Newsflash: merkchef Seat getipt als nieuwe Renault topman

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+++ ASTON MARTIN is readying a drop-top Roadster variant of its Vantage sports car for a spring 2020 unveiling. The hardtop coupé variant of the Vantage has been on sale in its current form since 2018, following its unveiling at the 2017 Los Angeles motor show, spearheading the British firm’s design reinvention as part of CEO Andy Palmer’s Second Century Plan. The Roadster retains the low, wide stance of the coupé, with styling changes limited to the addition of a canvas folding soft-top. The Vantage’s slim rear light bar and ducktail-style spoiler are retained, as are its prominent front splitter and rear diffuser. With the introduction of the new Vantage Roadster, Aston Martin will offer a convertible variant of every model in its current line-up, except the 5-door Rapide liftback, which is now on sale only in performance-focused AMR form. It remains unclear whether the AMR variant of the Vantage, which features the only 6-speed manual gearbox in the maker’s range, will be offered as a drop-top. No technical details of the Vantage Roadster have been revealed yet, but it’s expected to use the same 510 hp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 as the coupé, albeit with a fractional performance sacrifice due to the extra weight of the folding roof and the required structural bracing. Aston Martin has confirmed the model will become available globally in spring next year. As with the DB11 Volante, it can be expected to command an approximate 8 % premium over the hardtop. The launch will follow the high-profile revealing of the limited-run DBS GT Zagato, which pairs the authentically recreated DB4 GT Zagato in Aston Martin’s ultra-exclusive DBZ Centenary collection. +++ 

+++ AUDI delivered around 149.150 cars to customers worldwide in October. This represents a 26.8 % increase on the prior-year period. All 3 core regions performed positively: In China, an increase of 6.0 % represents a new record figure for deliveries. In North America, the 4 Rings increased deliveries by 15.6 %. In Europe, deliveries were up a formidable 68.6 %, with extraordinary effects from 2018 contributing to the strong growth. Since the start of the year Audi has delivered around 1.506.250 cars worldwide; down just 1.2 % year-on-year. “In an increasingly challenging market environment we have further stabilized our deliveries”, says Hildegard Wortmann, Member of the Board of Management for Sales and Marketing at Audi. “With our broad product portfolio, the youngest among the premium competitors, we managed to increase deliveries in all major regions around the world in October. We are also well positioned for the year-end spurt”. Audi has delivered around 649.350 premium cars in Europe since January, surpassing the prior-year figure (+0.2 %). In October, the home continent continued to generate very high growth compared with the prior-year period (+68.6 % to around 54.200 units). Reasons include the changeover to WLTP as well as numerous model startups and discontinuations that had negatively impacted the models available to order and therefore also delivery figures in Europe in October 2018. In Germany, deliveries increased by 101.1 % to 18.402 in the past month; since the start of the year Audi has delivered 2.7 % more cars to customers in the domestic market than in the previous year. A similar picture is also apparent in other major European markets such as Italy (October: +80.8 %; cumulative: +6.7 %) or France (October: +46.5 %; cumulative: +5.4 %). In China, the 4 Rings achieved a new record-breaking figure in October, with the company delivering 60.154 cars; an increase of 6.0 % year-on-year. Since the start of the year, deliveries have increased to 551.194 (+2.1 %) vehicles. The Q models such as the Q5 L (+52.9 %) proved extremely popular in October. Audi continues to reinforce its SUV portfolio in China with the Q8, which was launched last month. The North America region saw sales increase by 15.6 % last month to around 23.450 cars. Since the start of the year, around 215.850 cars were delivered to customers (-5.2 %) in the region. Canada again saw strong growth in October, with deliveries up 11.2 % to 3.342 vehicles. In the USA, demand increased 19.4 % year-on-year to 19.172 delivered cars. The availability of the new Q3 had a very positive impact in both markets. The Q8 also continues to prove very popular among North American customers and is the market leader in the corresponding premium segment. +++ 

