radical front engine/front drive layout while the rest of its competition stuck with conventional rear mounted configurations. The idea behind this switch was to improve air flow while also enhancing aerodynamics with more downforce on the rear wheels.

However, the plan did not work, and the results were disappointing at best. All three cars under performed in their qualifying runs at the 2015 24 hrs of Le Mans, and were so slow that they  were issued penalties for being too slow for their class. This streak of penalties relegated them to the back of the prototype class grid prior to the race. Things only went downhill from there during the race itself in June, with only one of the cars successfully finishing the race. All three cars also ran with their hybrid systems only functioning at half power, which greatly affected the amount of muscle that they could generate. The car’s performance in the World Endurance Championship series (WEC) during 2015 was also less than spectacular with all three vehicles failing to keep up with established rivals in the LMP1 class.

Nissan revealed in its announcement that it put everything it had into making the cars succeed stating “The teams worked diligently to bring the vehicles up to the desired performance levels.” “However, the company concluded that the program would not be able to reach its ambitions and decided to focus on developing  its long term racing strategies.”

While its foray into the factory backed racing business went horribly wrong, Nissan will still be highly active in the WEC but in lieu of fielding any future racing entries, the company will serve as an engine supplier for the organization going forward. Hopefully we will see a new entry from Nissan in the not too distant future. As the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built over night” and perhaps a similar mantra will help keep Nissan’s dreams afloat.

 

 

 

All Electric i6 Sedan Arriving In 2020?

BMW’s i division got off to a strong start with the introduction of the i3 city car, and the i8 supercar, however, offering only two models will not cut it for the brand’s survival, which is why rumors of a third i badged model have us intrigued.

According to a report released by Automobile Magazine, the third model would be an all electric sedan known tentatively as the i6. The i6 would be roughly the size of the current generation 3-Series, but ride on an all new platform that would be specifically designed for it. Like its two brand cousins, the i6 would be made largely out of carbon fiber and other weight saving materials to offset the considerable mass generated by the battery pack.

BMW is expected to offer the i6 in several different variants with base models using a two motor setup with higher grade trims using a more potent four motor arrangement that would feature a bigger battery to boost driving range. All versions of the i6 are expected to feature a state of the art lithium polymer battery pack that is expected to generate more energy than current packs while also costing less to build in the long term.

If these rumors do turn out to be true, look for BMW to possibly unveil the i6 sometime in 2019, with sales beginning the year after. It would be targeted towards the Tesla Model 3 but the i6 would also face an indirect challenge from the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt. The Model 3 however will be its biggest challenge ,with the car expected to debut next year at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.

 

Electric Corvette On The Way? New “E Ray”Trademark Sparks Rumors

A recent trademark filing discovered earlier today, appears to hint at the possibility of an all new electric Corvette model tentatively dubbed the E Ray. It is also interesting to see whether it would be based on the existing

The filing was discovered by Chris Doane Automotive who subsequently posted it on their Facebook page. The filing itself is very basic, and only covers “Motor land vehicles, namely automobiles” and does not formally detail a configuration or other technical details regarding the mystery vehicle.

However the E Ray nameplate does spark a wide range of scenarios, and could hint at either an all electric Vette, or a model that has some form of electric assist feature. It will also be interesting to see whether it would be based on a front engine layout or a mid engine layout with the latter option being teased time and time again through out the Vette’s iconic history. A mid-engine layout would also allow the car to compete directly with the Audi R8 e-tron.

Prior filings such as “Manta Ray” and “Zora” have sparked similar rumors but ultimately either ended up only being concept vehicles, or unrelated renewals. This one stands out though because of not only its explicit nature, but also because it includes the Corvette moniker a clear hint that something big is planned that could hint at possible production.

Cadillac Admits Defeat, Declares ELR “Big Disappointment”

Following a promising debut as a concept, and the consistently low sales that have come to dominate the legacy of the production ELR, Cadillac has admitted that the model has failed to live up to its expectations and succeed as a halo model for the brand.

“Put it this way the ELR’s been a massive disappointment there’s no denying it” stated Cadillac marketing chief Uwe Ellinghaus in an interview with Automobile Magazine. Ellinghaus revealed that the ELR has been a big fiasco for the company literally from the start of sales because it is a niche model that is aimed at a relatively small segment of the market. The shrinkage of this segment has put the squeeze on the ELR with four door coupes outperforming traditional two doors in sales especially over the past couple of years .

The ELR was also hobbled by its initial $75,000 MSRP which put it against offerings with more performance and luxury equipment. A $9,000 price drop was part of a recent string of 2016 updates, and helped lower it to $65,000, but the discount did little to curb the model’s sales skid. This was especially apparent when Chevrolet unveiled the current generation Volt which brought a newer iteration of the Voltec system and a new platform to the EV. In contrast, The Caddy uses the previous generation Volt’s platform and Voltec technology albeit with minor updates to differentiate it from the Chevy. Ellinghaus was quick to defend the current pricing ladder for the model, claiming that the ELR comes loaded to the gills with technology and luxury especially when compared to the decidedly more mass market Volt.

While this admission means that a second generation ELR will not be in the cards anytime soon, it does not mean that Cadillac has thrown in the towel when it comes to adding electrification to its other models. A plug-in hybrid version of the upcoming CT6 sedan will be introduced later this year, and Ellinghaus confirmed a separate set of plans that will see nearly every model in the Cadillac range feature a gasoline-electric hybrid variant over the next several years.

