Episode 722 – Ford Pushing Small-Car Performance, Volvo You Concept, Stylish Seat IBL

September 13th, 2011 at 11:35am

Runtime: 8:02

Ford is pushing small-car performance with three different reveals in Frankfurt, including the 2012 Focus ST, the race-ready ST-R and the Fiesta ST.  STay tuned for more.  Volvo unwrapped a luxurious and technology-laden concept called the You, which is an evolution of its Concept-Universe that debuted at the Shanghai Auto Show earlier in the year.  Spanish automaker SEAT, part of the Volkswagen empire, showed off a swanky design study called the IBL.  All that and more plus a look at hybrid reliability.

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This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, September 13, 2011.  You guessed it; I’m Rod Meloni, business editor at WDIV Local 4 News, Detroit filling in for John again who’s probably enjoying a few steins of beer in Germany right now.  Speaking of Deutschland and McElroy, check out the webcast he hosted earlier today.  Thanks to LiveU, he was able to bring us the latest right from the floor of the Frankfurt show.  Some of his interviews included Jost Capito, Ford’s director of global performance vehicles, Kregg Wiggins the senior vice president of powertrains at Continental and Tony Douglas, the marketing innovation manager at BMW.  You can catch all of these interviews and a lot more on our website, Autoline.tv.  Anyway, on with the news!

And as you’d expect, the Frankfurt floodgates have opened wide.  A few days ago we reported on Land Rover’s new concept, the DC100.  Just a refresher, this thing hints at where the next-generation Defender is headed when it enters production sometime in 2015.  The concept is built on a lightweight “mixed-alloy” platform, features a terrain-scanning system that can alert drivers to obstacles ahead of the vehicle and it can even measure water depth using a sonar system.  The DC100 is powered by a hybridized drivetrain with either a gas or diesel four-cylinder engine matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission.  The coolest feature?  Driver-activated spiked tires, for serious off-roading.

Ford had a couple of reveals at the show.  The new Focus ST wasn’t much of a surprise, but it marks the company’s return to the GLOBAL performance-small-car market.  YES, that means it’s coming to the U.S.  Sadly, though, we don’t get the wagon version.  It’s powered by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine with about 250 horsepower.  A six-speed manual is the only transmission offered.  The Focus ST launches next year in more than 40 markets around the world.

More of a surprise is the Focus ST-R, a race-ready version of the car.  It’s a fully prepared competition vehicle with a roll-cage, upgraded brakes and a retuned suspension.  As it stands, it can compete in a wide variety of racing outlets including Grand-Am ST, World Challenge TC and the Canadian Touring Car Series.  The Focus ST-R will be available in North America and you can order it right from the Ford Racing performance parts catalogue.

Shocker, these two models aren’t Ford’s only performance reveals in Frankfurt this year.  The Fiesta is also benefiting from the ST treatment.  It gets a host of upgrades, but most importantly, more power.  A 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-banger will deliver nearly 180 horsepower and a similar amount of torque.

But wait, there’s more!  The company’s upcoming 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine will be available next year in several European models including the Focus and B-Max.  It features all of the technology its big brothers have including direct fuel injection and TiVCT.  It also has some innovative features.  Engines with an odd-number of cylinders can have NVH issues, but Ford came up with a couple ways of smoothing things out.  Instead of power-sapping balance shafts, it features an UNBALANCED flywheel and pulley to naturally counteract the engine’s power pulses.  Output will range from about 99 to 118 horsepower.

Volvo revealed a luxurious concept called the You. It’s an evolution of its Concept-Universe which debuted at the Shanghai Auto Show earlier in the year. Inside, the You is loaded with a lot of technology. Button controls are replaced with a number of touch-screens, hand movements control the infotainment system and the sound system is powered by air outside the car. Not sure how that works, but it sounds cool. No powertrain info was shared but Volvo says the design is a hint at what its future products will look like.

Next up, SEAT unveiled a sedan concept called the IBL. It’s a plug-in hybrid that has three different driving modes, one for normal driving, another for sportier driving and the last is a fuel-efficient mode. The company says it won’t release a production version but the design is a preview of future cars from SEAT. The IBL is a combination of SEAT design and technology from its parent company, Volkswagen.

