The first car show of the season starts early, as in November, and happens in the car culture capital of America, Los Angeles. This year, more manufacturers introduced the press to a variety of new models never before seen in North America or the world. We’ve divided the introductions into segments that made sense to us, which should help you if you’re shopping for your future vehicle. Because the show is almost as big as the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, we want you to be able to digest it, so this is Part I. Part II will be posted soon.
Alternate Propulsion Vehicles
We heard someone say that the Honda Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) looks exactly like what we thought we’d be driving in the year 2013. This Fuel Cell concept hints at the Honda FCEV 2015 production vehicle. While most of us are still trying to wrap our heads around electric vehicles, manufacturers are moving forward with other propulsion systems, such as this Honda concept. Fuel cells convert the chemical energy from hydrogen into electricity via a chemical reaction. The bonus is the only waste produced from the tailpipe is water. Highlights of the vehicle include the fact that the powertrain fits under the hood, the new-design fuel stack can produce more than 100 kW of power output, driving range is more than 300 miles, and refueling time is about three minutes. We know that the next question will be, sure, the vehicle is a fuel cell, but where do we refuel? Good question. The answer is, Honda has joined a group called H2USA, a public/private consortium that is made up of auto manufacturers, government agencies, hydrogen suppliers and the hydrogen and fuel-cell industries. The goal is to create the infrastructure that will allow us to fuel up on the road and move merrily on our way. Looking at the map http://www.netinform.net/h2/H2Stations/H2Stations.aspx?Continent=NA, there are just under 50 stations in California, and a few dozen more either in operation or planned. As the number of hydrogen-powered vehicles grow, so, too, will these stations.
2015 Volkswagen e-Golf
If you’ve never heard of the Volkswagen Golf, you’re probably been in a coma for the past 40 years. VW’s Golf is a perennial favorite of German-car fanatics due to the boxy design that’s been a trademark since day one, the spunky performance, and the joy of being part of a group that knows how great a car it is. To stay current (pun intended), VW introduced the e-Golf at the show this year. The e-Golf is Volkswagen’s first all-electric vehicle for sale in the U.S., and is part of VW’s overall campaign to produce more sustainable vehicles under its THINK BLUE strategy. The e-Golf produces 115 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque, and has a range of 70 to 90 miles on a single charge, which takes less than four hours on 220v. Plus the e-Golf can use a quick-charge station that delivers about 80 percent of full charge in 30 minutes. The batteries are lithium ion, and add about 700 pounds to the vehicle’s overall weight. While the e-Golf looks almost identical to the gas Golf, spotters can tell the difference by the LED headlamps (first on a U.S.-based VW model), e-Golf badging, and the missing exhaust pipes. If only a small percentage of Golf buyers switch to the EV version, VW will consider it a success. Does that mean the switch from diesels to EVs will render diesels obsolete? We highly doubt it.
When it comes to small, sporty, and unique, the Hyundai Veloster is right up there with the best of them. For those who want even more performance, Hyundai has kicked it up a notch with the Veloster R-Spec, adding Hyundai’s touch of go-juice to this three-door sportster. The Veloster R-Spec features changes to the suspension and steering tuning for a sportier ride, a six-speed close-ration manual transmission, and the addition of Torque Vectoring Control, which adds stability in corners and provides a higher threshold of grip for more spirited driving. The Veloster R-Spec is available in four color choices, with contrasting trim to set it apart. While most manufacturers bump up the price for special-edition models, Hyundai has dropped the cost about $1,000 (decontented a bit to make it lighter and more sporty), making it the lowest-priced Veloster model at $22,110.
AMG equals performance. Period. Others may pretend to know how to go fast, but AMG practically invented speed. With the SLS AMG GT Final Edition, it solidifies that claim. AMG is calling this the finale, since once these last 350 are built, it’s all over. Available as either a coupe or a roadster, the SLS GT will go on sale in March 2014. I’d suggest getting to the dealership soon, since, more than likely, they are already spoken for. The SLS was the first car to be completely developed by AMG, and truly is a masterpiece. Supercar status features abound: exposed carbon-fiber hood, forged alloy wheels, and the AMG 6.3-liter 583-horsepower V8 residing under the hood. Acceleration 0-60 mph is 3.6 seconds, with a limited top speed of 197 mph. We’re so sad to see the end of the SLS run, but Mercedes-Benz knows that you don’t keep a car exclusive by cranking out 100,000 units annually. Be the first — or the last — to own what we can guarantee will be a collector vehicle for decades to come.