Pure, simple, clean and utilitarian. This Urban EV Concept is a stark departure from Honda's current vent-laden design language and is all the better for it. The digital displays at the front and back are an interesting idea and could definitely have some interesting applications in advertising, amongst other things. Let's hope that the production vehicle, set to be launched in 2019, resembles this concept as closely as possible.
Correction, 9/09/2017: Some readers have pointed out that the Tesla Model X does, in fact, come standard with autonomous emergency braking (AEB). After calling the Tesla Store in St Leonards, Sydney, I can confirm that all new Tesla Model X and S vehicles come standard with autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning. The system works as follows:
- From 0-40 km/h the Forward Collision Warning (FCW) system will warn the driver of an impending collision.
- Above 40 km/h, the Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) system will apply the brakes if it detects an impending collision. There is no upper speed limit after which the system will not work, however, the likelihood of the car coming to a complete stop before the potential accident will decrease at higher speeds.
I'm not sure why the particular Model X tested by CarAdvice did not have AEB. Even if the Model X tested was an older model, I would assume that Tesla's fleet of loan/review cars is kept up-to-date with the latest software. I will update this article if I receive further information on the particular Model X used by CarAdvice.
It's important to note that the key point of the article, that essential safety features such as AEB should not be compromised in favour of software development, remains valid. From October 2016 towards the end of April 2017, new Tesla vehicles sold did not have any form of AEB.
The original article continues below:
Paul Maric, reviewing the Tesla Model X 75D for CarAdvice:
"But here is the problem. While we had the car on loan, all the data collected by 'Hardware 1' Tesla vehicles is obsolete. Hardware 1 was Tesla's first iteration of cameras and sensors used for AutoPilot, autonomous emergency braking and radar cruise control.
Now that the camera and sensor count has increased, all of that 'self learning' data is wiped and new data needs to be collected. With other car brands, they test this technology first, implement their learnings and release the vehicle to market. Tesla, instead, uses its customers effectively as test pilots until it has enough data to enable those features.
That means our test car didn't have features like autonomous emergency braking, automatic high beam lights, automatic windscreen wipers, side collision warning, lane departure warning, high-speed automatic steering, automatic lane change, semi-autonomous parking and Tesla's Summon self-parking feature.
You read that right – this car, with an on-road price tag of over $180,000 doesn't have automatic windscreen wipers. That's technology standard on a $20,000 Mazda 2 – even the entry-level $14,990 Mazda 2 has autonomous emergency braking as standard.
We don't really care what excuses Tesla has for this technology being non-existent at the moment, it's not good enough. It's not good enough for a $50,000 car, let alone one worth almost $200,000. Even the top-specification Model X P100D worth over $300,000 doesn't have this technology. You're kidding, right?"
It's understandable that Tesla, as a new player in the automotive industry, needs to be seen as technologically ahead of other automakers to differentiate itself. It's also understandable that in order to maintain this lead, the company will frequently trial and test beta software.
However, basic safety features should never be compromised in favour of software development. When a $14,990 Mazda 2 right at the budget end of the market comes standard with AEB, it's fair to say that the industry across the board can and should deem AEB a safety feature as essential as an airbag. For a $180,000 car to not have this feature is shameful.
It doesn't matter whether the Model X will have this feature soon, or has had it in the past, or that this is a temporary problem. AEB is now a feature so essential that there should never be a point in any vehicle's life-cycle where it is not standard. The fact is, if you walk out of a Tesla showroom right now with a Model X, you cannot have AEB. Tesla has compromised on a crucial safety feature today in favour of better autonomous driving at some point in the future. That is inexcusable.
