Newsflash: Volkswagen komt met stekker hybride Touareg R

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+++ China’s Beijing Automotive Industry Co ( BAIC ) will develop intelligent cars under a new brand: Beijing , and hopes to cooperate with its partner Daimler on intelligent connected vehicle technologies, its chairman Xu Heyi said. BAIC launched its new Beijing brand last week in the latest push to gain market share in the world’s largest auto market. Other than BAIC’s current electric vehicle brand BJEV, Beijing will focus on intelligent connected vehicle technologies, Xu told an industry conference. BAIC said that the company will invest 20 billion yuan ($2.83 billion) to develop new product platforms for its Beijing brand. BAIC, which has been Daimler’s main partner in China for years, operating Mercedes-Benz factories in Beijing through joint venture Beijing Benz Automotive, bought a 5 % stake in Daimler in July. The partners also make trucks via another joint venture, Foton Daimler Automotive. Daimler plans to adjust its production line at Foton Daimler to build Mercedes-Benz branded trucks with BAIC. Daimler and BAIC’s new energy vehicle unit BluePark have jointly developed a battery research lab in Beijing, the companies said earlier. BAIC bought the stake in Daimler after Li Shufu, chairman of China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, built a 9.69 % stake in Stuttgart-based Daimler in early 2018. “We have finished our stake investment in Daimler”, said Xu. “We do not have plans to increase our stake”. +++

+++ DAIMLER reported a slight rise in third-quarter operating profit, boosted by sales of Mercedes-Benz cars, sending its shares higher, but announced cost cuts and warned legal provisions tied to diesel litigation could rise. Group earnings before interest and taxes rose 8 % to €2.69 billion, up from €2.49 billion in the year-earlier period, boosted by an 8 % rise in sales of luxury cars and solid cashflow. Daimler said it would review costs after the margin at Mercedes-Benz Cars dropped to 6 % from 6.3 % a year earlier due to production problems with the GLS and because cars were being fitted with costly anti-emissions filters. “In order to master the transformation in the next few years, we need to increase our efforts considerably: we have to significantly reduce our costs and consistently strengthen our cash flow”, chief executive Ola Källenius said, without elaborating. Departing from the course taken by his predecessor Dieter Zetsche, Källenius wants Daimler to return to its roots as a car maker rather than reinvent itself as a high-tech mobility provider. In a presentation to the Daimler board at the end of September, Källenius said he wanted to cut funding to startups, reduce spending on autonomous driving research and scrap plans to build a fully autonomous version of the electric EQ S. There was a sales target of 20,000 such vehicles. A spokesman at Daimler said he could not confirm there was a plan for a fully autonomous S-Class with such a sales target. Daimler will continue to develop the technology with Bosch and BMW, the spokesman added. The idea would be to target those autonomous cars for fleet customers with robotaxis rather than selling these cars in bigger numbers to private car owners. The company said in a statement that “autonomous driving remains a key technology for Daimler”. Philippe Houchois, analyst at Jeffries who has an underperform rating on Daimler, said the third-quarter results revealed disappointing margins at Mercedes cars and weaker-than-expected profit at the trucks division but solid cashflow. Daimler is due to give a detailed presentation on strategy and costs on Novomber 14 and chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm said investors should not expect a strategy U-turn. Daimler reiterated that it expected group earnings before interest and taxes to be significantly lower in 2019 than last year, and warned it now expects revenue at the trucks division to be at the year-earlier level instead of growing slightly. Daimler said current legal proceedings tied to diesel emissions may result in additional expenditures which may hit profits at Mercedes-Benz Cars and Mercedes-Benz Vans. +++ 

+++ In the United Kingdom, the ENVIRONMENT Agency runs a fleet of 3,356 diesel vehicles and only 27 electric models, new data has revealed. The non-departmental public body responsible for protecting and enhancing the UK’s environment runs a total of 5,330 cars, vans and HGVs, of which 750 are petrol-powered, 1,197 are plug-in hybrids and 27 are fully electric, while the remaining 63 % are diesels. Now, the Environment Agency (which has an annual budget of £1.4 billion) has promised to replace all of the diesel vehicles on its fleet with ultra-low emission alternatives by 2025. Following the revelation, Friends of the Earth spokeswoman Jenny Bates was critical of the Environment Agency. She told: “You’d expect the Environment Agency to lead by example and, now that it’s set its own net-zero emissions target, we hope it will follow up with proper policy to clean up its vehicle fleet”. In response to the news, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency commented: “We work all over the country to prevent or respond to drought, flooding and environmental incidents. We need a vehicle fleet that is fit for purpose. Our vehicles are selected on the basis of CO2 and NOx emissions, as well as operational effectiveness and value for money for the taxpayer. But it’s our ambition for all our cars to be ultra-low emission no later than 2025”. At present, the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars is set to be banned in the UK in 2040, with the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, indicating this could be brought forward to 2035. It follows news from June that all of the Government’s ministerial cars will be fully electric by 2030. +++ 

