Newsflash: Toyota GT86 opvolger GR86 krijgt flink meer vermogen

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+++ Volkswagen and Nissan are among automakers planning new plants in Ghana to target West AFRICA ’s 382 million people. Their challenge: Finding banks that will offer loans to make new cars affordable. In a country where about 70% of imports are second-hand, new car ownership is rare, said Believe Alorbu, who sells older models shipped from the United States at half the price of a new one. “People will sometimes leave the plastic wrapping on their seats” when they buy new cars, she said at her dealership in the capital, Accra. “Even if the government increases tariffs on used cars, people will still not be able to afford new ones if they don’t get access to financing”. Less than 5 % of new car sales are financed by banks, according to the Ghana Automobile Dealers Association. In some cases, lenders demand employers agree to redirect part of the purchaser’s salary toward the debt, or that the owner take out insurance to cover a default. Interest rates of 22 % – 30 % also make loans “largely” unaffordable, said Koketso Tsoai, an auto-industry analyst at Fitch Solutions. Once their facilities are running, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan and possibly Renault will need to contend with second-hand cars like those sold by Alorbu. Ghana’s government is trying to make it more attractive with planned import duties on second-hand cars of 35 %, from 5 % – 20 %, and tax breaks that improve as the companies move from assembly to local production. It has also pledged to promote regional exports. “We don’t look at it only for today”, Nissan Africa chairman Mike Whitfield said by phone from Cairo. “We continue to see Africa as the last frontier left in the automotive market, West Africa being a key part of it”. About 10 % of West Africa’s population are able to spend more than $11 a day, according to data compiled by World Data Lab. It is this group that the industry is targeting on a continent that adds some 10 million new consumers annually. By 2030, Africa’s middle- and upper-income class is expected to exceed 300 million of the world’s 4-billion consumer market, the data shows. Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest lender, is also preparing for future growth by replicating its South African car-financing business in other parts of the continent, including Ghana. About three quarters of auto loans still go to companies, Patrick Koduah, head of vehicle and asset finance at the company’s Stanbic Ghana unit, said in an interview. “There’s a huge opportunity to grow personal demand”. About 30.000 passenger vehicles were imported into Ghana in 2018, according to estimates from Fitch Solutions. Ghana had 7.073 new vehicle registrations in 2018, of which 4.268 were passenger cars, according to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers. While the government has said its auto-incentives program would include the creation of an asset-based vehicle financing component, a trade ministry spokesman couldn’t provide details on how it would work. +++ 

+++ ASTON MARTIN is making a final effort to bring in fresh funding, with billionaire Lawrence Stroll closest to committing to buying a stake in the struggling UK automaker, according to people familiar with the matter. The Canadian investor and owner of the Racing Point Formula One team is in advanced discussions to invest about $260 million as part of a capital increase by the automaker, said one of the people, asking not to be identified because the talks are confidential. Separately, Chinese tycoon Li Shufu’s Geely Group has held preliminary discussions about a possible investment in Aston Martin, the people said. Aston Martin’s profit warning last week underscored the urgency for the automaker to secure new investors to help pare debt and finance the production of the DBX. This SUV is at the heart of Aston Martin’s turnaround plans, which include more than doubling annual output to 14.000 autos by 2023. Aston Martin has received 1.800 orders for the model, meeting a condition for the automaker to obtain a follow-on loan for $100 million. “We remain in discussion with potential strategic investors in relation to building longer term relationships which may or may not involve an equity investment”, Aston Martin said. Talks with various investors may not lead to a transaction and the size of any stake sale could change, the people said. Aston Martin’s stock has tumbled more than 60 % over the past 12 months. Chinese battery maker CATL may take a stake in Aston Martin. Stroll built his fortune by investing in fashion labels including Pierre Cardin, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger through Global Brands Acquisition. The tycoon may seek a seat on Aston Martin’s board of directors if he goes ahead with the investment, one of the people said. Aston Martin made clear the depth of its troubles as it reported a severe decline in profit in its first full year as a listed company. Its avenues for financing have narrowed amid weak operating performance and its year-end cash balance stood at 107 million pounds, according to January’s trading statement. Alongside declining profit, Aston Martin is facing the prospect of raising additional debt funding which may bring its total outstanding debt to over 1 billion pounds. It is set to pay a 15 % coupon on the planned $100 million of debt financing. Private equity firms Investindustrial and Kuwait’s Adeem control more than 60 % of Aston Martin. European investment firm Investindustrial is expected to participate in a capital increase, two of the people said. +++ 

