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VW I.D. Buzz Concept Signals Return of Iconic Microbus

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Volkswagen ID Buzz Concept, front angle

Volkswagen has hinted at bringing back the iconic Microbus for many years now, and the I.D. Buzz Concept is the latest preview of what might be heading our way.

Unveiled at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, the VW I.D. Buzz is actually the latest member of the brand’s new family of I.D. electric concepts and follows the debut of the I.D. hatchback that debuted a few months earlier. It is described as “a Microbus for the future.”

The I.D. Buzz rides on a stretched version of the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform called “MEB-XL” and measures 194.6 inches long, 77.8 inches wide and 77.3 inches tall, providing it with enough room to accommodate up to eight passengers. It features two luggage compartments.

Not only does the I.D. Buzz look to the past for inspiration, but it’s also a reflection of the paradigm shift currently taking place in the auto industry. It is a full-electric vehicle powered by two electric motors that are energized by a 111-kWh battery pack, one propelling the front wheels and the other serving the rear.

The electric drivetrain produces a combined output of 369 horsepower, allowing the I.D. Buzz to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about five seconds and travel up to 270 miles on a full charge of electricity. It takes only 30 minutes to recharge the battery up to 80 percent when it’s depleted.

With fully autonomous vehicles almost reality, Volkswagen used the I.D. Buzz concept to showcase its new fully autonomous “I.D. Pilot” driving mode, which could hit the market sometime before 2025.

When I.D. Pilot is activated, the cabin is turned into a living room on wheels and the center console can be set up as a table when needed. This innovative touch allows the I.D. Buzz to not only seat up to eight individuals, but also to seat four with a table in the middle or two to free up about 260 cubic feet of cargo space.

In fact, the third row can be turned into a bed!

Volkswagen hasn’t announced when its so-called “Microbus for the future” will become a reality, but here are reports that it could arrive by 2022. Would a production I.D. Buzz Concept interest you?

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Infiniti Previews Its Future Design And Technology With Q Inspiration Concept

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Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept

At the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, Infiniti took the wraps off a concept vehicle that it says previews its future.

Not only does the so-called Q Inspiration Concept preview Infiniti’s new design direction, but it also ushers in a new era of technology for its vehicles.

It features the company’s next-generation ProPILOT system, which supposedly “liberates the driver from mundane and stressful driving situations.” However, because it can be overridden at any time, it doesn’t completely cut the driver out of the equation.

Power is provided by by Infiniti’s new Variable Compression (VC) turbo four that is said to continually transforms, adjusting its compression ratio to optimize power and fuel efficiency. The VC also powers the new QX50 crossover, where it produces 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque in the

Jumping to styling, the Q Inspiration Concept is a four-door sedan with coupe-like profile that’s sleeker, more sculpted and more flowing than any of Infiniti’s current models, even Q60 coupe. Rear-hinged rear doors give excellent access to a futuristic interior.

Christian Meunier, Infiniti Global Division Vice President, stated:

“The premium sedan segment has become rather conservative. The Infiniti Q Inspiration previews something that could appeal to a younger audience, who seek modern design and new technologies to inspire and empower them.”

Although the Q Inspiration Concept is only a design study and isn’t destined for production, there is a chance it will influence the next-generation Q70 sedan or even a spiritual successor the Q45 flagship sedan.

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Kia Niro EV Concept Previews Kia’s Long-Range Electric CUV

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Kia Niro Electric Crossover Concept

For those that like or are even considering getting the Kia Niro plugin hybrid, but want more electrification, the Kia Niro EV Conept is a preview of what’s to come.

Unveiled at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Expo, the full-electric crossover is just a concept, but Kia has already stated a specific range of 238 miles (383 km), which, as it turns out, is the exact same range that the Chevrolet Bolt EV launched with. A coincidence? The Korean automaker isn’t the type to play games, so likely not.

The elimination of an international combustion engine renders a traditional grille unnecessary, with the Niro EV featuring a smooth interactive display panel instead. It is powered by powered by a next-generation electric vehicle powertrain that pairs a 64 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack with a 150 kW electric motor.

Designers opted for a minimalistic interior boasting new technologies, including an advanced pedestrian warning system that uses multiple front-view cameras, object-recognition technology and front speakers to detect and alert pedestrians or cyclists of the car’s presence. The system also uses the grille-mounted display to provide visual communication.

The production Kia Niro EV will be one of the first long-range crossovers available when it launches, as well as just one of 16 new green vehicles that Kia will introduce by 2025, including a new hydrogen-powered, fuel-cell electric vehicle sometime in 2020.

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Honda Reveals ‘3E’ Robots Called Empathy, Experience And Empower

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New Honda 3E Robots

It’s a little known fact that Honda makes more than just cars, with its expertise extending to motorcycles, aircraft, power equipment and robots. The Japanese automaker has now broadened its vision for robots.

At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Expo, Honda unveiled a series of robotic concepts termed 3E — represents ‘Empower,’ ‘Experience’ and ‘Empathy’ — that serve public, workplace and consumer purposes and can operate autonomously.

The Empathy robot is a creepy-looking bugger called 3E-A18, and it’s optimized for supporting people in their daily lives, such as serving as a guide at airports or shopping malls. Honda says the 3E-A18’s soft-touch skin “invites people to touch or hug” it.

Second up is the 3E-C18 — the Experience robot. It can supposedly learn by observing peoples’ action and features a cart-like design optimized for carrying spaces, as well as a canopy combined with a compact-sized vehicle body base with a driving function.

Last but not least are the 3E-B18 and 3E-D18, the Empower robots. The former is a chair-type mobility concept designed to help support people with baggage carts or strollers, while the latter is an autonomous off-road vehicle with AI designed to support people in a broad range of work activities.

The robots utilize Honda’s Mobile Power Pack World concept, a swappable battery system with detachable power modules that can be charged using renewable energy and then placed into a robot or vehicle for power on the go.

Honda R&D chief Yoshiyuki Matsumoto stated:

“We have entered an era when robotics will become increasingly visible and essential in our everyday lives and have the ability to unlock human potential.”

While Honda hasn’t confirmed if any of the concepts will be produced, is there any particular one you want to see?

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