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Pininfarina Isn’t Messing Around, Unveils Two More Concept Models With HKG

The K550 and K750 crossover concepts are bowing at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show

Apparently, being under new ownership has breathed some new life to Pininfarina. Long regarded as one of the best auto design houses in the business, the Italian company has since ratcheted up its concept production with a pair of new concepts for its new automotive BFF, Chinese company Hybrid Kinetic Group. It wasn’t that long ago that the two companies joined together to present the H600 sedan, which debuted at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. Now we’re seeing two more concepts, the K550 and the K750.

Presented at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show, both the K550 and the K750 join the H600 in what could turn into an impressive electric vehicle lineup for the fledgling HKG brand. The two-row, five-seater K550, in particular, is presented as a five-seat crossover concept powered by an electric powertrain that itself is being developed by HKG. The same goes for the much larger K750, which rides taller and longer than its counterpart, thanks in part to having three rows of seating that can accommodate up to seven people. Both models aren’t expected to arrive anytime soon, but like the H600, there appears to be some optimism coming from both Pininfarina and HKG that we’ll end up seeing these models hit the road in production guise soon.

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Jeep Joining The Hybrid Bandwagon Is Proof That The Hybrid Revolution Is In Full Swing

It’s been talked about in the past, but a Jeep hybrid still takes some getting used to

Some automakers are synonyms with specific characteristics. Ferrari and Lamborghini are synonymous with Italian power and performance. Rolls-Royce and Bentley are quintessential marquees known for their opulence and luxury. Then there’s Jeep, which is known for its ruggedness and off-road capabilities. It figures then that when news first broke in 2015 that Jeep was going hybrid with some of its models, it was, to say the least, jarring to the senses. Fast forward to the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show and we finally get to see what a Jeep hybrid looks like in the form of the Yuntu, a three-row, seven-seater, full-sized SUV concept that’s laying the groundwork for a new era in the company’s long and illustrious history.

To be clear, there’s no official word yet from Jeep about the production prospects of the Yuntu Concept. There is, however, a strong possibility that we’re headed in that direction anyway. Remember, Jeep CEO Mike Manley has been a strong advocate of dipping the company in the hybrid market, most recently confirming at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show the arrival of a hybrid version of the Wrangler. The Yuntu, of course, is far different from the Wrangler, both in aesthetics and purpose. But the mere sight of the concept in Shanghai is an indication that the brand has a more elaborate hybrid plan that will involve numerous models receiving this specific powertrain. Just goes to show how brand images are now giving way to addressing the future of the auto industry.

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LEDs Dominate The Conversation On The Audi E-Tron Sportback Concept

There’s a lot of them on the coupe-crossover concept

Most concept vehicles are largely created because the automaker wants to promote something for future production vehicles. That formula has been tried and tested so many years that it’s become normal for people like us to expect them. Such is the case with Audi’s new E-Tron Sportback Concept, which is actually promoting a lot of things, not the least of which is the company’s overarching electric crossover agenda. But there is one aspect about the E-Tron Sportback Concept that Audi really wants us to pay attention to. It’s the LED lights, and for what they’re all worth, there are a lot of them.

Audi hasn’t said exactly how many light emitting diodes the concept has at its disposal, but the front bumper alone has around 250 LEDs that extend from one end of the bumper to the other. More LEDs are located on either side of the grille, including Audi’s actual four rings logo. Yes, the Audi logo is made from LEDs, and that’s not even counting the number of LEDs that have been packed on both the headlights and taillights.

According to Audi, the LEDs were added to the concept to showcase different lighting patterns that we may or may not see in future production models. These patterns work to communicate with other cars on the road, which itself is a novelty that could find its way on a production model of the coupe-crossover concept should it get that far.

The smart money is to wait and see how the technology evolves from here on out. These many LEDs may look good on a concept, but the costs of packing all of them on a production model could determine whether they’re feasible or not. Make no mistake though, the visual appeal of all these lights on a concept is evident; the only question is whether Audi deems them reasonable enough to become fixtures – no pun intended – on its future models.

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Toyota’s Fun Concept Is What Our Camry Should Have Looked Like

Sure, it’s a concept, but it still looks amazing

I’ll get this out of the way: I’m not a fan of the new Toyota Camry’s design. I know it runs counter to what most have said about the sedan, but I’m not sold on it. The new Camry may look more alive than its ho-hum predecessors, but it feels like Toyota just threw in design pieces from a lot of its other models and decided to adopt it for the new Camry. The result is a little messy and lacks the kind of aesthetic consistency that, say, the Honda Accord has in sprinkles. Fast forward to the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show and there’s a model from Toyota called the Fun Concept. I say that’s what the Camry should have looked like from the very beginning.

