Newsflash: vernieuwde BMW 5-serie debuteert juni volgend jaar in Busan


+++ AUDI started selling its first locally produced full-electric vehicle, a variant of the elongated Q2 in China last week as part of an effort to electrify its local product lineup. The electric compact crossover, known as Q2L e-Tron, is 4.237 mm long, 1.785 mm wide and 1.458 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2.628 mm. Powered by lithium ion batteries from the Chinese supplier CATL, the Q2L e-Tron has a range of 265 kilometers on 1 charge and a top speed of 150 kph. Its electric motor delivers 136 hp and 290 Nm. Audi will build its next battery EV product, the e-Tron, in China in 2021. German rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW are also gearing up their efforts to build EVs in China. Earlier this month, Mercedes launched its first locally produced electric vehicle, the EQ C. BMW is due to launch sales of its first China-built battery EV, the iX3, next year. +++ 

+++ BMW will unveil its new 5 Series at the Busan International Motor Show in a worldwide debut next year, a decision that its board members say is in line with the German automaker’s focus on Korea as a strategic target market. 2 executives from BMW (Pieter Nota, BMW’s board member responsible for customer, brands and sales segments, and Nicolas Peter, the unit’s chief financial officer) vowed to keep on expanding its investment into research and development (R&D) in Korea as the car maker still grapples with the tainted reputation in the aftermath of the engine fire scandal. The current R&D center located in Yeongjongdo, Incheon, will be relocated to a larger facility next year with 13 more employees, the executives said in a press conference held at BMW’s driving center near the R&D center. “We recognize Korea as one of the world’s powerhouses of high-end technology. It represents innovative thinking, technological progress and tremendous openness to new developments”, said Peter. “This places Korea in an excellent position to play an important role in shaping future mobility”. The revamp will also be geared toward widening research areas to encompass battery cell technology, material research and charging technology activities for electric vehicles. They also announced release plans for more future-centric, sustainable car models such as electric and hybrid cars and autonomous driving vehicles. As for electric cars, the Mini Electric will be introduced to Korean drivers alongside other electric vehicles. “By the end of this year, we will offer 5 electrified vehicles in Korea, the fully electric i3 and 4 plug-in hybrids, including the 5 and 7 Series”, Nota said. “In 2020, we will add 4 more, including the new 3 Series. That means there will be an electrified vehicle in every segment”. Earlier this month, the group said that it plans to have 25 electric models in its portfolio by 2023, with more than half of those being fully electric cars. BMW also announced it inked a €2.9 billion battery supply deal with local battery maker Samsung SDI. +++ 

+++ Do you ever get the feeling that the CAR INDUSTRY might be, well, having a bit of a laugh? A week ago, a new Ford Mustang was presented that is an electric SUV, plus the latest Aston Martin; a crossover capable of wading through half a metre of water. And this week, the scarcely believable Tesla Cybertruck debuted, alongside a prototype from Hyundai that shows how serious the Korean brand is about developing a mid-engined supercar to rival Lotus and Porsche. Elon Musk unveiled his vision of a pick-up truck last Thursday evening: an all-electric, stainless-steel creation that can tow up to six tonnes and get from 0-100 kph in less than 3 seconds. The Cybertruck has a sharp, angular shape that wouldn’t look out of place in a Schwarzenegger sci-fi movie. And yes, the company is now taking orders ahead of production starting in 2021. About the Hyundai RM19, the opinion is that it “handles quite beautifully” and is “sensational”. It is fast becoming clear that, as we enter the third decade of this century, all bets are going to be off on which manufacturer can make which kind of vehicle, and do so convincingly. Electrification is helping to democratise the marketplace, along with the spread of expertise way beyond the traditional brands. All of this should mean we have more choice over the next decade than we’ve had for a generation. The car market is going to be unpredictable, but gloriously so. +++ 

