With trucks and SUVs dominating its sales in Canada and the U.S., it’s easy to forget many of Ford’s car products are developed at its Germany-based European operations.
And a precursor to what the future of Ford cars will look like globally will be unveiled at this month’s Frankfurt auto show, in the form of the new Evos concept.
Ford says “you will never see this car on the road,” but that it points the way to future Ford styling and high-tech features.
The four-passenger Evos is a plug-in hybrid with lithium-ion batteries.
It has four gullwing doors that Ford is emphatic will not be seen on a production Ford.
The Evos’s face features what Ford calls a “higher-mounted trapezoidal grille.” The replacement for the North American Fusion and European Mondeo midsize sedans is speculated to receive a similar front-end treatment.
Beyond its new styling, Ford is using the Evos to highlight some of its more futuristic thinking.
For example, Ford says Evos is “location aware.”
With assistance from advanced air quality sensors and access to air quality data, the car can “proactively suggest a healthier route to the destination.”
“With information from the cloud, the vehicle can provide the same connected lifestyle the driver experiences at the home or office,” says a statement from Ford.
“The car knows the driver, and automatically adapts handling, steering and engine controls to deliver an exceptionally dynamic driving experience.”
Bentley ponders building “sporty, dynamic” SUV
Germany’s Volkswagen Group’s ultra-luxury Bentley brand is looking to get into the sports-utility-vehicle business, according to an article in the U.S magazine Car and Driver.
In an interview with the man responsible for developing Porsche’s Cayenne SUV a decade ago, current Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer believes an SUV model would help fill the gap in the product cycle between redesigns of the Mulsanne and Continental sedans.
“I think there is room for an SUV in the Bentley lifestyle,” he adds. “There’s no product in this price region or in this region of exclusivity. And it would fit perfectly into our product strategy in the U.S., China, and Europe.”
Not unexpectedly, Bentley’s first SUV will be spun off the same corporative VW platform that underpins the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg.
To remain exclusive, the Bentley SUV is expected to come with a 12-cylinder engine, and Dürheimer assures it will have a “unique” appearance.
“The profile is the challenge. It will look like an SUV, but it will look sporty, dynamic, and will have some, let’s say, devices of pure identification, so that if you’re sitting in a café or sitting out on the porch and the car goes by you immediately identify it is a Bentley. But I can’t tell you what (these cues are).”
Dürheimer said the SUV is not finalized yet. The decision to move to production is speculated to be made by the end of the year. If it is signed-off for production, the Bentley SUV should cost more than $200,000 and arrive by late 2014.
Fiat to kill unpopular Dodge Caliber and Dakota
While Italy’s Fiat is still in the midst of revamping its Chrysler Group product plans with all-new and thoroughly refreshed products after taking over the bankrupt U.S. automaker two years ago, two existing Chrysler Group models are heading off to pasture.
Plagued with cheap-feeling interiors and unsophisticated drivetrains from Day One, production of the Dodge Caliber four-door hatchback will be phased out by the end of November, according to a report from the Chrysler enthusiast Web site, Allpar.com. This comes only five years after it replaced the popular Neon compact.
Fiat has already announced that the Caliber replacement will be based on a North American-exclusive “wide-body” version of the automaker’s existing Alfa Romeo Giulietta compact. But that new model isn’t expected until late 2012 at the earliest, leaving Dodge with no entry before then in Canada’s best-selling passenger car segment.
Meanwhile, the Detroit News is reporting that Ram (née Dodge) will stop building its slow-selling Dakota compact pickup truck this month.
Last year in Canada, only 1,715 Dakotas were sold, compared to 54,267 copies of the full-size Ram pickup.
Obviously, truck buyers saw more value in going with the full-size choice.
The Dakota can’t carry or tow as much as the Ram, and its cabin is smaller. That’s obvious. But the Ram’s price doesn’t reflect its deficiencies: A base Dakota 4X2 Extended Cab SXT starts at $29,495 — about $10,000 more than a base model Ram 1500 4X2 Regular Cab Short Bed ST.
New B Class Benzes to debut at Frankfurt auto show
Like its luxury brand rivals, Germany’s Mercedes-Benz is quickly expanding its small car business to meet tighter fuel economy and tailpipe emission regulations.
And one of the first of a new generation of small Mercedes will be the replacement for the existing B Class, set to be unveiled at this month’s Frankfurt show.
The compact tall-hatchback debuts a new front-wheel-drive platform for Mercedes that will also support the new A Class variants, and a new family of four-cylinder engines, plus new six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch transmissions with integrated stop/start and regenerative braking systems.
While European buyers can begin taking delivery in November, the new B Class won’t arrive in Canada until later next year.
In the interim, though, Mercedes still has a few “old school” cars to sell. One of those is the SLK two-seat rear-wheel-drive roadster, also debuting at Frankfurt.
The new SLK 55 AMG version gets a non-turbocharged iteration of the 5.5-litre V8 that has been popping up in other AMG models.
Without the forced-induction, the engine makes 415 hp — a jump of 60 hp over the older, supercharged V8 SLK AMG model.
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