I know it’s a concept, so there’s more design leeway there to be forward-thinking, but if you look at it, there’s little that’s overbearingly futuristic about the Fun Concept’s design that Toyota couldn’t have adopted on the production version of the Camry. The sharp, slanted headlight configuration already has similarities to the Toyota Mirai and the sharp bumper, grille, and intakes all provide the kind of aggressive design nods that elevate the concept’s sporty and refined look. As a whole, the Fun Concept already looks like it’s ready to hit production anytime soon. There are even some whispers in Shanghai that indicate it’s in the auto show to provide a small glimpse into the future of the Camry in the Chinese market. If it does end up that way, it’s going to feel like a missed opportunity for Toyota as far as the U.S. market is concerned.

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2017 Volkswagen I.D. CROZZ Concept

Volkswagen buckles down on an EV future

With mud still on its face from the Dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen is dead set on cleaning up its image. Gone is its focus on diesel and gasoline powerplants, now replaced by an all-electric future. While the internal combustion engine still has many years left with the German automaker, its executives have set a goal of 1 million EV sales a year. That’s a massive undertaking, but Volkswagen seems properly poised for the sprint. The latest in VW’s charge is the I.D. CROZZ, an all-electric crossover designed for mass appeal. The I.D. CROSS just debuted at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show and is said to be entering production by 2020.

While the name will likely change, the I.D. CROZZ will hopefully keep its futuristic design. The chance is pretty good it will, in fact, thanks to comments made by Klaus Bischoff, VW’s head of design. He said at Shanghai "If it was ever possible to make a 100-percent certain prediction of what the future will look like, here it is. In 2017, we are showing how Volkswagen will be transforming the roadscape from 2020.”

While Bischoff might be a bit overly optimistic, his words give a sense of optimizing that Volkswagen will adopt this new design language across its lineup. It’s impossible to be disappointed, thanks to a greater degree of shape, style, and attitude than anything currently flowing from VW’s factories. The I.D. CROZZ doesn’t look like an appliance, but rather a sculpted piece of art. Sure, the production version will look a bit more conventional, but we’ve got high hopes that Volkswagen’s future looks much more sensual – not to mention emissions-free.

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One of England’s most iconic carmakers, MG has had a rather tumultuous history in recent decades. Owned by no fewer than six companies since the late 1980s, including BMW, the brand was revived by China-based SAIC Motor in 2006 and renamed MG Motor UK Limited. Several models followed, including a couple of SUVs, a first for the automaker. But SAIC also developed some daring concept cars, the latest of which is the E-Motion. Launched at the 2017 Shanghai Motor Show, the E-Motion is MG’s "vision of the future" (oh boy, if I had a penny for each time I heard this phrase) and comes in the shape of a slender, sportback-style two-door coupe. Arguably the most appealing modern MG design to date, the E-Mission combines some of the company’s recent styling cues with several new features. There’s a big "starlight matrix" grille up front, a carbon-fiber splitter, and round headlamps "bringing inspiration from the London Eye," the giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames. I dig the new face of MG, but I have to admit that I see some Mazda inspiration in there.

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Meet the Qoros K-EV – A Concept Set to Enter Production by 2019

It’s bold and crazy, and exactly what the brand needs to propel it into the future

In the midst of a massive automotive revolution in China, a small company known as Chery Quantum Automotive Corporation was birthed out of the blue. By 2011, the name was changed to Qoros Auto Co. Ltd, with responsibility split between Chery and Kenon Holdings. During it’s time in existence, the Chinese brand has put just two names into production – the Qoros 3 and Qoros 5 SUV. In fairness, the 3 can be had in SUV, sedan, hatchback, and GT, but they all look nearly identical outside of a few structural changes. So, one could say they have 5 models on the market, if you really want to get technical about things. Now, in what one could only call an excessively bold move for a new-ish company, the brand has debuted a new concept called the K-EV. It’s an electric vehicle that is said to be able to hit 62 mph in 2.6 seconds and has a range of around 310 miles. Full details on the electric drivetrain are scarce, but the that doesn’t matter because there’s something crazy going on with its exterior design.

I mean, seriously, what is going on here? This thing has four doors, three of which are wildly different. The rear passenger door slides open, the front passenger door is front-hinged and opens like a regular car door, while the driver’s door is a gullwing door. I mean it’s certainly interesting, but very out-of-the-box. What’s even crazier, however, is that this concept supposedly previews a model that will go into production in 2019. That I really want to see, but for now, keep reading to learn a little more about this unique and bold concept.