Bentley took the wraps off its new convertible, the Continental GTC. Based on the GT coupe released last year, the GTC features a more powerful 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W-12 engine that cranks out 567 horsepower. It can run from 0 to 60 miles an hour in just 4.5 seconds and its top speed is 195 MPH. It’s also E85 capable. But as you can guess, its fuel economy isn’t that great.  It only gets 14 miles per gallon combined. Deliveries start at the end of the year.

Cutting-edge technology is often a craps shoot.  It tends to over-promise and under-deliver.  Reliability of this technology can also be questionable when it first comes out.  Thankfully for Ford and its hybrid vehicles this hasn’t been the case.  Here’s Andrew Justus with more.

Ford says it’s proud of its hybrid powertrains with their top notch fuel numbers.  But the Dearborn automaker is just as pleased with the reliability of their components used by both consumers and businesses alike.

So Ford got a long life out of a taxi cab, that’s not really breaking news.  But what what has the automaker excited is that the powertrain components in those hard-working taxis are identical to those in retail vehicles.

Also, according to Ford’s data, since the Escape Hybrid debuted in 2004 there have been zero electric motor failures and just five battery cell failures out of the over 100 – thousand vehicles sold.

And most of the work done on those batteries for the Ford Escape Hybrid has been done right here.  At Ford’s research and innovation laboratories in Dearborn, Michigan

Thanks for that, Andrew, and thank you for checking out today’s show.  This is the end of the line for now, but you can bet we’ll be back tomorrow.  None other than Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, will be filling in for John who continues his Frankfurt adventure for the rest of the week.  One more time, I’m Rod Meloni, WDIV Local 4 News, Detroit, signing off.  I’ll see you later!

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24 Comments to “Episode 722 – Ford Pushing Small-Car Performance, Volvo You Concept, Stylish Seat IBL”

  1. HtG Says:

    I won’t complain if future Focuses lose the catfish tentacles on the front grill. Are those things functional?

  2. dcars Says:

    I wonder what how much maintenance they do on the escape Hybrid electronics?

  3. dcars Says:

    I wonder how much maintenance they do on the escape Hybrid electronics?

  4. dcars Says:

    Sorry about the repeat post. I guess the days of the basic and dependable off road Land Rover Series IIa are gone!

  5. Dan Clemons Says:

    Hi Rod:

    Nice job! Thanks for sitting in for John. We really appreciate it.

  6. paulstewart Says:

    John, Great Show from Germany !

  7. Jon M Says:

    As with anything electric, in time it wears out. Sure, IC engines do as well, but look at Hondas, Toyotas, and a few others whose engines seem to last forever. What will be interesting to see is how many hours these electric motors will last before owners have to pony up for a new E-motor in their hybrid or all electric vehicle. I’m not against the technology, but I think it will be interesting to see how these motors last, how much their replacement will cost, and if automakers will warrant them long enough to absorb that cost.

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Unless there is a defect, the electric motors in hybrids and EV’s should outlast the rest of the car. There is nothing to wear out except the bearings, and the bearing have a very easy life with clean lubricant, little vibration, etc.

  9. MJB Says:

    What, no comments on the James Bond-like user-activated tire spikes for that new Rover?

    I, for one, would love to see how this feat was successfully engineered.

  10. HtG Says:

    @9 I guess there’s just no teenage boys commenting today.

  11. Rob Grosse Says:

    Capturing wind to power a car stereo? Now that is a refreshingly cool idea. Why did it take this long for someone to think of harnessing at least a small amount of the wind that is already being pushed out of the way by your car? As long as it doesn’t noticeably increase resistance and reduce mileage, otherwise it is a moot point…Perhaps devise a radiator that is able to produce a small amount of electricity (as wind is already rushing through it); deposit said energy into the vehicles overall energy grid. That’d be cool. Now if we could only harness some of the wind from the radio “announcers” too, we’d really have something! ;-) LOL

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Any windmill device you’d put on a car to generate electricity would consume far more energy from increased drag than the device would produce.

