Newsflash: vierde model van Lamborghini wordt volledig elektrisch

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+++ AUDI set a new sales record in China in 2019. A total of 688.888 vehicles were sold last year; up 4.2 %. China maintained as Audi’s biggest single market in the world. Domestically-manufactured models such as the new A6L, Q5L A4L and other major models recorded strong performance, with the total sales reaching 630.800. A total of 58.088 imported Audi cars were delivered, with sales of the new Audi A8L rising 21.6 % to 12.428. +++ 

+++ Electrification will come but the speed of adoption will vary greatly. That is why BMW r&d boss Klaus Fröhlich believes that future vehicle architectures will need to be flexible enough to rapidly adapt to tougher global emissions rules as well as changing customer tastes. When asked if it wass the right call to only use flexible architectures that can accommodate internal combustion, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric powertrains (except for the full-electric i3), Fröhlich says: “A flexible architecture is the best solution for the next 5 to 10 years, but clearly if the world turns fully electric, we will develop dedicated architectures. 10 years ago, when we developed the CLAR architecture that debuted in 2015 with the 7 series, we would have needed to add 800 kg to 900 kg of batteries to offer a BEV variant. This would have killed the architecture, not to mention the sheer driving pleasure we aim to offer with every car we make. We had expected that over a decade battery density could increase by 2.5 times. By 2020, we will be close to 2.7 times. Therefore, in 2021 we will update the CLAR architecture with a new central floor that can house higher density batteries. This will permit our plug-in hybrids to travel 80, 100 to 120 km in full-electric mode as well as allowing us to install a larger fuel tank than we have in our current plug-in hybrids. Using the updated CLAR also will let us offer BEVs (battery-electric vehicles) on the architecture because our forthcoming i4 is basically a battery-powered 3 series”. When asked what the biggest hurdle is to the mass rollout of full-electric vehicles, Fröhlich says: “BEV cost more because of the raw materials to make the batteries. This won’t change. Prices could eventually increase as demand for these raw materials rises. A BEV’s most critical technical challenge is charging. Each cell needs an individual charging cycle to minimize the risk of overheating. This reduces the life and the range of the battery. Too much fast charging could wear out the battery in just 2 to 3 years, which would make a customer very unhappy given the high cost to replace a battery pack. A battery-driven car should not be fast charged too often. Ideally it should be every 20 charging cycles”. When asked why BMW is, then, one of the founding investors in European fast-charging infrastructure builder Ionity, Fröhlich says: “We had to because in 2017 no one was willing to invest in a charging infrastructure. Now the situation is completely changed. Energy providers and oil companies are investing, so the charging infrastructure is coming. That’s good news because this is not our core competence. What we gave learned from the customers who are already driving our electrified models (by the end of 2019 we had 500,000 electrified models on the road) is that customers recharge either at home or the office. Charging elsewhere seldom happens. When it comes to the global sales outlook for electrified models, the best assumption is that electrified vehicles will account for 20 % to 30 % of worldwide sales by 2030, but with a very diverse global distribution. China’s big east coast cities will become purely electric pretty soon while western China will rely on gasoline engines for the next 15 to 20 years due to a lack of infrastructure. In Europe there is reluctance to jump directly to BEVs, so plug-in hybrids are the right solution. They will be used as BEVs during the week and run on gasoline on weekends or long trips. We expect plug-in hybrids to account for up to 25 % of European sales. Gasoline and diesel will have more than 50 percent and the rest will be BEVs. Most of the United States does not need BEVs. We could offer high-performance plug-in hybrids in the M space, providing a lot of fun to the driver as well as environmental credits for us. We see BEVs mainly in the west coast and parts of the east coast, while the rest of the U.S. will continue with conventional gasoline engines. When it comes to the rest of the world, Russia, the Middle East and Africa are areas where there is no recharging infrastructure at moment”. When asked if BMW will streamline its internal combustion engine offerings, Fröhlich says: “Regulations on internal combustion engines are accelerating and getting more diverse all over the world. We have to update our engines every year, especially for China. Because this costs a lot of money, we have to streamline our offerings. On the diesel side, production of the 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder entry engine will end and the 400 hp, 6 cylinder won’t be replaced because it is too expensive and too complicated to build with its 4 turbos. However, our 4- and 6-cylinder diesels will remain for at least another 20 years and our gasoline units for at least 30 years. The V12 may not have a future given that we only produce a few thousand units each year and the several thousand euros of added cost it takes to make them compliant with stricter emissions rules. When it comes to the V8, it’s already difficult to create a strong business case to keep it alive given that we have a 6-cylinder high-powered plug-in hybrid unit that delivers 600 hp of power and enough torque to destroy many transmissions”. When asked about what the future for fuel cellsis, Fröhlich says: “A fuel cell is a BEV without a battery but a fast charger that is called a fuel cell and a 700-bar hydrogen tank somewhere in the car. We develop fuel cells with Toyota and will begin pilot production of the second generation of these models in 2020 or 2021 on the X6 and X7. Right now, a fuel cell powertrain costs about 10 times more than a BEV’s system. We plan to have those costs equalized by 2025 with the third generation of our scalable fuel cell system, which could result in volumes in the hundreds of thousands. I think that the future developments of battery cells could make the fuel cell the most suitable solution for passenger cars by 2025. We foresee fuel cells as a viable solution for light and heavy duty trucks, which are facing very tough CO2 reduction targets and already use very efficient diesels, so the next step could only be electrification. But you cannot electrify a heavy truck with batteries, because reducing the payload from 6 tons to 7 tons is absolute nonsense. With a single recharging station, you can refuel a fleet of 100 hydrogen powered light trucks overnight. About 200 highway refueling stations could serve thousands of heavy trucks across Europe, which means that on the infrastructure side, this is feasible. +++ 

