Newsflash: nieuwe Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV wordt meer dan 200 pk sterk

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+++ New AUDI vehicles have started to interact with traffic lights in the German city of Düsseldorf to help drivers catch green lights. The Audi Traffic Light Information system includes 2 main functions: Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory (GLOSA) and Time-to-Green. GLOSA is perhaps the more intriguing of the two as it calculates the ideal speed for drivers to catch as many green lights as possible on their trip, or as Audi dubs it, a “green wave”. In addition, GLOSA can suggest reducing speed gradually roughly 250 meters ahead of the traffic lights so the Audi driver reaches the intersection just as the lights turn green. The second function, Time-to-Green, will show a countdown in the car that displays the seconds remaining until the next green phase begins, should a driver get stuck at a red light. Audi says that drivers move through cities more efficiently thanks to networked traffic lights and in a pilot project, the automaker was able to reduce fuel consumption by 15 % thanks to such systems. “With Audi Traffic Light Information we wish to improve convenience for drivers, increase traffic safety and encourage an economical style of driving that looks ahead”, said Andre Hainzlmaier, head of development for Apps, Connected Services and Smart City at Audi. “To do this, we have to predict precisely how traffic lights will behave in the next 2 minutes. At the same time, exact forecasts are the biggest challenge. Most signals react variably to traffic volume and continuously adapt the intervals at which they switch between red and green”, he added. All Audi A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Q3, Q7, Q8 and e-Tron models produced since mid-July 2019 include Audi Traffic Light Information technology. +++

+++ Toyota unveiled an emergency safety system that uses BIG DATA to ignore the accelerator if it determines the driver steps on the pedal unintentionally. Japan’s biggest car maker will roll out what it calls an “accelerator suppression function” in new cars from this summer, beginning in Japan. The system is a response to an increasingly common cause of traffic accident in ageing Japan where the driver, often elderly, mistakes the accelerator for the brake. Some 15 % of fatal accidents on Japanese roads in 2018 were caused by drivers who were 75 years or older, showed a report from the government, which actively encourages elderly drivers to give up their licenses. Toyota’s announcement comes as automakers globally invest heavily in so-called active safety features as they work to develop fully autonomous cars. It also comes in the same year Toyota will act as exclusive mobility sponsor for the Tokyo Olympics, where it will showcase its fully self-driving e-Palette transportation pods carrying athletes around the Olympic village at low speeds. Among competitors, Honda plans to launch a car this year capable of full autonomy in highway traffic jam situations. Nissan released the second generation of its ProPilot driver-assist system last spring, offering hands-free operation for single-lane highway driving. Toyota rolled out its first-generation Safety Sense package in 2015, which included automated emergency braking and a lane departure alert. The second generation became available in 2018, adding assisted single-lane highway driving and making the car capable of recognizing pedestrians at nighttime and bicycles. Its new feature was developed using data collected from the internet-connected cars it has on the road. Unlike the car maker’s existing safety options, the new system does not require the presence of an obstacle to function. +++

+++ Munich’s road to electrification has become an autobahn, as BMW speeds to gain ground on rivals Mercedes-Benz, Audi and, well, everyone else. The iX3 is due soon, as is the electric 4-series we’re expecting to call the i4, and also the iX5. Based on the iNext concept, the iX5 is the largest electric vehicle we’ve seen from Munich so far, and will surely be a rival to the Audi e-Tron. So what’s it going to cost, what will it look like, and do we have any range or performance specs? Keep reading for everything you need to know about the iX5. We can expect to see a conjoined kidney grille (a styling signature on BMW’s forthcoming all-electric range) at the front and traditional BMW styling cues everywhere else. The electric SUV looks to be slightly longer than its X5 combustion counterpart, with an extended wheelbase. That’s probably a side effect of engineers squeezing as many battery cells between the axles as possible, but it also means the occupants will enjoy more legroom. Factor in the absence of a transmission tunnel, and cabin space should be positively cavernous compared to the regular X5. Expect a touchscreen-heavy cabin, with a Mercedes-Benz style double infotainment screen.The interior of the new iX5 will have a tech-infused set up. Interestingly, drivers will also throw around the SUV with a 2-spoke steering wheel, though it’s not clear if this will be a feature of all BMW’s electric models. +++

