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+++ AUDI has revealed that the next-generation R8 will adopt electrification, but has yet to decide exactly what type of powertrain it will use. During a recent event in Europe, Audi Sport managing director Oliver Hoffman told that the German company has a number of interesting concepts for the next R8 in the works and confirmed the supercar won’t be powered solely by an internal combustion engine. “I don’t think we will develop a successor of the current model R8 with just a fully naturally aspirated engine or with a normal combustion engine”, Hoffman said. “We will have electrification for the R8 in the future, but which kind of electrification there is no decision yet. We are working on the concept, we are in contact with our board, but there is no decision yet regarding the concept of the next R8. We have some very, very interesting concepts regarding the R8 successor powertrain, but also regarding the whole vehicle concept. There is no decision which kind of powertrain and which kind of electrification we will implement”. The R8 has been the halo supercar for the German car manufacturer ever since it was introduced back in 2006. The second-generation model was launched in 2015, and while the basic design of the car hasn’t changed dramatically, ii doesn’t look dated at all. With this in mind, Hoffman revealed that Audi Sport has plans to continue updating the current R8 range with new and exciting models before a successor is launched in a few years’ time, perhaps in 2023. +++ 

+++ Chinese car maker BAIC has acquired a 5 % share in Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler, a move welcomed by new Daimler CEO Ola Källenius. The stakes helps secure BAIC’s investment in the Chinese Mercedes-Benz manufacturing company Beijing Benz Automotive, a joint venture between the 2 firms. It was first reported earlier this year that BAIC was acquiring Daimler shares on the open market. Now it has amassed 5 %, the Chinese company announced today. German takeover rules mean that any stake above 3 % must be disclosed. The stake comprises 2.48 % of direct shareholdings and a right to acquire additional voting rights equal to 2.52 % of Daimler share capital. “BAIC and Daimler have been successfully cooperating for more than a decade and our partnership is built on trust and mutual benefits”, said Heyi Xu, chairman of BAIC. “It has been our intention to strengthen our alliance with Daimler through an investment. This step reinforces our alignment with, and strong support for, Daimler’s management and strategy. We see our joint partnership as an excellent example of Sino-German collaboration and a model for the cooperation between companies of our countries. We look forward to continuing our successful cooperation”. In 2013, Daimler invested in BAIC Motor, the Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of BAIC, where the German brand is also represented on the board. Daimler now owns 9.55% of shares in BAIC Motor. This move means that the 2 companies will be on more of an equal footing than previously. Given Daimler and BAIC’s joint venture, which sold 485,000 vehicles in 2018, BAIC will also be reassured it now holds some power, as rival Chinese car maker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, better known as Geely, built a 9.69% stake in Daimler last year. In doing so, it became the firm’s largest stakeholder. This new stake from BAIC, plus the 6.8 % stake of Kuwait, previously the firm’s biggest shareholder, means their collective power now outweighs Geely’s. +++

+++ A fully-electric BMW 5-Series seems like a very long stretch right now. However, if this latest rumor turns out to be correct, then we can expect such a version to co-exist alongside BMW’s next generation 5-Series. Expected to arrive in 2023, the successor of the outgoing G3X will reportedly get at least 2 electric drivetrains. Also rumored is the fifth-generation eDrive tech found in the i4 and iNext. The electric 5-Series will get both rearwheel and allwheel drive versions, plus battery packs producing anywhere between 60 and 80 kWh, providing it with a range of at least 483 km. Upper grades might be able to travel for up to 700 km on a single charge. Giving the 5er battery-electric power will fall in hand with the company’s plans of electrifying the range. CEO Harald Krüger confirmed that plans of offering 25 electrified models by 2025, with more than half being electric, have been moved for 2023. With the unveiling of the Power BEV last month, BMW might have tested the waters for an electric 5-Series. The concept is equipped with the fifth-generation electric drive, enjoying a massive output of 720 hp. Performance wise, it’s on the same level with some of the best supercars of the moment, needing less than 3 seconds to accelerate to 100 km/h, while retaining the practicality and comfort of a car in this class. Until the next-generation 5-Series will be unveiled, the automaker is prepping a mid-cycle refresh. The facelifted iteration is currently undergoing testing and should be presented later this year or in 2020. +++ 

