We’ve been seeing an influx of some cutthroat and drool-worthy automotive concepts at Yanko Design. Each automotive was innovative, bringing to us something we had never seen nor experienced before. From killer speed to dashing good looks, to impenetrable safety standards, every automotive we featured at YD broke some design barrier for us, and hopefully, they did the same for you as well. Hence, we’ve curated a collection of automotive designs that we feel were the best of the lot! From a Honda Ridgeline EV Concept that makes the Cybertruck look like child’s play to an autonomous Tesla HGV that brings the vision of the Tesla heavy goods vehicle to life – each of these conceptual designs is mercilessly pushing the boundaries of the automotive industry! Automotive enthusiasts will be itching to see them on the road, and hopefully one day we will.
The Honda Ridgeline EV concept comes from the mind of California-based Rene Garcia, a concept designer at ILM who’s previously worked on The Mandalorian, Thor: Ragnarok, The Avengers, and the Transformers anthology. Garcia began designing the vehicle as a Dakar rally truck, but gradual iterations slowly turned it into a conceptual pickup truck for Honda. Designed to handle pretty much anything you can throw at it, the EV comes with its own winch-hook on the front, a frunk behind it, suicide-style rear doors that give you access to the car’s spacious interiors, and an expandable truck-bed on the back that even comes equipped with tools and emergency medical kits. A standout feature of the car’s design is in its use of hollow spaces. The Ridgeline is bulky to look at, but negative spaces in its design help cut its volume manifold, still making it look like a chiseled, mean machine.
Industrial and transport designer Jeremy Dodd take the vision of the Tesla heavy goods vehicle to the next level with the Tesla Autonomous E-Rig semi. This ultra-futuristic Tesla concept identifies the basic problem with HGVs that have an average speed of 50 mph, and have to drive for virtually 9 hours of the day, 5 days a week. This creates an environmental impact, and a pure, purposeful, and functional method of hauling heavy goods is the need of the hour. This Autonomous trailer in a way is destined to solve this with even more to make it highly useful. The HGV has an extendable extension to adapt to the needs of the client, the geographic location, and the nature of the cargo to be hauled. The driving cockpit’s top and the bay of the trailer are solar powered to charge the battery reserve on the go.
According to the designer Ivan Marin Lopez, complete autonomous technology will not be an overnight change – rather it will be a gradual process that’ll take a significant amount of time. When the technology is fully proofed, autonomous cars like Volvo 360c concept will be able to tackle mixed traffic situations without any human intervention. Passenger safety is at the forefront
Silk-FAW has announced the appointment of Katia Bassi as its Managing Director. Bassi spent the last four years as the Chief Marketing & Communication Officer and Board Member at Lamborghini. It marks yet another recruit from an Italian luxury brand for the Sino-American partnership.
If you’ve been following the developments of Silk-FAW, you’ll know by now that they appear to mean business. The joint venture will bring a new line of “ultra-luxury, high-performance, new energy sports vehicles.”
However, in order to accelerate development, attract talent, and increase acceptance, they’ve decided to enter the lion’s den. In February it was announced they were setting up shop in the Emilia-Romagna region — largely considered to be Italy’s “Motor Valley.”
Bassi was recently named as one of the 100 most successful Italian women by Forbes Italia. Before Lamborghini, she worked as Vice President of Aston Martin and Managing Director of AM Brands. Bassi has also had stints at the NBA, Inter Milan, and Ferrari.
Read: Hongqi S9 Hypercar To Be Unveiled At Milan Design Week Next Month In Production Form
Bassi’s appointment comes after a string of other senior-level posts were filled by those experienced in Italy’s luxury supercar brands. The list includes, Ex-Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa as a special advisor, and former Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and BMW executive Roberto Fedeli as their new chief technology officer,
“Silk-FAW embodies the best of Italy and China’s expertise, and with global resources, we are perfectly positioned to drive a sustainable future through our ultra-luxury new energy sports cars,” said Bassi on her appointment.
The first car to take shape from the partnership will be the Hongqi S9. Styled by Walter De Silva, the Hongqi Hypercar was shown at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show. It features a 1,400 hp hybrid driveline that pairs a V8 turbo engine with three electric motors. The hybrid supercar can reach 0-62 mph(0–100 km/h) in just 1.9 seconds, and has a top speed of 249 mph (400 km/h).
Apple has lost the executive in charge of its below-the-radar car project to Ford, dealing a further blow to the iPhone maker’s automotive ambitions.
Doug Field, Apple’s vice-president of special projects, had also worked on Tesla’s Model 3 vehicle under Elon Musk. Field, who rejoined Apple in 2018 after a previous stint at the business, is the fourth senior member of the company’s car team to leave since February.
