+++ AUDI ’s Q8 family will soon be get a range-topping RS version. The official unveiling has been set for November 20. Slotting above the SQ8, the hyper sports activity coupe will be a more affordable alternative to the Lamborghini Urus, albeit with less power, as the 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8 that makes 650 hp in the Italian super SUV is expected to be de-tuned to around 600 hp. Going against the BMW X6 M, Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 Coupe and Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe, the RS Q8 will differentiate itself from the rest of the range by adopting a sportier styling. Expect bespoke front and rear bumpers, bigger side skirts, a large diffuser with incorporated dual pipes, oversized wheels and a sports suspension with a lower height than the SQ8. The interior will be slightly reworked as well, with sports front seats, RS badges and new upholstery. Elsewhere, the RS Q8 should get the specific driving modes of other top-of-the-line models developed by Audi Sport, alongside the typical technology features found in the regular versions like the latest MMI infotainment system and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, both of them likely with some RS graphics and/or start screens. In terms of pricing, the RS Q8 will sit close to the Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe. +++ 

+++ BULGARIA is ready to offer more incentives to Volkswagen to build a new plant in the country after the carmaker postponed a decision on building it in Turkey amid criticism of Ankara’s offensive in Syria. Sofia is ready to boost its offer and double the subsidies available to Volkswagen to €260 million from an initial €135 million, Rosen Plevneliev, a board member of the non-governmental Bulgarian Automotive Cluster, told. The Balkan country has been in Volkswagen’s shortlist for the new plant and the announcement regarding Turkey, has raised its hopes. “Yesterday’s statement was a good start. But there is a long way to go before we can see what the final decision will be”, Plevneliev, who is also a former Bulgarian president told. “Bulgaria has prepared a wonderful proposal, which offers the utmost possible under European Union laws”, Plevneliev said. The cluster, which unites over 54 companies in the automotive sector and car part industry, has been involved in lobbing for the Bulgarian bid. “We can expand our cooperation with Volkswagen in different areas. Bulgaria is to build infrastructure for electric cars. We also have ideas how to back up the carmaker with additional infrastructure and educational measures, Plevneliev said. The economy ministry declined to comment both on whether Sofia is improving its offer or on an eventual subsidy increase. A ministry spokesman said that until there is a final decision, Bulgaria and Turkey are both contenders for the new plant. With a Volkswagen decision on hold, neighboring Romania said it has initiated new talks to lobby for the investment. Romania initiated new talks with Volkswagen after the carmaker announced it had postponed a final decision on whether to build a new plant in Turkey, trade minister Stefan Radu Oprea was quoted as saying. “We have initiated new talks with Volkswagen Group”, Oprea was quoted as saying. “Romania has a very good technical report right now and we don’t have a labor force problem”. Oprea is serving as interim trade minister until a new government is voted in, after the cabinet collapsed following a no-confidence vote in parliament earlier this month. Romania is home to carmakers Dacia and Ford. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS and the United Auto Workers union are near a deal to end a 30-day strike that has cost the automaker about $2 billion after chief executive Mary Barra and president Mark Reuss took part in contract talks, according to 2 people briefed on the matter. While a final agreement has not been announced, the No. 1 U.S. automaker and the union have agreed to terms on most issues but were finalizing the wording on some matters, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks were ongoing. A deal will likely be announced soon. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI said it plans to invest 41 trillion won ($35 billion) in mobility and other auto technologies by 2025, part of which will be directed to an ambitious effort to become more competitive in self-driving cars that has also received government backing. The plan, which Hyundai said encompasses autonomous, connected and electric cars as well as technology for ride-sharing, comes after the automaker and 2 of its affiliates announced an investment of $1.6 billion in a venture with U.S. self-driving tech firm Aptiv. South Korea’s government is also onboard, unveiling more funding for autonomous vehicle technology with president Moon Jae-in declaring that he expected self-driving cars to account for half of new cars on the country’s roads by 2030. “The self-driving market is a golden market to revitalize the economy and create new jobs”, Moon said in a speech at. The government intends to spend 1.7 trillion won between 2021 and 2027 on self-driving technology. It expects Hyundai to launch Level 4, or fully autonomous, cars for fleet customers in 2024 and for the general public by 2027, an industry ministry official told. But some experts question whether targets set by the government and the automotive group, which also includes Kia, are realistic given the technological and cost challenges and the lack of home-grown technology. In a 45-page report on future automotive technology, the government acknowledged South Korea lags in some key areas necessary for self-driving cars such artificial intelligence, sensors and logic chips. “Hyundai has to buy technology from someone else because it lacks software technology. Even though it has a lot of cash, this could become a financial burden if its earnings deteriorate”, Esther Yim, an analyst at Samsung Securities, said. Other analysts noted that the prospects for self-driving cars are quite murky. General Motors’ self-driving unit, Cruise, said in July it was delaying the commercial deployment of cars past its target of 2019 as tech firms and automakers acknowledge it will take more time and money than they had expected to make autonomous vehicles safe for unrestricted use on public roads. South Korea’s government said it would prepare a regulatory and legal framework for autonomous cars and the safety questions they pose by 2024. It is also aiming to lay the technological and legal groundwork for demonstrations of flying cars by 2025. Hyundai’s executive vice chairman Euisun Chung said last month that the company is looking at developing flying cars. Hyundai has also received much government backing for hydrogen fuel cell cars, with Moon calling hydrogen power the “future bread and butter” of Asia’s No. 4 economy and declaring himself an ambassador for the technology. +++ 

