Newsflash: Mitsubishi presenteert na de zomer de nieuwe Outlander


+++ Adrian Hallmark has had a tough time since returning to BENTLEY as chief executive officer in February 2018 after 13 years away from the UK luxury brand; 7 years of which were spent at Jaguar Land Rover. Lengthy delays launching 3 key models (the Continental GT coupe and convertible plus the Flying Spur) pushed the brand to a rare loss last year as dealers were deprived of cars to sell. Bentley returned to profit in the first 6 months, leaving Hallmark confident about a strong 2019 and an even better 2020. This will provide him with momentum as he starts to prepare the brand’s longtime base in Crewe, England, to add production of Bentley’s first electric car. “Last year was a perfect storm. A huge effort had gone into creating replacements for the 3 fantastic nameplates and it took us 18 months longer than we planned to launch them. We have just started selling the Continental GT in America, 1 year after it was released in Europe. And it’s still not in China, which means we have existed this year with 40 % of our world markets lacking our core models. The Continental GT is due in China in the first week of December. So, are we going to be profitable for the full year? Yes, as long as China is back this year. If so, we will have a good year, but we are not going for a record. Next year, it would be hard not to have a record year. We also made cost reductions. We have reduced people and non-people-related costs significantly compared with the forecast for this year. We have reduced running costs by a quarter. We released 450 people in total. About 380 of those were full-time employees. The rest were temporary employees. And all of those 380 were as a result of a voluntary early-retirement offer. We improved the takt time (time spent on each station) from more than 12 minutes to 9 minutes on all of the assembly lines and in the paint and trim areas. If you go back through automotive case studies, I would expect that reduction is as big or probably bigger than what any factory has done in a 12-month period. There are 2 levels of expansion that we need as a company. One is to upgrade and professionalize what we do today, and the other is to prepare for new products and new technologies. It’s important to separate the two because we don’t want to be doing basic infrastructure upgrades when the clock is ticking to build a new car or a new assembly hall for the car. When it comes to new products, it’s all about electrification. We need to have a clear view of when the right time would be to bring the first full-electric cars to market. We have said 2025 is the earliest we can get a credible battery-electric Bentley on the road. Therefore, the next phase of our investment would be linked to that electrification. We are still working on whether we produce the cars on the same line or have supplementary build areas that bring in subcomponents in a different way. We could take one of the existing nameplates and that could be the first electric car, but we wouldn’t take an existing car and try and fit batteries into it because there’s a compromise from a range and efficiency point of view. The future battery-driven Bentley will be smaller, although I prefer to call it space optimized. Take the Jaguar I-Pace. The interior volume is the same as the Range Rover, but it’s about 35 cm shorter. We would always build it so that the interior is Bentley-sized and to Bentley’s standards. You don’t need as much overhang, but that also doesn’t mean we want to build a small car. We just don’t want to waste space on the outside either. We see the battery-electric vehicle architecture as being a liberator of that potential. I think electric cars will be slightly higher because of where the batteries are now. However, with new battery technologies, it will be possible to make cars that are lower as well as cars that are taller because the increased power density will overcome the aero resistance. There is a big chance we will be moving to solid state batteries. That is already on the radar within that mid-2020s period. They are about 30 % lighter for the same power as lithium-ion. An I-Pace has 720 kg of batteries so going to 500 kg instead of 720 kg makes a difference. Also, think about how that changes the packaging”. +++

+++ In Europe, certain versions of the BMW 5 Series, 7 Series, X5, X6, and X7 are available with a 3.0-litre, quad-turbo diesel engine for torque-hungry buyers. But the company intends to retire this potent powerplant in 2020. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise because earlier news indicates that BMW believes the mill is too complicated and expensive to continue producing. Company insiders tell that the automaker plans to stop production of the quad-turbo diesel in the summer of 2020. The M550d, 750d, and 750Ld would allegedly be the first to lose the availability of the powerplant. The BMW X5, X6, and X7 M50d would be next to abandon it. Known internally as the B57D30S0, the company introduced the quad-turbo diesel for the 2016 model year. The powerplant makes an impressive 400 hp and 750 Nm. It belongs to BMW’s B57D30 family of 3.0-litre inline-6 diesel engines that also include single- and twin-turbo variants. With its ample torque, the quad-turbo diesel is able to move BMW’s larger models with ease. For example, the engine can push the big X7 to 100 kilometres per hour in around 5.5 seconds. Put the mill into the M550d Touring and the same sprint takes just 4.4 seconds. In the short term, BMW doesn’t have a direct successor to the quad-turbo diesel, but the other versions of this powerplant would remain available. If the company wants to boost the output, then an option in the future could be creating a hybrid-assisted variant of the twin-turbo diesel. +++