+++ AUDI will be bypassing the 2020 New York auto show in April, joining fellow German luxury brands BMW and Mercedes-Benz on the sidelines of one of the largest and most prestigious auto shows in the United States. Audi confirmed that it would not participate in the 2020 show in a statement from Tara Rush, Audi of America’s chief communications officer. Rush said it is “important to review the way we bring the Audi experience to life and introduce our new products and innovations to media and consumers”. Rush said Audi would “continue to evaluate auto shows on a case-by-case basis moving forward to determine if they are the best platform for U.S. and world premieres of our upcoming models”. The New York show has traditionally drawn more than a million visitors annually to the Javits Convention Center, and (along with Los Angeles) has been viewed as one of the most prestigious shows for automakers to use to introduce new products. However, like other auto shows, high fixed costs and stiff internal competition for marketing dollars have many automakers re-examining the shows’ value. Audi is in the midst of an expensive transformation of its lineup as it moves rapidly away from diesel powertrains to battery-electric models such as the e-Tron. Like other German automakers, it was financially pressured in recent years by emissions scandals in Europe that damaged diesel vehicle sales and the imposition of the new WLTP testing standard. Last year, Audi used the New York show to mark its 50th year in the United States with an event at the Classic Car Club Manhattan under then Audi of America president Mark Del Rosso, who resigned effective May 2. Since Sept. 1, Audi of America has been led by Daniel Weissland. A spokesman for the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, which owns and operates the show, said it was made aware of Audi’s decision a month ago and had been working on a plan, in cooperation with local Audi dealers, to keep an Audi presence on the New York show floor in 2020. The status of that alternative plan was unclear, however. A spokesman for Porsche confirmed that Porsche will continue to participate in the New York show in 2020. Mark Schienberg, president of the NYADA, told that Audi’s decision angered local Audi dealers, who stand to benefit most directly from their brand participating in the show. “It’s such an important market; the New York metro area is the No. 1 market for Audi. That’s what took us by surprise”, Schienberg said. “You’re giving up a show that brings a million people to your product”. Schienberg said Audi’s floor space in the Javits Center will be filled. He said the New York auto show has attracted interest from new luxury electric automakers, though he said he couldn’t release their names until contracts were finalized. Rivian, a startup battery-electric truck maker that displayed at the 2019 show will not be returning, Schienberg said. Audi’s decision to skip the 2020 New York show comes after the 3 top German luxury brands opted to abandon the Detroit auto show in 2019. That decision was a factor the Detroit show’s change in calendar this year from January to June. However, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all had displays at the Los Angeles show in November. +++ 