+++ The HYUNDAI I30 FASTBACK N was only unveiled 13 months ago and already, the South Korean car manufacturer has started work on a facelifted version. We’ve know about Hyundai developing an update to the regular i30 for quite some time so it only makes sense that the upgrades set to be enjoyed by lesser models will also find their way onto the i30 N hatchback and Fastback variants. The usual array of re-designed exterior parts are expected to feature, including different headlights, a bespoke grille, and tweaked bumpers. Much larger dual tailpipes will also feature. Current Hyundai i30 N hatchback and Fastback models are all sold with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 250 hp in standard guise and 275 hp when the Performance Package version is purchased. Both models have 353 Nm on tap that increases to 378 Nm with overboost. I suspect Hyundai will tweak the engine of the facelifted i30 N models to give it a little extra grunt. However, it’s unlikely that power will be increased to match the 310 hp of the Honda Civic Type R. Inside, the current i30 N model feels very much the same as a lesser i30. In fact, the most significant changes include some red stitching, 2 additional buttons on the steering wheel, and a shifter for the 6-speed manual transmission that comes standard. I would like to see Hyundai make the cabin of the i30 N feel more special than it currently does with more premium surfaces. Some carbon fiber wouldn’t go astray, for example. The facelifted Hyundai i30 N will probably be unveiled before the end of 2020 and hit the market soon after. +++ 

+++ Tata Motors has gone on the record to rule out rumours it would put JAGUAR LAND ROVER up for sale, but has admitted it will consider partnerships to reduce costs. Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of the Tata Motors, said “we’re not going to sell”. Despite admitting that the company will “always look for partnerships”, Chandrasekaran said the firm has no desire to to a deal where “we just sell a stake and have no say”. He acknowledged that the maker is going through “difficult times”, and listed problems to be resolved including  “getting the right portfolio, which models we need to invest in for electric vehicles and how do we cut cost”. Chandrasekaran also admitted that JLR’s Chinese sales “collapsed” earlier this year, with drops in sales that outstripped a general market slowdown, but said the market is starting to recover with significant growth for both brands over three consecutive months. “Auto is a core business for us. From revenue terms, auto is our largest company”. Despite this, Tata Motors has suffered substantial losses thanks to a slump in India’s car market, China’s economic slowdown, and Brexit uncertainty. JLR will close its UK factories for a week after 31st October, the proposed date for Britain to leave the European Union. Tata Motors has owned Jaguar Land Rover since 2008, purchasing the firm from Ford. With the first generation XF launched in that year, sales began to boom, particularly in regions such as China and Russia where it previously struggle to make an impact. However, JLR suffered as diesel sales slumped in the last 2 years, having invested heavily in development of oil-burning engines. The troubles snowballed, leading chief executive Ralf Speth to announce a €4 billion annual loss for 2018/19. A wide-reaching cost-cutting programme was launched soon after. The latest sales figures paint a more positive outlook however. 128,953 cars were sold between June and September; a slight decrease on last year but a recovery on the first half of 2019. Sales in China are also up a substantial 24.3 %. The new Range Rover Evoque is attributed with much of the success. +++ 