+++ 2 of CHINA ‘s State-owned carmakers, SAIC Motor and GAC Group, have joined hands to develop vehicle technologies and explore overseas markets as the country’s vehicle market remains sluggish and new technologies demand bigger investment. “The partnership will be helpful for the 2 companies to brace for transformations in the automotive industry”, said SAIC, China’s largest carmaker and partner of Germany’s Volkswagen and US carmaker GM, in a filing to the Shanghai stock exchange. According to the 5-year deal, the 2 companies will co-invest in new technologies involving electrified vehicles, smart cars, connectivity and also co-develop vehicle platforms. Both automakers offer competitive electric models in the market but neither has a large volume. The new energy vehicle brand of GAC, a partner of Japan’s Honda and Toyota, sold 38.600 vehicles in the first 11 months of the year, accounting for around 4 % of the total in China. Analysts said it is essential for carmakers to cooperate in the development of new technologies that demands a lot of money, especially when the new car market has not been satisfactory. Volkswagen said earlier this year it will invest around €60 billion in the next 5 years in digitization as well as producing more electric and hybrid vehicles. Chen Qingtai, president of think tank China EV100, said, “Developing modularized platforms can slash costs and carmakers in China should partner with one another, no matter it is Chinese companies or international ones”. He said many former rivals have become partners, including Volkswagen and Ford, so it will be challenging if a company insists on doing all things alone. “If their cooperation is successful, there will be millions of vehicles built on the same platform, and how can any single company compete with them and win?”, Chen said. SAIC and GAC are also planning to explore cooperation in overseas markets covering their sales networks, international logistics resources and manufacturing facilities. This would give them a helping hand as the Chinese market has seen slumping sales for almost 2 years and analysts say there is no sign of a fast recovery. SAIC sold 5.54 million vehicles from January to November; a 13.3 % fall year-on-year. GAC delivered 1.87 million automobiles in the same period, down 4.3 % year-on-year. China’s new vehicle market began sliding in the second half of 2017 and the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers expects the downward trend to continue well into 2020. The association estimated that sales in 2020 would fall 2 % to around 25 million, compounding to an estimated 8 % fall in 2019. Both carmakers have explored overseas markets. GAC operates in 16 countries, mostly in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. SAIC has also built a manufacturing facility in Indonesia, where growth is fast despite the small volume. It purchased a plant from GM when the US carmaker left India and now makes the Hector SUV under its MG brand. While car sales in India are stuttering, the market is expected to become the world’s third-biggest by 2026, behind China and the United States, according to LMC. “It’s an opportune time for China’s automakers to enter India. There is currently a gap in competition and it may take a couple of years for some of the established carmakers to bring new products to the market”, said consultancy LMC analyst Ammar Master in an interview. Analysts said if carmakers can integrate their respective advantages overseas, they have a better chance of succeeding in international markets. The SAIC – GAC partnership is not the first among Chinese carmakers. Last year the country’s largest SUV producer, Great Wall Motors, and State-owned BAIC Group joined hands in vehicle platforms, power trains and new technologies. As long as such deals are beneficial for all parties, “we’d like to explore two-party or even multiple-party cooperation, be it sharing vehicle platforms or production capacity”, said Wei Jianjun, chairman of the carmaker, after the deal was signed. Also last year, Changan Automobile set up a joint venture with FAW Group Corp and Dongfeng Motor Corp to establish a ride-sharing platform to get a slice of China’s growing mobility market, currently dominated by Didi Chuxing. The new venture, called T3 Mobile Travel Services, said it would introduce partners from other industries to build the service and make use of the development of driverless cars to offer safer and more efficient travel services. The move came after the 3 companies signed an agreement of strategic cooperation in December 2017. +++

