Newsflash: nieuwe Maserati sportwagen wordt meer dan 300 km/u snel

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+++ Maserati will end production of the GranTurismo and the GranCabrio in November 2019, and it will retool the historic Modena factory that makes both models in preparation for a new sports car due out in 2020. But production of the ALFA ROMEO 4C made in the same facility will continue even after the retooling, debunking rumors of the model’s immediate demise. “Production of the 4C will continue in the same production plant/line until late 2020 for the NAFTA and APAC regions”, an Alfa Romeo spokesperson told. The factory will close during the retooling, so “there will just be some weeks of technical interruption” during the process, according to the same spokesperson. Production will resume as soon as the overhaul is completed, and Alfa Romeo’s carbon fiber-intensive 2-seater will be built alongside Maserati’s next sports car. North American enthusiasts still have time to put a new 4C in their garage. European enthusiasts aren’t as lucky. 4C production for the European, Middle Eastern, and African markets ended in August. While the GranTurismo will be replaced by a new model in 2021, what the future holds for the 4C is up in the air. Alfa Romeo’s product plan doesn’t currently include a second-generation 4C, which is too bad. It’s one of the purest, most undiluted sports car on the market; may it live long. +++ 

+++ BMW ’s boss has refused to deny that his company could collaborate further with Jaguar Land Rover, or invest in the British company outright. Industry sources suggested earlier this week that JLR owner Tata is actively courting both BMW and a number of Chinese firms including Geely for investment that would allow it to develop new models and the electrification technologies that are going to be increasingly important towards the end of the next decade. Speaking at the opening of BMW’s new Battery Cell Competence Centre in Munich, the German manufacturer’s CEO Oliver Zipse left the door open on whether his firm could build on an existing deal with JLR, announced in the summer, to develop electric drive units. “Cooperation and working together is the new normal”, Zipse said. “It’s not only with drivetrains. We also have arrangements with a lot of other component manufacturers, where we go far beyond the normal supply chain. With Jaguar Land Rover, we have announced cooperation on the electric drivetrain and that’s running very well. We have another cooperation with them on internal combustion engines. Anything else is the future. There’s no decision on it and I wouldn’t comment on something that has not been decided”. Zipse also defended BMW’s strategy of CLAR and FAAR: its 2 platform architectures that can support diesel, petrol, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric vehicles. Other brands, including Mercedes-Benz and the Volkswagen Group, have invested heavily in bespoke electric platforms which they believe offer benefits in packaging and efficiency that outweigh the reduction in production flexibility that they bring. But when asked when BMW would have to consider making its own standalone electric-car platform, Zipse said, “In our one architecture you can integrate all components. You don’t have to compromise here. For this it takes a lot of effort and thinking, and we’re on the way to doing that. We think it’s our USP: for electric vehicles, you don’t need architecture on its own. “You may see some BMW models with platforms of their own; there will be one in 2 years’ time”, he added, referring to the iNext. “But for the mass market we don’t see the need for a specific platform. There’s only one reason why you’d do that: you have been too slow and you have to put on speed”. +++ 

+++ Britain missed its chance to host the first European factory of U.S. electric vehicle pioneer Tesla because of the BREXIT , chief executive Elon Musk said. The company had earlier said it chose a location near Berlin for a new design centre and plant to make batteries, powertrains and vehicles, offering a major boost to the German capital. Berlin’s minister in charge of economic affairs, Ramona Pop, said the move could create 6.000 to 7.000 jobs in production alone, with hundreds or even thousands more in areas such as design, software or research. “Brexit uncertainty made it too risky to put a Gigafactory in the UK”, Musk told. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has hurt foreign investment because the country’s future trading relationship with the EU is still not clear, more than 3 years after the referendum. Britain holds a parliamentary election in December in a bid to break the impasse. Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said high levels of inward investment would return once terms of the withdrawal agreement have been settled. Major carmakers such as Nissan have said a disorderly departure from the bloc, where companies face tariffs after leaving the EU without a transition deal, would be unsustainable and jeopardise its entire business model. Britain’s business minister Andrea Leadsom said the government was aware that the uncertainty over Brexit is causing investment to be put hold and that is why the upcoming election is needed. “We need a Conservative government to get Brexit done with a deal and end the uncertainty”, she said. But the opposition Liberal Democrats said the decision shows Johnson’s “deluded plans are already costing the country vital investment and making us all poorer”. +++ 

