Electric Mitsubishi Eclipse has minimum footprint folding chassis + erotic flowing aerodynamics




This modern interpretation of the nostalgic Eclipse is not just a sportscar with supremely good looks, it solves the parking voes for the driver by separating into driver and passenger modules – virtually folding into itself when in the vertical parked position.

Perhaps all of us still remember the Paul Walker’s (in movie character Brian O’Conner) customized 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse from The Fast and The Furious franchise. The main protagonist of the highly acclaimed franchise sort of faded away with the tragic death of the kind-hearted actor who won millions of hearts during his time and even more after he left us all. The Eclipse has had a magnetic charm in the yesteryears, and till date due to its highly customizable capabilities, making it favored canvas for tuning experts too. Not to forget the cool-looking ride featuring in the Need for Speed franchise by Electronic Arts, and the Midnight Club arcade racing video game published by Rockstar Games.

Designers: Advait Taware and Karan Adivi

So I can safely say, the Eclipse is one cool tuner sedan that’s overshadowed by those dripping hot supercars from the 90s and 2000s era. Keeping the influence of the original Eclipse alive while giving it a modern interpretation is not easy. That’s exactly what this concept designed by Advait Taware and Karan Adivi is all about. The duo has sprayed their magic of digital art to make the Eclipse rise from the ashes like a phoenix. Without compromising the strong connection between the car and the owner, the designers have created this stunning render of the electric Eclipse using Unreal Engine 4.

They take things a step further with a lower footprint interpretation of the car which is reduced in size when it docks in the garage at home. It virtually folds into itself, and the passenger module is separated to make the folding action possible. When the rider is ready for the next ride it changes the shape, the module is attached back in place, and Eclipse is transformed into a four-wheeler. Talking of the design aesthetics, the car has a clear windshield that runs right alongside the boot area, giving it a very refreshing, and chunky overall feel. The interiors bear a very upbeat styling with all the technological influences in place to make the rider feel at home. It’s like a modern sportscar anyone would dream of taking for a spin on the freeway!

The post Electric Mitsubishi Eclipse has minimum footprint folding chassis + erotic flowing aerodynamics first appeared on Yanko Design.

Top 10 automotive trends of 2022

We’ve been seeing a torrential and exciting downpour of automotive designs at Yanko Design. Each automotive was innovative, bringing to us something we had never seen nor experienced before. From killer speed to dashing good looks, to impenetrable safety standards, every automotive we featured at YD broke some design barrier for us, and hopefully, they did the same for you as well. Hence, we’ve curated a collection of automotive designs that we feel were the best of the lot! From an Akira superbike with Cyberpunk 2077 futurism to Honda’s insane electric pickup truck concept – each of these drool-worthy automobiles is mercilessly pushing the boundaries of the automotive industry! Automotive enthusiasts will be itching to get their hands on them, and take them for a spin on the streets!

1. The Ridgeline EV Concept

The Ridgeline EV concept comes from the mind of California-based Rene Garcia, a concept designer at ILM who’s previously worked on The Mandalorian, Thor: Ragnarok, The Avengers, and the Transformers anthology. Garcia began designing the vehicle as a Dakar rally truck, but gradual iterations slowly turned it into a conceptual pickup truck for Honda. Designed to handle pretty much anything you can throw at it, the EV comes with its own winch-hook on the front, a frunk behind it, suicide-style rear doors that give you access to the car’s spacious interiors, and an expandable truck-bed on the back that even comes equipped with tools and emergency medical kits.

2. Akira&Ducati

The aggressive Akira bike here gets the donor bike’s trellis frame with the extra framework to support the rider on long journeys, a jet-inspired cockpit draped in carbon elements, and an L-Twin internal combustion engine with a set of turbochargers for more power delivery. The massive spherical Pirelli P-ZERO tires and the colossal front air intakes give it the Cyberpunk-worthy appeal. And rightly so, as Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga Akira inspired the Cyberpunk 2077 Yaiba Kusanagi CT-3X – the fastest bike in the open-world action-adventure game.

3. The Lamborghini Huracán STO

When subtlety was being handed out, the Lamborghini Huracán STO was at the back of the line napping. Actually no, that’s not true. It had snuck away from the queue and darted to a nearby race track to get an injection of steroids and a full race car cosmetic makeover. Because that’s what this car is all about. Loud to look at and loud at 8500 revs. It’s basically a street-legal race car. With its ultra-low sleek profile, huge air intakes, massive rear wing, and screaming V10 engine, this model is the most eye-opening Huracán and best handling yet. Descended from the DNA of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo one-make series—hence the ‘STO’ name that stands for Super Trofeo Omologata (Italian for Homologation)—this hypercar is more tailored to track use than city driving. Much more.

4. BMW iX Flow Concept

This is one of the most eye-catchy things seen at the Omicron inflicted show in Las Vegas this year. BMW calls it the iX Flow Concept and although it seems like any other iX crossover prototype, what it has got is something straight out of a Transformers movie plot. A futuristic car that can blend right into its surroundings to go invisible magically! Well, that is a far-fetched dream for now, as the EV for now uses E Ink technology (much like the Amazon Kindle series’ display) to put forth a hypnotic show of color-changing skin. The implementation is in its infancy stage right now, as the iX Flow Concept can switch between the hues of white, dark gray, and black only.

