With thermal management technologies, fuel-efficient “urban” SUV possible

The recent Consumer Electrics Show (CES), a highly attended trade show for the electronics industry held this year in Las Vegas, introduced a number of new devices and gadgets that could revolutionize the way consumers interact with media. These electronics are being designed in smaller sizes for increased mobility, a reality that requires the application of sophisticated thermal management technologies to prevent device overheating.

However, small electronics are not the only innovative devices that rely on thermal management for improved efficiency. Another trade show – the ongoing North American International Auto Show, held in Detroit – was the site of the unveiling of an automobile concept that applies thermal management in a way that mitigates excessive fuel consumption.

According to a report from FleetOwner, automobile manufacturer Honda revealed its new Urban SUV Concept at the auto show this week. The vehicle is shorter than most standard SUVs, and Honda designed it that way specifically to serve potential motorists in urban environments.

SUVs are notoriously difficult to navigate in the city, but Honda hopes its new concept – expected to be launched in Japan by the end of this year and in the U.S. in 2014 – will catch on as an option for city dwellers. The manufacturer reengineered its fuel tank layout to ensure it did not need to sacrifice interior seating to accommodate the vehicle's smaller size, and the report notes Honda has deployed a number of technologies – including thermal management – to ensure maximum fuel efficiency.

That could appeal to the better instincts of urban commuters, many of whom might be initially hesitant to drive an SUV in an environment in which many opt to take public transportation to save on gas. Though thermal management technologies helped make this achievement possible, it remains to be seen if Honda can carve a niche in this discerning market.

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