+++ An all-electric version of the CADILLAC Escalade is allegedly in the works and tipped to launch sometime in the middle of next decade. Speaking on the basis on anonymity, sources purportedly familiar with future product plans at Cadillac claim that GM’s luxury brand will offer the Escalade in all-electric guise after the fifth-generation model launches for the 2021 model year. Details about the powertrain set to be used by this electric Escalade remain uncertain but by the time the vehicle launches, there will likely be a number of large electric SUVs on the market. To ensure it is competitive with rivals such as the Tesla Model X, Cadillac will probably look to offer the vehicle with upwards of 643 km of range. Given the size of the Escalade, we would expect the vehicle to feature one electric motor driving the front axle and one electric motor powering the rear axle. The electric Cadillac Escalade won’t only receive an all-new powertrain. The large SUV will inevitably come outfitted with Cadillac’s most up-to-date Super Cruise system to offer semi-autonomous driving. As the vehicle is still a few years away, it is difficult to predict how much more advanced Super Cruise will be over the system currently available. Talk of an electric Escalade comes shortly after it was revealed that the next-generation model will also be sold with the supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V8 engine powering the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and Corvette Z06. This could give the Escalade upwards of 650 hp and 881 Nm, potentially making it the most powerful vehicle in the Cadillac range. +++ 

+++ The way the auto industry PR machine works these days, you don’t get all the information when a vehicle is launched. It dribbles out so automakers can keep the car in the news. And so, there are some unanswered questions from last week’s long-awaited reveal of the 2020 midengine CHEVROLET CORVETTE. Looking at the new car’s specifications, it’s surprising that the turning circle (the tightest arc the car can turn when the steering wheel is turned all the way left or right) changed little from the 2019 model. With the engine transplanted from between the front wheels to behind the driver, I expected the turning circle to be considerably tighter. Why does that matter? Well, a tighter turning circle makes the car easier to maneuver in tight spaces, such as U-turns or when the driver is turning a sharp corner in a tight place, such as a parking garage. When the car can turn very sharply, it’s easier to turn into a parking space in tight quarters. It appears 3 things affected the 2020 Corvette’s turning circle: 1) General Motors’ decision to equip the Corvette with a front trunk to increase the 2-seater’s cargo room. 2) The massive 19- or 20-inch tires. 3) The wheelbase. GM President Mark Reuss told me the car’s slightly longer wheelbase over its predecessor also slightly increased the turning circle. The turning circle of other midengine cars, such as the McLaren 570S and Acura NSX, are considerably tighter, at 20 feet and 19 feet. However, those cars are smaller than the new Corvette. Another minor mystery: How did GM engineers get the new Corvette to deliver a 0-to-60 mph time of less than 3 seconds out of a naturally aspirated (that is without a supercharger or turbos) pushrod V8 engine? That is an astounding achievement for a 3,300-pound car. A clue might be in the information that was not revealed last week. Missing from the launch presentation and the car’s specifications (a stat that is usually trumpeted loudly in the introduction of a sports car) is the new Corvette’s top speed. Reuss told me that GM has not yet completed that testing. While a big number will generate flashy headlines, it’s meaningless for most drivers. Even though the 2020 Corvette is track ready, most owners are never going to burn the rubber off those expensive Michelin tires taking hot laps at the local racetrack. Here’s what I think GM did: I’d bet the car’s 8-speed paddle-shifted dual-clutch transmission and final drive ratio (another missing spec) have been geared to deliver super-responsive street performance more than warp speed on the highway or on brief track straightaways. That makes sense. On the street or on the track, it makes no difference if the Corvette’s top speed is 180 mph or 240 mph. Those speeds can’t be sustained in either venue. The more important yardstick is if the 2020 Corvette can mix it up with Porsches, McLarens, Ferraris and Acura NSXs at stoplights on the run to 60 mph, and in the corners. Finally, the new Corvette grew incrementally in size from the outgoing version. That was unexpected. The midengine layout gave GM a chance to make the new car smaller, lighter and far more agile than the outgoing Corvette; make it more like a European midengine sports car. But GM didn’t copy anyone’s formula for the new Corvette. I recently overheard 2 members of the Corvette team talk about testing the new car against its midengine competition. They said GM assembled a group of midengine sports cars at GM’s Milford proving grounds for engineers, designers and others to test against the new Corvette. They came away with the feeling that the 2020 Corvette can compete with the best in the class. We’ll know soon enough if that’s true. +++ 

