+++ Sick and tired of your current BENTLEY ? The brand aims to cure your boredom with Bentley on Demand, a new “mobility” service being offered via the Bentley Network smartphone app. The premise is pretty simple: Bentley owners can request to drive a different Bentley for a special occasion or reserve a car while traveling. Bentley calls it a “bespoke, connected, door-to-door service”. Members of the Bentley Network must simply validate their account and are then able to choose a Bentley from a fleet of available vehicles. Following the reservation’s confirmation, Bentley will send out a reminder via the app one hour before vehicle delivery. Another message will be sent upon the concierge’s arrival, who will then go over features and demonstrate how the luxuries of the car work. Bentley ensures the entire delivery process is smoother than a Mulsanne’s posh ride and the pick-up and drop-off locations are always at the convenience of the driver. The service is similar in nature but executed in a different fashion when comparing it to Book by Cadillac. Book allows customers to reserve a Cadillac V or Platinum series for $1,500 per month without pesky mileage limits. Where Cadillac’s service is an attempt to court a different kind of buyer, Bentley is simply bolstering its already-posh image by giving its customers choices. The service will undergo a trial period this summer in Los Angeles, New York City and Dallas. And it should be noted that the Bentley Network app is only available for iOS. +++

+++ The BMW i5 has reportedly been cancelled, with the company electing to spend its Electric Vehicle dollars on electrifying models in the regular BMW range. Several sources have said the Bavarian automaker has scrapped plans for a third distinct model for the BMW i range. Last year patent renderings surfaced pointing to a new family-friendly BMW i model. Thought to be branded as the i5, the new model featured a larger and more practical body, although it still retained the i3’s suicide doors and avant garde styling. With a more spacious interior and an improved driving range, the i5 would be targeted at the Tesla Model S. If this report turns out to be correct, the only immediate short-term addition to the i range will be the upcoming i8 Spyder. The company has also confirmed it will launch an autonomous vehicle, dubbed iNext, in 2021. Earlier this week, Harald Krüger told reporters, the Mini EV and all-electric BMW X3 “mark the beginning of the second wave of electrification for the BMW Group”. Although not ruling out further additions to the BMW i range, Krüger stated the company’s focus is now to “incorporate all-electric, battery-powered mobility into our core brands”. He noted “using highly flexible architectures we can avoid duplicate investments in plant and equipment and will be able to adapt our range of electric and conventional vehicles to changing demand both quickly and efficiently”. +++

+++ GEELY has announced that it would acquire a 49.9 percent slice of Proton, along with a 51.1 percent share of Proton-owned British sportscar-maker Lotus from July. Proton and Lotus are set to join Zhejiang Geely’s rapidly expanding stable of automotive brands that already include Geely Automotive, Volvo, London Taxi and fledgling global prestige brand Lynk & Co. The Chinese company plans to develop Proton as its beachhead in the growing ASEAN car market that, until now, has largely eluded Chinese manufacturers, while the Lotus purchase is seen as opening the door to sophisticated light-weight composite construction technologies that it plans to use across its multiple brands. While Chinese takeovers often solicit concern in world markets, the latest Geely moves have been warmly welcomed in both Malaysia and Britain where pundits have been reassured by Geely’s sensitive renovation of Volvo into a fresh global force with a massive injection of cash after buying the Gothenburg-based company from Ford in 2009. The Volvo acquisition has proved a masterstroke for Geely’s own automotive products, delivering world-class platforms, powertrains and safety technologies developed in Sweden to be shared across its brands to help it meet increasingly stringent safety and emissions standards while lifting engineering standards to world-class levels. A former state-owned company that was supposed to put Malaysia on the world automotive manufacturing map, Proton has struggled outside its homeland. Even in Malaysia, its market share has slumped from 74 percent to just 15 percent as superior cars manufactured by mainly Japanese rivals have wooed buyers. Reuters reports that Geely had wanted to buy 51 percent of Proton so it could have control of the company’s destiny but that the Malaysian government would only permit 49.9 percent. However, Geely’s access to first-world automotive technologies should ensure that it can dominate discussions on future Proton products, for which it will be responsible for the design, engineering and manufacturing, Current Proton owner DRB-HICOM will remain in charge of distribution and marketing. In the ASEAN region, Geely’s Chinese SAIC Motor has been making a major play for market share under its MG brand, entering into a joint-venture manufacturing operation in Thailand. While Geely clearly wants access to high-end Lotus technologies, the UK manufacturer could also benefit from items such as Volvo’s turbocharged petrol engines. Lotus cars currently employ Toyota-sourced four-cylinder and V6 engines, but with Volvo’s in-house-developed four-cylinder engines replacing Ford-sourced powertrains, a switch seems logical. +++

