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+++ AUDI Chairman Rupert Stadler has confirmed the company will launch at least 4 models by the middle of next year. During the company’s interim financial report, Stadler said: “By the middle of 2018, we will present new generations of four more core model series. In addition, we will expand our product offering in the top segments next year with the Audi Q8 and the fully electric Audi e-tron”. The company was tight-lipped on specifics but confirmed the A6 and A7 Sportback will be launched early next year. The other two models remain unconfirmed but previous reports have suggested they could be the new A1 and Q3. Stadler went on to reconfirm plans to launch the e-tron in 2018 and the e-tron Sportback in 2019. However, he also revealed the company will offer a “premium electric car in the compact segment” beginning in 2020. Little is known about the model but it could potentially be a Tesla Model 3 competitor. Besides talking about the new models, Stadler confirmed the A8’s Level 3 autonomous driving system will be activated early next year. As he explained, “As soon as the legal framework permits it, we will gradually bring the new piloted driving functions into series production beginning in 2018”. +++

+++ The BMW X2 range will be topped by a M35i xDrive model with a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that’s good for 300 hp, leaked technical specifications have suggested. The M40i monniker won’t be used for the hot version because the M240i’s 3.0-litre straight-six unit doesn’t fit onder the hood. The M35i xDrive will arrive later during the lifecycle of the X2. Before then, the X2 will come with a brace of 150 hp, 190 hp and 231 hp 2.0-litre diesels bearing xDrive18d, xDrive20d and xDrive25d badges. One petrol will be available at launch, the xDrive20i, with a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit producing 194 hp. 6-speed manual or automatic gearboxes will be available across the range. It’s unlikely that a full-fat X2 M will arrive any time soon. Based on the same UKL1 platform as the Mini Countryman, the X2 will slot between the second-generation X1 and the current X3 in BMW’s line-up when it goes on sale in the second quarter of next year. BMW officials have already confirmed that the X2 will follow the example of the larger X4 and X6 in receiving a uniquely styled steel body. Recent spy pictures show the X2 will be significantly longer and wider than the X1, with a shorter rear overhang and high-set bonnet. The extreme angle of the tailgate is designed to give the X2 a more coupé-like silhouette, differentiating it from the more practical X1. The X2 will be produced alongside the X1 at BMW’s Regensburg factory in Germany, unlike the first-generation X1, which was built alongside the 1 Series and 3 Series at the company’s Leipzig plant. Increasing demand for key models and the establishment of production lines for the i3 electric car and i8 hybrid sports car at that site has forced BMW to reorganise its strategy. Rivals for the X2 include the Range Rover Evoque, the Jaguar E-Pace and the Volvo XC40. It is expected that the X2 will start at around 45,000 euro and fills the only gap in BMW’s X SUV line-up, ahead of the launch of the X7 early next year. +++

+++ CADILLAC president Johan de Nysschen has confirmed plans to eliminate a number of sedans as the company tries to accommodate customers who can’t get enough crossovers. De Nysschen confirmed “We have to rebalance our sedan portfolio” and this will spell the end for the ATS, CTS, and XTS. The models won’t be phased out overnight but the company doesn’t plan to replace them once their lifecycles end in 2019. Instead, the company will launch an all-new CT5 which is designed to appeal customers looking for a sedan that costs between 35,000 and 45,000 dollar in the United States. For comparison, the ATS starts 34,595 dollar while the CTS and XTS both start around 45,500 dollar. The CT5 will eventually be joined by a new entry-level sedan that will compete with models such as the Audi A3 and Mercedes CLA. Despite previous reports, the CT6 will continue to be a mainstay of Cadillac’s lineup and will serve as the brand’s flagship sedan. Cadillac needs more crossovers and relief is coming in the form of the all-new XT4. It will be joined by a new 3-row crossover which is slated to be introduced by 2019. +++