+++ Next year will see the first major European city to BAN PRIVATE CARS , a leading tech investor has predicted, saying a boom in electric-powered bikes and scooters was driving a green “revolution”. Norwegian capital Oslo and bike-friendly Amsterdam in the Netherlands are both candidates to become the first to go car-free in 2020, while France could follow in 5 years, said Martin Mignot of investment capital firm Index Ventures. “People are just realizing that congestion and pollution have reached a tipping point and that you can’t just add more roads. Space is very finite and a private car is just not a very efficient way of moving people around”, he said. “There is a genuine technological revolution. Those (electric) vehicles are the missing link in the transport grid”. Major cities including Paris, Bogota and Jakarta have experimented with car-free days in an effort to cut air pollution and open up streets usually dominated by traffic. Meanwhile, a drop in the price of batteries has enabled the creation of a wide range of relatively affordable electric vehicles that open up the city to travelers, said Mignot. Electric bikes and scooters for rent through companies such as Bird and Lime are now a common sight in many city centers and Mignot said they could fill gaps in public transport. Index Ventures, an early backer of Skype which currently has some $1.6 billion invested in funds, has put “a very fair amount” into mobility firms including Bird and Cowboy bikes, said Mignot, though he declined to give figures. Mignot said the e-transport sector was still very young, with companies rapidly refining their products as they learn from their early years and the technology develops, while there was also a need for city infrastructure to evolve. Experts on cities agreed that urban planners were moving away from private cars. “I am confident that the first major European city will go completely car free, at least in the city center, by 2020”, said Lucy Mahoney, a spokeswoman on walking and cycling for the C40 network of cities tackling climate change. “Leading the way and demonstrating that going car free is the new norm will help alleviate the crippling pressures our cities face and rejuvenate urban spaces”. +++ 

+++ Elon Musk’s announcement that Tesla will build a factory and a research center near BERLIN makes perfect sense as a loud statement. Berlin isn’t known as a car city but it does have a vigorous tech scene and Tesla isn’t so much a car company as a tech one. But it’s also reasonable from other points of view. Musk, who has spent some time deciding on a European factory location, has decided on Grünheide in Brandenburg, the German state that surrounds Berlin, and the research facility is to be located near Berlin’s yet-to-open new international airport. That the new factory should be in Germany is logical. Germany is Europe’s biggest market for electric vehicles and the one with the biggest potential. Germany is Europe’s most populous country, Germans are in love with cars and worried about the environment, as evidenced by the recent electoral successes of the Greens. It also matters that Germany is a country with some of Europe’s strongest incentives for electric car buyers. It recently decided to increase the maximum subsidy for buyers of battery vehicles to €6,000 from €4,000 and extend it until 2025. One could regard Musk’s move as a cheeky foray into the land of its top competitors. Volkswagen has launched an all-out electrification strategy that pits it directly against Musk’s mass-market hope, the Model 3. In September, VW launched the ID3, the first car on its new platform meant for battery-powered vehicles. Berlin is flooded with electric Golfs that VW made available this year for WeShare, the company’s nascent car-sharing operation. And even before VW starts turning out tens of thousands of cars especially developed as EVs, the e-Golf is already among the Model 3’s strong competitors in Germany, along with BMW’s somewhat clunkier i3 electric hatchback and other European electric cars. But then, it makes sense to keep close to the competition, work with the same suppliers and be able to poach star managers, engineers and designers. Tesla isn’t the cheeky challenger here: the German automakers are, when it comes to EVs. Musk, in a sense, is buying insurance against being overtaken technologically. That could even justify the large differential in workers’ wages: While the average Tesla assembly worker at in California makes $18 per hour, the lowest-paid German auto worker makes about €27 per hour, almost $30. There’s also some symbolism to Tesla’s move into Berlin in particular. The capital city was the first German location for Ford, which started assembling Model T’s there in 1926, not fearing competition from German automakers who were slower to catch on to mass production. And yet Berlin and its surrounding area aren’t obvious locations for an auto industry operation. Though BMW makes motorcycles in Berlin, Daimler has production sites both in and outside the city and VW has a design center in Potsdam, most of Germany’s car production, engineering and design take place elsewhere. Instead, Berlin has a flourishing startup culture. According to Deutscher Startup Monitor, 16 % of Germany’s startup companies are located in Berlin. Only the country’s most populous state, North Rhein Westphalia, has a bigger share. And when it comes to the number of tech workers, Berlin has more of them per 100,000 residents than any German state except Hamburg and Hesse. Arguably, as a European tech hub the German capital ranks second only to London and possibly Paris. Musk said Brexit ruled out the U.K. as a potential site, and France has such restrictive labor laws that it’s difficult to imagine Tesla opening a 10,000 job operation there when there are other choices. “Berlin rocks”, Musk said as he announced Tesla’s plans. On the other hand, it could be argued that the heart of the automotive industry is shifting east, and it won’t be beating too far from Berlin in the near future. Zwickau in Saxony, 3 hours’ drive from the capital, is where VW has started production of the ID3. Saxony is an emerging auto-industry hub that includes BMW and Porsche factories; IG Metall, the  labor union that represents many auto workers, counts Saxony as  part of the same area as Berlin and Brandenburg. In other words, Musk’s choice of Tesla’s next production and development site is a considered one, even if an impulse to take the battle to Tesla’s deep-pocketed German challengers on their home turf has played an obvious role. +++ 