+++ Some automotive analysts believe 2020 will be the year of the ELECTRIC car thanks to a new wave of EVs coming from Europe’s leading car manufacturers. Data firm IHS Markit says that the number of electric vehicles available to buyers in Europe will jump from fewer 100 to 175 by the end of next year. The selection will continue to grow in the years to come, and by 2025, there are expected to be more than 330 EVs available in Europe. With the increased number of EVs available, sales are expected to follow suit. In 2019, sales of electric vehicles accounted for 3.4 % of sales. This is expected to jump to 5.5 %, totaling approximately 131.000 vehicles. Electric vehicle sales will continue to rise and by 2026 will account for roughly one-fifth of sales. Across the European Union, EV sales are tipped to jump up from 319.000 units in 2019 to 540.000 in 2020. A selection of new rules will come into law in the European Union on January 1st that will heavily penalize car manufacturers if average carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles exceed 95 gram per kilometer. Should companies exceed this limit, they will need to pay a fine of €95 for every gram over the target multiplied by the total number of cars sold. Despite such rules, they aren’t expected to have a considerable impact on the sales of EVs. This is largely because car manufacturers successfully lobbied for a rule which means vehicles emitting less than 50 gram of carbon dioxide per kilometer are eligible for super-credits. This means every EV sold essentially counts as 2 cars, making it far easier for carmakers to meet fleet-wide emissions targets without aggressively ramping up production of EVs. Nonetheless, new electric vehicles such as the Volkswagen ID.3, Mini Cooper SE and Opel Corsa-e will offer customers affordable alternatives to ICE-powered rivals when they hit showroom floors next year. +++

+++ EUROPE continues to provide us with great sales results this year and November is not an exception as sales once again significantly increased. There were 55.033 plug-in car sales, which is 44 % more than a year ago at a very good 4.6 % average market share for the continent. The big change is, however, in the relation between battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV): BEV sales increased by 23 % year-over-year (53 % of all plug-ins), while PHEVs sales increased by 80 % year-over-year (47 % of all plug-ins). After 11 months of 2019, sales amounted to over 486.250, while the average market share reached a new record of 3.3 % market share. Tesla Model 3 remains the top-selling model in Europe by a huge margin, even in its off-peak month, which by the way was the best off-peak month ever (7.380). Many other top-selling models noted some decline (including the Renault Zoé, Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf), but we have also noticeable plug-in hybrid revelations, like the BMW 330e with 2.666 sales in the Top 5. The Top 5 for the month consists of the Tesla Model 3 (7.380 sales in November and 73.041 in the first 11 months), the Renault Zoé (3.231 and 42.708), the Volkswagen e-Golf (2.753 and 25.551), the Nissan Leaf (2.722 and 30.317) and the BMW 330e (2.666 and 7.155). +++


+++ Recently, KIA introduced an all-new Optima, which is known as the K5 in the automaker’s home country and other markets. While I’ve already driven it, European customers may have to wait much longer to enjoy the new saloon. Or they may never enjoy it at all: the European market won’t receive the new 2020 Kia K5 / Optima anytime soon. Kia Motors Europe CEO Emilio Herrera told that there are no current plans to launch the new K5 / Optima in Europe. That could change down the road, but the saloon’s arrival in Europe is unlikely considering the popularity of crossovers, SUVs, and trucks around the world. The new K5 / Optima wears a new design with wild styling, especially for a mainstream saloon. The Kia has aggressive design lines. At the front, the LED daytime running lights are striking. Hopefully, the new Optima spurs other automakers into playing around more with lighting designs. The sloping roof hints at a liftback, though a trunk remains. At the rear, the new Kia features taillights that span across the entire width of the car. Through the third quarter of 2019, Kia sold about 10.000 Optimas, far behind mid-size competitors such as the Volkswagen Passat (91.000), Ford Mondeo (31.000) and even the Mazda 6 (17.000). For comparison, the Sportage sold 86.000 examples over the same period. +++

