Saturday, October 31, 2015

Renault Twizy EV Comes to California

When it was introduced several years, the Renault Twizy was the cheapest electric car you could buy. With a race car like central seating position and instant torque, it was one of the most fun, too- withFormula 1 greats like Sebastian Vettel having fun putting a Twizy through its paces both on the track and in a shopping mall. American EV fans, meanwhile, have had to wait. Until now, that is.
Thanks to San Francisco based car and scooter sharing company, Scoot, the Twizy is now available for rentals at the low low price of $8/half hour.
It’s little different from the Renault version, though. For example, the US Twizy is now called the Nissan New Mobility Concept- which is a terrible name. Even so, the little electric car still tops out at around 30 MPH, so it’s technically a moped. That means you don’t need any kind of license to legally drive the thing (although, it should be noted that Scoot does require a license and the completion of a short online safety course).
So, if you’ve been eager to drive a Renault Twizy down some of California’s twistiest roads- or you’re just itchin’ for some driftin‘- head on over to Scoot and check the little car out. If you take a few pics and send them in, we’ll publish them!

Source | ImagesWired Autopia.

Ford Survey: 90% of EV Buyers Would Buy an EV Again

Even though Ford’s EV sales have been dropping in recent months, the Dearborn-based company remains committed to green vehicles and continues its efforts for developing new plug-in hybrid and all-electric models in a bid to ensure a stronger position in the EV market. As part of these efforts, Ford has decided to find out what electric vehicle owners want and how they feel about the existing EV charging infrastructure and the integration of renewable energy in the United States.
The American automaker has surveyed 10,000 electric-car owners from around the country, asking them specific questions related to home charging, renewable energy, the importance of mobile apps for EV owners and whether they intend on buying another EV in the future.
Probably the most interesting finding from this survey is the fact that the vast majority of those surveyed would consider purchasing an EV again, which suggests that EV owners are pretty satisfied with what electric drive technology has to offer. 92% of those who own a battery electric car, and 94% of plug-in hybrid owners said that they intend to buy another EV somewhere down the road. This is a strong indication that customer satisfaction levels are pretty high among EV owners, which will probably make Ford focus on the development of electric vehicles even more than they already are.
As far as how common the use of renewable energy among EV owners is, 83 percent of those surveyed by Ford said that they will consider installing a solar panel at home to charge their vehicles or have already done so. The motivation behind their decision to use renewable energy to charge their vehicles stems from the fact that it allows them to contribute to the reduction of air pollution and that it saves them a lot of money in the long run.
Ford also asked EV owners how important smartphones are for them in regards to improving the overall EV ownership experience. Most respondents said that they use smartphone apps to check their car’s battery charge and control their car’s air conditioning system remotely and check remaining driving range. In addition to that, most EV drivers said that they would want to have access to apps that would help them locate publicly available charging stations and charging time indicators.

Ford Begins to Understand EV Owner Loyalty

This survey will certainly help Ford understand EV owners better, and find out a little more about their charging behaviors, satisfaction and loyalty and how interested they are in purchasing upcoming EV models. The company hopes that these indicators will help it increase EV sales in the future, which they expect will account for up to 5% of all sales by the end of this year.

2015 Cadillac CTS-V review

What is it?: 

This is the most powerful production Cadillac to date. It packs a 640bhp supercharged V8, is claimed to be capable of 0-62mph in 3.7sec and can knock on the door of 200mph.
Cadillac's done more than just shoehorn a stonking engine into an unassuming saloon and leave it at that, however. Compared with the standard CTS, the high-performance CTS-V benefits from a significant reworking.
Performance-focused upgrades include a stiffer structure, wider front and rear tracks, recalibrated steering, substantial Brembo brakes and bespoke Michelin tyres. An eight-speed paddle-shifted automatic channels drive to the rear, while a standard-fit electronically controlled LSD distributes torque between the wheels.
At a shade over £75,000, however, the CTS-V faces some stiff competition. For similar money, you could have a BMW M5 or aMercedes-AMG E63 - and let’s not forget the other GM-forged sledgehammer: the £53,000 Vauxhall VXR8 GTS.