+++ The rumour BMW is developing the X8 continues to swirl, with the latest nugget of news only fuelling the speculative fire. There will be an M Performance hybrid version of the X8 called the X8 M45e, and it’ll have inline-6 power, too. And the X8 is a vehicle BMW has yet to confirm even exists. BMW will pair the company’s 3.0-litre inline-6 engine with an electric drivetrain, just as it does with other hybrids. Currently, the powertrain produces about a combined 394 hp and 600 Nm. However, expect the powertrain to not only make more power in the X8, but it should also have a longer electric range, too. Another bit of info suggests the X8 won’t borrow design cues from the X6 or X7. Instead, it will have its own design identity with a unique shape and kidney bean grille, which has become a controversial design element on new BMW models. Some rumours suggested the X8 would borrow from its stablemates, considering it’ll share a platform with X7, but that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. There’s little information about what could be BMW’s priciest and most luxurious model ever. However, rumours abound. There could be three models, the regular X8, X8 M45e, and X8 M. The bonkers X8 M, which is likely still years away from going on sale, could use the brand’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 from the X6 M. In that model, the mill produces 600 hp, or 625 hp in Competition form. Don’t expect the rumours and speculation to end anytime soon. If the X8 exists and the German automaker is planning to produce it, which all signs point to yes, then we won’t see it until late 2020 or early 2021, and even then it could be a concept previewing the model that’s likely another year or more away. And that’s just the regular X8. The X8 M45e and X8 M would debut after that. If the X8 exists, we won’t know about it until we spy some test prototypes. +++ 

+++ BMW ’s answer to the Tesla Model 3 will arrive in the early 2020s, likely wearing the i4 nameplate. Previewed by the polarizing i Vision Dynamics concept, it will be an electric-only sedan packed with forward-thinking tech features, and built with composite materials to keep weight in check. I have a better idea of what to expect from its specifications sheet thanks to a recent report. The i4 will come with an 80 kWh, lithium/ion battery pack in its standard configuration, and it will offer 530 hp. That’s enough for a 4 second sprint from 0-100 kph, and its top speed will be electronically limited to 200 kph. New battery technology will help keep range anxiety in check. The i4 will drive for up to 600 kilometres on a single charge; a that figure was obtained using the WLTP testing cycle. Plugging it into a 150 kW DC quick charger will juice its battery pack with an 80 % charge in 35 minutes; alternatively it will take about 6 minutes to channel 100 kilometres of range into the pack. Additional variants, including some with more power, and/or more range, will join the line-up a little bit later in the production run, so the i4 could reach M5-like levels of power. All of them will be built on the same modular CLAR platform found under the new 3 Series. It was developed with multiple drivetrains in mind to save the firm from designing separate architectures for gasoline- and electric-powered vehicles. The next-generation 4 Series will also use this foundation. BMW is expected to reveal the i4 (assuming that’s what it will be called) in late 2020 and production will begin in Munich during the first half of 2021. When it lands, it will join the iX3 (which is, as its name implies, an electric variant of the current X3) and the production version of the battery-powered iNext concept in showrooms. +++ 