+++ Yasuhiro Aoyama, who took the helm of MAZDA Europe in March, arrived at a difficult time. Starting next year, automakers will face tougher CO2 emissions regulations in Europe. It’s unlikely Mazda will comply despite huge investments to make its combustion engines cleaner and to add the full-electric MX-30 to its lineup. The EU fines will likely jeopardize the company’s profitability in Europe. Aoyama explained how Mazda will respond: “Mazda is currently profitable in Europe. Maintaining profitability, however, mainly depends on the euro/yen exchange rate. In addition, next year we will face the potential of CO2 penalties. We are in a transition period between 2 generations of technology. When we have completed the transition, including the electrification of our product portfolio, our goal is to pay no fines for CO2 emissions. From that moment we want to start increasing our operating profits and return on sales in Europe. That is our strategy for the long term. Mazda is at risk of facing CO2 fines again in 2021 when emissions limits become even stricter. So we will need to carefully manage volumes over the next few years. To avoid CO2 penalties, the MX-30 is an indispensable part of our strategy, combined with the efficiency improvements made to our combustion engines. We are still working on our 2020 budget (which will cover April 2020 -March 2021), so we haven’t decided on how many units we will sell in Europe next year but we will have to sell as many battery-electric vehicles as possible so that we can reduce our potential of facing a CO2 penalty. We consider the MX-30 an urban, commuting vehicle for young buyers who love driving. We want to bring the same Mazda characteristics to an electric vehicle. The current price (€33.990 in The Netherlands) is for the Launch Edition. We will carefully monitor the market response and, if needed, quickly revise our strategy, which will be very agile. We based the battery size on the needs of our target customers, who are young, urban buyers. The second factor was that when we did a life-cycle assessment, which considered not only the emissions caused while driving but the emissions from the production of the battery, we found that a 35.5 kWh battery would result in CO2 emissions similar to our diesel models. That is why we selected a right-sized battery for our first battery-electric vehicle. We understand, however, that some customers require cars that can provide a longer range. Therefore, as a second step, we will deploy a rotary-engine based range extender to the vehicle. We also need to closely monitor how fast battery capability progresses. If it improves significantly we may consider a bigger battery in the future. It is very hard to precisely predict how the diesel share will evolve. That’s why we employ a multi-solution strategy. Our Skyactiv-X SPCCI (Spark Plug Controlled Compression Ignition) is a very good solution to counter the declining diesel trend. That being said, every time I drive a diesel on a German autobahn it reaffirms my belief that it is the most suitable powertrain for long-range travel in Europe. Since the Skyactiv-X engine was launched, 60 % of the orders for the Mazda 3 are equipped with the engine and the share is 45 % for the CX-30. We hope this momentum will help lower our CO2 emissions level in 2020. Interest in the Skyactiv-X engine is much higher than we had expected. Currently our best-seller is the CX-5, but based on the sales momentum we have seen since the launch of the CX-30, we believe it will become our best-selling model next year. In every segment we see a shift from hatchbacks to crossovers. The small hatchback continues to play the role of entry car in the life of most customers in Europe. This is true in Japan and other Asian markets. Therefore, from a global perspective we definitely need to remain in the small car segment. Given the importance of minimizing CO2 penalties, we will start selling the MX-30 in Europe first. As far as other countries are concerned, we are still in a study phase. The battery packs will be supplied by Panasonic. We have established the so called EV-CAS (EV C.A. Spirit Corporation), a 50-50 joint venture with Toyota. This joint venture is doing research to develop the most efficient electric vehicle platform. In the future, many companies will be able to derive their electric vehicles from this platform. Mazda is contributing to the joint development with its model-based engineering and model-based design research processes. We may leverage the jointly developed platform design in the future, but at the moment nothing has been decided”. +++

+++ The upcoming MERCEDES-AMG GT 73 has been previewed in prototype form in a video clip, giving a first glimpse of the most powerful 4-door GT car yet launched in motion. The GT 73 is reportedly based on the 2017 AMG GT Concept and will supplant the GT 63 S as the range-topping model in the lineup. The new video also confirms expectations that the model will be a hybrid. Following the example of the concept, the new variant looks set to receive a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine with an electric motor on the front axle. A whirring sound emitted by the car as it speeds away from the camera seemingly confirms its powertrain, suggesting it will arrive as a plug-in hybrid. Between them, the V8 and electric motors will allegedly produce north of 800 hp; considerably more than the GT 63 S’s 631 hp, and that of the 680 hp Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. Power is expected to be transmitted to all four wheels via the same 9-speed automatic gearbox as the GT 63 S, while accelerating from 0-100 kph should take less than 3.0 seconds. The new model is also expected to be the most economical (on paper at least) in the lineup, with an expected electric-only range of about 50 kilometres. While Mercedes has confirmed that the GT 73 will be launched in 2020, the exact date has yet to be specified. The Geneva International Motor Show in March, however, would be a natural time for the debut. +++

