+++ After the all-new 1-Series, BMW is getting ready to launch its sedan version, the 2-Series Gran Coupe. And just like the hatch, it will be based on the FWD UKL platform, despite rumours claiming the opposite: that the new “2 Series Gran Coupe will sport a rear-wheel drive platform” after speaking to BMW’s chief engineer Klaus Fröhlich. That much I know for sure since March, when Munich teased the upcoming compact 4-door sedan. According to chief Harald Krüger, the 2-Series Gran Coupe “builds on the latest BMW front-wheel drive architecture and shares a multitude of technological developments with the new 1-Series”, with its launch due for the LA Show in November and sales set to commence in 2020. But Fröhlich said about the upcoming i4: “This is our Cluster Architecture. This is in our rear-wheeldrive cars, from the 2 successor up to the X7”. What does this mean? The only RWD versions of the current 2-Series are the Coupe and Cabriolet twins, so in all likelihood, the 2-door model(s) will retain the same mechanical layout separating themselves from the other body-styles in the range. Therefore, things are pretty clear: the 1-Series, 2-Series Gran Coupe / Active & Gran Tourer, X1/X2 pair (and various Mini models) will be based on the more cost-effective, and space efficient, front wheeldrive / all wheeldrive UKL platform, while the new 2-Series Coupe, as well as the 3, 4, 5 etc., plus the larger SUVs, will use the CLAR which stipulates that the same bulkhead be used, but allows for changes in all dimensions, including the wheelbase, to accommodate the different shapes, sizes and segments of BMW’s armada. What will be common with the rest of the range will be the engine lineup; or, at least, some of them, with a prime candidate for the 2-Series Coupe being the turbo-4 that kicks out 306 hp and 450 Nm of torque in the 1-Series and X2 M135i and, quite likely, the 2-Series Gran Coupe too. And yes, we should also see BMW’s trademark straight-6 making its appearance too, but only in the rear wheeldrive 2-door model(s) of the 2-Series. +++ 

