TRANLOGIC's Guide To The Geneva Motor Show 2013
Audi promoted their futuristic E-Tron brand by showing off the A3 Sportback E-Tron. Unlike the one we drove a while back, this Audi is not a pure EV, rather a plug-in hybrid. Audi thinks this type of powertrain--similar to the Chevy Volt--makes more sense right now. A Parallel hybrid drivetrain that includes a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an electric motor is good enough for a total system output of 204 horsepower. When fully charged, the A3 E-Tron can travel 31 miles in electric mode, close to the Volt's EPA estimated range of 38 miles.
Audi's new sub-brand G-Tron compliments its electric counterpart, but with some massive range differences. The A3 Sportback G-Tron runs on either natural gas or Audi's carbon neutral "e-gas." E-gas is Audi's branded synthetic methane fuel, generated at a special plant that uses electrolysis to split hydrogen and oxygen, then takes the hydrogen and combines it with carbon dioxide to make e-gas.
The A3 Sportback G-Tron's turbocharged 1.4-liter engine burns either CNG or e-gas until the fuel tank runs out. After that, regular gasoline is pumped in, and the car can continue driving. This multi-fuel burning A3 has a fuel range claimed at 807 miles. Quite a road trip, indeed.
Speaking of extreme efficiency, Volkswagen's XL1 promises to be the most fuel efficient production car on the road. With an ultralight curb weight of 1,700 pounds, thanks to a carbon-fiber body, VW claims this 2-seater will achieve a mind-boggling 261 miles per gallon.
To get such good fuel economy, VW went straight to diesel--something they already do very well--and combined the engine with a small 27 horsepower electric motor. Total system output is said to be only 47hp, but with such a low weight, the XL1 can still get up to 60 mph in less than 13 seconds.
While the XL1 looks exactly like something we would have drawn as kids when imaging the car of the future, VW is still gauging interest as whether or not they will bring it to the U.S. If they do, however, prices are expected to reach $100,000 or more. That's certainly a hefty price to pay for the excellent fuel economy, especially considering today's $4 per-gallon fuel cost. But we all know that won't last forever.
While both Lamborghini (see below) and McLaren debuted halo-worthy rides in Geneva, the winner for best integration of tech into a supercar design goes to Ferrari's LaFerrari. Just like the F40, F50, and Enzo before it, the LaFerrari will be a limited production vehicle; you'd be lucky to ever see one on the road.
Besides the sleek, sporty design, our favorite thing about the LaFerrari is that it's actually a hybrid. But that doesn't mean it isn't plenty powerful: the LaFerrari puts out a ridiculous 949 horsepower.
The hybrid technology comes from Ferrari's experience in Formula One. The KERS, or Kinetic Energy Recovery System, stores energy captured during braking in a flywheel and sends it to two electric motors for a short boost. In addition to KERS, LaFerrari also has a battery that stores and sends energy to the motors.
Interestingly, Ferrari designed the engine to optimize power delivery at the high-rev range, while using the instant torque from the electric motors to power the lower revs. This use of electric motors for an ultra-high performance powertrain is perfect for delivering consistently linear and powerful acceleration.
In addition to the new halo car, Ferrari also announced that its FF will now come complete with 2 iPad Minis and Siri integration standard. Ferrari says there is more to come from their collaboration with Apple, so stay tuned.
While the Ferrari took the spotlight, the Veneno deserves some credit too--even if it has a much smaller production run. This Lambo looks insane (if a bit busy) from all its lines to massive air vents. Even the wheels feature angular cutouts.
An all-new exclusive carbon fiber chassis and 750 horsepower V12 engine will take the Veneno to a top speed of 220 miles per hour. A $3.9 million price tag and limited run will ensure exclusivity. Word has it that all units have been spoken for.
One of the more interesting debuts was Toyota's i-Road. While far from production, this concept shows a bit of what car planners think the future of the automobile might look like. I-Road's small footprint is a clear indication that Toyota forecasts further vehicle downsizing. It's skinny profile reminds us of the Tango EV and it's 3-wheel stance harkens back to the Arcimoto SRK. (Click the links to see our drives of both.)
The i-Road is imagined to take on the increasing density of traffic in metropolitan areas. Positioned in a tandem setup, both driver and passenger zip along on pure electricity. The i-Road has an articulating front suspension to lean into turns, making the ride feel more smooth and flat. A self-balancing technology allows the i-Road to stay upright when taking turns sharply. We won't see this on the road soon, but for now check out the video below displaying the i-Road in action:
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