What's it like?: 

Cadillac will tell you that the supercharged 6.2-litre V8 in the CTS-Vis the most responsive engine it has tested on its dynos, reputedly delivering torque when requested faster than a Ferrari 458 Italia's V8.
Truth be told, it might not be mistaken. Tap the accelerator and the CTS-V will snap forward, engine bellowing and leaping towards its 6600rpm limiter. Hit 120mph, which takes no time at all, and it’ll continue accelerating at a seemingly relentless rate. In terms of straight-line performance, this will not leave you wanting.
The eight-speed automatic isn’t as quick to shift as European offerings, particularly when directed to via the wheel-mounted paddles, but it rarely annoys. Putting the power down is no chore, though, with the LSD, wide Michelins and electronically adjustable Magnetic Ride Control suspension working in harmony to deliver plenty of traction when you want it.
Your enjoyment won’t completely cease the first time you strike a corner, either. With the drive mode selector in track or sport settings, the big Cadillac’s steering is fast and accurate, and roll is minimal. The CTS-V’s body control isn’t as fine as its rivals, however; it jostles around over bumps and cracks. This, in conjunction with some kickback through the wheel, takes some shine off the Cadillac’s high-performance credentials.
Unfortunately the brake response, like that in the ATS-V, is disappointing. The pedal is wooden and lacking in feel, blunting your willingness to attack the road ahead without more time behind the wheel. That said, thanks to the car's muscular rear-drive nature and vocal engine, you don't have to be going fast to have an awful lot of fun. The car's ride quality’s not bad, either, but it’s certainly stiff as opposed to supple.
The interior still lags behind European offerings in many areas, mainly in terms of material quality. It’s spacious, comfortable and well equipped, though, and features such as the customisable 12.3-inch digital instrument panel do bring a touch of class.

Should I buy one?: 

If you’re one of the handful who would consider buying a distinctive, left-hand-drive super-saloon, then absolutely. It’s fast, comfortable, sounds great, is gratifying to drive and turns heads like little else in its class. There's some fine engineering at work here, too, that adds extra depth to its appeal.
Sure, the interior leaves a lot to be desired, particularly alongside the likes of an M5, and the transmission and brakes could be improved. Much like the recently launched ATS-V, however, the CTS-V is more rewarding than many rivals when driven at sensible speeds. This low-speed involvement and entertainment bolsters the Cadillac’s charm further. It might not be the most dynamically capable, but in terms of feel-good factor it's hard to beat.
When the CTS-V goes on sale in Europe in early 2016, you’ll even be able to order one directly from Cadillac’s sole UK dealership. It’ll still be left-hand drive, but it’ll be in UK specification and come with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. A chain of GM-affiliated service points will be established, too, so servicing shouldn’t be too problematic. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Yamaha Motobot Rides Your Motorcycle For You - VIDEO

Amid the flurry of concept cars and hyperventilating press releases at the Tokyo Motor Show, Yamaha has introduced something that is truly breathtaking. It’s Motobot, a robot that can ride a production motorcycle and do it better than almost any human rider on earth. It even has issued a challenge to Valentino Rossi, current MotoGP world champion: “I am improving my skills every day. I was created to surpass you.” Here’s what Yamaha, via AutoBlog, has to say about Motobot and why it created the cyborg with its advanced artificial intelligence.
This is an autonomous motorcycle-riding humanoid robot built around a fusion of Yamaha’s motorcycle and robotics technology. R&D is currently underway with the goal of developing the robot to ride an unmodified motorcycle on a racetrack at more than 200 km/h. The task of controlling the complex motions of a motorcycle at high speeds requires a variety of control systems that must function with a high degree of accuracy. We want to apply the fundamental technology and know-how gained in the process of this challenge to the creation of advanced rider safety and rider-support systems and put them to use in our current businesses, as well as using them to pioneer new lines of business.
What new lines of business is Yamaha thinking about? It doesn’t say, but could a mild mannered personal servant with the ability to communicate in over 6,000,000 languages be a possibility? Something that in the heat of battle could utter such memorable lines as  “Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately three thousand seven hundred and twenty to one!” For now, Yamaha is content to get Motobot revved up to where it can function effectively at speeds up to 200 kph on a race track.
Perhaps on some sunlit tomorrow day, we will be able to sit in the comfort of our climate controlled living room, put on our virtual reality headgear and experience the thrill of piloting a high performance motorcycle like Yamaha’s R1M without ever having to get off the couch. Is that a good thing?

