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New Nissan Concept Hints at Luxurious, Autonomous Future

Nissan has unveiled a sharp new concept car at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show that previews what its autonomous driving technology might be like.

The Nissan VMotion 2.0 is a concept for a fastback sedan, which seems to be the biggest trend for sedans these days. With its sharp lines and floating roof, the design and shape make it look like a hyper-modernized version of the Maxima, and it could give an accurate sneak peek at the automaker’s plans for the future of its sporty family sedan.

Of course, the biggest features in the Nissan VMotion 2.0 concept are that it will be fully connected and offer fully autonomous driving capability to “make the mobility experience seamless for busy professionals constantly on the go,” Nissan says.

Nissan is aiming for zero emissions and zero fatalities one day, and the ProPilot system in this concept previews how Nissan will achieve this lofty goal. Not too many details about the technology have been released, but it “is envisioned to provide autonomous driving support technology on urban roads and at intersections,” Nissan says.

An interesting design cue in this four-seat Nissan VMotion 2.0 concept is that the doors swing outward, which creates a wide opening without pillars. The rest of the interior is luxurious and modern, looking almost Scandinavian with different textures, flowing lines and a lot of whites, copper details, and open-pore wood. The half moon steering wheel is also unusual and is designed so drivers and passengers get an unobstructed view of the massive infotainment display that takes the place of traditional gauges.

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Ford Unveils Updated F-150 Pickup With New V6 Diesel Engine

Yesterday, kicking off the Detroit auto show a day early, Ford took the wraps off the updated 2018 F-150 half-ton pickup truck that will offer a 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine option.

The new engine, called the Lion, will be a variant of the 3.0-liter diesels Ford builds for Land Rover and Jaguar vehicles that are produced in England.

Ford did not release any details about the diesel other than it would have a 10-speed automatic transmission that was jointly developed with General Motors, and the truck will feature standard stop-start technology, which turns off the engine when the pickup comes to a stop to save fuel.

The pickup truck fuel economy leader is the Ram 1500 diesel engine with an EPA rating of 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined.

Ford’s current F-150 best fuel economy comes from the 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine that gets 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.

The Detroit maker is also revamping its gasoline engines to increase fuel economy. That includes a turbocharged 2.7-liter Ecoboost engine, a twin turbo V6, a 5.0-liter V8 and new base model 3.3- liter V6.

Innovative port and direct fuel-injection systems increase fuel efficiency, and all but the base 3.3-liter V6 will come standard with the 10-speed automatic.

SEE ALSO: New Ford EcoBlue Diesel Engine Promises Increased Efficiency

“We have a more expanded and capable powertrain,” said Peter Dowding, chief engineer for powertrain gasoline systems.

“There are some pretty significant changes. … We’re chasing after every piece of fuel economy we can get,” he said.

Under-hood changes aren’t the only news for the 2018 F-150.

Ford is discarding the signature three-bar grille that has identified the F-150 for more than a decade.

The replacement is a two bar grille design borrowed from the new 2016 F-250 Super Duty dubbed “double I-beam” by Ford, and customers can choose one of seven different grilles, each providing a distinct look.

On the backside, a new sculpted tailgate with an embossed “F-150” is flanked by new taillights.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Ford Transit To Be Offered With A Diesel Engine

The 2018 F-150 will be the first light-duty truck to get pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection as well as adaptive cruise control which can come to a complete stop – then accelerate again.

The new model will also have an available Wi-Fi hot spot that can accommodate up to 10 devices, and will offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility.

Expect the 2018 Ford F-150 to arrive in dealer showrooms in the fall of 2017, but those who want the towing and hauling capabilities of the diesel engine will have to wait until summer 2018.

Pricing will be released later this year and should vary little from the current models that start at $28,025 for the base XL and top out at over $60,000 for a fully-optioned Platinum model.

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Chevrolet Bolt and Chrysler Pacifica Win North American Car of the Year Awards

Chevrolet’s Bolt EV and the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan – including its plug-in hybrid version – joined the Honda Ridgeline as winners of the North American Car, Utility Vehicle and Truck of the Year.

