Newsflash: Nieuwe Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 wordt 912 pk sterk

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+++ AUDI said it would cut 1 in 10 jobs, freeing up billions of euros to fund its shift toward electric vehicle production. Carmakers are struggling with an auto industry downturn, particularly in key market China, and the need to increase investment in electric vehicles as several countries move to eventually ban conventional combustion engines. Audi said it would cut up to 9,500 jobs, or 10.6 % of its total staff by 2025, saving €6 billion, but also create up to 2,000 new positions in the areas of electric mobility and digitalization. “The company must become lean and fit for the future, which means that some job profiles will no longer be needed and new ones will be created”, Audi said in a statement. The group said the cuts, which would also include management positions, would take place along the demographic curve through employee turnover and early retirement programs and help it reach a profit margin of 9 % to 11 %. Rival Daimler has also recently announced staff and cost cuts. Audi agreed to extend an employment guarantee which rules out forced layoffs for its workforce until the end of 2029, something which had been a sticking point in discussions between management and labor representatives. “We have reached an important milestone: The jobs of our core workforce are secure”, said Peter Mosch, chairman of the general works council of Audi. “The extension of the employment guarantee is a great success in difficult times”. The agreement between management and workers sees annual production capacity at Audi’s German plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm at 450,000 and 225,000 respectively. Audi said a fund would be set up at the Neckarsulm site to fund the shift toward electric vehicles and would be worth €300 million by 2025. “In times of upheaval, we are making Audi more agile and more efficient”, a spokesman said. “This will increase productivity and sustainably strengthen the competitiveness of our German plants”. Audi named new finance, procurement and personnel chiefs in a shakeup of its top management ahead of the arrival of its new CEO, Markus Duesmann. Audi “is realigning itself for the future”, said Herbert Diess, who is the brand’s chairman in addition to his role of CEO of Audi parent, Volkswagen Group, said in a news release. Audi is struggling from the aftermath of its role in VW Group’s emissions scandal, which lead to the firing of long-term CEO Rupert Stadler, several engineers and current CEO Bram Schot. The brand’s growth has also stalled: its global sales fell 1.2 % to 1.51 million in the first 10 months. Duesmann, 50, a former engine development expert and head of purchasing at BMW, is tasked with reviving Audi’s reputation as a technology leader, including injecting new meaning into the company’s advertising slogan “Vorsprung Durch Technik”. Audi was a major research and development hub within the VW Group, setting standards in aerodynamic efficiency, lightweight aluminum construction, dual-clutch gearbox technology and fourwheel drive systems. It is now important for Duesmann and his future team “to make Vorsprung durch Technik an unmistakable maxim for action at Audi. This must be the mission of the Audi management”, Diess said. Duesmann will become CEO on April  1. He will also have board-level responsibility for r&d at parent VW Group. Audi’s current CEO, Bram Schot, leaves at the end of March. +++

+++ With the arrival of the Aston Martin DBX and Mercedes-Maybach GLS, it’s safe to say the battle in the ultra-luxury SUV segment is heating up. BENTLEY wants to keep the Bentayga fresh and competitive as it fights new rivals by applying a mid-cycle refresh likely slated to debut in 2020. I’m expecting the new headlights to have more things in common with those of the new Flying Spur, while the bumper and grille could also go through a nip and tuck. At the back, there will be new graphics for the slimmer taillights to give the Bentayga a sleeker derrière, and the designers could also lightly revise the rear bumper as well. Some new alloy wheel designs and possibly fresh paints should round off the changes on the outside. The updated Bentayga will receive Bentley’s latest and greatest infotainment system to bring the SUV in line with the Continental GT and Flying Spur. In addition, a fully digital instrument cluster is likely on the agenda, as are more safety and assistance systems. Underneath the bonnet, I’ve heard through the grapevine the mighty W12 will be updated to cut fuel consumption and emissions. The V8 will probably be carried over unchanged since it’s still quite new, and it should be a similar story with the plug-in hybrid V6. It’ll be interesting to see whether the diesel engine will make a comeback considering the latest product launches from the VW Group (such as Audi Sport’s S models in Europe) have shown the German automotive conglomerate still believes TDIs have a future. +++ 

