Newsflash

0

+++ ASTON MARTIN will launch a new mid-engine hypercar in 2021, currently dubbed ‘Project 003’, that will feature technologies from the Valkyrie. The British car maker says that it will be a road-legal car that will offer “class leading dynamics on both road and track”. The Project 003 will be based on a lightweight structure and will employ active aerodynamics and suspension systems, while power will be provided by a mid-mounted, turbocharged petrol-electric drivetrain. It will follow Aston’s Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro (dubbed 001 and 002, respectively), sharing technologies that will be showcased in both of those cars. “It was always the intention for the Aston Martin Valkyrie to be a once-in-a lifetime project, however, it was also vital to us that Valkyrie would create a legacy: a direct descendent that would also set new standards within its own area of the hypercar market, creating a bloodline of highly specialised, limited production machines that can exist in parallel with Aston Martin’s series production models”, said CEO Andy Palmer. “I’m thrilled to announce that this car is the Project ‘003’, and our next step into a dynamic and exacting arena”. The final production version of the ‘Project 003’ will be engineered to offer more practicality than the Valkyrie as a road car. Aston Martin will offer it in all markets and in both left- and right-hand drive, with the production run capped at 500 units and the first examples scheduled to arrive in late 2021. The ‘Project 003’ will also be joined by Aston Martin’s upcoming mid-engine supercar in the same year, with the latter set to go against rivals such as the Ferrari 488 and McLaren 720S. +++

+++ AUDI claims that the driving factor behind its upcoming fleet of electric vehicles is customer demand, not strict emissions requirements being enforced around the world. The head of product marketing, Fermin Soniera Santos, told that the brand’s EVs are “market driven”. “Of course, regulations are pushing the whole industry and electrification is a solution for the whole industry, and maybe the speed is a little faster than market demand, but the customer will not care about the regulations, they will buy the car if it’s competitive and a good deal”, Santos said. While Audi may like the world to believe this is the case, I’m not so convinced. In fact, BMW told me in no uncertain terms at the Geneva Motor Show that its upcoming range of electric vehicles were being built as an answer to emissions requirements, not because customers are demanding them. We find it hard to believe the same is not true for Audi. Nonetheless, the German manufacturer is very confident in the e-tron SUV and believes it has the mass appeal of a vehicle to sell in high numbers. “It has to be market driven, we are very confident that the e-tron will satisfy all customer expectations and also from the sales point. At Audi, we don’t make EVs because of CO2 regulations, we make EVs because the customer wants to buy it”. Shortly after the e-tron SUV’s premiere, the carmaker announced that by 2025, it will have 12 all-electric models in its range. Electrified models are tipped to make up roughly one-third of Audi’s sales by this time. +++

+++ BMW plans more deals with mining companies to secure electric vehicle battery materials, and is open to forming alliances to share the costs of developing autonomous-vehicle systems, the automaker’s research and development chief told. Management board member Klaus Fröhlich said automakers and large suppliers are beginning to discuss how to agree on one standard for autonomous-vehicle systems. He has said in the past automakers and suppliers should agree on a single standard. “Everybody has an interest or should have an interest” in common autonomous-vehicle standards, Fröhlich said.  He made his comments before a report that Volkswagen is interested in an industry alliance to standardize autonomous vehicle systems. On batteries, Fröhlich said, BMW is pursuing a strategy aimed at securing lower-cost batteries than rivals, in part by controlling the supply of raw materials for its battery-making partners. “We will have agreements with mining companies”, Fröhlich said. “We have one agreement. There will be more”. A key issue, he said, is securing cobalt from mines that do not exploit workers or employ children. BMW rode a wave of electric vehicle marketing this month by European luxury brands. The German automakers and rivals, including Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo, are gearing up new electric models. The legacy automakers are under pressure from regulators in China, Europe and the state of California to field more clean vehicles. The European brands also want to keep more affluent consumers from flocking to vehicles made by Silicon Valley automaker Tesla.  BMW has previously disclosed agreements with Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics. However, Fröhlich said those companies will supply batteries using a proprietary BMW design. “In electromobility, you have to be a cost leader”, he said. “If you are not a cost leader you will not survive”. +++ 