+++ CITROEN ’s future in the World Rally Championship is under review, with a departure from the series reckoned to be a strong possibility. The French marque returned to the WRC in 2017 after a year away from the sport was spent developing the C3 WRC, but its latest car has been, by some distance, the least successful of the four World Rally Cars it has produced. Citroen Racing team principal Pierre Budar was engaged in high-level discussions with CEO Linda Jackson about the team’s future during and after a disappointing Rally Spain last month. Jackson’s own position at Citroen has also come under scrutiny amid suggestions she will be replaced by Mitsubishi’s former head of production, Frenchman Vincent Cobee. Speculation of Citroen’s third departure from the WRC in the series’ current era intensified with PSA’s announcement of a 2022/23 FIA World Endurance Championship return for Peugeot. PSA’s other global motorsport commitment remains with DS competing in Formula E. One source said: “Citroen is out of rallying again, this is 99 % sure”. Citroen has run a 2-car programme with the focus on Sebastien Ogier’s drivers’ title defence this season, but the power steering issue which ruled Ogier out of the lead in Spain last month also ended his hopes of a seventh world title. An engine problem for teammate Esapekka Lappi compounded the squad’s Spanish misery by forcing the Finn into a terminal retirement form the Salou-based event. In its 3 years of competition, the C3 WRC has garnered just six wins from 40 WRC starts. At the height of its power, Citroen’s won 36 of 56 WRC rounds it contested in the C4 WRC. It also dominated both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships, winning 17 titles between 2003 and 2012. Citroen’s departure from the WRC would leave Ogier clear to join Toyota for next season in place of Hyundai-bound Ott Tanak. Lappi’s options are more restricted. He departed Toyota for Citroen 12 months ago and M-Sport Ford would appear to be his only option for 2020. +++ 

+++ Despite FERRARI ’s design being heavily criticized in recent years, most people agree that the new Roma is one of the best looking designs in a long time. Maranello’s latest twin-turbo V8 GT appears sleek and reserved, and it is being compared to other low-key supercars such as Aston Martins or Porsches. Yes, these days you can be classy and minimal while also having 620 hp, launching from 0-100 kph in 3.4 seconds, and sounding like an Italian monster. This is all thanks to the sweeping elegant design of the Roma. Though the new F-car is not as flashy as the recent SF90 Stradale, there is definitely a strong essence of Ferrari design language on display. The headlights and nose are very similar to the topless Ferrari Monza, which harkens to Ferraris of the 60s, and the big back end with quad taillights and exhaust resemble other GT models like the 612 or 456. So yes, this is a real Ferrari with real Ferrari numbers. Or is it? Rumour has it that the newest prancing horse has a more direct Italian influence, only it isn’t technically from Ferrari. Yes, we have gotten word that the Roma came from the Maserati Alfieri, not the Ferrari Portofino as the layout and specs may suggest. The Alfieri was revealed as a concept car in 2014, and production has been delayed until 2020 when it will replace the current GranTurismo. While the Alfieri is expected with various V6 engine options, and even a plug-in hybrid version, the concept was presented with the iconic Ferrari V8 engine. But the most convincing evidence of the Roma having Maserati roots is in comparing it’s design with the Alfieri side-by-side. The Alfieri’s sharp LED headlights and nose, the multi-piece front splitter and front wheel arches, and the rounded rear with horizontal taillights all favour the Roma. After 5 years of development and a new generation of V8 Ferrari engines, it is easy to see how the Roma could have been birthed from outside Maranello. 2020 should prove us right, as the Maserati Alfieri will make its production debut. Regardless of the origin of the Roma, the car will sell very well. We will eventually see how this new offering compares to its class on the track and in the real world, but on paper, the Roma looks very impressive. If Ferrari is going to keep making more models and increase production numbers, I’m at least glad they are stealing customers from the likes of Aston Martin and Mercedes AMG. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS has scaled back its plans for 2020’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The automaker’s chief executive, Mary Barra, was planning to deliver a keynote address during the event. In addition, it is understood that Barra was going to show off one of the company’s new electric cars in prototype guise. But GM said its plans for CES next year have indeed changed. “There was a plan for GM to have a presence at CES 2020, but plans changed and while we will still support the event, our overall involvement has been reduced from our original plans”, a statement reads. The reason behind the move to alter plans for CES comes due to the 6 week strike at GM that means the intended show cars can no longer be produced in time. Despite this setback, General Motors still intends on introducing 20 electric models between now and 2023. Earlier this year, the company’s president, Mark Reuss, revealed that one of these EVs will be an all-electric pickup. This model will be underpinned by the manufacturer’s third-generation EV platform that’s flexible enough to support almost 10 different body styles. “This architecture is the canvas on which we will paint a profitable EV program. We can build everything on this platform from just 3 drive units: frontwheel drive, rearwheel drive or e-allwheel drive”, Reuss commented recently. +++ 