+++ BMW is counting on the 6th generation of its 3-series Touring to continue to be a heavyweight for the model range in 2 of Europe’s top 5 markets. The 3-series Touring accounts for just a quarter of the midsize model range’s global sales, which are dominated by the sedan. However, the Touring represents 75 % of the car line’s volume in Italy and 66 % in Germany. That level of demand is why Europe accounts for more than 70 % of global wagon sales. Broken down further, wagons make up nearly 20 % of sales in Germany, Europe’s biggest market. The 3-series Touring also has a strong following in the UK and is offered in global markets such as Japan, South Korea and Australia. Like its sedan sibling, the new 3-series Touring is longer, wider and taller. The length grows 79 mm to 4.709 mm, the width gains 16 mm to 1.827 mm and height is increased 8 mm to 1.470 mm. In addition, the wheelbase is 41 mm longer at 2.851 mm. BMW says the Touring’s look is sportier because it now has an upward sloping third window, that gives the car “a dynamic wedge shape that embodies its forward-surging intent”. The tweaks to the exterior also result in better aerodynamics as the drag coefficient is down to 0.27 compared with 0.29 for the previous-generation wagon. The wagon’s luggage capacity with 5 passengers has increased by 5 liters to 500 liters, boosting the maximum loading room 10 liters to 1.510 liters. To improve the Touring’s handling BMW increased the body rigidity by 25 % compared with the model it replaces and gave the vehicle a new spring and damping system with lift-related damper control. The Touring’s powertrain family include 3 diesel and 3 gasoline options. In an effort to help future-proof the wagon niche Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have added plug-in hybrid versions of the models. BMW will join the growing sector next summer with the 330e, which can travel 63 km in electric-only mode. Another technological advancement the 3-series Touring offers is that the software for all of its electronic control units can be upgraded via over-the-air updates. +++ 

+++ The CADILLAC CT6-V isn’t long for this world and it appears the model’s twin-turbo 4.2-liter Blackwing V8 engine will also suffer a similar fate. The engine has effectively been “orphaned” due to cost cutting moves. As a result, it will likely die with the CT6-V. However, this wasn’t what GM originally had in mind. Both the CT5 and XT6 were supposed to ride on the Omega platform that underpins Cadillac’s flagship sedan. This would have made installing the Blackwing V8 into these models a relative breeze. Unfortunately, GM blinked in the face of slowing sales and decided to cut costs. This meant the CT5 was moved to the Alpha platform, while the XT6 was transferred to the C1XX architecture that underpins the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Acadia. Thanks to this decision, the models reportedly can’t use Cadillac’s exclusive V8. Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t end there as the Blackwing is a no-go for the 2021 Escalade. They say this is due to cost cutting as well and it means the model will have to stick with familiar pushrod V8s. This means the SUV will likely have 6.2-liter V8 that develops 426 hp and 623 Nm. The news is disappointing, but the death of the Blackwing engine doesn’t mean there won’t be any high-performance Cadillacs in the future. The company has already confirmed proper successors to the ATS- and CTS-V, and rumors have indicated there could be an Escalade-V with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that develops around 659 hp and 881 Nm. +++ 

+++ The new CHEVROLET Corvette C8 hasn’t even gone into production yet, but new details are starting to emerge about the next-generation ZR1. The upcoming model will be the most powerful and extreme Corvette ever created. The ZR1 is known for huge horsepower ratings and the outgoing car has a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that develops 755 hp and 968 Nm. The next ZR1 will build on those numbers, but it will reportedly adopt a smaller displacement engine sourced from the Corvette Z06. The mill will be equipped with twin-turbochargers and it will also be electrified. How extensive the hybridization is remains unclear, but there are 2 possible scenarios. The first would be the most basic and see an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and transmission. The second scenario is more interesting as it would involve the installation of 2 front-mounted electric motors that will give the Corvette all-wheel drive as well as a serious boost in performance. If the latter happens, the car would likely adopt a small battery pack and be setup to maximize performance rather than efficiency. As a result, the front motors might only activate to deliver maximum acceleration. If everything pans out, the next Corvette ZR1 would have 912 hp. That’s less than the 1.014 hp that was previously rumored, but it’s still 147 hp more than outgoing ZR1. +++ 