At this point, I have to reinforce what Paul says in the second paragraph of the quoted excerpt. Tesla may be one of the few (if not the only) manufacturer that delivers seamless, over-the-air software updates to improve their car, much like how Apple updates the iPhone or Google with the Pixel. It should rightly be applauded for this. But other manufacturers also don't remove safety features from their cars and then use the customer as a pawn when developing their replacements. Instead, they take time to develop and throughly test these features to a point where they reliably work well before selling the car to the customer. A comparably priced car from another manufacturer may not have software that will be improved in the future, but it will also come out of the box (so to speak) with essential safety features like AEB that will reliably work well, and won't be removed in the future.
To compare with the approach of a conventional manufacturer, look at the new Audi A8 that has recently been launched. This vehicle today arguably has a superior autonomous driving ability than Tesla's Autopilot. I'm sure Audi could have launched this car 18-24 months ago without AEB or any self-driving features, and then have progressively implemented those features via software updates as it developed its self-driving technology. Instead, Audi took the development time and resources to ensure that these self-driving features work reliably well from the first instance that customers use them. The company is even confident enough with this technology to accept liability if the vehicle crashes whilst driving itself.
There's little doubt that Tesla's focus on technology and making great electric vehicles has caught the attention of the wider public, and has pushed the rest of the industry to compete. However, putting the customer's safety at risk today, by removing AEB, in order to develop self-driving software that will be available at some vague point in the future, is an act by Tesla that is reckless and almost criminal.
Above: Tesla's Model X and Audi's A8
From the Jaguar press release:
"From 2020 all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles will be electrified. The company made the announcement at its inaugural Tech Fest, a series of debates and a free public exhibition about the future of mobility.
Dr Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer, said: “Every new Jaguar Land Rover model line will be electrified from 2020, giving our customers even more choice. We will introduce a portfolio of electrified products across our model range, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles. Our first fully electric performance SUV, the Jaguar I-PACE, goes on sale next year.”
It's great to see another manufacturer following in Volvo's footsteps and also committing to an entirely electrified vehicle lineup in the near future. Nevertheless, it is important to note the very broad remit that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has given itself to satisfy this commitment to an electrified lineup; namely 'fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid' vehicles. The term 'mild-hybrid' is quite vague, and could mean simply producing a normal combustion engined car with a capacitor or larger battery to enable automatic engine start-stop and/or regenerative braking, similar to Mazda's i-ELOOP or Peugeot's e-HDI Micro Hybrid technology.
This decision is a step in the right direction. Let's hope, however, that the company decides to focus on fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles rather than slightly modified combustion engine vehicles that are branded as mild hybrids.
From the Jaguar press release:
"Imagine a future of autonomous, connected and electric cars where you don’t own a single car, but instead call upon the vehicle of your choice where and when you need it. That’s a future vision Jaguar Land Rover is exploring with Sayer, the connected steering wheel that could be the only part of the car you own."
Why would you need a steering wheel at all if cars of the future are completely autonomous? I would think something less conspicuous and nostalgic would be more appropriate than talking to an obsolete relic of the past. Perhaps a wearable device or something akin to the smartphones that we already use to request a taxi or an Uber.
Just revealed, here are my initial thoughts on the new Bentley Continental GT:
- The blue paint in the press photos is sensational.
- The exterior design, whilst being an evolution of its predecessor, is clearly much better resolved. The front grille and bonnet are now flush and integrated with the rest of the front bodywork, creating a much more refined appearance than the slightly lumpy previous Continental GT.
- The same can be said of the rear styling. The crisp tail, uncorrupted by spoilers, combines very well with the ovoid tail lamps and exhaust pipes to develop a wide and low appearance. This is a welcome improvement from the ungainly rear of the previous Continental GT.
- I'm very intrigued by the 'Super Formed' process that is used to make the side body. Whilst the exact method is unclear, it has clearly resulted in sharper, more muscular haunches that serve to add further width and definition to the tail.
- With regard to interior architecture, the separated, dual-cockpit design with vertical centre console has been swapped out for a wraparound dashboard with a much stronger focus on the horizontal plane. This is clearly a positive change as it develops a roomier, more airy and open feel to the interior.
