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Old 25th January 2018, 15:12   #1
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Default NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show

The 2018 edition of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) recently wrapped up. Here's an update from someone on the ground here in Detroit.

Note: Some of the content in this post was first published by me in the Michigan Journal (a student publication at the University of Michigan-Dearborn) in this article. The following post is an in-depth look at the first ever Auto Show I attended as a member of the press.

The Detroit Auto Show kicked off on January 13, 2018, tight on the heels of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a week earlier. Seeing as there were many automotive innovations on display at CES, the organizers of NAIAS didn't leave any stone unturned to get higher coverage for their event in Cobo Center, Detroit. The schedule for the event was as follows:

Jan 13 - The Gallery (a restricted-audience display of luxury automotive brands)
Jan 14 - Jan 16 - Press Preview
Jan 17 - Jan 18 - Industry Preview
Jan 19 - Charity Preview
Jan 20 - Jan 28 - Public Show

Despite a late application, I had managed to source press credentials for me and a couple of my student colleagues at the University newspaper. Since I'm located within comfortable commuting distance of Detroit, I was able to have an opportunity to visit almost every day if I wanted. Therefore, I visited on two of the press days, one of the industry preview days, and one public day (opening day, i.e. the 20th of January).

The 2018 iteration of the NAIAS was kicked off with The Gallery, a signature event that brings in some glamour to the main show. Usually held at the MGM Grand just a few streets away, this year the Gallery was held within the Cobo Center which houses the main auto show. High end cars upwards of $10 million in total value were on display, including the ones you see below. Apologies for missing some of the cars, I was too busy being an amateur journalist and gawking at the sheer beauty and magnificence of it all. Sadly, these cars were taken off the floor at the end of the Press Preview on January 16th, therefore depriving the general public of the pleasure of seeing them in the flesh.

In pics: The Gallery


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The brilliant red Ferrari 812 Superfast

The successor to the F12 Berlinetta has a 6.5 Liter V12 under this hood, probably the most powerful and last NA engine to come out of the prancing horse stable.

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The Karma Revero. Not a big fan of its hybrid drivetrain (creates lots of design compromises unlike pure EVs like the Teslas), but as long as it was on display...
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The Porsche 911 Turbo S. I must confess, I have been a bad photographer on this outing; didn't get solo shots of some vehicles hence have to include the ones with myself in them.
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Lamborghini Aventador S Coupe. V12, 740 HP. The latest version of the current flagship raging bull.
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Lamborghini Huracan Coupe. V10, 570 HP. Would've loved to see the Performante that was very recently launched (And featured on the Grand Tour with Richard Hammond).
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A shot of the Huracan stitching on the seats.



And now for the one that dropped my jaw to the floor.

Bugatti Chiron
The Bugatti Chiron, quite simply, lives up to the hype that the brand commands. Wider than what I expected (in absolute terms, it is 40mm wider than the Veyron), it looks stunning from all angles. My brain kept playing the eerie soundtrack from Juan Pablo Montoya's record attempt for 0-400-0 playing on loop as I walked around, nay, drooled all over the floor around the vehicle:
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Wish I had a way to put the width into perspective (again, it's really wide!). The Huracan peeps from the corner in meek acceptance of the big guy's dominance.

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The quintessential Bugatti line as its called, visible in the image here. It is supposed to invoke Founder Ettore Bugatti's signature. This line is visible inside the cockpit as well. More about the design aspects in this article.

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For those who don't know, all supercars imported/homologated for the US market have to get these ugly rear bumpers fitted as standard (the company has to fit them, the owners is another story. These come with readily visible screws that are quite suggestive). I'm talking about the two ugly blurbs.

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Chiron branding on the seats. Although I didn't capture it quite well, the Bugatti Line mentioned earlier makes another appearance on the inside, this time creating a nice little pseudo-partition between the driver and the passenger.

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The million-dollar cockpit.

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For those who still haven't seen it, here's a link to the Chiron's mind blowing record-setting attempt (0-400-0 kmph in 41.96 seconds). It held the title for a short while, but the video somehow tingles the lizard part of my brain; there's something just so raw about the soundtrack!



Koeniggsegg Agera RS
So this one wasn't on display at the gallery, but rather inside on the show floor at the Michelin stall. But it is fitting to place it right after the behemoth it so utterly destroyed in the race for the fastest 0-400-0 kmph time, achieving the feat in a scarcely believable 36.44 seconds.