+++ CITROEN will expand its zero-emission offerings starting next year, beyond the current C-Zero, E-Mehari and E-Berlingo MultiSpace, with the successor of the C4 Cactus. Confirmed for 2020 by CEO Linda Jackson, it will be based on an extended version of the PSA Group’s CMP platform. Currently used by the Peugeot 208 and Opel Corsa, plus the Peugeot 2008 and DS3 Crossback, it supports petrol and diesel engines, as well as electric powertrains. It will underpin both the ICE and electric-powered versions of the C4 Cactus’ replacement, which might drop the ‘Cactus’ suffix from its name (decision pending). On a related note, Jackson said that as long as people will continue to buy diesel-powered cars, the company won’t ditch them. Nevertheless, the entire Citroen range will get electrified versions by 2025, and that move will start next year, when every new model they make will get a PHEV or EV derivative. The C5 Aircross, for one, has already launched with a plug-in hybrid powertrain and e-AWD. Rumors about bringing back the C5 mid-size sedan (and possibly estate too) in Europe date back to 2017, when the second generation was phased out, and it seems that the French auto firm hasn’t given up on it. The Citroen exec confirmed (again) that they will give the D-segment car another chance, early next decade, and that it will be inspired by the 2016 CXperience Concept. Beneath the skin, it will share many components with the latest Peugeot 508. +++ 

+++ Right now isn’t a good time for used car prices in the United Kingdom, unless we’re talking about ELECTRIC cars which are currently bucking the industry trend by appreciating in value. CarGurus analyses data on hundreds of thousands of used cars each day to calculate each one’s instant market value. It examined the prices of the four most searched electric cars online since 2017: the BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, and Tesla Model S. Its data showed that the value of each car either remained steady or gained in value over several months. the EVs out-performed the most searched for petrol and diesel cars. The Renault Zoe was a car that performed particularly well, with its average value between January 2017 and November 2019 increased by 18 %. To compare, the most popular petrol and diesel car, the Ford Fiesta, dropped in value by 22 % over the same period. The BMW i3 also did well, with 2014 models increasing by 1 % over the course of 2019. Comparable combustion engined Minis dropped by 14 % over the same time. The UK’s best-selling EV, the Nissan Leaf, also kept a good used value, despite the high number of examples available. The earlier models perform particularly well, with a 2015 Leaf’s value now just 9 % lower than it was in January 2017. While that might not sound too good considering the result of the Zoe and the i3, a comparable Volkswagen Golf dropped 17 % of its value over the same period. +++ 

+++ Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling 72,761 FIAT 500 vehicles worldwide over degraded shift cable bushings. Some bushings can degrade when subjected to heat and humidity, causing the shift cable to separate from the transmission and stop shifter function, the company said in a statement. The recall affects 2012-13 model-year 500s: 51.788 vehicles in the U.S.; 10.627 in Canada; 3.520 in Mexico and 6.826 outside of North America. “FCA is aware of 3 minor accidents that were potentially related, but the company is unaware of any potentially related injuries”, the statement said. The transmission may not shift into the selected gear, NHTSA documents said, and in park the vehicle may roll away. Customers might notice loose shifter movement if the condition occurs, FCA said, but should still use the regular parking brake gear selection. Shift cable adjusters will be replaced with “a more robust bushing”, recall documents said. +++ 