+++ Renault will give its latest CAPTUR a fuel-saving plug-in hybrid drivetrain as the automaker rolls out its e-Tech hybrid system across its small and compact car range. The Captur will offer Renault’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain starting next year. The plug-in hybrid will use a 1.6-liter gasoline engine, along with 2 electric motors, a 9.8 kilowatt-hour battery, and charging plugs that can accommodate both household sockets and charging stations. The Captur plug-in hybrid has a 45-km electric-only range. Renault has not yet announced emissions figures. Renault has redesigned the Captur from the ground up, starting with a new platform, in an effort to return the model to the top of the small SUV segment it had led in Europe since its introduction in 2013 until this year. In the first 5 months, the Volkswagen T-Roc outsold the Captur. European sales of the Captur from January to May declined by 26 % to 92,378 while T-Roc sales climbed 72 % to 93,710. The exterior shape will be familiar to Captur buyers, as Renault has kept the SUV’s basic silhouette while subtly changing all the body panels. The interior is all new, with a larger central screen, “floating” console, digital instrument panel, and improved materials and fit and finish. Renault used a similar formula for the fifth generation of the Captur’s sibling model, the Clio, which rolls out in Europe this summer. Renault has emphasized the Captur’s SUV styling cues in an effort to give it more of a presence, designers said. The beltline and hood are higher, roof bars have been added, and protective molding runs the length of the lower body. As with the new Clio, there is more chrome trim, on the window surrounds, side molding and front air deflectors. The new Captur is 110 mm longer overall than the current model and has a 20 mm longer wheelbase, with much of that extra space going to a larger trunk area: 81 liters more than the current Captur, Renault says. The interior is focused around a vertically oriented 9.3 inch central touchscreen, which Renault says is twice as large as the current 7.0 inch one, that is angled slightly toward the driver. Analog instruments have been replaced by a customizable digital readout, in either 7.0 inch or 10.2 inch versions; with the larger screen able to accommodate navigation directions. A new electronic shifter (in automatic versions) has let Renault create a floating central console, with storage space under the shifter area. Other interior changes include a smaller, slimmer steering wheel (thanks to a smaller airbag), more charging ports, and redesigned seats that have longer cushions and slimmer backs that give rear passengers 17 mm more knee room. As with the Clio, the Captur’s driving aids have been upgraded to so-called Level 2 autonomy. Its Highway and Traffic Jam Companion, a version of Nissan’s ProPilot system, combines lane keeping and adaptive cruise control and requires the driver to keep his hands on the wheel. Other features include active emergency braking that can distinguish between cyclists and pedestrians, blind spot warning and parking assistance. Renault has not yet announced pricing for the new Captur, which will go on sale later this year with gasoline and diesel engines. Engine choices include a turbocharged 1.0-liter 3-cylinder gasoline engine with 100 hp (10 more than the current version); a 1.3-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine with 130 hp or 155 hp; and a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine with 95 hp or 115 hp. When the Captur went on sale in Europe in 2013, it had one competitor, the Juke, from alliance partner Nissan. Now competition is much tougher with about 20 in the small SUV segment. Formidable new entrants besides the VW T-Roc include the new-generation Peugeot 2008, which will have a full-electric version, and the upcoming Ford Puma. Some automakers have two entrants in the segment including Ford with the EcoSport and Puma and Opel with the Crossland and Mokka X. Looking further ahead, Toyota will introduce a new model in the segment to be built at its plant in northern France, and Nissan is expected to launch a new version of the Juke, also on the Renault-Nissan CMF-B platform, before the end of the year. European sales of small SUVs will rise to 1.99 million this year and 2.16 million in 2020, just ahead of compact SUVs, analyst firm LMC Automotive predicts. The Captur will be built at Renault’s plant in Valladolid, Spain, as well as in China, where production will start this year at the Renault-Dongfeng factory in Wuhan. The Captur will join the Koleos and Kadjar to give the automaker 3 SUVs in its lineup in China. +++ 

+++ Another day, another round of bad news for CHEVROLET CAMARO fans. Just days after it was revealed that General Motors (GM) put the kibosh on the 7th generation, a new report claims a high-performance Z/28 variant of the current Camaro has been shelved. As with the previous-generation Camaro, Chevrolet was planning to cap the current 6th generation of the pony car with a track-focused Z/28 trim. However, GM pulled funding from the program and the generation-6 Camaro Z/28 is now dead. Like the last Camaro Z/28, the newest Z/28 was set to use a naturally-aspirated engine rather than the supercharged unit found in the Camaro ZL1. According to insiders, GM was planning a bespoke engine for the Z/28 known as the LT3. That V8 would have displaced 6.6 litre and revved higher than the V8 in the ZL1. But GM’s recent restructuring plan left little room for development of low-volume products like the Z/28. As such, the budget originally allocated for the Camaro Z/28 was shifted to GM’s autonomous and electric vehicle programs in November of last year. Although the world will never know a generation-6 Camaro Z/28, Americans are not completely without a high-performance pony car from Chevrolet. The Camaro ZL1 1LE checks many of the same boxes as the last Z/28 (sports suspension, lighter weight and better aero), albeit with a forced induction engine. +++

