Archive for January 2017

NAIAS 2017. The Year’s First News From Detroit

A Great Start into New Year is Always in Detroit

It is a cause of excitement for me at the beginning of every year to visit Detroit on the occasion of NAIAS (North American International Automobile Show, as it is officially known).

The first global automotive event takes place every year (unlike Paris and Frankfurt that take place interchangeably and like the Geneva motor shows that takes place every year).
However, this year gave some warning signs as important brands like Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley and Mini did not attend. More automobile companies question the benefits of auto shows and look at opportunities to spend this money differently for more targeted and effective marketing.
However, once you are in Detroit for the “show”, it is still glamorous and immersive. Selling autos is an emotional business above all and auto shows help to create emotions.

You can have an overview of the most important launches and events of this year’s show below:

Cadillac’s Escala concept gives you the new design direction of the company.
GM’s luxury brand under the leadership of Johan de Nysschen, the Global President of Cadillac has entered a new era of global success.

 

 

Cadillac’s Escala concept gives you the new design direction of the company.
GM’s luxury brand under the leadership of Johan de Nysschen, the Global President of Cadillac has entered a new era of global success.

 

 

The BMW X2 Concept gives a good idea for the future design direction of sedans and SUV’s. It is an evolution and keeps the connection with the current model families.

The BMW X2 Concept gives a good idea for the future design direction of sedans and SUV’s. It is an evolution and keeps the connection with the current model families.

The 2018 Lexus LS is the flagship of the brand and was the first Lexus model launched 28 years ago.
Loosing ground against Mercedes S Class and BMW 7 Series, Lexus sold only 5514 units in the US last year, down 23 per cent compared to previous year.
Every sedan segment suffers from the falling sales as more people move to SUV’s.

The 2018 Lexus LS is the flagship of the brand and was the first Lexus model launched 28 years ago.
Loosing ground against Mercedes S Class and BMW 7 Series, Lexus sold only 5514 units in the US last year, down 23 per cent compared to previous year.
Every sedan segment suffers from the falling sales as more people move to SUV’s.

The all-new Odyssey from Honda will heat up the competition in the resurging minivan market.

The all-new Odyssey from Honda will heat up the competition in the resurging minivan market.

The Viziv-7 big SUV concept is Subaru’s determination to compete again in the growing 7-seater full-size SUV segment after the not-so-successful Tribeca about a decade ago.

The Viziv-7 big SUV concept is Subaru’s determination to compete again in the growing 7-seater full-size SUV segment after the not-so-successful Tribeca about a decade ago.

 

Ioniq, Hyundai’s new EV model range will compete with Prius of Toyota, before any other model.

Ioniq, Hyundai’s new EV model range will compete with Prius of Toyota,before any other model.

Nissan’s Vmotion 2.0 concept would probably be the next-gen Altima.
Nissan has no intention to walk away from the sedan segment.

Nissan cannot keep up with the surging sales of its Rouge crossover that sold 40K in December alone and making history.
Now, the highly successful compact, European Qashqai will complement as “Rouge Sport” in the US and still as “Qashqai” in Canada.

Guangzou Auto is another Chinese manufacturer that keeps an eye on the North American market.
Although they do not have immediate plans for a launch, the products they display give a hint about the changing quality of Chinese vehicles. Here, the GS 7 SUV and GA 8 SEdan (below)

 

 

 

Atlas, VW’s new 7-seater SUV embodies VW’s biggest hope and the most important product for a brighter future in North America in the aftermath of the emission scandal.

Volkswagen’s I.D. BUZZ concept is another commitment from VW to build electric vehicles.
The I.D. BUZZ marries maximum space utilization with all-wheel drive, electric motors at the front and rear axles, a fully autonomous driving mode, called the “I.D. Pilot,” and a new generation of interior display elements and controls.
And the strong retro design elements referring to the iconic VW Bus is, of course, not a coincidence.

Infiniti’s new X30 compact crossover is an adaption of Mercedes CLA, an outcome of cooperation between Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler.

Q8, Audi’s full-size crossover concept is almost production ready. The battle in the luxury SUV category will intensify.

Whwn we talk about trucks, Ford is probably the first American brand coming to the mind.
Just by manufacturing the F-150 pick up truck, Ford would still be the 7th largest manufacturer in the world.

Take a deep breath: The serial production version of the new Lincoln Navigator will be more practical and will have “normal” doors instead of gull wings.

Now Hyundai has its own “Lexus”.
Genesis, the Group’s new luxury brand starts with G-80 & G-90, two sedans with a very competitive market strongly dominated by Germans.
Remembering what they have achieved so far, take the Koreans seriously.

KIA Stinger is the brand’s new, performance sedan with “a lot of input” from German engineering and should elevate the brand’s perception to compete with Mercedes, BMW, Audi and the likes.