+++ MITSUBISHI may be a small player in Europe, but in a declining market it increased sales 7 % to 134.886 vehicles in the first 9 months of 2019. The strongest growth is coming from the Outlander, which is Europe’s best-selling plug-in hybrid. More plug-in hybrids are coming next year, promises Mitsubishi Europe CEO Bernard Loire, who joined last year from alliance partner Nissan. “Mitsubishi Europe posted strong numbers in the first 9 months. What made the difference is that Outlander plug-in hybrid sales have grown significantly. Through September we sold 27.000 units of the plug-in hybrid in Europe, compared with 15.000 last year. If we keep this pace, we will reach 36.000 for the calendar year, up from 20.000 last year. Mitsubishi in Germany is one of the best performers in the private sector (Mitsubishi says 69 % of its German sales were to private customers in the first 9 months compared with an average of 35 % for overall market). We ranked No. 1 in private-sales mix in September. Choosing a diesel or gasoline SUV is becoming a dilemma for some customers, therefore, some pick a very low-emissions SUV like the Outlander plug-in hybrid instead. In the first 9 months, Mitsubishi’s sales were up 51 % in Italy and 40 % in France. France is a bit like Germany in that demand for the plug-in hybrid has completely exploded. We have sold 4.000 units compared with 1.000 units during the same time period 12 to 15 months ago. The increase in Italy is driven by demand for the Space Star. In the second half of next year we will have a replacement of the current Outlander. It will be on an alliance platform. There also will be another smaller SUV coming at the same time. Last year our diesel mix was less than 20 % and now it’s almost nothing (excluding the L200 pickup). We only have a diesel version of the Eclipse Cross available in a few markets. The diesel mix of that is about 5 % and the Eclipse Cross is about 20 % of our overall sales, so it’s 5 % of 20 %. It’s very marginal, so we have decided to go gasoline  and electrified only in the future. We stopped the diesel ASX and launched a new 2.0-liter gasoline version with 4wd and an automatic gearbox. We will get rid of the Eclipse Cross diesel by the end of 2020. When is comes to the Space Star, the emissions are tough, but we are competitive in this segment and sales of the car are rising. We will continue making the car. We will even have a product update in the near future. We still sell the i-MiEV electric minicar in select countries such as Norway and Switzerland. We said we would have a new electric car. We have not disclosed when, but the direction we are going is plug-in hybrid, hybrid and EV. Since 45 % of our mix is under 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer, we are OK for 2020. We benefit from the plug-in hybrid being at 46 gram/km. The rising backlash against SUVs in Europe doesn’t worry us. SUVs are part of our DNA as 77 % of our sales in the 9 months to September, including L200 pickup, were SUVs. We have to be conscious about the perception of SUVs but the customer demand is there, especially for low-emissions SUVs. The Outlander plug-in hybrid is proving that. When it comes to future synergies Mitsubishi will have as part of the Renault-Nissan alliance, they are behind the scenes. This could include purchasing and component sharing but it’s not things that are visible for the consumer”. +++

+++ Tesla rival NIO beat quarterly revenue estimates on higher demand for its electric vehicles, sending the company’s U.S.-listed shares up more than 13% in trading before the bell. Revenue jumped nearly 22 % to 1.7 billion yuan from a year earlier on sales of 4.196 units of ES6 model in the third quarter and 603 units of pricier ES8; a 7-seater SUV seen as a rival to Tesla’s Model X. Larger rival Tesla said it has started delivering the Model 3 from its strategic factory in Shanghai that begun operations less than a year ago, and that it plans to ramp up deliveries in January. Chief executive officer William Li, however, sees little threat. “If you compare the Tesla with our products, we believe our product is still very competitive”, he said. The Chinese company faces challenges on a different front though. It said it did not have adequate cash for “continuous operation in the next 12 months” and that it was looking to obtain external financing. “The electric vehicle sector experienced substantial softness in the second half of 2019 after the reduction of EV subsidies in China. Despite the challenges, NIO’s sales improved solidly since September”, said Li. The company said that it delivered 4.799 vehicles in the third quartercompared with 3.553 deliveries in the second quarter of 2019. It expects to deliver over 8,000 units in the 4th quarter. The company also posted a smaller-than-expected loss of 2.38 yuan per share in the third quarter compared with the average analyst estimate of a loss of 2.43 yuan. Total revenue rose nearly 25 % to 1.84 billion yuan ($263.38 million), beating analysts’ estimates of $1.63 billion yuan. +++