+++ Norway stands out with more than 40 % market share for ELECTRIC cars. The Netherlands almost reached 10 %. All-electric passenger cars and their progress on the market is a thing that interests many of my readers, so here I take a quick look at BEVs market share in 27 European countries (most of EU plus EFTA), using available registration data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. During the first 9 months of this year, all-electric cars almost doubled its average share to 1.93 % (from 0.99 % year ago). It means nothing else than, almost one in every 50 cars sold in the richer part of the continent was all-electric. The top countries are: 1. Norway – 40.9 %, 2. Netherlands – 9.4 %, 3. Iceland – 6.8 %, 4. Sweden – 4.4 %, 5. Switzerland – 3.5 %. So far this year, 15 countries managed to break into 1 % BEV share, while 9 are at least at 2%. There is still a big number of countries with tiny market share, but they are also trying to improve. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS is betting on an all-electric future, but the company’s president has penned an opinion piece detailing 3 challenges that are preventing electric vehicles from going mainstream. GM president Mark Reuss says the main issues are range, cost and ease of ownership. Reuss says range is the “single biggest barrier to EV acceptance”. While some people have claimed additional charging stations will make range a non-issue, Reuss doesn’t agree and says “people will still want to drive as long as possible between charges”. He backs up his claim by saying consumer clinics have shown that customers want a range of at least 500 km. Just days ago, GM chief executive officer Mary Barra made the same argument by describing a range of 500 km as the “sweet spot” and noting the Chevrolet Bolt (Opel Ampera-e) is close to hitting that mark as it can now travel 417 km on a single charge. One of the other pressing issues is a lack of a robust charging infrastructure. Reuss says research has shown a lack of charging stations is why many consumers who were considering an electric vehicle, ultimately decided not to purchase one. To fix this problem, Reuss is calling for “manufacturers, charging companies, industry groups and governments at all levels” to work together and build as many public charging stations as possible. A number of automakers are already partnering with charging firms such as EVgo and Electrify America, but more work needs to be done. The company also wants to see a significant increase in private charging stations. This is important as nearly 95 % of charging is done at home or at the workplace. As a result, GM wants to see partnerships with contractors that can “conveniently and affordably” install charging stations in your home. Last but not least is the matter of cost. While EVs typically cost thousands of dollars more than their ICE counterparts, Reuss says “electric vehicle propulsion systems will achieve cost parity with internal combustion engines within a decade, probably sooner, and will only get better after that, driving sticker prices down and widening the appeal to the average consumer”, However, it’s not all good news as the executive said some of this parity will come from “increased regulatory costs on gasoline and diesel engines” which will make them more expensive than they are today. Even when all these problems have been solved, Reuss says automakers will need to make electric vehicles “as good or better” than the ICE powered models consumers are familiar with. He also added electric vehicles will have to be appealing and available in the “widest range of sizes and body styles possible”. These issues won’t be solved overnight, but GM is making process as the company recently confirmed its first electric pickup will go on sale in 2021. It’s slated to be followed by an assortment of other EVs including a Cadillac crossover that was previewed earlier this year. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI said it has signed a preliminary deal to build a new factory in Indonesia, which would be its first car plant in Southeast Asia and a crack at Japanese rivals that dominate the market. The deal comes as Hyundai and affiliate Kia struggle with a prolonged sales downturn in China, where they suspended two factories this year. Hyundai said it will invest about $1.55 billion in the Indonesia auto manufacturing plant from now until 2030, including product development and operation costs. The facility, to be built in the city of Bekasi, east of Jakarta, will start production in late 2021, with an annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles and a plan to grow that to 250,000 vehicles a year, Hyundai said. Hyundai plans to make small SUVs and MPVs, while electric vehicles (EVs) tailored to Southeast Asian market are under consideration. Hyundai said it is building the production facilities to avoid import tariffs ranging from 5 % to 80 % in the ASEAN region. The plant will cater to Indonesia, the region’s largest automobile market, and other countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it said. The plant will allow the automaker to secure future growth to help it “combat slowing demand in the global automotive market”, Hyundai said in its statement. The deal was signed at an event attended by Indonesian president Joko Widodo and Hyundai executive vice chairman Euisun Chung. Widodo is in South Korea for a meeting of ASEAN leaders hosted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Moon has been pushing a “New Southern Policy” aiming to deepen ties with Southeast Asia as Seoul seeks to curb its reliance on traditional trading partners like China and the United States. Hyundai is far behind Japanese rivals in Southeast Asia, with its sales reaching 122.883 vehicles versus Toyota’s 854.032 from January to September this year. LMC Automotive forecast a 4 % year-on-year decline in total vehicle sales in the ASEAN region in the 4th quarter, partly because the slowdowns in the Thai and Indonesian economies show no signs of abating. Hyundai said key ASEAN countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore are expected to see combined vehicle sales grow to 4.49 million units in 2026, from 3.16 million in 2017. +++ 