+++ The UK and the European Union begin their battle over a future trade deal, setting up 11 months of negotiations that risk ending in economically damaging failure at the end of the year. In a major speech in London, prime minister Boris Johnson will threaten to walk away from talks with the EU rather than accept demands from Brussels to sign up to the bloc’s single market regulations and the rulings of its court. He will tell EU ambassadors that he wants a comprehensive trade agreement at least as good as the one the bloc has reached with Canada but will insist that “Britain will prosper” even without such a deal. Before Johnson speaks, EU chief BREXIT negotiator Michel Barnier is due to set out his planned negotiating position with a speech in Brussels. After 3 years of bad-tempered talks on the UK’s political withdrawal, early signs indicate that the parties could struggle to avoid a cliff-edge change in their trading arrangement come 2021. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said it will be “impossible” to sign off on a full deal before Johnson’s year-end deadline. Such hard-line rhetoric may be partly tactical as the 2 sides seek to gain advantage early in the negotiations. Both the UK and the EU set out red lines during the talks on the divorce terms but then compromised in order to reach a deal last year. One unknown factor this time is how much Johnson really wants an agreement with the EU. Many Brexit purists in his Conservative party would be happy without one. Johnson’s team has been firm in rejecting what it sees as unfair demands from the EU side. The key clash is over whether Britain must sign up to the bloc’s single market regulations in exchange for access to tariff-free trade. “There is no need for a free-trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment, or anything similar any more than the EU should be obliged to accept UK rules”, Johnson will say, according to extracts of his speech released by officials in advance. British officials want the EU to treat the UK as an equal in the negotiations. Johnson will point out that the EU repeatedly offered Britain a choice between Norway-style membership of the bloc’s single market, which would require keeping Brussels’ regulations, or a Canada-style free-trade agreement, and that he is choosing the latter. But if no free-trade deal is possible by the end of the year, the UK will be ready to take a looser arrangement like Australia’s, Johnson will say. That would involve doing business on World Trade Organization terms in most areas, with tariffs on goods, while processes would be agreed to reduce some regulatory barriers. “The choice is emphatically not ‘deal or no-deal.’ The question is whether we agree a trading relationship with the EU comparable to Canada’s, or more like Australia’s”, Johnson will say. “In either case, I have no doubt that Britain will prosper”. Last week the UK auto industry association warned that a free-trade agreement is needed between Britain and the UK to reignite investment in the industry and stem tumbling production. New-car production dropped 14.2 % last year to 1.3 million cars; the lowest level for a decade, partly on disruption caused by Brexit. It is expected to drop a further 2.3 percent in 2020 to 1.27 million units. The UK’s renaissance in carmaking, fueled by decades of investment from foreign manufacturers, is at risk of unraveling if tariffs are imposed and supply chains impacted by Brexit, the UK auto industry association said. About 55 % of all cars made in the Britain are exported to the EU, loaded with parts that have traversed the border multiple times during the manufacturing phase. Tariffs on imported parts and exported vehicles under World Trade Organization rules would inflate manufacturing costs by $4.1 billion, the UK auto industry association said in November, forcing prices to rise and global demand for UK cars to shrink. Johnson received a boost from a report suggesting Nissan had drawn up a potential contingency plan to double down on its investment in the UK at the expense of factories in Europe, if trade talks between London and Brussels falter. Nissan drew up the secret proposal last year to prepare for a potential scenario in which negotiations fail and tariffs are imposed on car parts. The report included several caveats and the company insisted that such a plan does not exist. “Our entire business both in the UK and in Europe is not sustainable in the event of WTO tariffs”, a Nissan spokesman told. In Brussels, Barnier will set out the EU’s position for the talks and will outline where he sees the UK having to stick to European rules and standards. He will also risk an early clash with the British government by clarifying where he will demand a role for the European Court of Justice, according to people familiar with the plans. Although Johnson’s decision to put a year-end deadline on negotiations makes getting a comprehensive agreement impossible in the eyes of EU officials, Barnier will still publish the EU’s position for every area where the bloc sees possible cooperation. The strategy will need to be signed off by the EU’s 27 governments this month before negotiations with the UK can start. The challenge for Barnier, in addition to keeping 27 countries with competing priorities on board, is ensuring the EU understands what the UK’s ultimate ambitions are. There is some concern the EU is demanding strict rule-alignment commitments in return for the type of close trading relationship that Johnson would happily forgo, EU officials said. “We have to rebuild everything”, Barnier said, citing trade, security, foreign affairs and defense deals. “Not everything will be negotiated in 10 months, but we will do our best”. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab reinforced the point that there will not be close alignment on regulations in the free-trade deal. He said he expects both sides to live up to commitments to get a Canada-style deal. Separately, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar agreed that type of deal is possible. At the same time, “if we’re going to have tariff-free, quota-free trade, there needs to be a level playing field”, he told. The prospect of a Canada-style deal with the UK received a guarded welcome from Varadkar. The UK is geographically much closer than Canada and can’t be allowed to undermine the EU, he said in Dublin. The EU and Canada negotiated for 7 years before signing their trade deal, known as CETA, in October 2016. It took almost another year before its provisional application began. The EU trade deal with Canada removes tariffs on 98 % of goods trade, raises tariff-free quotas, opens up public procurement so Canadian and EU companies can bid for each other’s governments’ contracts, and protects intellectual property. +++