+++ Auto sales in CHINA fell 8.2 % in 2019, data from the country’s biggest auto industry association showed. Total auto sales in the world’s biggest auto market fell 0.1 % in December from the same month a year earlier, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said. Sales have now dropped for 18 months in a row. Automakers in China need to get used to a new normal of “low speed growth” in the world’s largest car market, the country’s top auto body said, as it reiterated predictions that sales will likely shrink for the third consecutive year in 2020. The CAAM expects a 2 % fall in vehicle sales. That would compare with an 8.2 % drop last year, when sales were pressured by new emission standards in a shrinking economy also contending with tit-for-tat import tariffs with the United States. Industry watchers, though, are hoping a sales recovery in lower-tier cities, and an easing of trade tensions between China and the United States, can help ease the decline. “We have moved away from the high-speed development stage. We have to accept the reality of low-speed development”, Shi Jianhua, a senior official at CAAM, told a news briefing. “We had high-speed growth for a consecutive 28 years, which was really not bad, so I hope everyone can calmly look at the market”. Sales of new energy vehicles (NEV) sank 27.4 % in December, resulting in an overall 4 % decline to 1.24 million units in 2019. China’s NEV sales jumped 62 % in 2018 but a subsidy cut hurt sales last year. When asked if the industry could sell 2 million NEVs this year, a target originally set by China’s industry ministry in 2017, CAAM’s assistant secretary general, Xu Haidong, said this was “not possible”. NEV sales for 2020 would likely “stay at the same level or slightly increase” versus last year, Xu said. Global automakers have been cautious with their predictions after cutting production, shutting factories and firing staff last year. Executives at automakers such as Geely and Ford partner Chongqing Changan Automobile have said they expect fiercer competition to weed out weaker players. Ford said its China auto sales slumped more than a quarter in 2019 for a third year of decline. The latest fall, however, was slower than the 37 % weathered in 2018, and the automaker said it saw its market share stabilize in the high-to-premium segment. It remained cautious about 2020, echoing bearish comments on China’s market from General Motors. “We expect the market downturn to continue in 2020, and anticipate ongoing headwinds in our China business”, Matt Tsien, president of GM China, said last week as the U.S. automaker reported a 15 % drop in 2019 China sales. Volkswagen, whose SUVs helped it report a smaller 1.1 % year-on-year fall in sales in the first 11 months of 2019, has said it expects China’s market to grow at a relatively slow pace for the next 5 years. The bright spots have been Toyota and Honda, as well as Tesla which started delivering China-made Model 3 sedans from its $2 billion Shanghai plant this month. China will not make significant cuts to subsidies for new energy vehicles (NEV) this year, signalling that its policy will remain relatively stable, state media quoted the country’s industry ministry as saying. Earlier, Miao Wei, China’s minister for industry and information technology (MIIT), told a forum that the country would not cut subsidies for new energy vehicles (NEV) again in July, an approach which was cheered by vehicle makers. The government-backed Beijing News said an MIIT representative, in response to Miao’s statement, said that “this year’s NEV subsidy policy will remain relatively stable and there will not be significant cuts”. Beijing has been slowly rolling back a generous 5-year subsidy programme for NEVs, which began in 2016, saying it plans to phase out subsidies after 2020, amid criticism that some firms have become overly reliant on the funds. China’s monthly NEV sales dropped for the first time in two years in July as the subsidy cuts reached a new level, and have continued falling since. “There was a subsidy cut on July 1 last year and everyone has been concerned about whether we will see more cuts this year”, Miao told the EV100 annual gathering of senior auto industry executives in Beijing. “Today I can tell everyone, we will not cut it in July this year”. Miao’s speech was the “best news”, He Xiaopeng, chief executive of EV startup XPeng Motors, told Reuters, adding that policy stability was crucial to the industry. Miao also said NEV sales hit 163.000 units in December and full-year sales stood at 1.2 million NEVs, a drop from 1.3 million in 2018. Automakers who stand to benefit include Tesla, Warren Buffett-backed Chinese electric car maker BYD as well as aspiring Tesla-challenger Nio. +++ 

+++ New DIESEL vehicles are exceeding the limit for particle emissions, European campaign group Transport and Environment (T&E) said, calling on EU lawmakers to make emissions testing and regulations stricter. 4 years after Volkswagen admitted to cheating U.S. diesel engine tests, new tests of 2 of 2018’s top-selling diesel car models in Europe showed their particle pollution spiked to 1.000 times normal levels during the regular process of cleaning out their anti-pollution filters, T&E said. The tests on the Nissan Qashqai and Opel / Vauxhall Astra showed they were 32 % to 115 % over the legal limit of 600 billion particles per kilometer during the automated filter cleaning. A spokesman for Opel/Vauxhall said it couldn’t comment because it were not aware of the details of T&E’s report. A Nissan spokesman told that “all Nissan vehicles and DPF (diesel particulate filter) devices fitted in our vehicles fully comply with applicable emissions legislation”. The Japanese carmaker also said it supported new, stricter emissions tests and had introduced new technology to meet them. T&E said more than 45 million vehicles carry particle filters in Europe, leading to 1.3 billion filter cleanings per year. The process can occur every 2 weeks and can last for 15 kilometers. Under current European rules, if filter cleaning occurs during an official test, the results do not count, “meaning that 60 % – 99 % of regulated particle emissions from the tested vehicles are ignored”, T&E said in its report. Tests of the 2 so-called Euro 6d-temp vehicles, which refers to those that came to market after September 1, 2017, were carried out by European vehicle test lab Ricardo in July and August 2019 and found the Astra emitted the largest number of particles when full filter regeneration took place, with 1.300 billion particles per kilometer. The Qashqai’s filter regeneration tests showed emissions of between 790 billion and 850 billion particles per km, exceeding the limit by 32 % to 41 %. Particle pollution affects more people than any other pollutant according to the World Health Organization, with three in four inhabitants of European cities exposed to unsafe levels of particles, according to the European Environment Agency. +++ 