Elon Musk Delivers a 10 Second Car: Tesla Model S P90D

Warm-Up Lap: The Insanely Quiet Launch Of A Tesla P85D
The new Ludicrous Mode enabled Tesla Model S P90D apparently managed to do 0–60 mph in just 2.6 seconds on its way to an astonishing 10.9 second 1/4 mile pass during recent testing by Motor Trend, according to reports. That kind of performance puts the big Tesla sedan on par with just about anything on wheels in the Fast and Furious franchise!
The news was noteworthy enough that Tesla CEO Elon Musk himself felt the need to share a link to the article via Twitter. Going from a dead standstill to 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds is rather ridiculous, to be fair. So why not brag about it?

Model S Ludicrous Mode achieves 2.6 sec 0-60 mph and 10.9 sec 1/4 mile in Motor Trend test 

The Motor Trend coverage of the new Tesla offering is rather fun overall, so I recommend heading over there if you have time to read the full article. If not, here are some of the highlights (in my opinion):
    Stop what you’re doing right now. Stop texting. Get off YouTube, close Facebook, and pause for a moment so you can truly appreciate the times we’re living in, a world where if you have the means you can go out and buy an American-made, 762-hp, all-wheel-drive electric car that’s as capable of driving itself as it is smoking supercars off the line. That car is the new Ludicrous-enhanced 2015 Tesla Model S P90D.
    As fabulous as Tesla’s new semi-autonomous autopilot feature is, the 762-hp Model S P90D is a car that begs to be driven. The P90D starts life as an already-insane Model S P85D but with the P85D’s 221-hp front and 470-hp rear (691 hp combined) motors swapped for a front motor that makes 259 hp and 244 lb-ft of torque and a rear motor that produces 503 hp and 469 lb-ft of torque. Total output is 762 hp and 713 lb-ft of torque.
    Hold those horses, though; to get the most out of your P90D — and to get something less Insane and a little more Ludicrous — you’ve got to drop a cool $10,000 on the Ludicrous Speed upgrade. The upgrade adds a couple of pieces of hardware to the P90D, including main battery pack contacts made of Inconel (a “space-grade super alloy”) that allows Tesla to increase the current flow rate from 1,300 to 1,500 amps, and an advanced new fuse for the 90-kW-hr battery. This fuse has its own electronics and a tiny lithium-ion battery built into it that allows Tesla to better bridge the gap between a Model S’ normal operating current and max current. In plain English, it gives the motors access to more of the battery’s power and does it faster, without risk of the fuse being blown.
As noted in the Motor Trend coverage, amongst all of the many, many vehicles tested by Motor Trend, only two can beat the P90D outright in a 0–60 miles per hour sprint- and both of those are hybrids. The Porsche 918 Spyder, which carried a $845,000 starting price when it was still being produced, and Ferrari’s unbranded LaFerrari at around $2 million US.
One final note: as tested by Motor Trend, the P90D very reliably does a quarter-mile in just 10.9 seconds. That’s quite an advertising statement on its own, isn’t it? Here’s a final quote:
    Although the Tesla Model S generally specializes in short sprints that are perfectly suited for metered freeway on-ramps, it’s also a capable drag racer. With a full charge, the P90D reliably rips through the quarter mile in 10.9 seconds, hitting 122.7 mph. Those numbers make the EV the fastest four-door sedan we’ve ever tested, besting both the mighty 707-hp Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and the Audi RS 7 at the strip. The P90D is a supercar beater, too, beating the Porsche 911 Turbo S and Nissan GT-R NISMO (among others) through the quarter mile, though in sprints much longer than that, the Porsche will walk away as the Model S nears its 155 mph top speed.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