+++ CHEVROLET recently announced a series of updates to the 2018 Corvette but fans looking to place an order are reportedly out of luck: Chevrolet has put a hold on all new Corvette orders. The hold is a result of a temporary shutdown at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant which is slated to last for 3 months. The shutdown will begin in August and spokesman Ron Kiino says it will enable the company to “finish construction of a new, state-of-the-art paint shop”. Production is scheduled to resume in November so new Corvette models might not arrive at dealerships until December. This isn’t entirely bad news as Chevrolet currently has around 14,700 Corvettes in inventory. This equates to a 146 day supply, according to the Automotive News Data Center, so the shutdown could help the automaker to clear out its inventory of existing 2017 models. While this is good news for GM, it could be bad news for consumers as incentives may be reduced as the Corvette supply dwindles. Rumors have suggested the shutdown could be related to upcoming Corvette C8, but nothing is official. Regardless of the reasons, the current model still has some time left as the company is gearing up to launch the highly-anticipated Corvette ZR1. +++

+++ The first time PORSCHE revealed the Panamera Sport Turismo to the public was during the 2017 Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. And now it has already entered production, and is on its way to its first customers all over the globe. The Leipzig facility was produced especially for the second-generation Panamera family, and Porsche had to invest a total of 500 million euro, a part of which was used to build a new quality center. The new 400-hectare facility is also in charge of the production of the Macan and Cayenne SUVs, apart from the Panameras. There are 4,055 people who are working in the facility and in the last year alone, they produced a total of 158,432 cars. The Leipzig facility opened in August 2002 and already 1.3 billion euro have been invested. Within the facility, 345,345 square meters cover the production area. To date, the Leipzig factory has 948 robots in the body shop, paint shop, and in the assembly facility, where they build 1.7 million parts each day. There is a wood chip burning system that provides 80 percent CO2-neutral heat to the paint shop. Outside the production area, there is a 3.7-kilometer race track and a 6-kilometer off-road track. In terms of wildlife, 75 aurochs, 1.5 million bees, and wild horses live in the area. Porsche’s factory is also open to visitors, and 40,000 people come to the customer center annually. Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo is available in a long list of variations. All in all, there are 6 different models, and 17 variants available in the market, including the Panamera liftback. Some of the Panamera Sport Turismo models include the 550 horsepower Turbo Sport Turismo, the 462 horsepower E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, the 444 horsepower 4S Turismo Sport, and the base 333 horsepower 4 Sport Turismo. All models come standard with an all-wheel-drive setup. The Sport Turismo comes with a fifth seat at the back and has a little more cargo space compared to that of the standard hatchback model. All models also come standard with air suspension. The current range topping model is the 680 horsepower Turbo S E-Hybrid with an electrified powertrain. The same powertrain will be given to the upcoming Cayenne that should make its debut in the next couple of months, as well as the Audi S8 E-Tron that is scheduled for release in 2019, replacing the S8. +++

+++ ROLLS-ROYCE is “searching to broaden the brand” beyond its existing models, according to company boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös. However, he has confirmed there is “no pressure to grow” the brand, and that such a move would actually “be detrimental” to luxury. “Volumes are nonsense,” he said. “Customers don’t want to see other Rolls-Royces”. The company sold just over 4.000 cars last year, with sales likely to head towards 5.000 after the 2019 launch of the Cullinan SUV, which, Müller-Ötvös said, “will bring new buyers to the brand”. He is now looking at how best to offer customers a broader model range within existing volumes. To that end, there will be no Phantom coupé or convertible models, their roles instead taken by the smaller Dawn and Wraith. There have also been recent additions of sportier Black Badge variants of those two models, along with the Ghost, and it’s this kind of diversification and deployment of resources that Müller-Ötvös is looking to expand upon. Müller-Ötvös has also ruled out ever making a Rolls smaller than the Ghost. +++