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With the exception of the 2015 Chevy FNR concept, Chevy has pretty much proven that its design team is a bunch of 75-year-old retirees with nothing to do but put together boring special edition models like the recent Redline series we saw just a few months ago. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a bow-tie on a concept that was actually on the better side of extreme (with the exception of that first FNR concept, of course.) Well, if you were to stroll into Chevy’s booth at Auto Shanghai today, you would see a pretty extreme concept that’s being called an FNR-X. At first, I thought to myself “Great; it’s just an SUV version of the original FNR.” But, I was wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I’m actually impressed with my favorite GM company for the first time in years. The concept you see here mixes things like dynamic digital LED lights with stout and muscular lines that scream 2030, while the interior gets no fewer than eight screens (including the instrument cluster) to go with adaptive ambient lighting and bold styling.

This concept, according to Chevy, is a plug-in hybrid that allows you to switch between two different drive modes – versatility and sport. Chevy didn’t elaborate on the drive modes but did say the FNR-X also gets an adaptive suspension, active grille shutters, and switchable wheel blades, all three of which can adjust automatically at high speed to cut down wind resistance. Inside, the seats are mounted to multipurpose rails while the rear seats fold flat, both of which should make for increased cargo room on demand. All interior screens feature OLED technology, while the main system screen is capable of voice recognition and customization based on who is using the system.

No word on that engine, the electric motors, or anything like range and fuel economy, but it does have a drive assistance system that provides autonomous driving and route selection based on road conditions. There’s also a HUD that is said to offer augmented reality via the 270-degree, rear-facing camera.

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Audi E-Tron Sportback Concept Gets Totally Lit

Wait, we were talking about LED’s, what were you talking about?

Audi just dropped a new concept vehicle at this year’s Auto Shanghai show, offering us a glimpse at the brand’s potential upcoming high-tech SUV future. It’s called the e-tron Sportback, and to our eyes, it’s a weird amalgamation of SUV and lifted hatchback, with a self-described coupe-like roofline to boot. And of course, what futuristic concept would be complete without an all-electric powertrain, geometric shapes, and surplus of advanced lighting elements?

The Audi e-tron Sportback certainly has a lot of lighting – check out the attached video to see what I’m talking about. The brand says it included matrix LEDs from front to rear, with two light fields in the fascia sporting roughly 250 LEDs a piece to create all kinds of signals and graphics. Basically, it’s a light show of “animated movements and signatures,” offering features like a welcome signal when the car is started or the doors are opened.

The lights are also practical, offering enhanced safety with daytime running lights for driving with the sun up, “Miniscule Digital Matrix” projector lights when the sun is down, and an illuminated Four Ring badge in the nose to show off whenever you please.

Audi is quick to remind us that it was one of the first to incorporate LED lighting on passenger cars, and this concept looks to be the next step in that technology.

A production variant of the concept is expected to arrive in 2019. Read on for specs on the powertrain and more info on the cool tech onboard.

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Mercedes-Benz can be credited with inventing several niches in the auto market recently, most notably with the CLS and CLA four-door coupes (and their Shooting Brake/wagon variants). However, the German firm fell behind the competition in the smaller sedan market. While Audi has been selling the A3 Sedan since 2013 and BMW recently introduced the 1 Series Sedan in China, Stuttgart has yet to launch a similar offering. But, this will end soon and the Concept A Sedan that Mercedes unveiled at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show proves that a four-door smaller than the CLA is in the works.

As you might have already guessed from the name, the Concept A Sedan previews a sedan version of the familiar A-Class. However, the production model won’t arrive until the fourth-generation hatchback is launched, which should happen in a couple of years. Although Mercedes-Benz didn’t actually confirm the A-Class sedan, the concept is described as "an outlook of the next generation of compact vehicles and a potential new body type." Take this statement and the fact that both Audi, and BMW have cars in this segment, and the A-Class sedan is pretty certain to happen.

As with all concepts, the Concept A Sedan is rather futuristic compared to the current-generation A-Class. While the front bumper and grille are very familiar, the styling is decidedly sportier and has an AMG-GT vibe to it. In the company’s own words, the concept "shows that the time of creases is over" and is "the next milestone of ’Sensual Purity’ and has the potential to introduce a new design era."

All told, the show car could very well preview the design of the upcoming A-Class hatchback before finding its way onto the production sedan. On the other hand, I wouldn’t bet on them being as aggressive as the concept. I also don’t expect the UV-treated headlamps, which "glow" in different colors depending on light, to become a production feature.

However, Mercedes gives us a few hints as to how large this compact sedan will be. At 179.9 inches long and 73.6 inches wide, it’s almost 11 inches longer and 3.5 inches wider than the current A-Class sedan. Compared to the CLA, it’s only three inches shorter, but 3.5 inches wider. As expected, it slots right below the CLA, but the production model will probably be a bit shorter than the concept. On the other hand, a similar length could work as the CLA is marketed as a four-door coupe, while the A-Class sedan will be sold as a conventional four-door.

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