2016 Ford Focus RS - passenger ride

“I worked my ass off to make it do that,” says the man to my left. ‘It’ is the hot hatch of the moment, the brand-new Ford Focus RS. And the man talking about it – driving it, typically enthusiastically – is David Put, vehicle dynamics specialist of Ford of Europe.
The grinning Belgian has done a big chunk of the dynamic tuning of the new RS, and right now he’s flicking the car around the damp curves of the legendary ‘Track 7’ handling circuit at Ford’s Lommel proving ground. It looks like fun - a lot of fun, actually.
The car is cornering flat and fast, pulling with huge torque and proper sports car pace down the short straights, and sounding all growly and interesting. That much you don’t have to be in the driver’s seat to tell. But watching Put’s measured inputs carefully, you can see – and feel - exactly what he’s so chuffed about.
The car’s initial handling response and lateral grip levels look considerable; David’s not having to do much at all to get the front wheels running towards apex after apex. But it’s what happens mid-corner, as he begins to feed power back in, that really surprises. There’s a small but perceptible nudge from the outside rear wheel; a friendly little tweak of not just traction but handling impetus, making the car both speed up and turn in at the same time.
Where other all-paw hatches would be beginning to lose their poise, bothering their ESP and running wide as the transmission sends drive first to the harder-working front wheels, the Focus stays neutral. And then it begins to blend into power-on oversteer, as Put unwinds the steering angle and applies a delicate correction.
Four-wheel-drive hot hatchbacks just don’t do that - not in this tester’s experience. You can chuck a VW Golf R or a Mercedes A45 AMG into a transient slide by unloading the rear axle, but what happens when you come back onto the pedal tends to be all very boring and predictable.
This - it would seem from the passenger seat, at any rate, and judging by both the smile on my co-driver’s face and what the ‘seat of my pants’ is telling me – is a four-wheel-drive performance hatch that you can accelerate into a powerslide - that you can steer on the throttle, in other words, like a proper rear-driver. Praise be.
My need to drive the new Focus RS only gets more urgent after that revelation, but it isn’t going to be addressed today. We’re here for an advanced passenger-seat preview only – and an up-close-and-personal review on the engineering effort that has gone into one of the most eagerly anticipated affordable driver's cars of the past few years.
Among the first things to be announced about this new hot Focus was that it’d be four-wheel drive – just like its 1990s forebear, the memorable Escort RS Cosworth. That was among the very first decisions taken by the Ford Performance engineering team, and you can read all about the pioneering technology behind the drive system here.
We knew back at the Geneva motor show this year that the four-wheel drive system in question would have a ‘drift’ mode – and that it would therefore have to be something inherently more trick than the Haldex-coupled norm. We also knew that the RS would develop a formidable-sounding 345bhp.
What wasn’t known was that Ford’s prototypes weren’t quite making that much power back then. The target has been achieved since, of course; it had to be. But using Ford’s 2.3-litre Ecoboost Mustang engine as a basis, it has taken a whole new Cosworth-milled cylinder head and gasket, new cylinder liners, new induction and exhaust systems, a completely new twin-scroll turbocharger and the largest radiator that could be squeezed into the front of the Focus’s engine bay to achieve it.
Ford freely admits that its emphasis was on delivering the car to market for an outstanding price as much as anything – and that some opportunities for saving weight have been passed up. So the car weighs a hefty 1599kg wet, including the EU’s mandatory 75kg for driver and luggage. The four-wheel drive system contributes an undisclosed amount of mass compared with front-wheel drive.
A dual-clutch automatic gearbox would have brought the 0-62mph sprint down a bit from where it currently sits (4.7sec), but would also have added another 30kg to the car – not to mention four figures to the asking price. Besides which, if you option the 19in forged wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres on the car, the Focus RS is considerably faster-accelerating than the manufacturer’s claim.
The four-wheel drive system forced a switch to a different C1-platform rear subframe, which was originally developed some years ago for Volvo – but in order to deliver the rigidity required to handle the forces put through the rear end of the Focus, it’s been braced against the body-in-white in three separate directions on each side.
Above that, the car’s body structure itself has also been reinforced. If you could lift the boot lining, you’d see a thick band of steel designed into the sheet metal, running between the rear suspension towers, that Ford has christened a 'lion’s foot'. Local torsional stiffness has been increased by as much as 200%.
The RS has four drive modes, ranging from Normal at the tame end of the dynamic spectrum to Drift at the wilder end. As David cycles through them, I can feel the dual-rate Tenneco dampers firming up – the ride having started out firmer than, say, a VW Golf R, but still entirely possible to live with. It ends up probably too firm for British B-roads but about perfect for a fairly smooth, low-kerbed track.
Although the RS runs with more negative camber on its front axle than the Focus ST, and with 30% stiffer springs, its overall ride height is about the same. Its power steering is slightly quicker overall than the ST’s, says David – but they’ve junked the variable ratio of the ST for a more predictable fixed one. “With the handling effect of the four-wheel drive system, you just don’t need that extra help to get the car turned in,” explains our man.
From the passenger seat, it’s impossible to be certain about exactly how crisp that turn-in really is and how much adjusting of the RS’s cornering line can be done with your right foot – but it certainly seems to change quite a lot from mode to mode. In Track mode, Put is using no corrective lock at all. But he’s also not afraid to open the taps on the engine’s overboosted 347lb ft of torque long before he’s taken the lateral cornering load out of the tyres – and he doesn’t seem to be contending with any limiting understeer at all.
Later, back in Drift mode, he’ll demonstrate the potential for surprisingly prolonged powerslides around the consistent radius of one of Lommel’s steering pads. It’s quite something to experience - not quite donut after lock-stop-hitting donut but equally, I suspect, something much more akin to the controllability and rear-drive feeling you get from an Audi R8 than an RS3.
The impression stuck in my head as I climb out of the car is one of what, I’m confident enough to predict, must be a remarkable-handling and involving hot hatchback - one of Ford’s greatest yet. That, and the outline of five digits and a symbol, lingering like the halo of a bright light scorched onto your retinas: £28,940. Less than a Honda Civic Type R, less than a Golf R, less than a BMW M135i – all of them considerably less powerful and, on very limited evidence, admittedly, less dynamically talented.
It’s 1600 confirmed UK orders and counting, folks. Let the stampede commence.
Ford Focus RS
Price £28,940; Engine 4cyls, 2261cc, turbo, petrol; Power 345bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 325lb ft at 2000-4500rpm (347lb ft on overboost); 0-62mph 4.7sec; Top speed 165mph; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1599kg; Economy 36.7mpg (combined);CO2/tax band 175g/km, 30%