He will become Ford’s chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer with immediate effect, a critical post as the auto industry moves to adopt vehicles powered by electricity and guided by computers. This year Ford signed a six-year deal with Google that includes using Android software in the Michigan carmaker’s vehicles.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Ford as it embraces a transition to a new, complex and fascinating period in the auto industry,” Field said. “It will be a privilege to help Ford deliver a new generation of experiences built on the shift to electrification, software and digital experiences, and autonomy.”
Field will also oversee the integration of Ford products with other pieces of technology, such as a smartphone or watch.
Apple has been working on its own car project – known as Project Titan – since 2014 but few details have emerged of the venture, with executive appointments and departures largely used as a proxy for its progress. However, in 2015 the Guardian revealed that Apple was working on a self-driving vehicle and was scouting secure locations in the San Francisco Bay Area for testing.
Responding to Field’s departure, Apple said: “We’re grateful for the contributions Doug has made to Apple and we wish him all the best in this next chapter.”
The latest upheaval at Apple’s car project comes as the firm based in Cupertino, California, prepares to unveil its latest iPhone and Apple Watch on Tuesday 14 September at 10am Pacific time, or 6pm in the UK.
According to the website MacRumors, the iPhone 13 lineup will bear similarities to its immediate predecessor, with four phones in sizes that include 5.4in, 6.1in, and 6.7in. Two phones will be at the higher-end “pro” range, with the other two at a lower, comparatively more affordable price range. The most notable improvements in the iPhone 13 are expected to be the camera lens and battery capacity.
A French automotive manufacturer has confirmed that it will invest US $100 million in a new plant in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato.
Le Bélier plans to produce aluminum parts such as engine mounts, braking systems and chassis components in the 35,000-square-meter plant, said the state government this week. The company’s client portfolio includes BMW, Mitsubishi, Daimler, Continental and Hitachi.
Governor Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo, who was in France to visit the company, said the investment spoke of the region’s international reputation. “The old continent has showed its confidence in us through companies with a high level of automation and Industry 4.0 such as Le Bélier, whose project in San Miguel de Allende will be the only one nationwide that brings together all the techniques of aluminum casting through state-of-the-art systems,” he said.
He added that the investment, first announced in June, would create 500 jobs, and that the company’s social outlook aligned with that of his government. “We ensure that the companies that arrive have a high social commitment and care for natural resources. That is the case of Le Bélier, which has an SBT [Science Based Target] certification for the good of our planet,” he said.
David Guffroy, CEO of Le Bélier, said investment in Guanajuato was attractive due to the region’s connectivity, highly competitive workforce and local supply ecosystem, Rodríguez reported.
Le Bélier has a workforce of 3,200 people, presence on three continents and 12 production units across France, Hungary, Serbia, China and Mexico. The company entered Mexico in 2000 with a plant in Querétaro. It forecasts sales of more than 290 million euros (about US $343 million) for 2021.
Automotive News reported in June that the holding company owning most Prime assets had raised doubts in audited financial statements about whether it could continue as a going concern, given an expiring credit agreement for vehicle floorplanning, mortgages and other debt led by M&T Bank Corp.
In June, that credit agreement was extended from its previous expiration date of February 2022 to the end of December 2022, according to a July filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by GPB Automotive Portfolio limited partnership — a holding company that owns 30 of Prime’s 31 dealerships. With the extension, along with an agreement to free up money controlled by Prime, the partnership said in a regulatory filing last week that it can now meet its financial obligations through at least Aug. 26, 2022.
A May 14 regulatory filing revealed the partnership was exploring options for Prime’s future, including a possible sale. That filing also indicated that some automakers since February had sent franchise termination notices or were threatening to terminate dealer agreements.
The partnership, in an August regulatory filing, said “all notices of terminations issued to our dealerships have been settled or resolved,” except those issued by Volkswagen and Audi of America.
Volkswagen on Aug. 10 issued notices of termination for Prime’s two Volkswagen stores as part of its “litigation strategy,” the partnership said in the August filing.
“We do not believe these notices of termination have any short-term impact and we will file protests pursuant to state law,” the holding company said in the filing.
In 2020, Volkswagen sued GPB in federal court in New York after GPB and Prime told Volkswagen they would not sell dealerships in Saco, Maine, and Norwood, Mass. Volkswagen claims GPB breached its business relationship agreement. It gave GPB 90 days to submit purchase agreements for three stores; GPB later sold one store in New York.
A June settlement conference between GPB and Volkswagen was unsuccessful.
The research study scope showcases key trends observed during the CES 2021 virtual event.
CES 2021 took to the digital stage as the COVID-19 pandemic forced a virtual walk through one of the biggest events that showcases technology disruptions in both the consumer electronics (CE) and mobility worlds.
CES Automotive & Transportation Highlights, 2021 analyzed announcements and presentations from various original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), Tier I companies, technology companies, and start-ups, and identified crucial observations and key trends as part of this study.