+++ While the U.S.-China trade dispute, uncertainties about the global auto market and rising costs for developing cleaner cars are common concerns for automakers, the slowdown in INDIA ’s market has emerged as a new headache. The slowing Indian economy has taken a heavy toll on Suzuki, which has a strong foothold in the world’s 4th largest auto market through subsidiary Maruti Suzuki. Suzuki’s group net profit in the 6 months to September tumbled 41.8 % from a year earlier to ¥79.30 billion ($730 million), with sales in India dropping 26.5 % to 675,000 units. “It is difficult to say whether it will pick up in the near future”, Suzuki president Toshihiro Suzuki said at a news conference earlier this month. Car sales there fell for 11 months straight through September before rising a slight 0.3 % to 285,027 units in October. Honda also took a hit during the period, with sales of both cars and motorcycles falling due to credit tightening in the country and floods in its southwest, where Japan’s third-largest automaker by volume has a large share of the motorcycle market. Honda’s 6-month group net profit fell 19.0 % from a year earlier, prompting it to lower its full-year earnings guidance. Honda’s motorcycle sales in India fell 18.7 % in the period to 2.68 million units from a year earlier. “The Indian auto and motorcycle markets are slowing due to a tightening of consumer credit while the country’s economic outlook remains unclear”, Honda executive vice president Seiji Kuraishi told. Toshihide Kinoshita, a senior analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities, said the credit crunch caused by last year’s defaults at Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services dealt a heavy blow to India’s car loan system. He said about 30 % or 40 % of car buyers in India rely on loans. “It was inevitable that the Indian auto market would dent the Japanese automakers’ bottom lines”, Kinoshita said. The trouble in India added to the impact caused by foreign exchange rates as the yen turned stronger than most Japanese firms expected in the first half. Toyota, which has the largest global presence, reported a record first-half profit. Toyota’s net profit rose 2.6 % to ¥1.27 trillion as sales grew 4.2 % to ¥15.29 trillion thanks to new models added to its lineup, including the RAV4 and the Corolla, as well as continued cost cuts. Toyota fine-tuned the group’s global vehicle sales forecast to 10.70 million units from the previously estimated 10.73 million, but maintained its net profit outlook at ¥2.14 trillion; up 14.2 %. “Toyota’s earnings result can be praised amid a slowing global auto market”, said SMBC Nikko’s Kinoshita, attributing the company’s solid performance to its focus on maintaining market share while keeping up efforts to lower costs. In stark contrast, Nissan, which is struggling to revive its business by shifting away from the expansionary strategy pursued by ousted former boss Carlos Ghosn, saw net profit fall 73.5 % in the April-September half and lowered its profit outlook for the full year to its lowest in 10 years. Koichi Sugimoto, a senior analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, said Nissan needs to introduce new models to the market as soon as possible to compete with the expanding lineups of its rivals. “I would like to see how Nissan’s new management from December establishes its new strategy to recover sales especially in the U.S. and Chinese markets”, he said. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR will reveal the facelifted version of its F-Type on Monday 2 December. The new sports car, due on sale early next year, will gain refreshed styling and upgraded technology and has already been seen testing in camouflage livery in recent weeks. +++

+++ KIA and Hyundai have unveiled new electric cars designed exclusively for the Chinese market. Hyundai’s all-electric Lafesta debuted at the Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition, which runs until December 1. The sedan is expected to be launched sometime in the first half of 2020. Kia also unveiled an electric version of the all-new K3 sedan there. Both cars will only be launched in China in an aggressive bid to win over customers in the biggest EV market in the world. The Lafesta EV can travel up to 490 km on a single charge. It comes with a GPS system showing nearby charging stations and is equipped with other features specially for drivers of electric vehicles. Hyundai’s 45 EV concept, first revealed last September, and a high-performance EV called Veloster N ETCR, were also displayed at the motor show. “With the addition of Lafesta, Hyundais including the Sonata, Encino (known outside China as Kona) and Lingdong (Avante) now all have either an EV or a Hybrid version”, said an executive at Hyundai. “We have plans to launch battery-powered cars in every segment to become one of the most eco-friendly carmakers”, he added. +++

+++ MERCEDES-AMG will be upping its game in 2020 with the launch of a plug-in hybrid version of the GT 4-Door. Confirmed during the Los Angeles Auto Show by AMG’s chief of management and sales, Michael Knoller, the car will get a V8 drivetrain and will contribute to the offerings of the GT lineup that will include everything, from a high-performance PHEV to an extreme Black Series model. If you look back at the AMG GT Concept from 2017 that previewed the GT4, you’ll see that it has an electrified 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, producing in excess of 800 horsepower. In a report that dates back to mid-2018, the AMG chief Tobias Moers confirmed that the powertrain will be put into production “one day”, and if it retains the output, then it will make the PHEV GT4 faster and more powerful than the GT 63 S. Knoller said that the they will pull the wraps off of it next year, around the same time as the Black Series variant of the two-door GT. The spiritual successor of the SLS AMG Black Series has been spied testing for many months and is expected with the most powerful version of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. In the GT 63 S, it kicks out 639 hp and 900 Nm, propelling it to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds and up to 305 km/h. Some say that the new GT (R) Black Series might get close to 700 hp, or possibly even more. +++ 

