• VW auctions off first e-Golf for US market

    October 13, 2014
    Volkswagen has teamed with Global Green USA to auction off its the first e-Golf for the US market.

    The auction will allow the winning bidder to be the first owner of VW’s first all-electric model before it arrives in showrooms later in the year. All proceeds will go to the environmental-focused non profit group, the US branch of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross International.

    “We’re excited to mark the launch of our first all-electric car with an auction that raises funds and awareness for Global Green USA’s groundbreaking work to bring smart, sustainable solutions to communities nationwide,” said VW Group of America CEO Michael Horn.

    The e-Golf features a 24.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor with 115 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. The cat is capable of driving between 70 and 90 miles, with a limited top speed of 87 mph.

    Auction bids will be accepted at Charitybuzz.com/vwegolf until October 29.

  • Italian start-up previews 800-horsepower electric supercar

    October 13, 2014
    An Italian start-up named Tecnicar has announced it is in the early stages of developing an electric supercar called Lavinia.

    Power for the Lavinia will come from an electric motor that will send over 800 horsepower to the drive wheels. The coupe will be capable of sprinting from zero to 62 mph in 3.5 seconds before reaching a top speed of about 186 mph.

    Tecnicar promises the Lavinia will be able to drive for about 180 miles on a single charge, though it has not disclosed what kind of battery the coupe will be equipped with. One of the pictures released by the automaker hints the Lavinia will be built around a central passenger cell made out of a composite material in order to partially offset the weight added by the battery pack.

    3D renderings of the Lavinia reveal it will wear a low-slung, race-inspired design characterized by large air dams up front, bulged wheel arches all around and center-locking alloy wheels. The headlights are either sourced from or heavily inspired by the Chris Bangle-designed Fiat Coupe that was produced between 1993 and 2000.

    The first Technicar Lavinia prototype is currently under construction at the company’s headquarters in Syracuse on the Mediterranean island of Sicily. When the coupe is scheduled to reach the market is not known.

    Technicar could presented a fully-functional Lavinia prototype at the Top Marques show that will open its doors in Monaco next April. If built, the Sicilian supercar will carry a price tag that will fall well into the six digits.

  • 2016 Audi Q7 to bow in Detroit

    October 13, 2014
    A new report finds the second generation of Audi’s seven-seater Q7 crossover will be unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show that will open its doors next January.

    Audi is keeping details about the second-gen Q7 under wraps, but our spy photographers nabbed the first images of Ingolstadt’s biggest crossover back in August. The spy shots hint the Q7 will adopt a more conservative overall design that borrows styling cues from the new third-gen TT. LED headlights like those seen on the A8 flagship and a thin rendition of Audi’s trademarked single frame grille will be part of the package.

    The 2016 Audi Q7 will make use of Volkswagen’s MLB modular architecture, resulting in a smaller footprint and a much lighter curb weight. In fact, insiders say the next Q7 will shed up to 800 pounds, a diet that will considerably improve fuel economy all across the board.

    Both gas and diesel powertrains are expected, with the 2016 Q7 likely to make use of Audi’s upcoming ten-speed dual-clutch transmission. The ten-speed unit will eventually be offered in a number of other Audi-badged vehicles. A performance-focused SQ7 TDI will pack Audi’s first production electric turbocharger when it lands in 2016.

    The Q7 will go on sale shortly after it debuts in America’s Motor City. That will mark the end of a particularly long run for the current Q7, which went into production in 2006 and was lightly refreshed for the 2010 model year.

    What’s Next?
    Audi is planning to launch at least two new crossovers in the coming years, which will allow the German automaker to reposition the Q7. A smaller, long-rumored Q6 SUV could help the Q7 move upscale in terms of luxury appointments, while a new flagship Q8 due out around 2017 will push the next-generation Q7 down in overall size.

