Auto News for March 9


This morning’s lead car is a concept from BMW to mark its 100th anniversary called the Vision Next 100, and from the pictures you can tell it is something very different. It offers two driving modes – Boost where the driver has some control over the vehicle, and Ease where what passes for a steering wheel retracts and you leave the operation to some 23rd century computers. With the entire front windshield a heads-up display in the Boost mode, the operator gets lots of information – the proper line to follow through a curve, hazards that may lie ahead, and navi of course. In Ease, the system evolves into a tour guide of sorts with local attractions and other information available while the driver’s seat turns to the right to enhance conversation with the passenger who at first might wonder who is in charge here. Those are flexible panels over the wheels to improve aerodynamics, BMW said. Like so many concept cars, this one may never see a dealer’s showroom, but many its features may appear on future models. BMW had little to say about what powers the concept except that it will be emissions free. Fun to look into the future, isn’t it?

Back here in Earth, Fiat Chrysler announced fuel economy ratings for its Pacifica minivan. They are 28 mpg highway, or 12 percent better than the current van model with a combined city/highway rating of 22 mpg or 10 percent better. In city driving, it will return 18 mpg, the maker claims. Helping those numbers is a van that is nearly 250 pounds lighter. The new van will go on sale in the spring.

Subaru’s parent company has unveiled a new global platform that will be featured on all of its products. It will be first used in the next generation Impreza due later this year. Subaru said the new platform will be used for gas powered vehicles as well as hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric cars. Rigidity will be 70 to 100 percent better, Suby claims, with “substantial” improvements to the suspension and a lower center of gravity.



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