Selected as the winners respectively in the car, utility vehicle and truck categories, the Bolt compact crossover and Pacifica minivan are standout green cars already.

Pacifica Hybrid.

The Bolt is the first EV priced below $40,000 with more than 200 miles range, and the Pacifica Hybrid takes a prominent role in the V6 family line as the first plug-in hybrid minivan.

The Ridgeline revises Honda’s light pickup truck, and the winners were chosen from 44 semifinalists by 60 automotive journalists.

Ridgeline.

Other nominees edged out by the Bolt included the Genesis G90 and Volvo S90 – both innovative, and priced higher than the Bolt.

“The Bolt EV fulfills Chevrolet’s promise to offer an affordable, long-range electric,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president, GM Global Product Development. “It is a game-changer that is not only a great electric vehicle; it’s a great vehicle — period.”

As for the Pacifica, it edged out the Jaguar F-Pace, and Mazda CX-9 SUV.

“When we first introduced the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica just one year ago, we believed that we had created the perfect formula for today’s busy families,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands, Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat, FCA – North America. “But it’s the recognition from our customers and respected opinion leaders like the NACTOY jury that helps to reinforce Pacifica’s status in the marketplace as the no-compromises minivan, and highlights what a great job the entire team has done in developing, building and selling the all-new Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid.”


The Pacifica Hybrid has yet to go on sale this year, but the Bolt EV began sales in December with 579 units in California and Oregon.

Plans are for nationwide sales for both vehicles later this year.

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270-Mile All-Electric VW I.D. Buzz Is the VW Bus Reimagined

Volkswagen’s all-electric I.D. Buzz Microsbus Concept made its world debut at today’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The I.D. Buzz is part of VW’s plan to sell one million battery-electric vehicles worldwide by 2025 beginning with the I.D. hatchback in 2020, that was introduced at last year’s Paris Motor Show.

One of few EV concept cars at this year’s Detroit show, the I.D. Buzz is one of a long list of concept vans attempting to resurrect the Microbus styling that haven’t made it into production.

Technical details are sparse: under the floor is a 110-kWh lihium-ion battery pack sized to fit the 129-inch wheelbase, providing a projected driving range of 200 to 270 miles on the U.S. EPA test cycle.

The battery can be charged to 80 percent of its capacity within 30 minutes using the Combined Charging System (CCS) or an inductive charging interface, with a charging rate of 150 kilowatts.

A 200-horsepower electric motor powers each set of wheels with a total output of 370 horsepower, good for a 0 to 60 mph sprint of around five seconds.

Volkswagen says the all-wheel drive I.D. Buzz could also be offered in a two-wheel drive version with an 83 kilowatt-hour battery and a rear 268 horsepower motor.

Built on VW’s Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB), the I.D. Buzz measures 194.5-inches long by 77.8-inces wide and 77.3-inches in tall, providing interior space that’s close to the Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey minivans.

Playing off the Microbus, the front end has the characteristic VW badge that is lit, but instead of round headlights designers chose slender LEDs that VW calls “eyes.”

Anticipating autonomous driving, the interior is more like a lounge than a people hauler, with front seats that swivel rearward, seatbacks of the center-row seats folding to form tables and third-row seats that convert into a bed.

An “ID Box” center console with a detachable tablet display can also be repositioned around the cabin or removed and used outside the vehicle with its Beats Bluetooth loudspeakers.

In full autonomous mode incorporating VW’s ID Pilot system, the round, spoke less steering wheel retracts and is augmented with a reality head up display (HUD).

If approved for production, the Vokswagen electric I.D. Buzz could reach dealer showrooms by 2022.

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Nissan’s Quarter-Millionth Leaf Means It’s The Best-Selling Plug-in Car In History

There are now more than 252,000 Nissan Leafs on the road worldwide.

The all-electric hatchback began life with just 50 sales in December 2010 and has since become the world’s best-selling EV in terms of cumulative sales – and by extension it’s the pinnacle electrified product for the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Aided by availability in more global markets than the Chevy Volt and Opel/Vauxhall variants which have seen 134,500 sold, the Leaf has long since surpassed that car which was first released the same month and year.

First-generation Volt.