Honda Planning New CR-Z Electric Sports Car

Remember the Honda CR-Z? That’s the 2 seat hybrid sports car with the sexy body that Honda introduced back in 2010. It sold pretty well at first, due largely to its attractive styling, but that was before people realized its wimpy IMA hybrid powertrain didn’t have the power to pull the skin off custard. Once the word got out about is weak sister performance, sales went into the tank and never recovered.
Now, unnamed muckety mucks deep with Planet Honda tell Auto Express  Honda is working on a new battery electric sports car based on the CR-Z chassis  and the specs they are talking about make it sound like a tasty little crumpet indeed: 4 electric motors, one for each wheel. 250 horsepower. 0-62 in 3.2 seconds .(that’s Ludicrous Mode territory!) Honda’s Precision All-Wheel Steer system, which allows the rear wheels to turn as much as three degrees  in either direction to aid handling and agility. A 60 kWh battery for 250 miles of range.
The car is a soulmate to the electric CR-Z racer Honda brought to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb earlier this year, except that car had over 500 horses pushing it up the mountain. “We are making every possible effort to make it to the market,” the mole inside Honda insists. “We now have to think about the commercial aspect.”
Honda CR-Z EV
Two seater sports cars never sell in large volumes. Most of them are halo cars meant to bring customers into showrooms, where they ogle the sexy sportster and then drive home the sedan, minivan or SUV the family actually needs. Whether Honda will ever put this car into production is an open question. And whether it is intended for British customers or will make its way to America is another question that will need answering.
The original CR-Z promised much and delivered little. Will people consider an all electric successor to it? Let’s hope so. A 4 motor electric sports car with blazing acceleration and awesome handling sounds like just the thing we need to light a fire under the EV movement.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

