+++ AMAZON is planning to sell cars online in Europe. The online retail giant is branching out into online automotive retail, after launching its online car information database last year in the US. Amazon seeks to fill this gap in its catalogue. The brand has also been hiring executives from across the industry to get the effort off the ground, with, according to an automotive consultant, healthy paychecks. It’s reported that Christoph Möller, partner in charge of automotive industry operations at the Oliver Wyman management consultancy, has already been hired. Amazon will face competition for online car sales from manufacturers such as Hyundai, Peugeot and Smart which are already active in online retailing, and from other multi-brand sellers. the Fiat 500 and Panda are already sold through its Italian website via a trial that has been extended and broadened to long-term leasing. An Amazon spokesman said that the company doesn’t comment on rumour or speculation. +++

+++ Electrification has so far shown its worth at enhancing the performance of cars. Some diehard fans might argue against an BMW M model featuring some kind of electric boost, but I’m actually well past the idea of a sacrilege just by looking at the Tesla Model S P100D or the holy trinity of hypercars, which are all hybrids. And BMW is already slapping the M badge on its plug-in hybrid cars, via the M Sport package. According to Alexander Kotouc, the company’s head of product management, a full blown electrified M car is closer than we think, meaning we could be getting an ‘iM’ in the near to medium future. And anyone can rest assured that any electrified M car, be it a hybrid or a pure electric, is still adhering to the “Ultimate Driving Machine” credo: “I promise you one thing, BMW will bring electric vehicles that have equal kind of acceleration that makes it a BMW, and you can take it through corners on a racetrack and it will behave like a BMW”, the executive explained. This could play right into the latest rumor that BMW’s next generation M3 might come with electric assistance. +++

+++ HONDA will reveal a new fully electric vehicle this autumn, possibly at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. The model will be one of the first vehicles from Honda to be based on a new dedicated EV platform and is likely to showcase a new design language from Honda. By 2030 Honda wants two-thirds of its global sales to be made up of electrified vehicles. Of that proportion Honda President and CEO Hachigo-san told that around 50 percent will be hybrids and plug-in hybrid models, while fully electric and fuel cell vehicles will make up the remaining 15 percent. Hachigo-san, added: “We will strengthen the development of fuel cell vehicles as well as battery electric vehicles. In addition to a China exclusive model scheduled to go on sale in 2018, a dedicated EV model for other regions is under development. We will introduce this model at an auto show this autumn”. Little is known about the vehicle at this stage other than it will be based on a new electric vehicle architecture, which should be able to adopt various other electrified powertrains such as hybrid and plug-in hybrid power. Honda has said the platform will adopt a ‘high density, lightweight battery pack’. Honda also recently established a new Electric Vehicle Development Division to help accelerate product plans, while a tie-up with Hitachi Automotive System in February will see both brands jointly develop new electric motors for future vehicles. A new ultra fast charging system is also under development, which Honda claims will be able to generate 240 kilometers of range in just 15 minutes. Wireless charging technology is also being worked on at the same time. +++

+++ HYUNDAI will further expand its SUV line-up with 2 new models; 3 of 30 new Hyundais to come by 2021 as part of its plan to be the number one Asian brand in Europe. Speaking at the launch of the new Nissan Juke-rivalling Kona compact SUV in Seoul, South Korea, Hyundai’s vice chairman Eui-sun Chung said that the firm would launch a new ‘A-SUV’ car, smaller than the Kona, by 2020. A large SUV that sits above the Tucson will follow to complete the marque’s 5 model SUV range. “We have analysed the needs of our customers, and the SUV segment is reaching saturation”, said Chung. “We believe there’s greater room for potential growth in the B-SUV segment (compact crossovers such as the Kona and Juke). Young drivers are looking for small but solid and powerful cars. Our plan is to develop an A-segment SUV that is smaller than the Kona by 2020 so we can embrace the SUV from A to E segment, so we will also roll out an E-segment SUV that is bigger than Santa Fe. We want a full SUV line-up to respond to our customers’ needs”. A-segment baby SUVs are particularly popular in emerging markets such as India, and Hyundai officials said they hoped the new car would also appeal to first-time car buyers. The larger E-segment SUV is likely intended primarily for markets such as North America. +++

+++ Magna starts JAGUAR I-Pace production. The I-Pace will arrive in European showrooms before the end of the year. Independent contract manufacturer Magna Steyr has started building the new, all-electric Jaguar I-Pace. Assembled in Graz, Austria, the Jaguar I Pace hasn’t changed much in its transition from a concept to a production model. It hasn’t been officially unveiled yet, but earlier spy shots confirm the quasi-sedan, quasi-crossover silhouette remains virtually unchanged, and designers haven’t added traditional door handles. I expect the specifications sheet will stay roughly the same, too. That means the production I-Pace will arrive with a 90-kWh battery pack linked to twin 200-horsepower electric motors (one over each axle). All told, the drivetrain will pump out 400 horsepower and over 500 Nm of torque. The I-Pace will boast about 500 kilometers of range, and it will hit 100 km/h from a stop in 4 seconds flat. Jaguar boldly claims it’s developing a sports car, not an electric crossover. With its first electric car, Jaguar is turning a concept into a production in record time. Magna explains this wouldn’t have been possible if it hadn’t been involved in the project since the start. “We were invited very early in the product development time frame in order to provide our process and manufacturing engineering proposals”, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, Magna Steyr’s president of vehicle technology and engineering, told. We’ll get our first look at the Jaguar I-Pace this fall at the Frankfurt Auto Show, though it might debut sooner; we wouldn’t be surprised to see it in a few weeks at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. It will arrive in European showrooms a few short weeks after the event. The Jaguar I-Pace won’t be the only Graz-built car on the market. Magna-Steyr has been building the Mercedes-Benz G-Class since 1979, and it began producing the newest BMW 5 Series Touring earlier this year. It has assembled countless cars over the past few decades, including the original BMW X3, the Saab 9-3 Convertible, the Peugeot RCZ, Mini’s Paceman and Countryman, and the first 3 generations of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. +++

