Published on February 11th, 2012 | by John O'Neil0
This week in the Automotive Industry – 2/11/2012
10. The modern Mopar
Mopar began as a simple parts purveyor for Chrysler, offering upgrade packages as well as simple bolt-ons and a few cosmetic upgrades. With the recent changes at Chrysler, Mopar has shifted its focus as well, offering far more cosmetic upgrades than before and a few performance tweaks for new models such as the Dart and even Fiat’s 500. Does the added style justify the Mopar name, and can any of these upgrades actually make the cars perform?
9. One fast trike
If your idea of three-wheeled fun is a plastic trike from playskool, then guide your attention towards Morgan’s latest motorcycle-powered three-wheeler. Just confirmed for production, the Morgan has seemingly been lifted intact out of 1930’s Britain to provide Americans with that wind in your hair, bugs in your teeth joy that usually only actual motorcycles can provide. Just how much of a premium does one have to pay for a Morgan over the toys ‘r us offerings?
8. A semi-new Acadia
General Motor’s trio of mid-size crossovers are up for a mid-cycle refresh. First out of the gate is the 2013 Acadia, which debuted this week at the Chicago Auto Show. Planned during GM’s bankruptcy days, the Acadia is a pretty good example of how the company continued to significantly upgrade models while still using money sparingly. Look for the remaining 2013 Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Encave to break cover in New York.
7. Picking up where Honda left off
Honda, once the go-to automaker for sporty, lightweight 4-cylinder coupes, is being upstaged by stylish newcomers like the Kia Forte while Civic design mires in criticism and lackluster dynamics. The latest blow to sure to be delivered to Honda’s market share arrives in the form of the attractive 2013 Elantra Coupe, set to deliver better economy and style than it’s rival from Honda, as well as most other small coupes. What makes this Elantra more compelling than it’s rather lukewarm sedan counterpart?
6. Re-inventing the wheel
It’s not often that this phrase applies in a literal sense, but Bridgestone has done just that with it’s airless tire concept. Incorporating the wheel into the tire and employing green technology, Bridgestone has advanced upon other airless tire concepts with advanced materials and a durable yet flexible spoke design. How far in the future will you be bolting an airless tire to your car?
5. Jet powered Jag
Jet cars are no longer simply the stuff of 1950’s sci-fi or the NHRA, as Jaguar is reportedly strapping jet turbine engines into it’s latest hyper car as range extenders. Only a handful of the jet-powered car will be built, each costing well over $1 million, but could this jag spur interest in future ducted fan applications in cars?
4. The next Wrex
The enthusiast beloved WRX, and especially the hotter STI variant, began life in the U.S. drowning in praise from reviewers and owners nearly everywhere. The small, relatively light and unique sounding car was a breath of fresh air for American enthusiasts weary of bloated mustangs and camaros. Lately, the STI has gotten bigger, heavier, and uglier, and enthusiasm has cooled. Subaru hopes to fix that with the next WRX, with plans for a small 3 door and a host of impressive engine tech. Will this next WRX rekindle the love?
3. Empty classifieds
Though not quite a problem yet, used cars have been getting scarcer and more expensive, after automakers scaled back production during the recession. Though as the prices for small used cars rise, the prices for bigger less fuel-friendly vehicles continues on a steady decline, meaning now might be the time to finally get that silly police interceptor Crown Vic you’ve always wanted. Will more recent strong sales cause the used market to bounce back again?
2. The world’s most exciting diesels?
BMW has just launched it’s refreshed M performance range featuring several diesel X-drive models. These are not simply diesels with some poorly glued M badges hurried out in an effort to sell more cars, as BMW reports the cars should accelerate nearly as fast as their gasoline M counterparts. Will these cars finally introduce diesel into the vocabulary of enthusiasts after something truly high-performance?
1. A Soul with some soul
In a quite unexpected move from the maker of stylish and affordable but rather average feeling small cars and sedans, tuners at Kia have taken a Soul and created a turbo charged AWD beast that both looks sporty and finally is sporty. Though the Trask’ster is only a concept, it doesn’t look too out-there for production, and a turbo Soul could make a truly interesting splash in the compact performance market. Is it even remotely likely this thing will ever see showrooms?