+++ Tesla’s Model 3 has been awarded 5 stars in the latest round of EURO NCAP safety tests, after achieving one of the highest scores ever recorded by the organisation. The electric saloon’s extensive driver assistance systems, including lane keeping, autonomous emergency braking and speed limit assist, helped it post the best Safety Assist score seen to date under the current set of test procedures. The Model 3 also earned a perfect score in the frontal offset deformable barrier crash test, which has been synonomous with Euro NCAP testing since it was created in 1997. This was largely down to the cars’s skateboard chassis layout, which creates a low centre of gravity, and the absence of a combustion engine, which could otherwise have the potential to intrude on the passenger compartment in the event of a collision. “The Tesla Model 3 achieved one of the highest Safety Assist scores we have seen to date”, Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research, said of the results. “Its Collision Avoidance Assist system is first class. Tesla has done a great job of playing the structural benefits of an electric vehicle to its advantage”. The latest batch of tests also yielded 5 star scores for the new Skoda Scala, which scored highly for adult occupant protection. This places it amongst the highest rated family hatchbacks, including the Mercedes A-Class and latest Mazda 3. Mercedes recieved 5 star scores for both the B-Class and GLE. The new Kia Ceed and DS 3 Crossback were each rated 4 stars when fitted with standard equipment, but earned 5 star scores once optional safety packs had been fitted. “Our tests get tougher and tougher, and cars continue to perform well”, Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen said. “Car-buyers are getting an ever-safer range of vehicles to choose from”. So the Tesla Model 3 has set a “new benchmark” for safety-assistance technology in its Euro NCAP crash tests, scoring 94 % in this area in the course of achieving its 5-star overall rating. The testers praised the Model 3’s “first-class” collision avoidance capabilities, and said the all-electric BMW 3 Series rival features autonomous emergency braking and forward-collision warning systems that show “high levels of performance”. It wasn’t just safety tech where the Model 3 shone, though: with an adult occupant protection score of 96 %; only 4 cars have been judged to offer better protection in this area by Euro NCAP in 2019. The Model 3’s child-occupant score of 86 % places it near the top of the field in this respective area, too. Matthew Avery, head of research at Thatcham Research, the UK organisation that crash-tests cars in conjunction with Euro NCAP, said that Tesla “has done a great job of playing the structural benefits of an electric vehicle to its advantage”, with the low centre of gravity that EVs offer combining well with the absence of a hard, inflexible engine up front. Avery added: “The Tesla Model 3 achieved one of the highest Safety Assist scores we have seen to date”. While the Model 3’s safety assist score is not the highest ever awarded (the Volvo XC60 scored 95 % in 2017), it is the strongest result since Euro NCAP toughened up this area of its tests in 2018. The latest batch of tests saw the Skoda Scala awarded 5 stars with a strong 97 % adult occupant score, while the DS 3 Crossback was rated at 96 % in this area. +++ 