Electrification, connected customer experience, 5G, AIoT, new IVI design philosophy, software-defined vehicles, in-car commerce, and in-vehicle health were the primary trends at CES 2021. These themes are expected to shape the future of mobility in coming years. The automotive industry is finally looking at near-term autonomous, connected, and electric vehicle (EV) solutions that lead to monetization.
A clear message that resonated from the mobility industry was the need to create experiential services that focus on the customer. Conversely, policymakers must quickly regulate self-driving technology while gaining consumer trust to establish a viable business case for autonomy.
More than 90% of automakers plan to launch infotainment systems with 12.3″ touchscreens. 2021-2023 is expected to be earmarked for launching advanced in-vehicle experiences (like virtual reality), with continued delivery of personalized and customizable interactions in all domains. Incorporating immersive experience and enriched user interactions are the goals of automakers and Tier I suppliers.
Mercedes-Benz attracted the show with its impressive multi-screen 141cm displays housed beneath the glass surface with 12 actuators for haptic feedback. BMW launched a 14.9-inch central display for its next-generation iDrive platform and Cadillac LYRIQ launched a 33-inch light-emitting diode (LED) display with an enhanced GUI design.
Features showcased as concepts are expected to quickly appear on production models with wide-screen displays, and automakers’ entire lineups are expected to have AI-based digital assistants with gesture-capable hardware installed. It is critical for OEMs to ramp up their HMI designs and roadmaps to quickly catch up on innovation and remain competitive in the market.
The health, wellness, and well-being (HWW) component is expected to surge in the automotive industry to reposition focus areas and charter new revenue opportunities for OEMs. Healthcare digitization, the emergence of mHealth apps and their integration in the car for clean and pathogen-free interiors, driver monitoring, and diagnosis are expected to gain strong footholds in the industry.
To combat the COVID-19 fear among consumers, several OEMs have started implementing HWW services in vehicles for driver health and safety. Purification features, like advanced air filtration systems, are projected to be increasingly prominent in the short term (2021-2025) while measurement and monitoring features, like vitals monitoring, are expected to gain significance in the medium term (beyond 2025).
To implement HWW services in connected vehicles, OEMs require collaborative efforts with a wide range of stakeholders from multiple fields, like healthcare technology, IoT wearables, and insurance.
Lithia Motors Inc., in another transaction supporting its aggressive expansion plan, said Tuesday it acquired Canadian dealership group Pfaff Automotive Partners.
The announcement confirms the imminent deal first reported by Automotive Newsin July.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but a Pfaff spokesman said the Canadian group retains an undisclosed equity stake in the operation. The deal closed Monday.
It marks Lithia’s first international acquisition as the second-largest U.S. dealership group also targets a goal of 500 domestic locations. Lithia said the acquisition will bring its expected 2021 annualized revenue from acquisitions to $5.9 billion. The Canadian dealerships are expected to generate more than $1 billion of that for Lithia, headquartered in Medford, Ore. The deal was financed with “existing on-balance sheet capacity,” Lithia said.
Pfaff, headquartered in Toronto, operates 16 dealerships across Canada — 11 of them in the Toronto area, the largest market in the country. It also has stores in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Calgary, Alberta. Pfaff’s Mercedes-Benz and Harley-Davidson dealerships were not part of the acquisition.
“Canada has been our top target for growth outside of the United States with its similar business practices and a market opportunity of five million new and used cars sold annually,” Lithia CEO Bryan DeBoer said in a statement. “Beyond its size, Pfaff has an excellent management team, and its locations provide an ideal hub for further expansion.”
DeBoer praised Pfaff’s best-price-first approach and captive in-house leasing option, saying Pfaff “perfectly aligns with our technology-enabled online offerings.”
The acquisition of Pfaff makes Lithia the second publicly traded dealership group operating in Canada. AutoCanada, based in Edmonton, Alberta, was the sole public dealership group in the country.
The Pfaff brand will remain, and Chris Pfaff, whose father, Hans, founded the company in 1964, will continue to serve as president and CEO. A Pfaff spokesman said the entire management team will stay on board to run the brand.
The deal also means Lithia will bring its Driveway omnichannel digital retailing platform north of the border.
DeBoer previously said that early learnings from Driveway, rolled out one year ago, demonstrate the potential for the platform to dominate both “domestically and internationally.”
Omnichannel refers to technology and processes aimed at providing a seamless buying experience for consumers whether they shop online, in-store or both.
The global shortage of semiconductors continued to pound the auto industry last week, knocking more than 445,000 additional cars and trucks off production schedules worldwide, according to the latest estimate from AutoForecast Solutions.
AFS said vehicle production plans in China were hardest hit in its newest report. Assembly plants there trimmed another 315,000 vehicles from their schedules.
