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+++ CADILLAC is planning 8 new models by 2022. Company boss Johan de Nysschen wants to make sure “Cadillacs are parked in the right driveways again”. He has outlined how he plans to take on the biggest players in the luxury segment. The former Audi executive is facing a Herculean task. In his own words, his team needs to “reinstate exclusivity, reinvent luxury, and add crossovers to make sure that Cadillacs are parked in the right driveways again”. Building more desirable products is key to achieving those goals, de Nysschen told. The product offensive will primarily focus on crossovers, which are in hot demand all around the globe. By 2022, Cadillac’s lineup will include an entry-level soft-roader named XT1, a bigger model named XT3, the existing XT5, and a range-topping crossover dubbed either XT7 or XT8. The Escalade will presumably fill the void between the XT5 and and the XT7. The aforementioned XTs will be aimed at the BMW X1, X3, X5, and X7, respectively. They’ll collectively represent a majority of Cadillac sales in the United States and abroad, but General Motors’ flagship brand isn’t giving up on sedans. An entry-level model named CT1 will arrive in 2021. The ATS will be replaced by the CT3, which will be about the same size as the next Mercedes-Benz CLA. The CT5 will succeed the CTS, and a flagship named CT8 will join the CT6 to battle against the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. All of the aforementioned cars will be developed with the United States and China in mind. Cadillac will continue to sell cars in Europe, but de Nysschen expects the brand will remain a niche player in the luxury segment because it’s not shooting for all-out volume. “We are consciously going down different avenues from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes”, summed up the executive. +++

+++ HYUNDAI is developing its own EV platform. The company will launch an all-electric Genesis model by 2021. Hyundai has confirmed plans to develop its own platform dedicated to electric vehicles. “The electric-vehicle platform will require high up-front investments but we are doing this to prepare for the future”, Hyundai senior vice president Lee Ki-Sang told. Hyundai appears to be further hedging against its risky bet on hydrogen. The ix35 Fuel Cell has failed to gain traction, despite growing demand for SUVs and crossovers. The Ioniq Electric will be the first model to test the waters but, with just 200 kilometers of electric range, it will be potentially overshadowed by long-range alternatives. The next Hyundai-Kia EVs will be small crossovers based on existing platforms, starting with a Hyundai-badged model and followed by a Kia variant. The comments could be referring to the rumored Niro EV. Hyundai will launch an EV for its luxury Genesis brand in 2021, following a Genesis plug-in hybrid in 2019. +++

+++ Despite a senior figure behind the soon-to-launch KIA Stinger telling (a mere 3 weeks ago) that the manufacturer had “no goals” to introduce either a sporty or premium sub-brand into the fold, Kia has decided to stick a brand-new badge onto its four-door sports sedan, in an effort to help differentiate it within its home market of Korea. Officially unveiled at this week’s 2017 Seoul motor show (attached to the front-engined all- or rear-wheel-drive Kia Stinger) the new ‘E’ emblem is, so far, reserved exclusively for Kia’s domestic enterprise. However, regardless of Kia chief designer Gregory Guillaume telling: “If that’s the right thing to do for the domestic market, it has nothing to do with us”, the man responsible for penning the Stinger also expressed some mixed emotions about the decision. “You’d have to ask the Korean marketing people what the thinking was behind the introduction of the new ‘E’ emblem”, Guillaume said. “They believe they need to have a special, specific emblem for the car here in this market. But this will be the only market where the car will come with that emblem – everywhere else in the world it will be a Kia”. Not involved in the design of the new emblem nor the decision to introduce the new badge, Guillaume revealed that the whole ‘E’ project was a locally led one. “For us, it should be a Kia all over the world. We believe that it’s more helpful for the brand to make all the cars as Kia”. Guillaume said: “I know that we have no goals to do a sporty sub-brand, also no goals to do a premium sub-brand. We believe that Kia, as a brand, is elastic enough or flexible enough to be able to deliver a car like the Picanto, like the Stinger, like the Sorento, and it’s actually more beneficial for the brand itself”. Guillaume’s views aside, Kia says the Stinger won’t be the only E-badged model to launch in Korea, with a successor to the brand’s large, luxury flagship, the rear-wheel-drive K9, to follow – albeit sporting a new name. Kia representatives made clear at the Stinger’s home unveiling at the 2017 Seoul motor show, that the ‘E’ range of vehicles simply represent a ‘premium line’, rather than a separate ‘sub-brand’. And while, at this stage, Kia looks likely to keep the ‘E’ moniker to within its domestic market, as Guillaume says, the Korean marque has already proven to be an ‘elastic’ and ‘flexible’ brand. The sister brand of fellow Korean-based car maker Hyundai, Kia says it sold 535,000 units globally in 2016. +++