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Yes, that's the same exact Agera RS that was used for the record-breaking run. Koenigsegg had fitted the record-setting Agera RS with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, the same which come as standard fitment on all Ageras. This car has also set numerous other high speed records after demolishing the Bugatti's 0-400-0 time. Link to press release

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Rolls Royce Phantom

The 2018 Rolls Royce Phantom made its American debut at the NAIAS. Unveiled in London a few months ago, the Phantom marks the eighth generation of the ultra luxury showstopper, the second generation developed under BMW ownership. That doesn't sound very special until you realize that the Phantom is longest lived model name in the world, the first one having arrived in 1925. The price? A cool $500,000 (₹3.2 crores) before taxes!

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It's so rich, even the underlying all-aluminium chassis is called the "Architecture of Luxury" (). The spaceframe is 30 percent more rigid than the older model, according to Rolls Royce. The company has splurged a lot of money it the development of this chassis, and it will be used for all upcoming Rolls Royce models, including the upcoming Bentayga-beater, the Cullinan SUV (Spy shots and reports - link 1 and link 2). The independent suspension sports self-leveling air-springs and has a new feature similar to Mercedes' Magic Body Conrol, which uses stereo cameras up front to read the road ahead and adjust the suspension accordingly.
The "Magic Carpet Ride" on the Rolls Royce is similar to Mercedes' "Magic Body Control" shown above

The new engine is a turbocharged 6.75 liter V-12 that replaces the naturally aspirating version. Producing 563 horsepower and over 900 Nm of torque, the beast will roar to a claimed 5.1 second 0-100 kmph sprint, not that you'll hear any of that. The kerb weight has gone up to 5862 lbs (~2660 kgs), aided largely by the large amounts of sound-deadening material. This is in pursuit of achieving the company's ambition of being the quietest car in the world, as measured from inside the cabin. The car features as much as 130 kgs of acoustic insulation, and triple layer 5mm-thick glass on all windows. Rolls Royce also worked with Continental to develop proprietary 'Silent-seal' tires that utilize a layer of foam inside the tire to reduce the cavitation effects of the air, leading to a reduction of 9 decibels of tire noise. All told, the new Phantom is 10 percent quieter than the older version at highway speeds. In fact, they say that the NVH engineers had trouble during the testing of this model, and had to re-calibrate their equipment because they thought it was broken, such was the level of quietness in the car. I call marketing hogwash, but what the hell; they're allowed that much of indulgence.

One of the new headline features for the 2018 Phantom is the inclusion of a 'gallery'. It's just literally that, a gallery on the dashboard of the car where buyers can commission exclusive artwork created by world-renowned artists. Options include some pretty whack designs, I'll let those interested to click on this link.

Overall though, between the magic carpet suspension and the unnervingly quiet cabin, the Rolls sure does justice to the Spirit of Ecstasy adorning its hood.


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The one seat you most probably wouldn't be in if you owned it.


Other luxury vehicles on display:

Probably committing blasphemy with this improperly timed shot, but this is the only one I had of the two British luxury marques next to each other.
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Continuing the theme with Bentley (Flying Spur, Bentayga) and Aston Martin (Vanquish and DB11 on the extreme right).


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The Vanquish and the oh-so-beautiful DB11 (right).


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The DB11, a lone Maserati (the Levante SUV), a Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the Panamera Turbo Sport.


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The Panamera Turbo Sport and the Panamera 4E Hybrid.



That's it for the Gallery event. Now that we've had our fill with the supersports and luxury barges, moving on to the other bits of NAIAS 2018.

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Old 25th January 2018, 15:32   #2
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Default Re: NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show

Another addition to the auto show this year was Automobili-D, a venture between NAIAS and the MEDC (Michigan Economic Development Corporation), which through its PlanetM initiative aims to foster, retain and grow the mobility sector and position Michigan as the global epicenter for future transportation.

I like to simply think of it as Detroit's way of getting back at CES, which was far better at bringing together an amalgamation of technocrats, investors, ideators and creators to discuss and network with each other. The Industry Preview days mentioned earlier had Automobili-D as their highlight event, along with show floor access to industry insiders (basically employees of all participating companies). Here are some of the products and technologies on display:


SURUS Autonomous Truck Platform

The cool SURUS autonomous truck platform concept from GM, first showcased in 2017.

