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2009 NAIAS: Cadillac Converj

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GM’s 2009 Sunday press conference packed a powerful punch, with several production vehicles and a hint of what a Cadillac based on the Chevrolet Volt architecture might look like. Introduced by Bob Lutz himself, the Cadillac Converj is likely to see light of day as a production vehicle down the road, though Cadillac is also just as likely to find an alphanumeric name. Though Cadillac did not specify launch timing, a logical expectation would be that the vehicle arrive about 2013MY.
Aside from distinctive Cadillac styling, the Converj gave GM a chance to discuss the next stage for their Voltec system (the new corporate name for their range-extended electric vehicle powertrain archicture). The 161HP Converj is, like Volt, a front-drive application, though a two-door coupe with seating for four.

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Perhaps the current concerns about fuel efficiency, the allure of an ultra-cool-sounding powertrain, and the fact that Cadillac styling is strong across the range will be strong enough for the Cadillac brand to support an entry-level product like this, but the brand’s history with brand cloning and small, front-drive entries is not good. Remember Catera? Cimarron?
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In the meantime, follow the jump for the official Cadillac details and a few more photos.


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2009 NAIAS: Volvo S60 Concept

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Volvo’s mid-range sedan, the S60, shares a platform with the newly updated XC70 and V70 wagons, but the updated sedan won’t arrive until next year. In the meantime, Volvo is building anticipation with a wonderfully styled S60 Concept said to be very close to the production car, minus the concept’s crystal center stack.

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More photos and a Volvo press release after the jump.

Posted in: Concept Cars, Volvo

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2008 L.A. Auto Show – BMW 7-Series ActiveHybrid

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The Los Angeles Auto Show saw the world debut of the BMW Concept 7-Series ActiveHybrid. The concept shows the potential of BMW ActiveHybrid technology in the premium luxury car segment and is part of the BMW EfficientDynamics innovation strategy.

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The objective of the 7-Series ActiveHybrid is to achieve much better fuel economy and lower emissions in a premium luxury car – a class not known for being particularly environmentally conscious.
Mild Hybrid Teamed With Potent V8
The BMW Concept 7-Series ActiveHybrid combines an 8-cylinder gas engine and electric drive as a mild hybrid. The drivetrain technology featured in the Concept Car allows enhanced driving dynamics together with a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions by 15% versus the same car running on an internal combustion engine only. BMW states that the ActiveHybrid does not compromise the driving dynamics, performance or features of the 7-Series.
BMW contends that there are no compromises to the original 7-Series equation when the mild hybrid is adopted. The ActiveHybrid Seven looks practically the same, has the same level of comfort and performance while getting better fuel economy with lower emissions through use of the mild hybrid technology.
Twin Turbo V8 Based on 750i Powerplant
The internal combustion engine portion of the BMW Concept 7-Series ActiveHybrid is a Twin Turbo V8 gasoline engine and high precision fuel Injection based on the 4.4L V8 of the BMW 750i. Maximum output of the conventional engine in the regular production model is 407 horsepower, with peak torque of 442 lb-ft.
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BMW claims the V8 power unit is the most efficient engine in its class and is ideal for focusing on both driving dynamics and efficiency. BMW says its V8 is the only eight-cylinder gasoline engine in the world with its turbochargers mounted in the Vee between the two cylinder banks.
Electric Motor incorporated in Transmission Housing
The V8 is combined with an electric motor fully integrated in the transmission housing, developing maximum output of 20 hp and peak torque of 155 lb-ft. So with the mild hybrid concept, the electric motor boosts the dynamic driving potential of the eight-cylinder gasoline engine in a unique manner most appropriate for the character of the BMW 7 Series, giving the car better acceleration than the already great acceleration of the 750iL.
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Regenerative Braking Supplements Power for Accessories
Using Brake Energy Regeneration, the electric motor supplies electric power to the power-consuming items on board the car, minimizing the direct conversion of fuel into electrical energy and maximizing the drive power available for enhanced driving dynamics.


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2008 LA Auto Show: Hyundai Blue Drive

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Hyundai’s focus at the 2009 LA Auto Show was all about green…er blue technology. Environmentally friendly technology has been a primary focus of the LA Auto Show over the last couple of seasons, and this year is no different. As Hyundai continues to gain mainstream acceptance amongst the US public, the company is striving to prove that it is no longer just a maker of inexpensive-yet-reliable vehicles, but at the forefront of the automotive game.