+++ The start of the 2020s was supposed to be when DISRUPTORS such as electric car startups, ride-hailing companies and tech giants would start to surpass the century-old traditional automakers. These relics from the Stone Age (companies that design, engineer, build and distribute cars) were on the verge of extinction, we were told. What I have seen lately has proved that these companies are a lot more likely to survive than most of the disruptors. The status quo is here to stay because no matter how much innovation changes things (and I’m a huge fan of innovation) there is no getting around the most basic business principle: your long-term future depends on your ability to make money now. For a number of years this golden rule was ignored, but reality is starting to return. A sign of this came when Dyson abruptly canceled its plans to enter the automotive arena with a premium electric car. Dyson’s car project was interesting because it was different than most other EV startups. First and foremost, Dyson, a company renowned for its pricey-but-popular vacuum cleaners, hair dryers and fans, is not a cash-starved startup. The company, which turns 29 years old this summer, generated €5.2 billion in revenue in 2018. In addition, founder James Dyson was not looking to become rich by moving into EVs. The 72-year-old self-made man ranks No. 110 in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a personal fortune valued at $12.2 billion. On top of this, Dyson did not seek fresh market capital to finance the car project. He pumped in about 2 billion pounds of his own money. Therefore, when he wrote to employees in October to tell them the Dyson car was dead and he had failed to find anyone to take over the project it was a wake-up call. It signaled that the high cost to enter the automotive industry is probably going to cause a lot more casualties. China’s Nio is close to collapse. Byton had to be absorbed into FAW. Faraday Future and Lucid may never even get started. Tesla has, so far, been an exception. So has Amazon-backed Rivian, which will not only make its own cars but also share its electrified chassis with another investor: Ford. Croatia’s Rimac Automobili is following a similar path, supplementing its development of EV supercars by sharing its technology with investors including Porsche and Hyundai. Despite this success, CEO and founder Mate Rimac admits that his company has “been on the brink” often and only gives his company a 30 % to 40 % chance of survival. Separately, Uber and Waymo are well behind with their plans to offer driver-less robotaxis on a large scale. That means the Level 4 autonomous cars that were supposed to start appearing this year probably will not arrive until after 2030, leaving the future of those businesses at risk as well. “The truth is, barriers to entry in autos remain high. Making cars is hard. The move to EVs will be expensive but will probably be led by traditional OEMs. There will be less disruption than feared”, Bernstein analyst Max Warburton wrote in a recent note to investors. While Warburton expects traditional automakers to survive for a long time, Mate Rimac is pragmatic about the future of automotive startups: “Every year in Geneva a new company appears and then you never hear about them again”. An automaker CEO confidentially gave me a view that epitomizes what I think we will see in the new decade: “The financial markets were convinced that anyone could enter the car business and be profitable. This is a huge lie. This is a tough business for grown-ups, with very little room for kids”. Or, as he nicely summarized, what we are likely to witness is “The revenge of the Flintstones”. +++ 

