Sunday 21/07/2019 - 09:21 am

New technology front and centre at Montreal International Auto Show

2017.01.21 06:22

 In today’s modern world, technology advances at breakneck speeds and the auto industry is no exception.

Every year, automakers release new advancements in vehicle engines, electrification, connectivity and autonomous mobility.

The 49th edition of the Montreal International Auto Show (MIAS) will show off some of those advancements to the thousands of people who will visit the Palais des congrès until Jan. 29.

From prototypes, a hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai and the latest in electric and hybrid vehicles, the auto show is a chance to see and touch the future of transportation.

Denis Talbot, a new spokesperson for the MIAS, believes the ability to test drive some electric and hybrid vehicles at the show can go a long way to dispelling certain myths about these technologies.

“(People) have this anxiety of driving a car and running out of juice,” he said, adding that attendees will be able to talk to experts about the vehicles while experiencing them.

Talbot believes prototypes, especially from higher-end brands, are a good foreshadowing of what could trickle down to more affordable cars.

A 2017 Kia Niro is displayed at the KIA booth of the 49th edition of the Montreal International Auto Show.A 2017 Kia Niro is displayed at the KIA booth of the 49th edition of the Montreal International Auto Show.MARIE-FRANCE COALLIER / MONTREAL GAZETTE

One vehicle he believes could have a future in terms of ride-sharing service is the Toyota COMS, a single-seat electric vehicle.

There are two COMS — a passenger one and a cargo version — on display at the MIAS and the Japanese automaker is already selling them in Japan and they are being tested in Europe.

They have a range of 50 kilometres and a top speed of 60 kilometres per hour, so they would be perfect for getting around city centres, Talbot says.

BMW has some of its latest plug-in hybrid offerings on the showroom floor at the MIAS, with the new 740 LE front and centre (it’s right next to the hard-to-miss i8 protonic red).

Kevin Marcotte, national manager for BMW’s i brand, says the German automaker is committed to electrifying its fleet of vehicles.

“You will see this plug-in hybrid technology go through all of the BMW model lines in the future,” Marcotte said, with the next one being a plug-in hybrid version of the 5 Series.

The technologies developed for cars like the all-electric i3 and hybrid i8 will benefit the company’s other vehicles as well as consumers, Marcotte said.

“Perhaps you are not willing to make the big step and be one of those early adopters with a fully electric vehicle, but let’s face it, the world is going in this direction,” he said. “So you can bridge that by understanding what a plug-in hybrid can do and it can give you … peace of mind that you are looking toward the future in your consumer choices as well, but it also gives you that experience that early adopters are looking for.”

Kia is giving a glimpse into the future of connected vehicles with its redesigned 2018 Rio.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV 2017 vehicle displayed at the Chevrolet boot at the 49th edition of the Montreal International Auto Show.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV 2017 vehicle displayed at the Chevrolet boot at the 49th edition of the Montreal International Auto Show. MARIE-FRANCE COALLIER / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Some trims of the Rio will come with on-board telematics, which will be free for five years. The feature keeps the car connected at all times to a central that offers remote service, safety and security, and relationship management services — which includes monthly reports on the vehicle, service reminders and more.

Marc Vejgman, product marketing manager for Ford, sees three big trends in the auto sector: Electrification, autonomous vehicles and smart mobility.

When it comes to EVs, Ford offers the Focus electric, which for 2017 gets a bigger battery pack and an increased range of 185 kilometres, up from 122 km.

Vejgman also says the Focus EV is now compatible with the quick charging stations that are part of Quebec’s Electric Circuit.

And Ford’s Sync3 system now comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. That allows the driver to access functions of their smartphone via voice commands.

“We want our owners to be able to keep their hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road – safety is paramount – so we enable them to use their phone in their vehicle with voice commands,” Vejgman said.

And Ford has plans to release an autonomous hybrid vehicle for 2021 that Vejgman says will be used mainly for taxi fleets and ride-sharing services

“Vehicles are largely underutilized,” he said, pointing to the fact that they sit parked for hours or longer while the owners are at work. “With autonomous vehicles, we see the potential of a vehicle really being in use 24/7.”

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