+++ Renault should sell its 43 % stake in Nissan and merge with FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA), says Bernstein analyst Max Warburton. In a letter to Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, Warburton writes that Renault should no longer cling to the idea that its alliance with Nissan can be preserved when all the indications are to the contrary. Below is the full text of the letter: “Dear Jean-Dominique, I trust that this letter finds you well, despite the exhausting events of recent months. I also hope you don’t mind me writing to you like this, and in such a public format. It has been over 10 years since we last met, back when I used to cover Michelin. We have not had the chance to meet since you took over as Renault chairman, but I hope that will be possible soon. In the meantime, I thought I would send you my unsolicited advice on the complex situation you face with Nissan, and with FCA. I realize you are already surrounded by an army of advisers, both paid and unpaid. So you probably feel that the last thing you need is another opinion, particularly from someone who is far removed from the action. But sitting some distance from events can sometimes be useful. I have followed Renault, Nissan and Fiat for almost 20 years. I have been able to observe what works and what doesn’t work in the auto industry. And without any connections to any of these companies, to the original decision makers or to the French state, I’d argue that I can give an objective, impartial view on things. So here goes: in my opinion, the best way forward for Renault, and for France, is to dump the Nissan stake (all of it) and merge with FCA. You appear to be clinging on to the idea that the alliance with Nissan can be preserved. But all the indications are to the contrary. Nissan is making it very clear that it doesn’t want to be controlled by Renault. After 20 years of playing at being a global citizen, it wants to reassert its Japanese identity. We are in an age of de-globalization and the reassertion of national identities. This is not just a story of ‘left-behind’ voters, but also of unhappy corporations and executives. There has now been an exodus of international managers from Nissan. The Japanese are back in control. These changes will make it difficult, perhaps even impossible, for Renault and Nissan to work together like they used to. In my view, persevering with Nissan may be more trouble than it’s worth. You are surrounded by many of the architects of the original deal back in 1999. The French establishment is hugely proud of the Alliance, as they see it as a triumph of politics and industrial policy. They will tell you that it has boosted Renault’s competitiveness and delivered huge synergies. But many of these benefits are exaggerated. Yes, a lot of Nissan expertise was transferred in the early days. But that knowledge is now embedded at Renault. Job done. And on synergies, please do not take the numbers you are given at face value. Harnessing global scale is difficult, and commonality between Renault and Nissan is still rather modest. If Renault has extracted so much from the Nissan connection, then why does regional player PSA have much higher margins? FCA would be an easier partner and could deliver greater synergies. At the risk of stereotyping, working with Italian and American managers may be more straightforward than working with the Japanese. More substantively, you will find FCA is much closer on engineering philosophy, procurement and financial management. Geographically, FCA and Renault are close in Europe and could be integrated via genuinely common platforms, common parts and common suppliers; all in the same region. Ditto Brazil. FCA’s Nafta operations could stand alone, but it may be possible to achieve commonality on smaller crossovers and similar vehicles, and distribute them in Europe and emerging markets with Renault’s network. Emotionally, it may not be easy to abandon 20 years of effort with Nissan. But in my view, it’s time to call it a day. Don’t be afraid: separating things operationally would be quite straightforward: Daimler and Chrysler, plus Ford and Jaguar Land Rover / Volvo, show how projects and platforms can run for one cycle, bound by contractual agreements, before diverging. So, explain the reality to the French government. Then approach the Japanese government and demand that it arranges a consortium of banks or state actors to buy the whole Nissan stake at market value (rather like Mitsubishi/Daimler in 2005). Take the €11 billion this would raise to fortify your balance sheet. Then call up your friend John Elkann and negotiate a full merger with FCA, on much more favorable terms. +++ 