5. Titaa

Titaa is a dual-purpose, electric vehicle that can transform from a two-wheel e-bike into a self-balancing unicycle. While riding manual unicycles might be too much of a learning curve for most, self-balancing, electric unicycles sound more like something we could all get behind. Titaa, a unicycle with just those sorts of mechanics, conceptualized by Husky Design is a dual-purpose, modular vehicle that can transform from a bicycle into a self-balancing unicycle. Getting to know our cities through different modes of transportation brings us to sights and places we previously hadn’t known existed. Titaa is the type of electric bike you’d see zooming down the wooden planks of Santa Monica pier or up the cobblestone avenues of Paris.

6. Polestar

Dubbed Polestar, Kang Sik Park envisioned their futuristic automobile dressed in an optic white aluminum-like facade, which is accented with strips of sleek black metal for a refined touch. Symmetrical on all sides, the exterior of Polestar is used to represent connectivity and the coming together of humans for a shared interest. Hover blades slide out from the vehicle’s roof to lift Polestar off the ground into the air. Additionally, Park equipped Polestar with progressive technology such as GPS and facial recognition to help modernize the airborne vehicle.

7. Apple Car Concept

This 360-degree movable autonomous car has a door that flings open to reveal a cocoon-like cockpit with two comfortable seats. Since it is designed from Apple’s perspective, it has a nice sheen and a clean finish. The renders suggest the nice reclining structure of the pod will house occupants comfortably whether on the city street or on the expressway. The two-seat pod for Apple foresees a future where such vehicles will be self-driving from pillar to post carrying and dropping off passengers and quietly moving back to their defined parking spot like a decent Roomba in the house.

8. The Citroën La météo

This Citroën concept got me excited with its weather-changing idea. Yes, an autonomous pod car that creates the kind of weather on the inside to your liking. Christened the Citroën La météo (Weather Project) the focus of the designers is on encapsulating the two riders in the ambient weather they’d prefer on any given day, even though the weather on the outside is completely opposite. The inside cabin of this compact pod-like four-wheeler creates the visual and sensory atmosphere to trick you into a completely different realm. So, you could be driving to your destination in the chilly winter of London while feeling and seeing the warmth of the spring New York sun on the inside!

9. The Hyundai EGG

Christened the Hyundai EGG, this compact off-roading capable set of wheels is a mix of a buggy and compact hatchback. Alejandro wanted to take a detour from the conventional automotive designs that mostly focus on luxury and comfort. The ideation took him down the path of crafting a reliable electric mini pickup car that has a better mileage even at higher speeds while en route to the neighboring city. The efficiency of the EGG’s electric drivetrain permits the car to maintain good range even when treading the off-roading trails. Since vision and blind spots can be a real problem while driving in treacherous and unfavorable weather conditions, the designer lends the Hyundai EGG a 360-degree panoramic windshield for clear visibility for a safer drive.

10. The Bax Moto MK3

Dubbed the Bax Moto MK3, the motorbike is highlighted by the sleek flowing silhouette of the exposed mechanical parts, giving it a very muscular feel. The headlights and the front section edges forward – sort of intimidating the onlooker, giving me the ultimate Batcycle vibe the first time I glanced at it. The double-sided long swing arm gives the crime-fighting ride a low-slung position as the leaning forward position of the rider means it can be driven at break-neck speeds. Bax Moto MK3 is draped in an all-black finish with hints of gray to add contrast and depth.Funiq. The instrument cluster and the wheels carry the same grungy feel spiced up by the subtle lines that are apparent on the fuel tank are as well. This in a way signifies the spirit of speed and motion. Another peculiar addition to the bike is the offset headlight with the pair of fog lights – giving it a very unique sense of styling.

The post Top 10 automotive trends of 2022 first appeared on Yanko Design.

Hitting the Books: What autonomous vehicles mean for tomorrow’s workforce

In the face of daily pandemic-induced upheavals, the notion of "business as usual" can often seem a quaint and distant notion to today's workforce. But even before we all got stuck in never-ending Zoom meetings, the logistics and transportation sectors (like much of America's economy) were already subtly shifting in the face of continuing advances in robotics, machine learning and autonomous navigation technologies. 

In their new book, The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines, an interdisciplinary team of MIT researchers (leveraging insights gleaned from MIT's multi-year Task Force on the Work of the Future) exam the disconnect between improvements in technology and the benefits derived by workers from those advancements. It's not that America is rife with "low-skill workers" as New York's new mayor seems to believe, but rather that the nation is saturated with low-wage, low-quality positions — positions which are excluded from the ever-increasing perks and paychecks enjoyed by knowledge workers. The excerpt below examines the impact vehicular automation will have on rank and file employees, rather than the Musks of the world.

The Work of the Future by Autor, Mindell, Reynolds published by MIT Press
MIT Press

Excerpted from The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines by David Autor, David A. Mindell and Elisabeth B. Reynolds. Reprinted with permission from the MIT PRESS. Copyright 2022.


THE ROBOTS YOU CAN SEE: DRIVERLESS CARS, WAREHOUSING AND DISTRIBUTION, AND MANUFACTURING

Few sectors better illustrate the promises and fears of robotics than autonomous cars and trucks. Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are essentially highspeed wheeled industrial robots powered by cutting-edge technologies of perception, machine learning, decision-making, regulation, and user interfaces. Their cultural and symbolic resonance has brought AVs to the forefront of excited press coverage about new technology and has sparked large investments of capital, making a potentially “driverless” future a focal point for hopes and fears of a new era of automation.