Chrysler’s Portal electric minivan concept is the vision of the future of family transportation.

Mazda’s highly successful compact crossover, the CX-5 is more refined and better in every aspect. Test drives and reviews in the next few months will probably not disappoint.

Chevrolet’e pure electric Bolt was chosen as the “North American Car Of The Year.
A well-deserved title and congrats to GM for bringing an EV, with nearly 400 kilometers range and perfect room economy.

The all-electric Bolt is on the market months before Tesla Model 3, its main competitor.

The all-electric Bolt is on the market months before Tesla Model 3, its main competitor.

 

 

 

Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

 

Overview

Hybrids represent a transformative technology between gasoline and electric vehicles.

Until we fully surrender to all-electric (or, probably fuel-cell) vehicles, internal combustion engine is here to stay for, probably a few decades more. It still keeps getting better, more fuel efficient and still significantly cheaper.

General Motors (GM) of today has a strong portfolio of cars with different versions of electric-drive (EV) technology.

With the Malibu as hybrid, Volt an EV with range extender and free of range anxiety and finally Bolt, as a pure EV with an impressive range of 380 kilometers, GM is doing its part to embrace and develop EV technology. I humbly and subjectively think that while GM is making a business case, the company is paying also for its sins in the past. (Remember the killing of EV-1 in mid nineties)

I drive to Detroit every January since 2011 to visit NAIAS (North American International Auto Show). This year was not exception. And this time, the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid was my roadmate.

As soon as I hit the road, I noticed that it is still a pleasure to drive a sedan, in an SUV-crazy North American taste of mobility. The Chevy dirves well, built solid and behaves welI on the road. Part of my trip was under snow-covered parts of the 401 between Woodstock and London in the very early morning hours. I am happy to see to vast improvement in the quality of GM vehicles in the post-bankruptcy era.

Engine And Drivetrain

The Malibu Hybrid houses a new, direct-injected 1.8L I4 engine mated to a two-motor drive unit. This drive unit, based on the one used in the Chevy Volt, provides additional power to assist the engine during acceleration. The gas engine is rated 122 hp at 5,000 rpm and 129 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm. One electric motor generates 55 kW of power, while the second motor provides 76 kW of power. In conjunction with the gas engine, total system output rates 182 hp and 277 lb-ft.  Juice is stored in and supplied to the two-motor drive unit via an 80-cell, 1.5 kW-hr lithium-ion battery pack. Chevrolet claims the Malibu can accelerate up to 88 km/h solely on electric power. The Malibu Hybrid also uses the Volt’s blended regenerative braking system to recover kinetic energy during braking.

A new technology launched with this model is Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery (EGHR) system, which uses exhaust heat to warm the engine and cabin. EGHR improves engine warm-up and helps offer consistent fuel economy performance in cold weather. Although I did not have an instrumental measurement, my trip to Detroit in a very cold night was very comfortable, and I assume, this feature was helpful.

Consumption

After one-week test-drive of 1,168 kilometers mostly on the highway and including a return trip from Toronto to Detroit, the average consumption was 7 liters. This is impressive considering the fact that hybrids make a bigger difference when driven in the city. However, it is still significantly higher than Government of Canada measurement of 5.5 liter. So, as advised, always use these figures for comparison purposes.

Conclusion

In the last couple of years, GM achieved a lot when it comes to green, technologies. My impressions with the last generation Volt was amazing. And the full-EV Bolt will most probably will turn another page in the history of EV’s. And for “moderately environmentalists” who will always remain connected to a traditional internal combustion engine, the Malibu Hybrid is a very fuel-efficient hybrid, which drives, equipped and priced well. The cost recovery is still an issue, depending your annual mileage.
If you are, for example, an Uber driver, have a closer look at this vehicle.

Also worth remembering that the Malibu is the only midsize car with a sales growth in 2016 in a market with customers migrating to SUV’s.

Type of vehicle: Mid-size sedan
Engine: 1.8L Hybrid, DOHC, I4 SIDI
Transmission: 6-speed, automatic
Price (base/as tested): $28,850 / $36,530
Destination charge: CAD 1,650
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km): 4.8 city; 5.5 highway; 5.1 combined
Optional features

Leather and convenience package: (convenience & tecnology package, leather appointed seating surfaces, heated front seats, 6-way power front passenger seat with power lumbar, Bose premium 9-speaker system, MyLink radio (TM) with navigation, Leather & convenience package credit (-525), blue velvet metallic

Total Price as Tested: $36,530

Article: Varol McKars

Pictures: Varol McKars, Basak McKars

Test vehicle was provided by GMC Canada (via BHG Media Fleet)

For the most up-to-date and more detailed information, visit:

www.chevrolet.ca

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