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+++ An all-electric BMW 3 Series sedan will reportedly be unveiled at this year’s Frankfurt motor show in September, although BMW has yet to make any announcement of plans. Sources have told the 3 Series EV will make its debut in September, partially as a spoiler for the Tesla Model 3, which goes into production later this year. If indeed BMW is preparing an all-electric 3er, it is not clear when this new offering would go on sale. However, an earlier report suggested electric versions of mainstream BMW models wouldn’t begin appearing in showrooms until 2019. In separate but related news, Nicolas Peter, BMW’s chief financial officer, confirmed the Bavarian car maker will continue to spend heavily on electric vehicle development. Aggressive CO2 targets from the EU, and EV and hybrid incentives in China are spurring BMW, as well as other manufacturers, to invest heavily in electrified drivetrains. Peter told that, over the next 3 years, the company plans on allocating between 5.5 and 6.0 per cent of its total revenue to its research and development budget. To help offset the cost of developing and selling more electric vehicles, the company will streamline its options list, with Peter noting: “We have over 100 steering wheels on offer. Do we need that many variants?” The company is also understood to have plans for paring back drivetrain options, with manual transmissions being dropped from the 2 Series coupe line in the US, and future models to feature fewer diesel variants. +++

+++ SAIC Motor, China’s largest automaker by salesvolume, plans to set up its first car manufacturing plant in India as Chinese carmakers push into overseas markets. The automaker will bring its MG brand to India and begin operations in 2019, it said in a statement. SAIC will set up a wholly owned unit in India, to be headed by former General Motors executive Rajeev Chaba. It will announce details of its manufacturing plant and product strategy at a later stage. SAIC’s entry would make it the first Chinese carmaker to produce passenger cars in India, projected to become the third-largest vehicle market worldwide in 2020. China is encouraging its domestic companies to venture overseas and seek greater market share, as part of a broader goal to strengthen the country’s auto industry. Great Wall Motor and Guangzhou Automobile are working on selling their models in developed markets such as the U.S., while Zhejiang Geely Holding Group this month invested in Malaysia’s Proton Holdings as part of its expansion into Southeast Asia. The MG brand is undergoing a revamp under SAIC, which unveiled a sports coupe concept at the Shanghai auto show in April. The automaker is banking on the prototype to help lift the marque’s profile among local and overseas consumers. SAIC took control of MG, a historic UK brand, after merging in 2007 with Nanjing Automobile, which bought the assets of MG Rover following the collapse of the last British-owned mass-market automaker in 2005. MG cars are currently sold in the UK and China. They are built solely in China after after SAIC ended final assembly at its factory in Longbridge, England, last year. SAIC has said it will begin selling MGs in mainland Europe starting in 2019. The Shanghai-based firm, which has joint ventures with General Motors and Volkswagen in China, has been exporting locally made Buick Envision SUVs to North America since May of last year. SAIC, which also owns the Maxus and Roewe brands, has said it’s making preparations to enter the U.S.; the world’s second-biggest auto market. +++

+++ General Motors’ OPEL sale won’t be cheap. General Motors expects the sale of its Opel division to France’s PSA Group to be much costlier than first expected. When first announced, GM predicted the company would incur a one-time charge of $4.5 billion to complete the sale of Opel, along with its sister Vauxhall brand, to PSA. However, Chuck Stevens, GM’s CFO, revealed that it will actually cost the Detroit automaker $5.5 billion. GM didn’t divulge what spurred the higher estimate. The automaker has already agreed to pay PSA $3.18 billion to resolve its pension obligations. Opel is hopeful that its sale to PSA will be completed by the end of July. However, the transaction still must clear regulatory approval. PSA, which will pay GM $2.3 billion for the Opel and Vauxhall brands, believes it can return Opel to profitability by 2020 through shared development and production costs. The division has been a money-loser for GM for the past several years. +++

+++ Germany is investigating employee ties to the PORSCHE diesel scandal. Germany is taking a closer look into some employees at Porsche. Prosecutors in German have launch a preliminary investigation into Porsche employees over their alleged ties to the company’s diesel engine emissions scandal. German officials are looking into an unknown number Porsche employees to see if they had a hand in designing the emissions cheating software that parent company Volkswagen has confessed to installing in some of its diesel-powered models. Some Porsche cars used a 3.0L diesel from Audi that has been confirmed to have been equipped with the cheating software. Germany is also looking into 3 employees at parts supplier Bosch over possible links to the scandal. Bosch developed an engine control unit for some VW diesel engines. Prosecutor Jan Holzner stated that the probe wasn’t a formal investigation into the employees, but added it could eventually turn into one. “We are investigating 3 employees. All 3 are managers, with the highest ranking being in middle management”, he told. So far the wide-spread cheating scandal has cost Volkswagen more than 23 billion dollar. +++