+++ LAND ROVER could get its own limited-edition ‘Project’ vehicles to sit alongside the exclusive Jaguar Project 7 and new XE Project 8, according to the boss of the brand’s Special Vehicle Operations division. Just months after SVO revealed the Discovery Project Hero at the Geneva Motor Show, brand chief John Edwards has confirmed plans have been discussed to create limited-run Land Rovers in a similar vein to the recently revealed Jaguar XE SV Project 8. The 600 hp Project 8 is lined up to make its public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed later this month. It’s the most powerful Jaguar saloon car ever, and even outperforms the XJ220 supercar from the early nineties. Its limited production run of just 300 cars will follow the earlier F-Type-based Project 7. Despite the fact that the first 2 ‘Project’ cars have been based on Jaguars, SVO boss Edwards has revealed that his engineers have already pitched ideas for special Land Rovers that could follow the Jaguars in the current series. He confirmed there is nothing to say that such vehicles couldn’t arrive later down the line. “I can say, partly because I write the rules on this, that right now, there are no rules. There’s nothing written down to say that all ‘Project’ cars have to be performance-focused”, he told. “And equally, there’s nothing written down to say that they all have to be Jaguars”. When asked if SVO engineers had already formed ideas that could potentially become limited-edition Land Rover ‘Project’ models, Edwards replied: “Yes, they have”. Special Operations has focused so far on performance and luxury editions of Jaguars and Land Rovers, such as the flagship Range Rover Sport SVR and the 575 hp Jaguar F-Type SVR. But extreme off-roaders, badged SVX, are also said to be in the pipeline. Any such model could take its inspiration from SVO’s Discovery Project Hero, a one-off custom-built SUV based on the off-roader. It was created with the Austrian Red Cross to improve response times in disaster zones. Special features include a drone to help with access to inaccessible terrain, a heavy-duty floor, full-height partition and various storage solutions. A ‘Project’ Land Rover would have to go further than this, however, adding upgrades to the car’s off and on-road performance, as well as to the aesthetics. Such tweaks would be in keeping with the Project 7 and Project 8, both of which were treated to bigger wings and aggressive bodykits. +++

+++ PEUGEOT ’s next-generation 508 will arrive next year with a drastically altered look to the current model. The four-door will swap the conventional saloon bodyshape of its predecessor for a fastback design, giving it a sportier look. Although dressed in camouflage, the recently spotted development car demonstrates the swooping roofline of the future model as well as what looks to be a slightly longer wheelbase. Peugeot’s second-generation i-Cockpit system will also feature, adding a 12,3-inch TFT display, 8-inch touchscreen and just 8 main buttons on the car’s centre console. The system, which is the brand’s answer to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, will drastically improve perceived quality and also give the cabin a driver-centric layout, which will be enhanced with the fitment of Peugeot’s smaller steering wheel. These changes should boost the 2018 car’s chances in its fight against increasingly stiff competition from the likes of the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat and Opel Insignia Grand Sport. The more premium Peugeot will also challenge the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4. Peugeot has refrained from revealing any details for the future model, but the car is expected to use a familiar range of turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engines for the bulk of its line-up, with a hybrid at the top of the range. Peugeot and its sister brands of the PSA Group recently announced plans to ditch diesel hybrid drivetrains for petrol hybrid ones. This switch is likely to be applied to the next 508’s range-topping model. The same plans also confirmed all-electric ambitions, suggesting a zero-emission drivetrain could be integrated into the 508 later in its lifecycle, should demand for electric four-doors increase sufficiently. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN boss Herbert Diess has quelled speculation that the brand’s range of GTI-badged cars is set to grow, including an SUV model in the immediate future, stating that the Golf GTI, recently revealed Up GTI and next Polo GTI have completed the range. “I think with the 3 GTI models we have now, we are set”, Diess said. “GTI for us is ‘the’ hot hatch: a sporty car, classless, with potential for everyday use and accessible for many. It should be this car: a hot hatch”. This approach to the GTI badge does leave scope for an GTI ID electric car, although Diess said that including a performance model was not the idea behind the forthcoming all-electric hatchback. Instead, Diess hinted that Volkswagen could grow its range of sporty hybrid models, badged with the GTE moniker. “With any model line-ups you have electrification coming. There is broader possibility for GTE than GTI”, he explained. When asked whether a Polo GTE was on the cards, Diess said that it wouldn’t be viable in the immediate future due to price and positioning in the market, but suggested other models could be integrated sooner. Volkswagen also looks poised to expand its range-topping R brand, with Diess hinting again at the possibility of a performance T-Roc model. When asked what a hot SUV would be called, he said “We have another sub-brand R which we are considering for such a model”. +++

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