California's Fisker Automotive has unveiled the production version of its Karma plug-in hybrid at the Detroit Auto Show today, just 12 months after the car was shown in concept form at last year's show. With only minor design enhancements made to the exterior of the original concept, the production Karma, seen this week in production trim for the first time, retains the extreme proportions and sculptured look of the show car. "We are very excited to be bringing the Fisker Karma back to NAIAS," said Fisker Automotive CEO Henrik Fisker.
Despite the movement towards electric and hybrid propulsion by many manufacturers over the last few years, none of them actually manufacture the most important component of the vehicles – the batteries. That's about to change as GM builds its own factory in Michigan to produce battery packs for its crucial Volt plug-in hybrid in 2010. Construction is expected to begin early this year and expected to reach full output by mid-2010. General Motors will work with LG Chem, who will supply the individual lithium-ion cells and these will then be assembled along with other battery electronics and components to produce the Volt's 16 kWh T-shaped battery, which is roughly 6 feet long and weighs nearly 400 pounds, The production of battery components locally is important according to GM CEO Rick Wagoner.
Hybrid-electric and other green propulsion systems are as much a theme of the 2009 Detroit Auto Show as is the restructuring and 'right-sizing' of the industry - even more so, at ground-level. Audi is doing its part to contribute to the swell of green vehicles and announcements by revealing its plans to bring the Q5 hybrid SUV to the U.S. in 2010. Already Lexus' RX 400H is leading the compact crossover hybrid race and BMW is positioned to make an entry later in 2009 with the X6 ActiveHybrid, so Audi's decision is as much about competition as it is innovation.
Following months of conjecture and a number of leaks, Toyota has finally unveiled its all-new 2010 Prius hybrid. Using the 2009 Detroit Auto Show as a launching pad, the third-generation Prius is scheduled to simultaneously hit showrooms in the U.S. and Japan by late spring and will filter across to other markets soon after. The 2010 Prius will offer even better mileage ratings and performance than the current model, while also being quieter, roomier, and equipped with more features. Some of these include an available moonroof with solar panels, four driving modes, Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) and steering wheel touch controls that display on the instrument panel. The first-generation Prius, which was EPA rated at 41mpg for the combined cycle, was replaced by the current model, which is EPA rated at 46mpg for the combined cycle.
Ford has given us a preview of its future in-car connectivity technology with the unveiling today of the Lincoln C concept at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. The new concept features a sophisticated human machine interface (HMI) and a number of connectivity technologies that are expected to filter across Ford's lineup in the coming years. The key to the new interface is to enable information to be offered in a simple, intelligent format that keeps a driver informed – but not distracted. This is done with a simplistic approach to how and where information is displayed.
The Blue Oval has been vocal about its plans to develop a new generation of RWD sedans for both its Ford and Lincoln brands, but with demand for big and powerful sedans on the decline management have revised those original plans. In light of rising fuel costs and toughening fuel economy standards, Ford has decided to drop plans for new RWD sedans. Speaking with Automotive News at this week's Detroit Auto Show, Ford design chief J Mays said the RWD future was "out of the cycle plan." He went on to reveal that Ford would focus its design efforts on other segments and that the path it was going down at the moment was all about fuel efficiency.
One of General Motors' biggest criticisms is the number of different brands under its roof, which ends up seeing it sell similar models that often compete with one another in the same segments. In its efforts to secure its share of a federal bailout, GM said it intends to focus its U.S. product and marketing resources on four core brands, namely Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC. That leaves Hummer, Saab, Saturn and Pontiac in an uneasy state. GM has already confirmed that it is looking for a buyer for its Hummer brand, and that Saturn was also under review.
Two car enthusiasts located in Beverly Hills, California, are working on a sports car prototype that emits zero emissions and draws its energy from the wind. The car is the RORMaxx Formula AE and the first prototype could be rolling as early as this August. The duo behind the car are Rory Handel and Maxx Bricklinas, who claim that when complete the Formula AE will be able to accelerate from 0-60mph in less than four seconds and drive for up to 200 miles once the batteries are fully charged. The car will use a solar-powered battery to get it moving but will then use the airflow passing over the vehicle to power a turbine.
The horsepower wars are being supplemented by the efficiency wars now that global warming issues are being taken seriously by the world's major governments, and one of the primary weapons of the new war is the diesel engine. Audi cars have long had a close relationship with diesel fuel, and since the R10 began its dominance at Le Mans, cut short only when hamstrung by rules changes, the carmaker has been at the forefront of the public image of performance-minded yet efficient diesels. Now, Audi has confirmed that it will bring its efficient 2.0L A3 TDI to the U.S.
Ferrari has become the first team to officially launch its 2009 F1 race car, revealing it at a low-key event at the company's Maranello headquarters. The car's 'F60' title is in celebration of the fact the Italian marque is the only to have contested all sixty seasons in the sport's history and has nothing to do with the famous supercar from the past decade which goes by the same name. Explaining the name, team boss Stefano Domenicali said: "It was our desire to combine the history of F1 and the fact that Ferrari has always been present." The car was originally scheduled to be track debuted at nearby Fiorano, but Felipe Massa instead took to the cockpit of the F60 for the first time at Ferrari's other circuit, Mugello, after the launch.
After first showing the MKT in concept form at last year's Detroit Auto Show, Lincoln has unveiled the 2010 production model of the striking crossover at this year's event. The three-row MKT is larger than the current two-row MKX crossover and joins the recently revealed MKZ sedan as part of Lincoln's refreshed 2010 lineup. Showcasing the latest iteration of Lincoln's new design language, the MKT features a split waterfall grille, a beveled chamfer along its shoulder line, a flowing cantrail that frames the windows and full-width horizontal taillamps spanning the liftgate.