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Short for "Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure", the platform is powered by a combination of a lithium ion battery and a fuel cell system, totally providing a 400-mile range on a full charge. Primarily intended for military applications, an important USP of this platform is on-field reconfigurability (is that even a word?) - it can be used for hauling missiles on one trip, and fuel barrels on the return journey. Other applications may include a field ambulance, power generator, cargo carrier, troop movement and so on - all without requiring a trip to a GM factory.

Four-wheel steering and re-programmable LEDs, (that can work both as headlamps and tail lights) along with no discernible front or back end, make it bi-directional, a characteristic also evident from its palindromic name (SURUS). Platooning capability (multiple vehicles in leader-follower configuration) can reduce manpower needs.

A reiteration of the skateboard chassis technology first patented by GM themselves in the early 2000's, this type of body layout is gaining prominence in the auto industry as well. Case in point - Tesla with their Model S skateboard chassis (which was only slightly reconfigured for the Model X). I found an interesting article about the same here.

This is from a press release
Quote:
SURUS will deliver highly mobile autonomous capability and agility in unpredictable terrain. Operating multiple vehicles in a leader-follower configuration could reduce manpower needed. For future potential military uses, the system’s inherent low heat signature and quiet operation offer benefits in environments to reduce detection and risks. TARDEC has been in discussions with GM evaluating the commercial SURUS concept as a next step of the broader collaboration to evaluate fuel cell technology for future military applications.
All in all, a decent piece of kit to have in one's armed forces.

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eVTOL Air Taxis

The Industry Preview event also included a Pitch competition, wherein startups pitched their ideas to a panel of judges. Seen here is CEO Jon Rimanelli of AirSpaceX, a startup in the air-taxi segment (I didn't stay around for other pitches if there were any).

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The e-VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) concept "Mobi-One" rated for 250 mph, by AirSpaceX. This one was a one-third scale model.
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Autonomous Air taxis/delivery drones are no longer the stuff of sci-fi dreams, they are almost upon us.

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Michigan governor Rick Snyder, who was among the judges at the event.


The air taxi segment is bound to be a huge market in the very new future, with the big hurdle being not technology but governmental regulations. AirSpaceX pictured here is not the only entrant, in fact, many have come much further, with competitors like Bell Air Taxi, Volocopter, Airbus with their Vahana among others.

In fact, Chinese drone maker Ehang recently revealed that their 184 is already deep into its testing phase, having demonstrated pilot flights with passengers on board already. More details can be found at this link. California based Vahana, an offshoot of Airbus, too, kicked off testing for their aircraft. By that I mean it took off, gained an altitude of 16 feet, and landed back down safely.

With regulations as yet unclear, I saw that at least two companies have turned to Dubai, getting into partnerships with the Government of Dubai to test unmanned flying taxis (as in the case of the Ehang 184 - link here). I don't yet fully understand the angle here, but maybe Dubai wants to continue their tourism friendly image by being at the forefront of futuristic technologies such as these, seeing as their oil-based economy is on the verge of a slow but eventual collapse.

This news comes just as Intel brought in Germany based Volocopter with their VC200 prototype at their CES 2018 keynote speech, allowing it to briefly fly over the stage. They also have another product in the works, the Volocopter 2X. Approved as an ultra-light vehicle in Germany, this 18-rotor aircraft is fully electric, battery powered, and autonomous, but allows for remote drone-like operation by a human pilot. It can recharge fully in 40 minutes and can fly for 17 minutes at a cruising speed of 43 mph. Not very exciting but then what would you expect from heavy battery powered electric drones.

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Volocopter 2X: Concept art from the web

Volocopter is the other company who has been in touch Dubai's Road and Transport Authority to start a taxi/shuttle service for passengers in and around Dubai as part of a five-year testing period. The company is in the limelight because it recently received $30 million in funding from none other than Daimler, parent company of Mercedes Benz.

It would be interesting to see what direction this autonomous taxi segment takes. I wager Uber and the like have a keen eye on this too, although I don't know if they are also in the process of developing any hardware. Exciting times ahead for the mobility industry as a whole!