+++ Is the future of electric vehicles damaged by the chaos surrounding Tesla? Absolutely not. Whether the company survives in its present form or not is irrelevant. The future of EVs will not be determined by anything that happens in California but by decisions being taken 6,000 miles away in CHINA . The EV business goes from strength to strength. There are some 3 million electric vehicles worldwide, about twothirds of which are made and used in China. Production of electric and other non-petrol vehicles in China rose to 500,000 in the first half of this year. So far this makes no more than a tiny dent in the global market for cars and light vans of some 1.1 billion vehicles.The next step is crucial. Having created a viable commercial operation with functional and efficient cars, will the Chinese government now mandate their use? Consumer goods have become an important part of the political settlement in China: instead of democracy and freedom of speech, the promise is of ever higher living standards defined by improvements in housing and access to cars and other goods. As China has become more prosperous, car ownership has boomed and is now within the reach of the growing middle class, with possession rising from barely 20 per 1,000 of the population at the turn of the century to more than 100 per 1,000. New vehicle licences are running at more than 1.5 million a month. This has contributed both to pollution and the growing volumes of oil imports. Demand continues to grow; car ownership per head is still only one quarter of the European average. EVs offer a practical answer. They are cleaner (although as 80 % of China’s electricity still comes from coal, that rather reduces their positive impact) and they can reduce oil demand. Even more important, they have the potential to become a new source of employment and export earnings for the country. The initial public offering of China’s Nio, ahead of its New York listing, will have been watched with interest by the hundreds of other EV start-ups in the country. The lossmaking group, backed by Tencent, raised just over half its $1.8 billion target, but its shares then jumped 76 % on the first day of trading.The key to sustainable rapid growth for EVs lies in compulsion. If, for instance, China insisted that a quarter of new licences be given to EVs over the next 5 years, some 25 to 30 million would be added to the global total. To speed up the pace of change, older vehicles running on internal combustion engines could be taxed or regulated out of existence. And in some cities licences could be restricted to EVs alone. This is no fantasy. Several big cities across China are experimenting with incentives and restrictions to force EV take-up. Having created a huge industry, and no doubt reduced unit costs, there would then be no barrier to exports: starting in Asia and perhaps extending into Africa and Latin America, with Chinese companies managing local production. This industry would be reinforced by the strength of China’s battery sector, which supplies the majority of all battery production and is a leader in the technology involved. On current plans, its production will soon outstrip the combined total of the rest of the world by factor 3. No doubt EVs will be manufactured in the US and a few European countries. Tesla deserves the chance to recover under new management. In Europe, the UK and Germany in particular have the potential to combine the strengths of academic research with those of the car industry. Overall, however, any significant shift to EVs will be led by China, with technology backed by the full power of government. The impact of all this on the oil market is minuscule, at present. But energy companies should avoid complacency in relying on ever-growing sales of oil and gas to China to sustain the global market. An energy transition with Chinese characteristics is already under way. +++ 