+++ HOLDEN has built its last ever export model in the form a US-spec Chevrolet SS as the brand continues the wind down of operations ahead of its planned local production closure date of October 20, 2017. The final Australian-made Chevrolet SS to be built, a manual version finished in black, rolled out of Holden’s Elizabeth production line in South Australia earlier this week, bound for a customer in the US. In fact, reports are indicating that the stateside customer requested their vehicle to be signed by manufacturing employees to mark the car’s special status; a wish that was happily obliged by Holden employees. All exported versions are powered by a 6.2-litre LS3 V8 (the same engine in the Chevrolet C6 Corvette) producing 420 hp and 563 Nm. While the Chevrolet SS was a critical success with US media, Australia’s favourite rear-drive V8 sedan never caught on commercially. The final exported Chevrolet SS takes the total US-spec VF Commodores to 12,953 since the program first began in 2013, while the previous-generation VE Commodore was also offered as the Pontiac G8 between 2007 and 2009, totalling around 40,000 units. Holden also exported its Caprice, which was brought to the States to serve as a police pursuit vehicle, as well as its Monaro coupe, rebranded as the Pontiac GTO once stateside. Chevrolet SS Final form: The final Holden Commodore to be exported to the US has rolled off the assembly line in South Australia in the form of a manual, black Chevrolet SS. +++

+++ It wasn’t that long ago that the 510 horsepower in the Mercedes-AMG C63 S seemed like an insurmountable output for a small sport sedan. However, JAGUAR is about to blow all competition out of the water with its XE SV Project 8. Set to debut next month at the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the XE SV Project 8 is a follow-up to 2014’s F-Type Project 7 and destined to become the most powerful Jaguar road car ever built. Up front sits Jaguar’s ubiquitous 5.0-liter supercharged V8, tuned here to deliver 600 horsepower and mated to an all-wheel-drive system. We’re talking BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63 S territory, but the aluminum-constructed XE is a much lighter car. The teaser shots reveal a much wider track than in the regular XE, especially at the rear. You’ll also notice a vented hood, front splitter, quad-exhaust tips, and a massive rear wing. Jaguar is yet to reveal more as development, which includes high-speed testing at the Nürburgring, is ongoing. Handling the development is the SVO skunk works which will be assembling much of the car by hand. “The time is right for SVO to produce the most extreme performance road car in the history of Jaguar”, SVO boss John Edwards said in a statement. “Our clients worldwide were thrilled by the F-Type Project 7; the new XE SV Project 8 takes aerodynamics and performance engineering to another level”. Sadly, only 300 of these babies will be built, for worldwide consumption. The good news is that the car will likely lead to a regular-production XE SVR, in the same way that the F-Type Project 7 led to the F-Type SVR. Full details on the XE SV Project 8 will be revealed on June 28. The car will then be presented at the United Kingdom’s Goodwood Festival of Speed which starts the following day. For more coverage on the event, head to our dedicated hub. +++

+++ With the coming launch of the LAMBORGHINI Urus SUV, the Italian brand will have a 3 model family that the brand’s boss says will carry it through until 2022-2023. Only then will the house of the raging bull seek to introduce a 4th model to increase its volumes to around 10,000 units per year. Lamborghini chief Stefano Domenicali said that whilst the brand continues to grow volume (with expectations to reach 7,000 with all models combined in 2018) it needs to be mindful of its past and future aspirations and keep a dignified balance. “If you remember where Lamborghini was a couple of year ago (we are talking 1,000 cars sold per year), no one expected that our brand or our company could move quickly, to see Lamborghini projected to more than 7,000 cars”. Nonetheless, the brand needs to maintain its focus on its supercars such as the Aventador and Huracan to keep the appeal and its core DNA in order. Once the 3 models have stabilised and the company is more profitable, a 4th model can be on the cards. “We need to be humble. We cannot lose the focus on the super sports car segment because this is vital to be current, and also in the new segment, with the super SUV”, Domenicali said. “When this first wave that concludes around 2022-2023, more or less, we will be stable, then it’s our vision that we are already thinking of what will be the next step for the world of Lamborghini – so what will be the right way, if we are stable enough, to get to 10,000 cars? We do believe that a brand like us can have that potential”. As for what that fourth model will be, Domenicali says it is yet to be determined as market trends and shifts need to be analysed before that decision can be made, but the brand’s history will serve as an inspiration. “GT cars, four seaters, heritage gives us some ideas, but it’s up to us to think and move in some direction. Today we are not ready, but we are already thinking to see what will be the technical needs. Will, in 2025, a super SUV cannibalise a 2+2 or GT? We don’t know yet. We need to prepare for different scenarios”. Lamborghini is also studying the potential for a model underneath the Huracan, but that seems unlikely for the moment, whilst Ferrari continues development on the rumoured six-cylinder Dino to sit below the 488. “I think some competitors are thinking of moving down and occupying that field and of course it’s something that we are looking at, if there is space for us to go, but we need to make sure we don’t dilute the value of our brand”. For now, Domenicali says, it’s important to remember that the brand’s turnaround from a low-volume and financially-suffering manufacturer to its projected state of a profitable and relatively high-volume manufacturer is a huge win for the brand. +++