  13. dcars Says:

    After watching John from the Frankfurt Auto Show, I’d like to submit my idea of building an Industrial Show Case Center in the heart of Detroit. This show piece event center (similar in size to Franfurt’s) shall house the North American Auto show and other events. In addition the areas around this facility will have Hotels a entertainment venues and a major engineering school etc…. Funding will come from a five dollar Fee on all cars sold in the United States.

  14. cwolf Says:

    I find it more comforting to know that hybred technology is seemingly reliable. If my driving habits can ever justify one it certainly will be considered. But the wear on a 4 cyl. that accompanies a hybred,esp on larger vehicles, still lingers on my mind. I’m sure todays engines will be enduring,yet long term data would be of comfort. Now when reliability data on turbos becomes available, I’ll feel even better.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I browse PriusChat forums from time to time, and there are a lot of Priuses at 150K+ miles with no problems. It is too early to tell about 300K. Basically, the Escape hybrid has a 1.3 scale Prius power train, or something similar. I would think they should hold up.

  16. Jesse W. Henry Says:

    I think that the turbos will be fine as long as quality parts are used. The only thing I haven’t seen from an OEM yet that I would like to see is a temp based “turbo timer”.

    Any car that has a “bump start” key or a “push to start” button has everything needed to start and stop the vehicle on it’s own. All it would need is a temp sensor near the turbo oil and a software update and it would be able to leave the car running after the key was removed until the turbo is properly cooled then shut the car off on it’s own.

  17. cwolf Says:

    @ Jesse Henry Re# 16:
    Yes, better materials being used in todays turbos will handle the heat much better than early ones. It was’nt that long ago McElroy had a turbo guy on the show, but I’m not sure if the reliability aspects were talked about. My mind escapes me but I believe he may have been from Dana. I like your idea and I think a couple makes already utilize your idea in one form or another. But on the flip side, I am not a fan of adding more and more electronics in any vehicle! There is already too much and troubles abound regardless of brand. Dare I say, turbos are here to stay,so maybe a cool down system is something we’ll just have to accept.

  18. cwolf Says:

    Kit, I see alot of prius on the pike and HWY and noted it rare to see more than two occupants. How is the fuel economy affected with 4 adults or loaded with cargo? The majority of drivers stay within the speed limits or slower. With 4 aboard I get a mental picture of a Flintstone mobile where everyones feet protrude from benieth the floor board to get a running start. Don’t misinterpret because I do lik’em.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It was a milestone when engine coolant was run to turbochargers to cool them. I think that was in the early-mid 80′s. I know the turbocharger in my ’89 Caravan is water cooled. The advent of water cooled turbos seemed to end discussion of the need for “cool down.” Now, I guess that topic is back.

  20. cwolf Says:

    I never had a turbo so I don’t know one iota about them. And to be honest,Don’t care to have one for the moment.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    re. #18,
    My Prius is normally lightly loaded, but I normally drive with the faster of the traffic I’m with.

    As far as weight in the car, if you are on level ground, it doesn’t matter much, but if it gets real hilly like some places in the Rockys, mpg will suffer somewhat, and you will be more like to lose speed on the steep climbs.

    I consider it silly when people drive Priuses slower than the flow of the traffic. I look at it this way. I drive my Prius with the faster of the traffic on the interstate and still get twice the mpg of the US fleet average, and about 25-30% better than other similar size cars.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve had several turbos. I have not any with high mileage. but of what I know, I would expect an engine to need no more than one turbo replacement in a lifetime of maybe 250K miles.

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I should have mentioned in #21, that like other cars, speed affects mpg of Priuses. I get almost 60 mpg at a steady 60 mph, but only 45 mpg at 75 mph. Still, I go 75 or over on the interstate if that the speed of the traffic flow.

  24. dcars Says:

    I’ve never had a turbo because I’ve always worried about the reliability and maintenance that is needed. SAAB’s turbo cars needed to follow the maintenance schedule religiously or the turbo was known to fail.