Audi E-Tron & BMW Vision wins Concept car of the year; Nissan Leaf wins production
June 21 – The ninth annual North American Concept Vehicle of the Year Awards were announced this evening during a ceremony at the Automotive Hall of Fame. Making electrified technology an across-the-board theme for this year’s awardees, the co-winners of the Most Significant Concept Vehicle of 2010 honor are the Audi e-Tron, and the BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics.
The Audi e-Tron features two electric drive motors that independently power each of the rear wheels, representing a leap in the evolution of drivetrain power distribution. The ability to independently control not only braking but also power application down to the level of milliseconds, enables precise control of vehicle dynamics, beyond that of current stability control systems. Sporting the gullwing doors that are among the signature design attributes of many legendary super-cars, BMW’s Vision EfficientDynamics concept combines a plug-in hybrid drivetrain architecture, with a cutting-edge 2+2 interior configuration, neatly wrapped with an angular yet organic body line.
The Production Preview Vehicle category is for those vehicles based on a model that has already been announced or planned for production. On a fast track to becoming the first all-electric vehicle to reach mass-market status, the Nissan Leaf takes the honor of 2010 Production Preview Vehicle of the Year.
Comments from Jurors about the Audi E-Tron Dan Carney The e-Tron nods to Audi’s heritage, with NSU’s invention of the Wankel rotary engine, while pointing to a future where reciprocating piston engines have been displaced in stationary generator applications such as the range-extending generators aboard electric vehicles. Gasoline piston engines are a poor solution to that application and are used only due to sheer industrial inertia. On-board generators are better served by diesel, rotaries, and turbines, and the e-Tron reminds us of that while exploiting the packaging benefits of the tiny rotary powerplant.
Lyndon Conrad Bell This peek into Audi’s not too distant future promises to infuse the EV category with the style, performance, and desirability. Audi has trained us to expect from its products. A miniature R8 with instant torque and no emissions? How can you not love that?
Bob Kroupa The Audi e-Tron pushes the compact styling window with a futuristic front body style and a unique grill – unmistakably Audi. This all-electric driven ‘sports car’ with two asynchronous electric motors will be a hot ticket should it reach production status. BMW pushes all the ‘hot’ buttons with their all-wheel-drive electric, supplemented with a turbo-diesel, resulting in a performance-minded concept vehicle. The Leaf sets the stage for a long-awaited, affordable, all-electric vehicle. Its 100-mile range and 90 MPH top speed have caught the consumer’s attention, demonstrated by the sellout of 2010 production. It sports a neat body style as well.
Chris Poole The BMW is my favorite for its combination of high style and high technology. The radical body design almost shouts “fun to drive,” and the powertrain, if not the interior package, is near-term real-world practical. I see a spiritual successor to the vaunted late-1970s M1 supercar, which might well be what BMW intended. The Audi may seem just a smaller version of the wonderful R8, but it’s bristling with subtle and important features like the climate-control heat pump. And it’s a pure electric vehicle, not a hybrid, so credit Audi for bravely exploring that path to the future. The Nissan Leaf is a bold and ambitious effort to bring pure-electric vehicles to the mass market at a price real people can afford. As such, it promises to change the way thousands of people drive over the next few years and could well accelerate mass-market acceptance of EVs. The Leaf breaks no new ground in design or engineering terms, but the fact that this “production preview” is reaching the public with very few changes says much about Nissan-Renault’s confidence in the product and its commercial future. To my mind, it’s the most significant car of 2010.
Jim Scoutten Audi sees an emission-free high-performance future, leaving only the scent of scorched tires in the wake of the e-Tron.
Below is a video of the Audi e-Tron at the 2010 Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Brazil.