The ability to transport goods and people across the landscape under computer control embodies a dream of twenty-first-century technology, and also the potential for massive social change and displacement. In a driverless future, accidents and fatalities could drop significantly. The time that people waste stuck in traffic could be recovered for work or leisure. Urban landscapes might change, requiring less parking and improving safety and efficiency for all. New models for the distribution of goods and services promise a world where people and objects move effortlessly through the physical world, much as bits move effortlessly through the internet.

As recently as a decade ago, it was common to dismiss the notion of driverless cars coming to roads in any form. Federally supported university research in robotics and autonomy had evolved for two generations and had just begun to yield advances in military robotics. Yet today, virtually every carmaker in the world, plus many startups, have engaged to redefine mobility. The implications for job disruption are massive. The auto industry itself accounts for just over 5 percent of all private sector jobs, according to one estimate. Millions more work as drivers and in the web of companies that service and maintain these vehicles.

Task Force members John J. Leonard and David A. Mindell have both participated in the development of these technologies and, with graduate student Erik L. Stayton, have studied their implications. Their research suggests that the grand visions of automation in mobility will not be fully realized in the space of a few years.15 The variability and complexity of real-world driving conditions require the ability to adapt to unexpected situations that current technologies have not yet mastered. The recent tragedies and scandals surrounding the death of 346 people in two Boeing 737 MAX crashes stemming from flawed software and the accidents involving self-driving car-testing programs on public roads have increased public and regulatory scrutiny, adding caution about how quickly these technologies will be widely dispersed. The software in driverless cars remains more complex and less deterministic than that in airliners; we still lack technology and techniques to certify it as safe. Some even argue that solving for generalized autonomous driving is tantamount to solving for AGI.

Analysis of the best available data suggests that the reshaping of mobility around autonomy will take more than a decade and will proceed in phases, beginning with systems limited to specific geographies such as urban or campus shuttles (such as the recent product announcement from Zoox, an American AV company). Trucking and delivery are also likely use cases for early adoption, and several leading developers are focusing on these applications both in a fully autonomous mode and as augmented, “convoy” systems led by human drivers. In late 2020, in a telling shift for the industry from “robotaxis” to logistics, Uber sold its driverless car unit, having spent billions of dollars with few results. The unit was bought by Amazon-backed Aurora to focus the technology on trucking. More automated systems will eventually spread as technological barriers are overcome, but current fears about a rapid elimination of driving jobs are not supported.

AVs, whether cars, trucks, or buses, combine the industrial heritage of Detroit and the millennial optimism and disruption of Silicon Valley with a DARPA-inspired military vision of unmanned weapons. Truck drivers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, auto mechanics, and insurance adjusters are but a few of the workers expected to be displaced or complemented. This transformation will come in conjunction with a shift toward full electric technology, which would also eliminate some jobs while creating others. Electric cars require fewer parts than conventional cars, for instance, and the shift to electric vehicles will reduce work supplying motors, transmissions, fuel injection systems, pollution control systems, and the like. This change too will create new demands, such as for large scale battery production (that said, the power-hungry sensors and computing of AVs will at least partially offset the efficiency gains of electric cars). AVs may well emerge as part of an evolving mobility ecosystem as a variety of innovations, including connected cars, new mobility business models, and innovations in urban transit, converge to reshape how we move people and goods from place to place.

TRANSPORTATION JOBS IN A DRIVERLESS WORLD

The narrative on AVs suggests the replacement of human drivers by AI-based software systems, themselves created by a few PhD computer scientists in a lab. This is, however, a simplistic reading of the technological transition currently under way, as MIT researchers discovered through their work in Detroit. It is true that AV development organizations tend to have a higher share of workers with advanced degrees compared to the traditional auto industry. Even so, implementation of AV systems requires efforts at all levels, from automation supervision by safety drivers to remote managing and dispatching to customer service and maintenance roles on the ground.

Take, for instance, a current job description for “site supervisor” at a major AV developer. The job responsibilities entail overseeing a team of safety drivers focused in particular on customer satisfaction and reporting feedback on mechanical and vehicle-related issues. The job offers a mid-range salary with benefits, does not require a two- or four-year degree, but does require at least one year of leadership experience and communication skills. Similarly, despite the highly sophisticated machine learning and computer vision algorithms, AV systems rely on technicians routinely calibrating and cleaning various sensors both on the vehicle and in the built environment. The job description for field autonomy technician to maintain AV systems provides a mid-range salary, does not require a four-year degree, and generally requires only background knowledge of vehicle repair and electronics. Some responsibilities are necessary for implementation — including inventorying and budgeting repair parts and hands-on physical work—but not engineering.

The scaling up of AV systems, when it happens, will create many more such jobs, and others devoted to ensuring safety and reliability. Simultaneously, an AV future will require explicit strategies to enable workers displaced from traditional driving roles to transition to secure employment.

A rapid emergence of AVs would be highly disruptive for workers since the US has more than three million commercial vehicle drivers. These drivers are often people with high school or lower education or immigrants with language barriers. Leonard, Mindell, and Stayton conclude that a slower adoption timeline will ease the impact on workers, enabling current drivers to retire and younger workers to get trained to fill newly created roles, such as monitoring mobile fleets. Again, realistic adoption timelines provide opportunities for shaping technology, adoption, and policy. A 2018 report by Task Force Research Advisory Board member Susan Helper and colleagues discusses a range of plausible scenarios and found the employment impact of AVs to be proportional to the time to widespread adoption. Immediate, sudden automation of the fleet would, of course, put millions out of work, whereas a thirty-year adoption timeline could be accommodated by retirements and generational change.