+++ The facelifted LEXUS NX will make its debut at the Shanghai motor show next month. The update won’t be a radical redesign of the vehicle currently in showrooms. The headlight unit seems to be smaller than today’s iteration, and there are new LED internals too. Other key features, including the brand’s spindle grille and the separate swoosh-style LED daytime lights, remain in place. In addition to a lightly refreshed exterior, Lexus is promising “interior enhancements that add convenience and functionality”. So, expect to see the latest version of Lexus’ Remote Touch infotainment system and, possibly, a larger screen. Lexus isn’t saying much more about the updated NX ahead of its April 19 debut. +++

+++ In addition to the Hiroshima facility, the all-new MAZDA CX-5 will be put together at Hofu as well. Production is set to commence in November, and besides helping the automaker to meet the growing demand for SUVs globally, it’s also part of a plan that will aid the company to boost their annual sales to 1.65 million vehicles. “As with the CX-4, starting production of the CX-5 at Hofu plant as well is part of our plan to build a production framework that gives us more flexibility between plants and models. We will do everything we can to get customers the crossover vehicles they want, as quickly as possible”, commented the brand’s Managing Executive Officer in charge of Global Production, Masatoshi Maruyama. Launched in the Land of the Rising Sun in February, the new CX-5 has already proved its popularity by selling in 16,639 units, which represents roughly 7 times the monthly target. +++

+++ A 2018 MERCEDES CLS development car has been spotted testing in Europe around 18 months before the model is due to go on sale. The future model has been referred to as the CLE, sticking with Mercedes’s latest naming structure with the E signifying the car’s mechanical and strucural links to the E-Class. But new information suggests it will retain the CLS moniker to signify its longer length. The CLS four-door will share its engines with the E-Class, with a selection of turbocharged four-cylinder engines forming the bulk of the line-up. Six-cylinder petrol and diesels will come in more powerful models. Top of the range will likely be an AMG version running with a new turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six, shared with the future E50 Coupé and expected to produce 450 hp. If this is the case, it means there will be no replacement for the V8-engined AMG CLS 63. This will leave space for the arrival of an AMG GT four-door, which is an entirely different model that is inspired by the GT Concept of the Geneva motor show. The GT four-door will use a twin-turbocharged V8 engine – borrowed from either the AMG GT or E 63. The CLS and AMG GT four-door both get the same number of doors, but as the spotted development car shows, the CLS will have a less aggressive exterior and more defined bootlid. Body proportions look near identical to those of the current car, meaning the CLS will also be smaller than the GT four-door. The changes will be evolutionary both outside and in, with the new E-Class offering the best insight into how the CLS’s details will look. Some of the semi-autonomous driving technology of the E-Class will be carried over to the CLS, possibly including Speed Limit Pilot, which automatically adjusts the speed of the vehicle in relation to posted speed limits, and Active Lane Change Assist, which is able to autonomously perform a lane change. Mercedes has refrained from confirming the CLS’s arrival date, although the life cycle of the current model suggests it will go on sale in 2018. Unlike the current CLS, the future CLE will likely drop its Shooting Brake estate bodyshape due to low demand. +++

+++ NORWAY is the world leader in encouraging sales of vehicles with an element of battery propulsion. Locals refer to it as a “lab” for the rest of the world to watch. The country (ironically hugely wealthy thanks in large part to its massive oil and gas reserves) has a national policy that makes buying greener vehicles not only a conscionable choice, but also a more economically sensible one. The net result so far has been a surge in the sales of EVs, PHEVs and hybrids, which now represent 50 percent of the market’s car and SUV sales. The breakdown is 18 percent of the market for EVs, 18 percent for PHEVs and 14 percent for hybrids. In 2011, 76 percent of passenger vehicles sold there were diesel. Now it’s 25 percent, as the government becomes more aware of the danger of NOx emissions. The current mid-term aim is to tax internal combustion vehicles out of the market by 2025, earlier than anywhere else, though how it plans to service rural areas in the north that favour diesels is clearly a very thorny issue. The key way that governments there (the plans are broadly supported by all but fringe parties) have made alternate-fuelled vehicles attractive has been to adjust the tax system. Norway’s vehicle taxes are high, far higher than neighbour Sweden’s. The old joke is that “you buy one car for yourself, and another for the government” with each purchase. For instance, a Mitsubishi Outlander diesel costs 519,600 Krone at retail level, to which the government adds about 200,000 Krone in taxes. These prohibitive imposts are on the cars’ weight and CO2 emissions on progressive basis’, plus there’s a linear tax on NOx outputs, on all internal combustion vehicles. On the other hand, those who buy an electric car or a plug-in hybrid get a substantial discount. The RRP of an Outlander PHEV in the same spec costs 461,700 Krone, and attracts only 5,000 Krone in taxes. Then there’s the free parking, reduced registration, absent toll fees and dedicated fast lanes for EVs and plug-ins, and the large charging infrastructure on tap. To cater for the ever-increasing numbers of electric vehicles on its roads, the Norwegian government has launched a program to fund the installation of at least 2 multi-standard fast-charging stations for 50 km on all major roads by the end of 2017. By 2020 the country hopes to have one charging point for every 10 electric cars, which means around 25,000 chargers if EV sales reaches Norway’s forecast 250,000 EVs by the end of the decade. Put another way, a staffer at Mitsubishi in Norway told that many Norwegians had no idea that a Tesla Model S was an expensive car in other markets, as it’s comparatively affordable there. Is this all motivated by the goodness of Norwegians’ hearts? We asked many locals who of course often took pride in their nation being a world-leader in EV proliferation. Yet none said they weren’t motivated by the tax breaks first and foremost. The key lesson is to make EVs, PHEVs and hybrids more cost-effective, and the market capitalises. +++