+++ Nissan is considering selling two of its plants in EUROPE as the Japanese carmaker faces falling sales in the region and an industry shift toward electric cars. The carmaker is now reaching out to potential buyers for its factories in the UK and Spain. Nissan is likely to drop some unprofitable products and close a number of assembly lines worldwide, as it seeks to boost profits by getting smaller. All markets with factories except China were being looked at for possible reductions in production capacity. +++ 

+++ FORD cut its forecast for operating profit for the year after a disappointing third quarter that chief executive Jim Hackett blamed on higher warranty costs, bigger discounts and weaker than expected performance in China. Investors sold off Ford shares. In a conference call with analysts, Hackett said Ford “experienced more headwinds” than expected in the quarter. “As a result, we will not grow our operating profit this year as we intended”. The disappointing financial results are a setback for Hackett, who took over Ford in May 2017 after the abrupt ouster of Ford veteran Mark Fields. For 2 years, Hackett has been asking investors to be patient with a methodical restructuring that has made progress, including a wide-ranging alliance on electric vehicles with Volkswagen and the sale of money-losing operations in India to a venture controlled by Indian automaker Mahindra. But by Ford’s own reckoning, most of the restructuring work has yet to be done. It has booked only $3.3 billion of the projected $11 billion in charges it previously said it would take for the global restructuring, up from $2.2 billion at the end of the second quarter. The company also suffered a bumpy introduction of the redesigned Ford Explorer and all-new Lincoln Aviator in the quarter, said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of automotive. “We were disappointed in the overall performance”, he told analysts, referring to the uneven vehicle launch and production ramp-up at an aging Chicago assembly plant. “We took on too much”, said Hinrichs, citing the difficulty of launching the Explorer and Aviator simultaneously while it was breaking in a new assembly line at the 95-year-old Chicago plant. “We have plenty of inventory now at dealers”, he added. The third quarter included $1.5 billion in costs for the company’s global restructuring, $800 million of which was related to the formation of a joint venture in India with Mahindra. Ford’s ongoing restructuring includes cutting costs and overhauling its product lineup in key global markets like China and Europe. The No. 2 U.S. automaker still faces the prospect of negotiating a new four-year labor agreement with the United Auto Workers following the union’s more than month-long strike against General Motors (GM), which cost this car company about $2 billion, according to analysts. Ford reported a third-quarter net profit of $425 million, compared with $991 million a year earlier. Revenue in the quarter fell 2 % to $37 billion, above the $33.98 billion expected. Virtually all of Ford’s third-quarter pretax profit came from North America, its most lucrative market, where highly profitable pickups drive margins for the Dearborn-based automaker and its Detroit rivals, GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Ford said it now expects a full-year adjusted operating profit in the range of $6.5 billion to $7 billion, compared with $7 billion last year. In July, it had forecast an increase in the range of $7 billion to $7.5 billion. Ford’s third-quarter operating profit in North America was just over $2 billion. Its U.S. sales in the quarter fell 4.9 %, but demand for lucrative pickups remained strong with an increase of almost 9 %. China revenue in the quarter slid about $300 million to $900 million and Ford’s share in that market fell to 2.3 % from 2.9 % last year. Ford’s third-quarter sales in China fell 30 % as it continued to lose ground in its second-biggest market. Ford has been struggling to revive sales in China since its business began slumping in late 2017. In September, Moody’s downgraded Ford’s credit rating to junk status, below what it rates larger rival GM, citing Ford’s operating and market challenges, and weak cash generation due to its global restructuring. +++ 

+++ Carlos GHOSN ’s lawyers have asked the Tokyo District Court to dismiss all charges against the former Nissan chairman, saying prosecutors colluded with government officials and Nissan executives to oust him from his post. Ghosn’s legal team in a press release said they had submitted 2 court filings ahead of a planned pre-trial meeting the same day that list cases of “misconduct” by prosecutors and “factual defences” that show Ghosn is innocent of financial wrongdoing. “The prosecution against him resulted from unlawful collusion between the prosecutors, government officials at the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry, and executives at Nissan, who formed a secret task force to drum up allegations of wrongdoing”, the lawyers said in the release. Since his first arrest in November, Ghosn has been charged four times on allegations he underreported his Nissan salary, temporarily transferred personal financial losses to Nissan’s books and authorised payments to car dealers with the purpose of enriching himself. Currently on bail in Japan, Ghosn is not allowed to contact his wife or use the internet unsupervised and has had to submit to surveillance of his movements. Japanese courts have dismissed several appeals by Ghosn to ease those restrictions that his lawyers have argued violates Japan’s constitution and international law on family separation. In September, Ghosn and Nissan agreed to settle claims from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision over false financial disclosures related to Ghosn’s compensation. Nissan agreed to pay $15 million, while Ghosn agreed to a $1 million civil penalty and a 10-year ban from serving as an officer or director of a publicly traded U.S. company. Courts in Japan have yet to fix a schedule for his prosecution to begin, with local media reporting that his first trial may start in March. Ghosn’s defence team of 13 lawyers includes four lawyers in Japan who will defend him in the upcoming trials. +++ 