+++ LEXUS and Toyota will offer 3 electric models within the next 2 years, the company has confirmed. While no more details were given on the models, a futuristic, electric Lexus concept, to be revealed next week at the Tokyo motor show, will demonstrate the technology behind the upcoming EVs ahead of production. Toyota pioneered hybrids, first launching the powertrain in the 1997 Prius, but has been slow to adopt plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. It does, however, sell a plug-in variant of the Prius. Talking at the launch of the revised RX, deputy chief engineer Naohisa Hatta said: “If you look at a hybrid, it’s made up of a battery and petrol engine. If you increase the battery part, then it becomes a PHEV. If you take the petrol engine out, it becomes pure EV. “We already have the technology. We’re waiting for the right time. It has to make business sense. It has to make profit. If you look at the facts of what’s happening in the market now; for example, PHEV technology is reflected in the price of cars. If we are going to have an EV in the line-up it has to be affordable to normal users”. Debating the comparison between Toyota and Lexus’s hybrid system and PHEVs, a spokesman said: “Today, the most efficicent route is the hybrid drivetrain in real-world situtations”. It cited third-party data which shows that PHEVs are often run on petrol alone, giving an example of an RX achieving 43 mpg versus a PHEV rival achieving 32 mpg. While Toyota and Lexus remain reserved on the introduction of EVs and PHEVs, confirmation that the brands will introduce 3 zero-emissions models by 2021 reflects the need to meet increasingly stringent emissions targets globally. +++ 

+++ The interior of MAZDA ’s first electric vehicle, to be revealed at Tokyo motor show later this month, has been designed to “evoke a sense of openness” through empty spaces, said the maker. Mazda said the concept uses empty spaces around the centre console to create a closeness between the driver and passenger seats. It added that interior materials were chosen for comfort and “eco-friendliness”, both of which are intended to make the cabin comfortable. The latest information from Mazda follows confirmation last month that it would launch its first electric car on 23 October. The model, previewed by the e-TPV prototype, is expected to adopt an SUV bodystyle, which can more easily accommodate an underfloor battery pack. It will use a similar set-up to the prototype, which has a 35.5 kWh battery and a single electric motor delivering 143 hp and 280 Nm to the the front wheels via a single-speed transmission. The EV is likely to have a range between 200 and 240 kilometres, similar to the new Mini Electric but significantly less than more obvious rivals, such as the Hyundai Kona Electric. It will be able to accept 6.6 kW domestic charging and 50 kW public rapid charging. Mazda will also introduce a modern version of its famed rotary engine in a range-extender variant of the EV. 2 years ago, Mazda boss Mitsuo Hitomi confirmed that, rather than being used in its purest form, a rotary engine will be used as an EV range-extender. He said: “The rotary engine isn’t particularly efficient to use as a range-extender, but when we turn on a rotary, it’s much, much quieter compared to other manufacturers’ range-extenders”. Mazda has eschewed hybrid and electric models in recent years, instead choosing to focus on improving the efficiency of its petrol engines. This year, it introduced spark plug-controlled compression ignition to the latest Mazda 3, with the promise that it will “combine the economy and torque of a diesel engine with the performance and lower emissions of a petrol unit”. +++ 