+++ SEAT will develop electric versions of its high-performance Cupra models, company bosses have revealed. The Leon Cupra is currently the only model within Seat’s flagship performance line-up, but a new Ateca Cupra will join the range next year. The hot Ateca will be four-wheel drive and use a version of Seat’s 2.0-litre TFSI engine developing upwards of 300 hp. Speaking at the reveal of the new Arona, Matthias Rabe, Seat ’s R&D boss told: “Cupra is extremely important for us. And I am totally sure we will see Cupra version of our electric cars. Electric cars have fantastic performance and acceleration – Cupra and electrification is not a contradiction”. I have already learned that Seat ’s fellow Volkswagen Group brand, Skoda is planning an electric sports car but this is the first time Seat has confirmed it will take its EV efforts down a high performance path. Seat will launch its first dedicated electric vehicle in 2019 on the VW Group’s new MEB architecture. Rabe confirmed that the brand is targeting an electric range of around 500 km and that the EV would be the only vehicle a household would need. Seat will also develop hybrid and plug-in versions of its future models. Rabe added: “We see more potential for 100% fully electric vehicle, but for also we see improvements for combustion engine vehicles and potential for hybridisation and plugin hybrid on existing vehicles”. +++

+++ The Swedish moose test is known to have victimized many in the past, including the Toyota Hilux that massively failed. So knowing that many cars from trusted and leading automakers have failed, how do you think TESLA ’s all-electric Model X will do? Surprisingly, it did very well. But before getting into detail, it was confirmed last week that the Tesla Model X officially became the highest safety rated SUV, earning a 5-star rating in every single category from NHTSA. Though the moose test is not part of the NHTSA, the Tesla Model X did particularly well in the rollover test, all thanks to its battery pack located at the bottom of the chassis, developing a low center of gravity. So going back to the moose test, for those of you who don’t know: it is an evasive maneuver test that consists of determining how well a vehicle can evade a suddenly appearing obstacle that could take an entire lane, for example, a moose. Now we know where it got its name from. The tests were done in different levels, from 70 km/h, 72 km/h, and finally 74 km/h. Though the Tesla X took down a couple of cones, never did its wheels leave the surface of the road. That is quite unusual for cars that take on the moose test, but it is definitely a good sign! This skill can be attributed to the low center gravity it has that also helped the all-electric car during its NHTSA test. With such an impressive performance, the Tesla got a good score in the test. In the past, many SUVs and pick-ups did not pass the moose test, as the vehicles did not respond well to the obstacles at 65 km/h. Some of them even resulted to near rollovers. But even if the Tesla passed this test with flying colours, I can tell that it still struggled at some point, at speeds over 70 km/h. It definitely is a tough challenge. Just for comparison’s sake, the Tesla model S took this test before as well and did well up to about 88 km/h. And to compare it with the new Audi Q5, the Audi did slightly better than the Tesla Model X at 82 km/h. An impressive result from the moose test certainly boosts its reputation. It will make drivers feel more at ease especially when a moose all of a sudden sprints in front of the Tesla Model X. So if safety is your top priority when it comes to choosing a car for yourself, or your family, you know that the Tesla X should be on your list. +++

+++ A lawyer for one of the former VOLKSWAGEN managers sought in the United States in connection with the carmaker’s diesel emissions-cheating scandal has advised him not to leave Germany, she told. “I have urgently advised my client not to leave Germany. Only here is it safe”, Annette Voges, representing Heinz-Jakob Neusser told. The United States had issued international arrest warrants for the ex-managers and developers. It said they are indicted for conspiracy to fraud and violation of U.S. environmental rules. A 6th person, former VW manager Oliver Schmidt, was arrested in February in Miami as he was about to fly to Germany. Voges said the managers would likely have to continue to forgo foreign travel because they could not rely on a statue of limitations, which would exempt them from charges after a certain amount of time. Under the constitution, German citizens can only be extradited to other European Union countries or to an international court. But leaving Germany could pose the risk of being extradited to the United States from a third country. VW, the world’s largest automaker by sales, admitted to U.S. regulators in September 2015 that it had cheated on emissions tests there using software installed in as many as 11 million diesel vehicles sold worldwide. +++

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