Vancouver International Auto Show goes electric

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      Now in its 95th year, the Vancouver International Auto Show will be in town March 24 to 29, and it’s expanded to fill the entire Vancouver Convention Centre—a 25-percent bump-up, according to the show’s organizers. Here are some highlights.

      Four concept cars are scheduled to be shown this year. Cadillac is bringing its high-performance luxury “grand” coupe, the Elmiraj, which is powered by a twin turbocharged V-8 developing some 500 horsepower and is purported to be a harbinger of where this company is headed in the next few years.

      Subaru will take the wraps off its Viziv 2, which is a plug-in hybrid crossover vehicle that features three electric motors while maintaining Subaru’s trademark all-wheel-drive system. Again, a glimpse of where this company is headed in the next generation.

      Nissan will bring the Infiniti Q80 and BladeGlider concept cars to the party. The Q80 is a full-size four-door hatchback that is, in the company’s own words, “a bold concept that hints at future Infiniti design language and smart powertrain technology”. It will also feature a “human-centric” interior and an ecofriendly 550-horsepower drive train.

      Perhaps the most intriguing model coming to the Vancouver show is the BladeGlider, which debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2013. A fully electric concept car, the BladeGlider represents “both the future direction of Nissan electric vehicles and an exploratory prototype of the Nissan ZEOD RC from the world’s leading EV manufacturer”. Lithium-ion batteries provide the juice, and the BladeGlider is, according to Nissan, all about aerodynamics and balance. The company has been experimenting with this layout for some time now and actually put forward a race car called the DeltaWing that had a similar configuration. It didn’t set the world on fire, but it shows that Nissan isn’t afraid to think outside the box.

      Elsewhere, a fully restored ’60s Lincoln convertible will be on display. Apparently, it features a 1,250-horsepower Cobra Jet engine, a full Ferrari leather interior, and a $100,000 sound system. This will be the car’s “global” unveiling.

      For Corvette fans, there will be a plethora of models representing seven generations of America’s favourite homegrown sports car, including the original 1953 version, the legendary split-window fastback, and the models from the 1960s to the present. The Corvettes will complement a display of local vintage and antique models including a 1958 Cadillac, a ’52 Pontiac, and a 1936 Auburn speedster.

      For the inner child in all of us, the special-vehicles display area will have some full-size Hot Wheels models, plus a selection of vehicles used in films that were shot in the Vancouver area, as well as a fully electric version of the Bigfoot monster truck. This car-crushing apparition is an oxymoron if ever there was one.

      This year’s show also marks the starting point for the 2015 Automotive Journalists Association of Canada Eco-Run. The run will depart from the convention centre and make its way to Nanaimo and Victoria. Its purpose is to inform consumers of their alternative vehicle options, as well as provide accurate road-testing fuel-economy numbers. There’s no need for speed—it’s all about showcasing cars that offer the best fuel economy in their respec­tive classes. This event dovetails with AJAC’s Green Car of the Year award, which will be announced the day before the show begins. There are four cars in the running this time around: the Honda Fit, the Subaru Legacy, the Kia Soul EV, and the Toyota Camry hybrid.

      Speaking of which, you’ll be able to test-drive a range of ecofriendly vehicles at this year’s Green Ride & Drive. It takes place March 25 to 29 at Jack Poole Plaza, and the vehicles include the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the Mercedes Smart EV, the BMW i3, and the Nissan Leaf. All you have to do is sign up and show up.

      General admission to the auto show starts at $15, and kids six and under get in free.