+++ The FORD Mustang Mach-E electric crossover could be built in China in addition to the already confirmed Mexico production base. Ford is reportedly considering making the all-electric crossover in China, but the decision depends on how the trade war between the United States and the Asian powerhouse plays out. “We need to determine whether the tariffs are settled. And it would be great if they were settled”, Ford CEO Jim Hackett told. “We have a plan to build there if we have to”, the executive added. Mind you, the trade war is most certainly not the only reason that would push Ford to build the Mustang Mach-E in China. In an earlier interview, Hackett said he believed the electric crossover would be in great demand in the world’s largest EV market. “I’m smiling because China has got a mandate for electrification, so the Mach-E has a role in that”, the executive told. For the time being, Ford plans to export the Mustang Mach-E from Mexico to China. However, the automaker hasn’t announced when sales will begin and, apparently, all options are open. Building the Mustang Mach-E in Mexico and China would probably raise a few eyebrows in the United States, particularly with the federal government. President Donald Trump has criticized domestic companies for manufacturing overseas and said in August that they should look for alternatives to China. Ford may be building the Mustang Mach-E in Mexico, but CEO Jim Hackett says the automaker still employs more hourly workers in the U.S. than its competitors. The electric Ford Mustang will debut in the United States and Europe next fall, with China sales to follow later. Why the delay? Hackett says “we’ve got to make sure that we’re flawless” in launching the Mustang Mach-E in the U.S. and Europe first. And, we guess, see how this trade war between the superpowers plays out as well. In the meantime, the First Edition model positioned near the top of the trim hierarchy is sold out on the American market. Ford opened Mach-E reservations shortly after unveiling the model on November 17, and America’s entire allocation of First Edition models was spoken for in nine days. Sold out is a little bit of a vague term, because the firm hasn’t revealed how many units of the First Edition it plans to make or how long it will be in production. What’s certain is that, as its name implies, it’s the trim level that the company will build and deliver first. Motorists who reserved another variant will need to wait. Priced at $59,900 before destination, the First Edition model comes with dual-motor all-wheel drive, 333 hp and up to 430 kiloetres of range. It stands out from the other variants with model-specific scuff plates, brushed aluminum pedal caps, red brake calipers, and contrast stitching. With the First Edition out of the picture, the Mustang Mach-E lineup consists of 4 trim levels named Select, Premium, California Route 1 and GT. Pricing ranges from $43,895 for the entry-level Select to $60,500 for the flagship GT before incentives and destination. Deliveries of the First Edition will begin in late 2020, and the GT will be available in the spring of 2021. First-in-liners in other countries still have time to secure one of the First Edition models. The trim level remains available in France, in the United Kingdom, and in Germany, among other countries. All told, Ford hopes to build 50,000 units of the Mach-E during the model’s first full production year. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS boss Mary Barra says she is okay with the prospect of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) future partner PSA owning GM’s former Opel and Vauxhall brands but she is not okay with the idea that fraudulent bargaining by FCA and the UAW resulted in higher labor costs over many years. The 2 positions show how complicated, competitive, and incestuous the auto industry is. GM has filed a federal racketeering lawsuit that accuses FCA of years of bribery and corruption and that payoffs to the UAW gave FCA a competitive advantage in terms of labor contracts dating back to 2009. Both FCA and the UAW have denounced the allegations and say past negotiations and agreements were not compromised. Personnel from both FCA and the union implicated in payoffs to UAW leaders have been charged. “It was a decision that was carefully made”, Barra said of the lawsuit in an interview. It goes to her long-standing stance: “Give General Motors a level playing field and we’ll compete and we’ll win. When we find out actions were taken that caused that not to happen, we felt in the best interest of all of our stakeholders, our employees, our dealers, our suppliers and our shareholders, we felt that we had a responsibility to take action”. Unions use a tactic called pattern bargaining where a general agreement is reached with 1 of the 3 Detroit based automakers that the other 2 are expected to match. The basic agreement is then tweaked to the individual companies. Barra says facts GM has gathered show the historic manipulation of the last 3 contracts is more than pattern bargaining differences. “There’s a difference between pattern bargaining and then pattern bargaining that’s based on briberies and corruption”, adds GM spokesman Tony Cervone. GM’s case intends to show fraudulent representation resulted in advantageous agreements. The lawsuit comes as FCA is in negotiations for a new 4 year agreement. And it also lands with a thud as FCA finalizes a $50 billion deal to merge with PSA Group of Europe to create what would be the 4th largest automaker in the world. The irony of the merger is that in 2017, GM sold its Opel and Vauxhall brands in Europe to PSA which has turned them from money losers into profitable operations. With the merger, technically FCA would own GM’s former brands. Barra stands by the decision to sell Opel and Vauxhall. “We still think the basic premise of the Opel – PSA transaction was a win, win, win”, she said. “It was great for Opel because combining with PSA secured their future. For PSA it was great because it made them the number 2 in Europe. And for General Motors, we have benefited from the success of that deal and the cost savings that we identified. So I think on all 3 fronts it was the right decision and continue to believe it was and it is”. No regrets over the strange turn of events. “It’s a dynamic world and you have to stay ready for change”, says the pragmatic CEO. GM has all but exited Europe (it still sells the Camaro and Corvette) and has pulled out of other regions such as India and Russia. The automaker has also pared the car lineup by dropping the Chevrolet Volt, Cruze, and Impala. Still, Barra sees GM as a full-line, global automaker and a good steward of shareholder capital with the nimbleness to invest strategically. “Every place has to earn their right to exist, every segment has to earn their right to exist”, she says bluntly. Barra has made tough decisions over the years to strengthen the company and been rewarded with the 3 most profitable years since bankruptcy in 2009. This puts GM in a position to seize opportunities in an industry under transformation as it pivots to electric and autonomous vehicles. “So I very much consider General Motors to be a global company”, Barra says. “And we’ll continue to strengthen the company”. +++ 