+++ Asako Hoshino, who earlier this year succeeded Daniele Schillaci as NISSAN ‘s global sales and marketing boss, is determined to highlight the automaker’s “superior advanced technology”. This includes two features the Jpanese automaker plans to extend beyond its home market: ProPilot 2.0, a semi-autonomous system that enables hands-free highway driving, and e-Power, a hybrid solution that uses a small gasoline engine to charge a battery that runs an electric motor, which then turns the wheels. While it will take time for ProPilot 2.0 to get approved for use in Europe, where hands-free driving is not allowed, e-Power is set to debut in the region in 2022. Hoshino spoke about the positive effects she expects from the rollout of Nissan’s newest tech solutions: “We have to make the customers understand what the superiority is of our technology. To do this we have to create a foundation for the Nissan brand. At the moment I don’t think the foundation is strong enough to convince customers in Europe and the US that Nissan has superior advanced technology. We have this reputation in Japan but not in Europe and the US. We are currently developing the foundation of the Nissan brand. This journey has to be done with the dealers. We believe that Nissan has superiority in technology but the dealers have to be together with us, otherwise we cannot get the customers to believe. We are introducing new technologies such as ProPilot, e-Power and EVs. Technology plus vision is really important. How can Nissan promote that our brand is different from the others? The first is to convey that it’s in our DNA to: “Do what others don’t dare to do”. DNA is something that you cannot explain. Our engineers are completely motivated to be the first to bring new technologies to market. A perfect example is ProPilot 2.0 (a semi-autonomous system that allows for hands-free highway driving from on-ramp to off-ramp). It is the first of its kind in Japan. If the regulators are not motivated we will have to provide them with the exact figures that show how much Japan has been able to reduce fatalities caused by vehicles that use advanced technology. What can you trust more human beings or technology? That is really a big question mark. The market is ready to accept an EV crossover. It took a lot longer than we expected for people to accept full-electric cars, but gradually people have become accustomed to this. At the same time global environmental issues, such as there being bigger typhoons and the melting icecaps are boosting interest and acceptance in emissions-free driving solutions. Nissan believes e-Power will be a success in Europe because it is the first region (outside of Japan and parts of Asia to get e-Power) because the EU is really serious about reducing CO2. Because of this strong push from the government we really have to rapidly move toward electrifying our lineup. Therefore, we have to accelerate the introduction of EVs as well as e-Power in Europe. This is definitely our differentiating point and a true strength. That is why we plan to launch e-Power in both Europe and the US. Every model in our European lineup will be electrified”. +++

+++ To be fair, towing typically isn’t top priority for owners of compact electric vehicles (Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf). Things like range and technology are more significant. But EV owners interesting in tugging toys like dirt bikes or jet skis can now breath easy knowing that the upcoming POLESTAR 2 saloon offers the best towing capacity in the segment. With its standard 78 kWh battery pack and an optional factory electric folding tow bar, the Polestar 2 has a braked towing capacity of 1.500 kilograms, according to the company. That bests the Tesla Model 3, which offers a max 910 kilograms of towing with the European-only optional tow hitch. To go with that best-in-class towing capacity, the Polestar 2 also offers up to 440 litres of total luggage space. The boot has 405 litres of space, while the “frunk” provides an extra 35 litres for luggage. There’s even an available roof rack, so Polestar owners should find no shortage of storage space. “Polestar 2 is an electric performance fastback that supports an active lifestyle. It adapts to your needs; it is truly flexible”, Thomas Ingenlath, chief executive officer of Polestar says. “We know our customers value this flexibility and something especially relevant to tomorrow’s EV buyers: a distinct lack of compromise”. Polestar doesn’t say if the optional electric tow bar will be available outside of Europe, but the company promises availability in countries like Norway, Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and Belgium. The production Polestar 2 arrives in 2020 with an estimated range of 443 kilometres. The base model starts at €60.800 in the Netherlands. +++

+++ The annual Vehicle Health Index RELIABILITY Rankings, which aim to show which vehicles are the most reliable and cheapest to repair, have been released. In order to show the information, data was analyzed from over 14.4 million vehicles from the 1996-2019 model years which had their engine light come on between October 1st, 2018 and September 30th, 2019. While this is somewhat troublesome, the study claims that Mercedes vehicles are the most reliable. The German automaker was followed by Mitsubishi, Buick, Ram and Ford. When it came to cost, the most affordable vehicles to repair with a check engine light were made by Kia. The average cost to fix them was just $321 which put the company slightly ahead of Mazda ($332), Hyundai ($333) and Chrysler ($337). Getting even more specific, the most reliable vehicles were the 2017 Honda CR-V, 2017 Subaru Outback and 2016 Lexus NX. Rounding out the top 5 were the 2017 Subaru Legacy and 2017 Honda Civic. The vehicles that were the cheapest to repair were the 2017 Subaru Outback ($60), 2016 Toyota Prius ($67) and 2017 Hyundai Tucson ($79). All 3 models were slightly cheaper to fix than the 2017 Kia Soul ($82) and 2016 Mercedes C-Class ($85). +++