Einride T-Pod

Swedish manufacturer Einride had their T-Pod prototype autonomous cargo truck on display. As you can see, it has no driver compartment whatsoever - the T-Pod has been designed from the ground up to be totally autonomous. Will have platooning capabilities to increase fleet efficiency of course.

Rated for 12 tonnes, this truck is powered by a 200 kW-hr battery, good for 124 miles in city driving cycles. It will hit Swedish roads some time in 2020 for limited trial runs between Gothenburg and Helsingborg.

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Velometro VeeMo

Touted as a "electrically assisted enclosed bicycle". Primarily pedal powered, the Veemo provides an estimated 20 miles of range per day with the added power from the roof mounted solar panel. The vehicle combines the advantages of a closed-car design, such as weather protection and storage space, with the convenience of a bicycle including usage of bike lanes and maneuverability in tight urban spaces. The company does not have any plans for private sales yet, and is banking on a app-based ride sharing model for the time being. Pretty neat!

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Local Universities

Some local university teams with their FSAE project cars (one good thing about these SAE-organized competitions is that they bring together teams from developed and developing countries alike - I myself got into the industry on the basis of my team's Baja SAE project car):

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The University of Michigan recently started an autonomous shuttle service on its campus, developed under UofM's MCity initiative and manufactured by French company Navya. MCity is a U-M-led public-private partnership to accelerate advanced mobility vehicles and technologies.

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Autonomous vehicles from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Both are modified Lincoln MKZs fitted with custom AI hardware and software.

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Roborace
A Roborace car. What's that, you ask?

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What it is is the future of Formula 1, if we continue to see the sort of dismal TV ratings and audience turnouts at each successive F1 season. So basically, somebody thought it would be cool to race AI-controlled autonomous electric vehicles on the race track at 300+ kph, with no driver in the car. Kinda takes the fun out of it for me, and I don't want to waste any more time writing about it. Eugh. Fail, please, will you?

Motorsports has already become too much about the cars, and less about the drivers. Might as well stop calling it "sports" from this point on if this is where its headed to.


Other highlights at Automobili-D

Different companies had stalls showcasing their current products at the Automobili-D expo.

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The Automobili-D stage, which saw many discussions and press conferences take place, among which was a keynote from US Secretary of Transport Elaine Chao.
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Overall, the Automobili D event did live up to its job - to an extent. No groundbreaking technologies were unveiled for the first time - what I saw for the most part were merely research projects and prototypes first revealed at other expos. In a bid to catch up with CES, though, Detroit (and Michigan as a whole) is trying its best to show its technical superiority over Silicon Valley in the ongoing tussle for power in the US automotive and mobility industry.

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Old 25th January 2018, 15:42   #3
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Default Re: NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show

Next up is the actual show floor - I should probably let the pictures do the talking, but some quick highlights:

The show brought a host of new vehicle launches and technology innovations this year, and some of the trends are hard to miss. An inescapable fact was the sheer presence of large-sized utility vehicles such as pickup trucks and SUVs, as well as crossovers. The North American market continues to see rising demand for these larger vehicles over sedans and hatchbacks.

In fact, one can note only a handful of exclusive sedan launches, including the new Toyota Avalon and the 2019 VW Jetta. Some wacky and futuristic concepts are also on display, including ones from Toyota/Lexus, Infinity, VW’s I.D. Buzz and I.D. Crozz from last year, Mercedes with their EQA, and so on.

Some of the concept vehicles on display:

Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept.

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Announced as a luxury high-performance crossover, the LF-1 Limitless has a stunning design, and the prototype displayed was fully drivable. As the name goes, drivetrain possibilities are "limitless" in their own words - the vehicle has been design to accommodate petrol, fuel-cell, plug-in hybrid or full electric configurations).

They talk about a connected experience, with features like "4D Navigation" which basically adds a time dimension to the three-dimensional navigation experience by syncing with your calendar, vehicle status, route configuration, traffic conditions etc to give intelligent suggestions on the go, such as taking rest breaks, fuel stops, or offering to make hotel reservations ahead. Also included is a adaptive suspension system, which, like the Mercedes MagicBody system, change the damper settings and ride height based on a plethora of inputs ranging from the navigation settings, driving style, data from the web, and of course visual input.

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In the press release, they also mentioned that around 2025, every Lexus in vehicle in the world will be available as a dedicated electrified model or will have an electrified option. Let's see if they hold up to that promise.

