New York International Auto Show to Host Ford’s Concept Cars

Motor shows have always been one of the foremost gatherings that auto makers take advantage of so as to showcase the advances they have made in the design and performance of their vehicles. More often than not, a motor show is characterized by an influx of concept vehicles.

This type of vehicles is designed using cutting edge design concepts, advanced engine technology and would also come loaded with futuristic features. These vehicles are only used to showcase the technologies developed by car manufacturers.

The features shown on these vehicles will only be used on production vehicles after some time. The reason for this is that the features on concept vehicles are significantly expensive to produce. This means that further development is needed to bring down the cost of production of features used on concept vehicles for them to be made available for mass produced vehicles.

The upcoming New York International Auto Show (NYIAS), dubbed as the biggest event of its kind, will be hosting concept vehicles from United States’ second largest car manufacturer, Ford. This year, the Ford Motor Company will be showcasing three concept vehicles – two from Ford and one from Lincoln. All of these three concept vehicles are showing the path that Ford Motor Company is willing to take in the near future.

The first of the three concept vehicles is the Ford Airstream. The design of the concept vehicle is largely influenced by the film “2001: A Space Odyssey” which is a masterpiece done by Stanley Kubrick. The futuristic design of the vehicle is evident in its aluminum finish and radically designed windows and extended windshield. The vehicle is not only futuristic in terms of its exterior looks but also in the way it is powered. The Ford Airstream is a plug-in hydrogen hybrid fuel cell vehicle. This means that aside from the fuel cell, the vehicle is also equipped with a powerful battery pack which provides added power. The vehicle is an electric vehicle in a sense that it runs on electric power alone thus no harmful emission is released.

Another concept vehicle that Ford will be unveiling at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan is the flex fuel vehicle that is the Ford Interceptor. The concept is loosely based on the Ford Mustang and provides just as much power as its cousin. The vehicle runs on E85 which is a combination of 85 percent bio-ethanol and 15 percent conventional gasoline. The bio-ethanol burning engine can produce as much as 400 horsepower. That amount of power could only be stopped by highly efficient brake components like EBC brake pads. To match the power of the vehicle, Ford gives the Interceptor advanced safety features like their patented four-point “belts and suspenders”. For passengers on the second row of seats, the Ford Interceptor provides inflatable safety belts.

Aside from the two concept vehicles from Ford, one of its divisions, Lincoln, also developed a concept vehicle. Lincoln’s MKR Concept is a four-door coupe packed with a long list of luxury features. What the Lincoln MKR brings to the table is the uniqueness of their luxury trims like the leather which is chemical free. The powerplant of the concept is a 3.5-liter V6 engine with twin turbocharger and direct injection feature. The engine runs on gasoline and can produce as much as 415 brake horsepower.

Scion Launches Bigger xB at Chicago Auto Show

This year’s installment of the Chicago Auto Show has seen the launch of great vehicles for the 2008 model year. One of such vehicles introduced to the public at the said event is the all-new 2008 xB from Toyota’s marque, Scion.

The so-called urban utility vehicle was first introduced to the public in 2003 and from then on, it has received quite a warm welcome from car buyers. The Scion xB is characterized by its boxy design and this has already become a distinction for Scion cars. It would seem that Scion car buyers loved the boxy design of the xB because the latest model of the vehicle is made even bigger and still has a boxy design. The latest installment of the Scion xB is the result of the feedbacks of xB owners that they wanted a bigger car.

The all new Scion xB is the result of a designing process that aims for distinction. Some of its exterior design elements are from the Scion t2B concept car that the brand showcased during the 2005 New York International Auto Show. Style characteristics like the angles between the cars panels, the high beltline, inset taillights, rectangular grille, and the distinct fenders are all taken from the concept vehicle.

The result of the integration of such design elements to the new Scion xB resulted to a more aggressive looking design. The vehicle now comes with the radical design elements and is now popular among the younger car buyers. Sure enough, the all-new version of the vehicle will surely not disappoint.

The exterior design is not the only improvement that the Scion xB has over the previous model. The redeveloped xB is much roomier than the old models. The wheelbase was increased by four inches and the overall length by twelve inches. The width of the vehicle is also increased by three inches while the height was decreased by more than an inch to ensure a comfortable ride. The wheels are also bigger than the ones used by the current xB model – the newest xB sports 16-inch wheels.

