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Car Of The Future Created By Toyota

Toyota sure does have a lot of surprises up its sleeve. But it would not be quite surprising if it does. After all, we do know that the Toyota Motor Corporation can be considered as one of the biggest and strongest companies in the industry right now. And with great power comes great responsibility and perhaps the company believes that it is their responsibility to produce vehicles that would astound and make the public happy. Sure, they do create remarkable stuff from Toyota Sequoia original parts to fine Toyota accessories to exemplary vehicles but now the company would like to show the motoring public a glimpse of what the future holds.

The company would be showing off soon the Toyota Fine-N vehicle which is actually a hydrogen fuel cell concept car. And according to Toyota, this kind of vehicle would soon be filling the roads and streets of our future. This vehicle would be part of the main displays that Toyota South Africa would be sending off at the Auto Africa 2006 exhibit. The event would be held at Johannesburg’s Expo Center and would be starting from the 26th of October up until the 5th of November.

As per the Toyota Fine-N, you would see that this vehicle has for four doors and it comes with a four wheel drive system for a better driving response. The company also boasts of its design and potential performance for all fuel cell vehicles that would be coming in the future. The wheels of the vehicle have got their very own electric motors and these are powered right from the Toyota fuel cell stack and its lithium ion battery. And its power source could be able to produce some 25 kW and 110 Nm of torque. You would find the fuel cell stack, the lithium ion battery, and the rest of the vehicle’s power control unit all beneath the floor. This is primarily because Toyota believes that by doing such, there would be more floor space for the vehicle’s occupants and passengers. Versatile, the Toyota Fine-N would be a vehicle to look out for.

Volkswagen’s Push for the Ultimate Eco Car

Volkswagen has been building concept after concept of the ultimate eco car, based on technology that is very close to production. Unlike some eco startup companies who are just hoping for miracles, VW is looking to build what is today possible.

The first one in this series was the Volkswagen 1 Liter concept car, which appeared in 2002.

This was obviously pushing the envelope in terms of technical innovation but involved no miracles, if a fair bit of expensive technology. The body is made of carbon fiber and the chassis out of magnesium, so it is quite lightweight. It also has a dramatic swoopy shape and tandem rather than side by side seating for the driver and the passenger.

It cheats the wind using a narrower track at the back compared to the front, closed rear wheelwells, and flat wheel covers on the front wheels. The tandem seating, narrow overall width and the low total height help as well.

According to Volkswagen, it is powered by a single cylinder diesel engine of 300cc capacity, which delivers about 8.5 horsepower. This enables it to consume just under a litre per 100 kilometers.

Volkswagen showed another concept car in 2009, the L1.

This was pretty much the same concept as the car in 2002, a tandem two seater. Volkswagen updated the styling to actually make it look cool this time, something they did not bother doing with the original 1 liter car.

It is powered by a 800cc two cylinder turbodiesel, basically Volkswagen’s bread and butter 1.6 TDI cut in half. It generates a maximum of 29 hp in this really relaxed eco tune. Volkswagen claims that the L1 consumes just 1.38 liters per 100 kilometers. While it is more than the 2002 car, one must note the differences: The 2002 1 Liter Car used a one off prototype diesel engine, this L1 uses a prototype engine, but one which is derived from a popular mainstream one. On those terms, the L1 is clearly the more realistic solution and clearly closer to production car status.

Note that I said closer, and not close.

What did get close was the next car, the Volkswagen XL1 unveiled in 2011.

VW’s answer to the ultimate eco car has marched step by step from the ultimate engineer’s prototype to something altogether more civilized and practical. Although the styling is reminiscent of the L1, the marked difference is of course the side by side seating. Suddenly it jumps from being an interesting technical exercise to possibly being in an actual Volkswagen showroom.

Volkswagen says the XL1 weighs just under 800 kilograms, so more than twice as much as the L1 Concept, which was 380kg. It is supposed to consume just about 1 liter per 100 kilometers, but this is no doubt more due to hybrid trickery as opposed to pure efficiency.

Let’s think about a lower cost, production variant of this car:

There are 2 main compromises: Let’s throw out the complicated hybrid system and just keep the turbodiesel engine, which should be sufficient with its 47hp. Let’s get rid of the carbon fiber and replace all that with conventional steel. Now we end up with a heavier car, let’s be pessimistic and guesstimate that it consumes double the fuel it does in its original form, so about 2 liters per 100km.

That is still a fantastic number compared to any car you can buy today, so let’s really look at what other changes would have to be made to produce this car for real. The gullwing doors would have to go, but that is true of any concept car and perhaps the ride height would need to be raised slightly. Other than that, there are not many reasons why this car could not be produced. Unfortunately, it will not be produced.

Why? Because it makes no economic sense. As simple as that. In this era of the fashionable eco mindset and hybrid BMW X6′s and VW Touraeg’s this car makes no economic sense.

It is quite a stark indicator of where we are in terms of energy usage and fossil fuels. We have the technical solutions today, but they won’t be produced, since economically it doesn’t work.

However, this is not quite the end of the story. Part of the reason is that auto manufacturing has come to rely heavily on economies of scale, and such a car would not be able to share too much with other cars under the VW umbrella. It also has something to do with market acceptance of 2 seaters, which is not very good, to say the least.

So, I think Volkswagen’s answer to the ultimate eco car will come very soon from the other direction, from a mainstream model, namely the VW Up!