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The roof design is apparent from this image on their website. The break in the rear spoiler also allows for a nice effect from the HMSL (high-mounted stop lamp).

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The interior gets this modern layout with two screens and a heads-up display as well. The door opens via push-action buttons, and the windows are said to be operated with a wave of the hand. Notice the two mirror-like appendages on both sides of the instrument cluster? Well, that's what they are. Because:

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The car gets ORV cameras instead of ORVMs. Again, image from website.


Volkswagen ID Crozz Concept

Nothing much to say about this one, because I didn't ask (I know it's electric, for one). Probably a good measure of the expected future design direction of crossovers like the Tiguan?

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Toyota Concept-i series


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Toyota Concept-i series. L to R: Concept i, Concept i-Walk (scooter-like thingy) and Concept i-Ride. Built with the super dense urban streets of Japan in mind, these vehicles are built as mobility solutions of the future. They support V2V (vehicle to vehicle) communication capabilities and will be configured to be fully autonomous too.

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Concept-i interior


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The i-Ride is a very tiny vehicle (almost a pod) that is designed for the elderly/disabled, with no pedals or steering - all hand controlled, joystick styled. It's driver seat slides left or right depending on which gullwing door is opened, and it also has storage space for the i-Walk to finish the last mile journey.

Toyota FT-4X
Next up is the Toyota FT-4X adventure concept crossover, first shown at the 2017 New York Auto Show. It's claims to fame are its funky looks and interior packaging. The rear liftgate can be opened both sideways (parting through the middle) and upwards, and there are numerous removable bits that double up as useful camping/utility features, such as the front center armrest-cum-sleeping bag, the removable stereo system which doubles up as a portable speaker/music system, two interior roof-mounted lamps that are detachable, and the water bottles in the door handle.

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Toyota FT-4X


Here is a link depicting the design philosophy behind the vehicle which I found interesting, primarily, what can be the end result if you allow creative types to run amok with all the wild ideas in their head

I'm not sure how reliable those removable parts could be, but this could inspire some manufacturers, such as Chinese GAC for example - their Enverge concept shown below has a removable front DRL that doubles up as a flash light!

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GAC Enverge Concept


Nissan X-Motion
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The X-Motion (pronounced Cross Motion) is a 6 seater compact SUV which imbibes Japanese design philosophies to act as a bridge between the past and the future. Well, that's what they said in their press release anyway. It has an interesting wooden bridge thingy that forms a nice central partition throughout the length of the vehicle. I didn't much to write home about for this one, honestly.

Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept

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Nissan's luxury division Infiniti revealed the Q Inspiration concept sedan. It is a breathtakingly fresh look at the luxury sedan segment.

Powered by the now-famous Variable Compression-Turbocharged (VC-T) engine that Nissan/Infiniti unveiled at the Paris auto show in September 2016, this concept has a much better chance of going into production unlike the heavily future-leaning electric concepts by other carmakers. The variable compression engine, if you haven't heard, utilizes a multi-link connecting rod design instead of plain simple con-rod, to effectively vary the swept volume, thus varying the compression ratio. And get this, it does this on the fly. This also means it becomes an Atkinson Cycle engine (modified version of the usual Otto Cycle), which essentially allows the intake valves to remain open a bit longer during the compression stroke, thus allowing some of the air to escape, reducing the compression ratio and thus pumping losses. Jargon aside, all of this tremendously aids efficiency.

Attaching a brilliant description of the engine by a guy whose videos I have been following since my engineering days (as I'm sure many still do), and who I narrowly missed out on meeting at the auto show (he seems to have made this video from the show footage):


Now the reason why I'm rambling on so much about this engine is, this offers a tremendous opportunity to replace the other type of high-compression internal combustion engine - Diesel. Looking at the current market scenario in India, I predict petrol to go back on the upswing in a few years if Nitin Gadkari and India Inc pursue technologies beyond BS VI. Having worked in the diesel engine scene for a brief amount of time, I can attest to it that small car diesel engines simply cannot eke out any more emissions performance. It will have to be petrol along with hybridization in the future.

And technologies like this, once developed on cheaper scales, could still sustain developing markets like ours for years if not decades, where an electric-only future seems bleak or requires infrastructural changes that are too hard to implement in the short term. This VC-T engine along with some form of mild-hybrid system could be a kicker of a powertrain system to have. For comparison, the 2 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the video above produces the same horsepower and torque as Nissan's 3.5L V6, with 27 percent better fuel economy. Now that's something.