+++ Volkswagen is adding advanced connectivity and semi-autonomous features to help its latest GOLFretain buyers in a market shifting toward SUVs and full-electric cars. The Golf’s new digital cockpit is a technological leap comparable to the debut of the first touch-based smartphones, VW said. The Golf is first Volkswagen to offer car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure Car2X communication as standard to predictively warn of hazards. The Golf can either be notified of upcoming traffic hazards by other Car2X-enabled vehicles or alert other participants within a radius of 800 meters. VW said the Golf’s semi-autonomous travel assist function is a first in a compact model. The optional system can actively steer, accelerate and brake the car on highways at up to speeds of 210 kph. Drivers must keep at least one hand on the steering wheel when using the feature. VW already offers the system in its Passat in Europe. The Golf will have a completely digital, high-end cockpit as standard, the first model in its price bracket with such a feature, VW said. The cockpit has a factory-embedded modem that links to the automaker’s We Connect and We Connect Plus and allows that the car to be always connected. Regardless of the trim level ordered, customers will be able update the vehicle over the air and in many cases even upgrade it retrospectively, for example to gain new functionality such as automatic cruise control or enable a WiFi hotspot. Drivers also will be able to remotely access certain information such as the status of doors and lights or its parking position via their personal smart devices. Owners of certain Samsung cell phones will be able to use their handheld to unlock the vehicle regardless of a mobile network connections and can share the virtual key with their family and friends thanks to an embedded modem from the factory. Amazon’s Alexa is directly integrated in the Golf. As standard equipment, the Golf has a 10.25 inch digital display with a 8.25 inch touchscreen for the middle console and a multifunction steering wheel. Keyless starting is also standard. Head-up display is an option. VW it also equipping the Golf in Europe with a new range of different fuel-efficient drivetrains. The Golf is the first VW car to offer 5 hybrid versions: 2 plug-in hybrids (1 more than in the current range) and 3 mild hybrids with 48 volt. The Golf GTE plug-ins have outputs of 204 hp and 245 hp. Each uses a 13 kWh lithium ion battery to drive on electric power with zero-emissions driving. The Golf’s gasoline engines with an output of up to 130 hp will operate using the Miller combustion cycle, which reduces fuel consumption compared with a conventional 4-stroke engine. The mild hybrids are the first VW cars with 48 volt belt starter generator (BSG) technology that helps cut fuel use by about 10 %. Mated to a 7-speed double-clutch transmission, the mild hybrids will be available with outputs from 110 hp to 150 hp. They can coast with the engine completely switched off. The Golf’s diesel engines will use the same twin-dosing exhaust gas aftertreatment system found on the Passat used to minimize onroad nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80 %. A 1.5-liter compressed natural gas variant will be available in the future, VW said. A GTD performance diesel is also slated for a later date. The new Golf is the first VW Group vehicle to be based on the second iteration of its highly scalable MQB architecture that underpinned roughly 5.1 million cars across all group brands last year. The Golf is Europe’s top-selling car overall and the best-seller in the region’s compact segment but increasing competition is not just coming from a big consumer switch to SUVs and crossovers. VW will start sales of the ID3 battery-powered hatchback in Europe in the second quarter of next year. The ID3 is similar to the Golf in size and pricing. VW executives say the ID3 will attract a younger, more tech-savvy clientele than Golf buyers. Golf sales in Europe fell 10 % to 310.299 in the first 9 months, placing it well ahead of its nearest rivals in the compact segment, the Ford Focus, which had sales of 178.131, down 19 %, and the Skoda Octavia with 169.939 units sold, down 0.5 %. +++ 

