2006 North American International Auto Show:

Chrysler Revives Imperial Nameplate for Luxury Concept

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Imperial Takes Style Cues from the Past
The Chrysler Group has a history of presenting stunning concepts, particularly at the North American International Auto Show. Some of these reach production, though the 2006 Imperial concept is still just a concept. The Imperial may have a weaker business case than the Dodge Challenger it was introduced next too, but with it Chrysler explores how far up the luxury chain they may be able to reach. Vehicle Voice and AutoPacific correspondents were on hand for the unveiling, complete with star of Desperate_Housewives Eva Longoria flubbing her line. Expected to say she was desperate to have one, she turned out to be not that desperate to have one. No matter, in the end, as the concept won best in show from a 100-person Detroit News readers’ panel.

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The Imperial is envisioned as a flagship sedan, and looks to a lengthened version of the Chrysler 300 (LX) platform, though it has an additional seventeen inches between the axles and another six inches in height. This allows for the long, narrow proportions the company was looking for as well as the room to pamper rear-seat passengers. While the Dodge Charger borrowed inspiration from the Charger of old and the Dodge Challenger concept was a modern replica of the 1970 Challenger, Imperial looked to the 1930s and 1950s sedans that also bore the name.
Frankly, the styling of the Imperial has been very controversial no matter what the Detroit News poll says. Pundits have been ripping it apart. One design chief we talked to wondered what has happened to Chrysler’s vaunted styling team? Another senior designer thought it had interesting cues from the side view but that the front and rear designs were abominable. We know Chrysler can do a tasteful, very upscale Imperial. We’ll wait to see the next one.


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Subaru Concepts Retain Environmental Spirit. Make North American Debut in Detroit.

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Subaru presented two concepts illustrating their continued commitment to preserving the future of the environment while creating fun-to-drive vehicles. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents review the Subaru concepts seen at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Subaru B5-TPH – for the Environmentally Conscious with Active Lifestyles
The first was the Subaru B5-TPH. The B5-TPH is a two door, multipurpose coupe that features a clamshell hatch. The B5-TPH reflects Subaru’s Think, Feel, Drive campaign, yet retains the DNA of an authentic Subaru. Its design is rooted around environmentally conscious individuals who have active lifestyles.
The exterior of the B5-TPH is sporty and sleek yet reflects a rugged image. It could very well provide hints toward the design characteristics of the next generation Outback. The B5-TPH set out to achieve two design themes. One was joy, for versatility, and the second was sustainability, for performance.
The B5-TPH fuses Subaru’s four-cylinder turbo engine with hybrid technology. TPH stands for Turbo Parallel Hybrid and is a strategically important technology for the power source of clean-energy vehicles. The TPH powertrain will be incorporated with Subaru’s Boxer Engine and Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive systems. The TPH powertrain will be test-launched in Subaru vehicles within the Japanese market beginning in 2007.
An electric motor provides smooth power at low speeds, and the four-cylinder turbo engine provides powerful performance in the mid- and high-revolution ranges. The powertrain in the B5-TPH places a thin, 10-kw motor generator between the vehicle’s engine and its automatic transmission. The combination of the motor-generator and the turbocharged Boxer Engine creates a system which will deliver excellent acceleration and fuel economy. For even greater efficiency, the TPH gasoline engine adopts the Miller cycle concept.
The Miller-cycle engine is an improved version of Subaru’s Horizontally-Opposed four-cylinder turbo engine. To achieve Subaru’s level of sporty performance, the engine and automatic transmission torque converter have been linked by means of the motor generator creating a simple powertrain. The Miller cycle engine leaves the intake valve open during part of the compression stroke, effectively shortening the compression stroke to avoid detonation. With assistance from the turbocharger, the cylinder is able to pack a larger “charge” than a conventional-cycle engine. The Miller cycle turbo boxer engine in the B5-TPH operates up to 30 percent more efficiently that a conventional gasoline engine, and reduces CO2 emissions. To further enhance driving performance Subaru plans to equip the system with high-performance manganese lithium-ion batteries. The technology for the manganese lithium-ion batteries was showcased in Subaru’s second concept, the R1e.


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Mitsubishi ConceptCT: 2006 North American International Auto Show

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Mitsubishi Considers North American Small Car Entry
Updated February 1, 2006
As Mitsubishi considers the option of an economy or image compact entry for North America, the ConceptCT arrives on the 2006 auto show circuit, starting with the 2006 Detroit auto show in January. The concept uses a system Mitsubishi calls MIEV (Mitsubishi In-wheel Electronic Vehicle) technology. The basics of the system, which uses outer-rotor, in-wheel electric motors to move all four wheels as well as a 1.0L three-cylinder gasoline engine, was introduced at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show. By using the electric motors and a traditional gasoline engine, Mitsubishi is creating a type of hybrid system. While the final decision on a B-segment for the States has not yet been taken, Mitsubishi is seriously considering the option, as well as exploring variations on hybrid technology.

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The Small Car Challenge
The challenge for any maker introducing a new small car to the American market is how to cut through the clutter and make their small car entry a car buyers want rather than one they are “sentenced” to drive. Achieving an aspirational small car has been the holy grail of automakers since the days of the Pinto and Vega, but Scion and Mini have been successful of late with the xB, xA, and Cooper.


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