+++ FORD ’s China vehicle sales fell for a third consecutive year, by 26.1 %, as it battles a prolonged overall sales decline in its second-biggest market that has hit demand for its mass-market sedans and SUVs. The U.S. automaker delivered 146.473 vehicles in China in the 4th quarter; down 14.7 % year-on-year, Ford said in a statement. In total, it sold 567.854 vehicles over 2019. Ford has been trying to revive sales in China after its business began slumping in late 2017. Sales sank 37 % in 2018, after a 6 % decline in 2017. Anning Chen, president and chief executive of Ford Greater China, said that while 2019 was a “challenging” year for the automaker, it saw its market share in the high-to-premium segment stabilize and its sales decline in the value segment start to narrow in the second-half of the year. “The pressure from the external environment and downward trend of the industry volume will continue in 2020, and we will put more efforts into strengthening our product lineup with more customer-centric products and customer experiences to mitigate the external pressure and improve dealers’ profitability”. The automaker plans to launch more than 30 new models in China over the next 3 years of which over a third will be electric vehicles. It has also said it would localize management teams by hiring more Chinese staff and aimed to improve relationships with joint venture partners. Models launched in the 4th quarter include a new Kuga version (for which the automaker said orders received so far have been much higher than expected) and the Lincoln Corsair, the first localized Lincoln model in China. Bill Russo, head of Shanghai consultancy Automobility, said Ford was dealing with a “perfect storm” of trends which were not favorable to multinational mass market brands, and while the automaker was addressing the need to update its showrooms with new and refreshed models, this was taking time. “They managed to stop the bleeding and increase average selling price”, he said of their 2019 sales figures. “Good sign, but they need to do more to localize their business model to address the growth in non-hardware related mobility and digital services if they are to recapture growth”. In China, Ford makes cars through a joint venture with Chongqing Changan Automobile and Jiangling Motors. It has also said it would partner Zotye Automobile to sell lower priced cars. Its larger U.S. rival General Motors last week said its sales in China fell 15 % from a year earlier to 3.09 million vehicles in 2019; its second year of decline. China’s auto market is set to contract by 2 % in 2020 for the third year of decline, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) forecast, due to a weaker economy and trade dispute with the United States. Over 28 million vehicles were sold in 2018, down 3% from the prior year, while 2019 sales are likely to have declined 8% from the prior year, CAAM said. +++ 

+++ The shift to electric vehicles could cost 410,000 jobs in GERMANY by 2030. In engines and transmissions’ production alone, around 88.000 jobs will be at risk, a report by the National Platform for the Future of Mobility (NPM), an advisory council for the government, wrote. Electric cars’ engines are made of fewer parts and require less maintenance than combustion engines, which will result in layoffs, the report was quoted as saying. Vehicle production will be further automated and will not be sufficient to support the current level of jobs, NPM’s Chairman Henning Kagermann said. In 2018, employment in the car industry in Germany reached 834,000, its highest since 1991. Germany’s main automobile industry body (VDA), which in December warned of more job cuts in 2020 due to a drop in global car sales, said NPM’s forecast was based on an “unrealistic extreme scenario”, a VDA official was quoted as saying. The industry, an important driver of growth in Europe’s largest economy, has been accelerating plans to launch electric vehicles, under pressure from a European Union drive to further cut carbon dioxide emissions. +++ 

+++ A lawyer for former Nissan chairman Carlos GHOSN , who fled to Lebanon at the end of December while awaiting trial in Japan, said his client was questioned for an average of 7 hours a day without a lawyer present. Takashi Takano wrote in a post on his blog that the questioning continued through weekends, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Takano has said he told Ghosn he couldn’t expect a fair trial in Japan, but that his chances of winning were good because the evidence against him was so weak. Japan’s judicial system has come under fire over Ghosn’s case. Critics have for years said the prolonged detentions tend to coerce false confessions. Suspects can be detained even without any charges. Prosecutors and Justice Minister Masako Mori have repeatedly defended the nation’s system as upholding human rights, noting that Japan boasts a low crime rate. Mori said the system follows appropriate procedures under Japanese law, stressing that every culture is different. Takano said he recently looked at prosecutors’ data and Ghosn’s notes to tally the hours of questioning for 70 of the days Ghosn was detained. On 3 days, Ghosn had been questioned for some 11 hours, according to Takano’s tally. Ghosn was detained under 2 separate arrests for 130 days in total. He has been charged with underreporting his future compensation and of breach of trust in diverting Nissan Motor Co. funds for alleged personal gain. In a news conference held in Beirut last week, which lasted more than 2 hours, Ghosn reasserted his innocence and accused Nissan and Japanese government officials of plotting his removal. Ghosn, who led Nissan for 2 decades, has said the compensation was never decided and that the payments were for legitimate business. Much of his news conference was devoted to criticizing Japan’s justice system as rigged and harsh. He said he had been grilled without a lawyer present while held in solitary confinement, and advised all foreigners to leave. Last week, Takano said at first he had felt sad and betrayed that Ghosn didn’t try to show his innocence in court, but also expressed understanding about how Ghosn might have lost hope not only with the prosecutors but with Japan’s entire judicial system. +++ 