+++ Tougher emissions rules will hit DAIMLER ’s profits in 2020 and 2021, prompting the German carmaker to seek more than €1 billion in savings from cutting staff costs at its Mercedes-Benz business by the end of 2022. Management positions will be cut by around 10 %, and company said it would also seek more than €300 million from cutting personnel costs (plus another €250 million in fixed costs) at its trucks business. Daimler said it needed to sell more electric vehicles to meet tougher European Union rules which force carmakers to cut carbon dioxide emissions from cars by 37.5 % by 2030 compared with 2021 levels, and following a 40 % cut between 2007 and 2021. The company said it expected to achieve a return on sales from operating activities at Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans of at least 4 % in 2020 and at least 6 % in 2022. Mercedes-Benz expects car sales to grow by around 3 % in 2020, but said potential trade tariffs and Brexit could depress the return on sales by up to 1 %. Earlier this year, Daimler had said it hoped to achieve a return on sales of 3 % to 5 % at Mercedes-Benz Cars. The move will include the loss of 10 % of all management jobs, which is believed to equate to around 1.100 employees. During an investor conference led by chief executive Ola Källenius, who took over from Dieter Zetsche in May, the German firm revealed it has spent an additional €500 million on electric car development this year, as well as paid around €850 million to regulators after admitting that 700,000 diesel cars it sold didn’t meet emissions regulations. “The industry is in transformation”, said Källenius. “The expenditure needed to achieve the European Union’s CO2 targets require comprehensive measures to increase efficiency in all areas of our company”. Mercedes-Benz is under particular pressure to meet European emissions targets by next year, with the firm struggling to hit the 95 g/km average from its current average of 138 g/km for all cars sold. While it’s able to offset some of that risk through super-credits earned by sales of electric vehicles, such as the EQ C, failure to hit targets could cost it billions of euros in fines. Daimler has already issued 2 profit warnings in 2019. +++ 

+++ FERRARI rolled out the Roma, a record fifth new model announced this year, as the Italian luxury carmaker with the famous “prancing horse” logo looks to sustain profit and share price growth. The new grand tourer (GT) made its debut in an event inspired by director Federico Fellini’s 1960 film “La Dolce Vita” held at Foro Italico, Rome’s monumental sports center and site of the 1960 Olympic games. GTs are designed to be more comfortable on long journeys than sports cars and some GTs from the 1960s among the most popular models at auctions of Ferraris. Ferrari has said that GT models could make up about 40 % of its total sales by 2022, up from 32 % now. The Roma will cost “slightly” above €200,000 in Italy with deliveries expected to start just before the summer of 2020, chief marketing and commercial Officer Enrico Galliera said, which puts the Roma at the lower end of the company’s price range. It features a 620 hp 3.855 cc 8 cylinder mid-front mounted engine. “The car’s power to weight ratio of 2.37 kilos per horse power, the best in its segment, makes it light and easy to drive”, Galliera said. Ferrari said the design was meant to be “a contemporary representation of the carefree, pleasurable way of life that characterized Rome in the 1950s and 1960s”. Chief Design Officer Falvio Manzoni said the Roma would not carry a Ferrari badge on the side of the car. “The idea was to make the Roma’s shape as simple as possible”, he said. This year’s other new releases include another GT, the 812 GTS, presented in September, which the company described as a return for a model type that has played a “pivotal role in the marque’s history”, as well as the F90 Stradale, Ferrari’s first hybrid car in series production. CEO Louis Camilleri said last week the hybrid SF90 Stradale was attracting “huge interest” despite initial scepticism by clients used to roaring combustion engines. Ferrari said last year that it wanted 60 % of its cars sold by 2022 to be hybrids. It has also promised several special edition hybrid cars and a utility vehicle, the Purosangue, which is expected by late 2022 as it seeks to almost double core earnings and boost margins to above 38 %, without sacrificing exclusivity. A full-electric vehicle is also being considered but is unlikely to arrive before 2023. Ferrari is set to slow the roll-out of new vehicles in the coming years, as it planned to launch 15 models between 2019 and 2022, while achieving a significant increase in average retail price. “2020 will be a year of consolidation for us, we want to make sure that our clients understood the market positioning of all the models we launched this year”, Galliera said. Chairman John Elkann has said that Ferrari, which shipped fewer than 10,000 cars last year, would not try to chase German rival Porsche which makes more than 250,000 sports cars and SUVs annually. To capitalize further on its name, Ferrari plans new apparel and accessory collections, entertainment offers, and luxury products and services for clients. +++ 

