Ian Callum, the Scotsman who has been overseeing styling at Britain's Jaguar for 12 years now, is on the phone from the United Kingdom, discussing the pace of change in the auto industry.
"When I came here I felt we would need three to five years to start the changes and 10-11 years to complete the first phase," he says. "I feel we've completed the first phase of renewing Jaguar. Phase One was very clear to me. Phase Two is harder. I spend a lot of sleepless nights thinking about this.
"The question I ask is, 'How do we continue the change without reinventing the brand?'"
That, in a nutshell, is the story of the auto industry and has been for more than 100 years. Car companies must continually change and evolve. It is a never-ending process driven by big-picture issues such as fuel prices and government regulations – the two biggest ones in the 21st century – along with demographics, fashion trends, population growth, urban migration, global and local economic conditions, environmental concerns, technological advancements, safety matters and plain, old consumer tastes.
"I like to think we are a very design-conscious and very modern car company, but we pay attention to this all the time," says Callum.
Jaguar, part of the sprawling Tata Group of India, is a small car company in global terms, but it faces exactly the same challenges as every other auto maker competing on the world stage, big and small. Faced with strict fuel economy and emissions regulations in its biggest and most important markets, Jaguar is reinventing not just the look of its cars, but also getting ready to launch so-called "electrified" vehicles.
At this year's Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, Jaguar is showing a hybrid concept that points not only to where Jaguar thinks it might go with a two-seat sports cars, but also how gasoline- or diesel-electric hybrid power trains might fit into the company's future. The CX-16 concept is a gasoline-electric hybrid that uses a 1.6-kilowatt electric motor and auxiliary battery pack in combination with a newly developed 3.0-litre supercharged V-6. With 375 horsepower, this two-seater can accelerate to 100 km/h in about four seconds, the company says.
"For Jaguar, the two-seater sports car is at the heart of the brand," says Callum, noting that his concept cars are not far-fetched fantasies – they don't "over-promise" – but something very close to reality.
"Yes, we're seriously looking at a two-seater car. Yes, we're still looking at the business plan," he says.
This is what you get at any big auto show: a mixture of fantasy and reality all of it ultimately based on a "business plan" that relies on eliciting emotional reactions from the car-buying public. Those buyers are finicky in the extreme, too. So, also, are government regulators who are demanding the industry change dramatically not in 10- to 12-year cycles, but in historical terms almost overnight.
That is, new fleet-wide fuel economy rules call for something on the order of a 28 per cent overall improvement by 2016 (to an average of 6.67 litres/100 km). Car companies are working harder and faster to meet these regulations than on anything in the history of the business. How big is this challenge? According to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, the industry as a whole improved fleet-wide fuel economy by about 20 per cent in the years between 1982 and 2009. Twenty-seven years to squeeze out 20 per cent and now six years to nail down 28 per cent.
Thus, this year's show at the north and south Metro Toronto Convention Centre includes a hybrid Jaguar sports car concept, a hybrid production version of the BMW 3-Series, a fuel-efficient compact Dodge Dart, an electrified Ford Fusion mid-size car, a small Buick crossover wagon called the Encore and a hybrid super sports car from Acura which, while being shown as the NSX concept in Toronto, will reach Acura showrooms in three years as a production model.
The 39th annual CIAS show will have some 40 North American and Canadian vehicle premiers, along with 15 concept cars, various collector exhibits and something called the Eco-Drive Showcase which includes a heavy roster of "green" cars, from electrics to hybrids to diesels and more.
The 2012 show, the largest consumer show in Canada, is expected to draw more than 300,000 visitors during its Feb. 17-26 run. More than 125 exhibitors will display some 1,000 car and trucks worth more than $30 million, in exhibits valued at more than $60 million.
