"Design Meets Desire"
That was the theme of the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) last month – at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and the SkyDome.
Professor Ferdinand Porsche – the father of our "Volkswagen" once said: "To change is easy. To improve is hard." A sentiment that anyone of the about 300,000 expected visitors, that toured the about 800,000 square feet of exhibit space, would agree with.
‘Desire’ is the emotion. ‘Design’ is the technique. Bringing them together was the purpose of the show that could and should re-ignite the consumers’ love affair with the automobile. It is – or can be - the ‘total automotive experience’ for many of the visitors.
This love affair may start quite early, judging by the enthusiasm of the many youngsters and their proud parents, who were patiently explaining and answering their questions. The gleams were not always only in the eyes of the small fry, but in many of the ‘Dads’ eyes as well.
About 150 exhibitors showed about 1,500 vehicles and there wasn’t a speck of dust on any of them. But not only automobiles per se were on display. Motorcycles, ATVs, Seadoos (wave runners), snowmobiles, old-timers and ‘antiques’ could be admired.
Of course there were some cosmetic changes in most of this years exhibits – to show the difference in annual models – but most of the real changes were on the inside of the vehicles with emphasis placed on low emissions, ease of operation, fuel efficiency, increased attention on diesel as fuel, more comfort for the operator and his passengers, safety innovations such as side air bags, improved crumble zones, reduced emissions and more. But all this and more detailed information can be found on the various automakers websites.
While on the subject of reducing emissions, It should be mentioned that "Natural Resources Canada" distributed a small pamphlet, asking motorist to do the world a favour and to reduce long idling of their vehicle - since it needlessly harms the environment, wastes fuel and money, which diminishes our quality of life. If every Canadian motorist avoided idling their vehicle for just five minutes a day, every day of the year, more than 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide would be spared from entering the atmosphere. That is the equivalent of taking more than 350,000 cars off the road! So, reduce your warm-up idling to only 30 seconds, if you are stuck in traffic for more than 10 seconds, turn off the engine since it uses more fuel than to restart it. This is an item that the municipalities’ should be made aware of, who allow their big trucks to stand around idling, while they are waiting for instructions! Up to a dozen have been counted doing this for a whole hour in our neighbourhood!
Also spread the word to friends and neighbours and help increase energy efficiency in the home, the workshop and the road.
They also distributed a small pocketsize "Car Economy Calculator" with a build-in slide to figure out and log your own fuel consumption in the city or on the highway by keeping track of fuel consumed versus distance travelled – plus tips on saving fuel.
Transport Canada publicised an "Advanced Technology Vehicles Program" at the show. The goal of this program is to support Transport Canada’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources and achieve a sustainable transportation system for Canada. Advanced technology vehicles use superior engines, powertrains, materials, fuels and designs to significantly improve fuel efficiency. The ATVP fleet include over 70 vehicles that are being assessed through a comprehensive program of on-road evaluation, instrumented track tests and formal laboratory tests. Find out more at www.tc.gc.ca/atvp about this component of the "Motor Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Initiative".
Another very interesting item was the "Energuide" booklet that shows energy consumption of every car currently popular. Find out who the Energuide Award winners were at: www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca/vehicles
One of the more interesting concept ‘vehicles’ was the 500hp Viper V-10 powered Dodge Tomahawk, a 4-wheeled concept that looks like the Green Giant’s motorcycle – with a potential top speed of about 400 MPH – that shatters all barriers of conventional thinking. For the well-heeled visitor the displays include the new Maybach, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini Gallardo, Maserati and more.
Honda, among others, showed that the fuel-cell concept is in the not-too-distant future by unveiling their FCX that is hydrogen-powered by fuel cells, where the only emission is water vapour. It actually works and is being sold to various governmental agencies in the U.S. at the present. Honda Civic: Those 15 million fans can’t all be wrong. Honda’s workhorse comes in a variety of styles: coupe, sedan, three-door tuner-car and gasoline/electric hybrid. If you need lots of room in your car, the Pilot EX seats eight! For a change of pace take a good look at the Acura MDX, a mid-size luxury SUV, as well. But go and visit your local Honda dealer (such as Centre Honda in Toronto) and see the great selections available for yourself.
The new VW Touareg was a favourite at the Volkswagen display area and took away some of the shine of the Beetle past success – but not too much.
Chris Bangle’s dramatic overhaul of BMW’s conservative design tradition, beginning with the current 7 Series, has put him at the centre of a firestorm — but his latest creations, the 645Ci coupe and convertible, are astonishing.
It should be mentioned that the BMW active steering system received the German Business Innovation Prize. This active steering system won the innovation prize for enhancing motoring comfort, agility and safety while providing driving pleasure at its best.
The BMW active steering system has also been awarded the Technology Award of the Year 2004 by "Automobile Magazine" and the Trophée d’Innovation 2003 by the French car magazine "L’Automobile Magazine".
The system was developed by BMW in cooperation with the ZF Lenksysteme GmbH. For the first time, this system does away with the fixed ratio between steering-wheel angle and wheel deflection, offering the ideal steering ratio at all speeds. The steering column incorporates a planetary gearbox with servomotor, which increases wheel deflection at low speeds and reduces it at high speeds. This concept increases the car’s agility on winding roads as steering is much more direct. The driver needs to turn the steering wheel much less and with much less effort. The system boosts not only dynamics and agility but also comfort. Getting into a parking space, for example, requires no more than two steering-wheel revolutions instead of the conventional three to turn the wheels from right to left and vice versa.
BMW’s X5 4.8is made its Canadian debut at the AutoShow and offers, as you might guess, a 4.8 L V8 engine packing 355 hp - enough to propel this top-of-the-line "Sports Activity Vehicle’’ from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.1 seconds.
The 4.8is features BMW’s new xDrive four-wheel-drive system, which the company claims makes for optimum traction under all road conditions.
Mercedes-Benz’s SLR McLaren brings race car construction techniques (and the Formula One - famous McLaren name) to the superstar category. Never mind the 0-to-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds - it’s those gull wing doors that had the visitor in a spell.
Mercedes-Benz’s, starting next fall, will sell the original Smart car — the rear-engined, two-seat coupe and convertible, the diminutive "smart"; Mercedes wants us to spell it with a diminutive ‘s’.
Audi’s big engine / small car – is a time-honoured formula, but not unwelcome. This combination is also available in sedan, wagon and convertible body styles. In a nutshell, that’s a big chunk of Audi’s news at the 2004 CIAS. The S4 sedan, S4 Avant wagon and S4 Cabriolet marry the 4.2 L V8 from the big A8 sedan into the compact A4 body shell(s). If you now add quattro four-wheel drive, you have winners. Not enough? Then pony up to the RS6, one of the fastest sports sedans ever offered in North America and the first product of Audi’s ‘motorsport’ division. Only 90 of these will be available in Canada, so you better get in line.
The overall impression – also from some of the visitors I met and questioned: Great Show, guaranteed to create new love affairs! r.k.a.
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