+++ FORD ’s closure of its Bridgend engine plant ends a chapter that began at the peak of the brand’s popularity in the UK in the 1970s and reflects current changes in car buyer’s tastes, misdirected product planning and pressure to electrify its fleet to hit European Union CO2 targets. The Bridgend closure will be devastating for the 1.700 employees but it will also hit a further 5.000 or so in the wider economy. “We fear the knock-on effect and it will be substantial”, said Tim Williams of the Welsh Automotive Forum, an alliance of car industry businesses in Wales.  There is a glimmer of hope in the shape of Aston Martin’s St Athan plant, 12 miles to the south-east, but the chances of Ineos taking space to build its Grenadier 4×4 at the Ford site have now faded. Aston Martin now represents the future for the car industry in Wales. It built its first DBX crossover at St Athan last week, with recruitment for 550 new assembly staff due to start in September. “I’m sure we will have plenty of applications from the Bridgend area”, said an Aston Martin spokesman. Suppliers to Ford will also be affected, although few major component makers are local. Block castings, for example, are trucked in from Ireland and the plant has an extended supply chain stretching onto mainland Europe. Despite the drawn-out supply chain, potential customs delays and sterling weakness, Ford has denied a link to Brexit in its decision to shut Bridgend in September 2020. So what caused the plant’s closure? Peter Wells of Cardiff Business School lists several contributing factors, the key ones being sales and market related: “The Dragon engine (the 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine used in the Fiesta ST and Focus) is not selling as well as hoped, Ford is running the plant well below capacity and it needs to make cost cuts”. As with all mid-market brands, Ford’s sales have been squeezed and in Europe have fluctuated in the past decade between 1.75 million and 1.33 million, recovering to nearly 1.6 millon now. Market share has almost halved in the past 30 years: from around 11 % in 1990 to 6 % in 2018. “Ford’s market share in Europe is the same as BMW’s, yet it can’t command premium pricing, so it is having to find cost cuts”, said Wells. Intended to replace the 4-cylinder Sigma engine launched in 2011, the Dragon engine arrived just as Ford faced having to invest in hybrid and battery powertrains and while its cheaper, more frugal 1.0-litre engine is on the rise. “Ford’s product planning has just gone wrong”, said Wells. The Dragon has too large a displacement for the non-ST Fiesta and the Ka+, while the 3-cylinder 1.0-litre engine built in Romania and Germany has become the core petrol engine for the Fiesta and Focus ranges. The 1.0-litre is also available in 140 hp form, closing the gap to the 150 hp Dragon. Other models that could have taken the Dragon, such as the C-Max and B-Max, are being discontinued and the new Puma crossover is arriving at a time when plug-in and mild hybrids are the essential powerplants. Ford’s new hybrid powertrain is based on a high-efficiency Atkinson combustion cycle, which, Ford says, makes hybridising the Dragon uneconomic. This is a very rapid fall from grace for a brand-new design that went into production only last October at a cost of £100 million. It is likely to finish its third and final full year at around only 80,000 units; a third less than the 125,000 capacity at Bridgend. Given the plant built 701,000 engines as recently as 2014, this proved a fatal drop in output. Even from the start, Ford could see threats to its Dragon investment. The plan from 2015 envisaged 250,000 units a year and £181 million of investment, yet 2 years later, that evolved to just 125,000 units with investment of £100 million. Product planning dictated much of this revision: the Dragon couldn’t be slotted straight into Ford’s larger models because they were designed around 4-cylinder engines. Although the Dragon will continue to be needed, it will be supplied from lower-cost Mexico and/or China in 2 plants already tooled to build it. Of course, other factors are at play. Bridgend’s contract to build Jaguar Land Rover’s V8 and V6 petrols will finish just before the plant closes. Of the 650,000 units built at Bridgend in 2016, around 145,000 were JLR engines. JLR is replacing the V6 with a straight-6. At one time, the new 6 was rumoured to be going into Bridgend onto the line that once built the ‘SI6’ 3,2-litre 6 fitted to some Land Rover and Volvo models. But those plans have changed, too, and instead JLR’s new 6 will be built in Wolverhampton and the V8 could come from BMW. Ford will maintain diesel engine production at Dagenham and engineering at Dunton in Essex, so it is hoped the closure of Bridgend is the last adjustment to its UK footprint for now. +++ 

+++ New cars from Aston Martin, McLaren Automotive, Bentley, Ferrari and Ford will be among those making a public debut at the GOODWOOD Festival of Speed. The outdoor event, which is set in the grounds of a historic mansion in Westhampnett, 100 km southwest of London, has become a key product showcase even as automakers cut their budgets for traditional indoor auto shows such as Frankfurt, Paris and Geneva. Bentley will be showing its Flying Spur publicly for the first time, while Aston Martin will exhibit the Volante version of its DBS Superleggera sports car for the first time in public. McLaren will show off its GT; a 2-seater powered by a V8 engine that is the automaker’s answer to ultraluxury and exotic supercars meant for the road and long distances, as well as its Senna GTR track-focused hypercar. Ferrari will use Goodwood to showcase 2 one-off cars, the P80/C, based on the 488 GT3 racecar, and the open-roofed SP3JC, based on the F12tdf. Ford will take the covers off its new Puma, as well as revealing what’s expected to be a faster version of its GT supercar. Automakers will also use the Goodwood event to tease cars not yet in production, in some cases driving prototypes up the 2 km hill course that is the centerpiece of the event. Aston Martin will run up the hill a camouflaged prototype of its DBX that will be unveiled later this year, while Volkswagen will show its new ID.3 mass-market full-electric car in disguise. Honda will run an undisguised prototype of its E small full-electric car. Also driving up the hill will be a disguised prototype of the new Land Rover Defender. Automakers build elaborate stands along the hill displaying their model range and creating VIP areas where owners can escape the crowds outside. Goodwood is supported by the automakers despite the high cost because visitors are generally more affluent than the UK average and are seen as more enthusiastic. The action part of the event brings further engagement on social media channels as brands and fans alike post footage of high-speed runs, tire burn-outs and pictures of iconic historic cars. The Festival of Speed also showcases future technology and this year will host the unveiling of the Airspeeder, described as a flying racing car by its creator, Australian start-up Alauda Racing. New road cars are only one part of the mix that draws 200,000 people over the 4-day event. The key attraction is the modern and historic racing and rally cars, most of which can be seen driving flat out up the hill that for the rest of the year serves as the driveway to the house of the event organizer, Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, the 11th Duke of Richmond. The Festival of Speed has become a key event on the calendar for ultraluxury brands equaling California’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance held in August. “There is such an extraordinary atmosphere that it is like no other motor show on earth”, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said in a statement. “Attending the Festival of Speed allows us to showcase our latest developments in electric and SUV technology while celebrating the rich history of our past”. +++