+++ MINI teased the John Cooper Works GP over the summer and now an undisguised prototype has been spotted in Germany The high-performance model follows in the footsteps of the standard JCW variant. However, the GP adopts a revised grille with a large red band and a mesh lower section. The red theme is echoed further below as the central air intake appears more pronounced and features red accents. The sporty styling continues further back as the GP has unique fender flares and special mirror caps with silver or chrome accents. There are also see red side stripes, 2011 logos and 4-spoke wheels which are backed up by a high-performance braking system with red calipers. Other notable styling features include a massive spoiler and a modified bumper with new trim that flows into the rear fender flares. There’s also a center-mounted dual exhaust system and obligatory GP badging on the tailgate. While Mini hasn’t unveiled the car, the company has already revealed a lot about it. Back in June, the automaker confirmed the model will have a TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder engine that produces 306 hp and 450 Nm. Besides the powerful engine, Mini confirmed the GP will have “model-specific suspension technology”, weight-optimized construction and precisely defined aerodynamic properties. At the time, the company claimed the hatch will set “a new benchmark in the small car segment”. Production will be limited to 3,000 units and deliveries will begin next year. There’s no word on pricing, but Mini has previously said GP prototypes have lapped the Nordschleife in less than 8 minutes. That’s more than 23 seconds faster than its predecessor. +++ 

+++ Experience in overhauling a company and a track record in industry will be more important than nationality when RENAULT chooses a new chief executive, France’s junior economy minister said. Renault, in which the French government owns a 15 % stake, last week kicked off the search for a new leader after ousting Thierry Bollore, hoping new blood will help it repair relations and strengthen a partnership with Nissan, which has also switched top managers. The French state, with a boardroom vote on Bollore’s successor, is open to casting the net wide, junior minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told. “When we had to find the best profile for someone to lead Air France, we got someone who is not French – very well”, said Pannier-Runacher, referring to ex-Air Canada boss Ben Smith’s appointment last year at the airline, in which Paris also holds a stake. “It’s the best profile that counts here, someone that is able to carry Renault and to play their role in the alliance (with Nissan) at a time of major changes”. Car companies globally are grappling with slowing auto markets and challenging European emissions regulations, and need to invest in costly new technologies. Renault hired Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard earlier this year from tyre maker Michelin, after former Nissan-Renault alliance supremo Carlos Ghosn’s arrest in Tokyo on financial misconduct allegations. Senard now has a mandate to get the strained partnership back on track. Internal Renault candidates with a real shot at the CEO job are likely to be scarce, according to a source close to the recruitment process. “The successor will probably be an external candidate, as Ghosn did not prepare anything and left scorched earth behind”, the source said. Another person familiar with the process said Renault had some promising people in their 50s at management committee level, but few with enough experience in top executive circles. Bollore, who was one of Ghosn’s few protegees propelled to a senior job, hit out last week at his dismissal, calling it a “coup de force” in an interview. Pannier-Runacher backed Senard’s bid to renew Renault’s management, however. “You’ve got a new boss who comes on board, who readjusts and aligns his team, it’s a very basic step and it’s a good thing”, Pannier-Runacher said. “Senard is doing his job, full stop”. The junior minister also said Paris was not against a potential revival of a failed deal to pair Renault up with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which withdrew a merger offer earlier this year. “Everything is open. But in the order of things, we’re very clear, we want an industrial project and a reinforced alliance that is serving that industrial project”, she said. Reducing the government’s Renault stake in order to smooth things over with Nissan was not a priority, Pannier-Runacher added. “You have to start with the industrial logic, and then you can potentially draw knock-on conclusions for stakeholders”, she said. During the past 12 months Renault has looked more like a soap opera than a carmaker. The French company served up an ill-tempered denouement last week when it sacked Bollore. He only took the job in January. Since then, Renault’s alliance with Nissan has been in turmoil and the French company’s cash flow and share price have skidded. Renault compounded the dramatics earlier this by trying to merge with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, only for the French state to torpedo the union. These events have created a profound sense of drift at the manufacturer, for which Bollore and his chairman Jean-Dominique Senard are probably equally to blame. It’s Bollore who has gone, though and Renault now has (yet another) opportunity to start afresh. Clotilde Delbos, the finance director, has been appointed interim CEO while the company looks for a permanent replacement. The first priority must be to tone down the histrionics. As at Nissan, which appointed a new CEO this week, Renault needs to focus on operational matters, not creating newspaper headlines. Boardroom bust-ups are never helpful but this one is especially ill-timed. Car markets are weakening and anti-pollution regulations and the shift to electric vehicles require heavy spending. Unfortunately Renault isn’t starting out from a position of strength. It is reasonably well positioned in electric vehicles (with the Zoe) and in emerging markets such as Brazil and Russia. Its low-cost Dacia business performs well. However, Renault can no longer rely on chunky profit contributions and dividends from Nissan because its Japanese partner is also battling slumping sales. Renault’s balance sheet isn’t the strongest: the group had just €1.5 billion of industrial net cash at the end of June and its core automotive business eked out a meager 4 % operating return on sales in the first 6 months of the year. Its local rival PSA Group achieved twice that. Overall, net income will probably fall by about one-quarter this year. Looking ahead, Renault targets €70 billion in yearly revenue by 2022, about one-fifth higher than last year. Yet with car demand plateauing it’s unlikely to get anywhere near that. Sales will rise only slightly to about €59 billion in 2021, according to analysts. Fresh leadership at Renault and Nissan might at least help the 2 partners work more harmoniously. Then perhaps Senard and Fiat’s scion John Elkann can start talking again about a merger (Nissan wasn’t happy about the lack of consultation on the idea). But in view of the bad blood and false starts of the past 12 months, neither seems likely in the short term. Renault doesn’t need another distraction. Bollore claims he’s been treated shabbily, but his successor inherits a lousy valuation, a trunk full of strategic problems and a chairman and French state stakeholder second-guessing their every move. His departure feels like an act of mercy. +++ 