The outlook for the supply line disruption remains grim. Late last week, Japanese chip maker Rohm Co. — which supplies Ford, Toyota and Honda — said automotive chips likely will be in short supply throughout 2022. Separately, American Honda Motor Co. informed retailers that its vehicle deliveries could fall by 40 percent in the coming weeks compared with previous estimates.
In Europe, Daimler is extending its already-reduced work schedules at Mercedes-Benz factories in Germany and Hungary in response to the shortage. Volkswagen said the supply chain problem is causing it to extend production cutbacks at three German plants into September.
At the end of July, AFS forecast that the shortage could ultimately result in nearly 7 million vehicles being trimmed from global production plans. It has upped that estimate to 8.1 million.
Two senators from Michigan and one from Ohio have sent a letter to Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador in Washington, asking the nation for more help addressing the semiconductor chip disruption.
The letter, signed by Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow from Michigan and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, praised Taiwan’s efforts so far but asked for more help as the automotive industry continues to struggle to produce cars as a result of the supply issue.
The senators said they were “hopeful you will continue to work with your government and (chip) foundries to do everything possible to mitigate the risk confronting our state economies.”
Read Also: GM Is Parking 1,000 SUVs And Trucks Every Day As It Awaits Chips
Intermittent production cuts have plagued the industry for the last year as semiconductor chip suppliers face their own COVID-19 disruptions and, in many cases, focused their efforts on the consumer electronics industry that boomed during the pandemic.
“What we are hearing at this point is that the risk of shortages clearly has extended into 2022, despite the considerable efforts in Taiwan to augment production,” the senators wrote.
Speaking to Reuters, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said that it has been working closely with the United States to address supply chain issues.
“We believe that Taiwan and the United States can jointly establish a safe and reliable supply chain for key industries,” the ministry said.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, was also hopeful last month when it announced that shortages would gradually tail off this quarter for its customers. It also expects overall semiconductor capacity tightness to continue into 2022, though. Indeed, a number of automakers are now reporting that they will suffer production shortfallsin the coming months as a result of the supply disruption.
“Demand for vehicles—from cars to commercial trucks—is now up, yet the lack of semiconductor chips is preventing this renewed demand from being met,” the senators wrote. “The U.S. is now the most impacted region in the world.”
Whether or not the Taiwanese government will be able to affect change remains to be seen, but semiconductor supply issues seem likely to continue in the near future no matter what.
A Land Rover drives through the wilderness. Beside it, trees tower above a packed dirt path. A straight couple with two kids sit inside, in splendorous isolation, as callouts appear and fade: Improved performance. Enhanced second row seat comfort. Intuitive infotainment. And then a midscreen chyron appears, surrounded by animated oxygen molecules flowing from the vents: Cabin air ionization. It’s a telling proclamation as Americans begin to resume somewhat regular life 20 months after the arrival of COVID-19.
“Going into the pandemic, the narrative was very strong around shared mobility. But coming out of the pandemic, it was very clear that private-car ownership is back at the top of consumers’ agenda, because a car becomes a part of your cocoon,” says Rich Agnew, global brand communications director for Land Rover.
Unlike a house during lockdown, a vehicular cocoon is mobile, and it has a destination—away. So carmakers are capitalizing on our desires to get there. “We have a campaign running at the moment, which is Outspiration,” says Agnew. “We’re on a mission to reconnect the nation with the great outdoors.”
Land Rover is not alone. Brands across the economic spectrum have enhanced the role of the outdoors in their consumer messaging over the past year and a half, showing individuals and family units that are using their vehicles to get away from it all—the enclosed spaces, crowds, and urban density.
This isn’t exactly a new message. The desire to be immersed in, or conquerors of, the land—and freed from citified confines—is foundational to the American mythos. It is entrenched in the racist and colonialist notion of Manifest Destiny, in the reverential landscape paintings of Frederic Church, and in our ostensible handbook, the Holy Scriptures.
The most recent spate of consumer messaging does more than simply capitalize on our fantasy to separate ourselves from other humans and our innate misery. It reflects a shift in consumer behavior.
Automotive brands have been capitalizing on this notion since the inception of the car. The song “In My Merry Oldsmobile,” from 1905, tells the story of a couple who go for a ride in the country and fall in love, and it was used for decades as an ad. In the 1920s, camping in cars in the great outdoors became such a national fad that ads for the pastime proliferated in newspapers—even Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and President Warren Harding went “vagabonding” together. (Car camps took a turn during the Depression and became Hoovervilles—villages where the despondent lived in their vehicles.) The first ads for Land Rover, in the late 1940s, read “The Go Anywhere Vehicle” and showed the truck driving over an ocean, on a globe. The modern luxury SUV, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer—with its rectilinear styling, leather interior, iconic fake-wood paneling, and power windows, seats, and locks—was introduced in the 1980s and ended up being the most appealing regular production vehicle to Americans with the highest household income. Automakers noted the trend. Predicated on