Newsflash: Ford komt met extra snelle Shelby versie van Mustang Mach-E

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+++ The ASTON MARTINDBX will expand the British automaker’s portfolio into a key new segment but does not stray from the brand’s design language. The DBX, debuting simultaneously at events in Beverly Hills, California, and Beijing, marks the latest entrant into a growing group of SUVs from some of the industry’s most exclusive brands. Bentley started the latest SUV stampede with the launch of the Bentayga in 2016 while the Lamborghini Urus and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan went on sale in 2018. A Ferrari SUV is expected in 2022. For Aston Martin, the DBX has been a long time coming. First teased as a concept at the 2015 Geneva auto show, the DBX has morphed from what at first looked like a high-riding sporty coupe into a more traditional SUV, complete with 4 doors, a large rear gate, room for 5 inside and 22 inch wheels. It’s built on a new, dedicated platform. But the design details tying the DBX to the rest of Aston Martin’s lineup remain strong. The headlights and grille are instantly recognizable as an Aston Martin, while the rear styling mirrors the Vantage coupe. The DBX is powered by a 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine making 550 hp and 700 Nm. The engine is the same Mercedes-AMG supplied unit that Aston Martin drops in the Vantage and DB11 sports cars, but it is tuned to give more power in the SUV. It comes with a 9-speed automatic transmission and allwheel drive. The DBX accelerates from 0 to 100 kph in 4.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 295 kph. The DBX will give “many people their first experience of Aston Martin ownership”, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said in a statement. “As such it needed to be true to the core values established in our sports cars, while also providing the lifestyle versatility expected of a luxury SUV”. The DBX will start at about €255.000 in The Netherlands, pricing it alongside most of its competitors such as the Bentayga and the Lamborghini Urus. The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is a lot more expensive. The DBX can be ordered now, with first deliveries scheduled to begin the second quarter of next year. Inside, the DBX has equipment such as a 10.25 inch infotainment screen, a 12.3 inch instrument cluster, Apple CarPlay, heated seats and 4 USB ports. Safety equipment includes forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, blind-sport warning and, for the first time in an Aston Martin, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. The DBX will be built at Aston Martin’s new factory in St Athan, South Wales. The automaker is aiming to lift annual global output to 14,000 vehicles by 2023 with the help of the DBX. The brand’s 2018 global sales totaled 6,441 and the company is targeting 6,300 to 6,500 deliveries this year. The DBX comes at a critical time for Aston Martin. The automaker was sold by Ford in 2007 and is now largely owned by Kuwaiti and Italian private equity groups. Aston Martin listed in October last year at 19 pounds per share but that has since plunged by around 75 %, hit most recently by falling demand in Europe and lower demand for its Vantage model. The company reported a pretax loss of €106 million in the first 9 months. James Bond’s carmaker of choice is eying on winning female customers, hoping it can dig itself out of a financial black hole. Whilst around 10 % of the buyers of its signature line-up of sports cars, including the 6-figure sum DB11 and Vantage models, are women, half of its customers in China are female, where the firm chose to launch the DBX.
“That’s something we aspire to elsewhere,” Chief Executive Andy Palmer told. “Aston is cool but if you can make it cool amongst both male and female, that makes it very, very powerful”, he said. Aston is trying hard to turn around its performance and winning new customers will be key to its success. The firm’s share price has plunged this year as sales underperformed after a stock market flotation and the global automotive industry has had a torrid year. The profile of Aston Martin’s target customer for its first SUV is a 40-something West Coast entrepreneur with children, called “Charlotte”. The 106-year old firm used an all-female advisory body to help design many of the features in the new vehicle which include greater leg room and a smaller reach to the controls, Palmer said. “We had in mind this car must fit female customers’ needs,” he said. The company hopes to boost its current annual sales of around 6,400 sports cars this year with up to 5,000 SUVs. The wider car market has been affected by declining sales in China, trade war worries between the world’s 2 biggest economies, a slump in diesel sales in Europe and the need to invest heavily in electrification. By switching its focus to “Charlotte” for this model, the central England-based company hopes its new DBX will improve its fortunes. The carmaker has gone bankrupt 7 times. +++