+++ Crisis-hit NISSAN has slashed its full-year forecast for both sales and profit as it struggles with weak demand in Japan, the U.S. and Europe, as well as fallout from the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn. Nissan downgraded its net profit forecast to 110 billion yen ($1 billion) for the fiscal year to March 2020, compared with an earlier estimate of 170 billion yen. Full-year sales are now estimated at 10.6 trillion yen, down from a previous forecast of 11.3 trillion yen. Nissan blamed the poor outlook on weak first-half earnings, a strong yen, an uncertain global outlook and the stagnation of the car industry in general. Incoming chief financial officer Stephen Ma said: “Sales in China outpaced the market but sales in other key regions including the U.S., Europe and Japan underperformed in those markets. This resulted in the overall decrease of our market share”. Net profit for the 6 months to September plunged 73.5 % to 65.4 billion yen on sales down 9.6 % at 5.0 trillion yen. It was its first earnings announcement since Nissan named Makoto Uchida as new chief executive last month, elevating the insider heading the firm’s China unit as it overhauls its leadership after the Ghosn scandal. The appointment, to take effect on December 1, came after months of turmoil for the automaker in the wake of the arrest of former chief Ghosn on allegations of financial misconduct. Former CEO Hiroto Saikawa resigned in September after an investigation prompted by the Ghosn scandal revealed he was among Nissan executives who received excess pay by altering the terms of a share price bonus. “Nissan’s new management is setting sail in a storm”, said Satoru Takada, auto analyst at TIW, a Tokyo-based research and consulting firm. “Uchida is expected to show new strategies for Nissan’s survival”, Takada told. The automaker has cited a global slowdown in the auto sector, but it is also suffering from a lack of innovation on its production line and reputational damage from the Ghosn scandal. Uchida inherits the harsh cost-cutting measures Saikawa proposed as a way out of the crisis (including reducing dealer incentives and promotions but also cutting global production by 10 percent to 2023) a measure that means the loss of 12,500 jobs. “Additional restructuring is possible in the wake of the layoff plan”, Takada said. Asked about possible fresh job losses, Nissan official Ma said no new announcement would be made until the full new management team is in place on December 1. Adding to Nissan’s woes is continued tension within the 3-way alliance with Mitsubishi and Renault. Ghosn, who created the alliance, wanted greater integration with France’s Renault, and says his push for that prompted angry Nissan executives to plot against him. The 2 firms have made a show of holding the marriage together in the wake of Ghosn’s arrest, but tensions have bubbled to the surface. Renault holds a 43 % stake in the Japanese automaker, which in turn controls 15 % of the French firm but has no voting rights. “The negative impact of the furor around Ghosn is gradually becoming visible”, Takada said. “The alliance is facing a crucial stage”, he added. Ghosn is out on bail in Tokyo, awaiting a trial that reports have suggested could start in April on charges of under-reporting millions of dollars in salary and using company funds for personal expenses. He denies any wrongdoing. +++ 