400 Hydrogen Fueling Stations Across Germany By 2023

hydrogen refueling station
Last week’s story about a hydrogen fuel cell powered bicycle from Linde Group generated lots of discussion, so this story should interest lots of our readers. Even though European car makers are focusing on electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, that doesn’t mean that research into fuel cell cars is not moving forward as well. In particular, BMW is exploring hydrogen power for its future cars and Mercedes is doing so as well.
Now 6 European companies have announced a consortium that will build 400 hydrogen refueling stations across Germany by 2023. The group consists of Air Liquide, Linde, Daimler, OMV, Shell and Total. The  cross-sector joint venture will be known as H2 MOBILITY Deutschland. according to ElectricCar Reports. It is based in Berlin and is already working hard on Stage One of the plan — the construction of 100 filling stations over the next few years.
Executives from H2 MOBILITY met with Germany’s minister of transportation, Alexander Dobrindt, last week to discuss the plan, which would make Germany the first country to offer a complete hydrogen refueling network. A total investment of around $500 million is anticipated. H2 MOBILITY is an international leader and has the potential to influence other countries to expand their hydrogen infrastructure. It is a member of the recently formed “Hydrogen Mobility Europe” network.
Germany wants to be a world leader in sustainable mobility solutions and efficient technology. It believes electric mobility via fuel cell powered vehicles will help to cut CO2 emissions significantly. H2 Mobility is working closely with car manufacturers BMW, Volkswagen, Honda and Toyota, as well as the technology company Intelligent Energy.
Hydrogen as a fuel source is controversial. Unless new technologies become available, it takes more energy to make commercial grade hydrogen than the hydrogen produced will be able to give back when used as a fuel source. Proponents argue that abundant solar energy will solve that problem, because there will soon be an excess of virtually free electric power from renewable sources. Skeptics argue that the world’s energy needs are a long way from being met by solar power and that it is more efficient to use what there is to recharge battery electric cars rather than to make hydrogen.
The chances are we won’t know who is right until at least a decade from now.

Arkham Knight Batmobile Go-kart

Halloween isn’t even here, yet, but the drug stores and shopping malls are already starting to dust off the Christmas ornaments and holiday playlists. If you’re name is Francis and you happen to be a Batman-obsessed super gamer from San Diego, California, however, you already got the best thing you’re going to get this year: a custom-built, Arkham Knight Batmobile Go-kart.
Francis actually won a Super Gamer Builds contest to get his go-kart built by a number of talented artists and craftsmen. They, in turn, took a more-or-less standard two-seat go-kart and- through the magic of foam modeling and fiberglass molds- turned into the Arkham Knight-inspired BatmokartBatmobile you see here.
Granted, it may not be as green as Ben Affleck’s rumored “hybrid” Batman v. Superman Batmobile or as fast as the Nissan Deltawing that I thought really should have been the Dark Knight’s new ride- but, ya’ gotta admit, this is one seriously sweet gamer build.
So, I guess it’s time to congratulate Francis on his win (Congrats, Francis!), then complain about what a total waste of time and resources a video game inspired, non street-legal go kart really is in the comments section. Enjoy!

Arkham Knight Batmobile Kart on the Move

batmobile go kart
Source | ImagesSuper Gamer Builds, via Gizmodo Toyland.