- The interior also appears to be a successful melding of VW Group infotainment with Bentley's traditional craftsmanship. This is probably best exemplified in the three sided 'Bentley Rotating Display', which replaces the 12.3 inch infotainment display from the Porsche Panamera with Bentley's own analogue instruments when not in use.
- The new dual-veneer wood, and option of diamond knurling, are both exquisite, and create further opportunity for personalisation as expected at this end of the market. This level of craftsmanship, combined with VW Group technology, is a step up from other GT competitors such as the Aston Martin DB11.
- Being based on the new MSB platform jointly developed with Porsche and also used in the new Panamera, this Continental should be a much sportier drive than its VW Phaeton based predecessor.
Overall, the new Continental GT is a very impressive vehicle at first glance, with stunning interior and exterior styling. Perhaps more than any other GT, it demonstrates how advanced technology from one of the world's largest automakers, together with traditional craftsmanship, is an unbeatable combination.
Jonathan M. Gitlin, writing for Ars Technica:
"EVs can't ditch the conventional brake. There needs to be a redundant system for situations when regenerative braking isn't possible, like when the battery is full and can't accept more energy. A consequence of using regenerative braking is that the friction brakes get much less use than in a conventional car, so they tend to last a lot longer. But there is a downside to this: a buildup of rust that can impair their performance when you need to use them, according to Continental.
So there's a wheel rim, to which the tire is mounted, and then an inner component called a carrier star—the bit with spokes that mounts to the axle. Instead of mounting a brake disk to the axle, here it's married to the carrier star, with the caliper attached to the inside. That means that the disc can be much larger than a conventional brake disc, which needs to be small enough so that there's room to fit the caliper without impeding the wheel itself."
This is a very interesting innovation that takes advantage of a key driving characteristic of electric vehicles- regenerative braking- to solve a potential rust problem caused by reduced usage of conventional brakes. I'd love to see how this would work in daily use on a production vehicle.
From the Audi press release:
"The reference value for the new model designations is the power output of the individual model in kilowatts (kW). Audi is thus subclassifying its model range into different performance levels – each identified by a two-numeral combination. For example, the numeral combination “30” will appear on the rear of all models with power output between 81 and 96 kW. And “45” stands for power output between 169 and 185 kW. The top of the Audi model range is the performance class above 400 kW, which is identifiable by the number combination “70”. In each case the numerals appear along with the engine technology – TFSI, TDI, g-tron or e-tron.
The changes will kick off with the new Audi A8 generation in the fall of 2017. First among the two six-cylinder engines to be redesignated will be the 3.0 TDI with 210 kW – as the Audi A8 50 TDI, and the 3.0 TFSI with 250 kW – as the Audi A8 55 TFSI."
Above: Audi's new naming system on the A8
On the face of it, this new numbering system aligns Audi with Mercedes and BMW, who also use a series of numbers to denote the relative power outputs of their model variants.
Historically, the model designations for Mercedes and BMW would be based on engine displacement. The underlying logic behind this was the assumption that the larger the engine, the more power it produced. Thus, 'E300' would would mean an E-Class with a 3.0L engine and '320i' would be equivalent to a 3-Series with a 2.0L engine. Although this is no longer the case (for example, the new E300 uses a higher-powered 2.0L engine) the long-running use of this type of nomenclature by both brands means that customers are still familiar with the underlying logic behind the system. A customer who walks into a Mercedes dealership may not know the size of the engine in the E300, but they will understand that it's a more powerful car than the E200. A decades long history of using the same basic system develops a contextual familiarity for the customer.
Audi's new two digit numbering system is a stark departure from the previous system where the engine displacement was directly labelled. Without the historical precedent that Mercedes and BMW share, the Audi customer cannot be expected to understand what numbers such as '30', '55' and '70' mean. Moreover, with the industry focusing on electric vehicle development, other characteristics such as range (i.e. the distance the car can travel between charges) also become important, which is a metric that is not described by the new numbering system.
