Newsflash    12-07-2015 09:00

+++ The all-new BMW 750d won’t get the now familiar tri-turbo six-cylinder diesel engine, but a four-turbo variant that’s set to debut next year, and which is said to bear the codename 'B57 TOP'. It’s not clear whether this fourth turbo will be an actual one or an electric supercharger as is the trend nowadays. Power is believed to be just over 400 hp, while torque will come in at a massive 800 Nm. The engine will probably be used in the same models the current one is right now: the 5-Series, X5, X6 and future X7 model. All will most likely come with standard xDrive all-wheel drive. The quickest model currently using the tri-turbo is the M550d, which has 381 hp and 740 Nm of torque. It sends the medium-sized exec sedan to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, while promising to use just 6.3 l/100km on the combined cycle. +++ FIAT CHRYSLER Automobiles (FCA) will face a shortage of new products in North America over the next 18 months, especially hot-selling trucks and crossover vehicles, according to 3 sources familiar with the company's plans. While the Italian-American automaker said it will bring 3 new models from Italy to the United States in the coming year, it plans to introduce only 1 all-new vehicle developed and built in North America: A redesigned Chrysler Town and Country MPV (the current version is sold in Europe as Lancia Voyager) that is due next spring. In comparison, FCA's 2 Detroit rivals between them plan to introduce more than a dozen new or redesigned U.S. models by the end of 2016, the sources said. General Motors' Chevrolet brand alone expects to launch as many as 6 new U.S. vehicles over the next 18 months. Gualberto Ranieri, senior vice president of communications at FCA's North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, disputed the notion that the company faces a shortage of new vehicles. "To say that we have virtually no new products coming in North America in the next 18 months is simply nonsense", Ranieri said in an interview. "You will see us reveal new products at upcoming auto shows in Los Angeles, Detroit and New York". Ranieri cited the new Chrysler MPV, as well as the 3 Italian-designed vehicles: The Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Fiat Spider and a new Maserati SUV. However, aside from the Chrysler MPV, the company continues to defer investments in new North American-built products, leaving it with a dearth of fresh cars and trucks in the company’s most important market, where competition is red-hot, especially in pickups and crossovers. The apparent slowdown in FCA's rollout of new North American-built products "is a big deal", says Matthew Stover, auto analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group. "It's pretty obvious; while they're making good money on the existing products, they're saying, let's push back these new models". Since May 2014, redesigns of FCA's highest-margin U.S. vehicles (the Ram 1500 pickup, the Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Grand Cherokee) have been delayed several times, in some cases by more than a year, according to the 3 sources. FCA declined to comment on the latest reported delays. Ranieri said that FCA has no shortage of fresh products. In the past year, he said, the company has introduced 2 all-new crossovers, the compact Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X, as well as redesigned versions of the full-size Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger. But a makeover of the Wrangler has been delayed again, this time to fall 2017, while a full redesign of the Grand Cherokee has been pushed back to fall 2019, the sources said. After the debut next spring of the redesigned MPV, the next all-new model slated to begin production in North America is a replacement for the Jeep Patriot and Compass compact crossovers, the sources said. The as-yet-unnamed Jeep is slated to arrive at U.S. dealers in early 2017, but may go into production earlier in some overseas markets, including China. FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has said he is reluctant to retool an assembly plant for a popular model like the Wrangler while demand is still brisk. But the risk is that newer, more efficient and attractive competitors with fresher designs will be entering the market, potentially shrinking demand for Chrysler’s aging vehicles. +++ FORD is proud to announce that the Fiesta has been crowned Europe’s best-selling supermini for the first half of 2015. Although we would love to think that the success was driven by petrolheads buying the superb Fiesta ST, truth is that, Ford is selling the turbo 1.0-litre EcoBoost and 1.5-litre TDCi diesel models like hot cakes at the moment, with June’s sales being 22.3 per cent higher than in June 2014 as 33,646 Fiestas were bought this month alone. Ford sold 173,999 Fiestas between January and June 2015, a 3.6 per cent increase compared with the same period of 2014. “Europeans love small cars and they have extremely high standards, so we are proud Fiesta remains at the top of the rank”, said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford of Europe. “Customers now have the widest ever choice of Fiesta models including the enhanced Fiesta Econetic and fashionable new color options such as Silver Silk”. Ford has recently updated the Fiesta range by adding more colors, trim levels and available engines with the Fiesta Econetic model being the most fuel-efficient choice as it returns 3.2 liter/100 km and 82 gram/km of CO2 emissions, thanks to its 95 hp 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engine. Overall, the Ford Fiesta ranked second best-seller in Europe with the VW Golf holding the lead in the sales charts. +++ GENERAL MOTORS (GM) said it will invest $5 billion over the next several years to develop with its Chinese partner a new family of Chevrolet vehicles aimed at fast-growing emerging markets, in the process offering investors a fresh rationale for rejecting a merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). For the first time, GM will develop the foundation of a new, global family of vehicles in collaboration with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, the state-owned Chinese automaker that is GM's primary partner in China, the world’s largest car market. GM and SAIC will engineer Chevrolet compact cars and sport utility vehicles that will go on sale