+++ The internal combustion engine still has life left in it and, if in doubt, you might want to check out HYUNDAI ’s Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology. According to the South Korean automaker, an engine fitted with CVVD offers 4 % greater performance, 5 % better fuel efficiency and emits 12 % fewer emissions than one without it. The technology works as follows: when the vehicle is driving at a constant speed and requires little power, CVVD opens the intake valve from the middle to the end of the compression stroke, improving efficiency by reducing the resistance caused by compression. When accelerating and engine output is high, the intake valve is closed at the beginning of the compression stroke, which maximizes the amount of air used during ignition to improve torque. CVVD will premiere in the Smartstram G1.6 T-GDi 4-cylinder which produces an impressive 180 hp and 265 Nm of torque, and the Sonata will be the first model to use this engine. Alongside CVVD, the powertrain includes Low-Pressure Exhaust Gas Recirculation and a new Integrated Thermal Management System to quickly heat and cool the engine to optimal operating temperature. “The development of the CVVD technology is a good example how Hyundai Motor Group is strengthening our powertrain technology”, president and head of research and development division, Albert Biermann, said. “We will continue our innovation efforts to bring forth paradigm shifts and ensure sustainability of our business model”. +++ 

+++ With the GLB already unveiled, MERCEDES has now decided to present the hotter AMG 45 version with 421 hp. As you might already know, the range-topping version of the new GLB will share the same oily bits with the soon-to-be-unveiled A 45. That means that the AMG GLB 45 will be powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit, putting out 387 hp in standard form and 421 hp in S guise. And with this kind of firepower hiding under its boxy body, it’s no wonder why it is expected to easily crack the five-second barrier for the 0-100 km/h sprint. The engine, which revs up to 7,200 rpm, will be paired to an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission and an all new allwheel drive 4Matic system. I already know that the A 45 hot hatch is going to feature a special “drift” mode, though it’s unknown whether it will be available in the GLB as well. The fastest version of the compact SUV will get a model-specific body kit that includes the usual bumpers, side sills and Panamericana front grille, among other enhancements. The interior will be similarly spiced up with body-hugging seats, different trim materials, as well as model-specific screens for the digital instrument cluster. I still don’t know if Mercedes will offer a 7-seat option with the GLB 45, but I won’t be surprised if they eventually decide not to. +++