+++ GLOBAL new car sales are tipped to experience their steepest year-over-year decline since the financial crisis of 2008. According to the Fitch Ratings economics team, as reported by CNBC, global car sales are tipped to fall by about 3.1 million in 2019, citing data from the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers. It is believed that global car sales will fall by approximately 4 % from 2018 down to 77.5 million. By comparison, a total of 80.6 million cars were sold around the world in 2018, itself a decrease from the 81.8 million sold in 2017, the first annual decline since 2009. The drop in demand for new vehicles across China has been a key contributor to the overall sales drop throughout the rest of the globe. In the first 10 months of this year, sales fell by 11 % compared with the same time last year. In the U.S., sales have also dropped this year, albeit not by quite as much, with Fitch Ratings expecting a 2 % decline to 16.9 million vehicles by the end of the calendar year. It’s not just the car market that’s been impacted. According to chief economist at Fitch Ratings, Brian Coulton, global manufacturing in general has also taken a hit. “The downturn in the global car market since the middle of 2018 has been a key force behind the slump in global manufacturing and the car sales picture is turning out a lot worse than we expected back in May”, Coulton said. “Structurally, environmental concerns about diesel cars (and anticipated regulatory responses) and the growth of ride-hailing and car-sharing schemes are weighing on auto demand”. +++ 

+++ The all-new Volkswagen GOLF R has been spotted undergoing testing in South Africa. The ride height will drop subtly relative to the standard Golf. The front bumper will be very similar in design to the already-released Golf GTE plug-in hybrid, but unlike the GTE, the grille element isn’t illuminated, but finished in silver. Specs of the next Golf R have yet to be confirmed, but Volkswagen bosses have already confirmed that the fastest iterations of the Mk8 Golf will have in excess of 330 hp. As before, drive is set to be deployed through the 4Motion fourwheel drive system. For this iteration of the Golf R, it’s expected that a mild hybrid system will help deliver extra performance. Unlike lesser versions of the new Golf, which provide a small electrical boost to reduce load on the combustion engine, it’s likely that the next R’s hybrid assistance will come in the form of an electrical compressor. Similar in principle to the system used by the Audi S6, this should help to all but eliminate turbo lag. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI said it will complete the construction of its new headquarters in Seoul by 2026 after breaking ground early next year. Yesterday, the Seoul Metropolitan Government granted permission for the construction of the 105-story Global Business Center (GBC) in southern Seoul after Hyundai Motor agreed to present measures that will ensure the building does not interrupt the Air Force’s flight operations. If completed, the GBC will be the country’s tallest building; taller than Lotte World Tower, which is in eastern Seoul. It will accommodate offices, hotels, stores and performance and exhibition halls. Hyundai now plans to set up a special-purpose company and attract investors to jointly develop the GBC and related facilities, a company spokesman said. In 2014, Hyundai purchased the former building of state-run utility Korea Electric Power for 10.55 trillion won ($9 billion). +++ 