Mazda RX-Vision rotary-engined sports car concept revealed

The Mazda RX-Vision concept car revealed at the Tokyo motor show signifies Mazda’s intentions to launch a new range-topping sports car powered by a rotary engine.
The likely badge for the front-engined, rear-drive model would be RX-7, and the production version could be unveiled at the Tokyo motor show in 2017; that would mark 50 years since Mazda launched its first rotary-powered sports car.
The two-door, two-seat coupĂ© is officially described as being 'Mazda’s vision for the ultimate in front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car styling'. 
Mazda president and CEO Masamichi Kogai confirmed: “One day rotary will make a comeback. This gives form to our brand's vision of the future. It expresses our intention to make rotary. There are many issues to overcome but we will continue our efforts. We're working steadily. Keep your eyes on Mazda."
At the heart of the RX-Vision is an all-new next-generation rotary engine called SkyActiv-R, an engine which is said to solve three key issues with previous rotary engines: fuel economy, emissions and reliability. However, Mazda has yet to reveal the specifics.
The RX-Vision measures 4389mm long by 1925mm wide, with a height of 1160mm and a wheelbase of 2700mm. Those dimensions make it marginally longer and wider than Jaguar’s F-Type coupĂ© sports car, and significantly lower, something the compact nature of the rotary engine has allowed. 
The concept car sits on a unique SkyActiv rear-wheel drive platform, unrelated to the Mazda MX-5. For production, the new RX-7 is likely to be smaller than the concept car, and will be targeted at thePorsche Cayman.
R&D chief Kiyoshi Fujiwara said: “If we were to mass produce the car, the Cayman is the right kind of assumption [as a rival]. We’d like to make it lighter than a Cayman.”
Fujiwara would not mention specifics on engine capacity or performance, but the Cayman reference indicates a power output of around 300bhp. Fujiwara confirmed that turbocharging and hyrbidisation are being considered. However, the latter is considered less likely as it is a greater technical challenge.
While Fujiwara wouldn’t mention engine specs, he did confirm that efficiency now matches that of a typical petrol engine without any electrical assistance. He said that breakthroughs in computer simulation and prototype making has allowed Mazda to more accurately study the combustion cycle of a rotary engine and change it accordingly, including even the shape of the engine.
He added: “Based on the things we’ve been studying there is still room for more modifications.”
This research has also allowed Mazda to improve the torque output of the rotary engine, as well as economy and reliability. 
As for the transmission, Fujiwara said that a manual gearbox would be his preferred option, but a dual-clutch gearbox might be required should the performance improve further. 
On a more philosophical point about Mazda’s role with rotary, he said: “It is an essential part of our DNA and it's just been passed onto future engineers. It is synonymous with the brand.”
Production of the engine now relies on further improvements to the rotary technology, particularly in ensuring it is now robust enough and reliable for mass production, and for Mazda to be on a stable financial footing to have the confidence to relaunch the technology. If achieved, a launch date of 2017 is mooted.
Fujiwara said that: “Mazda always introduces new materials and technology on its sports cars."
A reference to perhaps a more extensive use of aluminium in the production car or even carbonfiibre. The base Cayman weighs in at 1405kg, a target figure the production Mazda will be seeking to beat.
Mazda design boss Ikuo Maeda said that the concept 'represents our dream, but we don't want it to be a dream for too long'. He said that it took 10 months to design, and was a 'pure design project' in this form, although 'a lot of elements are adaptable for future products'.
The concept’s design is said to offer 'a sense of lineage and authenticity, encapsulating Mazda’s entire history of sports car design'. Following Mazda’s KODO design language, the RX-Vision’s low body features short overhangs at either end, with a low roofline and low bonnet – something made possible by the compact dimensions of the SkyActiv-R engine.
Inside, the concept features handcrafted components with intricate instrumentation, leather trim and a simplistic instrument panel. The concept has 245/40R20 tyres at the front, and 285/35R20 rubber at the rear.
Maeda said he would love to see the design in production, hinting that it was still up for debate: “I hope we have enough strong voices that can dictate this car. We’re at a very important stage and we wanted to express what could be the next step.
“So we developed this model, stepping up Mazda’s brand and expressing how we intend to survive and live into the future. We wanted to express the most unique technology Mazda has and the challenge we want to pick up in the future.”