+++ OPEL is putting the finishing touches on the facelifted Insignia. Expected to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the 2020 modelyear Insignia will feature a new front fascia with a slimmer grille. It echoes the one used on the new Corsa and has a single bar which is broken up by a prominent Opel logo. Besides the new grille, the Insignia has been equipped with restyled headlights. They’re pretty evolutionary, but feature a protruding accent at the outside edges. The rest of the car largely carries over, but it appears the taillights may have some minor modifications. The GSi also features a smaller rear spoiler. Since the car is only 2 years old, we shouldn’t expect any major changes in the cabin. That might disappoint some people, but the model was equipped with a new infotainment system last year. While the styling changes are relatively small, bigger updates could occur under the hood. Nothing is official, but Opel is now part of Groupe PSA. As a result, the model could replace some of its GM designed engines with new PSA units. Of course, that’s not certain and its possible PSA could hold off on powertrain changes until the next-generation Insignia arrives in the future. We should learn more about the Insignia relatively soon as the Frankfurt Motor Show kicks off on kicks off on September 10th. The refreshed version is to take on recently revised class leaders like the Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Superb. +++ 

+++ Police are searching RENAULT ’s corporate headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt, which a judicial source said was related to an ongoing investigation into ex-Renault boss Carlos Ghosn and his use of Versailles for his 2016 wedding party. The search was being carried out in relation to Ghosn, who faces charges of misconduct. Ghosn has denied any wrongdoing and has been released on bail. French authorities were probing a wedding reception party held at the Chateau de Versailles in 2016 to mark the wedding of Ghosn to his second wife Carole, and a judicial source confirmed those elements. Renault itself confirmed that police were searching its premises, but declined to comment on the subject of the search. “Renault confirms that a search by police is currently underway at its headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt and Renault is co-operating fully with authorities”, said the company, adding that it would not make any further comment on the matter. Earlier this year, Renault said it had found evidence that it had paid part of Ghosn’s wedding costs and added it would turn the investigation over to prosecutors. Ghosn’s Versailles wedding party in October 2016 had already drawn public scrutiny for its opulence and Marie Antoinette-themed costumes. +++ 

+++ TESLA executive departures are apparently picking up speed again, with reports saying the electric-car maker has lost its head of Europe and a top engineering manager. Jan Öhmicke, Tesla’s Europe chief, has left the company. Steve MacManus, vice president of interior and exterior engineering, also exited. The news follow electric-vehicle startup Lucid Motors announcing that it hired away Tesla’s vice president of production, Peter Hochholdinger, to oversee manufacturing. CEO Elon Musk last week pressed employees to “go all out” in pursuit of a quarterly deliveries record after a disappointing first 3 months of the year spurred concerns about demand. Turnover was rampant at Tesla in 2018, with Musk losing senior managers from sales, accounting, finance, supply management, human resources and communications. The company promoted from within to replace executives who left the roles of chief financial officer and general counsel earlier this year. +++ 

+++ BMW’s X6 is getting a redesign with more powerful engines and, for the first time, an optional illuminated kidney grille. The third-generation X6 is longer and wider than its predecessor, but with a lower height for better aerodynamics. The illuminated kidney grille, which debuts on the redesigned X6, is part of the daytime running light feature and can remain on while the vehicle is in motion. The feature can be activated by unlocking and locking the vehicle, or turning it on and off manually. The X6 was the first coupelike crossover and remains one of the most visible. It also underscores the continuing fragmentation of the crossover market. BMW foresaw the “growth-inspired fragmentation” of the crossover market when it introduced the X6 in 2008, AutoPacific analyst Ed Kim said. “It seemed a very puzzling move during a time when the formula for a successful SUV was pretty clear: an upright 2-box profile and an outdoorsy personality”. Kim said. In Europe, the X6 will be offered with 2 gasoline and 2 diesel engines. Topping the gasoline range is the X6 M50i powered by a newly developed V8. It  delivers 530 hp with peak torque at 750 Nm. The 340 hp X6 xDrive40i is powered by a straight-6 unit. The 400 hp X6 M50d is the most powerful diesel. It has 760 Nm. The 265 hp xDrive30d  has a straight-6 unit. The X6 will have its market launch in December following its debut at the Frankfurt auto show in September. Like the current car, it will be built at BMW’s U.S. plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. +++

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