+++ NISSAN said Thursday it will invest ¥33 billion ($301 million) to introduce advanced manufacturing technology at a plant in Japan to tackle the challenges of producing next-generation vehicles such as electric, intelligent and connected cars. Nissan plans to introduce the manufacturing technology at its factories around the world, including those of alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi, following the initial investment at its plant in Tochigi Prefecture in 2020. “A leap in Nissan’s production technology will be key in enhancing our overall technology as vehicles become more complex and advanced”, Nissan executive vice president Hideyuki Sakamoto told a news conference at the automaker’s headquarters in Yokohama. The new system involves automated pallets that mount entire powertrains, whereas assembly line staff currently install multiple components, such as batteries and motors, in sequence. Such universal pallets will enable Nissan to assemble different types of vehicles, whether electric or gasoline-powered, in one process, the company said. Sakamoto said automating the process with robots will lessen the physical burden on assembly line staff who are aging and also promote diversity in the workforce by allowing women to work at factories. Nissan will also have robots take over the process of sealing vehicle body seams to prevent water intrusion. The robots can reproduce the precise movements and gestures of trained workers, Nissan said. “The change to manufacturing is not aimed at cutting the workforce but rather lessening the complex and burdensome work that is increasingly required”, Sakamoto said. “This will free workers to perform more valuable jobs such as developing and planning new models”. +++ 

+++ OPEL has confirmed it is no longer taking orders for the Mokka X, after 7 years on sale. Although the Nissan Juke rival is still seemingly available to configure on the brand’s website, production actually ended in June. An Opel spokesperson claims that the only orders taken will be for existing dealer stock, which is now running low. A statement confirmed that an all-new Mokka X, to be ‘fully electrified’, will go on sale in 2020. However, understands that examples won’t actually arrive for Dutch customers until the start of 2021. The new compact SUV is expected to be shown in petrol, diesel and electric form at the same time, likely at the Geneva motor show in March, but sales won’t commence until towards the end of the year. The Mokka X is by far Opel’s oldest model on sale, despite a refresh in which ‘X’ was added to the name in 2016. The car’s platform and powertrains date from well before Opel was taken under the wing of the PSA Group. This means the Astra and Insignia are now the last models on sale to be developed solely by former owner General Motors (GM). The Astra has just received a facelift but doesn’t make use of PSA engines, with the company instead choosing to finish the half-done development of new GM units. +++ 