+++ Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and PSA told their employees they would sign a binding MERGER agreement in coming weeks. In 2 separate communications through internal channels, the 2 groups told employees that more than 50 people were involved in the process. FCA and PSA are in talks to finalize a merger that would create the world’s 4th largest carmaker. 9 working groups were established, led by FCA Group Treasurer and Global Head of Business Development David Ostermann and by PSA executive vice president Program and Strategy Olivier Bourges, the documents added. FCA chariman John Elkann last week said he was not worried by a shock lawsuit from General Motors and that he was confident of reaching a binding merger deal with PSA by the end of this year. +++ 

+++ MINI took the Los Angeles Auto Show by storm earlier this week unveiling its most powerful and fastest model in history. The new John Cooper Works GP is here with massive amounts of grunt, dramatic aerodynamics, and an automatic transmission. Bummer. However, it turns out Mini has a very excusatory reason for not offering a stick-shift ‘box for its latest and greatest hot hatch. Representatives of the company confirmed Mini just doesn’t have a manual transmission currently available that could handle the 2.0-litre turbo’s 306 hp and 450 Nm. See, while they could probably invest in a new gearbox, there’s no way the limited run of just 3.000 examples would create a successful business case for such a development. On the other hand, BMW already has a quick-shift automatic developed for that engine, which is also used in the John Cooper Works Countryman, and Clubman, as well as some small BMWs like the M135i. Purists may not be happy to hear that but it seems that an automatic was the only logical solution for the new JCW GP. Mini also revealed that the carbon fibre wing flares at the front are not there just for show. They actually accommodate the pocket rocket’s wider track and tyres, but also help direct airflow and reduce drag. And, to make things even more interesting, the British company said the wing flares are made of carbon fibre that comes from leftovers from BMW i3 and i8 production. Awesome! If you like what you see and read, better hurry up. Mini plans to build no more than 3.000 units. Deliveries are scheduled to kick off in March 2020. +++ 

+++ Already in 5 countries in Europe PLUG-IN market share is above 5 % and in 16 above 1 %. The average market share of new passenger plug-in electric cars in Europe (the European Union and EFTA (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland) ) amounted during the first 9 months of 2019 to roughly 2.9 % (compared to less than 2.1 % year ago). The top countries are: 1. Norway – 50.8 %, 2. Iceland – 15.3 %, 3. Netherlands – 10.5 %, 4. Sweden – 10.0 %, 5. Finland – 5.3 %. The average for the European Union is 2.4 % (compared to less than 1.7 % a year ago). As it turns out, already 16 countries are above 1 %, and almost all countries are improving their plug-in market share. +++ 

+++ It’s no secret that China has the largest automotive market in the world, and everyone wants a piece of the pie in one of the world’s biggest economies. With so much competition in their local market, and the recent influx of EV technology, China’s consumers have enough power to create trends that can be felt across manufacturer lineups, and PORSCHE acknowledges that fact. In a recent interview with Frank-Steffen Walliser at the L.A. Auto Show, the Porsche sportscar head has said that “Without China, the whole 718 model line would not exist”. In the United States and most of Europe, it’s quite clear that 911 sales trump the 718 Boxster and Cayman; with the latter two being seen as a more accessible way to get into the Porsche family. In China, the more affordable 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Porsches get so much love thanks to a system and trade agreement in which vehicles are taxed according to their engine sizes; the smaller the engine, the lower the tax. So, you pay less money and still have your hands on a capable Porsche. Walliser also expects demand in the United States for the flat-six 718 Cayman GT4 and Spyder to be even higher than all the 4-cylinder cars, while Europe is said to have a pretty even split between the 4 and 6 cylinders. These pricier 718s are gaining popularity across all markets, with the Cayman GT4 and Spyder costing about as much as the base 911 Carrera, and they also have the option of a manual transmission and a naturally aspirated mill. Right now, the current-generation of the 718 Boxster and Cayman still have some life left, and will be updated with variants down the line. And, no, none of them will be priced or specced to eat into the 911 market. +++ 