+++The long-awaited AUDI e-Tron GT will be unveiled at next year’s LA motor show, according to Audi design boss Marc Lichte. Although Lichte did not explicitly name the upcoming car, his promise that “in one more year here we will present our coupé” was almost certainly a reference to the production model of the GT, which was previewed in concept form in 2018. The 4-door sports saloon, sister car to the Porsche Taycan, will be the third of Audi’s stand-alone electric models, following the e-Tron and the recently revealed e-Tron Sportback. A compact electric model is also due. By 2025, Audi will have 12 electric models. The sleek, A7-sized model will be the flagship of Audi’s electric line-up, falling under the custody of the brand’s Audi Sport performance arm. It will offer 400 kiloemtres of range on the WLTP cycle and, most notably, be capable of charging at 350 kW. This will dramatically reduce charging times, meaning that an 80 % fast charge will be achievable in under 20 minutes. Currently, a similar level charge takes more than double that time. For at-home charging, as well as using a traditional cable, Audi will offer a wireless charging option via an induction plate. The GT concept’s 2 synchronous motors, one at the front and one at the rear, produce a collective 600 hp power output, enabling it to accelerate from 0-100 kph in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 240 kph. Torque is transferred to the wheels via the Quattro permanent allwheel drive with torque vectoring. “The acceleration isn’t important. It’s being able to reproduce that acceleration 5, 6, 7 times”, said Audi Sport product marketing boss Stefan Holischka, alluding to some electric performance cars that struggle to replicate acceleration times more than once due to battery limitations. The GT’s 96 kWh battery takes up the entire underfloor area between the front and rear axles, giving the car a centre of gravity comparable to the R8. There is also all-wheel steering, all of which creates a “sports car-like agility and precision”, said Audi. “The 96 kWh battery is the perfect combination for performance, charging time and range”, added Holischka. The e-Tron GT is set to use the same J1 platform as the recently unveiled Porsche Taycan, which employs a flat battery, suitable for a low-sitting performance car. When asked about other similarities between the 2 cars, Holischka said: “The Taycan will be a different character. We’ve tried to differentiate as much as possible. The Porsche and Audi designers were in close contact all the time”. The body is made from a mixture of aluminum, high-strength steel and carbonfibre. Lichte added that there are a number of design elements for aerodynamics. For example, it has a dynamic spoiler that can be moved depending on whether a driver wants to focus on performance or economy. There are 2 front air curtains for the Audi Sport model, as well as specially designed wheels for better aero. Talking about the broader design, Lichte said: “In the past, we did expressive design on the bonnet to accentuate the engine. Now we highlight the sill where the battery sits”. Inside, the GT has a 3D dashboard, which has a touchscreen integrated, so if it’s not being used, it blends into the dash. The steering wheel is flat at the top and bottom; while a flat-bottom wheel is in existing RS models, the feature at the top and bottom will only appear in future electric RS cars. The model also uses vegan materials as an alternative to leather. There is synthetic leather on seats, fabrics from recycled fibres on seat cushions, and the floor mats are made from used fishing nets. There are 2 storage compartments, a 450 litre boot (equivalent to an Audi A4) and another 100 litres under the bonnet. The model will be built at Böllinger Höfe, Germany, where the R8 is currently made. Pricing is expected to come close to €100,000 in The Netherlands. +++ 

+++ BMW is providing a glimpse into the future by showcasing their new BATTERY Cell Competence Center in Munich, Germany. Designed to create the batteries of tomorrow, the facility is tasked with improving energy density, peak output, service life and safety. If that wasn’t a difficult enough challenge, engineers also have consider charging characteristics, costs and thermal performance. Since there are so many different factors to consider, the company says they’re “constantly investigating innovative materials and systematically comparing them with one another”. As part of this effort, they test new cell chemistries and individual cell components such as the anode, cathode, electrolyte and separator. The ultimate goal is to identify the ideal cell structure that is affordable, has a high energy density and can accept fast charging, among other things. That’s no easy task, but the company isn’t alone in this effort as they’ve partnered with a number of universities, scientific institutions and start-ups. BMW says this helps to create synergies and shorten development times. Testing plays an important role in battery development and it’s a lengthy process that starts with a small cell which is subjected to initial durability and charging tests. Once a cell passes the first stage of testing, a larger version is created and then subjected to further examination. While BMW didn’t say much about their future batteries, chairman Oliver Zipse hinted future electric vehicles will have twice the range as they do today. As he explained, “Taking the technology currently in the BMW i3 as a basis, by 2030 we will be able to double the energy density of our battery cells, and therefore also the operating range of the vehicles for our customers”. Zipse didn’t go into specifics, but the i3 can travel up to 310 km in the WLTP cycle. Doubling that would give you a range of 620 km. This doesn’t sound too impressive, but it’s important to remember the i3 has a 42.2 kWh battery rather than the roughly 80 kWh battery that will give the i4 a range of around 600 km. Besides having twice the energy density as existing batteries, future batteries will be more eco-friendly. As part of this effort, batteries are being designed with recycling in mind and BMW aims recycle over 90 % of their batteries in the future. The focus on battery technology shouldn’t be too surprising as BMW plans to offer 25 electrified models in the next four years. More than half of them will be battery electric vehicles. +++ 