+++ NISSAN remains committed to a successor to the existing 370Z, according to the company’s design boss, and now prototypes of the new sportscar have been spotted at the Nurburgring. The current iteration of the iconic Z-car was introduced more than a decade ago, and there has been speculation that it could simply be allowed to die off in the face of ever-tightening regulations on CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency. Early prototypes don’t give anything away in terms of how the 370Z successor will look, with only extra venting holes in the front bumper pointing to addtional cooling and a fix rear spoiler for more downforce. The next Z-car will likely go up against the Toyota Supra, Alpine A110 and Porsche Cayman in the sportscar segment. Speaking at the Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan’s senior vice-president for Design, Alfonso Albaisa, said that the company would “never leave this alone”. When asked if he could envisage a successor to the 370Z, Albaisa replied, “It’s easy to imagine. The Z is the car that democratised sports cars back in the sixties. The current car has been a long time in the dealerships, and so you could imagine Giovanni (Arroba, Nissan’s design boss for electric vehicles) and the designers working on it. We could never leave this alone. It’s in our soul. You can feel this in other Nissan designs, like the new Ariya; it’s not just about fuel efficiency, it wants to be driven, for the love of driving”. Albaisa also confirmed that the Ariya itself is likely to reach production soon. “When we design a concept and give it a name (a name that doesn’t start with ‘I’ or ‘M’) then it’s getting close. It’s like when you visit the doctor and they’re able to tell you whether you’re going to have a boy or a girl; it’s time to give it a name. I can’t give you a date because it’s a global car and things could change – but obviously we’re ready. I’m already tired of carrying this thing around”. +++ 