+++ China’s auto production and sales may suffer if the CORONA VIRUS outbreak continues to spread across the country, said experts and company executives, but the scale of impact is too early to determine. Few people are visiting dealerships in recent days and production has been stalled as Chinese authorities have extended the Spring Festival holiday to curb the coronavirus that has infected more than 14.000 people and killed over 300 across the country. China’s most popular international carmaker Volkswagen said that its joint ventures with Jilin province-based FAW Group and Shanghai-headquartered SAIC Motor will follow the schedule of local governments and they will not restart production before February 10. BMW, Toyota and Ford said their plants will be closed until February 10 as well. Carmakers in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and epicenter of the coronavirus, including Dongfeng’s joint ventures with PSA, said no decision has been made on when production might resume. Hubei, especially Wuhan, is a manufacturing and transport hub. Last year, the province produced 2.24 million vehicles, accounting for nearly 9.9 % of total production in the country, according to the China Passenger Car Association. Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the association, said vehicle production in February will take a huge hit, and sales in China during the first 2 months of 2020 will fall by at least 20 % year-on-year. But Cui said there will not be much negative effect in the long run. He noted the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic had little long-term impact on China’s passenger car market, which saw sales surge 70 % year-on-year in 2003. Shi Jianhua, deputy secretary-general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, said the market is much more developed than 17 years ago and less likely to rebound. But it should return to normal when the coronavirus is contained. The association estimated in December that China’s auto market would fall by 2 % year-on-year in 2020. It had fallen for 2 years in a row in 2018 and 2019. Joseph Massaro, CFO for auto technology supplier Aptiv, expected China’s auto production in the first quarter to slide about 15 % while full year production would fall 3 %. Massaro made the remark in an earnings conference, but he said delayed production could be made up in the second quarter. “We don’t view this as a full-year issue at the moment”, he said. German auto supplier Bosch has 23 automotive manufacturing facilities in China and 2 in Wuhan. All of them are closed during the extended Spring Festival holiday. “We’re monitoring how the situation develops to see if production might be down for longer”, CEO Volkmar Denner told. “We’re concerned”. Tesla is expecting a 7 to 10 day delay in the ramp-up of the Model 3, which is being built at a recently launched Shanghai plant, according to CFO Zach Kirkhorn. Kirkhorn discussed the impact of the disease on Tesla’s operations in China during the company’s 4th-quarter earnings call. “We are also in the early stages of understanding if and to what extent we may be temporarily impacted by the coronavirus”, he said. Kirkhorn added the virus may slightly impact profitability in the first quarter. The outbreak could also hit profits at Jaguar Land Rover, parent company Tata Motors warned. The epidemic is raising concerns that thousands of Chinese factory workers may struggle to get back to work next week because of extensive travel restrictions. The Indian carmaker said the outbreak could impact its profit margin forecast of about 3 % for the JLR unit in fiscal 2020, at a time when it was making progress on a turnaround plan to improve sales in China. Canadian supplier Magna International said it is taking several precautions, including lengthened plant closures at its China-based facilities. Magna operates 68 facilities in China, including those used for manufacturing and engineering. The facilities combine to employ nearly 19.000 people. Two of the company’s facilities are in Wuhan. “Magna is closely monitoring all available information from the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control as well as public health authorities in various countries, inside and outside of China”, Magna spokeswoman Tracy Fuerst wrote in a statement. “Our internal health and safety team is coordinating information and resources related to the outbreak, with our primary focus on the wellbeing of our employees”. +++

+++ HONDA plans to extend the closure period for its 3 car plants in Wuhan with the Dongfeng Group until February 13, a company representative told. A company spokesman had earlier said that the automaker planned to resume production on February 14. However, the Japan-based representative said that Honda will follow local government policy and has not decided when the plants would resume. The venture is based in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak of a newly identified coronavirus. Hubei’s government has extended the Lunar New Year holiday break to February 13 as it seeks to contain the outbreak. +++

+++ In JAPAN , Toyota and Panasonic have agreed to set up a joint venture that will begin developing electric vehicle (EV) batteries from April, as the Japanese companies gear up for an expected surge in demand. The new company, called Prime Planet Energy and Solutions, will develop prismatic (or square-shaped) batteries that will be available to any automaker, the 2 companies said in a statement. It will begin operations on April 1 with more than 5.000 employees, with Toyota owning 51 % and Panasonic holding the remainder, the pair said. The venture reflects the aim of the Japanese companies to become bigger global players in the automotive battery industry, which is vital for the development of affordable EVs, as stricter environmental regulations worldwide accelerate a shift toward environmentally friendlier cars. “Batteries, as solutions for providing energy for automobiles and various other forms of mobility, and as solutions for various kinds of environmental issues, are expected to fulfill a central role in society going forward”, the companies said in the statement. Panasonic has been the exclusive supplier of cylindrical batteries for Tesla, but has been looking to expand its list of customers by stepping up development of the prismatic batteries more widely used in the industry. Tesla last month announced it would also source batteries from South Korea’s LG Chem and China’s CATL. Toyota, which pioneered the petrol-electric hybrid Prius in 1997, aims to get half of its sales from electrified vehicles by 2025, and is both developing its own batteries and tapping new suppliers to avoid a shortfall. The 2 Japanese companies have been cooperating on battery research since at least 1996 when they set up a joint venture to make hybrid car batteries, called Primearth EV Energy. +++

+++ After oversized wheels, another popular design feature in the car industry is the big grille. It’s not all about luxury automakers like Audi and BMW: even KIA seems to be planning such a feature for the facelifted Rio. The subcompact hatchback was spied once again sporting heavy camouflage on the front and back ends as well as the doors, so trying to spot some of the changes is close to impossible. However, if it’s one thing that’s expected to change, that’s the size of the upper and lower grilles, as they’re reportedly about to become bigger. We have yet to confirm this rumor and will perhaps have to wait until the end of this year or early 2021 for the Korean firm to uncover the refreshed Rio and clear up the mystery. Besides the larger grilles, the subcompact model should get redesigned lights at both ends, revised bumpers, new wheels and probably a revised color palette. The visual makeover will help Kia keep the Rio in the market for a few more years, hoping to steal more sales from more established superminis such as the Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and Opel Corsa. The small hatchback is likely to feature a few changes inside as well, with a new infotainment system seemingly on the list, alongside different trim and upholstery options. In order to fall in line with the latest emission standards, the facelifted Rio is believed to get a few changes in the engine family. However, without official hints or internal leaks, it’s pretty much impossible to tell what will be new under the bonnet. +++