+++ HONDA has brought forward a goal to only sell electric and hybrid cars in Europe by 3 years to 2022, a leading company executive said. Last month, Honda said it would phase out all diesel vehicle sales in Europe by 2021 in favor of electrified vehicles. The carmaker had said in March it intended “to move 100 % of its European sales to electrified powertrains by 2025”. “By 2022 we are confident we can have the full range electrified and actually deliver something quite extraordinary”, Tom Gardner, senior vice president at Honda, said. Gardner made the announcement in Amsterdam, where Honda was presenting the new hybrid Jazz model for the European market. “We see a big change happening in Europe and today we are announcing our response to that. We can also feel the fact that the market around us is expanding. Obviously the legislation around the environment is getting clearer as well. It is the track we are on in terms of the development of the new fully electrified line up”. The European Union has set new rules for carmakers to reduce carbon dioxide vehicle emissions from next year, or face fines. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI Motor’s quarterly net profit rose 59 % but was lower than expected as the automaker booked additional charges to address potential engine defects in the United States and its home market. Third-quarter net profit rose to 427 billion won ($364.75 million), compared with 269 billion won booked in the same period a year earlier when its profit took a dive because of costs related to engine and airbag quality issues. Hyundai said earlier that it has earmarked another 600 billion won to settle some of the U.S. engine-related lawsuits, install software to detect potential engine failures and offer lifetime warranties for faulty engines. Its total retail sales fell 3 % in the third quarter from a year earlier, with the U.S. sales recovery offset by drops in China and South Korean sales. A favorable South Korean currency and more sales of SUVs helped support U.S. sales, while China sales remained dismal after Hyundai closed one of its factories in Beijing. Uncertainties linger about its long-standing quality issues, which have invited investigations from U.S regulators and prosecutors after a whistleblower claimed in 2016 that Hyundai and affiliate Kia should have recalled more vehicles over engines catching fire. The prolonged quality woes overshadow efforts by the automaker to steer a recovery following 6 consecutive years of profit declines at a time when it is stepping up spending to catch up in the global auto technology race. Last month, it announced a $1.6 billion investment in a joint venture to develop self-driving vehicle technologies with Aptiv. Hyundai heir Euisun Chung faces challenges in shoring up investor confidence as he prepares a new proposal to revamp the ownership structure of parent Hyundai Motor Group, of which the automaker is the flagship, as part of a succession plan. The group’s previous proposal was scrapped last year following opposition from U.S. hedge fund Elliott. +++ 

+++ At major global car exhibitions, Volkswagen Group typically presents itself as a big, happy family, where each brand, budget-oriented Seat and Skoda, VW proper, luxury Audi, road rockets Porsche, Lamborghini, and Bugatti, gets equal time to flaunt its latest innovations. But at the Frankfurt auto show this September, the choreography was different, with the company devoting the entire pre-show press conference to a single model: a full-electric hatchback called the ID3 . As reporters and industry grandees gathered in a cavernous exhibition hall, videos depicted lush mountain landscapes to a soundtrack of chirping birds and New Age music. To highlight the breadth of VW’s ambitions for the ID3, a parade of prototype electric vehicles from years past made cameos. Finally, the lights went dark, the music picked up, and a trio of ID3s drove onstage; the only car the company showed that evening. “This is an electric car for the people that will move electric mobility from niche to mainstream”, CEO Herbert Diess told the crowd. It’s a big bet for an automaker trying to reinvent itself 4 years after it admitted to cheating on diesel-emissions tests; a scandal that has cost VW more than $30 billion. That painful experience shocked the company into a radical reboot and a commitment to spend almost $50 billion on electric vehicles, more than any other automaker. After years of planning and promises, in 2020 VW will begin to see whether that massive investment is likely to pay off. The ID3, due by the second quarter of 2020, is the first of at least 70 electric cars in VW’s pipeline. It will begin rolling off German assembly lines in November, and next year 2 factories in China will start production, allowing VW to build more cars annually than Tesla has sold in its entire history. By 2022, the company expects to have eight facilities around the globe making battery-powered vehicles, from the ID3 and Vans to Porsche’s 4-door Taycan. Diess, an automotive industry lifer who climbed the ranks at BMW and supplier Robert Bosch, has told managers that the electric initiative can help more than double VW’s market value, to €200 billion, according to people familiar with the target. Yet with the global economy showing signs of sputtering, the timing is risky. Auto sales in China, the biggest market, are heading south at an unprecedented rate, and a wider downturn would surely cut demand for new vehicles, electric or not. This is happening as automakers grapple with the unresolved trade war between China and the U.S. and the unpredictability of Brexit. Potential customers, meanwhile, remain deeply concerned about driving range and a patchy charging infrastructure. “The industry is facing a double whammy”, says Fabian Brandt, a partner at consulting firm Oliver Wyman. “They’re managing a crisis of weakening demand while grappling with a generational shift”. VW’s record on big initiatives such as the electric push is not great, as the company has often been hobbled by its sprawling footprint, an ownership structure that grants a controlling stake to the heirs of the creator of the Beetle, and bylaws that give workers and political stakeholders major sway over key decisions. Constantly taking into account the diverging interests of management, the controlling clans, labor unions, and the German state of Lower Saxony can bog down decision-making. Audi stumbled with a would-be challenger to Tesla’s Model X, the e-Tron, which hit the market in April, 6 months later than planned, and shortly thereafter was recalled over concerns about fire risk in its battery. While the ID3, priced from around €33,000 in The Netherlands with a range of 330 km or more, is aimed at countering the threat from Tesla’s Model 3, its stiffest competition will come from gasoline-powered cars such as VW’s own Golf. The company has made an electric Golf since 2012, but the vast majority of sales are for combustion versions, and Volkswagen on Oct. 24 plans to unveil the latest iteration of the model as it seeks to straddle the old and new worlds. The Golf, though, also offers an object lesson in how VW can change when it gets things right. VW built its global brand after World War II with the Beetle. Then with sales of the Beetle tapering off, in 1974 the company introduced the Golf, which catapulted it to the top of the European industry. By applying that same sort of focus to its electric push, “VW could wind up coming through the CO2 challenge as a winner”, says Tom Narayan, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. “The ID3 is the cornerstone of the whole thing”. +++ 