Meanwhile, car-and-truck makers already make vehicles that augment rather than replace drivers. These products include high-powered cruise control and warning systems frequently found on vehicles sold today. At some level, replacement-type driverless cars will be competing with augmentation-type computer-assisted human drivers. In aviation, this competition went on for decades before unmanned aircraft found their niches, while human-piloted aircraft became highly augmented by automation. When they did arrive, unmanned aircraft such as the US Air Force’s Predator and Reaper vehicles required many more people to operate than traditional aircraft and offered completely novel capabilities, such as persistent, twenty-four-hour surveillance.

Based on the current state of knowledge, we estimate a slow shift toward systems that require no driver, even in trucking, one of the easier use cases, with limited use by 2030. Overall shifts in other modes, including passenger cars, are likely to be no faster.

Even when it’s achieved, a future of AVs will not be jobless. New business models, potentially entirely new industrial sectors, will be spurred by the technology. New roles and specialties will appear in expert, technical fields of engineering of AV systems and vehicle information technologies. Automation supervision or safety driver roles will be critical for levels of automation that will come before fully automated driving. Remote management or dispatcher, roles will bring drivers into control rooms and require new skills of interacting with automation. New customer service, field support technician, and maintenance roles will also appear. Perhaps most important, creative use of the technology will enable new businesses and services that are difficult to imagine today. When passenger cars displaced equestrian travel and the myriad occupations that supported it in the 1920s, the roadside motel and fast-food industries rose up to serve the “motoring public.” How will changes in mobility, for example, enable and shape changes in distribution and consumption?

Equally important are the implications of new technologies for how people get to work. As with other new technologies, introducing expensive new autonomous cars into existing mobility ecosystems will just perpetuate existing inequalities of access and opportunity if institutions that support workers don’t evolve as well. In a sweeping study of work, inequality, and transit in the Detroit region, Task Force researchers noted that most workers building Model T and Model A Fords on the early assembly lines traveled to work on streetcars, using Detroit’s then highly developed system. In the century since, particularly in Detroit, but also in cities all across the country, public transit has been an essential service for many workers, but it has also been an instrument facilitating institutional racism, urban flight to job-rich suburbs, and inequality. Public discourse and political decisions favoring highway construction often denigrated and undermined mass transit, with racial undertones. As a result, Black people and other minorities are much more likely to lack access to personal vehicles.

“Technology alone cannot remedy the mobility constraints” that workers face, the study concludes, “and will perpetuate existing inequities absent institutional change.” As with other technologies, deploying new technologies in old systems of transportation will exacerbate their inequalities by “shifting attention toward what is new and away from what is useful, practical, and needed.” Innovating in institutions is as important as innovating in machines; recent decades have seen encouraging pilot programs, but more must be done to scale those pilots to broader use and ensure accountability to the communities they intend to serve. “Transportation offers a unique site of political possibility.”

The Best of Tokyo Auto Salon 2022

To really appreciate a car’s styling and market impact, you really have to see it—in the flesh. I mean, online car launches and briefings are good, but they cannot hope to substitute for the real thing. Seeing is believing, as they say, right? That’s why I made a beeline for the Tokyo Auto Salon last weekend— with my vaccinations, face mask, and hand sanitizer under my belt—to check out the latest offerings from the car industry.

But before we look at the highlights from the three-day Tokyo Auto Salon, we should first note that Japan’s biggest car customizing show has gained significant importance over the past few years thanks to the dwindling reputation of the more traditional Tokyo Motor Show as major foreign brands reallocate marketing budgets away from traditional motor shows, preferring to spend advertising money on brand-centric launches.

Tokyo Auto Salon is 70% customized cars and 30% new cars

On the global stage, the Auto Salon is one of the top customizing events behind America’s SEMA and Germany’s Essen shows. In the wake of the Tokyo Motor Show’s demise, the 40-year old Salon has taken on a double role—it’s a 70% world-class customizing and tuning show and 30% new car launch venue.

Spread across four cavernous halls at the massive Makuhari Messe complex some 30 minutes east of Tokyo, the 3-day Salon saw new cars and concepts debut from Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Honda, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Daihatsu as well as Japan premieres of the Lotus Emira and the Alpine A110 S.

As for the customizing specialists, all of Japan’s biggest names were there including HKS, Top Secret, Greddy, TOM’s, Blitz, Endless, Liberty Walk, Cusco, Autobacs, Varis, Rays and RE Amemiya among others.

To give you a flavor of what was on the salon floor, we’ve decided to focus on the highlights—so we chose our 3 best new car and concept debuts plus our 3 best-customized cars.

Three Best New Cars and Concepts

1. Nissan Z

By far the most anticipated unveiling at this year’s Auto Salon was the domestic premiere of the all-new Nissan Z, or the ‘Fairlady Z’ as it’s called in Japan. Expressing just how much this launch means to Nissan, the company’s CEO, Makoto Uchida joined champion Nissan Super GT500 racer Tsugio Matsuda, who collaborated with the car’s cockpit design, and pop star and race team principal Masahiko Kondo to give the Z the unveiling it deserved.

First launched in New York City in August last year, the Z boasts a silhouette that harks back to the original 240Z of 1969 while the tail light design draws inspiration from the rear combination lamps of the 300ZX of three decades ago. The huge rectangular grille first generated controversy when it debuted last year, but after seeing it in real life, I must say that the shape and size of the grille complement the dramatic exterior styling. However, to seemingly appease potential buyers wanting a slightly more subtle traditional front end, Nissan also unveiled the world premiere of the ‘Z Customized Proto’ concept.

