Detroit's annual celebration of all things automotive is well underway, and the list of announcements is long: there's a big new Lincoln, a high-end Lexus coupe, an unexpected sports coupe from Buick, and a whole lot more. Stay tuned right here for everything coming out of NAIAS 2016.
Jan 15, 2016Read Article >
If you want to win the hearts of cynical car journalists at an auto show, dazzle them with the unveiling of an unexpected luxury coupe concept. Buick, the GM brand that's struggled with its old-guy image over the past few decades, opted to use the stage of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) this week to make a powerful statement about its identity. Last Sunday, Buick unveiled its vision for a luxury concept coupe — the Buick Avista, a classic two-door looker.
Jan 14, 2016
US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx took to the Detroit Auto Show today to announce a series of initiatives around autonomous driving, seemingly designed to ease concerns that overly restrictive regulations would inhibit automakers and suppliers from effectively testing and producing self-driving cars. Participants in the press conference today include GM, Ford, Tesla, Volvo, Fiat Chrysler, Delphi (which is working on self-driving components for a number of major automakers), and Google.Read Article >
Foxx says that within six months, his agency will work with states, manufacturers, and others to develop a "model" state policy for autonomous cars with the goal of creating a consistent national policy. This has become a hot-button topic as of late — different rules for self-driving cars in different states — to the point where Volvo issued a press release about it. "The absence of one set of rules means car makers cannot conduct credible tests to develop cars that meet all the different guidelines of all 50 US states," Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson said last October. It seems plausible that other automakers expressed some of the same concerns, and Foxx's move appears to be a direct response. The new guidance is an update of rules first put in place in 2013.
The first major auto show of the year is in Detroit, which is appropriate considering that the Motor City is the spiritual home of the automobile. (Then again, you could argue it's inappropriate because Detroit winters are no joke, but it's still always worth the trip.) As usual, a nice cross-section of the industry came to play at the 2016 show — little electric hatchbacks, big sports coupes, and basically everything in between.Read Article >
For all of our coverage of the show, start with the StoryStream here. And when you're done with that, come back and check out some of our favorite photo from in and around the glitzy, glamorous NAIAS floor.
With another North American International Auto Show in the history books, it's time to look back and reflect (which, admittedly, is difficult to do when our brains are still reeling from CES just a few days ago). Detroit was a surprisingly exciting affair, with a trio of major luxury sports coupe announcements — the Buick Avista, Lexus LC, and Infiniti Q60 — plus the public debut of the BMW M2. The Chevy Bolt, shown first at CES, was still a big deal at NAIAS, attracting throngs of media for the entire two days we were there. And Hyundai launched an entirely new brand!Read Article >
Let's get into it with our team on the ground, Jordan Golson, Sean O'Kane, and Chris Ziegler.
Jan 12, 2016
Lexus is the Rodney Dangerfield of the automotive world. No matter what the company does, it never seems to get any respect.Read Article >
The company revealed the LC 500 sports coupe yesterday at the Detroit Auto Show. This two door, which has two small rear seats, has been in the works since the LF-LC concept was presented in Detroit four years ago. It will go to production as a 2017 model.
Jan 12, 2016
Lincoln unveiled the production version of its Continental executive sedan at the Detroit Auto Show this morning. The presentation was heavily focused on lifestyle and the experience of driving the car, rather than on performance specs and niggling details like the price.Read Article >
It all started with a jazz band featuring a truly stunning female vocalist who, rather unexpectedly, blew the doors off the joint. Tech companies take note, it was a massive improvement over the dub wub wub wub wub that infects the press conferences of CES.
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Acura's concept car at this year's Detroit Auto Show, the Precision Concept, is basically a textbook for Acura's new design language, which means you're going to see many of the elements on this car in new, real Acura models in the very near future.Read Article >
It's good news, then, that the Precision Concept looks kind of great.
Few automakers need a breath of fresh, creative air as much Acura does. Sure, the upcoming NSX helps — but the rest of the lineup (read: the part that normal people can afford), peppered with boring blocks of angular metal, just doesn't inspire much emotion.Read Article >
That's where the Precision Concept comes into play, introduced at NAIAS in Detroit today. It looks almost nothing like an Acura, and there are very, very few design elements that evoke any Acuras that are currently on the road. As the name implies, this isn't a real car — rather, it's a design study that gestures toward "a bolder, more distinctive future" for the brand's upcoming models. Basically, it's a near guarantee that you're going to see bits and pieces of the Precision Concept in the next several cars that Acura introduces.