+++ MAZDA ‘s first mass-production electric vehicle will be a compact crossover called the MX-30 that gets suicide doors and a toned-down slit for a grille. The tapered rear of the MX-30 exudes a sportiness that pays tribute to the MX nomenclature also reserved for the MX-5 sportscar. Deliveries of the EV will begin in Europe next year. Mazda CEO Akira Marumoto unveiled the car at the Tokyo auto show. The vehicle lacks a center pillar between the front and rear doors, which swing opposite each of other. The rear doors are only half-doors, similar to those in the discontinued RX-8 sports car. Mazda rebrands the layout as “freestyle doors”. It said: “Adoption of the freestyle doors not only enhances functionality but opens up a wide range of new and creative uses for the MX-30”. The MX-30 body styling reflects the lines of the CX-30 compact crossover, but the roofline takes a more sloping silhouette for an active feel and aerodynamic performance. Under the hood, the MX-30 gets a new Skyactiv powertrain Mazda is calling e-Skyactiv. It runs on a 35.5 kWh lithium ion prismatic battery. Mazda had previously said the motor delivers 143 hp with a maximum torque of 265 Nm. Inside the cabin, Mazda turns to cork inlays for trim detailing. It’s an interesting throwback to Mazda’s roots as a cork-maker when the company was founded in 1920 as Toyo Cork Kogyo. Mazda engineered the vehicle itself, and the project is separate from the joint development Mazda is doing as part of a Toyota-led electric vehicle consortium. Formed in 2017, that group now also includes Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota supplier Denso. Mazda has said its upcoming EV will come in 2 forms. One will be a pure electric, the other a range extender. The pure EV will target markets such as Japan, Europe and China, where an EV can get by with a shorter range. But a range extender is seen as necessary for North America and other markets where daily drives are much longer. The range extender is expected to be powered by a small rotary engine. Mazda said last year it will deploy some form of electrification in all vehicles by 2030. Pure EVs and range extenders will make up 5 % of Mazda’s lineup then. The rest will be combustion engines paired with some form of electrification, including mild, standard or plug-in hybrid setups. +++ 

