Mini, Ford and Honda have announced plans to make further reveals at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
IHS Markit Perspective
- Significance: Mini, Ford and Honda have announced plans to make further reveals at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
- Implications: Mini is showing a high performance concept, Ford is unveiling its upgraded EcoSport and Honda its revealing its plan for a hybrid CR-V in Europe.
- Outlook: The Ford and Honda reveals are likely to be the most important to their respective manufacturers, with the EcoSport making a further push into the subcompact crossover space while the hybrid CR-V will be Honda's gamble in the shift away from diesel.
Mini, Ford and Honda have announced plans to make further reveals at the Frankfurt Motor Show (Germany) that opens to the media and public next week.
Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept
Alongside the Mini Electric Concept, the brand has now confirmed that it will reveal the John Cooper Works GP Concept. Based around the three-door hatchback variant, the design study is said to be inspired by victories at the Monte Carlo Rally (France) 50 years ago. Key features include a significantly wider body thanks to bulbous arches, as well as a deeper front bumper with larger air intakes, additional carbon fibre side skirts and prominent rear spoiler. It also benefits from 19-inch lightweight multi-spoke wheels. The interior has been stripped back compared to the standard John Cooper Works, with the removal of the rear bench seat, headlining and door trims, while the seats are bucket-types with five-point harnesses. It also has a roll cage installed. Other features include a digital instrument cluster with head-up display, gear shifts are undertaken through paddles behind the steering wheel, while suspension can be adjusted through a centre touch screen. However, no details of the powertrain have been made available.
Ford will unveil a heavily upgraded EcoSport for the European market. The vehicle's look brings the sub-compact crossover model into line with the Kuga and Edge, with sculpted bonnet, large trapezoidal grille and angular headlights. Customers can also choose between new 17-inch and 18-inch wheel designs, a contrasting roof colour and either an externally mounted or interior sited spare wheel. The interior has also been heavily upgraded, with a dashboard that features fewer buttons, improved centre console design and new seats with the option of part leather. The boot gains a height-adjustable boot floor that can be raised to provide concealed storage, or lowered to increase luggage capacity to 334 litres. On the powertrain front, the EcoSport is offered with either a 1.0-litre turbocharged gasoline (petrol) engine in 100PS, 125PS and 140PS tunes, or a new 1.5-litre 125PS diesel engine that also develops 300Nm of torque. Manual and automatic transmissions are available as is four-wheel drive for the first time, depending on the engine option chosen. In terms of technology, the car is offered with Ford's SYNC3 infotainment system with either a 6.5-inch or 8-inch touch screen. There is also the option of a new Bang & Olufsen (B&O) Play sound system featuring 10 speakers including a boot-mounted subwoofer. In addition, the car is also available with Cruise Control with Adjustable Speed Limiter; Rear View Camera; Blind Spot Information System; automatic headlights; rain-sensing wipers; and new side and curtain airbags.
Ford EcoSport ST-Line
Honda has also revealed details of the CR-V hybrid prototype that will be shown at the show as part of the new generation. According to the automaker, the vehicle features an Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system with two electric motors combined with a 2.0-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder Atkinson cycle gasoline engine for both electrical energy generation and propulsion, and a separate electric generator motor. The system also uses a single fixed-gear ratio that provides a direct connection. It can be adjusted between three driving modes: EV Drive which is powered solely by the batteries; Hybrid Drive which uses the gasoline engine to provide energy to the generator which then provides power to the motors, which also offers the opportunity to charge the battery; and Engine Drive whereby the wheels are directly driven by the gasoline engine, with an "on-demand" boost available from the electric propulsion motor. This powertrain will be offered in Europe alongside a gasoline 1.5-litre turbocharged engine, with a choice of either six-speed manual or CVT transmission.
Outlook and implications
The Mini John Cooper Works GP concept suggests the continuation of a lineage of a limited edition that has already been seen as part of the first two generations of the Mini brand. These have tended to be high performance versions as part of the run-out of the three-door body style. The most recent was loosely based on and used lesson learnt by the JCW Challenge race car. While this will provide an element of drama on the Mini stand at Frankfurt (Germany), the chances of it reaching production in this form are probably limited to say the least given the amount of work that would be required to install the body addenda. Nevertheless, it does underline the versatility and the different customer bases that the brand is aimed at, particularly when seen alongside the Mini Electric Concept.
Honda CR-V Hybrid Prototype
The heavily upgraded Ford EcoSport enters the market as the subcompact crossover market in European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) markets is booming. Since 2010, registrations of this type of vehicle have jumped from around 143,000 units to over 1.16 million units in 2016, and IHS Markit anticipates sales will reach 1.45 million units in 2017 and 2.06 million units by the end of the decade. So far, Ford has been a mid-pack player in this market, with registrations reaching 57,400 units in 2016 compared to the Renault Captur which sold 219,200 units and Peugeot 2008, which reached over 156,000 units. It was helped by an initially poor reception for the vehicle, which was little modified from that sold in less discerning markets, and the automaker had to rush out some hasty revisions. Although this update brings the look of the vehicle in line with other models in its range and improves technology, while at the same time shifting production to Ford's site in Craiova (Romania), it also comes as more players than ever before are entering the space alongside established players. This includes the new Citroën C3 Aircross, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic, Opel Crossland X and SEAT Arona. It remains to be seen whether it is truly up to the challenge.
The Honda CR-V hybrid prototype will arrive in the European market during 2018. Despite its investment in diesel engine technology - the most recent iteration being shown at the same event - the automaker will not use this type of powertrain in the new CR-V. This is an interesting step given that many of its rivals in this space offer at least one if not a range of options in Europe. However, the company may well be banking on the continued deterioration of the market for this fuel in Europe, particularly given ever greater government scrutiny and the media backlash. It may also offer the brand and model greater credibility by offering a gasoline-electric option, as well as it not being able to justify the expense of adding a diesel engine when it will be solely sold in EU28 markets. IHS Markit expects that sales of the next generation CR-V in EU+EFTA will peak at around 49,600 units during 2019.
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