Jan 12, 2016
Ford Motor Company has long struggled to reclaim the pizazz that made its luxury marque, Lincoln, among the most beautiful nameplates of the mid-century. It’s a storied brand that dates back to Henry Ford’s son, Edsel Ford, who had a very different philosophy than his strictly-business father. Edsel, not Henry, founded the Detroit Institute of Arts. He led the company’s efforts to build a war arsenal in World War II. He commissioned the first Lincoln Continental concept as his personal car to show off on his 1939 Florida vacation. Edsel set the tone for a Hollywood-style glamour takeover of the auto industry: Elvis Presley, Liz Taylor, and Frank Sinatra all owned Lincoln Continental Mark IIs. But the trouble for Lincoln is that outside of the ‘90s-era Navigator, it’s never recovered any sense of that old-school swagger. The Continental itself faded out of production, a shadow of its glory days, in 2002.Read Article >
But you’ve got to give it to the Lincoln brand for not giving up. Lincoln reintroduced the Continental as a concept at the New York International Auto Show last spring — an old trick of using nostalgia to reposition the brand’s flagship for a tenth generation. And for the most part, it worked. Critics (including The Verge) were impressed by its souped-up surface architecture and unusually plush interior that included Gershwin-inspired “Rhapsody Blue” seats.
Hyundai's been making Genesis-branded cars for a while now, but today it announced the G90 — the first car under the Genesis name since it split off as its own luxury line.Read Article >
The G90 luxury sedan comes in two different flavors: the high end is a direct-injected 5.0-liter V8 that should be capable of putting out 420 horsepower, while the low end features a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6. They'll come rear-wheel drive, but both will have all-wheel drive options.
Those of us of a certain age might remember the original Lexus SC, an expensive, no-limits luxury coupe that owners an ex-owners still remember fondly two decades later. Now, we have a proper successor: meet the LC, a flagship coupe ready to do battle with the BMWs and Mercedes of the world. Actually, you might say it's Lexus' new flagship, period.Read Article >
Based on the LF-LC concept that debuted right here at NAIAS several years ago, the LC 500 carries over many of the concept's styling cues. If "500" sounds like a big number, that's by design — there's a hot V-8 under the hood plucked from the RC F performance coupe, producing 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque. That's good for a 0-60 run of 4.5 seconds, and it's paired to a new 10-speed automatic transmission, which Lexus says is nearly as fast as the dual-clutch arrangement favored by some other companies. (Clearly, there's no manual here.)
Infiniti just officially announced the new Q60 sports coupe here at the Detroit Auto Show, a redesigned 400-horsepower follow to the previous model (and the Q50 sedan released a few years ago). The car's existence wasn't necessarily a surprise — it first showed up as a concept car one year ago to the day, and leaks of the production version have been around for months. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said that the Q60 is a near-translation of the concept, but there is some new stuff going on inside.Read Article >
Ford has developed a new leasing program that will allow "self-organized groups" of three to six individuals to group-lease Ford vehicles. It's called Ford Credit Link and it will be available at three Austin, Texas Ford dealers beginning in February.Read Article >
The sharing economy has thus far focused on apps like Uber and Lyft, which allow drivers to use their cars as taxis, or ZipCar-type like services like Ford GoDrive or GM's Let's Drive NYC where customers access to a fleet of vehicles.
This is the Audi h-tron quattro, a squat SUV that runs on hydrogen alone with a fuel cell powertrain. The company says it'll run around 372 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, sprint to 62 mph in under 7 seconds, and can refill in just four minutes. Inside, the car has the kind of advanced interior you'd expect of a true concept, featuring curved OLED displays.Read Article >
That refill time is hydrogen's real value proposition in the race to alternative fuel vehicles — even the fastest-charging EVs still take 20 minutes or more to get a decent level of charge in the batteries, while the hydrogen refueling experience is more akin to gasoline, and the only exhaust is water. Of course, the problem is that hydrogen fuel cell cars need a network of refueling stations, and right now, those don't really exist; there are small numbers of them concentrated in California, but a global network on the same ubiquity as gasoline is many, many decades away, assuming automakers can convince us that we want hydrogen in the first place.
The Avista looked great in Buick's press photos. Now that I've seen it up close, I can confirm that it's just wonderful from every angle. It's just a concept car right now, but Buick must build it. I won't accept any other outcome.Read Article >
This lithe, sparkling blue coupe is based on the same GM platform as the Chevy Camaro and offers up 400 horsepower courtesy of a twin-turbo V-6. I can't help but wonder what would happen if Buick not only made this car, but ended up offering a performance version with, say, a big V-8. Crazier things have happened, and there's some precedent for it — Buick does offer the Regal GS, a performance-minded variant of an otherwise unremarkable family sedan.