+++ In a move that echoes recent history, FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES has been making more cars and trucks than dealers in the U.S. are willing to accept. At one point, the automaker had built up a glut of around 40,000 unordered vehicles. That’s led some dealers to accuse FCA of reviving the dreaded “sales bank” accounting practice of obscuring inventory to improve the balance sheet. The company reportedly began building up its inventory of unordered cars this summer despite an industrywide slowdown in sales and an eagerness by some dealers to thin their inventories because rising interest rates are making it more expensive to hold unsold cars. The inventory build-up also coincided with Fiat Chrysler’s efforts to find a merger partner, first with Renault, which fell through, then last month’s announcement that it will merge with France’s PSA Group. FCA denies any such scheme and tells the rising inventory is down to a new predictive analytics system designed to better square supply with demand from dealers that is helping the company save money and narrow the numbers of unsold vehicles. The company recently agreed to pay a $40 million civil penalty to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to settle a complaint that it paid dealers to report fake sales figures over a span of 5 years. While no one is suggesting that FCA is in dire financial straits (the company saw higher than expected earnings in the third quarter and record profits in North America) the practice has strong historical precedent by Chrysler, which built up bloated inventories in the run-up to its 2 federal bailouts, in 1980 and 2009. It was also common at GM and Ford during the 2000s, when all 3 Detroit automakers struggled with excess manufacturing capacity and plummeting sales in the lead-up to the Great Recession. Dealers hate the practice because they feel pressured to stock up on vehicles they don’t necessarily want and may struggle to sell. +++ 

+++ FORD will use the Mustang name, previously reserved for a muscle car, for an electric SUV that customers in the United States, Canada and Europe can start ordering on Nov. 17, the company said. Ford confirmed its new electric SUV will be called the Mustang Mach-E ahead of a debut event scheduled for Los Angeles. Until now, the Mustang name has been used only on a line of sporty coupes associated with Detroit’s 1960s muscle car era. The SUV will be among a more than dozen all-electric automobiles the company plans to launch by 2022 with an investment of $11.5 billion as it moves away from traditional gas-powered cars. In April, the No.2 U.S. carmaker invested $500 million in electric automaker Rivian and said it planned to use the Michigan startup’s platform to build a new Ford-branded electric vehicle. A reservation for the Mustang Mach-E can be made on Ford’s website in the United States, Canada and Europe by paying a refundable deposit of $500, the company said. Ford said it would announce reservation dates for China later. The Mustang Mach-E is conceived as a high-performance rival to the Tesla Model Y. The name suggests that Ford is planning to grow the Mustang nameplate into a fuller model line, taking advantage of its heritage in the US market while lending it authority in the crucial Chinese market. Sales of the current Mustang in Europe, where it dominates its sector, also suggest the name resonates globally. The first wave of buyers will be offered the option of a highly specced First Edition model. However, full pricing hasn’t yet been announced. Deliveries of the Mustang Mach-E are expected to commence in 2020, suggesting the car in Los Angeles will be a production model rather than a concept. Ford is understood to have had huge internal debates over using the Mustang name in production. The new model was given the ‘Mach 1’ tag during early development because of strong public opinion against the use of the branding historically reserved for Mustangs, but Ford has now decided to combine both. The new car is the first Ford designed as an electric car from the ground up, with a bespoke new platform enabling both rear and four-wheel drive. It will crown the brand’s wide-reaching electrification plan under which European customers will be offered a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric version of every new model launched. The only technical detail Ford has officially revealed is the car’s range: it will be capable of 600 kilometres of WLTP-certified range on a single charge, beating the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace. A less expensive version with less battery capacity and range is also expected. Ford claims charging will be “effortless” and it is “redesigning the ownership experience to ensure it addresses customer pain points that currently hold back broad electric car adoption”. The car’s performance remains undisclosed, although chairman Bill Ford has previously claimed it “is going to go like hell”. At a Bank of America summit last month, a Ford presentation showed that it would offer a higher-performance variant of the electric crossover, targeting the more accelerative versions of Tesla’s EVs. Like many of Ford’s recent models, it will be a globally engineered vehicle with few changes between regions. European deliveries are tipped to start in late 2020. It’s not the only EV in Ford’s product plan, because the Michigan-based maker is also working on a more affordable electric crossover. Codenamed CX430, it will be based on the latest Focus platform and be similar to the Kuga. The CX430 has been in Ford’s product plan for several years. The long-awaited push into electrification comes after news that Ford will be dropping former bestsellers from its US line-up: the Taurus, Fusion (Mondeo) and Focus, alongside the Fiesta. Ford’s supermini never found huge popularity in the US, but the momentous decision to end Ford’s 110-year presence in the US passenger saloon market sent a clear signal that profitability, not diversity, is the new focus for the brand. +++ 