+++ TESLA marked a major milestone as it surpassed Ford in market capitalization. It has a market cap of a whopping 45.47 billion dollar while Ford had dropped to around 45.35 billion dollar. From Wall Street’s viewpoint, the company led by Elon Musk is considered now as a more valuable car manufacturer than the Ford Motor Company which is over 100 years old. As of February 28, Ford stock price dwindled from $12.53 a share to $11.46, while Tesla’s stock price rose from $249.99 to $270.22. The market cap serves as the overall value of a firm/company’s outstanding stock. Tesla’s skyrocketing figure reveals that the investors of the company are pleased with how the company is performing so far, but it doesn’t mean that it has become a much bigger company than the Blue oval in the real sense. Furthermore, Tesla only offered 2 releases with a third one in production, compared with the Blue Oval that built hundreds of automobiles in factories located around the world and is currently employing thousands of people. The EV maker has not produced yet a full year profit however it was in the black during the 3rd quarter in 2016. Ford delivered an estimated 820,799 units of the F-series pickup in the US last year and 2,502,973 automobiles around the country, in stark comparison with Tesla, which only released 76,20 total vehicles all around the world in the same time period. Nevertheless, the recent hike in Tesla’s stock price has a direct connection with Elon Musk’s latest announcement regarding the Model 3’s development, Inside EVs exclaimed. The Tesla’s head honcho unleashed a flurry of tweets regarding the more economical unit including a brief teaser of a pre-production going for a test run. The low pixel video doesn’t provide a clearcut look of the Model 3 but an Autopilot hardware can be observed inside the vehicle as well as some slight front end alteration. The first client deliveries of the new Model 3 are scheduled in July and production would speed up probably in September in response to the numerous pre-orders. However, Model 3’s all around specifications are still not disclosed to the public as of now. The EV maker affirmed that the 4-door can cover a range of approximately 346 km and can speed up to 100 km/h in 6 seconds. Price tag of the Model 3’s will start at an estimated $35,000. The new Tesla product will venture into the economical EV segment with close rivalry from the Opel Ampera-E. Also, the next-gen Nissan Leaf will be unveiled in September and will be made available in the public market before this year will end. The stock numbers will be possibly disputed and will not really matter to some since Tesla is not solely an automotive company anymore, but all will be forgiven if they will make good with the release of the Model 3. +++

+++ Has TOYOTA started the production of a new electric supercharger? Well, a patent that was recently published indicated that they might have. And this electric supercharger looks more durable and more practical to assemble. The illustrations are very technical that not everyone would understand if it were presented to them. But it basically involves the assembly of the bearing that helps the turbo spin. Instead of the usual plate springs, the company will be using a coil spring, which applies a more consistent pressure. Not only will this making building easier, the coil spring also gives more durability and a better performance especially when revolving at very high speeds. The newly published patent hints that Toyota, is not just looking into electric superchargers, but is now studying them and learning how these things work. Also, the company’s engineers are considering how they can build parts better, meaning that they must have gone through enough development to make a decision like this. We should be expecting this technology soon enough in Toyota’s newer production vehicles, knowing that they have had access to this for quite some time now. There have been rumors that the next-generation Supra will be one of the first vehicles to benefit from electric supercharging, as there might be a hybrid variant of the sports coupe when it is launched. Furthermore, a source from the company itself confirms that their engineers are helping them work on a turbocharged electric engine. However, he did not specify if this will be for the 2018 Supra. But then, this patent could apply to the Supra’s hybrid powertrain. There have been a lot of news going around regarding the 2018 Supra. In fact, the 2-seater coupe, was recently spotted at a gas station in Germany. Unfortunately, it came with a camouflaged body, which had extra panels fixed here and there, so we still do not know how the final version of the prototype looks like. If rumors are true, the Supra will be displayed at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show this October. But take note, Toyota is not alone in this. Audi’s latest SQ7 TDI also promises the same use of electric supercharging as it boasts a 4.0-liter V8 diesel engine that can yield up to 435 hp and 900 Nm. From a standstill, the crossover can drive up to 100 km/h at only 4.8 seconds. +++

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