Jaguar F-Type concept sketchEnlarge Photo
2002 Pontiac VibeFEEL THE VIBE. Using a trio of “slam” poets to set a hip mood, General Motors’ Pontiac division pulled the wraps off its new, youth-oriented Vibe hatchback. The five-door will go into production late this year at the NUMMI assembly plant GM operates in a joint venture with Toyota, in Fremont, Calif. The platform and about half the components on Vibe are shared with the next-generation Toyota Corolla, also slated for an ’03 model-year launch. That includes the 1.8-liter, 130-horsepower in-line four-cylinder engine, which features Toyota’s intelligent, variable valve timing. An all-wheel-drive system, and four-wheel anti-lock brakes will be optional. Vibe bears a striking resemblance to the five-door version of the Ford Focus—with which the new Pontiac will compete. And, like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Vibe’s rear and front passenger seats will be able to fold down, creating up to 57 cubic feet of cargo space. The new hatchback will come with a first-of-its-kind, 110-volt power outlet on the dash for operating a laptop computer or portable devices.
2002 Pontiac VibeEnlarge Photo
Wolfgang ReitzleEnlarge Photo
Dodge PowerBox Concept POWER RANGER. Could the Dodge Powerbox become the second hybrid-electric vehicle in the Chrysler lineup? That’s a definite possibility hinted the automaker’s product development director, Richard Schaum. The prototype is a so-called “through-the-road” hybrid, with a CNG-fueled, 250-horsepower supercharged V-6 powering the rear wheels, and a 70-hp electric motor for the front axle. The Powerbox’s batteries are recharged by recapturing energy normally lost during braking or coasting. The combination drivetrain should yield significant improvements in performance and fuel economy—as well as a 350-mile range, Schaum estimated. Dodge plans to produce a hybrid version of the Durango in 2003, but whether Powerbox will go into production is uncertain, Schaum cautioned. “The technical feasibility is there. The economic feasibility is always a challenge with hybrids,” because of the added complexity. Still, Schaum hinted the prototype “could be a precursor of things to come in ’04 or ’05.”
Dodge PowerBox ConceptEnlarge Photo