+++ TESLA has started delivering Model 3 electric cars built at its Shanghai factory in just under a year since it began work on the $2 billion plant, a record for global automakers in China, and said it would ramp up deliveries from next month. The U.S. electric vehicle maker marked the start with an event where 15 Tesla employees received cars they had purchased, one of whom took the opportunity to propose marriage to his girlfriend after getting his new set of wheels. The China made Model 3 sedans are priced at 355,800 yuan ($50,000) before subsidies. Imported Model 3 vehicles start at 439,000 yuan for the longer-range version, while the standard range plus model costs under $40,000 in the United States. The Shanghai plant, up and running in just 357 days, is part of Tesla’s plans to bolster its presence in the world’s biggest car market and minimize the impact of the U.S.-China trade war. The automaker, which previously imported all the cars it sold in China, had said it wanted to start deliveries from the Shanghai plant before the Lunar New Year beginning on January 25. “From now onwards China-made Model 3 vehicles will start running on China’s large streets and small lanes”, Tesla vice president Tao Lin said at the delivery ceremony which was attended by employees and Shanghai government officials. China general manager for the Silicon Valley carmaker, Wang Hao, said Tesla plans to ramp up Model 3 deliveries in January. The Chinese government has been supportive of the factory, the first wholly foreign-owned car plant and a reflection of Beijing’s broader shift to open up its auto market. Tesla has taken a different approach to the Chinese market, the world’s biggest for electric vehicles with 1.3 million new-energy vehicles sold last year, as is evident from its marketing blitz in the country that is quite unlike anywhere else. The company and its flamboyant billionaire CEO Elon Musk openly disdain marketing, but in China Tesla has offered racing events and showroom parties. It is also building service centers and charging stations across China to assure customers of standardized after-sales service, Tesla’s senior executives said. The car maker will double the number of service centers and fast charging stations in China next year, and plans to more than double its after-sales workforce to 1,500 from about 600 currently, the executives added. Wang also told reporters the plant had achieved a production target of 1.000 units a week, or around 280 cars a day, and that sales for the China-made sedan had so far been “very good”. +++ 