+++ CITROEN boss Linda Jackson believes that the automotive industry needs to showcase how cars provide ‘freedom and liberty’ to ensure they remain a key part of future transport solutions. The car industry is facing an increasing number of restrictions and regulations, including tough emissions requirements. At the same time, a growing number of cities are introducing restrictions on cars to cut pollution and congestion, encouraging drivers to switch to public transport, walking or cycling. As part of its 100th anniversary celebrations, Citroën has developed 2 concept cars, including the Ami One, a small electric machine for short-inner city journeys. “I think people have a bad view of the car industry, for lots of different reasons”, said Jackson. “Everybody is knocking the car, and saying it’s going to be impossible to get around in cities without everybody going to public transport, and all these things that are really negative. We wanted to say ‘hold on a minute, people want freedom, liberty and mobility’ ”. Jackson said that the Ami One was developed in part to prove that the car has a place in cities of the future. “As manufacturers we need to bring forward models that are environmentally friendly, and moving forward safety and security”, said Jackson. “We need to respect all the rules, but it’s about showing personal mobility can be fun. “Hopefully the models we’re bringing out, and things like AMI:One, show you can be protective towards society and think about the environment, but also protect people’s liberty, and that’s what we want to do, because if they start banning everything from cities, we’re not going to be able to move. I want Citroën to take that as a subject and go ‘lots of people are saying down with cars, but they’re a form of liberty, or freedom’, and look at how we can find solutions to protect customer’s freedom, while respecting all the rules”. +++ 

+++ DAIMLER and auto supplier Bosch will start valet parking using autonomous driving technology in Stuttgart, Germany, after local authorities gave the carmaker permission to start testing the technology. The automated valet parking service will start at the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage, using infrastructure provided by Bosch and vehicle technology from Daimler, Bosch said. It will be the first fully automated driverless system categorized as “Level 4” automation which has been approved for everyday use, Bosch said. The technology, accessed via a smartphone app, enables the car to drive itself to an assigned space and park once the driver has left the parking garage. It can return the car to the drop-off point in the same way, Bosch said. Bosch and Daimler have been cooperating on the development of fully automated driverless parking since 2015. “This approval sets a precedent for obtaining approval in the future for the parking service in parking garages around the world”, Michael Hafner, head of drive technologies and automated driving at Daimler, said in a statement. +++ 

+++ The EUROPEAN UNION will retaliate with extra duties on €35 billion worth of U.S. goods if Washington imposes punitive tariffs on EU cars, the bloc’s trade chief said. “We will not accept any managed trade, quotas or voluntary export restraints and, if there were to be tariffs, we would have a rebalancing list”, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told a committee of the European Parliament. “It is already basically prepared, worth €35 billion. I do hope we do not have to use that one”, she continued. U.S. President Donald Trump declared in May that some imported vehicles and parts pose a national security threat. But he delayed for 6 months a decision on whether to impose tariffs to allow time for trade talks with the EU and Japan. That 6 months ends in mid-November. “We welcome the decision by the U.S. not to impose duties on cars and car parts, but of course the very notion that European cars can be a national security threat to the U.S. is absurd”, Malmstrom said. She added that trade talks with the United States had produced mixed results. There had been progress on a deal to make it easier for companies to show their products meet the standards of the EU or U.S. market, but none on a proposed deal to remove tariffs on industrial goods. “We have still not started those negotiations. The U.S. is not ready to start them if agriculture is not included, which is a red line for us. So for the moment, nothing happens here”, Malmstrom said. The EU trade chief also said she hoped that the European Union and the United States could find a settlement in a long-running dispute over government aid for U.S. planemaker Boeing and European rival Airbus. An arbitrator for the World Trade Organization is expected to decide in September what level of sanctions Washington can impose related to European subsidies for Airbus, with the EU likely to get a decision on sanctions early next year. “We would hope we can close that chapter in our relationship and hope to find a way forward”, Malmstrom said. +++ 

+++ FORD will invest $50 million into its Chicago Assembly Plant in a move that will benefit workers and help with the production of hybrid models. The Dearborn car manufacturer will convert a current modification center near its Chicago Assembly Plant into a site to handle final assembly of the electrified versions of its Explorer and Lincoln Aviator crossovers as part of the investment. This modification center previously handled Ford’s Police Interceptors but work on these vehicles will now be moved to a different building. This will allow Ford to free the main line at its Chicago site for gasoline variants of the 2 vehicles. Under this move, Explorer and Aviator hybrid bodies will be shipped from the main assembly plant to the modification center and undergo final assembly. The vehicles will then be shipped back to the assembly plant’s customer acceptance line for a final check. In addition, Ford will convert 450 temporary UAW union workers to full-time at its Chicago Assembly Plant and Chicago Stamping Plant. Ford’s president of automotive, Joe Hinrichs, says this will allow the car manufacturer to make up some production lost due to the launch curve of new models. It could also result in a boost in production in 2020. The Ford Explorer Hybrid is powered by a 3.3-liter naturally-aspirated V6 engine paired with an electric motor and a 10-speed automatic transmission. It pumps out 318 hp and 436 Nm. By comparison, the Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring supports a plug-in hybrid system which includes a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 and a 10-speed transmission. It has 450 hp and 813 Nm. +++ 