+++ To unclog bottlenecks last year at his Tesla plant in California, Elon Musk flew in 6 planeloads of new robots and equipment from GERMANY to speed up battery production for its Model 3. Now the Tesla CEO is trying to tap that German automation ecosystem directly with the announcement that the electric carmaker will build a European car and battery factory near Berlin. So far, Musk has failed in his plans to create a factory so highly automated that it allows Tesla to make cars more efficiently than much bigger rivals. As a result, the automaker has struggled to meet production goals and been hit with defections of key staff members to rival firms. The new German factory is designed to help change all that. “Everyone knows German engineering is outstanding for sure. You know that is part of the reason why we are locating Gigafactory Europe in Germany”, Musk said. BMW has a factory in Leipzig, where it builds its i3 and it will source battery cells from a factory in Erfurt run by China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL). Volkswagen is retooling a plant in Zwickau to build 330,000 electric cars and German engineering giant Siemens, which has an industrial and technology hub in Berlin, last week said it met with Musk to discuss projects in the area of advanced manufacturing and car charging. German carmakers and suppliers are tapping in to a €1 billion fund set up by Germany to increase battery cell production and are further aided by a government-funded research facility to increase battery cell development know-how. Tesla has yet to meet its goal of building more than 500,000 Model 3 cars by 2018. That goal was set back in 2016 and since then Tesla’s production guru, Peter Hochholdinger, a former Audi production expert, quit to joined rival Lucid. This year Tesla expects to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 cars; a target that includes selling all models. By contrast, the Volkswagen brand delivered 6.24 million cars last year and is readying its global production network to build 22 million electric cars by 2028. To ramp up manufacturing, Tesla started making its Model 3 in a tent, but the California-built cars often failed to meet German quality standards. In August, German car rental company Nextmove walked away from a €5 million order for 85 Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles, following a dispute over how to fix quality issues. Although Tesla has chosen a high-cost location, there is higher potential for automation with electric cars since they are less complex to build than combustion engined vehicles. A combustion engined car has 1,400 components in the motor, exhaust system and transmission. By contrast, an electric car’s battery and motor has only 200 components, according to analysts at ING. While the average combustion engine takes 3.5 hours to make, and the average transmission requires 2.7 hours of assembly, an electric motor takes only about 1 hour to assemble, consultants at Alix Partners said in their Global Automotive Outlook study. “Personnel is not a high cost factor in the production of electric cars”, Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said. Today the biggest cost factor is still battery packs, which amount to between 30 % and 50 % of the cost of an electric vehicle. By adding the “Made in Germany” quality, Tesla could significantly boost sales of its electric cars, which are already class-leading. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI will start making its Santa Cruz pickup at its U.S. factory in 2021, with an investment of $410 million, as it seeks a foothold in the popular, but highly competitive, segment led by U.S. rivals. The Alamaba factory expansion was announced as president Donald Trump is expected this week to push back a self-imposed deadline on whether to put tariffs of up to 25 % on imported cars and parts. Hyundai has invested more than $1.1 billion in the Montgomery region in the last 18 months, with the latest move expected to add 200 new jobs and 1,000 people employed by regional suppliers and logistics companies. The factory, which began production in 2005, was Hyundai’s first assembly and manufacturing plant in the United States and now has 2,900 full-time and 500 part-time employees. Hyundai, whose late response to the SUV market took a heavy toll on its sales in the United States, China and other markets, has expanded its SUV offerings in recent years. The Santa Cruz pickup, introduced as a concept vehicle 4 years ago, will be its first for the U.S. market, joining 3 models (the Sonata, Elantra and Santa Fe) now made in its sole U.S. factory. Last year, the United States and South Korea agreed to revise a trade pact sharply criticized by Trump, striking a deal to extend U.S. tariffs on Korean-made pickups by 20 years, until 2041. Although Hyundai has been keen to enter the lucrative compact pickup segment, the launch of the Santa Cruz has been delayed by the Korean firm’s increased recent focus on electrification and expansion into new market segments. The pickup announcement comes as confirmation that Hyundai is targeting the ‘compact’ truck market, dominated in the US by models such as the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma. A truck in this category has broader global market appeal than a larger, Ford F150-sized model, suggesting the Santa Cruz could come to Europe. +++ 

