The countdown to the unveiling of the flagship of the Lexus line continues with the release of a teaser photo of the 2013 LS sedan. The official debut is scheduled for Monday, July 30, at 8:30 PM Pacific Daylight Tinme (11:30 PM Eastern, 10:30 Central, 9:30 Mountain). Follow the event live on Facebook.
Forget everything you ever thought about station wagons: Mercedes has built what might be the ultimate wagon for the family enthusiast: a special “Edition 1″ CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake with a 557 horsepower V8 engine built by AMG with the help of racing legend Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, a driver for the Mercedes GP Formula One team who is currently sixth in the standings.
The car made its debut at Daimler’s “Night of the Stars” event at Hockenheim on Saturday evening before Sunday’s running of the German Grand Prix (Fernando Alonso won for Ferrari, Schumacher finished seventh and Rosberg was tenth.)
The “Night of the Stars” was presented like a fashion show. First on the runway were DTM drivers Roberto Merhi, Christian Vietoris and Robert Wickens in the new A 250 Sport “engineered by AMG” version of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class. They were followed by DTM and Formula One driver Susie Wolff in the SLK 55 AMG, Ralf Schumacher in the SL65 AMG “45th Anniversary” model, and Gary Paffett and Jamie Green at the wheel of the new G63 AMG SUV.
AMG brand ambassadors David Coulthard and Mika Häkkinen then introduced the first public appearance of the “Edition 1.” In true star fashion the car was driven down the catwalk before stopping on a revolving stage where it remained on display.
The highlight of the special “Edition 1″ is the AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine, which was assembled by Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg during a visit to the Mercedes-AMG facility in Affalterbach last week. For this one time, Schumacher and Rosberg changed AMG’s “one man, one engine” tradition to “one team, one engine”, as they helped to assemble the M157 engine. The fact Schumacher and Rosberg were new on the job shouldn’t be any concern: they worked under the expert guidance of AMG master engine builder Jens Zeitke. Then engine features the signatures of Schumacher, Rosberg and Zeittke.
This one-of-a-kind wagon won’t be on any dealer lot. The special CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake “Edition 1″ will be auctioned off during a TV fundraising event “A Heart for Children,” that will air on December 15, 2012. No idea what the car will bring, but a plain, old, everyday CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake “Edition 1″ will carry a sticker price of €128,639 (about $155,700) when it goes on sale in Germany this October. If that’s a bit rich, a plain, old, everyday CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake is just €117,512.50 (about $142,230), a $13,470 savings!
Honda Fit EV: Honda has launched the first all-electric vehicle that makes economic sense. Not only has it received an EPA rating of a combined mile-per-gallon-equivalency (MPGe) rating of 118 MPGe, and a consumption rating of just 29 kilowatt hours (kWh) per 100 miles, it actually goes for less than a comparably equipped Honda Fit Sport.
Honda has announced a $389.00/month lease program for well-qualified buyers that covers three years and 36,000 miles. Based on the EPA numbers, the monthly cost of electricity for 1,000 miles is $33.35, based on the national average of $0.115 per kilowatt-hour. That’s a total of $422.35 per month for car and power. Compare that to a three-year/36,000-mile lease for the Fit Sport with Navigation that comes out to $385.72/month, according to Honda’s lease calculator. The cost of unleaded gasoline at the current price of $3.547/gallon and the EPA-estimated 31 mpg combined for the Fit Sport with an automatic transmission yields a month fuel cost of $117.76 for a total of $503.48. The Fit EV saves you $81.13 per month or $2,920.69 over the term of the lease. Even better is the fact the electric Fit’s lease includes collision coverage, routine maintenance and roadside assistance for the duration of the lease.
There are a couple of “gotchas:” First, you have to be approved for one of just 1,100 leases that will be offered through October 2014 and Honda mentions “well-qualified” more than once in the fine print. Second, you have to live in California or Oregon or one of six Eastern states to be named later. Your mileage limit is 12,000 miles per year and there’s a $0.20/mile charge for exceeding it and there is no purchase option at the end of the lease.
In many ways, the Fit EV lease is similar to the program offered for the Honda FCX Clarity.
The Fit EV is more than a pretty lease; it has an EPA-estimated range of 82 miles and, if you have the appropriate 240V charging system, it takes only about three hours to fully charge. If you’re using the 110V outlet in your garage, it could take a while longer. Like 12 hours.