+++ SKODA ’s global deliveries dropped 2.7 % to 913,700 cars in the first 9 months compared with the same period last year, the subsidiary of Germany’s Volkswagen said. The carmaker said that the decrease was mainly caused by further decline in China, where deliveries fell by 22.3 %. On the other hand, shipments rose in Europe and in Russia. +++ 

+++ Buying a STATIONWAGON has always been a practical solution to one’s needs for additional luggage space, as opposed to what you get with traditional sedans or hatchbacks. However, growing families nowadays can just as easily opt for an SUV or a crossover, a segment which held a 34 % market share in Europe last year, compared to just 11% for wagons. Going forward, the wagon market is estimated to shrink to 1.5 million units by 2025, from 1.7 million this year and nearly 2 million back in 2016, which is why brands such as Citroen, Nissan, Alfa Romeo and Honda no longer sell such models in Europe. Toyota meanwhile only has 1 wagon model, while Renault, Peugeot and Ford only have 2 apiece (for now). “To be honest, we thought about replacing the Clio Estate, but in the end we decided not to do so”, said Renault exec Olivier Brosse. In 2017, Europe accounted for 72 % of global wagon sales and markets such as Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic are the continent’s top 3 countries in terms of market share for this body style. “Germany is a big wagon market and it’s not going away”, said LMC Automotive exec, Pete Kelly. Germany however only accounted for 17 % of wagon sales in the first half of 2019. It was in fact Sweden that held a massive 31 % market share, with the Czech Republic at 21%. “Wagons aren’t on the way out totally because there’s a diehard group of buyers who identify with them completely”, added Kelly. “You might see 1 or 2 drop out, but for manufacturers heavily dependent on Europe and Germany, wagons are best”. One reason why some buyers still prefer wagons even over SUVs and crossovers is that unless you own a mid-size or even large SUV, you won’t get as big a rear loading area as you would with some wagons. As for which wagons are currently the most popular in Europe, models such as the Skoda Fabia and Renault Clio stand out in the small segment, while the Octavia and the Focus dominate the compact class. As for midsize and large models, buyers are gravitating towards the Volkswagen Passat and Audi A4, or the Audi A6 and BMW 5-Series respectively. In the future, if SUVs and crossovers are forced to decrease in height due to aerodynamic requirements, station wagons might actually become popular again. +++ 