Painted in bright orange, and fitted with orange 4-piston brake calipers and Dunlop tires adorned with bespoke ‘Nissan Z’ white lettering this Z was one of my personal favorites at the Salon.

Speaking with Nissan’s chief product specialist for the new Z (and the GT-R for that matter!), Hiroshi Tamura, I could quickly tell that this next-generation sports car was a labor of love for him and his team. As he explained its ‘retro-modern design’ and how the design team had leaned heavily on Z styling from the past 50 years, he also stressed that the car is a traditional rear-drive sports car that incorporates the latest state-of-the-art technologies.

Apart from its impressive 400-hp 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo matched to a 6-speed manual transmission (9-speed auto optional), the cockpit gets a new interpretation of the traditional Z-style three analog pod gauges set up on top of the instrument panel while the race car style shift-up indicator located directly above the tachometer will no doubt become a much talked about the feature when the car lands in showrooms later this year.

2. Toyota GR GT3 Concept

At the Toyota Gazoo Racing (GR) stand, the covers came off another Salon highlight. Arguably one of the most aggressive manufacturer concept cars to ever feature at Makuhari Messe, the GR GT3 Concept interestingly borrows nothing from the brand’s huge range of road-going vehicles, but instead, offers a driver-focused, track-only coupe concept at first, with, perhaps, production car aspirations further down the road. Whether the car is destined for Japan’s Super GT series is yet to be confirmed, but with that “GT3” reference, you’d expect as much.

With its extra-long nose, long wheelbase, straight beltline, sharp sleek front end, huge rear wing, and a rear brake light design that resembles that of the Porsche Taycan, the GR GT3 looks more than ready for the race track as is. One aspect of the car that stood out when viewed from the side is that its proportions almost mirror those of the gorgeous Mazda RX Vision concept of 2017.

Details are slim at present. Toyota officials made no reference to a powertrain in any way, but given the fact that the car has exhaust pipes, we can expect it to pack a hybrid powertrain, most probably a V6 married to a turbo and a plug-in hybrid system that would develop upwards of 600-hp.

According to Toyota, the GT3 concept follows a pattern initiated by the multiple award-winning GR Yaris hatchback. The company plans to commercialize motorsport models first, instead of taking road-going cars and modifying them for racing. Even if Toyota does not make a road-going version of the GT3 concept, we hope that signature design elements of this awesome-looking machine make their way into production cars.

Like Mazda’s RX Vision concept, which appeared in Gran Turismo, one definite possibility is that we will see this car feature in Polyphony Digital’s best-selling driving game in the not too distant future.




3. Subaru STI E-RA Concept

As I roamed the Subaru STI stand, I noticed a BRZ STI concept and a WRX concept, but then, plonked in an obscure corner of the stand, behind the fully electric Solterra STI Concept was one of the most radical Japanese cars I’ve ever seen—the Subaru STI E-RA Concept.

While the Nissan Z was the most anticipated car of the Salon, the STI E-RA Concept was the biggest surprise. It literally appeared out of nowhere. “We told no one about it, not even Subaru of America,” said a Subaru staffer. In the world of social media and instant news and leaked teaser images, it’s extremely refreshing to see something that you did not know existed suddenly appear.

Subaru Tecnica International developed this low-slung 1,072-hp electric race car for one purpose—to set a new lap record around Germany’s famed 13-mile long Nurburgring Nordschleife race track. Propelled by 4 powerful 200kW electric motors, one on each wheel, the E-RA (short for ‘Electric Record Attempt’) is hellbent on setting a time of ‘400 seconds,’ or 6 minutes 40 seconds, according to Hiroshi Mori, STI’s general manager who green-lighted the project.

So why attempt such a radical move now? “We are a little behind with our introduction of EVs, so we decided to up the ante and create an extreme study model, and set a lap time that will help us develop fast, efficient EV race and road cars for the future,” answers Mori.

As Mori so aptly pointed out, the record STI is chasing is not the 6:05 time set by the single-seater Volkswagen ID R, but a slightly more leisurely 6:40 time for twin-seater electric cars. That ‘400 second’ that STI is however targeting a time that would outperform the two-seat Chinese NIO EP9 electric supercar that posted a 6:45 in 2017. Everything about the E-RA, from its 197-inch long frame to its 79-inch wide carbon fiber body to its perfect aerodynamic profile, huge chin spoiler, massive rear wing, roof air intake and race car tuned diffuser, all scream ultra-performance.

According to Mori, the 60kWh battery powering the E-RA should last just one lap, providing just enough juice to set one lap time. “Hopefully a record lap time,” says Mori. STI will test the car in Japan this year before heading to Germany sometime in 2023 for the record-breaking attempt.

Honorable Mentions For New Cars and Concepts

Honda revealed its next-generation Civic Type R wearing a rare camouflage. From a distance, it just looks like a generic red, back, and white covering, but up close this camouflage is a tapestry of Type R logo designs from all of the past Civic and Integra Type R models. As for engine specs, Honda was remaining tight-lipped but we can expect it to generate over 320-hp and offer a manual transmission.

Over at Mitsubishi’s stand, it was great to see their motorsport and tuning arm ‘Ralliart’ making a comeback through their ‘Vision Ralliart Concept.’ Based on the latest Outlander, the modified SUV is finished in a matte black paint job and employs a bold, muscular body kit and rear diffuser, 22-inch wheels, and 6-piston calipers.

