Good Oil: Tesla Model S 'Shooting Brake' definitely a one off wagon
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Geneva’s motor show managed to take naysayers within the automotive industry who have suggested car shows have had their time and give them a good shake by the shirt collar.
The show was packed to the Swiss rafters with everything that makes motor shows great; concept cars, hyper cars, interesting city cars, a one-off Bugatti that would set back its willing owner a similar amount to the GDP of Burkina Faso.
Away from most of the rapidly firing camera phones, however, was a new model from electro-pioneer, Tesla.
That Tesla should take a back seat to more mainstream manufacturers is interesting, but unfortunately Geneva motor show week also coincided with the week in which human meme Elon Musk announced he would be shuttering Tesla retail outlets in favour of an online sales model.
That decision has since been semi-reversed (Tesla announced a percentage price hike on most models, which will allow it to retain some anchor retail stores), but it did enough to take the focus off any hardware the company was touting in Geneva.
The other reason the Tesla on show in the Swiss city this year wasn’t front and centre, is that it was a one-off, built for a collector of unusual station wagons. Thing is though, it quietly made the somewhat dated-looking Model S appear cool once more.
Designed by London-based coachbuilder Niels van Roij, the green wagon was commissioned by a Dutch collector and proved rather fraught to manufacture, too. It seems that the flowing shape of the Model S doesn’t lend itself well to adding extra aluminium. Van Roij has stated that in order to not make it appear like a Model S with a greenhouse perched on the back, he had to go with an elongated Shooting Brake silhouette instead.
The results are stunning. The standard Model S feels a bit bland in this age of I-Paces and e-trons. But the Shooting Brake makeover has given the Tesla an extra sharpness of appearance.
What a pity, then, that the manufacturer is unlikely to take any cues from van Roij’s creation.
While the S is probably nearing the end of its life in its current shape goes, a station wagon variant isn’t going to sell in an SUV-dominated market. If anything, Tesla is trying to reduce model complexity, so any fans of electric Shooting Brakes might be best to pin their hopes on design whims of Mercedes, BMW or Polestar.
Erik Buell's cheeky take on the electric motorbike
Buell motorcycles has the interesting honour of being a cult favourite that came and went within one generation of ownership.
It was popular enough (especially in its home American market) to have its own fanbase, but doomed to play slave to its Harley-Davidson master, until the latter swallowed the former.
It was the brainchild of privateer motorcycle racer and businessman, Erik Buell, who developed his own bikes using Harley-Davidson running gear. The result was a series of motorcycles, sold between 1983 and 2009, that looked like European-inspired street racers but with the familiar thumpata-thumpata soundtrack of a Harley.
After Harley-Davison took a 49 per cent stake in Buell in the early 1990s, things got tough for the smaller firm.
Buell saw the investment as proof positive of the bigger brand’s keenness for him to expand. Harley-Davidson saw Buell as a “gateway” marque, designed to lead would-be owners to actual Harley-Davidsons. Sixteen years after it took over, and in the midst of the late-2000s recession, Harley closed Buell.
But Buell is back, baby. He has embraced electric motorcycle technology and has launched his new company, Fuell.
Here’s his first bike, the Fuell Flow. He developed it with the help of Alfa Romeo principal engineer, Frederic Vasseur. The electric motorcycle will be available in 11kW and 35kW variants. The Fuell Flow has a claimed battery range of 200km and features a connected dashboard and the ability to switch out motors, batteries and chargers for full customisation. And there is room for on-board luggage.
Big Honda sedan concept a sure fire Legend
With the once-diminutive Civic sedan having morphed into quite a big vehicle, Honda has quietly dropped its Accord nameplate in many markets, including New Zealand.
Not so in the US though, where a 2018 model year Accord remains on sale. It’s a challenging time to be producing a large sedan, as the default shape of the roomy family vehicle has shifted from the 20th-century sedan to the 21st-century SUV.
Not only does Honda still sell the Accord in the US, rumours suggest it might be unveiling a new iteration of the granddaddy sedan of them all; the Legend.
Acura — the US market badge for “flash” Hondas (think what Infiniti is to Nissan) — is set to reveal a concept car at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August. American motoring outlet Car & Driver has it on good authority that the car will be a large sedan-shaped thing, leading speculators to suggest the Legend nameplate could be revived.
Acura showed off a Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe-style concept called the Precision at the Detroit motor show in January, that was designed to signpost its future styling language. Despite being an offshoot of Honda, it was about as far removed from the parent company’s crowd-pleasing Urban EV hatchback as you can get.
But could a Precision-based car with two extra doors be in the works? We’ll have to wait to find out if the Legend — in the US at least — is making a comeback.