The Fit EV has a 92-kilowatt (123 horsepower) coaxial electric motor generating 188 ft-lb of torque mated to the driver-selectable, three-mode drive system adapted from the CR-Z Sport Hybrid. The Fit EV rides on a chassis with a fully-independent suspension. The Fit EV’s 20-kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery has enough capacity to outlast the new Ford Focus Electric (76-miles), Nissan Leaf (73 miles), and Mitsubishi MiEV (62-miles).
“Just as important as the industry-leading fuel-efficiency and fast recharging time, as a Honda, the 2013 Fit EV will be an absolute kick to drive,” said Steve Center, vice president of the American Honda Environmental Business Development Office.
Inside, the seating surfaces for up to five are covered with bio-fabric. Apparently Honda hasn’t gotten the news that EV buyers prefer leather. There are illuminated meters that keep the driver informed about the charge level, battery usage and driving range. The meters change color depending on the driving mode selected (green, white or red).
You can’t have a battery-powered car without lots of battery-powered electronics: the Fit EV comes with a telematics system allowing the driver to be distracted by a smartphone, personal computer or interactive remote. In fact, the driver doesn’t even have to be in the car to use the systems: with the Fit EV smartphone and computer applications, the driver can remotely view the vehicle’s state of charge, initiate charging and activate the air conditioning and heater, to pre-condition the vehicle while the car is still connected to the charging station, which is actually a pretty neat idea as pre-cooling or heating the car while it’s plugged in will save a large drain on the battery: it’s easier for the system to maintain a temperature than it is to achieve it. The mobile application and website also allows the owner to set charging notifications and alerts to get the best utility rates. The Fit EV comes equipped with a standard Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System that can help locate public charging stations.
Smart ForTwo Electric Drive: After a facilities upgrade costing more than $225 million, Daimler AG began producing the new Smart Fortwo electric drive today at the Smart Hambach plant in France.
“The new smart electric drive and the expansion of the Hambach plant are two important milestones for the future of smart”, said Dr. Annette Winkler, Smart’s senior executive. “With the new smart electric drive we are further expanding our leading position in urban mobility and making fully electric driving accessible to everyone. For this – and for the successor generation to the current smart – we are making significant investments in the Hambach site. And I am convinced that this is money extremely well invested.”
Dr. Joachim Betker, Head of the smart plant in Hambach, emphasised the ground-breaking integration of the electric version in the production process: “For the first time we have realised the consistent and perfectly integrated production of models with electric drive and those with combustion engines. In production, we are now optimally utilising the smart vehicle concept’s eminent potential for different drive systems.”
The Smart EV has a 55kW electric motor good for a 0-60 km/h (0 – 37 mph) time of 4.8 seconds and top speed of 125 km/h (78 mph). The the motor is powered by a 17.6 kWh battery gives the Smart EV a range of about 145 kilometers (90 miles) in city traffic. We’re not sure if there is perhaps some big difference in the cars going to Germany and the cars coming here, but the Smart USA website says the 0-60 km/h time is 6.5 seconds and that the car is electronically limited to 96 km/h (60 mph). In an urban environment at warm temperatures, the EPA’s LA4 test cycle indicate the Smart’s range is up to 98 miles on a full charge. That drops to 63 miles in combined city and highway driving. Of course, with a top speed of 60, highway driving is likely going to be limited, mostly by the driver’s chutzpah and/or other motorists’ patience.
Since the Smart EV is built with components from Daimler AG and joint ventures with Bosch (EM-motive) and Evonik (Deutsche ACCUmotive), Daimler says it is the first truly European electric car.
The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive goes on sale in Germany this summer and is expected to begin arriving in the U.S. in late fall. No U.S. prices have been set at this time, but German buyers have a couple of options: they can buy the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive for the equivalent of $23,650 for the Coupe or $27,500 for the Cabriolett and rent the battery for $81.33/month. Or they can just buy the whole shebang for $29,630 for the coupe or about $33,500 for the Cabriolet. It should be noted those prices include Germany’s 19 percent value-added tax.
The fall arrival will actually be the second time a Smart electric car has landed in the U.S. Daimler had a test program for the battery-powered Smart last year. 250 were shipped over and leased for a whopping $599/month, about the same that Honda charges for the larger fuel-cell-powered FCX Clarity. With leases like the one offered for the Honda Fit and those being offered on other competing electric cars, Daimler may need to rethink its pricing strategies.
As we predicted in an earlier post, the new “U.S.-designed sedan” Toyota teased us with is the new 2013 Toyota Avalon, which was introduced today at the 2012 New York International Auto Show
The new Avalon is almost an American car. It was styled by the talented folks at Toyota’s Calty Design Research facilities in Southern California and Michigan. Engineering development was spearheaded by the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the car will be built at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.