Overall, I feel that this new 2 digit numbering system is too little, too late. The system is too simplistic to cover characteristics that will be important in the future, such as vehicle range. Without historical precedent, it is likewise confusing for future prospective Audi customers.
With cars having a number of important performance characteristics such as power, torque, acceleration and range, it is difficult to concisely and clearly express all of these into a single alpha-numeric combination.
Perhaps a better option would be to scrap this model designation system entirely and instead follow the Ferrari route. Focus on marketing (and badging) the model only, e.g. Audi A4/A6/A8 and tabulate all performance characteristics on a hidden plaque or badge inside the car, together with any customer ordered options and other specification such as paint colour and wheel design. This way, all performance characteristics can be clearly displayed and understood. Additionally, this system would be beneficial come resale time, as all customer ordered options and preferences would be evident (with personalisation being key at the premium end of the market).
I'm weary of heaping praise on concept vehicles, as there's no certainty as to what extent the design will translate to the production model. However, the basic cab-backwards proportion, and character lines that originate from the side vents before flowing into the tail work well here .
I'm sceptical as to whether this vehicle, or anything like it, will make it to production, but the exterior of this concept is simply stunning. The long, flowing tail evokes the lines of a luxurious yacht and all the associated prestige and glamour, and are complemented perfectly by those huge 23 inch multi-spoke wheels. The horizontally oriented, wraparound interior architecture is likewise seamless and elegant, but I'm not sold on the blue colour scheme. It's garish and an unnecessarily ostentatious indication of the electric drivetrain powering the car.
Gerry McGovern is the chief designer of the Range Rover Velar, which in the opinion of yours truly is the most beautiful SUV in production today. His interview with Autocar offers some fascinating insights into the design process:
“Some people still think our job is to apply styling to an existing set of hard points. It was like that back in 2004, when I came back to Land Rover after my time with Lincoln in the US. Go away and make it look good, they’d say. But if you’re forced to do it that way, the horse has already bolted. Hard points define volumes and proportions, and together they’re the number one requisite for a great-looking vehicle. Get them wrong and it’ll never look any good, however good your details and surfaces. That’s why designers need to be involved in these decisions.” Everything changed, says McGovern, with Tata’s acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover for £1.3 billion in 2008. “There was lots of mumbling, both in Europe and India, about Tata buying us. Everyone asked the same question: what do they know? But then Mr [Ratan] Tata arrived and asked the killer question: why does design report to engineering? He’d trained as an architect, he loved cars and knew exactly what our job entailed. I won’t interfere, he told us, and no on else will. It’s your destiny and you control it.”
There's still a common misconception that design simply relates to how a car 'looks' on the inside and out. Design is a lot more thorough than that. It focuses on how a user interacts with their car. Everything from their reaction to the styling when they see the car at a first glance, to how they operate the air-conditioning controls, or to the feel of interior materials, are all interactive experiences that need to be designed. Design is a very holistic concept, and for a vehicle to have great design, close collaboration with engineers that will put the designer's vision on the road is key.
Hans Greimel, writing for Automotive News:
"Toyota will take a 5 percent stake in Mazda, while Mazda reciprocates with a token 0.25 percent stake in Toyota, the car manufacturers said in a joint statement Friday.
Toyota and Mazda said they will also collaborate in developing electrified vehicles and connected car technologies. They will also step up supplying vehicles to each other.
In electric vehicles, Toyota is being positioned as working on the battery-side of electric vehicles, while Mazda works on the overall architecture. The two companies will jointly develop the hardware and software sides of electric vehicles but produce them separately, Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi said at a joint press conference in Tokyo.
In connected cars, Toyota and Mazda will cooperate on vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, seen as a key toward self-driving and advanced safety systems."
This appears to be a beneficial move for both parties.
For Mazda, it represents a cost-efficient and potentially time saving strategy to jump on the electric and autonomous vehicle bandwagon, by leveraging Toyota's greater resources and battery expertise, whilst retaining control of overall design and vehicle development.