And who could ignore the domestic launch of the Lotus Emira First Edition? Distributed by LCI in Japan, this sexy-looking coupe is powered by a 400-hp, 3.5-liter supercharged V6 with either 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

Three Best Customized Cars

1. Liberty Walk Aventador SVJ Carbon Fiber Body

Housed inside a high chain-link fence-enclosed stand that seemed inspired by a Mixed Martial Arts arena, the star of internationally-known customizer Liberty Walk’s display was a dark grey Lamborghini Aventador SVJ. And the customizing had nothing to do with its 770-hp V12 engine, which incidentally is how the car comes from the factory.

Arguably one of the most extreme customized cars at this year’s Auto Salon, this Aventador SVJ’s claim to fame is that it is covered in a totally new body kit made out of dry carbon fiber. Looking like a modern-day Batmobile, Liberty Walk engineers removed the car’s body, made bespoke carbon fiber molds of every part, and then replaced the standard body parts with the newly created lightweight carbon fiber pieces.

And the cost of this car? According to a spokesman, if you take a fully optioned SVJ’s costing around $700,000 and add the full dry carbon fiber (which is more expensive than wet carbon fiber) body kit fee of just over $200,000, and then add on a few extra options, you end up with a total price tag of just over $1 million. Given the quality of the work, I was not surprised to hear that Liberty Walk has customers in the U.S., Europe, and Brazil. The specialist customizer says that it will make around 20 of these body kits and nearly half have already been sold.

2. HKS Driving Performance GR86

As we’ve seen, the Tokyo Auto Salon does double as a stage to launch new manufacturer models and concepts. But it is still basically a customizing show and a big one at that. Without a doubt, the main base car for the vast majority of customizers and tuners is the recently launched second-generation Toyota GR86. At this year’s show, I counted no less than 30 heavily customized GR86s, but the one that stood out the most was the HKS GR86 which is no surprise given that HKS is one of the best known—domestically and internationally—customizers in Japan.

In Japan, customizing, racing and racecourse time attacks at the well-known Tsukuba Circuit go hand in hand, and this time was no different. Donning a startling triple color livery, the HKS GR86 has basically been race-prepped to challenge a sub-minute lap time around Tsukuba.

While the standard GR86 is fitted with a 230-hp 2.4-liter boxer engine, the HKS GR86 has a supercharger fitted that lifts power to a rumored 300-hp although HKS did not release this detail. But that’s not all. Fitted with a full battery of bespoke HKS modified parts that include a special lightweight body kit, HKS sports muffler, and exhaust system, a HKS heavy-duty clutch, an HKS oil cooler, and air filter, HKS Hipermax S sports suspension, Endless branded brakes, and Yokohama 18-inch wheels and Advan tires, the HKS GR86 knocked out a rather quick lap time of 1:01 making it the fastest GR86 around Tsukuba so far.




3. Pandem Widebody V8 GT-R ‘Hakosuka’

Saving the best till last. This heavily modified Nissan Skyline GT-R could just be our favorite customized car at this year’s salon. Notable customizer Trail Motor Apex Racing displayed a one-off ‘Pandem Widebody V8 Hakosuka’ (with ‘hako’ meaning boxy and ‘suka’ refers to Skyline) based on a 1970 Nissan Skyline GT-R. Now while the ultra-wide blacked-out, flared fenders look totally bonkers, those fenders house oversized tires that are more than necessary for this orange beast. Why? As if those 8 suspicious pipes poking out of the hood don’t give the game away. That’s right, this first generation GT-R packs a thumping NASCAR-spec 5.7-liter V8 engine pumping out an incredible 1,145-hp through the rear wheels.

While the car cannot be driven on public roads, TMAR says they will be doing some testing in the near future with the goal of ‘racing it.’ However, exactly where and when they will race it is still under wraps.

Nissan only made 1,945 so-called ‘Hakosuka’ GT-Rs and word on the street is that around one-third of them survive today. Compared to the Pandem Widebody V8’s 1,145-hp, the original GT-R C10, which won multiple touring car races, was powered by a 2.0-liter straight-6 engine generating just 160-hp, but still considerable power for those days. Race versions of these cars today can fetch upwards of $300,000 due to their rarity and race-winning history. Just how much this one-off V8-fitted GT-R would cost is anyone’s guess.




Honorable Mentions For Customized Cars

Okay, so we’ve featured our three best new cars and three best-customized cars. But of the hundreds of other tuned models on display, these ones also impressed no end.

One of the long-time heroes of the Auto Salon is the legendary rotary engine tuner RE Amemiya. These guys normally modify Mazda rotary-powered RX-7s and RX-8s, but this year, the highlight of their stand was a specially prepared Ferrari Testarossa powered by a 4-rotor rotary engine, which incidentally is the same number of rotors that powered the Mazda 787B race car to victory in the 1991 Le Mans 24-hour race.

My jaw dropped when I saw the gold-colored ‘Rocky 3000GT’, which is actually a replica of a 1967 Toyota 2000GT, arguably Japan’s most beautiful sports car. However, in place of the original 2.0-liter straight-6, this 3000GT is powered by an inline-6 3.0-liter Toyota engine. The price on the 3000GT was unclear, but for reference, stock 2000GT’s have fetched auction prices of over $1 million recently.