+++ PEUGEOT has moved the new 208 upmarket in an effort to leapfrog competitors from Renault, Volkswagen and Ford in the small hatchback segment. Part of a sequence of small hatchbacks that started in 1983 with the 205, the 208 retains the same model designation as the previous generation instead of being called the 209, a move that Peugeot says is intended to create a more consistent lineup. All Peugeot models now end in the number 8. The 208 is one of the first PSA Group models on the CMP platform, which was designed to accommodate both internal combustion engines and electric powertrains. The battery-electric e-208 will be available in early 2020. Peugeot says the new architecture helps with emissions because it is 30 kg lighter than the previous PF1 platform and has better floorplan aerodynamics. Peugeot has simplified the internal combustion engine lineup, reducing displacement options to 2 from 5 for the outgoing car. The new 208 comes as a 1.5-liter diesel or a 1.2-liter gasoline. The 208 offers a choice of 3 transmissions: 5 and 6 speed manuals and an 8 speed automatic that can be shifted with paddles behind the steering wheel. Certain driver assistance features are available only with the automatic. Peugeot officials say about 80 % of buyers will opt for gasoline engines, with about 10 % each for diesel and electric. Dimensionally, the new 208 is 80 mm longer than the current version but its height has been reduced by 30 mm, giving the car a more aggressive and dynamic character, Peugeot says. The extra length is most noticeable in rear-seat legroom and kneeroom. Peugeot designers took inspiration from the 205 GTi hot hatchback of the 1980s, most noticeably in the proportions and C pillar, when creating the new 208. Other design features include deeper body contours made possible by new stamping techniques, bolder “lion’s claw” running lights, and a black band at the rear between the taillights, a detail seen on other new Peugeot models including the 508, 3008 and 5008. In the first half of 2019, the 208 was 4th in its segment with 124.703 sales; a decline of 5.5 % from 2018. The Renault Clio led the segment (185,517) followed by the Volkswagen Polo (146,344) and Ford Fiesta (125,795). Another key rival is the new Corsa from Peugeot sister brand Opel. Also the Corsa is also underpinned by the CMP architecture. IHS Markit forecasts Peugeot will produce about 350.000 units of the 208 globally in 2020. Last year Peugeot sold about 295.000 units worldwide, with Europe accounting for 230,000 units. The small car segment, Europe’s largest and most competitive, has been in decline as buyers switch to SUVs and crossovers. In the first half of the year 1.57 million small cars were sold, down 6.4 % from the first six months of 2018. +++ 

+++ SAIC Motor plans to deliver the plug-in version of the MG HS compact crossover to international markets. After launching in the domestic market, the vehicle will be first exported to UK and Singapore, the state-owned automaker said last week. “It will join the ZS pure electric vehicle to speed up MG brand’s process to go global”, it added. SAIC did not provide more details on its export plan for the vehicle. The plug-in MG HS went on sale in China at the Guangzhou auto show last week. The vehicle was built at SAIC’s newly constructed plant in Ningde, a city in the east China coastal province of Fujian. The factory, which opened in September, will serve as the company’s export center. The plug-in hybrid is fitted with a 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and SAIC’s second-generation transmission dedicated for plug-in hybrids. The engine delivers maximum power of 230 hp and maximum torque of 480 Nm. That enables the vehicle to reach 100 kph in 6.6 seconds, according to SAIC. The plug-in HS is the third electrified vehicle model in MG’s product mix, following the plug-in variant of the MG6 compact sedan and the battery version of the ZS subcompact crossover. In July, the electric ZS, MG’s first full-electric vehicle, arrived in UK and has since been also exported to the Netherlands and Norway, according to SAIC. In China, SAIC also assembles vehicles for its MG and Roewe brands in 3 other cities: Shanghai, Nanjing and Zhengzhou. Outside China, SAIC builds MG cars in Thailand and India. In 2005, Nanjing Auto, also a state-owned automaker in China, purchased the brand from bankrupt UK automaker MG Rover. 2 years later, Nanjing Auto was acquired by SAIC. +++ 