+++ OPEL is working on an update for the second-generation, only 2,5 years after it entered production. It gets headlights inspired by the new Corsa, along with a new bumper and grille. The taillights seem to carry over without any changes. Nothing serious will be changed on the inside, although Opel could update the infotainment system and give customers new upholstery options. It’s unknown whether these engines will carry over. Theoretically, it is possible the Insignia will get 4-cylinder versions of the 3-pot units recently introduced in the facelifted Astra. That should mean significant lower fuel consumption. A plug-in hybrid powertrain doesn’t seem be in the cards, however. +++ 

+++ RENAULT ’s interim chief executive Clotilde Delbos has applied to take the job on a permanent basis, 2 sources familiar with the matter said, as the French carmaker edges toward a shortlist likely to also feature several external candidates. Financial chief Delbos was propelled to the job on a temporary basis after CEO Thierry Bollore’s ousting in mid-October, as Renault and its Japanese partner Nissan clear the decks of managers closely associated with the Carlos Ghosn era. Ghosn, who chaired the alliance between the 2 companies, was arrested in Japan 1 year ago on financial misconduct charges and Renault has been striving to repair its strained ties with Nissan since. Delbos, who joined Renault in 2012, had put herself forward for the CEO job but was not certain to feature on the shortlist of frontrunners, despite being one of the few likely internal candidates, one of the sources said. That selection, which would comprise around 3 names, is expected to be turned over to the group’s nominations committee in the coming days, the source added. Delbos declined to comment when asked earlier this week whether she had applied. Renault also declined to comment. The French carmaker, chaired by Jean-Dominique Senard, a former executive at tyre maker Michelin parachuted in following the Ghosn scandal, is expected to choose a new CEO by year-end so that the group can try and fully refocus on its operations. Like many peers, both Nissan and Renault are struggling with falling sales in a faltering global auto market. Several heavyweight external candidates have been cited as good fits for Renault, and the French government, which has a 15 % stake in the carmaker, has already made clear it was not opposed to a non-French national getting the job. Didier Leroy, a senior Toyota executive who was already seen as a potential replacement for Ghosn when the latter was close to departing last year, has once again been cited in the recruitment process, 2 other sources close to the situation said. “I do not pay attention to these rumours and remain 100 % focused on my job at Toyota, where I enjoy a very trustful relationship with Akio Toyoda”, Leroy said, referring to Toyota’s president in a statement. One of the sources said that Patrick Koller, the Franco-German CEO of car parts maker Faurecia, also ticks many of the boxes for recruiters, namely as he speaks French. Faurecia declined to comment. +++ 

+++ Italian executive Luca de Meo, who heads Volkswagen Group’s SEAT brand, is the favorite candidate to become Renault’s next chief executive officer. De Meo, 52, denied interest in the Renault job, according to Volkswagen. “Luca de Meo is fully committed to Seat, as he himself has stated on several occasions since he was appointed company president in 2015”, it said in a statement. Renault has been searching for a new CEO since its board ousted Thierry Bollore in mid-October, as the French automaker and its partner Nissan clear the decks of managers closely associated with the Carlos Ghosn era. Renault’s interim CEO, Clotilde Delbos, has applied to take the job on a permanent basis, 2 sources familiar with the matter told. However, De Meo is the top candidate. He ticks many of the boxes of the headhunting firms tasked by Renault to find a CEO, several sources were quoted as saying. He started his career at Renault before working for Toyota and Fiat. He speaks Italian, French, English, Spanish and German. De Meo joined VW Group in 2009, working for the Volkswagen brand and then for Audi before moving to Seat where he has has succeeded in making the Spanish brand profitable. +++ 

+++ General Motors design chief Michael Simcoe has suggested that SEDANS could make a comeback down the road. In recent years, consumer preferences, particularly in the United States, have shifted and buyers are now demanding more crossovers, SUVs, and pickups that ever before. With this change in consumer sentiment, the sedan has started to slowly die out. Simcoe acknowledged that “SUVs are king” in the North America but confusion over what defines an SUV and a crossover could see a switch back to sedans. “I think what you’re seeing is a shift to SUV cues or more formal SUV cues being applied to lower seating positions in vehicles”, he said. “The trouble is, the market is mixing both appearance and content so hard these days, it’s very hard to tell what is a true SUV or a crossover. When hatches and sedans stopped selling, SUVs took their place but I think there will be a cycle back to sedans in the industry. And again, then we go back to electrification, which will make people think differently”, he said. Evidently, GM’s design boss does not share the same disregard for sedans that Ford does following its controversial decision to kill off its traditional car models (excluding the Mustang) a little while back. According to Simcoe, consumers want to own vehicles that other people will notice. “They want to park something in their driveway that their neighbors admire. So the reason for purchase is the same as it’s always been. I think we’ll cycle back down to lower vehicles and essentially everything will be on the road”. +++ 