+++ SUBARU and TOYOTA recently confirmed plans for a second-generation BRZ and GT86, but it appears Subaru is preparing one final facelift for the current model. It will get a more aggressive front bumper with a larger central air intake that is flanked by vertical openings. The car will also be equipped with new front fender vents that reside behind the wheels. The rear will get an updated trunk and taillights. There could be a handful of interior updates. Like the Toyota GT86, the BRZ could gain a new infotainment system with a more modern design. One that won’t change is the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine. Fans have been begging for more power, but it should continue to be rated at 208 hp and 211 Nm when connected to a 6-speed manual transmission. We can also expect a familiar 6-speed automatic with a slightly lower engine output of 203 hp and 204 Nm. There’s no word on when the facelifted BRZ will be introduced, but the 2020 model will go on sale in the United States this fall. As a result, the updated car could arrive a year from now as a 2021 model. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA is working on multiple performance versions of the Yaris, to give the car broader links to the company’s World Rally Championship effort. The outgoing Yaris tried to appeal to enthusiasts with the hardcore GRMN model and the poorly received GR Sport, which tried to give the regular Yaris Hybrid a sportier look. Toyota Europe executive vice-president Matt Harrison revealed at a preview event for the new Yaris that the car will feature in the WRC, extending the brand’s participation in the series beyond 2020. And he told that the company had to work harder to show links between its rally effort and cars that appeal to enthusiasts. “With the GRMN we tried to establish more of a link to the rallying”, Harrison said. “It was interesting exercise. We learned a lot. And it showed clear demand from a different group of influencers, not traditional Yaris customers. The strategy is that there will be GR products that are dynamically different: tuned, with more power. And GR Sport versions that link to it but which are easier and cheaper to run as everyday cars. “You won’t have to wait too long to show you some thoughts we have for Gazoo. It’ll be in the next few months. But in our minds we need to build a stronger connection between success on the track, and the road cars. We’ve got to build a stronger link”. Harrison’s comments tally with a statement made by senior manager with responsibility for Gazoo Racing, Shigeki Tomoyama. At the Tokyo show in 2017 he told that Toyota was working on a ‘homologation special’ version of the Yaris in a bid to make the next rally version even more competitive. “For the next generation of rally Yaris we will prepare a homologation road car”, Tomoyama said. “We have to commit to producing 25,000 of them in 1 year, so it won’t be a limited edition like GRMN”. The vehicle in question could include some significant modifications, including revised suspension pick-up points, lighter components in key areas and a different aero package designed to help the rally car make better use of the huge rear wing allowed by WRC rules. +++ 

+++ Last week, I was at VOLKSWAGEN ‘s assembly plant here for the reveal of the new 5-seat Atlas Cross Sport, which will let Volkswagen compete against the Ford Edge and Jeep Grand Cherokee. But in conversations with executives, I found myself talking and thinking about the German brand’s coming lineup of at least 3 battery-electric vehicles, starting next year with the ID4 crossover. Here’s the problem: though its price hasn’t yet been revealed, the ID4 is expected to start in the high $30,000s in the U.S. and land (after the $7,500 federal tax credit) in the lower $30,000s for most U.S. buyers. According to VW of America CEO Scott Keogh, that’s a number that would be in the “heart of the market”. But Volkswagen shouldn’t aim for the heart of the market. Given its ugly recent history, it should aim for the lungs. The high $30,000s before the credit might be a price at which Volkswagen can still make money on the ID4 in the U.S. because of the automaker’s global scale. But it’s not a price that will ever bring electric mobility “to the millions, and not just the millionaires”, as VW executives have been pledging for at least 2 years. It’s also not a price that will ever wash away the grievous sin that pushed Volkswagen into electric vehicles in the first place: its yearslong conspiracy to cheat on diesel emissions tests, polluting the atmosphere many times more than was either allowed or that it claimed with virtually every diesel vehicle it sold during that time. Volkswagen is the only major automaker to have pleaded guilty to felonies for its conduct in the U.S. Globally, its illicit decision to cheat on diesel emissions have cost it more than $30 billion, and counting. German prosecutors continue to pursue former and current VW executives for their roles in the scandal. And this is worth remembering: If “corporations are people”, as one guy famously claimed, Volkswagen would not be selling vehicles in the U.S.: it would still be doing hard time behind bars. So how, then, does a corporation atone for its past actions? How does it show true, sincere repentance? I take current Volkswagen executives at their word that they want to put this scandal and the actions that caused it in the past, never to be repeated, and that the gigantic global bureaucracy that is Volkswagen has learned the error of its ways and has repented. And admittedly, I don’t know the cost basis for the ID4 beyond the more than $50 billion Volkswagen says it has poured into development of its coming fleet of BEVs. But at least at the start, pricing the ID4 lower would speak louder than words. And subsidizing its first BEV in the U.S. into a price under $30,000 (even in a base model) where it could help build critical mass for other EVs would aid their broader acceptance from consumers still wary that electric propulsion is viable. Volkswagen deserves plaudits for its audacious plan to transform into a global BEV powerhouse. I just hope it launches that plan with the right amount of contrition. +++ 

