2012 NAIAS: The Future of the Automotive Industry (Part 1)

January 17, 2012
9 min read

The 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is one of the biggest events for the automotive industry. With a record setting opening day attendance the show was a must be at event for anyone connected to the automotive industry. This year the show featured launches of new vehicles, world debuts of refreshed products, and some jaw dropping concept cars. The Mintel Automotive Blog will feature a two part review blog of the 2012 NAIAS. The first two vehicles to consider are the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid and the 2013 Dodge Dart.

The Jetta Hybrid

Jetta Hybrid 3

Source: Volkswagen

The Jetta Hybrid debuted in Detroit at the International auto show, the new 2013 Jetta Hybrid stole the hearts of green enthusiasts. Volkswagen hopes to combine efficiency and sustainability while still offering great performance. The Volkswagen brand was created in 1955. In the past decade Volkswagen has increased their presence in the US market with products like the performance oriented GTI, iconic beetle, and their legendary Bus. Today, Volkswagen is a household name with US consumers. VW even boasts a somewhat cult like following amongst their enthusiasts.

The Jetta Hybrid paves the way for new electric hybrid vehicles. The Jetta hopes to take the crown for fastest hybrid vehicle, boasting a 0-60 MPH speed in less than nine seconds. The 2013 Jetta Hybrid features stylish body lines with several new modifications to improve aerodynamics such as a newly designed rear diffuser, aerodynamic front air dam, sculpted rear spoiler, and special front grill. As for comfort, the Jetta Hybrid sedan tops its class as one of the quietest sedans. Volkswagen engineers spent a great deal of time to acoustically optimize the front windshield, side windows, and exhaust all in the effort to keep cabin noise to a minimum.

The sport inspired Jetta Hybrid contains a zero emissions electric motor as well as an industry standard high tech 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine. The gasoline TSI engine produces 150 horsepower and 184 lb. / ft. of torque. The 2013 Jetta Hybrid delivers an impressive 45 miles per gallon. To further efficiency from drive train loss, the Jetta Hybrid clutch decouples when the Jetta is triggered into coasting mode.Jetta Hybrid 1

Source: Volkswagen

Under the hood of the Jetta Hybrid

The new hybrid Jetta features state of the art green technology. A small 220-volt 1.1kWh lithium-ion battery is the power source behind the all new Jetta. The lithium Ion battery weighs less than 80 pounds, and is located behind the rear seat to improve weight balance. This smart battery is constructed of over 60 single cells, sports an electric fan for cooling, and boasts its own computer system. The battery’s computer manages safety checks, diagnostic features, and monitors such parameters as temperature all by itself. The battery automatically disconnects for safety in the event of a crash. Volkswagen engineers were just as concerned about safety as they were with reliability and economy. Six air bags, anti lock brakes, and Electronic Stability Control comes as standard safety features. Other standard features include satellite radio, unique hybrid inspired body styling, alloy wheels, and LED taillights.

The Hybrid Jetta is green for a reason

When the Hybrid Jetta operates purely under the power of the Lithium Ion battery, the Hybrid can cover up to 1.2 miles alone with out using a drop of gas, all while producing zero emissions. The electric motor powers the car up to 37 miles per hour, or 44 miles per hour if the e-mode is triggered. While 1.2 miles doesn’t seem very far, Volkswagen engineers have developed technology to recharge the battery as you drive. Regenerative braking is standard amongst hybrid vehicles. Volkswagen has perfected this technology, to allow the maximum transfer of kinetic energy from the brakes to be stored in the battery. To maximize the potential energy production recovered from braking, after the brake is applied, the Hybrid Jetta disengages the clutch. This prevents added braking effects from the drive train, ensuring the most efficient amount of kinetic energy can be captured from the brakes alone.

To further the green impact of the Hybrid Jetta, the gasoline engine is turned off once the car comes to a stop, such as in stop and go traffic. The result is less fuel consumption. Don’t worry; even though the engine will shut down, comfort and entertainment options such as the radio or air condition will continue to function flawlessly. To further fuel efficiency, the Hybrid Jetta will automatically decouple the gasoline-powered engine from the drive train when the driver is coasting. This system is automatically triggered once the gas pedal is released at speeds up to 84 miles per hour.