+++ PORSCHE has reaffirmed plans for a hypercar to crown its line-up and, in a bid to provide a clear link between its motorsport activities and road cars, it could use a hybrid driveline originally developed in an aborted Formula 1 engine programme.However, the Aston Martin Valkyrie rival remains at a conceptual stage, with an introduction unlikely before 2023 at the earliest. In keeping with comments made by Porsche chairman Oliver Blume this year, high-level sources at the German car maker’s Weissach technical centre confirm that a definitive production go-ahead for the successor to the 918 Spyder is dependent on a decision from Porsche board members on whether to commit to pure-electric or hybrid drivetrain technology for the new hypercar. Initial plans for the car, first hinted at by Blume at the Geneva motor show in March, were based around an advanced pure-electric drivetrain with the potential to significantly outperform Porsche’s newly unveiled 99X Formula E race car. However, these plans have apparently been wound back. This is because an internal study concluded that solid-state battery technology, which was to have provided Porsche’s future flagship with what’s described as “new-found standards in EV weight, efficiency and range potential”, is not progressing as quickly as originally expected. As a result, the technology will not be available in the sort of production quantities required to underpin the new model until the second half of the next decade. Instead, Porsche is now claimed to be pursuing an alternative plan for its next hypercar. The revised option is based around an advanced plug-in petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain originally developed by Porsche Motorsport for an aborted return to the F1 grid as an engine supplier. If the alternative drivetrain plan comes to fruition, the new Porsche hypercar will compete head on with the Mercedes-AMG One, which is also underpinned by F1 drivetrain technology. There are also suggestions that it could provide Porsche with a contemporary driveline package under both Le Mans’ new Hypercar and IMSA’s DPi regulations. Earlier this year, Porsche’s head of motorsport, Fritz Enzinger, revealed that the company had committed a 40 strong team of engineers from its LMP1 operations to a development programme for a 6-cylinder engine and accompanying hybrid drive system as long ago as 2017; 2 years after the 918 Spyder ceased production. The new Porsche engine was originally conceived around a capacity of 2.0 litres as a replacement for the V4 unit used by Porsche’s Le Mans-winning 919 race car. However, the focus of the development programme was subsequently switched to an F1 specification with a capacity of 1.6 litres. Although Porsche ultimately decided to sidestep F1 and enter Formula E, development of the 6-cylinder engine has continued up to today. That’s because, according to Enzinger, an F1 engine adapted for the durability needed for road use and without the complex and expensive MGU-H (motor generator unit – heat), which is used to harvest electrical energy from heat from the exhaust, would “also be interesting for a supersports car”. He said: “At the end of 2017, we received an order to further develop a highly efficient 6-cylinder engine, despite the LMP1 withdrawal, not only on paper but as hardware”. Enzinger said Porsche’s new 6-cylinder engine is “complete and running on the test bench”. He also authenticated reports that it is being used for “analysis with regard to series production relevance”. Secrecy surrounds the specification of the hybrid component of the new driveline, although it has been conceived to use a powerful electric motor. Speaking about Porsche’s hypercar plans at the recent Frankfurt motor show, the brand’s head of electric vehicle projects, Stefan Weckbach, said: “Our target is always, no matter what car we’re doing, to have the sportiest car in the segment”. Weckbach also suggested the electric side of the new Porsche driveline could benefit from technology being developed by a partnership between the German car maker and Rimac. Following the purchase of an initial 10 % shareholding in the Croatian-based electric supercar maker in 2018, Porsche recently upped its stake in Rimac to 15.5 %, indicating that it plans a closer working relationship with the company behind the highly acclaimed Concept One and Concept Two hypercars. “We see potential for future co-operation with this company. That is why we raised our stake”, Weckbach said. Rimac, whose latest Concept Two hypercar is powered by an electric drive system that delivers up to 1.900 hp, has quickly made a name for itself as a leader in electric motor and power electrics technology. As well as with Porsche, Rimac has also established engineering programmes with Aston Martin, Jaguar and Renault, among others. In May, Hyundai and Kia jointly invested €80 million in Rimac in a deal that will mean the 3 companies collaborate on the development of EVs. Whether Porsche plans to apply Rimac’s technology to a pure-electric powertrain or hybrid drivetrain with its next hypercar remains to be seen. “If it is all electric, it might be an approach, though it might be a Porsche engine as well”, said Weckbach, who signalled that his personal choice would be a hybrid driveline. Scepticism of pure-electric ‘halo’ models is rife within Porsche and its head of sports cars, Frank-Steffen Walliser, made his feelings clear during the Frankfurt motor show in September. Asked if he welcomed the influx of electric hypercar projects during the past year, Walliser said: “We have seen a lot of studies of electric hypercars. For me, the proof is when it’s on the street with a licence plate. With a study, I don’t have to show you that it truly works outside on the street, homologated”. Walliser then took a more philosophical line. “Does an EV hypercar work?” he asked. “For me, it’s like saying that a drag racer is a suitable sports car. For sure, it’s perfect from 0-100. But there are more things out there that make a sports car: day-to-day use, several laps of the Nürburgring, repeatable performance. I don’t think that would work with technology at its current state”. +++ 