+++ Let’s settle a few issues right up front. Pickups have been defined in exactly the same way for almost 100 years, with a 3-box design encompassing a hood, a cabin, and a bed. In fact, it takes just 7 lines to draw their rudimentary shape: up, across, up, across, down, across and down. Now comes the TESLA Cybertruck, trying not only to disrupt the industry, but to do so in perhaps the most undisruptable segment on the planet. From a business perspective, it makes perfect sense that Tesla wants to take a crack at the largest and most profitable segment in the U.S. As unique and jarring as this new offering is, there are plenty of examples in our collective automotive memories of distinctive trucks trying to shake up the establishment. Models like the Chevrolet Avalanche, Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Hummer H2 SUT, GMC Envoy XUV, and even the Pontiac Aztec offered unique answers to questions of practicality; even if many of those questions had been previously unasked. The problem, of course, is that when talking about this particular segment, these buyers (especially full-size-pickup buyers) are some of the most risk-averse and brand-loyal purchasers around. Maybe no other vehicle makes this point better than the polarizing first-gen Honda Ridgeline, which in order to survive had to move to a somewhat more traditional pickup-truck look for its second go-around. To fully understand why full-size pickup trucks (and to a certain extent, full-size SUVs) are so popular, you have to know their buyers. Generally speaking, these folks have to carry big families, while some pull heavy trailers, others haul loads in the bed, and many need a vehicle that can serve for both work and play. In addition, although these particular buyers may understand the tradeoffs they’re making better than buyers in any other segment, they are the least interested in making any compromises. Some buyers get a full-size vehicle so they can’t be prevented from doing something they might want to do in the future. They’re acutely aware they have to make sacrifices in, say, comfort and fuel economy, but they ultimately don’t want their vehicle choice to be the thing that limits their options on weekends, for vacations, or during a DIY project. Getting back to the Cybertruck, possibly the biggest hurdle it needs to clear is this: Most truck owners don’t have much experience driving electric car: they just see compromises. Add a big amount of weight in the bed of an already heavy electric truck and, as with any vehicle, you lose range; add a heavy trailer and you lose more range. Now add in extreme high or low temperatures and your range drops again. Whether the actual loss of range in these circumstances would be significant enough to impact their day-to-day usage is, for some potential buyers, meaningless. For a new-truck buyer, perception is reality. Even so, quite a few design and engineering aspects of the Tesla Cybertruck could resonate with old-school and modern truck buyers. There’s no question the exterior design is meant to recall both futuristic and recognizably militaristic (meaning function-first) outlines. The hulking size with bulging shoulders and massive wheel arches imply a confident, special-forces-style stance. More tangible and traditional “pickup” activities like hauling and towing could be a sticking point for quite a few truck buyers, but the Cybertruck’s 14,000-pound max towing capacity could help, not to mention a few specially devised real-world on-the-road hauling and towing demonstrations. As you might expect, electric vehicles don’t drive like traditional trucks at all, but even the most jaded truck buyer understands the value of being able to carry several thousand pounds or tow like a three-quarter-ton pickup. The single most defining characteristic to any pickup is the bed area and much of the Cybertruck’s success or failure will hinge on Tesla’s understanding of what buyers want from their cargo area. A very wise engineer once told us, “Show me the bed of any pickup, and I’ll tell you how its maker expects buyers will use it”. In this highly competitive arena, the more versatility, the more use. The Cybertruck’s bed looks in some ways to be the largest in the segment (there are no intrusive wheel-well bumps) but I have no doubt there will be discussions as to whether it’s more of a pickup or an SUV with a massive, covered cargo area (isn’t that a trunk?). With the stainless-steel bed cover closed, it offers huge lockable storage, and when open there are several tie-down points and hidden storage bins to make any gear-heavy bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, or ATV hauler quite happy. As versatile as the bed might be, the cover does create issues for those who might want to add roof racks to accommodate even more lifestyle gear, something quite popular with outdoorsy buyers. Other aspects of this new truck that could prove problematic for skeptical pickup buyers are underneath. First off, Tesla decided to go with 5 lug wheels, which implies it’s less capable and less rugged, and with lighter-duty axles and hubs, than 6 or 8 lug options. After a quick talk with their lead engineer, I was told this was more a of a practical decision, due in large part to their use of 5 lug wheels on the current-gen Model X, which could expand wheel choices for both vehicles down the road. Another possible sticking point for some traditional truck buyers could be the 4 corner air suspension (a stronger version of the system used on the Model X), typically chosen to deliver carlike ride quality when passengers are the most frequent payload, as well as better handling dynamics and capabilities. As of today, the vast majority of full-size pickups and SUVs are suspended with either steel leaf or coil springs, usually tuned for heavier loads. Of course, this issue could be minimized by the fact that many big-rig Class 8 over-the-road haulers use primary or supplemental air-ride setups, as well as some global HD military troop carriers. In fact, putting the Cybertruck on a lift could impress many skeptics, who will see the long-travel droop of the massive four-wheel independent A-arms the air suspension allows, as well as the beefy substructure surrounding the front and rear electric motors. Nothing says HD or bulletproof like a subframe of tubed steel. Not only will those electric motor casings provide physical protection (they look as if they’re ready to push logs and pieces of granite out of the way when navigating deep Alaskan river crossings) but the adjustable ride height will deliver plenty of ground clearance over obstacles as well. With so many companies getting ready to jump into the electric-truck market (Atlis, Bollinger, Havelaar, Rivian, Workhorse, and more, to say nothing of GM and Ford), and Ford just releasing its Mustang Mach-E electric SUV, there couldn’t be a better time for Tesla to drop a monstrous, military-looking machine into the deep end of the pool. We’ll know much more after I get a chance to thoroughly test this pickup in all the proper ways, with all the proper loads. More to come. +++ 