+++ MERCEDES-BENZ has finalised development plans for more than 30 new models; all scheduled to arrive by the end of 2022. The headliners in the wide-ranging new-model programme, confirmed by high-ranking Mercedes officials, include replacements for the existing C-Class, S-Class and SL. Under the plans, the new SL will return to its roots by featuring a traditional fabric hood for the first time in more than 2 decades when it is unveiled in early 2021 as a reborn 2+2 sports car. A raft of new AMG performance models are also under development as part of Mercedes’ ongoing efforts to retain its global luxury car sales crown. The upcoming Mercedes-AMG newcomers include a rapid GT 4-Door Coupé flagship model with an advanced 800 hp-plus plug-in hybrid driveline and a hardcore track-focused GT Black Series. There will also be the production version of the delayed One hypercar, deliveries of which are now unlikely to take place until 2021 due to ongoing emissions testing setbacks. By 2022, the Smart line-up will grow as Mercedes co-operates more closely with Chinese car giant Geely, which now owns a 50 % shareholding in the city car maker, to develop a brace of new urban-focused models. One of these will be a compact electric-powered SUV that will be built in China and exported to Europe. Other key new Mercedes models for the near future include 5 EVs from its new EQ electric car sub-brand. These comprise production versions of the earlier EQ A and EQ S concepts, plus new EQ B, EQ E and EQ G models. Together, they form part of a €10 billion development programme aimed at propelling Mercedes to the front of the electric car ranks by the middle of the decade. Mercedes’ new entry-level electric model, the EQ A, is based on the second-generation GLA, alongside which it will be produced at the firm’s Rastatt factory in Germany. Although it retains the same bodywork as its combustion-engined sibling, it receives its own individual front and rear styling elements in a move similar to that of the larger EQ C. Details about the EQA’s driveline remain scarce, but Mercedes sources suggest it will be sold with a choice of up to 3 different electric motors and battery capacities. The most efficient of those is expected to provide this Volkswagen ID 3 rival with a range of up to 400 kilometres. At the other end of Mercedes’ future electric car line-up is the EQ S, which will be the first model to use the company’s dedicated MEA electric car platform. The EQ S is described as being similar in size to today’s CL S. Unlike its combustion-engined sibling, though, the new range-topping EQ model will have a liftback-style tailgate for added practicality. With a 100 kWh battery housed within its flat floor, the EQS is claimed to offer a range of up 700 kilometres in its ultimate form. The expanded line-up of EQ-branded electric-only models will join new EQ Power petrol-electric plug-in hybrid versions of the second-generation CLA and GLA and facelifted E-Class: all 3 of which are set to be unveiled at the Geneva motor show this March. The front-wheel-drive CLA 250e and GLA 250e plug-in hybrids will have the same system as that used by the A 250e and B 250e. This means a turbocharged 1.3-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine and gearbox-mounted electric motor developing 220 hp and 450 Nm. A 15.6 kWh battery provides an electric range of around 70 kilometres. By the end of this year, Mercedes plans to offer 20 plug-in hybrid models. These will range from the A 250e to an advanced replacement for the S 560e that will form part of the new 7th generation S-Class line-up and offer more than double the electric range of its predecessor, according to engineers involved in its development. Developed from the ground up, the new S-Class is described as the most advanced Mercedes production model yet. The basis for the new luxury saloon is a re-engineered version of Mercedes’ MRA platform and an all-new electric architecture that supports a multitude of new driver assistance systems, including Level 3 autonomous functions and driverless valet parking. Volume-selling S-Class models are set to retain the turbocharged 2.9-litre inline 6-cylinder diesel and turbocharged 3.0-litre inline 6-cylinder petrol units in both standard and plug-in hybrid guises, including that used by the successor to today’s S 560e. Upper-end models will rely on the AMG-developed turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine with new mild-hybrid properties. In the future, the new S-Class will be produced exclusively in saloon form, with the choice of either a standard or extended wheelbase depending on the country in which it is sold. Slow sales of the S-Class Coupé and Cabriolet have caused them to become victims of a consolidation programme for traditional combustion-engined models, according to insiders, who say the 2 bodystyles will not be replaced when they reach the end of their model cycle in 2022. Despite sweeping cost-cutting measures aimed at saving up to €1 billion over the next 2 years under an internal efficiency programme dubbed Move, new Mercedes chairman Ola Källenius has approved what is being described as the company’s most intensive new model push yet. Among the key aims laid down in the development of future models by Källenius, who has spent the past 2 years heading Mercedes’ vast R&D operations, is a dramatic decrease in the company’s CO2 fleet emissions as part of efforts to meet strict new EU regulations that introduce a 95 g/km limit by the end of 2020. It is central to what Mercedes calls its ‘Ambition 2039’ plan, which calls for a CO2-neutral line-up within the next 20 years. In recent years, the popularity of high-profit SUVs and a decline in diesel sales have hampered Mercedes’ efforts to reduce its CO2 fleet emissions. The latest official figure released by the company put its CO2 fleet emissions at 135 g/km; well short of the prescribed 95 g/km. This leaves the firm susceptible to substantial EU fines should that figure not be significantly improved by the end of 2020. Although electrification is set to play a key role in the reduction of Mercedes’ CO2 fleet emissions, its engineers are also focused on increasing the efficiency of its traditional petrol engines. Mercedes will introduce in the facelifted E-Class a new four-cylinder engine that, it claims, delivers greater efficiency than any rival powerplant. Codenamed M254, it replaces the previous M274 engine and features modular properties that allow it to share various aspects of its design, including a 48 Volt integrated starter motor, with the larger M264 6-cylinder. The 2.0-litre unit, which is also set to play an integral role in the fifth-generation C-Class due in 2021, has been conceived to meet Euro 7 emission regulations, although Mercedes engineers have told that this is likely to be achieved only through electrification. Further efforts in CO2 reduction include a controversial decision to replace the turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine used by the existing C 63 with a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder in a successor plug-in hybrid model that will head the new-generation C-Class line-up in 2021. The decision to move to 4-cylinder power for the C63 comes after moves by AMG to provide larger models with a mild-hybrid variant of its turbocharged 4.0-litre V8. Set to be launched in the upcoming GLE 63 S and GLS 63 S, it supplements the 612 hp and 850 Nm of the combustion engine with an additional 22 hp and 250 Nm from a gearbox-mounted integrated starter motor similar to that used by the GLE 53 and GLS 53. Mercedes-Benz and Chinese car maker Geely have carried out preliminary talks on how the 2 might co-operate on a series of projects, including future 4-cylinder petrol engine and dual-clutch gearbox development, according to senior officials from the German firm. Geely, which has a 9.7 % stake in Mercedes parent Daimler and owns brands such as Volvo and Lotus, cemented operational ties with Mercedes’ passenger car division in early 2019. +++