The company says that, true to the direction set out by Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation, the Avalon’s look is a sample of the future design language that will be seen in future Toyota vehicles.
The new Avalon’s exterior styling flows well, with a lowered beltline and reduced overhangs front and rear. Flared front fenders and reduced body-to-tire gap frame new 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheel and tire combinations fill the wheel well to enhance the vehicle’s dynamic exterior expression.
Underneath the new, sleeker skin, the Avalon has received structural and chassis improvements to enhance ride quality, straight-line stability and handling. Additional strategically placed welds, improved body bracing, and high-strength steel in key areas create a stiffer chassis and improve suspension performance.
The new Avalon offers owner three drive modes: Normal, Eco, and Sport. Eco changes throttle response and A/C power usage to help improve fuel economy. Sport mode enhances throttle response and steering effort is weighted from center. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters offer a more sporting drive while in the D or S Mode.
The 2013 Avalon offers an upgraded interior, as well. The front seat’s hip point has been lowered slightly to create more headroom and there’s additional side bolstering for better support. Structural components of the sunroof and the headliner design have been optimized and a concave dash panel design create a feeling of roominess. Even with the reduced overhang, the Avalon’s trunk is now 1.6 cubic feet larger than before.
|Key Specifications||2013 Avalon||2012 Avalon|
|Overall Length||195.3 in. (4960 mm)||197.6 in. (5020 mm)|
|Overall Width||72.2 in. (1835 mm)||72.8 in. (1850 mm)|
|Overall Height||57.5 in. (1460 mm)||58.5 in. (1485 mm)|
|Wheelbase||111 in. (2820 mm)||111 in. (2820 mm)|
|Front Tread||62.6 in. (1590 mm)||62.2 in. (1580 mm)|
|Rear Tread||62.2 in. (1580 mm)||61.6 in. (1565 mm)|
|Front Overhang||38.8 in. (985 mm)||39.4 in. (1000 mm)|
|Rear Overhang||45.5 in. (1155 mm)||47.2 in. (1200 mm)|
|Curb Weight||3,497 lbs. (estimated)||3,616 lbs. (Avalon model)|
Last night in New York City, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn took the wraps off the new, fifth-generation, 2013 Altima sedan, calling it the “most innovative Nissan Altima ever.”
“The new Altima hits the consumer bulls-eye dead center by delivering a balance of style, performance and value that will continue to make it one of the most popular cars in America,” said Ghosn.
Nissan has a lot riding on the latest generation of its most popular car: the Altima has been outselling the Honda Accord since last October and was just 1,517 sales behind the segment-leading Toyota Camry in March. Nissan has sold 96,630 Altimas in the first three months of 2012.
According to factory specs, the new Altima gets 182 horses from the base 2.5-liter four, five more than the current version, and a big jump in fuel economy. The EPA says the current Altima gets 23 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and a combined 27 mpg. Nissan is targeting a best-in-segment 27/38/31 for the 2013 Altima with the four. There’s also a targeted increase for the 3.5-liter V6, currently rated at 20/27/23. Nissan wants to get 22/30/25 from the 2013 model.
The new Altima is 0.8 inches longer, 1.3 inches wides and an unnoticeable 0.1 inch lower. The wheelbase remain the same.
The big news is on the inside: Nissan calls it the “Smart cockpit” and it features soft-touch materials and premium finishes on all trim levels, sound-deadening comparable to premium cars, and, of course, the latest technology. A noteworthy addition is NASA-inspired “zero-gravity” seats engineered for enhanced comfort for a wide variety of body types.
The Altima goes on sale at Nissan dealers nationwide in July at a starting M.S.R.P. of $21,500. The new Pathfinder launches later this fall.
Before unveiling the Altima, Ghosn and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced the Nissan NV 200 “Taxi of Tomorrow” that will become the new standard New York City cab in 2014. In the following video, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn talks about the new NV200 cab.
Interior features planned for the NV200 Taxi include: a large cargo/luggage area; a transparent roof panel providing a unique view of the city; sliding doors with entry step and grab handles; USB charging access for passengers; independent, passenger controlled rear-seat heat/air conditioning with a grape phenol-coated air filter to improve cabin air quality; Enhanced interior materials to help passenger cabin smell fresher and breathable, anti-microbial, easy-to-clean and environmentally friendly seat upholstery.