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Chrysler enters the electric race

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Chrysler today announced plans to jumping into the electric car market with both feet by offering up three high-voltage prototypes to reporters and a promise to put about 100 electric vehicles on the road in 2009. We’ve been waiting to get a sense of what the company’s ENVI group is up to, and now we know.
One of the three concept vehicles, the all-electric Dodge EV, is sure to generate some buzz (Is it a Tesla for the common people?) for its fierce looks and eco-friendly, refuel-it-from-the-wall-socket appeal.
With that in mind, it could be easy to miss the hybrid-on-steroids potential of the Jeep and Chrysler EVs — a Jeep Wrangler and a Chrysler Town & Country fitted with battery and range-extending engine setup (similar in concept to GM’s Volt) that Chrysler claims will allow them run for 40 miles without touching a drop of gas.
Read the full report from Chrysler after the jump.

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New York Auto Show 2008 – A Pair from Kia

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Kia‘s New York auto show stage held both concept and production surprises. We believe that the KOUP concept, though too cutely named, hints at the next-generation Spectra. Kia described the KOUP as “closer to production than you might think,” strongly hinting Kia may add the coupe itself. The production surprise was the facelifted 2009 Optima. This new look takes Optima a step forward.

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Kia KOUP: Is there a pocket rocket in Kia’s future?

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2009 Kia Optima gets a fresh look


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New York Auto Show 2008 – Mitsubishi “i”

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One of the coolest things about working on the VehicleVoice team is the differing taste the team has. Trucks, SUVs, muscle cars, small cars. Lunch can be interesting, to say the least. While I appreciate anything with wheels, I’m slowly becoming more and more interested in minicars. Maybe it’s Europe-envy, or an increased sense of green, but I‘ve always been attracted to minimalism. From architecture to coffee without the fancy names.


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New York Auto Show 2008 – Suzuki Concept Kizashi 3

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Respect. Suzuki gets less than it deserves. Consider some facts. Suzuki Motor Corporation took 35 years to sell 1 million vehicles per year worldwide. 15 more years to reach 2 million vehicles in 2005. Nearly 2.4 million vehicles last year. And in fiscal year 2009, expects to produce 3 million vehicles.


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New York Auto Show 2008 — Scion Hako Coupe Concept

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You have to look long and hard to find a more difficult job than designing future Scion products. In its short life, Scion has raced to the forefront of Gen Y desirability. From zero to 173,000 units in just 4 years. Toyota Motor Sales claims the Scion brand to have a median buyer age of just 30 years old, which makes it the youngest brand in the United States. From the same group of people who bring us the Camry and Avalon, both standards for Boomer buyers, but neither evoking a youthful image.


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New York Auto Show 2008: 2010 Pontiac G8 Sport Truck

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Two Doors and a Bed: Are We Ready for an El Camino Revival?
Pontiac is GM’s star at the 2008 New York Auto Show, introducing two new takes on just-launched G8 sedan. As well as a hotter GXP sedan for 2009MY, late in 2009 there will be a G8 Sport Truck.

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Despite knowing quite a few people who profess their admiration for the old El Camino, the coupe-meets-truck thing never did much for me. A very unscientific show-floor poll found several people who thought the G8 ST looked cool, but didn’t think they really wanted one for themselves. This does not bode well for the G8 ST’s general acceptance. But Pontiac sees a market and has an inexpensive way to meet it, so meet it they will. The 2010 G8 Sport Truck gives Pontiac something no one else has and a truck that sort of fits with a sport-oriented lineup. They may not sell many, but as an image car it just might work in some circles.
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Described by the marketers as “segment-bending,” the G8 ST is a version of Holden’s coupe-with-a-bed Ute. The G8 ST will offer strong performance, interesting looks, and give most buyers enough truckability with carlike fuel economy. Not to mention not seeing one on every corner can make it that much more interesting when you do. This isn’t a product GM would be wise to share among their many U.S. brands, and it is different enough from the GMC Denali XT shown at 2008 Chicago show that those two could co-exist, assuming the GMC reaches production.
Pontiac is asking consumers to name the car, which can help build excitement as well gauge real interest. Cast your vote at www.pontiac.com/namethiscar; the winning entry is being announced April 15.
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This truck will take 6.0L V8 of the sedan, the GT’s upgraded braking system, and all of its convenience and safety features. As you might guess, it carries distinct sheetmetal, including doors, roof, and everything behind the B-pillar. It shares the sedan’s rear-drive architecture, beefed up in key areas to allow for its expanded cargo and towing capacity. The truck is also longer than the sedan, almost all of the extra length between the axles.
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Pontiac promises a zero-to-sixty time of 5.4 seconds, with 1074 payload and 3500-pound towing capacities, enough to tow a couple of jet skis, motorcycles, or a small boat. (The G8 sedan is only capable of towing 2000 pounds.) Though not my flavor, I can its appeal among the single, young, and nomadic.
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