+++ The JAGUAR F-Pace has been a hit for the automaker as the company sold 23,520 units in Europe last year and another 14,752 in the United States. Those numbers far exceed sales of the XE and XF, so it comes as little surprise that Jaguar is planning an assortment of new crossovers. While the company is staying tight-lipped about its future plans, they recently invited jurors from the World Car Awards to take a “sneak peak of its premium models for the 2020s and beyond”. This included a look at the XE and F-Type replacements as well as the upcoming electric XJ. The jurors were also given a glimpse of several all-new models including the J-Pace. While the World Car Awards didn’t say much about the vehicle, it’s expected to become Jaguar’s range-topping crossover. Rumored to compete with models such as the BMW X7 and Mercedes GLS, the crossover is expected to ride on the company’s new MLA platform. The platform will debut on the 2020 Land Rover Defender and the company has previously revealed it can accommodate conventional, mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. The architecture can also support fully electric vehicles, but there’s no word on whether or not we can expect a J-Pace EV. At the other end of the spectrum, the company is working on a small crossover which could adopt the A- or B-Pace moniker. Little is known about the model, but it be “considerably less expensive” and presumably slot beneath the E-Pace which starts at $38,900. However, the crossover doesn’t appear to have been green-lighted quite yet. +++ 

+++ MINI introduced the facelifted Hatch and Convertible last year and now the company is turning its attention to the Countryman. We can expect a revised grille, updated headlights, and a new front bumper that features a wide lower opening and vertical intakes. The styling updates continue at the rear where we can expect modified taillights, a more rounded tailgate and a new rear bumper. The facelifted Countryman could be outfitted with a larger and more modern infotainment system. We can also expect more personalization options and possibly some new features and / or additional standard equipment. Since the Countryman recently received a host of powertrain upgrades, engine options could carryover. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as the 2020 John Cooper Works Countryman has a “comprehensively redesigned” turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 306 hp and 450 Nm. This enables the model to accelerate from 0-96 km/h in 5.1 seconds, before hitting a limited top speed of 250 km/h. The JCW Countryman wasn’t the only model updated for 2020 as the plug-in hybrid Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 received an improved battery pack with a larger capacity of 9.6 kWh. This increased the crossover’s electric-only range from 19.3 km to approximately 25.7 km. Since this is our first time seeing the updated Countryman, the production model is likely a ways off. Nothing is official, but the crossover could be introduced about a year from now as a 2021 model. +++ 

+++ China’s NEOLIX has signed a preliminary agreement with Middle East e-commerce company Noon to trial autonomous vehicles in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Neolix will build driverless vehicles customised to the region’s weather conditions, where temperatures can soar above 50 degrees Celsius in the summer, Noon said in a statement. Noon, a joint venture between Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund and Dubai billionaire Mohamed Alabbar, will focus on ‘last mile delivery’ of the vehicles in select areas of Abu Dhabi and Dubai over the next few weeks, the company added. It did not give trial dates for Saudi Arabia. Neolix and noon signed the agreement during the state visit of Emirati crown prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan to China. Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing signed an agreement with Symphony Investment, which is funded by Middle Eastern companies including Dubai’s Emaar Properties, to open a joint venture headquarters in Abu Dhabi that will “promote sharing economy and internet consumer services in the region”. Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala is considering joining the venture, a Didi statement said, without giving further details. Uber and Dubai-headquartered Careem, which Uber is buying, are the largest ride-hailing operators in the Middle East. “The news of further investment into our region’s sharing economy shows increased investor confidence and recognition of the enormous opportunity that lies with this young, tech savvy, aspiring population”, Careem chief executive Mudassir Sheikha told. +++ 