+++ BMW is in talks with labor representatives and its top suppliers as it seeks to achieve cost savings of more than €12 billion by 2022, chief financial officer Nicolas Peter told analysts. “We are currently discussing additional measures with the Works Council. All parties are working very constructively to make the company even stronger and more efficient”, Peter said. “The results will be presented next week at our employee meeting. One thing is clear: We will have to achieve significant savings each year with these measures”, Peter added. BMW plans to keep staff numbers at roughly the same level as 2018, Peter said. Separately, BMW said it has introduced an efficiency program with top suppliers which includes agreements with 18 companies. +++ 

+++ BUGATTI boss Stephan Winkelmann believes the internal combustion engine will remain the pinnacle of automotive for at least the next decade, until legislation forces even his company towards electrification. When the day comes for an electrified Bugatti, “it will not just be for a push from the market but it will be the best in the market”, said Winkelmann. “Until that day, I see the internal combustion engine as having a considerable future”, and that the company would continue to promote what he considers to be the very best, and truly cutting-edge, way of powering a car. Winkelmann said that as well as showing the very best of combustion engine technology with its W16 unit, Bugatti would continue to be at the pinnacle of the automotive industry and “not just reduced to being about top speed”. He said: “The Chiron has much more than that. It’s acceleration, handling, a power to weight ratio, comfort, styling, beauty, and in time being a collector’s item”. Winkelmann poured cold water on the suggestion of any imminent decision on a second model line for Bugatti, to join the Chiron. Despite suggestions that its plans for an crossover are well advanced, Winkelmann said that to have a second model Bugatti “needed the full support and the decision of the Volkswagen Group supervisory board”. He added: “I hope it will happen and we will speak then. The VW Group has a lot on its plate with developing electrification, so we see some limits around budgets”. While Bugatti is not yet ready to switch to electrification, it has announced plans in LA to offset its carbon emissions as a company. Winkelmann said that, collectively, there were fewer than 700 Chirons and Bugatti Veyrons on the road, and each did no more than 1.500 kilometres a year. To offset those emissions, and those of all of Bugatti’s operations in various offices around the world, it would plant 4.000 trees at the start of next year and each year to follow in partnership with a French environmental organisation. Its Molsheim factory will switch to only using clean gas and green electricity. +++ 

+++ With production of the new CHEVROLET Corvette Stingray pushed back to February due to the UAW strike, American enthusiasts have only 2 choices. The first would be to place an order for the mid-engined Corvette C8 and hope that delivery won’t take ages. The second choice is pick one of the 5,025 current Corvette C7s sitting on dealer lots across the United States. That’s how many brand new 2019 Corvettes remain available nationwide as of November 15, and they acount for a 122-day supply, calculated based on the number of days dealers will need to sell them out. As Corvette C7 production ended last week to allow for the retooling of the plant, it means that these are the last front-engined Corvettes available for sale. The number does not include the cars produced just before the strike, but we should have a clearer picture next month when the final Corvette C7s produced will be added to the inventory as well. With more than 5,000 Corvette C7s available for immediate purchase, dealers should be covered until the new generation model enters production. Based on the current sales rate, the C7 Corvette won’t be completely sold out until March 19. That’s good news for buyers who are looking for a good deal on a Corvette and don’t necessarily want the C8. As a reminder, Chevrolet began offering a $3,000 Loyalty Bonus for American Corvette owners in April that is still in effect today. Add to that the varying discounts offered by dealers and they’re looking a pretty sweet deal for one of the last brand new Corvettes with the engine at the front. +++ 

