Audi A1 - The Countdown Officially Begins

It is official: the Audi A1 will make its first sanctioned public appearance at the 2010 Geneva International Motor Show. On March 02, 2010 Audi representatives will unveil their new baby to the media. Today marked the beginning of the countdown to this important company event.

Some of the scheduled dates leading up to the unveiling include a test drive with Bayern Munich football stars on January 28, a video statement from the Human Resources Director regarding the A1 and job security on February 4, and an undated online world premier with a press kit.

The A1 is a subcompact premium hatchback aimed at the young as this promotional video implies. Featured is a street graphic artist spray painting what looks like the A1 Concept car on a wall. Funky and fun the car aims to put youthful bums on Audi seats for the first time and hopefully keep them for life.

"The new A1 has Audi design in its genes," says Stefan Sielaff, Head of Design at Audi. "Like all Audi models, the ratio of greenhouse to body is between 1:3 and 2:3. The front overhang is short, but the wheel wells are pronounced, giving the A1 a wide road stance."

Much of the design is based on the two concepts; the Metroproject Quattro of Tokyo 2007 and the A1 Sportback of Paris 2008. The designers stayed largely true to the well-received shapes, which augurs well for the final product.

"Audi is renowned for taking a lot of features of its show cars into series production. The roof arch is a unique characteristic of the Tokyo show car; there is a certain dynamism in the flow of the A- and C-pillars. An important detail for customization; that much I can tell you," said Sielaff.

Hyundai Kia Considering Kee and Veloster Coupe Production

A production version of the Kee Coupe concept could be brought to market if Kia design director Peter Schreyer has his way. In an interview with Autocar, Schreyer acknowledged that the Kee Coupe could be attractive to customers that do not currently consider the company's cars for purchase.

The designer did acknowledge that there are no immediate plans to put the car in showrooms, but a production model could get attention in 2012 or beyond. The Hyundai-owned label has not yet conducted a study to determine the car's marketability. Schreyer also noted that Kia's executive team is incredibly conservative, and would not push the car into production without a guaranteed profit.

"When you’re making cars like this, it’s important to make them with a great deal of confidence,” he said. “So I think the Kia brand has to grow a little more in stature before the time will be right for Kee."

In similar fashion, Hyundai engineers are working on an all-new Veloster, perhaps to replace the Tiburon. The Veloster would come with a 145-horsepower 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine, with a 175-hp unit also available. Bigger engines, and hybrid powertrains are also possible.

The Veloster was first shown off as a 2+2 concept at the 2007 Seoul Auto Show. If produced, it could get odd-shaped doors, and conceptual hatchback as a way of setting itself apart from other cars in the same segment. Look for pricing to be sub-$22k.

Schreyer says he would like the Kee Coupe to use a rear-driven platform, which might come from the Genesis. The company would also consider the Cee'd and Magentis platforms. Perhaps the Kia Kee Coupe will be developed in tandem with the Hyundai Veloster.

Toyota Releases Dedicated Hybrid Concept Teasers

Toyota has announced they will showcase a new hybrid concept car at the 2010 North American International Auto Show. No official details have been given but speculation describes the compact car as being smaller than the Prius and will go into production as early as 2011.

Incidentally Toyota made two announcements regarding new cars in recent days. One was that a concept slotting below the Yaris would debut at the 2010 Auto Expo Automobile Show in New Delhi. Secondly, it said a new plug-in hybrid would begin selling globally from 2011. Traditionally Toyota has only built regular hybrid systems for models such as the Camry, Prius, Highlander, as well as certain Lexus cars.

A plug-in Prius hybrid did appear at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Toyota plans to lease 500 of these to government and corporate customers in the United States, Europe and Japan starting later this month. Public sales are scheduled for 2011 with volumes expected to reach "tens of thousands".

Competitors are not planning on being left out of the mass-market "green" race either. General Motors wants to sell about 60,000 Chevrolet Volts from next year, Volkswagen has plans pertaining to plug-in hybrids and Nissan commences sales of the all-electric Leaf in 2010.