+++ The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has criticised NISSAN for taking an “unacceptable” approach to addressing issues relating to a diesel Qashqai that emits 17 times more nitrogen oxide (NOx) in real-world conditions than it did when assessed under NEDC measures. In its latest Vehicle Market Surveillance Unit report, the DVSA revealed that the Qashqai it tested passed the NEDC tests it was legally required to, but under the newer on-road RDE test element of the WLTP assessment it was found to emit far more NOx than would be permissible were the car to be type approved today. Despite these readings, Nissan decided not to take any action over the Qashqai engine in question, arguing it had improved its emissions strategies since 2015 and had launched a Qashqai with SCR (selective catalytic reduction, or AdBlue) in 2018, claiming that it couldn’t carry out a recalibration on existing cars as it wants to focus its resources on new models. Nissan also told the DVSA that the function of the EGR (high pressure exhaust gas recirculation) would be reduced in lower temperatures, resulting in higher emissions in real world conditions. The DVSA said: “We find Nissan’s approach on addressing these extremely high emitting vehicles unacceptable as we are aware that Renault, who uses a similar engine in the Kadjar, issued a voluntary offer to customers visiting a Renault dealership to implement a NOx upgrade”. The Agency initially thought there could have been a problem with the specific car they were testing due to its high emissions and the fact it showed “no clear evidence” of any DPF (diesel particulate filter) regeneration; the process by which excess soot is cleanly burned off to regenerate the DPF. When a second Qashqai was tested, though, it also emitted high levels of NOx under the same testing conditions. The DVSA said that this “significant exceedance” meant the Qashqai was “not sufficiently well designed to control NOx in real world conditions”. In a statement, Nissan said: “All Nissan vehicles fully comply with today’s emissions legislation. This report, which looks at the variation between lab and ‘real world’ conditions, shows variances for some brands tested. We support the new RDE tests that have now been adopted and have introduced a range of drivetrains to meet them. We will continue to develop affordable and innovative solutions to reduce our impact on the environment, such as our Nissan Leaf and e-NV200 electric vehicles”. +++ 

+++ PEUGEOT said it would be looking to take up the formal legal status of being a European company, which it said would better reflect the business and the integration of the Opel/Vauxhall businesses. “This business structure, used by a growing number of companies in Europe, is recognized in all member states of the European Union. It would reflect Groupe PSA’s European scope, following the successful integration of Opel/Vauxhall”, Peugeot said in a statement. “The company’s transformation would result in a change in its legal form without reducing the current rights of shareholders or other stakeholders, and without impacting the location of the company’s head office or its centralized management in France”, added Peugeot. +++

+++ SMART is working on a facelifted EQ Fortwo EQ and Forfour. Scheduled to arrive in the market at the end of this year following a world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, the Smart EQ Fortwo and Forfour will bring relatively minor styling changes compared to the existing versions. Changes will be made to the headlights, taillights, front bumper and grille. The lights will get new LED signatures likely inspired by the Smart Forease+ Concept and the grille has a similar shape to that of the Smart Vision EQ Concept from 2017. As with the existing Smart EQ Fortwo and Forfour models, the facelifted version continues to feature air vents on the left-hand side rear quarter panels, despite the fact that it will no longer offer internal combustion engines. Still, the electric motor needs cooling as well so maybe they are functional after all. Since the 2020 Smart lineup will be an all-electric affair, we could see some powertrain upgrades such as more power and bigger batteries compared to the current electric versions. If that’s the case, the Fortwo and Forfour should offer a higher driving range and possibly better acceleration. The 2020 modelyear Smart EQ Fortwo and Forfour will be the last Daimler-engineered models. In March this year, the German carmaker announced it sold a 50 percent stake of the city car brand to China’s Geely. The 2 carmakers formed a 50:50 joint venture under which new Smart models will be engineered by Geely and styled by Mercedes-Benz. The all-new Smart EVs co-developed by the 2 companies will be made in China from 2022. +++ 

+++ VOLVO has announced an investment in Israeli company MDGo which has created technology that sends doctors crash information mere seconds after an accident has occurred. The technology startup’s system gathers data from a vehicle and measures the forces applied to occupants and vehicles and infers the nature and severity of likely injuries. This information is sent to first responders in just seven seconds and aims to provide better treatment to crash victims. The venture-capital arm of the Swedish car manufacturer, Volvo Cars Tech Fund, is responsible for this latest investment. While the investment amount hasn’t been announced, it does come just a few weeks after Hyundai announced that it will work with MDGo to bring the company’s intelligent injury analysis system to its future vehicles. “The key part is getting the data out of the OEMs for us, and that’s where this investment is validation for us”, vice president of business development at MDGo Shahar Samoelov said. “We’re trying to bring a new way of looking at what data in the vehicle can bring. It’s beyond one niche OEM. It’s something that can service the whole industry”. MDGo’s system measures crash forces thanks to the three-axis accelerometers included in all car ABS systems used since 2001. The company can also gather information about seat occupancy, seat-belt use, and airbag deployments from various vehicle systems. MDGo also says its system will provide crash data to insurance companies in a bid to reduce claims processing and potential fraud cases. “In a car crash, 2 different verticals (medical and insurance) suffer from the same problem”, doctor and MDGo co-founder Itay Bengad said. “Both don’t know what happened and are dependent on a subjective report. So our job is to allow this vehicle to provide all the data needed to speak my language, a physician’s language”. +++

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