+++ NISSAN ‘s Ariya Concept previews a “sleek, sexy and seamless” design for a new all-electric crossover. The Ariya was unveiled at the Tokyo auto show. It foreshadows the first of a range of EVs to be built on a new dedicated platform co-developed by Nissan and partner Renault. The Ariya builds on the IMx Concept shown at the 2017 Tokyo show. But even much closer to production now, the design revels in futuristic flourishes that Nissan hopes will set it apart from an increasingly crowded field of electric crossovers from Tesla, Jaguar, Audi, Volvo and others. Nissan unveiled an EV crossover concept to its U.S. dealers last month. The production version is expected to arrive in the showrooms in the second half of 2021 as 1 of 8 battery-powered models that Nissan is planning globally. The crossover would be Nissan’s second EV offering after the Leaf. “This is not just a show car. This is our serious commitment. This is a real car”, chief product Specialist Makoto Fukuda said of the Ariya at a preshow briefing in Japan. “This is what will be our next step after the Leaf”. The Ariya uses a flat floor and a compact front motor compartment made possible by its electric drivetrain. Both design elements enable a spacious and premium cabin with high-tech features, Nissan said. Nissan calls its flat-floor EV layout the “magic flying carpet” concept. “The Ariya Concept defines the new center for EVs at Nissan”, design director Giovanny Arroba said at the briefing. Having no center tunnel, he said, “really allows us to expand the inner space. We wanted to create a new electric architecture, a new special experience inside the car”. Arroba used the word “seamless” to describe the unrestricted flow through the spacious cabin, as well as the connectivity of the future vehicle’s onboard technology. Under the hood, the electric drivetrain will be a 2 motor, allwheel-drive setup, a Nissan EV first, Fukuda said. The front and rear motors can be independently controlled to optimize torque. “We are not just making a fast-accelerating muscle car, but a car that can allow the driver to drive in any situations safely and confidently”, Fukuda said. According to U.S. dealers who saw the planned production vehicle in September, the 5-seater has a 483 km range and can go from 0 to 100 kph in 5 seconds. The Ariya comes equipped with Nissan’s next-generation automated driving technology, ProPilot 2.0. The updated safety system, already on sale in Japan, delivers true no-hands, auto-navigating highway driving from on-ramp to off-ramp, automatically passing cars on the way. Also on tap is ProPilot Remote Park, an autonomous valet system operated via smartphone. Easy integration with smartphones is a focal point of the new human-machine interface. It meshes car navigation with mobile phone access and has a virtual assistant to help out. The Ariya ditches the front grille in favor of a “shield” that subtly illuminates in a three-dimensional texture when driven to reveal the Nissan brand’s V-motion design signature. The crossover gets a low-profile roofline for aerodynamics and sporty looks. It uses short front and rear overhangs and a so-called light blade that projects from the tapered rear, almost like a spoiler, with an embedded taillight traversing the body. The concept is infused with features meant to reflect a “Timeless Japanese Futurism” esthetic, Arroba said, using abstract concepts of Japanese art. The open cabin embodies ma, the Japanese idea of mastering empty space. The notion of sei manifests itself in the geometric detailing decorating the door interiors. And the bold stance and front fascia express kabuku, which connotes a daringness to be different. Its minimalist instrument panel is uncluttered by buttons and switches and stretches out like a broad video screen in front of the driver. The only physical controls are the start button, a single knob for the display and the climate switches. “Minimal beauty and seamlessness was our mantra”, Arroba said. “Electric power is pure and clean. It’s super powerful. We wanted to develop this car with the same mindset”. +++ 

+++ PSA said it expected the broader auto market to shrink this year in all major markets, including in Russia, where it had previously projected growth. PSA has managed to avoid the worst of the slowdown gripping the industry by introducing revamped models and riding the wave of demand for SUVs. It has also stuck to what chief financial officer Philippe de Rovira has called a “strict” pricing policy, with fewer discounts, helping PSA lift revenue even as unit sales decline. “In Europe, the momentum of the group is strong, we have gained market share”, de Rovira told. Still, “PSA is continuing to face challenges in emerging markets, especially in China”. PSA’s vehicle sales in Europe have been flat through the first 9 months, compared with drops at rivals Renault and Volkswagen. Overall, the European market has declined by 1.6 %. More than 75 % of PSA’s sales are generated in Europe, a reliance that became more acute since it acquired the Opel and Vauxhall brands from General Motors. Automakers globally suffer from a slump in demand in emerging markets and are straining to meet stringent new emissions targets, pushing them to invest in cleaner models and technologies, as well as consider potential tie-ups. PSA kept its mid-term target of generating an automotive recurring operating margin above 4.5 % on average for 2019-2021. The margin reached 8.7 % in the first half. +++ 

+++ Volvo’s first full-electric vehicle has a lot of additional names that are not essential for every day use, but they do tell a more complete story. The battery-powered compact’s full name is Volvo XC40 P8 AWD RECHARGE . The P comes from the model being pure electric. The 8 signifies that the car’s battery capacity is between 70 to 80 kWh (the official number is between 75 and 78 kWh). AWD is for allwheel drive and Recharge is name that will be attached to all Volvos that have either a full-electric or a plug-in hybrid powertrain. While the XC40 EV will launch next year with just one power offering, Jonas Engstrom envisions Volvo adding P models with numbers below the number 8, for example a P6, and said that nothing would prevent Volvo from going to double digits, such as a P10. “This is the start of a new nomenclature for describing the capacity of the electric vehicle’s battery”, said Engstrom, who is business owner for Volvo’s 40- and 60-series cars. “I cannot provide any specifics about the future, but we are open to going above or below P8”. The rest of Volvo’s models will either be T’s or B’s. The T is taken from the Twin Engine name Volvo uses for its range of plug-in hybrids. The family includes the top-of-the-line T8, which offers more than 400 hp combined from its gasoline engine and electric powertrain. The T family’s other members are the progressively less powerful T6, T5 and T4 plug-in hybrids. The lower the number, the lower the total combined horsepower, but this also results in more affordable prices, helping the models reach a wider audience. All the T’s will join the Recharge family. Volvo cars with a B in their names will be 48 volt mild hybrids. The B is taken from the battery charging system that each model has. The new brake-by-wire technology interacts with the energy recovery system and reduces fuel consumption and emissions by recovering kinetic energy while braking, Volvo said. Volvo will offer both diesel and gasoline models in it B lineup. This means the end for Volvo models with a D in their names. The automaker is determined to slash its reliance on diesels. Diesels accounted for about 60 % of the automaker’s sales in Europe this year year, down from 85 % in 2015. Globally, that number has dropped to about 35 % from 55 % during the same time period. Volvo aims to have its P models account for half its global sales by 2025 while the T and B hybrid families will account for the rest. +++ 