+++ The Renault-Nissan alliance hasn’t been kind to its third-wheel MITSUBISHI . Beset by average product offerings, a reduced range, emissions-cheating inquiries and the Carlos Ghosn saga, it seems the Japanese marque can’t just catch a break. Fortunately, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, with the ageing Outlander finally set to receive a major overhaul later this year. However, does it have the goods to take on its crossover rivals? It’s largely based on the more … outlandish Engelberg Tourer Concept revealed at last year’s Geneva Motor Show. The concept-to-production links are evident with its dynamic shield grille, T-shaped headlamps with split main beams and high-set daytime running lights, and lower skid-plate that exudes a bold, off-road look. The side profile is dominated by a chiselled lower c-section, scalloped fender pressings and an upright greenhouse with blacked-out pillars for a floating-roof effect. Back end-wise, the design also features strong Engelberg Concept lineage with chiselled LED tail lamps, tailgate and rear spoiler. Chunky lower black cladding wraps around the entire car, cementing its off-road pretenses. While we haven’t caught a look at the interior yet from one of the prototypes testing on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s believed that, much like the bodywork, the cabin design will too be a more down-to-earth interpretation of the concept study. Horizontal themes are expected to dominate the instrument panel with an emphasis on improved materials and detailing. Piano-key switchgear will be prominently placed in the center console, with a touchpad for the HUD and infotainment control positioned below. Occupants will benefit from increased space too, with improved dimensions in most areas throughout the cabin. 5 and 7 seat configurations will be available, as will be an abundance of driver assists under the ‘MI-Pilot’ banner. These include adaptive cruise control with stop & go, lane-keeping aid, torque-based grip control, multi around view monitor, digital rearview mirror, forward collision mitigation and lane departure prevention. The 2021 modelyear Outlander will likely be based off the same underpinnings as the next-generation Nissan X-Trail; reducing the need for similar platforms whilst increasing economies of scale for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi group. Reflecting an increase in interior dimensions, the Outlander will be bigger than the current car’s 4.695 mm length and 1.810 mm width. Expect big improvements in terms of safety too, with emphasis on acing the IIHS frontal small-overlap crash test conducted for both driver and passenger sides. Whilst I don’t have exact confirmation of the entire powertrain lineup, I do know the PHEV Outlander will use a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder engine pumping out 126 hp. This unit will be mated to a pair of electric motors producing 93 hp and is powered by a larger 13.8 kWh lithium/ion battery pack with an all-electric driving range of up to 70 km. There’s conjecture a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder turbo from the Eclipse Cross may make an appearance in some markets. However, given the Outlander’s increase in size, we’d expect a boost in power over the current unit’s 153 hp. Other powertrains are likely to be shared with Nissan’s X-Trail. The next Outlander will face some formidable competition in the form of Toyota’s strong-selling RAV4, Ford Kuga, Nissan X-Trail, Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage. Some pundits tip that it may debut at the upcoming New York Auto Show, however, Mitsubishi Europe president Bernard Loire has confirmed an introduction in the second half of this year, with a smaller SUV launching around the same time. +++ 

+++ NISSAN has drafted a contingency plan to focus on its Sunderland plant in the UK and cut European production if a hard Brexit leads to tariffs on car imports from the continent. The plan foresees the closing of Nissan’s factory in Barcelona and moving production of the Micra to Sunderland from Renault’s plant in Flins, France. Nissan would use its plant in Sunderland in the northeast of England to win market share from rivals without UK production. Nissan’s Sunderland-built cars would have a competitive advantage if rivals such as Ford and Volkswagen Group had to pay import tariffs to ship EU-built cars to the UK. Nissan would target increasing its UK market share to 20 % from 4 % now. The scenario is one of several that Nissan developed to plan for post-Brexit tariffs. The plan was drawn up before Makoto Uchida was named as the new CEO in December, and also foresees the closing of Nissan’s plants in Barcelona, Spain, and in France. The automaker denied the existence of the contingency plans: “We’ve modeled every possible ramification of Brexit and the fact remains that our entire business both in the U.K. and in Europe is not sustainable in the event of WTO tariffs”, he said. In a speech, prime minister Boris Johnson plans to say he is prepared to quit talks over the U.K.’s future trade relationship with the European Union if he doesn’t get what he wants, according to a U.K. official. Brussels negotiators are set to publish their own mandate. +++ 