+++ RENAULT shares hit 6-year lows after a media report that Nissan has accelerated secret contingency planning for a potential split from the French carmaker, the latest sign that the downfall of former boss Carlos Ghosn is roiling the 20-year alliance. Shares were down 3.7 %, languishing at the bottom of Paris’ and the pan European index. The plans include war-gaming a total split in engineering and manufacturing, as well as changes to Nissan’s board. Nissan’s contingency planning has ramped up since the dramatic escape of Ghosn, the former head of the Renault-Nissan alliance, from Japan in late December, it said. The tie-up has been in management turmoil since Ghosn’s arrest in Tokyo in November 2018 on allegations of financial misconduct, which he denies. He was awaiting trial in Japan when he fled to Lebanon. “We firmly believe the relationship between Renault and Nissan and hence the Alliance is broken and is likely beyond the point of repair”, Evercore ISI analysts Arndt Elinghorst and Chris McNally wrote in a note. They have an ‘underperform’ rating on the French car company. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA and Subaru are ramping up development of a successor to the GT86 and BRZ sports cars. The Toyota version will be rebranded as the GR86. The GT86 and BRZ were launched in 2012, and their future had been in doubt because of relatively low sales. But both companies have committed to developing a replacement, with the Toyota version a key part of the brand’s growing performance car line-up. Toyota boss Akio Toyoda is a major proponent of using performance models to boost the brand’s image under the Gazoo Racing division, which also includes Toyota’s various motorsport programmes. The original GT86 pre-dated the creation of that brand, which started with the GR Supra and will also include the GR Yaris, the first model developed purely by Gazoo Racing. The next GT86 is set to be rebranded to bring it in line with that nomenclature. The next-gen sports car will feature some substantial changes from the existing model. While the original was built on a Subaru platform, the firm’s current architectures are not suited to rear-drive cars, the new model is set to be built on Toyota’s TNGA platform. While Toyota underpinnings will be used, Subaru is expected to once again take the lead with powertrain development. The car is likely to retain a flat-four ‘Boxer’ engine, with reports in Japan suggesting that the existing 2.0-litre naturally aspirated unit will be switched for the turbocharged 2.4-litre powerplant currently used in the Ascent, Legacy and Outback models. That engine produces 260 hp in the Ascent, a figure that would represent a significant upgrade on the outgoing model’s output. Forced induction would also provide a substantial torque upgrade over the old car, too, providing a draw for those who weren’t satisfied with the performance of the outgoing GT86 and BRZ. Both brands may wish to retain the drivability and character of a naturally aspirated unit, but this needs to be balanced with what buyers are demanding, and that appears to be the on-tap grunt of a turbocharged unit. Toyota and Subaru will also want to improve the aesthetic appeal of the new car, both inside and out. The old GT86 and BRZ were widely criticised for their low-rent cabin, so expect improvements in technology, material usage and fit and finish. Whether or not the model becomes more of a true 4-seater in order to really help it stand up against more practical rivals remains to be seen. Such changes (particularly the power upgrade) would be likely to see the price of both cars increase. However, both brands will be conscious of the close proximity of more premium models, such as the Audi TT and BMW Z4. Toyota won’t want to tread on the toes of its own Supra, either, particularly in Japan where a 4-cylinder version of the reborn sports car is offered. The second-generation BRZ and GT86 will build on expanding links between Subaru and Toyota. As well as the sports car, the 2firms are teaming up to develop a new EV platform and electric SUV. Toyota is considering hybrid versions of future performance car models, but only once the weight of the systems are reduced. The Japanese firm is in the process of electrifying all of its models, with a heavy focus on hybrid systems. But the new GR Yaris will only be offered with a 3-cylinder, 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, despite 80 % of Yaris sales expected to be hybrid. Naohiko Sato, chief engineer of the GR Yaris, said that while a hybrid system would fit in the car and was under evaluation, Toyota didn’t believe it was currently suitable for performance cars. “Right now, if we chose an electrified powertrain for a sports car, it would be heavier”, said Sato. “We decided it’s not the right way to go right now. Maybe when the technology gets better and we have new technology allowing lighter powertrains, it could be good. Right now, the Prius and RAV4 plug-in hybrids can have big batteries because they’re not sports cars, but it is best not to have a big battery for a sports car”. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN said software problems that affected the launch of its new Golf are now also a “challenge” with the ID3 battery-powered hatchback, which is due to go on sale in Europe in the summer. Setbacks meant over 20.000 units of the ID3 would be built without a full software suite, requiring teams of engineers to manually fix the problem post-production at additional cost. “Establishing a powerful new electronics and software architecture is a challenge that can lead to difficulties or delays, which we are currently addressing”, a VW spokesman said. “The time plan remains in place: market launch is scheduled for summer 2020”. The latest generation Golf, whose roll out across Europe was delayed to the first quarter, contains around 100 million lines of code with the infotainment system alone accounting for roughly a fifth of that. By comparison, a car built in 2010 had a tenth of the complexity, according to VW. Whereas the Golf is only equipped with an evolutionary CAN FD electric-electronic (E/E) architecture, the ID3 is the first model to receive the new E3 platform for the fastest possible data transfer rates. Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess has said he will need full availability of the ID3 from launch in order to ensure stringent new European fleet emission targets can be met without the need to pay potentially hundreds of millions, if not billions, of euros in fines. VW started series production of the ID3 in November. It is using the subsequent months until delivery of the first cars to continue fixing any issues that may come up during further field testing. ID3 cars coming off the production line are being stored in hired parking lots until the software is installed. The VW spokesman said the company aims to build about 100,000 electric cars this year in its plant in Zwickau, Germany. Software glitches that marred the Golf’s development have prompted Diess to bundle the group’s current software expertise and carve it out into a new independent subsidiary called Car.Software, founded at the start of this year. By 2025, more than 10,000 digital experts are expected to develop the software for both vehicles and digital ecosystems, as well as customer-centric functions at dealers. +++

 

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