And, helped by more time on the market than the second-highest selling Tesla Model S launched June 2012 and with 158,000 sales, the Leaf stands above, although Tesla’s achievement is impressive especially given its 2-4-times higher price.

While we’re making note, the Leaf also eclipses the fourth-place plug-in vehicle, Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV, which even without the North America market has around 116,500 sales since January 2013.

These are the only plug-in electrified vehicles so far with over 100,000 sales, thus the Leaf’s quarter million makes it a kind of big fish in a small pond.

Mass Market Solution

The front-wheel-drive-only Leaf was introduced amid bullish statements by Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn who projected EVs could comprise 10 percent of the market as soon as 2020.

It was intended with consumer subsidies to be mass-appealing, though the styling was influenced by focus groups asking Nissan to make it look funky and and stand-outish as a green car extraordinaire.

Nissan’s marketing focused on an environmental angle for a while early on. It later changed tact to low cost of operation. A majority of people lease them.

Initial driving range on the U.S. EPA cycle was 73 miles; in 2013 a detuning of torque by 20 pounds-feet and other efficiencies squeaked out another 11 miles from its 24 kWh battery, and in 2016 a 30-kWh 107-mile version came out.

Nissan has since made 30-kWh the standard for the three-trim-level line as a new as-yet un-revealed model waits in the wings for next model year.

Sales Progress

Global sales started OK in the first full year of 2011, with 22,094 units and inched upwards in 2012 to 26,973.

In 2013, they jumped to 47,716, and peaked in 2014 at 61,507. In 2015 sales fell to 43,651, and – encouragingly – in 2016 a partial count is about 50,000 factoring most major markets.

The EV sold its first 100,000 globally in January 2014. It passed 150,000 in December 2014, and 200,000 in December 2015 and rather consistently it has just crossed 250,000 in early January.

SEE ALSO:

For its maker, the Leaf represents the lion’s share of sales for all-electric vehicles. The Nissan brand has sold just 275,000 EVs, meaning the Leaf accounts for 91.6 percent. For the Renault-Nissan Alliance, and its nearly 390,000 sales as of December 2016, the Leaf constitutes almost 65 percent of the sales.

Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf Celebrate Their Sixth-Year Anniversary

Top markets for the little EV that could are the U.S. with 103,597 as of Dec. 2016, Japan with 70,346 as of Oct. 2016, and Europe with around 66,000 through Nov. 2016.

Norway has all by itself purchased 19,407 Leafs through Dec. 2016 and – counting used imports – there are 27,500 Leafs on the roadways of Norway.

In the UK, Nissan sold about 15,000 units through Sept. 2016, and Canada has accounted for 4,573 through Dec. 2016.

China has spoken for more than 3,500 of locally made versions called the Dongfeng Nissan Venucia e30 or Venucia Morning Wind, and Australia has taken around 1,000.

Time for a Refresh

The Leaf has been milked for a good seven-year run and given its replacement may not get here until the 2018 model year, it will have lived through much of this decade.

A 200-plus mile range version is expected, and what is taking Nissan so long to preview it is unknown. The Renault Nissan Alliance has already revealed battery updates to the now-longer-range Renault Kangoo Z.E. and Renault ZOE which were introduced after the Leaf.

2017 Bolt EV.

Nissan has said the wait however may be worth it. The new car may borrow design language from the IDS concept revealed last year in Japan, and be more mainstream overall.

News of a 250-mile range battery in a test mule along with other teasers of more than double the range have gone out for a couple years now, and Ghosn has said the Leaf will be competitive with the Chevy Bolt.

That EV, with 238 miles, went on sale in Oregon and California last month, Tesla’s “$35,000” Model 3 is also pending, and several other 200-mile EVs are also due over the next couple years.

Ghosn said last week the new Leaf will also feature ProPilot technology, “enabling autonomous drive functionality for single-lane highway driving.

Nissan IDS Concept with 60-kWh battery.

When it will be released is not clear. Some have speculated the Tokyo auto show, but others have said it could be sooner.

We shall see, and meanwhile it will have a nice lead on sales.

No doubt the company will want to keep that going for the life of the second generation too – which if it is kept in circulation just as long as gen one would mean until 2025.

Thanks to Mario R. Duran for help with data.

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