+++ The production version of the TESLA Model 3 electric car will be launched this month at the firm’s Fremont factory. In 2006 Tesla CEO Elon Musk published a ‘top secret masterplan’ on Tesla’s website. It was low on detail but the groundbreaking electric car company has stuck to it. Tesla, it said, was going to “create a low volume sports car, use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price and use that money to create an affordable, high volume car”. The Tesla Model 3 is that “affordable, high volume car”. It joins the current Tesla range alongside the Model S and the Model X. Two core versions of the Tesla Model 3 will be offered from launch, the standard and Long Range models. The standard car comes in at a price of $35,000. The standard Model 3 has a 350 kilometer range, a 5.8 seconds 0-100 km/h time and a 210 km/h top speed, but for $44,000 you can have the Long Range model. That car ups the anti with an official range of 500 kilometers, a 5.3 seconds 0-100 km/h time and a 225 km/h top speed. The Tesla Model 3 will go in direct competition with the household names in the European compact executive car market such as the BMW 320d and the likes of the Audi’s A4, Jaguar’s XE and the Mercedes C-Class. The Model 3 looks even more competitive next to plug-in hybrids. With a waiting list 500,000 reservations long, the vast majority of buyers will have to wait until 2018 to get their cars. With Musk revealing that: “If you order a Model 3 now you’ll probably get it towards the end of next year”. The CEO has laid out a 2017 production schedule for the Model 3 stating that he expects Tesla to produce a small batch of around 100 cars in August, ramping up to over 1,500 in September. By the end of the year, the company could be in a position to manufacture 20,000 cars per month. +++

+++ Car manufacturers in the UNITED KINGDOM are unlikely to hit the record-breaking goal of making 2 million cars a year by 2020 that was previously predicted, as a result of softening demand for new cars in the UK and a slowing of investment in UK car manufacturing facilities in the wake of uncertainty around Britain’s future role in the European Union (EU). As a result, the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) has renewed its calls for an interim trade deal in line with the one in place today, to be agreed while Brexit negotiations are carried out, in order to provide stability for ongoing investment and to provide certainty to the UK supply chain. SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said: “World-class engineering, productivity, strong government collaboration and massive investment in the past few years have helped UK automotive become a global success story. At the heart of this has been the free and frictionless trade we’ve enjoyed with the EU, by far our biggest customer and supplier. But Brexit uncertainty is not helping investment and growth is stalling. The Government has been in ‘listening’ mode, but now it must put on the table the concrete plans that will assure the future competitiveness of the sector. Investors need certainty, so at the very least the UK must seek an interim deal that maintains single market and customs union membership until we have in place the complex new agreement sought with the EU”. The current record for cars produced in a single year is 1.92 million, set in 1972. In 2016, a total of 1,722,698 cars were made in the UK. A report previously commissioned by the SMMT had predicted the 2 million mark would be breached in 2020, so long as economic and market conditions remained stable. New estimates lower that figure to between 1.8 and 1.9 million. Hawes highlighted the slowing pace of investment in UK car plants, saying that an average of 2.5 billion pound a year was being invested pre-2016, falling to 1.66 billion pound last year and standing at just 322 million pound so far this year. However, he conceded that some of this is cyclical, and a result of the heavy investment in previous years. Car production in the UK fell by 13.7% year-on-year in June, with 136,901 cars rolling off production lines. That was the third consecutive month of decline, adding up to a 2.9% year-to-date dip in output year-on-year to June. The performance is, however, still the second highest for 12 years. In 2017, overseas demand for British-built cars has fallen by just 0.9%, with 683,826 cars exported. The proportion of UK-built cars exported now stands at 78.9%; the highest level for 5 years. However, demand for domestically built cars in the UK fell by 9.5% year-on-year to 182,830 units. Hawes confirmed that the second half of 2017 was looking more positive. “There are several new models about to be launched which should bolster demand”, he said. “Several of these are new premium cars, and the UK continues to be the world’s biggest producer of premium cars after Germany”. During the first half of 2017, the top10 British-built best-sellers globally were: 1. Nissan Qashqai, 2. Mini hatchback, 3. Vauxhall/Opel Astra, 4. Honda Civic, 5. Toyota Auris, 6. Land Rover Discovery Sport, 7. Range Rover Sport, 8. Nissan Juke, 9. Range Rover Evoque and 10. Jaguar F-Pace. The top10 regional export destinations during this period were: 1. EU28 373,650 (-7.9% year-on-year), 2. USA 106,694 (+37.6%), 3. Germany 58,763 (-2.5%), 4. Italy 51,196 (-3.2%), 5. China 47,830 (-6.4%), 6. France 46,061 (-7.2%), 7. Belgium 34,422 (-35.6%), 8. Spain 23,602 (-10%), 9. Australia 18,990 (8.4%) and 10. Turkey 15,970 (-26.4%). +++

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