+++ PORSCHE , the performance car powerhouse from Stuttgart is in the midst of a grand-scale electrification project. For some time, Porsche has been rolling out plug-in hybrid models in the arguably more day-to-day half of its car range, but that’s about to change. Porsche has recently introduced its first fully-electric car and more is to follow in the coming years. Keep reading for more on Porsche’s electric plans. Porsche, like all other car makers, has CO2 targets to meet by 2021, so has been slowly expanding its range of hybrids. “We have a very clear strategy for the next 10 to 15 years in the transition period”, Oliver Blume, Porsche’s CEO, told at the launch of the Taycan, “we go for 3 engine options: we’ll continue with our petrol engines like our 911 and continue to improve them even more, then we continue with our very successful hybrid cars and think about engineering a performance hybrid”. Both current generations of Porsche’s 2 largest models (the Panamera and Cayenne) have both an E-Hybrid and a performance-orientated Turbo S E-Hybrid model, for example, and there are more to come in the following years. A super-powered ‘Cayenne GT’ has been spotted in the wild, with sources claiming a circa-700 hp PHEV powertrain is under the skin. And, while hybridisation satisfies both Porsche’s performance car goals and its gradual reduction in CO2 output, the brand is investing in battery-electric. After years of teasing, concept cars and leaks, Porsche finally revealed the production version of its first EV in 2019: the Taycan. It also invested in Rimac, first buying a 10 % stake in the company (known for its Concept_One and Concept_Two cars) in June 2018; only to then increase that stake to 15.5 % just days after the Taycan’s September 2019 reveal. The Taycan is the vanguard of Porsche’s full-electric car plans. “It was a big challenge to start this project and define very clearly what was our goal to achieve”, Blume told. “For us it was very clear: when we design and engineer a car, it has to be 100 % Porsche with all the Porsche items from driving dynamics and quality”. At the time of writing, the Taycan has been introduced in 3 variants: 4S, Turbo and Turbo S. Porsche is already creating a Taycan spin-off; the Cross Turismo. Think of it as an off-road estate version of the Taycan, designed to be more user-friendly for a wider range of potential customers. “This combination to use the platform of the base Taycan for a car which you can use for all your own sports interests and for going off-road: there’s a very real combination”, said Blume. “For Cross Turismo, to build a car with more space and the ability to go off-road. I’ve already tested the car in off-road surroundings and was as excited as driving the Taycan we present on the racetrack”. Investing in Rimac may not have been a big deal in regards to the Taycan, but it’s Porsche’s next full-electric project that will use tech from the Croatian firm. Lutz Meschke, deputy chairman of the Porsche board, told at the launch of the Taycan that investment in Rimac would help an electric Macan. Meschke said in a statement regarding the larger stake acquisition: “We quickly realised that Porsche and Rimac can learn a lot from each other. We believe in what Mate Rimac and his company have to offer”. Mate Rimac, founder and MD of Rimac, added “We are only at the start of our partnership, yet we have already met our high expectations. We have many collaborative ideas that we aim to bring to life in the future. The fundamental focus is creating a win-win situation for both partners and offering our end customers added value by developing exciting, electrified models”. So, what does that mean for the Macan? Porsche confirmed that the next one will definitely be full-electric and it will use the Premium Platform Electric: an 800 volt battery-electric platform that’s been primarily developed by Porsche, but one that the wider VW Group has access to. Audi, for example, will be creating a range of cars to sit on the electric underpinnings in the coming years. Porsche confirmed that the next electric Macan will be built at its facility in Leipzig, too. We expect to see the all-electric Macan in 2021. What’s next for the 718 twins? Insiders suggest the current 718 Boxster and Cayman are expected to soldier on until 2023, before Porsche decides what to do with the next generation. Luckily, the brand is expanding the range of 6-cylinder variants with its GTS 4.0 option. Blume told in mid-2019 that the brand had around 12 months to “go right or left” on building an electric 718, with engineers already working on prototypes. Will there be an electric 911? The short answer is “no”; the long answer is “not for quite a while”. Meschke told that making an electric 911 “will be a bit difficult, but for the 718 I think it could be a very good step for the future”. Instead, the 992-generation 911 will remain a combustion-engined car until the facelift arrives; Porsche says that this generation of platform can take a hybrid powertrain, but is waiting until the ‘992.2’ version to introduce it. After that is a different story: a fully-electric 911 would upset a significant amount of people but, if Porsche is committed to making its combustion engines cleaner, there maybe some life in the evergreen sports car yet. What about an electric Porsche hypercar? Porsche has been lacking an ultimate halo car since the hybrid-powered 918 Spyder, and it’s something the brand is keen to get back into. So long as it has real-world applications; Porsche isn’t about to churn out a biblically-powerful hypercar for the sake of it, but experiments are being conducted behind closed doors. “Hypercars belong to Porsche. It’s technically always been our strategy, but we don’t engineer hypercars to engineer hypercars; our kind is to improve innovation”, Blume points out. “We haven’t decided on the car yet, and we are still working on the concept and thinking about how to improve the chemistry of the batteries. But when we come to the point where we are very clear what configuration should be in a car like this, then we will decide. But it will be before the half of the next decade”. +++ 