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Coming back to the concept car, the Q Inspiration has a "human centric" interior, with its dual wide screen monitors (and I mean wide - the one in the front spans the whole length of the dashboard, much like the Byton Concept that was unveiled earlier in January at CES Las Vegas). Overall, it is quite a cohesively designed vehicle, and I wish I had spent more time with it during the show than I did.


Mercedes Benz

The Mercedes EQA Concept

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The EQA is the first of the compact hatchback concepts to come out of Mercedes' EQ electric vehicle brand. Dr. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes Benz Cars has promised that Mercedes will have more than ten all-electric models in the world markets by 2022. First unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show last year, this "electric athlete" has a 60 kWh battery with a combined output of 200 kW from a dual motor setup; one at each axle (for comparison, the Tesla Model S is available in 60, 75, 90, and 100 kWh battery sizes offering up to 500 km). This gets it from 0 to 100 kmph in 5 seconds, and is good for around 400 km if you avoid doing the aforementioned 0-100 an inordinate number of times.

It sports a weird-ish LED screen on instead of a front grill, to display god knows what (comes pre-programmed with differing grill styles based on driving mode). The design is sleek and clean, almost production-ready-like, so expect to see one in the market quite soon. With the recent media coverage of Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari proudly congratulating Mercedes on their push to newer emission technologies (first BS VI compliant car rollout), I think Mercedes it would augur well for Mercedes to have one of these in India as well.

If one looks into the nooks and crannies of the media coverage in the past year or so (and I got the opportunity to do so for a project I undertook in my Master's studies), it can be discovered that Mercedes is steadily readying itself for a tectonic shift, at least in developed markets, towards BEVs or Battery Electric Vehicles, of the likes of the Tesla range. The slew of investments made by parent company Daimler AG into electric vehicle development, especially in North America, are indicators of what is to come. There's the $1 billion (₹6500 crore) investment in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant to build an electric SUV, most probably the Concept EQ showcased at the Paris Auto Show, which has a 300 kWh battery and a range of 500 KM. (Shame they didn't keep that one on display but only had this EQA hatch). Then there's the overall $10 billion (₹65000 cr) investment which was mentioned in a Twitter war between Daimler and Elon Musk (related story here). This investment also includes a $60 million funding in StoreDot, an upcoming startup in the battery industry that has claimed a breakthrough in fast charging technology with its FlashBattery technology, allowing for a claimed 5-minute full charge and vehicle ranges exceeding 300 miles. We also have some $755 million invested for electric car production in China, where Mercedes has partnered up with BAIC since China has announced plans to ban petrol and diesel engines sooner rather than later.

All told, the company that gave birth to the automobile as we know it; through the efforts of the pioneers Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, needs to take tough decisions as it sits on the cusp of a revolution. The inventor of the automobile now needs to lead another revolution as engines fade away and batteries drive in.

The all new G Class

NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show-naias-kiel-184172.jpg
The new G500

After the future, it is time to take a trip down memory lane. The G Wagen has been a faithful workhorse for Mercedes for many years now, and the latest version takes things up a notch with its V8 biturbo 4.0 litre producing 422 HP. It provides a cocoon of luxury while the exterior bathes in mud, slush, rocks and whatever else the owner might put it through.

The new 2019 G-Wagen finds pride of place at the Mercedes stall inside the show floor, along with the usual array of S-, E-, and C-class variants, with the addition of the Smart fortwo and the sleek and futuristic EQA concept car.


After an offsite media unveil, the company put on display a 1979 280 GE encased in a resin block 18x8x10 feet weighing around 45 tonnes, harking to their “stronger than time” mantra for the G-Wagen. This was placed outside the Cobo Hall which houses the Auto Show.



Unfortunately for those late to the party, Mercedes had to wrap up the amber cube because the resin starting cracking in the freezing winds – guess they underestimated the Michigan winter!

NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show-gclass5jonathangitlinarstechnica.jpg
Resin encased G-Class on display outside the Auto Show venue. Notice the cracks in the resin causing distortions in its refractive properties

NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show-naias-kiel-184177.jpg
G500 interior.

NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show-naias-kiel-184174.jpg
G500 driver door. The door opens up by pressing the button, a-la Ambassador. The door itself is chunky and the thud of the door closing is very satisfying.

NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show-naias-kiel-184186.jpg

NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show-naias-kiel-184190.jpg
G500 Explorer and Mercedes brand ambassador Mike Horn's Pole2Pole expedition vehicle

NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show-naias-kiel-184208.jpg
2019 E53 AMG Cabriolet - 429 BHP with EQ Boost (48V mild hybrid system)

NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show-naias-kiel-184212.jpg
E53 AMG interior - the thing I liked the most (which I hadn't known about before) was the seatbelt extendor - slides forward once you close the doors for you to conveniently grab the buckle, retracts after a few seconds. Link .

The all new CLS. The genre defying 4-door coupe is back for 2019 in an all new format. First unveiled at the 2017 Los Angeles auto expo, the CLS now gets a 3.0 liter inline-6 making 362 HP and 500 Nm, and a 48 volt mild hybrid system which Mercedes likes to call EQ Boost. The EQ Boost from the electric motor can add another 21 HP and 249 Nm of torque when necessary.

The car comes with the usual Mercedes advanced driver assist features like lane-keeping, crash mitigation, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot management, and so on. Evasive steering assist, speed control through corners and turns, and active lane-change assistance are new thanks to improved radar systems and better programming for roadway sensing. The adaptive cruise control can now handle stop-and-go traffic as well.

The car will be available in the US in late 2018 as the CLS 450 and the CLS 450 4MATIC (4 wheel drive).

NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show-naias-kiel-184207.jpg
2019 Mercedes CLS


NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show-naias-kiel-184222.jpg
Champions on the track, and on the road

Volkswagen


The highlight was the new 2018 Jetta. With over 3.2 million units sold since the Mk1 Jetta way back in the seventies, the Jetta is described as the 'most successful car with German roots in the US'. Sadly though, this one most definitely won't come to the Indian market any time soon, since firstly, VW has designed and engineered it to suit the US market (sizing, features, packaging, ergonomics, engines, suspension); and secondly, well, they haven't bothered to produce an RHD version. So worry not, it not just India that will miss it, but all right hand drive markets including the UK and South Africa. (They are planning a Chinese variant under the model name Sagitar though, if you're interested in checking that out).

NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show-20180115_181425.jpg
New 2018 Jetta

With this, the seventh generation Jetta, VW finally has introduced the modular MQB architecture to the vehicle. The Jetta enjoys a tremendous reputation in the US, and I myself see too many Jettas on the road than I can care to count. Its almost like a bread and butter model for VW in the US.

The car itself is larger than its predecessor (length, width and height), and this sizing would be one of the main constraints in non-US markets - you see, the Passat already sees dwindling sales everywhere else as Europe and Asia moves to smaller sedans (or smaller SUVs), and this Jetta comes very close to overlapping the European-spec Passat in dimensions.

Powered only by petrol (wise choice for obvious reasons), the 1.4 liter four-cylinder engine produces 147 HP and comes with a six-speed manual and an 8-speed automatic transmission. As of now, the 1.4 remains the only powertrain option - no news of the 1.8 turbocharged unit yet. The automatic variant gets stop-start functionality. All told, nothing revolutionary in the engine department. No hybrids, enthusiast options.

The kicker is in the pricing and warranty. Starting at around $18500 (₹ 11.88 lakh), it comes with a 6 year, 72,000 mile (~115,000 km) warranty as standard. It is priced to sell, and I figure that's all they intend from this car - to sell well.

Apart from the Jetta, there wasn't anything of note to report from the VW stall, unless you wanted to see the 5-seater Tiguan and the 7-seater Atlas SUV. The ID Crozz electric concept was on display, which is what one might expect the future Tiguan to look like. One thing that did catch my attention, however, was this immaculately restored 1982 Mk1 Jetta (I'm guessing the age after a lot of research here, as I forgot to check out the plaque in front of it - if indeed there was one. But most likely between '82 to '84).

NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show-dsc_0178-2.jpg
Volkswagen Jetta Mk1 - immaculate restoration




Other manufacturers coming up...