Norway's Hydrogen Highway gets an electric back road

Back in May, 30 teams driving pure electric and hydrogen vehicles participated in the EVS Viking Rally from Oslo to Stavanger, Norway to mark the 24th Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS) and the opening of the Hynor Hydrogen Road. For 2010, the event is changing its name to the Zero Emission Rally (see?) and will again feature plug-in hybrids, EVs and H2 cars. Instead of sticking to the main roads as it did in 2009, the 2010 route will send the vehicles on smaller back roads. Tipster and translator Finn S. says that there is no explanation in the Norwegian article on BilNorge about whether these rural areas have been outfitted with hydrogen refueling stations or high-speed EV recharging infrastructure. During a California-to-Canada hydrogen car rally earlier this year, the organizers brought the hydrogen along in big tanker trucks.

Planet Positive looks for your 2020 Visions of a low carbon world

2020 Visions
"I'd like to eat less and less meat, I'm doing my best but I haven't cut it out altogether."
Lord Nicholas Stern, Academic and Author of the Stern Review
"I wish for all nations to come together to have one vision. I wish for us to go back to living our ancestors' lives, to own our land, to have trees. Indigenous peoples are really affected by climate change so I urge all nations to come together to have one voice."
Moses Mopel Kisosion, Member of the Massai Tribe in Kenya
"I barely use the car, I travel by public transport and I turn the thermostat down a degree or two, though my wife is Spanish and she has an affection for warmer homes than I do!"
Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrats Leader

LONDON 14th December 2009: Celebrities, business leaders, environmentalists, politicians and school kids around the world have been communicating their hopes for life on earth by 2020 as part of a new campaign called 2020 Vision. The campaign, launched by Planet Positive, an international environmental mark for a better way of living, on, aims to reposition climate change as an opportunity to create a better way of living by presenting positive yet realistic views of a low carbon world.

The campaign was launched this week in the UK and has already been supported by celebrities such as Bianca Jagger, business leaders from M&S, ASDA, Barclays Bank, Eurostar, British Airways and every major UK political party. Environmentalists and scientists have also offered their visions including Lord Nicholas Stern, Sir Jonathan Porritt, Dr Pachauri (Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and Zac Goldsmith, director of the Ecologist.

The campaign provides people with the chance to provide their view of the future via online movies, illustrations or written word. The website allows anyone anywhere in the world to view visions and upload their own, stimulating debate around climate change. A group of school children's pictures of how their lives could look by 2020 sit alongside business leaders, politicians, designers and celebrities.

The 2020 Vision website also provides people with reassurance and clarity on the innovation, infrastructure and products that will help them shift into low carbon, more sustainable lifestyles. Ten website sections provide information on key areas of our lives such as Home, Energy, Food, Water, Travel, Transport, Communication and Entertainment.

Steve Malkin, CEO of Planet Positive, said: "The next 10 years are critical for climate change. We want to provide a clear, positive view of how our lives can be better by acting on climate change. You can see the 2020 Visions of business leaders, politicians, scientists and celebrities through to school kids and upload your own 2020 Vision."

The 2020 Vision campaign has been created by the Planet Positive Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, focused on inspiring action on climate change and helping people reduce their environmental impact. Planet Positive recently screened a number of visions at Copenhagen, and was able to collect unique visions from indigenous peoples representing countries from all over the world.

Planet Positive is an environmental mark that certifies that a business, product or person is actively engaged in reducing their carbon emissions. The mark is based on a 4-step process of Measure, Reduce, Act and Report as laid out in the Planet Positive Protocol. Planet Positive certification has been adopted by companies such as M&S, who are constructing a Planet Positive building, and Atomic, who have created a Planet Positive certified ski boot.

Chevy Volt dance to go with song

"E for electricity, V for Chevy Volt and me..." Catchy little diddy, we admit. That said, we were mostly willing to let the Chevy Volt song make the deep, dark trek into obscurity with nary another mention here on our pages. That is, until today. What made us change our tune, you ask? Boy, are you in for a treat.

Witness the Chevy Volt dance. Yes, it is an official routine commissioned by GM. Showgoers that meandered near the GM area at the LA Auto Show may already be familiar with this little number, but the video is just too "good" not to share with the rest of the class. We especially like it when the four-person crew stops whatever they're doing to throw us an "E" and a "V."

Trust us. You owe it to yourself to click past the break and watch the video. Here's hoping The General antes up to send these dancers around the country for the rest of the auto show circuit.