+++ MASERATI recently wrapped up production of the GranTurismo and GranCabrio, but the company confirmed a new “super sports model” would arrive in 2020. The car will be unveiled in May and will have a petrol engine. That’s important to note as the upcoming model will become the first Maserati to be offered with an electric powertrain. The company hasn’t said much about the car, but it was previously known as the Alfieri until Maserati decided to drop that name and start referring to it as the “all new sports car”. Last year’s capital markets day presentation revealed the model would ride on an aluminum space frame platform and have a plug-in hybrid powertrain with an electric all-wheel drive system. At the time, the company said the model would accelerate from 0-100 km/h in around 2 seconds and have a top speed in excess of 300 km/h. However, FCA product plans change more often than the direction of the wind and Maserati’s latest road map doesn’t mention plug-in hybrids but just battery electric vehicles. That being said, an Alfieri EV was in the previous product plan and the company said it would have 3 electric motors, all-wheel drive and 800V battery technology. The automaker also promised the car would have a long range, quick recharging times and “over 50% more power” than what we can assume is the standard model. While a lot of questions remain, Maserati’s all new sports car will be followed by a convertible variant in 2021. A new GranTurismo will also debut in 2021 and be followed by a GranCabrio in 2022. +++ 

+++ MINI will host the world premiere of the John Cooper Works (JCW) GP at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. Billed as the fastest street-legal Mini ever, the subcompact hot hatchback has a 306 hp 2.0-liter engine, which makes it the most powerful in its class. The mill will be paired to an automatic gearbox, but I don’t know yet whether a manual will also be available. Production of the JCW GP will be limited to 3,000 units worldwide. The first examples will arrive at dealers in mid 2020; a few months after the Electric version goes on sale next March. +++ 