Toyota, in turn, can make use of Mazda's product development and engineering expertise that has been responsible for the famed handling qualities of its SkyActiv architecture. This partnership is sure to also complement Toyota's existing collaboration with BMW on battery development and lightweight materials.
The New York Times wrote the following in response to the UK committing to ending sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040:
"Much depends, too, on where the electricity comes from. If it comes from coal-fired plants, there could be a net increase in the greenhouse gases that are warming the planet; if from natural gas plants, a modest net decrease; if from carbon-free sources like wind and solar power, a huge net benefit. President Trump’s antagonism to the Paris climate accord and his affinity for fossil fuels demonstrate the difficulty of making this shift; and despite Volvo’s exciting announcement that it will make only electric or hybrid cars as of 2019, many manufacturers may well resist abandoning the engines they have spent the past century perfecting."
This paragraph makes an important point that often doesn't receive enough attention in the current fanfare around electric vehicles. If the electricity used to power cars is from a non-renewable source, then greenhouse gas emissions are simply being shifted up the electricity supply chain rather than being reduced. A holistic overhaul of the world's electricity supply chain, that ensures power is sourced from renewable energy, is needed. Electric vehicles are ultimately only one component of this modernisation.
Just revealed, the new Phantom VIII succeeds its 2003 predecessor. Here are my initial thoughts on the vehicle:
- The Pantheon grille, now integrated with the rest of the bodywork, remains as majestic as it is potentially harmful for pedestrian safety. The exterior design is otherwise evolutionary, and retains the proportions of the previous Phantom, as well as key design elements such as the coach doors and wide C-pillar that gives rear seat occupants greater privacy.
- The parking sensors are like ugly pimples on the front bumper. In such an expensive, exclusive vehicle, surely there must be a better way to integrate them into the bodywork?
- The multi-spoke wheel design is beautiful and gives a great sense of both the luxury and power inherent to the Phantom.
- The contrasting two-tone paintwork shown in the press images is stunning. It perfectly accentuates the broad C-pillar, muscular haunches and the yacht-like character lines of the exterior.
- The fixed wheel caps (i.e. the Rolls-Royce logo on the wheels remains upright even when the car is moving) are still a unique and genuinely cool feature. I'm surprised that no other manufacturer has copied this feature.
- According to the press release, Rolls-Royce has fitted the new Phantom with laser headlights with a range of 600 metres. It will be interesting to see how these headlamps compare to those in the new Audi A8.
- 'The Gallery' is a great innovation and design element for the dashboard. The super-exclusive luxury market that Rolls Royce caters to is all about customisation. Adding bespoke touches, such as enabling customers to commission their own piece of dashboard art, enhances the level to which the car can be personalised and is another differentiating feature versus competing vehicles (although I can't think of any competitors to the new Phantom).
- Rolls-Royce bills the new Phantom as the quietest car in the world. I wonder how much quieter it would be with an inherently silent electric powertrain? The instant torque available from an electric motor would also be an ideal fit for the driving characteristics customers would expect from this vehicle.
Above: 'The Galley' section of the dashboard which the customer can personalise with their own uniquely commissioned artwork.
The first model to showcase designer Marc Lichte's new progressive design language, the A8 is an understated contrast to the more glamorous styling of its chief rival, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. A long dash-to-axle ratio, traditional sedan proportions with upright, clearly defined A, B and C-pillars and a clean side profile with subtle character lines help develop an elegant look.
This is accentuated by the design of the tail. Full width tail lamps, as previously seen in models as disparate as the Saab 9-5, Lincoln Continental, Dodge Charger and Bugatti Chiron, are used by automakers to emphasise the width of the vehicle. Audi uses this particular design element to the same effect with the new A8. The full-width light bar is complemented by the chrome strip below to create a low and wide stance.
The design of the hexagonal front grille likewise mirrors the 'low and wide' stance developed by the tail.