We also liked the sensational-looking Impulse AE86, which is a tuned 1986 Toyota Sprinter Trueno Corolla AE86 that has huge flared fenders, a carbon fiber body kit, and a modified engine developing 200-hp. Finished in a stand-out red, white, and black paint combination, this is the model of car that hardcore drifters all over the world use for sliding sideways around race tracks.

Speaking of 86s, well-known customizers GReddy and Blitz also outdid themselves with customized versions of the new GR86 that would cause a real stir in the U.S., a place that has been screaming for more powerful turbocharged models. Tuned with bespoke turbochargers, intercoolers, aeroparts, and sports suspension, these cars would be generating over 300-hp.




And who could ignore the other three bright yellow concept cars on display at the Liberty Walk stand. The canary yellow Lamborghini Aventador, Chevrolet Corvette C8, and McLaren P1 all benefited from bespoke carbon-fiber bodywork and were the best-looking threesome of the show.

Meanwhile, the ‘Bad Taste Award’ went to a bright pink Toyota Crown with dark green seats, pink steering wheel, pink seatbelts, and Swarovski crystal beads pasted all over the Crown and Athlete G badges.

Conclusion

One reason for the continued success of the 40-year-old Tokyo Auto Salon is that it has a little of something for everyone. With its new car launches and over-the-top customized machines, it’s a smorgasbord of automotive titillation that never gets old. Bring on TAS 2023.

The post The Best of Tokyo Auto Salon 2022 first appeared on Yanko Design.

Airstream’s self-propelled trailer and luxe motorhome concepts could soon be a reality




Airstream is finally going electric with its two newly announced EV concepts namely eStream and Thor Vision Vehicle. The eStream trailer developed in close quarters with European subsidiary Erwin Hymer Group and tech company ZF, addresses the lingering issue with most campers and RVs – that being – the need for extra power which in turn limits the range of towing vehicles.

Whether the eStream is hooked onto a pure electric vehicle like the Tesla Model 3 or the hybrid Ford Escape – the trailer by Thor Industries (Airstream’s parent company) is not just dead weight. This is done with the dual independent motors and the two onboard lithium-ion battery packs. The Thor’s advanced electrical architecture brings to the fore regenerative braking energy as the motors can be used to apply torque to the wheels in both directions.




One thing is to keep in mind here, the eStream weighs more than traditional trailers – so, how much electrical power boost is negated has also to be considered. The trailer can be operated remotely too via an app when it’s detached from the towing vehicle. So, you can reposition it on a campsite or alight it for hitching up to a vehicle. The modern travel trailer comes with solar panels for off-grid camping on extended adventures. On the inside, it is loaded with things like voice and touchscreen activated climate and lighting controls.




The other one is the Thor Vision Vehicle which is a Ford Transit-based motorhome EV with a 300-mile range. This recreational vehicle comes with a digital cockpit that’s quite high tech and you have the luxury of extensive tools to find chargers en route to the next destination. On the inside, everything looks upbeat in terms of a comfortable journey on the roads, and a cozy sleep by the nighttime.

For now, the two vehicles are in the concept stage, and whether or not they’ll make it to the production lines is also uncertain. I believe, both these being highly practical and satiating the needs of users will make it to reality one day – of course with a premium price tag presumably. Especially the eStream which brings towing capabilities to vehicles that you would normally not even think of burdening the task with. A game-changing feature for the trailer industry and other related spheres.

Designer: Thor Industries

The post Airstream’s self-propelled trailer and luxe motorhome concepts could soon be a reality first appeared on Yanko Design.

Consumer Reports now rewards driver monitoring, but only Ford and GM pass muster

With more automakers including driver assistance systems in their cars, Consumer Reports is changing how it grades those vehicles. Starting this year, the outlet will add an additional two points to a car’s overall score if its included driver assistance system encourages safe driving. Moving forward, it will also deduct points from a vehicle’s total score if it finds the opposite is true, starting with two points in 2024 and then four points in 2026 and beyond.

“We believe it's time to recognize vehicles that have found a safer way to deploy this technology,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of the publication’s Auto Test Center. By its own estimation, Consumer Reports says an adequate driver monitoring system is one that will “reliably” detect when the driver has become inattentive and alert them to that fact. It adds the system should escalate those warnings and eventually stop the car if it finds they’re not responding.

Consumer Reports said it would also take into account an automaker’s privacy policy when evaluating a driver monitoring system, and may not award additional points in some instances. The outlet reasons strong privacy protections are essential to convince drivers to use the feature.

The outlet will put the new ranking guidelines into action when reveals its 2022 Autos Top Picks on February 17th, but it gave an early preview of what to expect on Thursday, noting only cars from Ford and GM earned additional points for their driver assistance features. The outlet said BMW, Ford, GM, Tesla and Subaru all claim their systems can detect and prevent driver inattention, but notes it found some “serious flaws” in those systems through its testing.

Beyond mentioning the automaker, Consumer Reports didn’t call out Tesla specifically, but the two have an adversarial history. In 2020, Consumer Reports ranked Autopilot a “distant second” to GM’s Super Cruise. At the time, it said GM’s system was better at notifying drivers when it was about to disengage, and the automaker’s use of an infrared camera to monitor the driver led to a safer system overall.

Consumer Reports now rewards driver monitoring, but only Ford and GM pass muster

With more automakers including driver assistance systems in their cars, Consumer Reports is changing how it grades those vehicles. Starting this year, the outlet will add an additional two points to a car’s overall score if its included driver assistance system encourages safe driving. Moving forward, it will also deduct points from a vehicle’s total score if it finds the opposite is true, starting with two points in 2024 and then four points in 2026 and beyond.

