Editor-In-Chief's Note: There seems to be much hand-wringing of late about the declining influence of the major auto shows. Automakers such as Porsche have already announced they won't be in Detroit in January, and several other major automakers are skipping this week's Paris Motor Show entirely. The reasons being given vary. In Porsche's case, Detroit - as a local market - is irrelevant, so the automaker will naturally focus its attention on shows in other cities where it does most of its business, like L.A. and New York. As for the other manufacturers, they list cost as the primary factor. They're finding it much more cost effective to orchestrate "fly-in" drives for journalists to luscious locales, or to court self-proclaimed social media mavens to write flattering stories about their products in exchange for early drives. (Yours Truly is not included in any of that for the most part, as I am viewed as being somewhere between the Prince of Darkness and the Anti-Christ and far too risky for any contact. Which is fine, man, as The Dude once said.) The undercurrent in the prevailing winds is that social media has changed the landscape and that the concept of an auto show, as we know it, is dead. But this thinking is fundamentally flawed, because it ignores the fact that for a lot of people an auto show is the only way for the masses to get a glimpse of what's going on in the market and what's available to them. Let me reiterate here, as I've done in the past, that auto shows aren't the problem, but the auto show model, as we know it, is broken and terribly ineffective. The whole orchestrated mess that defines the major auto shows - and the way the media is brought in to cover them - needs to be reimagined. It's too stale, too predictable and too boring. (Not that some of the manufacturers – and their incredibly uninspired cars – don’t already acquiesce to that level of desultory engagement perfectly, but for the rest of the companies out there that actually understand the opportunity to showcase their best stuff, there has to be a better way.) Example No. 1? The Detroit Auto Show. This annual industry lovefest is so mind-numbingly predictable and set in its ways that as a journalist covering it it's entirely possible to sleepwalk through the event and not miss one damn thing. Whether the replacement idea for what passes for a major auto show today takes the form of a series of staged offsite shows over a three-day period as I've recommended - much like the fashion industry does with its Fashion Week - or another idea, something has to give, because for the most part what’s going on now is stilted, predictable and relentlessly tedious. -PMD
Ford has announced that its lineup of performance cars – including Mustang, Focus RS, Focus ST and Fiesta ST – is selling well. Very well, in fact. To the tune of 200,000 performance cars globally, nearly double the volume from just three years ago. Demand for the Shelby GT350 and 350R Mustang is so high, those models are already sold out for the 2017 model year, and the new Focus RS is in high demand. And the machines are attracting younger and more affluent buyers to boot, says Ford. The revamped F-150 Raptor and the all-new Ford GT supercar will be joining the lineup late this year.
McLaren Automotive has already revealed that one of the key strategies going forward is the development of a pure electric high-performance vehicle. Meanwhile a Pure EV based on today’s McLaren P1™ is now available but only to a select group of potential customers... those under the age of six. McLaren says that the diminutive P1 differs from its big brother in two important areas: It has a central driving position and it's available in open-top configuration only. But it still retains McLaren’s signature dihedral doors. It has a three-speed transmission with a reverse gear as well and it's only available in Volcano Yellow. It will be available from the end of October from select McLaren Automotive retailers around the world for £375.00, then it will be available from select global toy retailers after that.
Jim and Mike Ring - aka The Ringbrothers - noted car builders from Spring Green, Wisconsin, are preparing for the company's biggest year to date at the SEMA Show. The Ringbrothers will show four builds in Las Vegas, including a 1948 Cadillac Series V fastback (similar to the Autoextremist Green Machine) named “Madam V” built for Wes Rydell and his wife Vivian. The Ringbrothers customized the 1948 Cadillac’s steel body and utilized two brand new 2016 ATS-V Cadillacs to create a one-of-a-kind Cadillac that melds vintage with modern. Other builds include a 1969 "G-Code" Camaro powered by a Wegner Whipple supercharged Chevrolet LS3; a 1965 wide body Mustang convertible called “Ballistic” powered by a supercharged, 5.8 liter Ford V8 from a GT500; and a 1972 “Happy Camper” Winnebago Brave dubbed “The World’s Fastest Winnebago” with 900+ horsepower, a tiki lounge and WWII Bomber-inspired, party-ready interior. Jim and Mike Ring will also be making a major announcement about their new partnership with Prestone Products Corporation at the show.
VW says that its new "Showcar I.D." - catchy name, that - which will be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show "starts the countdown to a new era for Volkswagen." The I.D. is the first of a new fleet of electric cars based on the VW Group's new modular electric platform and it will be available (allegedly) in 2020. Volkswagen says that the I.D. has a range of 400 to 600 kilometers with its 125 kW motor. VW also suggests that the I.D. will be available in fully automated mode beginning in 2025.