Left: 2014 Audi A8. Right: 2018 Audi A8.
Unlike the vertical, waterfall grille design of its predecessor, the new A8 incorporates a wider, more obviously hexagonal grille that widens the look of the car in a fashion similar to the full width tail lamp.
Of particular note is the design of the side sills and bumpers of the A8. As seen in the photos above, a wraparound chrome strip runs around the car, and also helps to seamlessly integrate the tailpipes into the rear bumper. Overall, this wraparound design demonstrates Audi's attention to detail with regard to the exterior design and adds a further touch of class to the vehicle.
The A8's interior continues to develop themes from the exterior design. The wood trim at the top of the dashboard encircles the interior in a similar fashion to the wraparound exterior chrome strip described above. The elegant concealment of the A8's air vents likewise echoes the seamless integration of the exterior tail pipes into the rear bumper, and imbues the interior with a sophisticated, graceful feel.
With the infotainment systems integrated into a clearly demarcated horizontal dashboard and vertical centre console, the interior architecture of the A8 also follows the preferred 'T' interior design, and follows the mould of other recently launched vehicles such as the Range Rover Velar in minimising physical buttons in favour of configurable software controls.
The A8 builds upon Audi's industry leading automotive lighting technology. Whilst the 'HD Matrix LED' headlights apparently refer to the increased number of diodes compared to the previous generation, the A8 is arguably the first mass-produced vehicle with OLED tail-lamps, with the technology only previously available on the limited production BMW M4 GTS and optional on Audi's TT RS.
With regard to powertrains, it's surprising that there are no plans to make a fully electric A8. With instant torque and completely silent operation, an electric drivetrain would be an ideal fit for the refinement and low NVH that customers expect from the car. Nevertheless, it's applaudable that every powertrain is at least a mild hybrid. This is a step in the right direction.
Audi claims that the new A8 is also the first to offer autonomous driving where the driver does not have to pay attention, if the vehicle is travelling below 60 km/h on highways that are divided by a physical barrier. To do this, Audi incorporates an image processor from Mobileye, which was previously a supplier for Tesla's Autopilot before the relationship between the two companies broke down. Consequently, a comparison between Audi and Tesla's autonomous driving systems will serve as an interesting yardstick for Tesla's in-house Autopilot 2 self-driving system.
Stefan Krause, Faraday Future's CFO, quoted in an article by the Nevada Independent:
“We have decided to put a hold on our factory at the Apex site in North Las Vegas. We remain committed to the Apex site in Las Vegas for long-term vehicle manufacturing.
We at Faraday Future are significantly shifting our business strategy to position the company as the leader in user-ship personal mobility — a vehicle usage model that reimagines the way users access mobility. As a result of this shift in direction, we are in the final stages of confirming a new manufacturing facility that presents a faster path to start-of-production and aligns with future strategic options.”
Krause's statement is full of vague buzzwords such as 'user-ship personal mobility' with no substance behind them, and the firm's commitment to 'long-term vehicle manufacturing' is a nice euphemism for the minuscule chance that it will ever put a vehicle into mass production. The death knell is sounding for this vapourware peddling company.
From the Volvo press release:
"Volvo Cars will introduce a portfolio of electrified cars across its model range, embracing fully electric cars, plug in hybrid cars and mild hybrid cars.
It will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021, three of which will be Volvo models and two of which will be high performance electrified cars from Polestar, Volvo Cars’ performance car arm. Full details of these models will be announced at a later date.
These five cars will be supplemented by a range of petrol and diesel plug in hybrid and mild hybrid 48 volt options on all models, representing one of the broadest electrified car offerings of any car maker."
This is another significant development for Volvo, which has lately been having a renaissance under the ownership of Geely in forging its own, differentiated identity. To go from zero fully electric vehicles in 2018, to five by 2021, a space of only three years, will be a big achievement. More importantly, it is a substantive acknowledgment by a 'traditional', mainstream automotive manufacturer that the writing is on the wall for the internal combustion engine.
