It’s nice to see that mass-market daily drivers aren’t the only vehicles going electric. Improvements in battery and materials technologies have opened the door for high performance electric vehicles like the Tesla Roadster
, Li-ion Motor’s Inizio
, Mercedes Benz’s all electric SLS AMG E-Cell Gullwing
and Audi’s e-tron series
, just to name a few. Joining the expanding all-electric sportscar showroom is the Artega SE (Sports Electric) from Germany-based automaker Artega, which can go from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of over 250 km/h (155 mph).
It’s extraordinary what pops up in the in-box each week. Those with a keen eye for fashion will note that the picture is from the sixties – the Ford Comuta was a concept presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1967. It was all-electric, had a top speed of 40 mph and a range of 40 miles, and that was 40 years ago. The upcoming electric Ford Focus has more than double the range (160 km) and double the top speed of 84 mph (135 km/h), but surely the Comuta is worth digging out of the archives for a second look. With modern motors and advanced controllers and high density batteries, the Comuta might be quite suitable for European cities such as London where road speeds haven’t progressed much since the horse and cart.
Fancy a Porsche Cayenne crew-cab ute (1), a tastefully-elongated Audi R8 (2) or maybe a stretched Bentley (3)? How about an Aston Martin shooting break (4), a Toyota Landcruiser that seats an extra three people (5), or perhaps an altered roofline, respectfully modified or fully armored … well, anything? Xenatec is one of the places where people go when they have lofty desires and a matching bank balance. The company is now breaking out of its traditional custom niche and entering production of a 100-only limited edition EUR675,000 Xenatec Coupe (6 & 7) that captures the spirit of the many mouth-watering Maybach coupes across time (9) including the famous Exelero (8).
We’re a little non-plussed on Porsche’s announcement of a reconstructed Semper Vivus, which it is claiming was presented at the Paris Show of 1900. There’s a video of the construction of the vehicle, but the scant info available is at odds with previous Porsche historic information on the Lohner Porsche
and the normally fastidious Porsche press department hasn’t issued any details of the Semper Vivus yet. The Semper Vivus was a series electric hybrid with its two engines charging the batteries and Porsche electric hub motors delivering the power. It must be said the Porsche execs looked anything but comfortable driving the Semper on stage.
Christian von Koenigsegg has once again created a hypercar of the highest order – the new Agera R is capable of approaching 400 km/h and features so much innovation that we’re not going to even attempt to squeeze it all into the introductory paragraph. The 5 litre V8 bi-turbo engine is the lightest and most compact hypercar engine in the world, and produces 1100 hp on E85 bio fuel with peak torque of 1200 Nm spread over over a 3300 rpm rev range. It’s most notable feature though, is a Thule Roof Box which ensures you can take all your gear as well as having a show car with the standard roof when you get there.
There is no greater accolade than to be judged the finest by your peers. This year the car design fraternity has delivered an overwhelming verdict for the concept design of the year to the Pininfarina – 40% of all the voters (all car designers) voted for the Pininfarina 2uettottanta ahead of some quite outstanding competition in the form of the Jaguar C-X75
and Renault DeZir
. The Car Design of the Year 2010 Production category gong went to Range Rover's Evoque
ahead of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Audi A7.
Well, it may not be able to fly, but it is nonetheless a car with wings ... or in this case, winglets
. Unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show
, the Saab PhoeniX concept car pays homage to the automaker's roots in aviation with roof-mounted winglets designed to channel airflow from the sides of the car and across its rear deck, thereby reducing lift forces without increasing drag. Other notable features include butterfly opening doors, stalk-mounted rearward cameras, an electrically-driven rear axle and Saab's new upgradable Android-based IQon
entertainment and communications system.
In the 1970's, top of the line in-car entertainment systems consisted of a quadraphonic eight-track audio system pumping out music stored on cartridges – and maybe a strobe light. Since then, CD, DVD and Blu-ray players
, touchscreens, integrated smartphone connectivity, GPS systems and more have all found their way into automobiles to provide increasingly powerful in-car infotainment systems. Saab
is now looking to bring the versatility and personalization capabilities of Google's Android operating system to its vehicles with the development of its IQon infotainment concept that will allow users to download applications, online services and multi-media functions through a Saab IQon store.
Volkswagen has had two of the most loved models in the history of the automobile, both originally built on the same chassis. It's not surprising then, that the company keeps reprising them, bringing their relevance into focus. The latest evolution of the iconic Microbus/Kombi wagon surfaced in Geneva
. The new 'Bulli' concept offers a flexible layout, seating for six, a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery, an 85 kW electric motor with 260 Nm torque,140 km/h (87 mph) top speed and a range of 300 km (186 miles). There's still not enough range just yet for a serious escape vehicle – if there's no electricity available where you're going, you're on a 90 mile leash – but suitable as an urban electric all-purpose vehicle.
Growing Indian powerhouse Tata emphatically announced itself a player in European personal mobility at the Geneva Motor Show
when it announced the Tata Pixel, a car built for European cities based on the Tata Nano
. Tata claims the Pixel to be "the most package efficient four-seater in the world". The company's use of high-tech in the new vehicle includes connected services and Tata's own human-machine interface (HMI) concept, an infinitely variable transmission from Torotrak and a 1.2 liter turbo diesel offering 3.4 l/100km, but its biggest point-of-difference is that it is ultra maneuverable thanks to moveable wheels which give it a turning circle of just 2.6 meters.