+++ The undying popularity of SUV cars has made them the second-biggest contributor to the growth of global CO2 emissions in recent years, just behind the power sector, the head of the International Energy Agency said October 16. “In 2010, 18 % of all car sales in the world were SUVs. In 2018, more than 40 % of all cars sold in the world are SUVs!” Fatih Birol told an electric energy conference in Paris. Demand for the heavy, fuel-guzzling vehicles is soaring in the United States and Europe as well as in China, India and other developing countries, where they are particularly prized as status symbols, according to an IEA report released this week. And despite often having 4-wheeldrive, SUVs are mainly used by urban drivers. The steepest climb they face is probably out of a parking garage. SUVs spewed some 700 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from 2010 to 2018, nearly half the amount produced by the power sector, the IEA report said. They surpassed emissions from heavy industry such as iron or steel production, and far outstripped CO2 from trucks, aviation or shipping; other high-polluting transportation means under fire by climate activists. And Birol warned that even the shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles (often called the end of the “ICE age”) would hardly make a dent in the auto industry’s emissions. “Yes, electric cars are going very strong, today there are about 6 million electric cars in the world”, he told the conference. “But does it mean decarbonization? Absolutely not”, he said, noting that half of the cars are currently in China, which gets twothirds of its electricity from coal-fired power plants. And the IEA report noted that if SUV demand continued at current rates, they would add nearly 2 million barrels to global daily oil demand by 2040, “offsetting the savings from nearly 150 million electric cars”. +++ 

+++ For those unaware, TESLA just rolled out yet another over-the-air software update. This particular update adds power, which makes for quicker acceleration. Now, the Tesla Model 3 Performance and Model S Performance have been tested. To say that the Model 3 ’s 0-to-100 kph time is impressive would be an understatement. What other stock, small or midsize four-door can pull off the metric in 3 seconds? There was an issue with the Model S Performance testing. Apparently, the car didn’t get the 50 hp boost yet, though a power redistribution could be detected. It will be interesting to find out the answer to thus and then get new results for the Model S once the update is in place. +++

+++ The VOLKSWAGEN Group has opened its wallet again and made it clear that it wants to be a leader in electric cars. The German automaker said that it will spend a total of $66 billion through 2024 on new digital technologies and electric cars. Of that investment, $33 billion is earmarked to develop electric cars, and mind you, Volkswagen Group spans a large number of brands. We’re talking Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and many more such as Skoda, Lamborghini and its truck divisions. Combined, these brands will introduce 75 all-electric cars by 2029, according to the automaker’s most recent strategy. Of these cars sold annually, VW said 20 million of them will ride on its MEB electric-car platform, of the architecture that underpins the ID 3. It’ll serve as the bones for numerous mass-market EVs from VW Group in the years to come, including the ID 4 crossover, reborn Minibus and an electric stationwagon. An additional 6 million cars sold by then will ride on the upcoming PPE platform, a combined engineering effort between Porsche and Audi. This architecture will be for premium and high-performance electric cars. Perhaps we’ll see a Porsche Taycan successor one day move to the platform. The electric sedan currently rides on a platform called J1, which Audi will borrow for its E-Tron GT electric car. The remaining amount of cash will go toward hybrid vehicles and new digital technology. In the next decade, VW brands will introduce 60 hybrid vehicles. VW didn’t, however, go into any detail on the digital technology it intends to explore. Meanwhile, the automaker set up a new division to work on self-driving cars and will work with alliance partner Ford on autonomous technologies. +++

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