As Callum, the Jaguar designer, points out, car companies continually envision the path to reinventing their brands for an ever-changing marketplace. Here are the latest results on display at the 2012 CIAS:
- 2013 A4 Sedan: Audi’s bread-and-butter model has been updated for 2012 with a revised power train, chassis and infotainment system. The design has been tweaked, too. The A4 is Audi’s best-seller, thus this is the critical model in the lineup. Over the last 39 years and eight generations, Audi has sold roughly 10 million A4 models, and its predecessor, the Audi 80.
- 2013 Allroad: This is a new one for Canada – or to be precise, the return of a model once sold here. The 2013 Allroad features the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system and it’s combined with a 2.0 TFSI gasoline engine producing 211 horsepower.
- 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 3: Yes, there is now a 3-Series gasoline-electric hybrid. As BMW has done with other hybrids, this one is more about performance but with a heavy dose of fuel economy for good measure. The car’s Twin-Power Turbo (306 hp) six-cylinder engine has an integrated electric motor that increases power by an additional 54 hp for brief spurts. This combination nevertheless returns average fuel consumption expected to be less than 6.4 litres/100 km.
- 2012 BMW M5 sedan: The 5th generation M5 has the most powerful engine ever fitted to a series-produced BMW M: 4.4-litre V-8 rated at 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a seven-speed double clutch transmission. Acceleration time: 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, with 200 km/h in 13 seconds. The M5 does that while consuming 30 per cent less fuel and providing 50 per cent more range than its predecessor.
- Special Edition 2013 Mini Goodwood: This one is a collaboration with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. The three-door Mini Goodwood is characterized by top-grade materials, the highest level of workmanship, and stylish supremacy. The exterior and interior design features were designed by Rolls-Royce, another BMW brand. The Mini Goodwood is powered by a 1.6 litre 184 hp four-cylinder engine.
- 2013 Dodge Dart: The Dart puts Dodge back into the compact car game. Based on an Alfa Romeo platform, the Dart will be sold with three different engine choices. Dodge also argues the new Dart is large for its class, and offers loads of technology and “fun-to-drive dynamics.’’
- 2013 Ford Fusion: Due in the fall, the all-new Fusion mid-size sedan delivers fuel economy and technology in a modern design. The Fusion will be sold with gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid power trains. Fusion Energi will also be the sixth electrified vehicle added to the Ford line up. The Fusion can be equipped with Active Park Assist, Lane Keeping Aid, and Adaptive Cruise Control.
- 2013 C-MAX Energi PHEV: This wagon/minivan is designed to meet the needs of customers who want a functional hybrid with style, fuel efficiency and performance through the combination of a gasoline engine and a battery-driven electric motor. When powered by gasoline C-MAX uses the new 2.0 litre Atkinson-cycle four cylinder engine. The C-MAX comes with a hands-free lift-gate and the latest version of Ford’s SmartGauge with EcoGuide.
- 2013 Ford Flex: The updated, made-in-Canada Flex is better equipped, offers more technology, better fuel economy and a new design in a seven-passenger crossover. Flex can be equipped with a standard 3.5 litre V-6 engine or a 3.5 litre EcoBoost engine. Flex has a new front end, a standard dual exhaust rear appliqué and nine exterior colours from which to choose.
- 2013 Lincoln MKT: The MKT full-size crossover has a dramatically improved ride, sharper handling, better fuel economy and new safety technologies, including rear inflatable seat belts. The EcoBoost V-6 gets 355 horsepower. Standard Lincoln Drive Control allows drivers to change driving dynamics with three different modes: Sport, Normal and Comfort.
- 2013 Cadillac XTS: The all-new, built-in-Oshawa XTS is the newest addition to the Cadillac sedan lineup. It will arrive in the spring of 2012 and will be the flagship of the Cadillac brand. The XTS is the first Cadillac with CUE, a comprehensive in-vehicle controller that manages information and media systems.
- 2013 Cadillac ATS: The all-new ATS is Cadillac’s compact luxury sports sedan intended to challenge the likes of the BMW 3-Series. Developed on an all-new, lightweight vehicle architecture, the ATS goes on sale this summer.