Not just another slow hybrid

Volkswagen did not want to produce another slow electric hybrid consumers have come to expect. Engineers wanted to design the Hybrid Jetta with a performance aspect in mind as well. The sport mode reacts differently to increased throttle inputs to produce power. The sport mode combines the power of the electric motor and gasoline powered engine to produce a shocking 170 horsepower. If battery power is low after your spirited canyon run, the Jetta will run strictly on the gasoline powered engine. The option also exists to restrict the performance of the TSI engine and transfer more energy to charge the lithium-ion battery. The car effectively becomes a generator for electricity it’s self. The sophisticated electronics will monitor power output and consumption, balancing the ideal amount of electric propulsion with the gasoline-powered engine.

In the end

The 2013 VW Jetta Hybrid is set to launch at the end of 2012. The highly advanced electric hybrid will be Volkswagen’s second offering to the hybrid community. The Hybrid Jetta is a showcase of Volkswagen’s engineering team. The Jetta hopes to highlight VW commitment to sustainability as well their dedication to the evolution of their brand and products. While little information is still known about specifics such as price, Volkswagen and green enthusiasts alike eagerly await such details. The 2013 Volkswagen Hybrid Jetta is definitely a car you want to keep your eye on.

2013 Dodge DartDodge Dart 3

Source: Chrysler Corporation

Over the past decade, Dodge has seen it’s fair share of hardship. A clear lack of direction in the styling department hindered sales, and tarnished their name. The past couple of years, dodge has been working hard to rebrand their company name with sleek and stylish cars people actually want to own. The 2013 Dodge Dart is the latest production offering, and first to blend in Alfa Romeo DNA. The dart was designed with one goal in mind, to exceed the expectations of consumers. A Focus on quality, satisfaction, and even reliability played a huge role in the engineering process.

The 2013 Dodge Dart features innovative design features and technology we’re not used to seeing from dodge. The dart is aimed at a wide age demographic and the different trim options offer a variety of price points. A total of five different trim packages will be offered, the SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited, and R/t. Consumer will have the option of choosing from a total of 12 exterior colors, and 14 interior colors and trim options.

The Dodge Dart will be offered with three different fuel-efficient yet powerful engines. The first option is a 4 cylinder, 2-liter tiger shark 16-valve motor, which produces 160 horsepower. The second option is again a 4 cylinder, 1.4 liter Multiair turbo charged engine, producing 160 horsepower. The final option is a 4 cylinder, 16-valve 2.4-liter engine, producing 184 horsepower, the most powerful of the three choices. Dodge has made even more option available in the power train. Consumers have three different options for transmission types as well. The first being a six-speed manual, a six speed automatic, and finally a six speed dry clutch (DDCT) transmission.

Dodge’s newly design offering to the compact sedan market shares heritage with the world-renowned Alfa Romeo brand. The 2013 Dodge dart is based off of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The Giulietta has already made its mark around the world as an agile and able car, delivering a smile to the driver’s face, while holding very high safety standards. The partnership between the two companies will hopefully produce a product away from the Dodge norm.

The 2013 Dodge Dart underwent extensive research and design in the aerodynamic aspect of the car. The new Dodge dart is the first vehicle produced by Dodge to take advantage of a active grill shutter system. The front grill dynamically responds to the cars temperature and speed to op and close accordingly. Dodge engineers put forth extensive effort into aerodynamic design, not one piece of the 2013 Dart was over looked. Even the mirrors, the taillights, even the edge of the trunk lid were all engineered for excellent aero performance.

The 2013 Dodge dart is a safety leader in the compact sedan segment. Engineered with over 60 safety features, the Dart delivers a piece of mind to its occupants. Additional safety features such as the rear back up camera, rear park assist, hill-start assist, rainy brake support, electronic stability control, and a list of other features all provide a smooth and safe ride.

Dodge engineers hoped to create timeless bodylines for the 2013 Dart. While timeless might be a bit of a bold statement, the Dart offers a new style which where not used to seeing from Dodge. The exterior styling was based off of a couple of key ideas; the engineers wanted this new compact design to be sport oriented and agile in appearance. The rear offers a familiar design we’re accustomed to seeing on their higher end sport cars. The front grill, bonnet, and fenders offer a sleek and sporty style.

Overall, Dodge aspired to create a modern technologically advanced compact sedan, which stepped away from their norms. The 2013 Dodge dart offer potential buyers a wide variety of options to customize the car to suite their lifestyle but also personality. This is an exciting step forward for Dodge.

George Augustaitis
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