It's understandable that a mainstream manufacturer such as Volvo may not desire to leave existing customers (that live in areas with poor electric vehicle charging support) to hang out to dry by immediately ceasing support and development of combustion engined vehicles. But what is more important to understand is that hybrid vehicles that marry an electric motor to a combustion engine are a mere transition point, and not the final solution to achieving sustainable transport.
The only pragmatic option for sustainable transport is a fully electric vehicle powered by electricity from a renewable energy source. The sooner the automotive industry realises this, and follows Tesla's lead in independently building the requisite infrastructure, or forms a partnership with government to do so, the better. At this early stage, however, it's applaudable that Volvo has looked to the future and boldly taken a bet on a powertrain that currently only makes up a minuscule, albeit growing, share of the global automotive market.
Above: From left to right, the Volvo S90, V90, XC60 and XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid range. These vehicles represent Volvo's current range of only partial electric vehicles.
From the Volvo press release:
"In the future, Polestar will offer Polestar branded cars that will no longer carry a Volvo logo, as well as optimisation packages for Volvo’s range of cars under the Polestar Engineered brand.
Polestar will enjoy specific technological and engineering synergies with Volvo Cars and benefit from significant economies of scale as a result of its connection to Volvo. These synergies will allow it to design, develop and build world beating electrified high performance cars."
Above: The new Polestar logo.
Whilst it's unclear as to whether the models sold under the Polestar brand will be derivatives of existing Volvos or new, independently developed models, this is a positive step for the marque. Newly launched Volvos such as the XC90, S90, V90 and XC60 are evidence of a renaissance for the brand, which has developed a 'differentiated premium' image through a focus on honest design, advanced safety features, autonomous driving and electrification. Through its T8 powertrain, Volvo remains the only brand where the most powerful, top of the range Volvo currently available is a plug-in hybrid. Separating Polestar to focus on performance electric vehicles creates further differentiation from the mainstream 'big three' German trio of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, and is a relatively unique proposition that is perhaps matched only by Tesla.
These are exciting times for the automotive industry, and with manufacturers being bold enough to explore new avenues such as autonomous driving and electric vehicles, the potential for innovation and change in the industry is greater than ever before.
The interior of the new Volkswagen Polo is perhaps the clearest example yet of the importance that consumers place on in-car technology in this class of vehicle. With the instrument cluster and infotainment display located on a single horizontal plane angled towards the driver, the interior architecture places a clear emphasis on in-car technology whilst also maintaining the parameters of the integrated 'T' design philosophy with a focus on the horizontal axis.
Importantly, the new Polo also marks the debut of the 2nd generation of Volkswagen's Active Info Display. The fact that this technology appears first on the Polo rather than an Audi, or the flagship VW Arteon (which itself was only revealed in March) is another example of how technology is being democratised. Rather than the traditional practice of new technologies necessarily appearing on a manufacturer's most expensive car (or being developed specifically for it) before filtering down to cheaper models, they are increasingly included whenever they are ready for production.
With regard to exterior design, the new Polo is an evolution from its predecessor, with certain traits also borrowed from stablemates such as the aforementioned Arteon.
Left: Volkswagen Arteon. Right: Volkswagen Polo.
It's clear from the above images that the Polo features the same upper bonnet 'lip' and and radiator grille that merges almost seamlessly into the LED daytime running lamps as the Arteon.
Left: 2010 Volkswagen Polo. Right: 2018 Volkswagen Polo
Stance-wise, the new Polo's MQB platform enables the vehicle to have a markedly 'flatter' and wider appearance than its predecessor. The character lines running along the side profile and merging through the rear LEDs with the crease along the tailgate further accentuates the length and width of the car, creating a more 'hunkered down', sporty appearance.
This is an unnerving crash test that demonstrates not only the appalling levels of safety in older cars but also the remarkable improvement made in automobile design in 17 years. Read the full ANCAP press release and watch the videos here.