+++ CITROEN has quit the World Rally Championship with immediate effect, claiming the decision was made because lead driver Sébastien Ogier is leaving the team. The French firm has a storied history in the WRC, winning nine consecutive drivers’ championships with Sebastien Loeb between 2004 and 2014, and eight manufacturers’ titles during that period. But it has struggled to compete with Toyota and Hyundai in recent years, finishing third in this year’s makes’ points. Ogier, who has won 6 drivers’ titles with Volkswagen and M-Sport Ford, was third in the drivers’ standings. Ogier, who started his works career with Citroën in 2009, had returned to the firm this season on a 2-year deal, but his unhappiness with the competitiveness of his C3 WRC became clear during the year. He is widely expected to switch to the title-winning Toyota squad for 2020. Finn Esapekka Lappi also drove for the team this year. In a statement, Citroën Racing said that “following the decision of Sebastien Ogier to leave Citroën Racing after 2019 WRC season, Citroën decided to withdraw from its WRC programme in 2020 due to the absence of a first-class driver available for 2020 season”. With sister firm DS a frontrunner in Formula E and Peugeot gearing up to return to the World Endurance Championship with a hybrid supercar in 2022, Citroën had been expected to leave the WRC in the coming years, but it is still a surprise for the firm to leave so quickly. Citroën has shifted the focus of its road car line-up to emphasise comfort and electrification in recent years, away from performance-focused models, making its WRC programme an odd fit. The release added that the decision would enable it to “reinforce the focus of its marketing means on its brand strategy, to address the current stakes regarding energy transition with the launch of a new generation of electrified models from 2020”. Citroën boss Linda Jackson said: “Our decision to withdraw from WRC programme as early as end of 2019 follows on Sébastien Ogier’s choice to leave Citroën Racing. We obviously have not wished this situation but we could not imagine 2020 season without Sébastien. I would like to thank Citroën Racing team for their passion and commitment. A part of Citroën’s DNA is intimately linked with the rally and we are proud to be one of the most titled brands in WRC History with 102 victories and eight manufacturer titles”. Citroën dabbled in the WRC in the 1980s with the disastrous BX 4TC Group B car, but its current programme began in the late 1990s, when it shifted its efforts from rally raids. The firm developed a number of rapid 2-wheeldrive kit cars, before stepping up to the top-level with the 4-wheeldrive Xsara T4 WRC in 2001. Jesus Puras took Citroën’s first win during that part-season, but the start performer was French rookie Loeb, who picked up his first win in Germany as part of a limited campaign in 2002. Citroën entered full-time in 2003, with Loeb joined by rally legends Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz. Loeb narrowly missed the title before clinching it in 2004, starting an unprecedented run of dominance. While Citroën took a year out in 2006 to develop the C4 WRC, Loeb still won the title in a privateer Xsara. Ogier joined Citroën in 2010, and looked set to eventually succeed Loeb before tensions between the two led to him jumping to Volkswagen for 2012. Loeb won that year’s title in the C3 WRC before quitting the WRC full-time, and the firm’s title-winning run ended when Ogier claimed the first of his 6 consecutive titles in a Polo WRC in 2014. Citroën had another sabbatical in 2016 while it developed the new C3 WRC, and, while the car has won rallies every season since 2017, the squad has been unable to mount a sustained title challenge. Briton Kris Meeke had led the squad before being dropped mid-way through 2018, and hopes had been high that the return of Ogier for this year would help Citroën return to dominance. +++ 