Last edited by Harshal.Bhosale : 11th February 2018 at 12:22.
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Old 12th February 2018, 09:19   #4
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Default Re: NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the International Scene. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12th February 2018, 18:04   #5
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Default Re: NAIAS 2018: An overview of the Detroit Auto Show

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Originally Posted by Harshal.Bhosale View Post
Another addition to the auto show this year was Automobili-D, a venture between NAIAS and the MEDC (Michigan Economic Development Corporation), which through its PlanetM initiative aims to foster, retain and grow the mobility sector and position Michigan as the global epicenter for future transportation.

I like to simply think of it as Detroit's way of getting back at CES, which was far better at bringing together an amalgamation of technocrats, investors, ideators and creators to discuss and network with each other. The Industry Preview days mentioned earlier had Automobili-D as their highlight event, along with show floor access to industry insiders (basically employees of all participating companies).
Thanks. This really helped. I was not able to make it to Press days and Automobili-D. Looks like it was interesting.

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Originally Posted by Harshal.Bhosale View Post
Michigan governor Rick Snyder, who was among the judges at the event.
I had a chance to meet and talk to the Governor in Navya stand in CES. Quite pragmatic with his thought process atleast and is doing his best bits to keep MI still interesting with the auto show. He is fully aware of the fading glory of Detroit Auto Show.


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Originally Posted by Harshal.Bhosale View Post
Announced as a luxury high-performance crossover, the LF-1 Limitless has a stunning design, and the prototype displayed was fully drivable.
I found this a very interesting design exercise. Most find Lexus design polarizing but I don't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harshal.Bhosale View Post
They talk about a connected experience, with features like "4D Navigation" which basically adds a time dimension to the three-dimensional navigation experience by syncing with your calendar, vehicle status, route configuration, traffic conditions etc to give intelligent suggestions on the go, such as taking rest breaks, fuel stops, or offering to make hotel reservations ahead.
The next stage in User experience comes from the integration of AI and full integration of all forms of communication. Every car maker will have an iteration of the concept which Lexus calls - 4D.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harshal.Bhosale View Post
The interior gets this modern layout with two screens and a heads-up display as well. The door opens via push-action buttons, and the windows are said to be operated with a wave of the hand. Notice the two mirror-like appendages on both sides of the instrument cluster?
I think i counted upto 7 screens in the full car. That's a lot of GPU processing to keep everything seamless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harshal.Bhosale View Post
GAC Enverge Concept
GAC was out there with full force to pass a message - Ready for US market. Frankly their cars were quite well put-together and had no 'made-in-China' stigma. Must've had a lot of help from European Design houses.

After having spoken in detail with the product manager and Germany unit head of Byton, I see an emerging trend with Chinese companies - Design and develop in Germany and California and build in China. Apple way of working.
I'm sure there will be enough roadblocks put in to challenge this model.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harshal.Bhosale View Post
Nissan's luxury division Infiniti revealed the Q Inspiration concept sedan. It is a breathtakingly fresh look at the luxury sedan segment.

Coming back to the concept car, the Q Inspiration has a "human centric" interior, with its dual wide screen monitors (and I mean wide - the one in the front spans the whole length of the dashboard, much like the Byton Concept
This was the best Concept car I have seen in a while. most Coherent design. the all-screen dashboard was the trend across CES 2018 and something we'll start seeing from all automakers. I personally don't subscribe to this idea though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harshal.Bhosale View Post
The all new G Class - The new 2019 G-Wagen
Well, my comments could have the 'sour grapes' perspective but then, I believe Mercedes got a bit lazy. many things have been updated, for the better of course, but then, I believe they made no effort to update the body. Peel off the A Pillar rubber beading and lumps of weld are still visible. The windows still have thick rubber stripping around which could've definitely changed. There are more to this list but I'll stop here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harshal.Bhosale View Post
Unfortunately for those late to the party, Mercedes had to wrap up the amber cube because the resin starting cracking in the freezing winds guess they underestimated the Michigan winter!
I missed seeing this. got lazy and went there only towards the end of show. Didn't bother to take any photos even.

I spent a lot of time gazing at the Ford GT though. Jeep JL and 2018 RAM 1500 were the only vehicles that got a lot of my attention.


Another thing I noticed was the lackluster stalls by Volvo cars and Mitsubishi.

I can understand the cash-crunch situation of Mitsubishi but Volvo cars? They have a fantastic line-up. They really could've bettered the 'park 4 cars in the lobby' approach.
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