+++ BMW’s manager for connected e-mobility, Jan Friemann, says that the RANGE EXTENDER “has no future” moving forward. BMW’s range-extender technology is perhaps best known for being used in the i3 REx, which uses a tiny 647 cc 2-cylinder engine that serves as a backup generator to extend the range of the EV; hence the name. Friemann said that the time for vehicles like this is over, even though sales of the i3 REx continue in select markets like the U.S. “The idea behind the range extender really helps people to get over range anxiety”, Friemann said when discussing the advantage of range-extender powertrains. “With a range extender you always had the feeling like okay, I’ve got a backup solution”. Such systems were more important when electric vehicles were still in their infancy, according to Friemann. However, he remarked that the growth of fast-charging stations across Europe and the United States means “there’s really no need to be afraid” of running out of juice anymore. When the i3 was first introduced in non range-extender guise, it was good for a range of 130 km. This has since been improved to 246 km thanks to a larger battery pack, meaning the current i3 now has a greater range than the original i3 REx from 2014. While BMW acknowledges that the range-extender is coming towards the end of its life, it plans to continue offering the i3 REx in the United States “for the foreseeable future”, perhaps until the i3 receives a rumored battery upgrade in 2021. +++ 

+++ RIMAC may be one of the industry’s few pioneers in the electric supercar game, but it’s not planning to expand to new, more lucrative segments anytime soon. Mate Rimac, founder and CEO of the Croatian EV company, has a plan for the future, but it doesn’t include a performance SUV, despite their popularity. “We ourselves? No. We will not do a performance SUV for sure”, he told. That doesn’t mean that Rimac doesn’t understand why other automakers are rushing to join the SUV party. “As a business decision though, I understand. At the end of the day, you can please enthusiasts, or have a business that survives. What do you choose? You choose to survive”. Rimac then adds that a performance SUV is essentially as relevant as a sports car. “Who needs either, really? Neither one of those is a sensible choice”. “I guess it’s just a response to the market”, he added. “You can’t ignore what the market wants. But, performance cars are not going away. You can still buy a Lotus Exige today. How many people are buying the Lotus Exige?” A shake of the head. “If people are complaining about performance SUVs, go ahead and buy a Lotus Exige. Put your money where your mouth is. The choice is still there”. Both Porsche and Hyundai have acquired small stakes in Rimac, which means that the EV brand is currently helping them build “really exciting electric cars” while focusing its own resources on the most exotic stuff. “Their cars are quite different from what we’re doing, but in terms of the next models from us, they will be 2-seater supercars. There will be some innovation in them for sure: we have some ideas on how to push them forward, especially in terms of aerodynamics. I want to make lighter cars”, Rimac said.“But I don’t want to make SUVs or stuff like that”. +++ 

+++ A couple of decades ago, the only SCREEN in most cars was a small display that showed what radio station you were listening to. Things have changed drastically since then and screen size is shaping up to be the latest battleground in the automotive industry. That’s clearly visible in the pickup segment, where Ram shocked everyone with a 12 inch touchscreen that debuted in the redesigned 1500. Ford is expected to follow suit by offering a 12 inch display in the 2021 F-150, and the automaker has already confirmed their SYNC 4 infotainment system has been designed to accommodate displays ranging from 8 to 15.5 inches. The latter screen is a central feature on the 2021 Mustang Mach-E and it completely dominates the interior, even making the 10.2 inch digital instrument cluster look tiny by comparison. It’s so large that the display is the second largest touchscreen on the market as it’s just 2 inches smaller than the 17 inch display used in the Tesla Model S and Model X. However, big screens are becoming more common and the 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio ditched their 6.5 inch display for a newly standard 8.8 inch touchscreen. Even that display is relatively small these days as the Volkswagen Touareg and Tesla Model 3 have a 15 inch infotainment system. Even cars that don’t have massive touchscreens, can have multiple large displays. This includes a handful of Mercedes models which feature a 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster and a 12.3 inch infotainment system. A number of companies are also embracing tri-screen setups including Audi and Jaguar Land Rover. While some people aren’t fans of huge displays, they’re not going away anytime soon. Data from IHS Markit shows the size of the average infotainment system has increased from 6.4 inches to 7.3 inches over the past 5 years. They also noted the number of vehicles equipped with screens measuring 7 inches or larger has jumped nearly 75 % in that same time period. However, it remains unclear if automakers will follow in the footsteps of Byton and embrace massive displays such the 48 incher destined for the M-Byte. +++ 