“We believe it's time to recognize vehicles that have found a safer way to deploy this technology,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of the publication’s Auto Test Center. By its own estimation, Consumer Reports says an adequate driver monitoring system is one that will “reliably” detect when the driver has become inattentive and alert them to that fact. It adds the system should escalate those warnings and eventually stop the car if it finds they’re not responding.

Consumer Reports said it would also take into account an automaker’s privacy policy when evaluating a driver monitoring system, and may not award additional points in some instances. The outlet reasons strong privacy protections are essential to convince drivers to use the feature.

The outlet will put the new ranking guidelines into action when reveals its 2022 Autos Top Picks on February 17th, but it gave an early preview of what to expect on Thursday, noting only cars from Ford and GM earned additional points for their driver assistance features. The outlet said BMW, Ford, GM, Tesla and Subaru all claim their systems can detect and prevent driver inattention, but notes it found some “serious flaws” in those systems through its testing.

Beyond mentioning the automaker, Consumer Reports didn’t call out Tesla specifically, but the two have an adversarial history. In 2020, Consumer Reports ranked Autopilot a “distant second” to GM’s Super Cruise. At the time, it said GM’s system was better at notifying drivers when it was about to disengage, and the automaker’s use of an infrared camera to monitor the driver led to a safer system overall.

Airstream’s concept electric camping trailer propels itself

Even Airstream is getting in on electric vehicles. According to Autoblog, the Thor brand has introduced a pair of EV concepts that include the eStream, a self-propelled camper. The dual-motor trailer not only reduces the burden on the towing vehicle, but can be remote-controlled from your phone to help you hitch up, reverse or simply move your camp site. You can even use the motors to shift the weight distribution, so you might not need a special hitch to handle certain trailer loads.

The other concept, the Thor Vision Vehicle, is a Ford Transit-based electric RV. The design is conventional, but Thor teased a "best in class" 300-mile range along with a digital cockpit that includes extensive tools to find chargers along your route.

There's no mention of whether or not the eStream or TVV will lead to ready-to-buy models, let alone timeframes for production. However, it's easy to see both reaching customers. Campers and other trailers significantly limit the range of any towing vehicle, and often demand extra power. While an electric camper like the eStream would have its own challenges (the weight and wear of its batteries, for instance), it could limit the overall impact on range and make towing an option for vehicles that would normally struggle.

Airstream’s concept electric camping trailer propels itself

Even Airstream is getting in on electric vehicles. According to Autoblog, the Thor brand has introduced a pair of EV concepts that include the eStream, a self-propelled camper. The dual-motor trailer not only reduces the burden on the towing vehicle, but can be remote-controlled from your phone to help you hitch up, reverse or simply move your camp site. You can even use the motors to shift the weight distribution, so you might not need a special hitch to handle certain trailer loads.

The other concept, the Thor Vision Vehicle, is a Ford Transit-based electric RV. The design is conventional, but Thor teased a "best in class" 300-mile range along with a digital cockpit that includes extensive tools to find chargers along your route.

There's no mention of whether or not the eStream or TVV will lead to ready-to-buy models, let alone timeframes for production. However, it's easy to see both reaching customers. Campers and other trailers significantly limit the range of any towing vehicle, and often demand extra power. While an electric camper like the eStream would have its own challenges (the weight and wear of its batteries, for instance), it could limit the overall impact on range and make towing an option for vehicles that would normally struggle.

GM aims to use hydrogen fuel cells for mobile power generators

Automakers have been pursuing the dream of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for decades — who wouldn't want a car that runs on renewable hydrogen and only emits water vapor? But many challenges, from designing cars that can easily hold the fuel, to setting up reliable hydrogen distribution, have made it difficult to turn that dream into a reality. But what if you used those fuel cells to set up a remote EV charging station, or to replace a traditional gas or diesel generator for a large camp? That's what GM is planning to do with its HYDROTEC fuel cell technology, the company announced today.

GM fuel cell mobile power generator
GM

GM's Mobile Power Generators, or MPGs, are pretty self descriptive: they'd basically let you bring large amounts of electricity anywhere without burning fossil fuels, or expanding a local power grid. It could be useful for concerts, movie sets, or neighborhoods that frequently lose power. (In my town outside of Atlanta, almost everyone owns a gas generator to deal with storm-related outages.) 

The announcement also makes plenty of sense for GM, as it's already bringing its fuel cell technology to trucking, aerospace and rail partners. The company says the MPGs will be able to spit out 60 to 600 kilowatts without producing much noise or heat.

GM plans to show off an MPG-powered EV charging station in the middle of 2022, a project co-funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the U.S. Army. Additionally, the California Energy Commission is exploring how MPGs could help provide energy during power shutdowns. GM is also working together with Renewable Innovations to build the EMPOWER rapid charger, which could deliver fast EV charging to existing stations without the need for huge infrastructure improvements. Taking things to an even more extreme level, there's a large MPG implementation that could potentially power large military camps and heavy-duty equipment. (And as a bonus, those camps can actually use the water the MPG emits.)

While it'll likely be years before MPGs can actually deployed, it's heartening to see GM explore uses for fuel cells outside of cars. Battery-powered EVs have evolved so quickly that hydrogen-powered cars don't have much of a future (sorry, Toyota). So it's about time we start considering other ways fuel cells could help.