+++ About 40 % of adult Americans drivers are leaning more to buying SELF DRIVING CARS in the future as they look to snack, chat on their phone or catch up on email while the car drives itself, a survey by Adobe Analytics showed. The survey of 1,040 American adults over the age of 18 revealed that drivers are ready for more self-driving cars on the road and have plans to make them an extension of their homes and offices. While industry experts believe that it will be years before the auto sector reaches a point where vehicles can handle all aspects of driving in most circumstances with no human intervention, global carmakers and tech companies have already spent billions of dollars on vehicles that can drive autonomously. Following the leads of General Motors, Uber Technologies and Apple, the Hyundai Motor Group this month unveiled bold plans to invest in autonomous vehicles and other related systems. The race for dominance is well under way. Waymo and GM Cruise, backed by SoftBank Group’s $100 billion Vision Fund, already clocked more than 25,000 km of hands-free rides last year, according to a 2018 report by a California government agency. Lyft has also said it will invest heavily in self-driving cars, while German automaker BMW and Chinese online gaming giant Tencent Holdings have teamed up to launch a computing center in China. Drivers also seem primed for the revolution. Many drivers already factor whether a car has self-driving features into their buying decisions, the report by Adobe said, with more interest in connected cars than ever before, with support growing by over 35 % in the last year. Millennials are the most accepting of electric, hybrid and connected vehicles. Many drivers want to enjoy more leisurely activities like enjoying their favorite podcast or catching up on their favorite TV show while their cars drive themselves. +++ 

+++ The futuristic door handles on the TESLA Model S are being blamed for a fatal crash in which a police officer was unable to pull a man to safety from his burning car. Omar Awan, a 48 year old anesthesiologist, was driving his leased Tesla in February when he lost control on a south Florida parkway and the car slammed into a palm tree, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed in state court in Broward County. A police officer couldn’t open the doors because the handles were retracted and bystanders watched helplessly as the car filled with smoke and flames, according to the complaint, which alleges the fire originated with the car’s battery. The door handles on the Model S are flush with the car and pop out (“auto-present” in the words of Tesla) when they detect that the key fob is nearby. “Fire engulfed the car and burned Mr. Awan beyond recognition, all because the Model S has inaccessible door handles, no other way to open the doors, and an unreasonably dangerous fire risk”, according to the Oct. 10 suit. The complaint lists the cause of death as smoke inhalation and states that Awan had sustained no internal injuries or broken bones in the crash. Consumer Reports said in 2015 that broken door handles were one of the most common problems with the Model S. Drivers have also complained about being unable to access their cars when the handles are covered in snow or ice. Awan’s Tesla continued to burn for hours, reigniting several times even after firefighters had extinguished the flames and the car had been towed, according to the complaint. This isn’t the only case to fault the Model S’s lithium-ion batteries as flammable. The family of an 18 year old who lost control of his Tesla at 116 mph and crashed into a concrete wall last year blames an explosion of the battery for his death in an “entirely survivable” crash, according to a suit filed this month in state court in San Jose, California. +++ 

+++ Volkswagen is set to expand its R performance lineup with a range-topping version of the TOUAREG , expected to be unveiled next year and go on sale in 2021. The Touareg was confirmed as “the first R model to go plug-in hybrid” by VW’s sales and marketing boss Jürgen Stackmann, who was speaking prior to the reveal of the new Mk8 Golf. After confirming a Touareg R, Stackmann went on to say “we start with that journey and the task is out there for Joss Capito and his team to deliver us an electric future for R. Then that’s the journey for R. For the next 5 years as we are launching some Rs next year we will couple these cars with a very strong message for low emissions”. The Touareg is currently offered with a plug-in hybrid variant in China, with that car expected to go on sale in Europe in the coming months. It is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine mated to a 136 hp electric motor with a combined output of 370 hp and 700 Nm of torque. Currently, the fastest Touareg offered is the 340 hp V6 non-hybrid petrol model. Whether or not Volkswagen is planning to electrify this powertrain to push its output beyond 400 hp remains to be seen, but it’s also possible that the 4-cylinder unit could be boosted further to suit the R. When asked about the possibility of a fully-electric R, Stackmann admitted there is still a way to go before such a thing is viable. “For the immediate future I think we will still see Rs in the conventional form, so that they will be true to what R is today but obviously we need to worry about it as our emissions need to come down in 2020, R needs to go on the way”. The Golf R, set to go on sale next year, is expected to make use of a highly tuned version of the Group’s EA888 2.0-litre petrol engine delivering around 330 hp. A Golf R Plus, with up to 400 hp, is also mooted to take on the Mercedes-AMG A45. +++ 