+++ The boom of the SUV cars and crossovers basically reshaped the automotive industry in the 21st century. Like it or not, customers are buying more high-riding vehicles than ever, which forces automakers to rethink their model strategies. Similar to what happened with the estates, which were cannibalized by the then-booming minivans, the SUVs literally have no alternative on the market today – but at least one executive from the industry believes this could change at some point in the future. I am somewhat happy to report that Volkswagen’s U.S. boss Scott Keogh believes there’s a rebellion against SUVs and crossovers coming. Keogh told during the ongoing Los Angeles Auto Show that an uprising against these 2 segments is imminent and he wants his company to be prepared for it. It seems that VW has already done a lot to prepare for any major shifts in the automotive industry. Considering the MEB-based ID Buzz, ID Buggy, and ID Space Vizzion take the shape of a van, a compact off-roader, and a wagon respectively, it wouldn’t be a stretch if we assume the Germans are already thinking a step ahead. After all, the EV architecture’s possibilities are “nearly limitless”, as Keogh said. So, is a rebellion against SUVs really coming? I guess no one could actually give you a complete answer to that question but it’s natural to believe that customers will eventually change their tastes. What could be the next big thing? Again, I don’t think there’s a clear answer to that question. But seeing Volkswagen’s stance on the matter gives us reasons to believe the future of the industry could be bright, after all. +++ 

+++ TESLA ’s infotainment system is already the market leader for its functionality and features, and Elon Musk wants this to remain so well into the future. Speaking with reporters during Tesla’s most recent earnings call, Musk said that the electric automaker’s goal is to have an infotainment system that provides “the most amount of fun you can have in a car”. Tesla has long offered unique infotainment features not found elsewhere on the market. For example, Easter eggs such as a sketch pad, romance mode, a gaming mode, and the ability to ‘drive’ the vehicle on Mars are popular across Tesla’s ownership base. More recently, the marque added a ‘Caraoke’ mode while also giving Model S, Model X, and Model 3 owners the ability to connect their Netflix, Hulu and YouTube accounts to the infotainment display when the vehicle is in park. In a bid to catch up with Tesla, many other car manufacturers are working on making their infotainment systems more diverse and fun to use, content strategist at Edmunds, Will Kaufman, revealed. “Especially the luxury automakers: they are definitely looking at ways to make their offerings something that stands out from competitors”, he said. “There’s no sense in selling a car with a DVD player for the backseat anymore. Whose kid in this day and age would really want that?” One way car manufacturers are looking to improve their infotainment systems is to partner with large technology company’s like Google, Apple and Amazon to make for a more seamless experience. Moving forward, carmakers may start to look at ways to monetize their infotainment systems. Musk says Tesla has yet to do this, but it’s thought that, at some stage, this practice may become commonplace. +++ 

+++ Though the exact power outputs of the new TESLA CYBERTRUCK weren’t revealed, Elon Musk disclosed numbers at launch that look good in black and white, superseding the deviant design of the electric pickup. Let’s do a quick rundown of the top-spec Cybertruck. Max range is 800 kilometres. 0-100 kph sprint is at 2.9 seconds. I can only summarize the Cybertruck in one word (apart from: ugly): quick. However, the Cybertruck is ready for Tesla’s latest powertrain, the Plaid. Reports about the Tesla Plaid came out in 2017 with the new Roadster. Dubbed as the Plaid mode (in reference to Plaid mode beyond Ludicrous Speed in Mel Brooks’s Spaceballs, a Star Wars parody), it promises acceleration beyond people’s comprehension, only this time it’s real, allowing the Roadster to sprint from 0-100 kph in just 1.9 seconds. With Telsa heading over to the Nurburgring these past months, the Model S Plaid resurfaced along with a number of upgrades to the electric vehicle. This tells us that Plaid is definitely coming soon, and the Cybertruck is definitely going to have the advantages of this powertrain. But how powerful is it, really? The Plaid-powered Cybertruck will likely produce 800 hp and more than 1.300 Nm. Just like the Plaid-powered Model S and X, the future hyperized Cybertruck will have one motor on the front axle and two at the rear, motivating both rear wheels. With that said, the Cybertruck is really looking good on paper right now, but there is more to be known when deliveries and production of the electric pickup truck kick in. +++

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