+++ More than half of TOYOTA ‘s European sales are hybrids and their success is contributing to the automaker’s sustained profitability in the region and putting it in a position to achieve the EU’s tougher CO2 emissions reduction target that will come into force next year. Toyota will find it difficult to increase profits because the EU plans even tougher CO2 targets, which will push the company to add expensive full-electric vehicles and more plug-in hybrids in Europe. South African Johan van Zyl, who has led Toyota Europe since 2015, discussed this: We always strive to be at around 8 % profit margin, but Europe is a really tough market. I am quite satisfied with where we are at in our plan, which is about growing margin on a sustained basis. It’s no use having one year at 8 % and nothing the next year. I would like a steady increase in profitability. We will achieve sales and margin targets set in the 5 year plan 1 year early. That 2015 plan was ACE1000. The next phase is ACE2000, which goes to 2025. This new plan doesn’t have an 8 % margin target. This is partly because of the cost of electrification. As our president, Akio Toyoda, said: ‘The industry is going through huge change’. Our capacity utilization in Europe is well above 90 %, including Russia. We are running 3 shifts in Turkey and France and 2 shifts in Russia, the UK and the Czech Republic. In 2021 Toyota takes ownership of a joint-venture Czech Republic plant currently shared with PSA Group. The factory can build 300,000 cars annually and we will utilize the full capacity in future. We will definitely stay in the A segment of the market. The Aygo been a very good product for us. It brings young people to our brand. At some stage we will replace it. We have to think about the future and ask: how will we ensure that we have an electrified version of an A-segment or sub A-segment car that we will be able to utilize for cities? Even by 2030, our hybrids will still be a core technology and part of our core product mix. They will be enriched by plug-in hybrids and battery-electric cars. Fuel cell vehicles will also form part of the zero-emissions mix in future. The plug-in hybrid Prius hasn’t gained much traction with buyers. That has to do with the styling. But we are looking at other plug-in hybrids, for example, some of our SUVs. Next year, we will launch a plug-in hybrid RAV4. In future, more and more people are going to lease their car. To share in that profit stream, you must be able to finance it. So, you will need a very strong balance sheet in the future to be able to cover this. That is the same with future mobility models such as car-sharing. Those cars are not sold. You need to finance those costs until you have recovered your money. The cash-to-cash cycle just gets longer and longer. Toyota has launched the new generation Mirai fuel cell car at the Tokyo auto show. However, the infrastructure in Europe is not developed sufficiently enough for us to be able to sell thousands of them here. We are however definitely going to sell many more than the first generation (614 units). Our idea is to sell 30,000 globally. As an energy carrier hydrogen has the potential to play a very important role in our future energy mix. Hydrogen is very suitable for trucks and buses so that is what we will focus on in Europe from a product point of view. We have already launched our first bus, which we have developed in conjunction with CaetanoBus in Portugal. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN said that it would reach a key target in the production of electric vehicles earlier than previously anticipated. The German automaker will have produced 1 million electric vehicles by the end of 2023 which is 2 years ahead of schedule. It now expects to have produced 1.5 million electric autos by 2025, Volkswagen said. Since 2013, 250.000 plug-in electric Volkswagen cars were sold. The next 250.000 should be sold within 2 years. Volkswagen celebrates the sale of its 250.000th plug-in electric car since 2013. The jubilee vehicle turns out to be an e-Golf, delivered in mid-December. About half of cumulative plug-in car sales were BEVs. The German brand this year already delivered more than 70.000 plug-ins, compared to 50.000 in 2018. The top markets for Volkswagen in 2019 are China, Norway, Germany, the USA and the United Kingdom. The models which are selling best (cumulatively), are: the e-Golf (104.000), the Golf GTE (51.000), the Passat Variant GTE (42.000) and the e-Up (21.000). Volkswagen’s offer also includes the Tiguan PHEV in China (since 2018). Jürgen Stackmann, board member for Sales, Marketing and After Sales, says: “With the 250,000th electrified vehicle, the Volkswagen brand has reached a major milestone on the way to carbon-neutral mobility. Especially all-electric vehicles such as our new ID. family are the answer to major challenges of our times. They offer considerable driving pleasure and advantages we could only dream of a few years ago. They have a carbon-neutral balance, offer more space with comparable outside dimensions, and are quiet, highly efficient, economical and inexpensive to maintain. This is why we will be selling the next 250,000 electrified vehicles in a considerably shorter period of time. At Volkswagen, we are convinced that the future is electric”. Christian Dahlheim said about the VW Group’s ambitious plans for electric vehicles: “When prebooking began for the ID.3 in May it took only 1 day for the first 10.000 reservations to be collected. The second 10.000 required a month, but it was not until the car debuted in September that we hit our target of 30.000. Nevertheless, we don’t expect sales to tail off similarly after the first wave of demand is satisfied. You tend to see this sort of steep ramp-up in demand from early adopters, so the question is how long before a new technology finds broader mass-market acceptance. With the ID.3, we have addressed 2 of the 3 main obstacles to electromobility: range and affordability, with infrastructure being the third obstacle. Don’t forget, fleet customers need EVs to meet their own CO2 sustainability targets. We expect roughly half of the ID.3s will be taken by fleet customers. Private customers usually don’t think in terms of what a kilometer costs them in cents nor whether it makes more sense to take the subways instead of the car based on prevailing fuel prices. That, however, will change with EVs when people start to see how much less it costs to charge their vehicle at home versus filling up their tank at the fuel station, for example in countries such as France where electricity is cheaper. The residual value of the battery is also an important topic. With the share of leases expected to roughly double to more than 70 % for battery-electric vehicles, a lot of these cars will end up being returned to us such that we have to sell them back into the market. Therefore, we calculate and budget necessary resources for the remarketing of EVs when they are sold. I believe we can achieve structurally higher residual values with an EV compared with a combustion car. Roughly 4 % of all VW Group worldwide sales next year will be EVs. When this first wave of off-lease cars are sold as used cars in 3 years, we expect battery-electric vehicles as a share of our overall business to have risen to roughly 10 % of volume. By extension, that means these vehicles will be entering a market where we foresee rising demand combined with a relatively low supply. The better we can control that process, the higher our residual values are, the lower the incentives are and the lower our overall distribution costs are. We believe optimizing the latter will deliver a significant contribution toward reaching our margin targets. When VW paid €3.3 billion 8 years ago to acquire dealer group Porsche Holding Salzburg from the Porsche and Piech families, it was criticized as a sweetheart deal. Automakers should not be investing in a downstream operation with lower structural margins. Last year it sold nearly 1 million new and used cars, and this year it took over your Portuguese importer. Beyond exclusively serving the Austrian and eastern European markets, they serve very important functions. They open up new markets for the group, such as Malaysia, Chile and Columbia, since their nimble structure and entrepreneurial savvy are particularly effective in small markets where the group is less well-suited. They also operate Porsche Informatik, which designed the Cross dealer management system that we use both internally as well as offer externally. We also benefit from learning how they manage their investments in dealerships, which they operate like an independent company, and we learn from their greater proximity to the customer. That being said, as the automaker we don’t want to invest in bricks-and-mortar retail except in very select cases. We want our partners to invest their capital in our business because it is an attractive investment. +++


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