+++ 2 cars supported VOLKSWAGEN ‘s decades-long ascent to the top: The Beetle, which laid the foundation for the company as a people carrier; and the Golf, a boxy hatchback that pulled VW from economic doom in the 1970s. The Golf went on a record-breaking run of more than 35 million units sold to date. But in the 45 years since the first one rolled off the line, the ground has shifted under VW, particularly in recent times. The diesel crisis that erupted 4 years ago cost the company €30 billion and counting. That forced VW into a radical rethink of its strategy and portfolio, giving birth to an unprecedented push into electric cars that will sit alongside heritage models like the Passat, Jetta and the Golf. And the insatiable thirst for SUVs has dented the Golf’s internal standing as the undisputed sales king: for the first time last year, the Tiguan eclipsed the Golf as VW’s bestseller. “The Golf is still one of the most important products for VW and still has high symbolic value, but it doesn’t have the critical significance of the past anymore”, said Bankhaus Metzler analyst Jürgen Pieper. These days, the car contributes about 6 % to 8 % to group profit at best, compared with at least 20 % decades ago, Pieper estimates. Those challenges notwithstanding, VW still sees a future for the Golf, now entering its 8th iteration. Sales start in December and VW has pooled production of the vehicle at the hulking factory sitting next to its Wolfsburg headquarters, a bold statement that the Golf remains a cornerstone of its portfolio. Success is pivotal to keeping a site covering an area the size of Monaco humming along. In-house competition does not stem from SUVs alone. In 2 weeks, a VW outpost in Zwickau, 3 hours away from Wolfsburg, will begin turning out the ID3, a full-electric hatchback that sits in a similar bracket to the Golf in terms of size and pricing. VW officials insist the ID3 attracts a younger, more tech-savvy clientele than Golf buyers. But the ID3’s arrival might still limit the allure of the new Golf, which comes in a hybrid version but is still principally built around a traditional combustion engine. The Golf is emblematic of the dilemma facing the wider car industry: how to chart a path into an electric future without choking off combustion cars that finance the undertaking. In VW’s case, that’s a $50 billion outlay to develop at least 70 electric cars across the group in coming years, marking the most aggressive and costly endeavor of its kind. The new Golf hits showrooms at a time when global demand for new cars is on the wane. Global vehicle production is forecast to fall by about 2 % in 2020, according to JPMorgan estimates, amid persistent uncertainty over Brexit, swirling trade woes and geopolitical tensions. To keep the Golf fresh even after its almost half-century production run, VW has upgraded the car with technical gadgetry. There are larger touch screens and sophisticated drive-assistance offerings. Then there’s interior ambient lighting, and a cloud-based customization option for the infotainment system. The VW has trimmed costs on the Golf (previously a showcase for the company’s engineering excesses) by slashing slow-selling variants and reusing 80 % of already existing assembly tools from the current version. The company was able to cut the time it takes to make a single Golf by about 1 hour, using more standardized machinery and processes, trimming country-specific model variants and improved logistics. Gone are the days when buyers could choose from dozens of steering wheels or fabric designs that promised a high degree of customization, but at the expense of complexity and cost for the automaker. “We have never viewed it as a key profit driver for VW group given its production complexity and an exhaustive array of options”, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean said. “The new Golf’s earnings potential has improved, but its importance is reduced by the continual shift into SUVs and first deliveries of the ID3 and further electric vehicle launches”. +++ 

+++ VOLVO reported a sharp rise in third-quarter revenue and profits, helped by cost savings, but also sees market conditions continuing to pressure margins this year. Carmakers are under pressure from trade conflicts, investments to develop electric and driverless cars and an overall downturn in the car industry. Volvo, part of China’s Geely group, said its quarterly operating profit rose 90 % to 3.49 billion crowns ($362 million), with revenues improving by 14 % to 64.8 billion crowns. Its results were also boosted by strong demand for its SUV models. It said its sales growth had outpaced the industry in Europe, China and the United States, as it sold 166,878 cars globally in the quarter. “The growth in unit sales, revenue and profit was driven by a strong demand for our SUV range as well as cost efficiency”, chief executive Håkan Samuelsson said. Volvo, which said in July it would cut fixed costs by 2 billion crowns with measures to be completed by the first half of 2020, aims to produce premium cars to rival BMW and Mercedes-Benz. It repeated that market conditions would continue pressuring margins this year, but that volume growth and cost measures would boost profits in the second half compared with the same period last year. Volvo said it expected a slightly lower level of capital expenditure, after an intense period of investments in its global footprint and new technologies. +++

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