  • Toyota leads automotive rankings in list of top 100 global brands

    October 13, 2014

    Brand consultancy firm Interbrand has revealed their annual list of the 100 top global brands. In the automotive sector Toyota has once again taken the top spot, coming in eighth overall, behind giants like Apple, Google and Coca-Cola.

    Interbrand’s list is determined by three key factors, summarized as financial performance, the role the brand plays in purchasing decisions, and the competitive strength of the brand. Only 13 automotive brands cracked the top 100.

    8: Toyota. Growth in China and Europe was cited for its jump from tenth place last year, as well as its reputation for solid, quality products.

    10: Mercedes-Benz. A spate of new models resulted in a 14 percent increase in sales in the US and 9.5 percent globally. S-Class sales increased 60 percent while the CLA- and GLA-Class wooed younger customers.

    11: BMW. A perception of innovation with green technologies, thanks to the i3 and i8 models and the EfficientDynamics suite across the rest of the lineup helped the company keep pace with rival Mercedes-Benz.

    20: Honda. Though the “golden age” marked by the “Powered by Honda” tagline has waned, a return to Formula One and partnerships with Google and Apple will help the brand return to prominence, with the help of strength as a motorcycle maker in emerging markets.

    31: Volkswagen. Double-digit growth in the Chinese market and the new Golf and Up! have made the brand a Top Riser of 2014.

    39: Ford. A fresh new product portfolio has helped Ford increase sales by 12 percent worldwide, with strength in the US and Asia-Pacific markets.

    40: Hyundai. The Korean automaker is still one of the fastest growing automakers, with region-specific models in nations like Brazil and China lifting the brand out of its perceived status as the automotive bargain bin.

    45: Audi. Sales have increased by 8.3 percent, the culmination of two decades branding as sporty, luxurious and technologically sophisticated. It is the top luxury marque in Europe and China.

    56: Nissan. One of 2014′s Top Risers, with double-digit profit increases thanks to strength in China and the US, and a unifying of its brand and products globally.

    60: Porsche. Described as an “iconic” brand, a broadening of models on both the supercar and entry-level luxury ends of the market have helped drive record profits.

    74: Kia. The Hyundai subsidiary has re-branded itself as a stylish contender that appeals to young buyers rather than the default choice for budget-conscious buyers.

    82: Chevrolet. Solid compact models like the Cruze and continued development of icons like the Corvette and Camaro have helped brand strength worldwide despite US recalls.

    91: Land Rover. The Indian-owned luxury SUV maker has seen a 15 percent growth in sales in 42 markets, while quality ratings have improved slightly as well.

    A fourteenth brand falling under the automotive segment was Harley Davidson, the American motorcycle maker, which ranked 87th.

  • Toyota introduces redesigned Prius v to European markets

    October 13, 2014

    Toyota has announced for the European market a facelifted Prius+, known in the US as the Prius v, with a (comparatively) more aggressive look.

    Styling-wise, the most striking departure is a redesigned nose, on which features a grille on which the Toyota logo protrudes further out front, flanked by new blacked-out headlight housings encasing projectors with LED technology for both high and low beams.

    The lower grille and foglight housing graphic gets much taller, with a trapezoidal shape that “exposes” the bumper. Thin vertical intakes on either side have LED daytime running lights embedded at the lower points. Overall, the new grille brings the face closer in line with the X motif found on the new Yaris.

    From the rear, the Prius 7-seater gains new taillight designs, a revised license plate garnish, and a restyled fascia with black trim underneath in order to slim down the bumper. Additional insulation has been added to the rear cabin area as well in order to reduce NVH.

    Inside, the Europeans now get Toyota’s Touch 2 Go multimedia-navigation 6.1-inch touchscreen that includes Bluetooth, live traffic, text-to-speech and a backup camera. Power seats, smartphone wifi connectivity and parallel parking assist technology is also available as optional. A new console with slimmer air vents with chrome accents and dark silver metallic finish aims for a slightly more upscale feel.

    The updated Prius+ goes on sale across Europe in January 2015.