+++ You guys are probably aware of the collaboration between MERCEDES and Renault-Nissan. Knowing this, you would expect that both companies will come up with something impressive. Sources say that the partnership has been working on some new gasoline four-cylinder engines. However, rather than developing a more powerful engine, they seem to have come up with 1.2- and 1.4-liter engines instead. Why small engines, you might want to ask? The reason behind the downsizing is because the German company aims to lower emissions while increasing the efficiency of the new engines. The new 1.2- and 1.4-liter units will benefit from direct injection, and will be a standard in the next generation base variants of the A-Class and B-Class lineups. There are currently eight cars lined up for Mercedes’ compact models for 2018 including: the A-Class hatchback, A-Class Sedan, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, B-Class, GLA, a rumoured GLB, and an unknown model that has yet to be announced by the company. The new 4 cylinder units, which currently go under the codename M282, are being engineered exclusively for transverse applications. Therefore, these engines will not be available for use in larger Mercedes-Benz models. These new units will be joined by an updated version of the “M274” which will soon be given a codename that is “M260”. The M260 will be bigger and is going to be available in 2 versions: 1.6- and 2.0-liter units. Meanwhile, the 381 horsepower and 475 Newton-metres of torque M133 that currently houses in the ’45’ models will be replaced by the upgraded 2.0-liter unit, which will now serve as a foundation for the range topping models of the following models: A45, CLA45, and GLA45. The 2.0 liter engine can produce a total of 400 horsepower. Some of you may think that the 1.2-liter engine is too much of a downsize. But let’s not be biased, take note that there is actually a much larger Ford Mondeo that only carries a minute 3-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine. So you shouldn’t complain if your future compact will have a 4-cylinder 1.2-liter under its hood. But don’t worry if you think that all future cars will be having tiny engines. Renault-Nissan made it clear that this will not be a trend as going under 1.2 liter for gas engines won’t allow them to meet emissions standards. The partnership added that they are “reaching the limits of downsizing” with their new project. Having said that, it is unlikely for both companies to have a diesel engine smaller than a 1.5, which is often found in the base models of the A- and B-Class models. +++

+++ A preliminary spec sheet for the TESLA Model 3 has found its way onto the internet. Earlier this week, Trevor Page, founder of the Model 3 Owners Club, posted a comparison specifications sheet, which was reportedly handed out to Tesla employees. The sheet details the differences between the upcoming Model 3 and the existing Model S, and seemingly points out how employees can upsell clients from a Model 3 to Model S. The Model 3 is listed as being 4.694 mm long, considerably shorter than the Model S, which is 4.978 mm from nose to tail. Unlike the Model S, which is available with 2 rearward facing jump seats, the Model 3 will be sold exclusively as a 5-seater vehicle. The Model 3 has a more traditional sedan-style boot, rather than its bigger sibling’s liftback rear. Between its front and rear boots, the Model 3 has a total of 396 liter worth of luggage space. That’s considerably less than the 850 liter offered by the Model S. In launch trim, at least, the Model 3 will have a 0-100 km/h time of 5.8 seconds. As noted on the sheet, that’s considerably slower than the range-topping Model S P100D with Ludicrous Mode, which can reel off that standard in a mere 2.3 seconds. Thanks to the Model 3’s smaller battery pack, the new car is estimated to have a range of over 346 km. According to the US EPA’s standard, the Model S can do between 400 and 540 km between charges, depending on the model. Like the Model 3 concept presented last year, the production car will do without an instrumentation panel ahead of the driver. Instead there will be a single 15.0-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. As revealed earlier, the Model 3 won’t have free access to the company’s networking of Supercharger fast charging stations. The sheet also lists a number of premium features that seemingly won’t be available on the Model 3 at launch. These include an aluminium body, HEPA filtration system, smart air suspension, glass roof, panoramic sunroof, auto-presenting door handles, and 21-inch performance wheels. Possibly as part of the company’s efforts to guide customers towards the more expensive, but already available, Model S, the sheet notes: “As we continue to build out our production capacity to meet the high number of advanced reservations, deliveries for Model 3 orders placed today are not expected until mid-2018”. Buyers who can afford to step up to the bigger car can get a vehicle within 30 days. The Model 3 is scheduled to be unveiled in production guise and go into limited production this year. The car isn’t expected to be launched in Australia until 2018. +++

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