+++ VOLVO will introduce a new Recharge brand for all of its full electric and plug-in hybrid cars, and has vowed to show buyers the average lifecycle carbon footprint of each new model as part of a bold set of plans to reduce its carbon emissions. The new Recharge line will be introduced with the Swedish firm’s first battery electric vehicle, the XC40 Recharge. That will also be the first model for which Volvo will disclose the average lifecycle carbon footprint: effectively the CO2 emissions the car will produce during its life with both manufacturing and usage taken into account. The Recharge label will be used on all new electrified models the firm releases from now on. Volvo says that it will use the brand to push sales of electrified cars, and that it will offer incentives to encourage plug-in hybrid drivers to use the full electric Pure mode as much as possible. Volvo has already revealed plans for half of the cars it sells by 2025 to be fully electric, and has now launched a wider climate plan with the aim to reduce the lifecycle carbon footprint per car by 40 % from 2018 figures by the same date. The firm has also set a target of becoming an entirely climate-neutral company by 2040. Volvo has already pledged that every new car its introduces will feature an electrified powertrain. But it says that meeting its climate target will involve both pursuing “all-out electrification” of its vehicle line-up, and reducing carbon emissions from its manufacturing network, wider operations and supply chain. The firm is also aiming to increase both recycling and the reuse of materials. To achieve a 40 % reduction of its per car CO2 footprint by 2025, Volvo has set goals for that date of reducing CO2 emissions from its global supply chain by 25 %, reducing its own carbon emissions by 25 % and using 25 % recycled plastics in new cars. Volvo boss Håkan Samuelsson said that the firm was “transforming our company through concrete actions, not symbolic pledges”. He added: “We will address what we can control, which is both out operations and the tailpipe emissions of our cars. And we will address what we can influence, by calling on our suppliers and the energy sector to join us in aiming for a climate neutral future”. Volvo recently announced plans to merge its combustion engine programme with parent firm Geely, and then spin it off into a separate company. It says that will allow it to focus fully on electrified powertrains. +++ 

+++ WAYMO and Renault are putting together an initiative that explores setting up an autonomous mobility service between Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and La Defense. This project is part of Renault’s commitment to offering innovative and accessible solutions that fight urban congestion. The French government is also committed to the development of autonomous vehicles, a sector for which it aims to become a leading country. “This autonomous mobility service between Roissy and La Defense is likely to play a key role for the mobility of Île-de-France inhabitants, tourists and therefore for the international attractiveness of our Region, which is investing €100 million to develop the infrastructure on which autonomous vehicles will operate”, stated Valerie Pecresse, president of the Paris Region andÎle-de-France Mobilites. “I hope that we will be able to bring this project to a successful conclusion for the Paris Olympic Games”, she added. For those who don’t know, Paris will host the 2024 Summer Olympics, scheduled to take place from July 26 to August 11, 2024, marking the French capital’s third time as an Olympic host. According to the alliance’s 2020 mid-term plan, Renault and Nissan are looking to develop a robotaxi service by 2022. In turn, such a service could employ something like the EZ-Go concept, which could be operated by private or public companies according to Renault. As for Waymo, they’re working together with the Renault Group to pursue the development of self-driving systems for a range of autonomous vehicles. “France is a recognized global mobility leader, and we look forward to working with the Paris Region and our partner Groupe Renault to explore deploying the Waymo Driver on the critical business route stretching from Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport to La Defense in Paris”, said Adam Frost, chief automotive programs and partnerships officer at Waymo. +++

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