starting in 2019 in growth markets outside the United States and Europe, including India, China, Brazil and Mexico. The $5 billion will cover GM’s share of engineering vehicles and retooling factories, GM said. “We are taking significant advantage of the global scale we do have”, GM President Dan Ammann said. GM is expected to outline this month investments in Brazil and India related to the project. GM Chief Executive Mary Barra earlier this year rebuffed a proposal from Sergio Marchionne, FCA’s CEO, to consider combining the 2 companies to generate better economies of scale by jointly developing vehicles. The large-scale, small-vehicle project with SAIC is the clearest example yet of Barra’s strategy of focusing GM instead on “merging with itself” by consolidating fragmented vehicle and engine programs within its sprawling global operations. GM's current stable of compact models, such as the Chevrolet Aveo, ride on mechanical foundations developed separately by the automaker's Korean or European operations. The new generation of such vehicles will use common components and sell at a rate of about 2 million vehicles a year. “That’s a pretty significant consolidation”, Ammann said. GM currently manages a total of 26 different vehicle architectures. By 2025, GM wants just 4. GM’s new emerging-market vehicles will compete with low-cost models offered by the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Volkswagen and others. GM’s strategy is “not about a low-end vehicle”, Ammann said. Instead, GM plans to equip new Chevrolets with features such as data connectivity, and engineer them to comply with emissions controls and safety technology requirements that are moving toward the same standards as markets mature, Ammann said. +++ HONDA said its quarterly net profit jumped 20 percent, beating estimates, as strong sales in the United States and a weak yen helped it absorb the impact of higher quality-related costs. April-June net profit at Japan's third-biggest automaker rose to 186.04 billion yen ($1.50 billion), from 155.60 billion yen a year earlier. Honda reported the first-quarter results under international accounting standards for the first time. That result beat an average estimate of 145.75 billion yen in a survey of 11 analysts. Like other Japanese automakers, Honda has benefited from the cheaper yen, which boosts the value of repatriated earnings. Honda is still soaking up hefty quality-related costs as it continues to recall cars equipped with airbag parts made by top supplier Takata. The Tokyo-based automaker has recalled tens of millions of cars globally since 2008 to replace potentially faulty inflators, including almost 5 million vehicles just 2 months ago. Regulators have linked 8 deaths (all on Honda's cars) to Takata's inflators, which can explode with too much force and send metal fragments inside the vehicle. Honda, which didn't break out details of quality-related costs for the first quarter, restated its earnings for last year to reflect additional costs for the expanded recalls. Honda said that its global car sales rose 4.9 percent to 1.147 million. Sales in North America advanced 11 percent in the first quarter, driven by increased production of its popular HR-V compact SUV at its new plant in Mexico. The U.S. market (its biggest) has been buoyant, with a range of automakers reporting higher sales there. Meanwhile, car sales in Asia jumped 19 percent, thanks partly to a strong performance in China helped by the refreshed HR-V and other models. The gains in Asia and North America more than cancelled out a 27 percent drop in Japan and a 16 percent decline in Europe. Honda its financial forecasts unchanged for the year ending March 2016, calling for a modest 3.1 percent rise in net profit to 525 billion yen. +++ A long time has passed since LAMBORGHINI made an ultra-rare, outrageous-looking hypercar. In fact, the Veneno was its last truly mad creation. But the Italian car maker is prepping another one as we speak. The car is set to make its debut at Pebble Beach, in a private setting dedicated exclusively to Lambo’s top notch customers. That means we won’t “officially” see the car in mid-August, which is kind of annoying because we’re dying to know what it is and how it looks. Lieberman speculates that the automobile won’t be mass produced (like the Veneno and Reventon) and will probably sport a 7-figure price tag. Furthermore, it will be based on the Aventador SV LP750-4 and it will develop 50 additional horses, allegedly pumping out 800 HP from the naturally-aspirated 6.5-litre V12 powerplant. Now, bear in mind that Lamborghini is known for regularly launching a limited production run of in-house, modified raging bull and this possible latest creation will join the likes of Veneno, Reventon, Aventador J and Sesto Elemento. I just hope it will make an official appearance at Frankfurt. +++ A top VOLVO executive has confirmed the successor of the V40 will be designed with the United States market in mind. Marketing boss Alain Visser says that the company is far too small to develop region-specific models. Volvo must take advantage of economies of scale in order to boost its profits and remain competitive, and that means selling as many models in as many markets as possible. However, the Swedish car maker remains open to the idea of building market-specific variants of existing models like the long-wheelbase S60 that's currently only available in China. Surprisingly, Visser admitted that a long-wheelbase version of the successor of the V40 hasn't been ruled out yet, though it would likely be sold exclusively on the Chinese market. The successor of the V40 will ride on a brand new platform that is being designed jointly with Chinese parent company Geely. The platform will be modular, and sources close to Volvo have hinted that it will spawn a S40 sedan, a V40 stationwagon as well as a compact crossover tentatively dubbed XC40. Although official technical details are still few and far between, Volvo isn't shy about admitting that it will offer a hybrid version of every single model in its lineup so it's reasonable to assume the successor of the current V40 will get a gasoline-electric drivetrain. The lineup could also gain a long-rumored Audi RS3-punching hot hatch tweaked by Polestar. The successor of the current V40 isn't scheduled to make its debut until 2018. +++

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