+++ RENAULT will extend a shutdown at its factory in China’s Wuhan until February 13, in line with the Chinese government’s guidance over the coronavirus for workers in the city and extended Lunar New year holidays, a spokeswoman said. Renault’s plant, where it employs around 2.000 people, had been to re-open on February 10. Other carmakers in the area, including French rival PSA Group, which makes Peugeot cars, have taken similar measures. +++ 

+++ The SAIC MOTOR Corporation is stepping up efforts to explore overseas markets and aiming to sell 1 million vehicles outside of China in 2025. The carmaker, which is partnered with General Motors and Volkswagen, has set up overseas manufacturing plants in Thailand, Indonesia and India and owns a sales and service network of over 500 dealerships in international markets. In 2019, SAIC delivered 350.000 vehicles overseas; up 26 % year-on-year, accounting for more than one third of Chinese carmakers’ total. It plans to add another 2 to 3 models to the lineup available in Europe and further expand in the Singaporean market this year. The British brand MG, which became part of SAIC in 2007, has been a major contributor and is expected to play a bigger role in SAIC’s overseas expansion. MG sold 139.000 vehicles outside China last year; up 90 % year-on-year, as the best-selling China-owned volume car brand in international markets. Its overseas sales accounted for around 40 % of SAIC’s total. Zhao Aimin, vice-president of SAIC Motor International, said MG would like to double its overseas sales in 2020. MG is now available in around 60 countries and regions. Of them, there are 8 major markets where annual sales stand at around 10.000, including the UK, Thailand and India. Yu Jingmin, vice-president of SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle that produces and sells MG-branded vehicles, said the brand’s popularity is the result of a combination of factors. He said MG’s origin has made it attractive to overseas customers, especially those in the UK. Known for developing race cars, MG will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2024. Based on its history and reputation, SAIC’s outstanding engineering, marketing and service capabilities and MG-branded vehicles’ quality and new features have made them appealing in international markets, Yu said. He said the vehicles’ smart functions, which include voice-command, have helped fuel the company’s popularity in Thailand. In the first 9 months of 2019, MG had acquired a 2.5 % market share, overtaking Japan’s Suzuki in the country. Another example, the electric ZS EV, has a 5-star rating in the European New Car Assessment Program and is compatible with 95 % of charging poles across European countries, much higher than the industry average. MG has sped up its delivery time to 2 weeks, and has set up a service network to ensure vehicles can be serviced easily, which have also helped it win customers. In 2019, more than 10.000 of MG’s EZS vehicles were exported to Europe. They were especially popular in the UK, Norway and the Netherlands. Zhao said growth momentum will continue and MG’s electric vehicles will see a rise in sales in the European market this year. “We are confident that our sales in the region will hit 100,000 in the future,” Zhao said. He expects sales in the Middle East, India and other major markets to rise as well as the brand is to offer new models in 2020. Its India plant produced 20.000 vehicles in 2019, and MG aims to double production this year. Zhao said it will makes further investment in the country. “After 3 to 5 years’ development, it will become a market of 100.000 or even 200.000 for us”, Zhao said. +++ 