On a likely launch date, he said: “It depends on popular demand, and the desire for this kind of vehicle - 2017? If I could, I would dearly like to do so…", adding that, “right now, there is only one design for a Mazda sports car, the RX-Vision, but yes, it is one possibility to make it smaller.”
A future hint on the positioning of the production car. Elaborating on this subject, he said: “911 or Cayman? If you consider the price and performance, the Cayman would be more appropriate.”
Kogai played up the fun-to-drive characteristics of the concept car, and rotary in general. “We've sought to make cars that are a pleasure to drive, and we will continue to provide customers with these cars,” he said.
Kogai cautioned however that there were hurdles to be overcome, and would not commit to a launch date for the inevitable production return of rotary. "Initial targets for rotary were set higher than gasoline. I said before it would be difficult for mass production, and this encouraged our engineers to work harder to achieve these targets. I believe one day our engineers can overcome those challenges and meet targets.
"We want to have good communication with our fans on the concept. I'd like to know how great their expectations are. R&D is working very hard - the targets are strict, rotary engines have lots of issues, and we need to solve each of them. It's not just emissions, it's performance as well, and making it easy to maintain. On a rotary engine it is a difficult engine to solve all these problems.
"If I say anything about [launch] dates I will put too much pressure on our engineers. I want to avoid putting pressure on them. I would like to hear feedback on the design of the vehicle. This is the design of a sports car that really encapsulates a front-engined rear-wheel drive car. It embodies a Mazda sports car."
It was first revealed earlier this year that Mazda had continued working on rotary engine technology despite having no rotary powered cars on sale. Further hints about the concept's rotary power source came earlier this month when Mazda released details of other cars on its Tokyo stand, including the 967 Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S, the company’s first rotary powered mass-production model.
Mazda has also experimented with using rotary engines for different applications beyond being the sole powertrain for a vehicle. It has applied for patents using a rotary engine as a range extender on a hybrid system and even demonstrated a prototype based on the previous generation of its 2 supermini back in 2013.
The Japanese manufacturer killed off its last rotary-engined sports car, the RX-8, back in 2012 as it faced ever-tightening emissions regulations. The firm also built a prototype turbocharged RX-8, but that car would have failed to meet European requirements, and its further development could not be justified on Japanese sales alone.
In fact, rumours of Mazda's return to rotary engines stretch back to 2010, when insiders hinted that a successor the RX-7, potentially to be dubbed RX-9, was planned.
Q&A with Ikuo Maeda, Mazda design boss
Were you inspired by previous Mazda rotary sports cars with the new design?
"The MX-5 is the icon today. I love sports cars and am a racing enthusiast. So for me designing is all about sports cars. The Mazda brand has many enthusiastic fans and we want to provide products to enthusiastic people. Mazda’s brand icon should reflect the apex of this philosophy."
This is a simpler design than recent Mazdas. Why is that?
"On the bodywork there is indeed a simple form that creates a beautiful reflection from the surface. My biggest desire is to achieve alluring form through simple design. The proportions give a sense of performance to the product. The long bonnet was done to achieve the ideal proportions for a front-engined, rear-drive sports car. So the concept somewhat accentuates that approach."
What was the theory behind the interior?

"The same as the exterior: to reduce the elements to the optimum. We used stiff leather, like a horse's saddle. The controls are also greatly reduced."
What do you make of the rotary engine?
"The rotary engine is a symbol of Mazda’s spirit. I’m extremely glad that we can realise such a machine. It provides a unique feeling, and we can capitalise on it. When I think of rotary, my mind expands greatly. If we drop it, the rotary engine will disappear from the world. It’s important we’re in a mindset to cherish the rotary engine technology."
Why reveal this concept now?
"The current generation of products shows where Mazda is going as a brand. We’re not at the very important stage of expressing what could be the next step. So we developed this model, stepping up Mazda’s brand and expressing how we intend to survive and live in the future. We wanted to express the most unique technology Mazda has and the challenges we want to pick up in the future."
Could it explore lightweight material use?
"Even though the concept is on the long side, the idea was always to be a lightweight sports car. That’s why I wanted to create a tense, taut design. Of course, there are many material options. I believe carbonfibre will be very important in our future. Mazda also has the technology to utilise aluminium. We’ve not gone that far yet with carbonfibre."