The Up! Lite Concept from 2009 is a preview of what will arrive in the showrooms and sidesteps a lot of these issues. It is a 4 seater, it looks a lot more mainstream, and critically, shares its platfom completely with the standard Up!.

The Up! Lite Concept styling looks like a bridge between the XL1 and the mainstream models from Volkswagen. The question for me is where will the production model fit in that rather large gap?

At one cynical extreme, Volkswagen could take the standard Up!, slap some Bluemotion badges on it, put on some low rolling resistance tires, do lots of small aero tweaks with underfloor panels and wheel covers and plasticky bits and call it a day.

At the other extreme, they could actually produce this aero optimized body, so that it would be sharing just the platform and the interior but not the bodywork with the Up!. But this would be the much more expensive option.

Where do I think this will end up? Probably the first option. I don’t think Volkswagen has forgotten the lessons learned with the 3L Lupo TDI.

While the 3L Lupo TDI was a technical success and delivered impressive fuel economy numbers, it was too expensive to be a financially viable product. Since then, VW has produced Bluemotion versions of almost everything it makes, and they are always carefully tweaked versions that have minimal additional costs and slightly better fuel economy. VW plays it safe with the Bluemotion models, and they do not stray too far off the standard donor car. That’s why I don’t think that we will see the Up! Lite Concept as it was shown go into production.

My best hope would be to see the Up! Lite inherit the front half of the standard Up! completely and to have a its own, optimized body shape from the B-pillar to the back of the car.

In terms of powertrains, it is pretty clear that the 0.8 liter TDI engine is coming, only question is when and how much power will it make, I would guess late 2012 to early 2013 and about 55 horsepower. Fuel consumption numbers are hard to guess but I think we should be looking at around 2.8 liters per 100 kilometers (for a straightforward diesel with no hybrid but just start-stop functionality).

It will actually be interesting to see which name the car carries when it comes to market, whether it will be branded as a Bluemotion following the other VW models predictably, or if it will be badged as an Up! Lite. I think that it will be “just a Bluemotion” if the changes from the Up! are minimal, and an Up! Lite if there is major differences between the two. In case we get the Up! Lite, I would also be curious to know which other Lite models Volkswagen will have up its sleeve in the coming years.

Supercar Concept Crowns A Busy 2011 For Jaguar Cars

What a year 2011 has been for classic British auto marque Jaguar.

Having stunned the motoring world with the C-X75 supercar concept at the Paris Motor Show in late 2010, Jaguar made a storming start to 2011 by announcing that the car was heading for production.

While the original concept startled auto fans by featuring extraordinary jet turbine engines, a tie-up with the Formula One racing team Williams will see the jets replaced by a 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine boosted by both a turbo and a supercharger.

The result, Jaguar claims, will deliver Bugatti Veyron-rivalling performance and nearly 1,000bhp on a special track-day setting. But this is one supercar that will also be kinder to the environment, thanks to twin electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack that the company says will help the car to achieve class leading acceleration times. There will even be the option of running the car on electric power alone.

Production will be limited to an initial 250 cars, due to hit the road in 2013, although Jaguar claims it has not given up on the original concept of a supercar powered by jet turbines.

In August, Jaguar received a special morale boost when the company’s mould-breaking XF model was crowned ‘Car of the Decade’ by a leading UK motoring magazine Auto Express. Making the award all the more meaningful was the fact that it was based on responses to the magazine’s ‘Driver Power’ survey, which asks readers to rate their cars on factors like performance, comfort, reliability, running costs and servicing experience. More than 300,000 responses delivered the verdict that the XF received consistently higher ratings from owners than any other car in the survey.

September was another big month for the ‘big cat’ marque, as it revealed plans for a further all-new car. The company’s C-X16 concept, unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, showcased a new spin on Jaguar’s latest design language and has been referred to by some commentators as the spiritual successor the company’s legendary E-Type.

The new baby Jag is designed to be a smaller, more sporting model that will fit into the marque’s line-up below the XK model and take the brand’s fight for market share to key rivals like Aston Martin and Porsche. Like the C-X75, this new sports coupe will reduce emissions by combining electric with combustion power, most likely in the form of the company’s 3.0 litre supercharged V6.

In turn, it has also been revealed that the next generation of the XK will become a larger, sporting ‘grand tourer’, with a proper four-seat configuration designed to take on a range of sales competitors from the BMW 6-series to the Bentley Continental.

Jaguar’s year looks set to come to a close with something of a return to reality from the excitement of unveiling ground-breaking new sports cars. Recent reports have highlighted that an estate, or station wagon, version of the Jaguar XF is undergoing testing and is due to go on sale towards the end of 2012. Set to be called the ‘Sportbrake’, the new model is part of Jaguar’s plans to boost sales by expanding the range of existing models through offering options like load-carriers and diesel power. However the new XF wagon won’t be lacking innovation, since it is set to be the first car in Jaguar’s current range to offer a 4×4 powertrain.

Despite all this new car development activity, Jaguar nevertheless also found time during 2011 to give the XF a mid-life facelift. Amid a range of minor styling and technological tweaks, the most noticeable change was the addition of slimmer headlamp units, bringing the car closer to the looks of the original 2007 C-XF concept.

It has certainly been a busy year for the classic British marque and one that seems to show that the large investment Jaguar has received from its new Indian owner Tata could be starting to pay off.