+++ CHINA ‘s exports of new energy vehicles will grow fast in coming years as they are on track to gain popularity in major car markets, said the Ministry of Commerce. “Their exports stand a good chance of continuing the momentum and will become a new force that contributes to the steady growth of China’s auto trade”, said the ministry in a report on high-quality automotive trade released last week. Statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show that exports of China’s new energy vehicles in the first half of 2019 grew 99.3 % year-on-year. The report said electric buses from BYD accounted for 20 % of the market in Europe and more than 60 % in the United Kingdom in 2018. Those from Chinese brands were the most popular in South Korea. The situation will further improve as major markets are championing new energy vehicles and China is a leading player in the segment, said the report. China started to finance the new energy vehicle segment since 2009. It overtook the United States as the largest market for such vehicles in 2015. It has sharpened its competitive edge over the past decade, with its models being close to or passing internationally advanced levels of battery performance and driving ranges. Developed economies including the United States and the European Union have announced incentives to spur the growth of the segment. Many Asian countries, especially those in the ASEAN, are encouraging carmakers to roll out more new energy vehicles. Thailand does not charge tariffs on electric vehicles from China. Meanwhile, Malaysia plans for new energy vehicles to account for 85 % of vehicles produced in the country in 2020. “All these have created favorable conditions for Chinese carmakers including SAIC, Geely and Changan to make better forays into the ASEAN markets”, the report said. A total of 197 electric SUVs from GAC Motor are on route to Israel and are expected to hit the market in February, said the Guangzhou-based carmaker. GAC said dealers in Kuwait, Jordan and Paraguay hope to introduce its electric vehicles. It will soon explore the European electric car market as well. +++ 