Car buyers can also choose between three wheel covers. The brakes that the new Scion xB will use will also be bigger than what is being used on the current model. Brake discs for the front wheels will be a 10.83-inch ventilated disc, while a 10.98-inch disc will be installed at the rear. These are about a couple of inches larger than what the first generation of Scion xBs used. The vehicle can also perform better if OEM parts of high quality are used. Just like Volvo OEM parts which makes parts replacement easy and gives reliable performance.

The interior of the 2008 Scion xB is also given much attention. This is evident in the lounge-like interior of the urban utility vehicle. And since the vehicle is made bigger, the cargo space is significantly increased. The cargo hold behind the rear seats offer 29.1 cubic feet of space. If that is not enough, the rear seat can be folded down flat which would dramatically increase the cargo space. The rear seat’s 60/40 split configuration makes this car one of the more versatile load carrying cars there is. In addition to the fold down rear seats, the front seats can also be fully reclined which would even add more to cargo capacity.

Power is also upgraded for the new generation xB. Its powerplant is a 2.4-liter double overhead cam four cylinder engine. The engine is equipped with a variable valve timing technology which increases its fuel efficiency. The new xB’s engine can provide 158 horsepower which is a huge increase from the 103 horsepower that the previous models’ engine can produce.

The Upcoming Buick LaCrosse Super Sport

Edmunds and several leading automotive blogs are theorizing that Buick will finally go ahead and build a sport version of its popular LaCrosse midsize sedan. Unlike the original model, the proposed car will be a true roadster as Buick seeks to inject some youthfulness into its aging model line. This is big news for Buick, which hasn’t built a true youth oriented car since stopping production of the hot-rod Regal Grand National during the 1980s. Will the Super Sport be enough to help Buick recapture a lost segment of the marketplace? That remains open to debate, so let’s see what Buick is planning with the Super Sport and then you can decide for yourself.

For the past several years, Buick has been near the top in most customer satisfaction and quality surveys. After years of languishing much further down the list, Buick decided to truly emphasize quality and that move has paid off. However, quality cars are one thing while exciting cars are another. Quite simply, Buick hasn’t been building cars that are high on the “wow” factor list. Sales have remained flat as the age level of its buyers continued to rise. Anyone who understands the business of cars will tell you that you must continually appeal to a younger audience in order to grow and prosper. Let’s just say that even younger AARP drivers haven’t been heavily drawn to the current Buick model line up.

As far as the Super Sport goes, the car is based on the concept Velite a car that has been appearing at auto shows over the past few years. Much like the Lexus SC430, the Super Sport will be targeting upscale buyers attracted to a combination of luxury, performance, and premium styling. While drive train information hasn’t been finalized, reports of a 300 hp V8 being offered has been circulating. Likely, this engine will be mated to a six speed automatic. A 3.6L twin turbo producing more than 400 hp has also been rumored for the Super Sport, but that engine choice might be scratched if gas prices remain historically high.

Information about specific Super Sport features is rather limited, but if the car holds true to the Velite concept, buyers can expect the following with the Super Sport:

– Heritage styling based on a late 1930s Buick boat tail design. Buick’s recognizable waterfall grille design coupled with decorative side portholes are also expected to appear on the Super Sport.

– 20 inch front wheels and 21 inch rear wheels; rear wheel drive.

– Leather 2 plus 2 seating.

– A retractable hood that will fit snugly into the trunk.

– Full cabin amenities including OnStar and XM satellite radio switches integrated into the dashboard.

Beyond what has been listed, the rest is speculation including possible build and release dates for the Super Sport. GM’s current financial woes will impact the final decision on whether to build this car, but if approval is given a 2008 or 2009 release is possible.

Yes, Buick needs a car of this caliper to breathe new life into a rather uninspiring line up. Prices for the Super Sport will likely exceed $40,000 limiting the car’s appeal to those with significant means. Still, if Buick is able to pull it off the Super Sport it may pave the way for additional model changes, perhaps even opening the door for a Regal-inspired car to rejoin the line up. Now that would be great news for a brand that sorely needs a fresh youth injection.