+++ TESLA announced a partnership with CATL, China’s largest power battery producer, prompting insiders to call the deal a win-win situation. According to Tesla, CATL has become its third power battery supplier, following Japanese power battery manufacturer Panasonic and South Korean battery marker LG Chem. More details about its collaboration with CATL will be disclosed in April. Joining hands with China’s leading battery maker was Tesla’s response to a large demand for power batteries in developing the Chinese market. With the establishment of its gigafactory in Shanghai and the delivery of its China-made Model 3 vehicles, Tesla is working to expand its battery supply, in a bid to reduce trade risks and improve the company’s bargaining power. In 2019, Tesla delivered 367.500 units of vehicles in total, witnessing a year-on-year growth of 50 %. In the 4th quarter of last year, the US electric carmaker delivered 112.000 vehicles worldwide, reaching a record high. Tesla said it generated a total revenue of $7.38 billion in the 4th quarter of fiscal 2019; up 2 % from the same period of 2018. In addition, collaborating with CATL in supplying power batteries is expected to help Tesla cut costs while improving its output. The China-made Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in Tesla’s Shanghai gigafactory will be more competitive by adopting CATL batteries, analysts said. For CATL, the partnership with Tesla will further improve its market share in the new energy vehicle market and enhance its overall competitiveness, analysts said. According to the China Automotive Battery Industry Innovation Alliance, a total of 62.2 gigawatt-hours of batteries were installed in China last year, of which 31.46 GWh came from CATL. The battery maker secured more than 50 % of the country’s market share. Before teaming up with Tesla, CATL worked with an array of bigname automakers, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota, Volvo, Geely, SAIC, BAIC and GAC Group. CATL has also accelerated its overseas development. The company started the construction of its first overseas factory in Erfurt, Germany last year. The plant will produce both battery cells and modules for CATL’s European partners. The factory is expected to be the largest lithium battery plant in the country, with a designed production capacity of 14 GWh by 2022. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA expects its China sales to grow further in 2020 after hitting a record high last year. The company’s projections come despite the overall downward pressure in the world’s largest vehicle market. The largest carmaker in Japan delivered 1.62 million vehicles in China in 2019; up 9 % year-on-year. The sales have made China Toyota’s second-largest market after the United States. China’s total vehicle sales fell 8.2 % year-on-year last year to 25.77 million, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The organization expects overall vehicle sales to fall by around 2 % in 2020. Yet Toyota has set a sales goal of 1.76 million in 2020; up 8.6 % year-on-year. The company plans to improve its annual production capacity in China to 2 million units by 2020. Tatsuro Ueda, CEO of Toyota China, said the carmaker had been “sowing seeds” in China last year. He hopes those seeds will begin sprouting in 2020. Among other measures, the company decided late last year to separate its Chinese businesses from those in the Asia region, which will facilitate decision-making in the fast-changing market. “China Region and Asia Region have been split in view of the importance of the China market and the Asia markets, respectively”, the carmaker said in a statement in December. Also in late 2019, Toyota appointed more Chinese executives, including Dong Changzheng and Li Hui, to be responsible for business operations in China. It also transferred senior research and development professionals to the country to speed up its electrification and fuel cell vehicle campaigns. Toyota is billing 2020 as the start of its electrification campaign in China, with 3 electric vehicles to be introduced into the Chinese market: Toyota C-HR and IZOA as well as Lexus UX. The vehicles will be late-comers as local Chinese carmakers and some international brands have already introduced similar models, but Toyota claims theirs have better performance. For example, the Toyota vehicles’ batteries retain 80 % of their original capacities after 10 years of use, which is best in the industry. Dong, senior executive vice-president of Toyota China, said: “I don’t think Toyota lags behind in electrification. It just wants to offer something different”. Toyota plans to launch 10 pure electric vehicles by 2025 in China and gradually launch them globally. It expects sales of electrified vehicles, including pure electric ones, to reach 5.5 million by that year, and China will be the most important market. In July, Toyota announced new partnerships with China power battery producers CATL and BYD to focus on battery research and development. In November, the company announced its plan to set up a 50-50 joint venture in China with BYD to design and develop electric cars. The models will include sedans and SUVs and will be sold under the Toyota brand before 2025. Wang Bo, senior vice-president of BYD, said the 2 companies will integrate their respective advantages in vehicle production to offer pure electric cars that meet the demands of customers. Toyota has more than 20 years of experience in developing battery, electric motors and controller technologies. It offers hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles in addition to conventionally fueled vehicles. Toyota said it has sold more than 14 million electrified cars so far. The company is planning to develop and launch fuel cell car models in its joint ventures with Guangzhou-based carmaker GAC and FAW Group. It has also joined hands with Foton Motor Group and Beijing Sino-Hytec, a high-tech enterprise focusing on the R&D and industrialization of hydrogen fuel cell engines. The cooperation will see hydrogen-powered buses produced by Foton Motor coupled with SinoHytec’s hydrogen fuel cell power system, which uses Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell stack and other components and parts. Toyota is also making inroads into connectivity, autonomous driving and mobility in China. It is a member of Baidu’s Apollo program and has spent $600 million in China’s Didi Chuxing, the country’s largest ride-hailing platform. The carmaker said smart mobility will be an important part of its business operations in the country. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN has revealed that it will draw on the expertise of its motorsport division to develop a drivetrain for the forthcoming ID.3 R electric hot hatchback. The brand will apply the knowledge gained from the ID.R racer project to design a cell suitable for use in its high- performance road cars. Late last year, Volkswagen confirmed it was “actively considering” a high-performance variant of the ID.3. When it eventually arrives, it’ll be based on the same MEB platform as the standard-issue electric hatch, but feature a more potent electric drivetrain, supported by a more powerful, in-house developed battery pack. Jost Capito, Volkswagen R boss, said: “I believe that our Motorsport guys doing their own batteries in-house is a big advantage we have; brands competing in series like Formula E are given a standard battery. But it’s not just about the battery itself: it’s how the battery is run and how they get power to the motors. It’s easy to get the power output of an electric motor to the level you want, so it’s batteries, battery management and cooling that will be the big differentiators when it comes to high-performance electric road cars”. I expect that Volkswagen will turn the ID.3 into an electric hot hatch by adding a small electric front motor, making it 4-wheeldrive; the most common transmission type for Volkswagen R models. Such a move would also allow Volkswagen to harness the marketing power of its track-only electric projects, such as the ID.R hill-climb monster and the recently unveiled eR1 development mule. The boss of Volkswagen R, Jost Capito, has confirmed that the latter car will soon appear in a series of promotional events and videos, driven by American rallycross champion Tanner Foust. However, Capito said the performance parameters of the new ID.3 R are yet to be finalised, and that they won’t necessarily match up to the equivalent internal combustion-engined Volkswagen T-Roc R or Mk8 Golf R. “It’s still being defined”, he said, “It won’t be a straight copy of what we have now. There might be things that are less exciting, things that are more exciting. But what we want to keep doing is having exciting products, it just might be a different excitement to what we have now, but it has to be something that car enthusiasts still like. We’ll continue the philosophy of basing R models on standard Volkswagen production cars. So we’ll see what the MEB platform can give us and what technology the ID.R can give us and then see what package we can do. We believe you need the feeling of driving a car; 0–100 kph times are overrated, because you do it maybe once or twice and it’s done. What you need is good 100–200 kph and 130-200 kph acceleration, and we have to consider range and charging times, too”. +++

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