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The Volkswagen Cross Coupe concept making its debut at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show (Image: G...

The opening day of the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show has seen Volkswagen unveil its Cross Coupé crossover concept. Featuring a long wheelbase and short overhangs, the all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid is visually a cross between a four-door coupé and a compact SUV. The vehicle also represents the first public outing of Volkswagen's new modular transverse matrix (Modularer Querbaukasten or MQB) platform, which is intended to form the basis of a variety of different models (including the upcoming Golf and Audi A3), allowing the use of the same set of components while providing the flexibility for individual models to have a variety of wheelbase, track and external dimensions.  Read More

Toyota finally appears ready to play its hand in the autonomous vehicle revolution

Toyota is to show an autonomous (self-driving) Prius at Tokyo Motor Show. Dubbed the Toyota AVOS (Automatic Vehicle Operation System), the car will be available for members of the public to take "back seat" rides at the show, demonstrating first hand how the Prius can avoid obstacles, be summoned from a parking garage and park itself. There will also be a demonstration of communications-linked electric cars, scooters and electric-assisted bicycles including what is expected to be Yamaha's first production electric scooter.  Read More

There is no doubt that autonomous capabilities will eventually permeate every aspect of pe...

A thinktank headed by Volkswagen Group Research has re-conceptualized the delivery vehicle and come up with a thought-provoking commercial EV concept vehicle named the eT! The eT! drives semi-autonomously on voice commands such as "follow me" and "come to me" and the driver can also steer from the passenger side using a joystick. There's an electric sliding door that opens in two stages for quick walk-on access, reducing the need for walking around the vehicle. For even quicker turnaround, the passenger side features a standing seat.  Read More

Volkswagen is set to debut the Beetle R, a high-performance design study of its existing B...

If you're one of the people who bemoan how Volkswagen's "new" Beetle has strayed from the original's simple, utilitarian nature ... well, you might want to stop reading now. The German automaker is debuting its high-performance Beetle R Concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week. Currently still a design study, it was created at the Volkswagen R GmbH facility, which in the past was the birthplace of R versions of the Golf and Scirocco. The Beetle R is based on the existing turbocharged Beetle 2.0 TSI and sports some unique design features.  Read More

Volkswagen's NILS - a single-seater electric sportscar for the road

Volkswagen has once more produced a minimalist and frugal commuter vehicle for its home auto show in Frankfurt, and this one has us quite excited. NILS is an F1-inspired single-seat electric concept with an aluminum space frame, gull-wing doors and thanks to its extreme light weight (460 kg), small frontal area, it offers sports car performance at speeds up to 130 km/h from a small 25kW electric motor. The electric motor's 130 Nm of torque offers rapid acceleration and although the range is limited to just 65 kilometers (40 miles), it recharges from empty in just two hours from a conventional 230-volt electrical outlet.  Read More

Volkswagen has presented a new technology called Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP) which allows s...

Despite research by automakers such as Audi and events such as DARPA's Grand Challenge, we're still waiting for fully autonomous cars to chauffeur us about town. Volkswagen has presented a new system called Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP), which is a link between existing driver assist technologies and completely automated vehicles. While still being monitored by the driver, TAP allows semi-automatic driving on a highway at speeds of up to 130 km/h (80 mph).  Read More

The go anywhere Aqua hybrid hovercraft concept

This futuristic, zero emissions hovercraft concept won't be gracing our wilderness zones any time soon but it definitely merits a mention. Dubbed the "Aqua Volkswagen," the concept was created by Zhang Yuhan, a 21 year old graduate in Industrial Design at Xihua University, China. The concept is a finalist submission in the CDN China Car Awards, a competition created to reward the creativity of young designers. The brief for entrants was to create a "Chinese off-road vehicle" by Volkswagen with "go-anywhere" capabilities to tackle the vast expanse of wild countryside in China.  Read More

The HomePlug GP standard allows EVs to communicate over the Internet via their charging po...

Electric vehicles (EVs) may be set to charge smarter following an announcement by the HomePlug Powerline Alliance at Computex 2011. The body responsible for the compliance and certification of the HomePlug powerline communications standard said that German automakers Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen have thrown their support behind the HomePlug GP (Green PHY) standard that will allow electric vehicles to be connected via existing home electrical wiring to a home network or send and receive data over the internet via the vehicles' charging ports. This will not only allow EVs to intelligently take advantage of lower cost, off-peak electricity, but will also allow for remote checks of the vehicle's systems and battery condition.  Read More

Fiat twin cylinder 875cc engine wins International Engine of the Year

Fiat’s new TwinAir engine has scooped the 2011 International Engine of the Year competition, winning the major gong for engine of the year, plus three other awards including the Best New Engine 2011, Best Green Engine 2011 and Best Engine of less than 1,000 cc. The twin cylinder 875 cc engine is currently only available in a turbocharged 85 bhp configuration in the Fiat 500 and will soon also be available in the Chrysler Ypsilon, but non-turbo 65 bhp, turbo 105 bhp and 80 bhp turbo bi-fuel versions are all due this year. The TwinAir’s most distinguishing technological feature is the electro-hydraulic valve control, and a balancing countershaft to reduce vibration. Interestingly, nine of the twelve awards went to turbocharged engines.  Read More

Volkswagen's third generation Beetle

The new Beetle greeted audiences across the world in a truly global launch today. The “people’s car” entered its third generation simultaneously in Shanghai, Berlin and New York, with 22.5 million units sold over 73 years. The new Beetle comes with a choice of three engines: a more fuel-efficient version of the 2.5L five cylinder petrol engine, a 2.0L TDI and a 2.0L TSI turbocharged petrol engine, the latter two offered with an optional six-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission. The sporty 2.0L TSI also comes with an XDS cross (limited-slip) differential which electronically monitors input from various wheel sensors and, in the event of wheel spin, feeds additional torque to the wheels with most traction. The newest Beetle is 3.3 inches wider and six inches longer and will hit showrooms in North America in September, Europe in October and Asia next February.
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