After revealing the production car last week at CES and offering first drives, GM is directing our attention to the internals of the all-electric Chevy Bolt here at NAIAS. The most important stat is 60 kWh, the capacity of the battery pack that runs beneath the Bolt's floor from front footwell to rear seat — that matches the capacity of the Tesla Model S's (now-discontinued) smallest battery, but for a much lower starting price of around $30,000 after tax rebates.Read Article >
Unfortunately, Chevy still hasn't disclosed exactly how much range the Bolt's 60 kWh battery will offer, we just know that it'll be at least 200 miles. You'll get 50 miles of range in "under two hours" with a standard 240-volt charger (or a full charge overnight). Connected to a DC Fast Charger, you can put 90 miles into the tank in half an hour. That's not Supercharger fast, but it's not bad.
Much to the disappointment of space nerds everywhere, man has not stepped foot on the Moon in more than 40 years. Governments have sent expensive robots and satellites to our nearest celestial neighbor, but the Moon remains woefully under-explored.Read Article >
That's why Google and the X Prize foundation teamed up to offer $30 million to the first private enterprise that can soft-land a robot on the surface of the Moon and have it traverse 500 meters of the lunar surface.
Jan 11, 2016
With a string of announcements over the past couple of years, Ford has been gradually transforming from a traditional automaker into a more modernized mobility company, hoping to avoid getting caught off-guard by the disruption that has been sweeping the industry. On Monday, it took another turn in that pivot with the announcement of FordPass, a sort of transportation concierge program that will be offered to both customers and the general public.Read Article >
FordPass members will be able to book parking spots in cities and airports, schedule Ford vehicle maintenance, speak directly with guides, and find out more about Ford products and services. The system can book a parking space directly with ParkWhiz and Parkopedia and access airport parking through FlightCar. We’re imagining that things like free fries from McDonald’s or a coupon for a Big Gulp from 7-Eleven — two of the program partners — could be offered as part of its membership reward program. Members can also drop in on a "FordHub" in urban areas to meet with guides, where no cars will be sold. In fact, soon Ford might be able to provide commuters with access to an e-bike.
Ford has announced at the Detroit Auto Show this week that it's now testing its autonomous research vehicles in snowy conditions. Inclement weather — conditions like heavy rain, snow, hail, and the like — have long been viewed as one of the final unsolved technical challenges to bringing self-driving cars to market.Read Article >
The snow testing is, to some degree, a side effect of Ford's home base in Michigan, where wintry conditions are unavoidable for several months out of the year. The company notes that traditional autonomous driving sensors like LiDAR — those spinning things you see atop many research vehicles — can't see through snow, which renders them useless for building the high-resolution maps of a car's surroundings that are necessary for safe driving. Instead, Ford is using LiDAR to detect landmarks above the road, then switching to high-resolution maps of the road that are already stored onboard the vehicle to actually drive.
First, a disclaimer: this isn't a real car — yet. But Buick is extraordinarily stupid if it doesn't put the Avista (or something very close to it) into production.Read Article >
The Avista is a swoopy 2+2 coupe (meaning it has two vestigial rear seats, but is mainly designed for two adult passengers) that debuted at the North American International Auto Show this evening, incorporating the Chevy Camaro's platform into a very, very different design language. The rear-wheel drive concept is powered by a 400-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 that would probably motivate it very well, assuming it ends up on the production line.
After teasing the interior of this very car at CES last week, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled all the details on the 2017 E-Class, the company's middle-of-the-road sedan that slots between the high-volume C and the flagship S. It's also one of the last cars in Mercedes' lineup to get the company's newest design language — and as you might expect, it looks a bit like a scaled-down S-Class. (Not necessarily a bad thing.)Read Article >
The real story is the technology, though, which helps explain why the car got a teaser at CES. (The company actually calls it "the most advanced vehicle the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio," which is saying something.) Big features include Drive Pilot, a semi-autonomous system that can handle highway driving up to 130 miles per hour — and still up to 81 mph when road markers "are unclear or non-existent." Like the new BMW 7-Series, the E-Class can also park and un-park itself with the assistance of a phone app.
Jan 9, 2016
With an intensely automotive-focused CES 2016 coming to a close, the show cars are being polished and prepped for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) that opens this coming week in Detroit. Once two trade shows that seemed at odds — CES ascendant, NAIAS in decline — the shows seem to have morphed into a one-two punch driving home the same message: cars aren’t going away.Read Article >
That’s not to say that CES and Detroit are in perfect harmony, and in the dissonance we find a host of questions that will need to be answered in the coming years. Who who will own cars, who will drive them, and who will we pay to make them? Will Uber take over the global auto industry? Will Apple seriously make a car? Will Ford become a supplier for Google?