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , car manufacturing output fell by 4 % year-on-year in October, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Just 134.752 cars were produced; 5.622 fewer than in the same month last year. This is the 16th month of the previous 17 in which production has fallen. There was a modest rise in August only because Brexit-related factory shutdowns earlier in the year meant some usual summer shutdowns were cancelled. Production for the home market dropped by 10.7 % in the past month, while exports came down 2.6 %. The SMMT cites fragile consumer and business confidence at home and demand problems abroad as the cause of the reductions. Model changeovers, as with the Land Rover Discovery Sport, didn’t help the situation. Car production for the year to date is down 14.4 %. A total of 1.123.926 cars have been rolled out so far; 80.5% of which have been exported to destinations including the EU, US, China and Japan. SMMT boss Mike Hawes said: “Yet another month of falling car production makes these extremely worrying times for the sector. Our global competitiveness is under threat, and to safeguard it, we need to work closely with the next Government to ensure frictionless trade, free of tariffs, with regulatory alignment and continued access to talent in the future. “This sector is export-led, already shipping cars to more than 160 countries, and in a period of unprecedented change, a close trading relationship with the EU and preferential trading with all these other markets will be essential to keep automotive in Britain”. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN just delivered its 100,000th e-Golf since 2014, which makes it one of the most popular electric models in Europe. The anniversary vehicle was assembled at the Gläserne Manufaktur Dresden (or Transparent Factory Dresden), which plans to produce over 16,000 e-Golfs this year. In fall 2020, the plant, which basically just supports the e-Golf production at the main site in Wolfsburg, will switch to the Volkswagen ID.3 model. The anniversary vehicle painted in Pure White was handed over to Maik Jähde from Landolfshausen near Hannover. Once he had collected his vehicle he was given an exclusive tour of production. Production of the e-Golf began in Wolfsburg in 2014. Due to the high demand, the model has additionally been built in the Gläserne Manufaktur Dresden for more than 2,5 years. The new ID.3 will roll off the assembly line in Dresden from next fall. Series production of the first model based on the Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) started in Zwickau in November. Volkswagen revealed also that sales of the e-Golf highly accelerated during the past few years. During 2014 – 2017, 47.300 units were made. In 2018 production went up to 24.800. In the first 10 months of 2019, Volkswagen built 27.900 units of the e-Golf. The biggest markets for the outgoing e-Golf in 2019 were Norway, Germany, the USA, the UK and the Netherlands “The e-Golf has already been our ambassador for e-mobility for more than 5 years. Today’s delivery milestone of 100,000 vehicles is confirmation of the e-Golf’s success in fulfilling its mission. It therefore plays an important role in the mobility turnaround for many customers and paves the way for the new ID.3”, Henning Schulzki, Head of Sales and Marketing at the Gläserne Manufaktur Dresden, said. He added: “The e-Golf has made the Gläserne Manufaktur a vibrant showcase for e-mobility since 2017. We will produce over 16,000 units this year; an all-time high. We are delighted to have set this new record”. +++

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