+++ FORD bosses have confirmed that a Shelby-badged version of the new Mustang Mach-E is in the pipeline. The electric crossover is the company’s first brand extension of the Mustang name, and with 0-100 kph times mooted to be around 4 seconds for the performance GT version. But now Shelby will take that to the next level with an even hotter version. Ed Krenz, chief program engineer at Ford Performance, told me: “I’m looking forward to the challenge of applying the Shelby characteristics to an electric car. The trick for us is the fun-to-drive part, and sustainability in terms of charging. It needs to be capable to go all day on a track day. You can’t do 20 minutes and then have to charge it all night”. A Shelby branded version of the Mustang Mach-E would be in-keeping with Ford’s determination to prove Mach-E’s providence as a performance car, and to justify the iconic pony badge it wears. Krenz added: “Straight line bit is easy with electric cars, but we know the Shelby DNA down to the ground and applying that to electric is difficult. Even so, all weight’s not bad; we’ve had Mach-E on the simulator and the low centre of gravity is an opportunity”. Speaking at the launch of the Mach-E, Darren Palmer, Ford global director for Battery Electric Vehicle Product Development, explained that “Mustang needs to be relevant long-term. This takes Mustang in a new direction, and safeguards and supports the base Mustang for the future. I’m not commenting on a Shelby version but, it’s a Mustang…” The standard Mustang Mach-E goes on sale towards the end of 2020, but expect a Shelby branded version to follow later in 2021 with prices likely to be around €65,000 in The Netherlands. +++  

+++ China’s top SUV maker GREAT WALL MOTORS aims to sell 300,000 of its premium brand WEY vehicles a year by 2025, its chairman said. The company aims to roll out the vehicles to Europe in 2021 and to North America in 2023, Wei Jianjun, chairman of Baoding-based Great Wall, said on the sidelines of the Guangzhou Autoshow. Great Wall has sold over 300,000 WEY-branded SUVs in the past 3 years. Wei told in September the firm may consider building cars in Europe once sales hit 50,000 a year. +++ 

+++ Small car platforms developed by PSA should be favored if plans to merge with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) go ahead, executive Gaetano Thorel told. Managers on both sides are finalizing discussions to try and create the world’s fourth-largest carmaker, a move that will result in choices being made about which technologies to adopt in the merged entity. “On smaller segments PSA has the platforms which allowed the group to make the highest margins in Europe among all the automakers, so I find it reasonable that these platforms might be used in the future on some FCA models too”. Thorel said. “On the other hand FCA has got Ram and Jeep, and I find it reasonable that the new group might use those platforms in that segment”, Thorel, who is PSA’s managing director for Italy, said. European labor unions have called on PSA and FCA to avoid job cuts and factory closures as the 2 major carmakers prepare to complete a $50 billion deal to create the world’s fourth-largest carmaker. +++ 

+++ RENAULT has not ruled out withdrawing from some products or markets as part of a review of its mid-term goals, the carmaker’s interim chief executive Clotilde Delbos said. The strategic review is expected to be completed within a few months, and investors are hoping that will allow Renault to turn a page on months of uncertainty after the arrest last year of Renault-Nissan alliance boss Carlos Ghosn. “We will avoid it if we can, but we have to ask ourselves the question: can we just keep up the same strategy? I don’t think so. The market is changing, we have to adapt”, Delbos said at a conference. Delbos added that she was sure it was possible to make the carmaker’s alliance with Nissan a lot more efficient that it was at the moment. Renault is expected to refocus its operations, as it and Nissan, like many peers, are struggling with falling sales in a faltering global auto market. Financial chief Delbos was propelled into her current job on a temporary basis after CEO Thierry Bollore’s ousting in mid-October. Delbos has applied to take the job on a permanent basis, 2 sources familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this month. When asked if she wanted to be permanent CEO, Delbos declined to comment. +++ 

+++ A group of stakeholders in the U.S. auto industry urged automakers to adopt STANDARIZED NAMES for Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology from a list they released, seeking to reduce confusion among consumers. The list of names, drawn up by roadside assistance provider American Automobile Association (AAA), influential U.S. magazine Consumer Reports, auto industry consultant J.D. Power and the National Safety Council, also looks to ensure drivers are aware these systems are designed to assist and not replace an engaged driver. It includes 5 categories (driving control assistance, collision warnings, collision intervention, parking assistance and other driver assistance systems) and will be updated when new systems come to the market. The new names are not meant to replace automaker system names, but seek to provide consistent information on window stickers, owner manuals and marketing materials, the four organizations said in a joint statement. Consumers are faced with as many as 20 names for a single ADAS feature as vehicle makers often prioritize marketing over clarity, an AAA research found earlier this year. +++

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