+++ PEUGEOT has given a shot in the arm to the new hypercar class at the Le Mans 24 Hours by announcing its intention to return to the race in 2022. Parent company PSA has released a brief statement confirming its intention to not only race at Le Mans, but also to compete in all rounds of the World Endurance Championship, starting in 2022 with an all-new hybrid-based contender. No further details have been revealed at this stage. PSA motorsport director Jean-Marc Finot said: “I am very excited at the prospect of channelling the skills and passion of my team into this project. It is a new challenge and I know our experts will rise to it with another demonstration of their will to win with teams financed by the PSA Group’s brands, fuelled by their long experience of top-flight FIA championships and hunger for success”. The surprise entry goes a long way to validating the decision to switch from the current LMP1 regulations to a new hypercar formula, which is due for introduction in 2020. Before Peugeot’s announcement, the only major car makers to commit to the category were Toyota and Aston Martin. The new hypercar rules have been shaped with cost-cutting in mind, with a season’s budget expected to be limited to around €20 million. Manufacturers have the option of developing a bespoke racer, or modify a road-going hypercar for race use. Toyota has opted to focus on a bespoke racer, while Aston Martin plans to enter the Valkyrie. Peugeot has a rich history at Le Mans, winning its world-famous home race twice at the end of the Group C era, in 1992 and 1993. It returned to sports car racing in the LMP1 era, battling Audi for honours between 2007 and 2011, winning Le Mans in 2009 with its diesel-powered 908 HDi FAP. A hybrid version of the car was under development when Peugeot pulled the plug on the endurance racing programme, just one year before the founding of the WEC in 2012. Since then, rumours have suggested the car maker could return to the race, but bosses have always maintained the would only do so if the rules changed to lower costs and make a campaign more sustainable. +++ 

+++ Daimler has taken a “reality check” on self-driving “ ROBOTAXIS ”, acknowledging that making them safe is proving harder than first thought amid questions over their future earnings potential. Chief executive Ola Källenius told Daimler would “rightsize” its spending level on robotaxis and that self-driving technology would more likely be applied to commercial vehicles for freight companies on long haul routes. Carmakers raced to develop self-driving vehicles after Google presented a prototype car in 2012, leading Daimler to develop an autonomous Mercedes. The idea of fleets of robotaxis picking up and ferrying customers around cities gained traction, driven by the stellar growth of ride services such as Uber and of delivery services firms. However, costs and regulatory hurdles have spiraled, leading to a reassessment of the business potential. “There has been a reality check setting in here”, Källenius said. Ensuring that self-driving cars are 100 % safe in crowded urban areas is proving to be a bigger challenge than engineers had assumed a few years ago, he said. Even if Daimler is able to make robotaxis safe, the benefits of entering the crowded ride-hailing business with self-driving cars remain unclear, he added. “The full scale deployment would tie up a lot of capital with some uncertainties around the earnings potential”, he said. “At this juncture we said to be the first one, does not make sense”. Daimler has already sought a development alliance with BMW for semi-autonomous vehicle technology and it has another project with supplier Robert Bosch to perfect technology for fully driverless cars. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN recently kicked off production of the ID.3, and now the company is gearing up to build electric vehicles in the United States. As part of an €727 million investment, the automaker will expand their plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee to build electric vehicles. Construction is just getting underway, but Volkswagen will expand the plant’s body shop by 52.397 square meters. Volkswagen says this will create approximately 1.000 jobs and turn the facility into a “North American assembly base for electric vehicles”. Production is slated to begin in 2022 and Volkswagen said both battery and ICE powered vehicles will be built on the same assembly line. This means the production version of the ID Crozz concept will be built alongside the Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport and Passat. Besides expanding the body shop, Volkswagen will build an all-new plant for assembling battery packs. This facility will span 18.395 square meters. While production of electric vehicles is still over 2 years away, Volkswagen will begin hiring workers in early 2020. An assortment of jobs will be available including positions for supervisors and specialists as well as engineers who specialize electrical, mechanical, manufacturing, chemical, software and quality fields. Volkswagen has previously announced the ID.4 will be unveiled in February and this suggests the model will debut at the Chicago Auto Show. Regardless of where it debuts, the crossover will initially be built in Zwickau, Germany. In a statement, Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh said “This is a big, big moment for this company” as “expanding local production sets the foundation for our sustainable growth in the U.S.” He added, “Electric vehicles are the future of mobility and Volkswagen will build them for millions, not just millionaires”. Little is known about the ID.4, but it’s slated to have a dual motor 4Motion all-wheel drive system. In the ID Crozz II concept, the front motor produced 102 hp while the rear motor developed 204 hp. This setup gave the model a combined output of 306 hp. The concept also had an 83 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, but that’s larger than the 45, 58 and 77 kWh units offered in the ID.3. As a result, it’s unclear if the ID.4 will have a larger battery or adopt the smaller packs used in the ID.3. +++

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