+++ FERRARI has shed more light on its planned shift toward hybrid powertrains across its lineup. CEO Louis Camilleri says nearly 60 % of the company’s models will be built around hybrid powertrains by 2022. The executive promoted the pivot as a way to meet regulatory requirements “but also to satisfy customer desires for significantly improved emissions while retaining the driving emotions that render Ferraris simply unique”. The Prancing Horse marque has already dabbled in hybridization with the LaFerrari and FXX K. The late CEO Sergio Marchione in 2016 announced the plan to embrace hybrid technology, calling for a “fundamental shift” in the company’s platform architecture. All development projects, including flagships and core volume models, will include hybrids starting next year. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI said it will sell 1,000 hydrogen-powered trucks in Switzerland over the next 5 years through a new tie-up, betting the vehicles could beat battery-powered models sold by the likes of Tesla. Hyundai and Toyota are among a handful of car makers doubling down on hydrogen vehicles amid an intensifying global race to develop greener technologies to replace combustion engines, as regulators around the world crack down on emissions. The deal, which will double Hyundai’s hydrogen vehicle sales, marks its latest push into a technology that has lagged battery electric vehicles. Hyundai, whose profits have tumbled due to a heavy reliance on low-demand sedans, hopes to burnish its brand image by taking the lead in hydrogen cars. Hyundai said it will partner with Swiss hydrogen company H2 Energy and fuel cell operators to provide 1,000 hydrogen trucks in the country after launching at the end of 2019 what it says will be the world’s first commercial hydrogen trucks. It did not provide any financial details. The launch timeline is ahead of battery-powered trucks Tesla and Daimler plan to introduce in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Hyundai announced a partnership with Audi in June to share each other’s hydrogen car technology and components to bring down production costs and make the technology profitable. For long-haul, hydrogen trucks have a huge advantage over battery rivals as heavy batteries can reduce cargo capacity and require longer charging times, Mark Freymüller, a commercial vehicle director at Hyundai, told. Hyundai said its hydrogen trucks are expected to deliver a single-fueling travel range of around 400 kilometers. “We are not planning just purely 1,000 vehicles and then stop the business. We expect that much more is coming afterwards”, he said, adding Hyundai would look at launching it in the United States, China and other European countries. Freymüller said expanding into other markets, however, will depend on finding partners such as pump operators and hydrogen suppliers. The uptake of hydrogen cars, which are propelled by electricity generated by fuel cells, has been held back by a lack of infrastructure, which costs $2.7 million each to build in South Korea. Hyundai launched the industry’s first mass-produced hydrogen car, the ix35 FCEV, in 2013, followed by Nexo this year. It has sold about 1,140 fuel cell vehicles so far, while Toyota sold 6,700 Mirai hydrogen cars since its launch in 2014. Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors are hedging their bets on hydrogen cars with a plan to release 14 battery electric vehicles by 2025. +++

+++ OPEL is planning to further scale back production at its Rüsselsheim plant. The company aims to cut production to 35 from 42 vehicles per hour, having lowered the output to 42 vehicles only last month. The plans have not yet been approved, but the plant’s management has filed for 7 so called “corridor days” between Oct.1-29, which effectively means no production will take place those days as workers are reducing overtime. A spokesman for Opel said that the group was regularly adjusting production plans at its sites, declining to be more specific. PSA bought Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall from General Motors last year in a $2.6 billion deal, and said it aimed to restore Opel to profitability by 2020. +++

+++ Like many of its internal combustion engine powered siblings, the all-electric Aston Martin Rapide E will be equipped with PIRELLI P Zero tires, albeit ones that were created specifically for the new EV. According to the tire manufacturer, the Rapide E will require different fitments for the two axles, namely 245/35ZR21 (96Y) XL at the front and 295/30ZR21 (102Y) XL at the rear. These dimensions are actually similar to those found on the Rapide AMR’s tires. Meanwhile, the Y-rating means that the tires will be able to handle speeds in excess of 300 km/h. Pirelli engineers are still working alongside their Aston Martin counterparts in order to fine-tune the tire specs. Aside from ensuring low rolling resistance to help with the range on one battery charge, the tires also have to endure the car’s acceleration and handling. This is where the individually optimized tread patterns come into play, helping the rear axle handle the high amount of torque coming from the electric motors. The Rapide E’s tires will also come with Pirelli’s Noise Cancelling System, where sound absorbing technology is said to reduce the frequency filtering through the car, as opposed to what you’d get with more conventional tires. Customer deliveries for limited edition Rapide E are scheduled to commence in the fourth quarter of 2019. In a straight line, it is said to deliver a sub 4-second 0-100 km/h sprint time, thanks to it having just over 610 hp and 950 Nm on tap. +++ 