- 2013 Buick Encore: Buick will have a new small crossover when the 2013 Encore arrives in about a year. Encore will offer contemporary styling, signature QuietTuning technology, and a host of features and amenities customers expect from Buicks today.
- 2012 Kia Rio sedan: The all-new Rio sedan offers an unparalleled blend of world-class design, safety, quality, technology, class-leading 138 horsepower and fuel economy ratings of 6.6 and 4.9 litres/100 km (city and highway).
- 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL 550: The next-generation SL 550 is all new. Mercedes says it has agile, sporty handling and a highly rigid all-aluminum body shell, not to mention unmatched ride comfort, a luxurious interior and a host of ground-breaking new innovations.
- 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG: Mercedes says the ML 63 AMG sets new “benchmarks” for performance, exclusivity and efficiency in its segment. Of course. The engine here is a 5.5-litre V-8 biturbo. Handling is assisted by the Active Curve System. Mercedes says it provides “active roll stabilization.”
- Smart ebike: This one is all about “green.” The Smart ebike offers “straightforward operation, a low weight, excellent ergonomics and a practical stowage space concept” and all that contributes “to making the Smart ebike a fun to ride, intelligent mobility solution.”
- 2012 Toyota Prius: The world’s best-selling hybrid has been refreshed for 2012. The Prius delivers 66 per cent fewer smog-forming emissions than the average new vehicle.
- 2013 Scion FR-S: Scion has a low-slung sports car. FR-S stands for front-engine, rear-wheel drive sport. The car itself is a high-performance sports coupe with what Scion says is “exceptionally balanced performance and handling, compelling style, flexible utility and surprising fuel economy.”
- 2012 Prius PHV: This one is an “environmentally sustainable vehicle that offers exceptional performance, versatility and energy efficiency. The PHV is a plug-in hybrid with a 20-km range that is capable of electric-only speeds up to 100 km/h.
- 2013 Volkswagen Passat CC: All-new for 2013, the Passat CC on the outside has been redesigned front and rear. “Stylish bi-xenon headlamps finish off an aggressive front end, and LED tailamps finish off the rear. Inside, the CC cabin has been refreshed, and now offers elegant seating for five,” says VW.
Ahh, the 2012 Canadian International AutoShow's ECO-DRIVE showcase. You'll find it on the 700 level of the south Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The plan is to show visitors what will help auto makers meet Canada and the U.S. fleet-average fuel consumption rules of 6.67 litres/100 km by the 2016 model year and 4.3 litres/100 km by 2025.
The showcase includes electrically-driven vehicles, from hybrids of different types – plug-ins, extended-range electrics and pure battery-electric vehicles – to cleaner diesels. Here is where you will also get insights into how auto makers are rethinking their designs and nurturing fuel-saving technologies such as direct fuel-injection, turbocharging and variable valve control. Beyond the engine, car companies are developing multi-speed or continuously-variable transmissions, regenerative braking and automatic stop-start systems to save fuel and reduce emissions.
Experts will be on hand to discuss these vehicles and technologies.
Advanced Conventional Technology Vehicles:
- BMW 3-Series
- Fiat 500
- Ford Edge
- Mazda3 SKYACTIV
- Mazda CX-5 SKYACTIV
- Subaru Impreza
- Auto Start-Stop:
- Buick Regal e-Assist
- Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG
Battery Electric Vehicles:
- Ford Transit Connect Electric
- Mitsubishi – iMiEV
- Nissan Leaf
- Smart fortwo Electric Drive
- Tesla Roadster (part of Clipper Creek exhibit)
- Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI Clean Diesel
Extended Range Hybrid:
- Chevrolet Volt
- Fisker Karma
- Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid
- Gasoline Hybrid:
- Honda CR-Z
- Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
- Kia Optima Hybrid
- Porsche Panamera Hybrid