Mercedes-Benz says that its new "Generation EQ" electric car concept, with the appearance of a sporty SUV coupé, gives a preview of a new generation of vehicles with battery-electric drives. It also gives fair warning that we should expect lackluster design from Mercedes when it comes to their electric cars as well. Can you say uninspired? Underneath, the machine's electric drive system features two electric motors and permanent all-wheel drive, with a system output that can be increased to up to 300 kW thanks to scalable battery components and a range of up to 500 kilometers. Mercedes says that in terms of safety, comfort, functionality and connectivity, "Generation EQ" meets every demand in terms of contemporary, sustainable mobility. EQ will be the new Mercedes product brand for electric mobility. It stands for "Electric Intelligence" and is derived from the Mercedes-Benz brand values of "Emotion and Intelligence." "The mobility of the future at Mercedes-Benz will stand on four pillars: Connected, Autonomous, Shared und Electric. 'Generation EQ' is the logical fusion of all four pillars," says Dr Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. "The emission-free automobile is the future. And our new EQ brand goes far beyond electric vehicles. EQ stands for a comprehensive electric ecosystem of services, technologies and innovations." Well alrighty then!
This is the next generation Audi Q5. It is longer, wider, lighter, more aero and more efficient, according to Audi. It will be here in about a year. That is all.
This is the Lexus US concept crossover. It is said to showcase the Lexus vision for a compact SUV of the future and "represents a new step in the company's design journey and a redefinition of the driving experience." It was designed by ED2, Lexus' design center in the South of France and features a first design execution of a breakthrough - and wild - seat technology, the Kinetic Seat Concept, designed by Lexus in response to a reevaluation of the principles of car seat occupancy.
Audi has unveiled the RS 3 sedan in Paris. With a new 5-cylinder 2.5-liter TFSI engine with 400HP and 354.0 lb-ft of torque, the compact sedan is fairly quick, as in 0 to 62.1 mph (100 km/h) in 4.1 seconds with a top speed of 155.3 mph (250 km/h). If the customer wants more top speed, Audi will increase the electronically limited top speed to 174.0 mph (280 km/h). The unique sound of the hopped-up five-cylinder engine stems from having the ignition alternate between directly adjacent cylinders and widely spaced ones, and it can be modified via Audi drive select.
BMW also made some noise in Paris. We won't bother showing or talking about the new 3 Series Gran Turismo because it represents everything wrong with BMW design of late and it's just plain ungainly and homely. In better news, the latest variant of the BMW i3 has a new 94 Ah battery, which boosts the range by over 50 per cent, 186 miles (300 kilometers) instead of the previous 118 miles (190 kilometers). A more powerful BMW i Wallbox charging station for home garages is available as well. And then there's the compact Concept X2, which "brings dynamic appeal and solidity together into a sporting, urban concept with a design that stands apart from the other X models" according to BMW. That it does. We like the profile a lot and if that hints at the new design language for BMW's future crossovers we're okay with it.
The details for the all-new 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor are impressive. Five hundred pounds lighter and powered by the second-generation, 3.5-liter twin-turbo, direct-injected, high-output EcoBoost® V6 aluminum block engine that produces 450HP and 510 lb.-ft. of torque, which is coupled to an advanced new 10-speed automatic transmission that yields a 23 percent improvement in EPA-estimated combined fuel economy, the new Raptor is the ultimate high-performance off-road beast. All for just under $50,000.
(Aston Martin images)
Editor-In-Chief's Note: Apropos of absolutely nothing, Aston Martin unveiled its AM37 powerboat at the Monaco Yacht Show this week. It's the first powerboat developed by Aston Martin and Quintessence Yachts. I had plenty to say about Aston's infatuation with becoming a luxury brand beyond cars in "The Deep End" a few weeks ago. -PMD
This is the all-new 2018 Equinox. It is lighter (by 400 pounds); the available AWD system is "switchable" to disconnect the rear axle when not needed for enhanced efficiency; it features a unique kneeling rear seat that enables a flat rear load floor and up to 63.5 cubic feet (1,798 liters) of maximum cargo space; it offers three new turbocharged engines, including a 1.5L turbo, a 2.0L turbo — matched with GM’s new nine-speed automatic transmission — and a segment-exclusive 1.6L turbo-diesel; and it's better looking. It will be available in the first quarter of 2017 in North America. Big deal? Well, actually, yes. The Equinox is Chevrolet’s second-best retail selling vehicle, after the Silverado.