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Blue Hybrid Concepts Reveal Hyundai’s Direction

The 2010 Paris Motor Show has offered a number of interesting first time reveals, vehicles just now hitting the market and others planned for release over the next 3-4 years. Major auto shows are always good indicators where the market is headed and which vehicles we’ll be driving a few years out.

Korea’s Hyundai Motors is on a tear, rising from the eleventh largest automaker in the world in 2000 to the fourth largest manufacturer in 2010. The company has improved its image and has expanded its product lines, building cars which offer more content and are priced slightly less than what its competitors are offering.

Paris Motor Show

In Paris, the two vehicles creating much of the buzz for Hyundai are a pair of concepts. Concept vehicles are just that — ideas — with no firm plans to build them. Yet, Hyundai has indicated previously that several models they’ll be showing at auto shows this year and next will provide an excellent indication where the automaker is headed.

The two concepts offered at the Paris Motor Show are the ix20 Blue and ix35 hybrid models which are expected to become part of the company’s existing leading edge Blue DriveTM program. These vehicles are part of Hyundai’s effort to advance environmentally conscious technologies and assume fuel efficiency leadership worldwide.

Gas and Diesel

Some of Hyundai’s new models will utilize Hyundai’s all-new 1.0-liter Kappa gas and 1.7-liter U2 diesel engines. Likely not in the U.S., in Europe, Asia and wherever else small gas engines and diesels are likely to be embraced. However, that may soon change as far as the United States and Canada are concerned.

Each engine features several environmental enhancements including the use of high-performance, low-friction engine oil to improve combustion efficiency, optimize the gear ratio and increase engine efficiency.

Stop and Go

Also revealed at the Paris Motor Show is Hyundai’s new Idle Stop & Go (ISG) system. This particular engineering innovation turns off the engine when the car is at a standstill and the gearbox disengaged, such as at a traffic light. When power is needed, the engine instantly restarts the moment the clutch pedal is depressed. Hyundai claims that this technology is especially effective at reducing emissions and fuel usage in city traffic.

Along with ISG, Hyundai is including an alternator management system to maximize energy regeneration while braking in a bid to provide good acceleration performance by decreasing the alternator workload.

Other Changes

Hyundai is also making good use of underbody panels on at least one model, the i30 Blue, in an effort to cover the drag-inducing areas found on vehicles which adversely impact fuel economy. Some Hyundai models offer reductions on brake pad drag on the discs in addition to wheels fitted with low rolling resistance tires, which are inflated to a higher pressure.

Yes, Hyundai is continuing its relentless push upward. Though they are far from having the sales numbers enjoyed by the current Big 3 — Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen — the company has its eyes set on being number one, a possibility that was unthinkable just a few years ago.

Cadillac Sixteen: Concept or Production Vehicle?

This past month I was finally able to get a first hand view of a fabulous looking concept car called the Cadillac Sixteen at the North Carolina International Automobile Show. As concepts go, the Sixteen is truly a radical looking, but thoroughly luxurious sedan that serves as a reminder of Cadillac’s past glory while incorporating a forward-looking 21st century style. Will the car be built? That is hard to say, especially considering GM’s current financial condition. However, let’s take a closer look at the dream car and what a Sixteen could do for the Cadillac brand.

It is a given: Cadillac has made tremendous strides over the past decade despite the ongoing problems with parent GM. No longer solely the builder of posh luxo-cruisers for the elderly, the current Cadillac line up is exciting, invigorating, and competitive. Whereas in times past comparisons with BMW and Mercedes would not have been made, today’s models frequently are compared to their elite German rivals. Sales are up and profits are up; still, there is room for improvement and the Sixteen could be the model behind the continued upswing in Cadillac fortunes.

So, why is the Sixteen still receiving raves three years after making its debut at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show? Well, let me paint a picture of this car for you: imagine a sedan with an extra long hood which seamlessly flows up to a rakish windshield. To the top of the car and down to its trunk, the Sixteen looks as if it is in motion while standing still. GM used no less than 30 coats of paint to bring out the deep, rich midnight silver color in the finish which gives the car an almost surreal look. Add in bountiful 24 inch tires and the car is truly commanding. Strikingly, the hood is center hinged like cars of old: while it was on display, one section of the hood was lifted up to reveal half of its sixteen cylinders. That’s right, the car isn’t called “Sixteen” for no reason.

The inside of the Sixteen is simply opulent. Because the car was sectioned off by roping, it was hard to get an eagle eye look. Nevertheless, I was able to see that the Sixteen incorporates advanced interior lighting, deep wood trim, and brushed leather almost everywhere.

After leaving the show I did some investigating and have learned that GM won’t be producing the Sixteen as shown. Supposedly, the 1000 horsepower output and 1000 lbs of torque is a bit much for a production vehicle and even with displacement on demand technology in use, 16 cylinders is a bit of a stretch in this day of elevated fuel prices.

What I have learned is that is several upcoming Cadillac models will adopt some of the Sixteen’s styling cues when they are updated over the next few years. Talk of adding a V12 engine to one model continues to persist, but most of the speculation involves styling.

Yes, Cadillac is no longer just the exclusive realm of blue haired grannies; instead, the brand is as exciting and as stimulating as just about any make today.

Mercedes-Benz to Unveil its Vision C 220 BLUETEC at the Geneva Motor Show

For the Geneva Motors Show, Mercedes-Benz–a German brand name of automobiles, trucks, coaches, buses and quality Mercedes auto parts like Mercedes ball joints– has lined up a treat for car enthusiasts. And to start with it will present its highly environmentally compatible BLUETEC emission control technology which is combined with a four-cylinder engine that provides an amazing amount of fuel economy that will surely be a first in the industry. The Vision C 220 BLUETEC is also designed in compliance with the even made stricter EURO 6 emission standard which is going to be implemented to all new vehicles in Europe from 2015.

The Vision C 220 BLUETEC can rev up 125kW or 170 hp and delivers a potent torque of 400 Nm. It is also a remarkable fuel-saver requiring only 5.5 liters of diesel per hundred kilometers traveled and this is due to the modified diesel engine technology and intelligent system of energy management.

According to Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler AG and Head of the Mercedes Car Group, “The sophisticated four-cylinder diesel engine with BLUETEC emission control is a prime example of leading-edge, future-compatible technology. Our diesel strategy is an effective answer to the question of how to save fuel and, therefore, CO2, how to further reduce all exhaust emissions including Nox and yet still ensure effortlessly superior driving employment. In this respect, we believe our state-of-the-art diesel concept is currently the best and most efficient solution available.”

The Vision C 220 BLUETEC is Mercedes-Benz way of showing the public of the remarkable development and advancement that would transpire within the carmaker for the coming years. The BLUETEC initiative was first launch in the US last autumn with the introduction of the E 320 BLUETEC in North America. The debut of the Vision C 220 BLUETEC at the Geneva Motor Show will be the second world debut for Mercedes-Benz BLUETEC initiative.

The E 320 BLUETEC that was earlier introduced in the US last October 2006 was presented in conjunction with the introduction of low-sulphur diesel in US. The E 320 has a fuel consumption of 6.7 liters per hundred kilometers traveled making it as one of the most economical vehicles in its class in the US. The E 320 is also the first four-cylinder BLUETEC model created by Mercedes-Benz which clearly illustrates the remarkable innovative technology that the automaker has. Mercedes’ BLUETEC initiative will also be introduced in other markets but at present it is adapted in Europe to meet market requirements.