Ellinghaus also offered his candid thoughts on the future of plug-in hybrid setups with the magazine claiming that the plug-in will eventually become the next all-wheel drive. “Some will want it and take the box and the price list, and others not.” While it will be interesting to see whether Ellinghaus’s prediction comes true or not, the fact that plug-in technology has become a very important avenue for automakers cannot be ignored, and look for the technology to steadily improve over the next few decades.

Infiniti Spices Up 2016 Q50 With New Engines, Sport Model

With the Q50 sedan being a relatively new offering, Infiniti has unveiled the updated 2016 version which spices up the driving experience with a suite of new engines and a new performance model.

The bulk of the updates can be found under the hood where an all new 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged V6 makes itself at home. Replacing the aging 3.7 liter V6, it makes 300 horsepower, and is a noticeable upgrade over the old V6. However for buyers that crave 2016 Infiniti Q50even more power, they can opt for the all new Q50 Red Sport. While the name may not be the most compelling moniker ever created, it does make up for it by offering  slick red paint, and an evolution of the 3.0 liter V6 which brings 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. This puts the Red Sport in the same elite bracket as rivals from BMW and Lexus.

The base Q50 meanwhile comes with a 2.0 liter turbocharged 208 horsepower four cylinder engine that also makes a respectable 258 lb-ft of torque. All three engines come equipped with a seven speed automatic transmission and standard issue rear wheel drive.2016 Infiniti Q50 The transmission also comes equipped with steering wheel mounted shift paddles to help drivers take full control of the driving experience.  Buyers in snowier climates can opt for an optional all-wheel drive system to add some extra grip to their purchase.

As for the hybrid model, it carries over virtually unchanged which means the familiar 3.5 liter V6 and 50-kilowatt motor are present and accounted for with the combo producing 360 horsepower.

Another key update is an upgraded version of Infiniti’s Direct Adaptive Steering. Unlike the older unit, this iteration can make up to 1,000 adjustments per second and works hand in hand with an all new Dynamic Digital Suspension system (DDS) that allows the driver to quickly alter the firmness of the suspension at the flick of a switch. The system also features software that scans the movement of the shock absorbers to help soak up bumps and road imperfections.

Look for the 2016 Infiniti Q50 to make its official debut in January at the North American 2016 Infiniti Q50International Auto Show in Detroit. After it makes its debut under the lights, it will go on sale across the U.S in the middle part of 2016. Pricing information and formal performance figures will not be released until it’s formal launch, but look for these figures to be on par with other established rivals.

 

Mercedes Teases 2017 SLC Ahead Of NAIAS

With Mercedes-Benz unveiling updates for the SL and the recently unveiled SL65 AMG roadsters, the company has unveiled the last piece of the roadster puzzle the 2017 SLC ahead of its formal debut in Detroit.

The SLC shares much of the same basic profile that the old SLK had, but receives updated styling including a new front fascia that features a revised front grille, slicker headlights, and a revamped lower bumper. The rear fascia in contrast retrains much of the old Mercedes-Benz SLC300SLK’s look, but new tail lights help spice things up somewhat for 2017. While the end result is more of a refreshing versus an outright redesign, the updates do help bring the car in line with the firm’s new styling language, and should help the car stand out against rivals such as the Porsche Boxster.

The SLC nameplate also shares ties with an iconic version of the R107 SL that was built from 1971-1981. While that particular iteration was purely a coupe, it’s nice to see Mercedes take this particular nameplate in a unique direction, while still playing on its connection to the past.

To help stay ahead of both rivals and father time, Mercedes engineers equipped the SLC with the company’s Dynamic Select Technology that allows the driver to choose from five distinct driving modes, incorporates automatic braking, and even comes equipped with a Mercedes-AMG SLC43seven inch color screen that houses the company’s COMMAND system. The list of optional extras is extensive, and includes rear parking sensors, and the Magic Sky Control system that’s borrowed from the bigger SL model.

The switch from SLK to SLC has also helped simplify the lineup with the SLC now coming in only two trims versus the three that defined the old SLK. The base SLC300 uses the current 2.0 liter four cylinder engine that makes 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. These figures allow the SLC300 to make the sprint to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds before topping out at 130 mph. A nine speed transmission is the sole choice available, and it sends power to the rear wheels.

The old SLK350 was axed as part of the updates, so buyers looking for a mid level SLC will have to step up to the all new Mercedes-AMG SL43. The new model picks up where the old SLK55 AMG left off, and shelves the old 5.5 liter V8 in favor of an all new 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged V6 that makes 340 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. While some buyers Mercedes-AMG SLC43will miss the sound that only a V8 can provide, the V6 gets better fuel economy, and is lighter than the old 5.5 liter. The decision to axe the SLK55 was significant since the 5.5 liter was the last naturally aspirated V8 the tuning house built. The V6 does make a compelling effort at filling the SLK55’s shoes with the car making the dash to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds which is a mere 0.1 seconds slower than the V8. It also boasts a higher 155 mph top speed and the same nine speed automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive standard.

Look for the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC to share the spotlight with the all new E-Class when they make their respective debuts in Detroit in January. Pricing will be released closer to the SLC’s official launch, but look for it to only increase slightly versus the outgoing SLK’s pricing ladder. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for live coverage of the 2016 North American International Auto Show, as well as a comprehensive first look of the 2017 SLC.