7 Seater Cars – Enter Audi Q7

There have been many big players in the 7 seater cars section and there are already numerous cars in the market that fall in the category of 7 seater suv and 7 seater cars as such. In 2006 Audi decided to enter this arena with the launch of its first ever 7 seater car; the Audi Q7, which happens to be a crossover luxurious SUV during the Auto Show in Los Angeles and it is built on the famous Volkswagen Group PL71 platform. Presently the latest version of the Audi Q series happens to be the Audi Q5. Q5 was recently showcased in 2010. The SUVs are supposed to be importantly for the off road travels, but it seems based on the Audi’s concept car, the Pikes Peak Quattro; Audi has designed the Q7 keeping in mind the on road features than the off road ones. Even though the Audi Q7 features the four wheel drive system coupled with the CDL (central differential lock), and the air suspension system whose height is adjustable, it is unable to compete the cars in the SUV segment which are manufactured mainly for the off-road purposes.

Safety Features Kept Safe

Audi has introduced a new level of safety in its Q7 car. Among all other 7 seater cars out there, it seems no other car is able to beat Audi’s Q7 safety features. In America, NHTSA rated a total of 5 out of 5 for side and front impact tests in fourteen categories. And it has to be that way, because Audi Q7 features Electronic Stability Programme and variety of safety electronics combined with the numerous airbags to protect the passengers. Although in America this car received good ratings, in Europe, the NCAP rated 4 out of 5 for safety, and Audi claims that it was a design error which has been fixed in the later car releases. Many other tests have been conducted on Audi Q7 and the testers have found that Audi has implemented many innovative ways to protect the passengers sitting within.

Q7 Variants for North America

North America got a good set of Q7 variants to drive. The first one was the Audi Q7 hybrid which is basically a hybrid car that is built upon the Q7 and features an electric motor along with a 4.2 FSI engine; which is able to output a torque of more than 200Nm. This particular hybrid is powered by a battery of Nickel-Metal Hydride and this system pushes the car to an acceleration of 0 to 100 km per hour within 6.8 seconds. But this hybrid is comparatively heavier when compared to the petrol version of the Q7. Audi has actually announced that it would be rolling out even more hybrids but the number would be limited. As of now, Audi seems to be focussed on development of Q5 hybrids that will feature the Lithium-Ion battery.

Audi Q7 has quickly gained its reputation among other 7 seater cars in the present market.

Toyota Remains Bullish on the Prius Line

The Toyota Motor Company is coming off of a tough period where the quality of its cars have been questioned and as customers consider competing models. For the first time Toyota’s supposed invincibility has been challenged and the automaker is now finding that its once smooth road has been littered with quality potholes.

But, Toyota is working diligently to take care of its own problems and is moving forward in its quest to elevate its Prius hybrid model. The Toyota Prius has been around for more than a decade, the benchmark model by which all other hybrids are patterned. Toyota cannot afford to rest on its laurels, however, as Ford, Hyundai, Kia and others have brought their own hybrid models to the market. Plug-in hybrids are here as well and include the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. Suddenly, Toyota is in danger of being bypassed by the competition.

Expanding Prius

The Prius line is, however, the most popular hybrid on the market. Sales in 2010 were down in this segment, but that is considered to be only a temporary glitch. Gas prices have moved north of $3 per gallon which means car buyers are exploring their options including finding cars getting exceptional fuel mileage.

Toyota’s plans for Prius are unfolding, with the automaker using the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit to explain where the brand is headed. Between show releases and company chatter, we can expect the Prius line to look far different over the coming years as that model is expanded:

Plug-In Prius – Like other automakers, a plug-in version of the Prius is on its way. This model will use a lithium-ion battery pack and be rechargeable. Having plug-in capacity will enable the Prius to go much farther on electricity only, with a gas engine kicking in when the battery has been depleted.

New Models – The Prius v is the first new model for the Prius family. This wagon-like vehicle is a crossover. The cabin is larger, which means back seat passengers will get more room. Storage has been increased, by 50 percent according to Toyota. The “v” will debut as a 2012 model and will ride on the same platform powering other Priuses.

Concept Prius – Although not green-lighted for production, the Prius C concept shows that Toyota is serious about building an entire line of Priuses. This model, a 2011 NAIAS debut candidate, maintains the five-door versatility of the original Prius, but has a sportier visage and is being targeted to compete against the cheaper Honda Insight.

Rare Earth – Toyota, like other hybrid builders, relies on rare earth materials such a lanthanum to power its Prius. That may change as the automaker is looking at using an induction system for its hybrid models, avoiding usage of materials which are expensive and 90 percent controlled by the communist Chinese government.

Future Growth

Expect Toyota to roll out additional Prius models as the sub-brand continues to grow. A coupe is possible as is an even smaller Yaris-size model. Don’t expect Prius to become its own brand, but it will be an important sub-brand and could prove to be the model line credited with rescuing Toyota.

The World’s Cheapest Car – The Nano

Ratan Tata. You probably do not recognize the name, but this successful business man from India stared the automobile industry dead in the eyes and could have broken numerous molds that have haunted the industry over the past decades. His automobile, officially named the Nano, is the world’s least expensive car. At roughly $2,500 dollars each it boasts a roughly 33 horsepower engine and a five seat arrangement that isn’t just hard to look at, but also hard to imagine the vehicle can achieve an upwards of 50 miles per gallon. The car was not designed to boast stylish looks or revolutionary technology, but rather the ultimate blend of efficiency to meet the consumer’s needs and wants in India.

India over the past several years has come to have over 300 million individuals in its middle class, roughly the population of the United States. This enormous middle class is looking for some of the same luxuries as those of western countries and they have been for a while. Tata has been crunching numbers ever since the conception of the vehicle and he is currently projecting sales of nearly one million Nanos each year.

What does this mean for India as a whole? Many believe a great deal of problems. India’s road infrastructure is already under enormous pressure and traffic jams in the country make traffic in the United States look minimal. When potentially supplying hundreds of thousands if not millions of the middle class vehicles, it will only place further strain on the system. On more of a global scale, scientists are playing out the worst case scenario of adding even more carbon emissions from a country that normally has kept to itself.

Reports that surfaced around 2005 estimated that Indian vehicles released about 219 million tons of carbon dioxide and with the rise of low-cost vehicles and continued economic expansion, that number is expected to reach at least 1,467 million tons around 2030. Many countries are beginning to worry about the global implications the enormous addition of cars will have, while others are supporting India. Many political leaders are keeping to the sidelines with the notion that India has an enormous population and is clearly becoming an economic power that will do what it wants.

On a different note, several countries, including the United States, are analyzing the effects that this small car will have on the economy of India. The United States has had a small but noticeable movement towards smaller cars using less gasoline; however, even though the Nano would most likely not suit American tastes, especially with the lack of a radio, trunk space, and speed, the smaller footprint and higher efficiency of smaller vehicles has benefits that no nation can look over.

It is up to the new Indian market and the new Nano vehicle to show the world what will happen when low income individuals from a relatively under-developed nation have the means to travel and commute just like that of more developed countries around the world.