+++ The POLESTAR 1 is inching closer to production and now the company is revealing new details about how they plan to sell and service the model. Saying the company wants to “remove the hassle from traditional car ownership”, CEO Thomas Ingenlath laid out his plans for the North American market. The automaker is primarily focused on selling the model online, but Ingenlath acknowledged “many people want to physically see a car before ordering”. In order to accommodate these customers, the company will have franchised Polestar Spaces (dealerships) which will be located “in a town center location”. The dealerships will employ non-commissioned sales people, known as product experts, who will be able to explain the car’s technology and plug-in hybrid powertrain. Besides selling new models, the dealerships will service cars in need of repair. In order to streamline this process and make it more customer-friendly, dealers will pick up the car and then deliver it when the issues have been resolved. As Ingenlath explained, the “days of standing in line at service reception are over”. Polestar didn’t reveal dealership locations or numbers, but Ingenlath said Polestar Spaces will be opened in “major US cities as demand requires them”. The company is also planning to launch Polestar North America to support and promote their vehicles on this side of the Atlantic. While Ingenlath didn’t go into specifics, he has previously said the company aims to open 60 Polestar Spaces, around the world, by mid-2020. At the time, the company said these dealerships will share the “same minimalist and uncompromising design as Polestar’s cars, and will be curated to show elements of the company’s design language, philosophy and brand experience in a manner similar to art installations”. Besides talking about their dealership plans, Polestar revealed their new production facility is nearing completion and is scheduled to begin building the Polestar 1 in mid-2019. The company also said first model year has already been sold out and this includes 200 cars destined for customers in North America. Fans who can’t afford the Polestar 1 can look forward to the upcoming Polestar 2 which will be introduced early next year. The model will be an electric vehicle that is designed to compete with the Tesla Model 3. However, it won’t go into production until 2020. The first Polestar Space will be opened in New York City and will be followed by nine others in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas or Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C. Polestar Spaces won’t actually repair the vehicles, they’ll simply take them to Volvo dealers to have the work completed. +++

+++ TESLA ’s Model 3 has received top marks in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program. The sedan has earned 5-star ratings in all categories including frontal crash, side crash and rollover. The agency also reports 5-star performance in every subcategory such as side barrier and side pole, along with top ratings for all occupants. The ratings do not come as a surprise, as many cars now get top scores in the government test program and Tesla’s Model S and X also aced the test series. The more challenging crash scenarios covered in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests will be more telling. Full results have not been posted by the IIHS yet, only an ‘acceptable’ headlight rating and ‘superior’ front crash prevention. +++

+++ The TOYOTA Supra is continuing its slow march to production and it could eventually be joined by a new Celica or MR2. Supra assistant chief engineer Masayuki Kai made the revelation last week during his test of the highly anticipated sports car. During a discussion, Kai said “We want to have the Celica back and we want to have the MR2 back”. Kai went on to say the company decided to bring the Supra back first because it had the “biggest demand from the market”. Now that the model is almost here, it’s possible that a new Celica or MR2 could be launched. Kai suggested nothing is set in stone, but hinted a modern-day Celica could be an all-wheel drive performance coupe. The MR2, on the other hand, could keep its mid-engine layout. However, the company still has to figure out if a business case can be made for the models. Sports cars sell in relatively small numbers and Kai noted they use a lot of components which can’t be shared with more mainstream models. One solution would be to team up with another automaker like they did with BMW for the Supra and Subaru for the 86. It’s unclear if another company would be willing to work with Toyota on a new sports car, but Kai praised Mazda and said he believes there are a “lot of things we need to learn” from the company. Kai also suggested that without the BMW and Toyota partnership, there probably wouldn’t be a new Z4 or Supra. While it would be interesting to see a new Celica or MR2, both models went out of production in the mid-2000’s. +++

Comments are closed.