+++ Chongqing Changan Automobile has agreed to sell its stake in a 50-50 partnership with PSA. It marks the end of the struggling joint venture that has been producing DS branded vehicles in China. It will sell its 1.63 billion yuan ($234.22 million) stake to a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate Baoneng Investment Group. They have paid the first installment, said Changan, also a partner of Ford. A spokesman for PSA confirmed on the same day that the French carmaker would sell its stake in the joint venture to Baoneng as well. “The move is meant to solve the problem of the company’s survival for good”, said Changan in its statement. Changan said the joint venture, established in 2011, racked up cumulative losses of 4.9 billion yuan up to September 2019. In the first 11 months of 2019, Changan PSA delivered around 2.040 vehicles; a drop in the ocean of China’s vast car market. A total of 19.23 million passenger vehicles were sold in the same period in the country, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Changan PSA had failed to achieve meaningful sales since it started production in 2013. Its deliveries were around 23.000 in 2014, but stumbled to about 3.900 in 2018, according to the China Passenger Car Alliance, a Shanghai-based consultancy. After the deals with Changan and PSA, Baoneng will take over the company, which has 2 plants and an engine plant together capable of producing 200.000 vehicles a year. Baoneng, which mainly operates in China’s retail, real estate development and life insurance sectors, ventured into the automotive industry in 2018 by acquiring 51 % of Qoros, a small carmaker based in Shanghai. PSA said in a statement that the dissolution of the joint venture will not change anything regarding DS presence and development in China. “DS brand will deploy a new strategic approach to develop our business in this strategic market. PSA is fully committed to China”, said the statement. PSA’s move to end the joint venture highlights how global automakers are struggling in the world’s biggest auto market. Sales started to fall since July 2017 and have shown no sign of a quick recovery. French carmakers including PSA and Renault have been hit even harder in the downward spiral of the market. Besides Changan, PSA runs a joint venture with Chinese automaker Dongfeng Motor Group, which produces and distributes Peugeot and Citroen cars. But the group’s total sales in China stood at 262.583 vehicles in 2018, a long way off the 1 million-a-year target it had set itself a few years ago. Isabelle Chaboud, a luxury brands expert at French business school Grenoble Ecole de Management, said Chinese buyers don’t consider French cars as premium brands, although they love French handbags, wine and perfume. “I don’t think it’s a problem of quality. It’s more a problem of image, or how they communicate”, said Chaboud. PSA’s CEO, Carlos Tavares, seems to recognize his company’s image problem in China, saying that it is different from Europe. “It takes more passion to communicate the values, the history of these brands and all that we have done over the last century”, said Tavares at the Frankfurt auto show in 2019. +++ 

+++ For Europe’s automakers, a great leap into the unknown began on New Year’s Day, when EUROPEAN UNION EMISSION STANDARDS that require a fleet average of 95 grams per kilometer of CO2 took effect. The numbers are stark. According to the EU, fleet emissions in 2018 were 120 g/km, which means automakers need a 21 % reduction overall to avoid fines that could total as much as €33 billion this year, according to some estimates. Each gram over the limit, per vehicle, will cost automakers €95. Each automaker has a different target, based on the average mass of the vehicles they sell, and only 95 % of sales are measured in 2020, meaning that some high-polluting cars won’t count. Even so, analyst ISI Evercore has warned that the “2020-21 CO2 regulation poses the biggest risk to the auto industry in recent memory”. To reach their targets, every brand has turned to electrification, from 48 volt mild hybrids all the way up to full-electric cars. Cars with emissions of 50 g/km or less, generally either battery-electric cars or plug-in hybrids, are eligible for so-called “supercredits”, a benefit that will be phased out in 2 years. It’s unclear how consumers will react, given higher prices and worries about range and charging station availability. According to the European Alternative Fuels Observatory, an EU statistical service, battery-electric vehicles made up about 1.7 % of total European registrations through October 2019. Plug-in hybrids fared even worse with just 1 % of registrations; the same as in 2018. The emissions gap has not changed in the last year, analysts said. “Given the CO2 cliff the industry is facing, and as we have written before, one would have hoped for a smooth transition toward improved fuel efficiency”, Arndt Ellinghorst said in a note in December. “Instead, we continue to observe very little improvement”. Ellinghorst and his colleagues at ISI say the risks of fines are very real. “The current CO2 performance is simply not good enough and we continue to flag that carmakers run the risk of facing considerable fines if more is not done”, he said. But the lack of progress on CO2 emissions might be strategic, argued Al Bedwell, who is director of global powertrain forecasting at LMC Automotive. “We shouldn’t be surprised that the CO2 trend has not yet started to move in a positive direction for many automakers”, he said in a note. “There is no incentive for automakers to start selling their most fuel-efficient products before January”, especially those that may be less profitable, such as plug-in hybrids, than conventional internal combustion cars. For automakers operating in Europe, convincing consumers to buy cars that they have shunned in the past is a bit like playing chess in 3 dimensions: There are many moves they can make, whether in sales, marketing, production and even registration. On top of that are national incentive programs that vary widely from country to country. In interviews, top executives at brands that are sold in Europe were mostly confident that they would not be paying any emissions fines. But they expressed a bit of uncertainty as to how the overall market would reach its target. “We are preparing to supply electric vehicles in sufficient volume and to deliver them without long delivery times to our customers”, said Thomas Schmidt, the head of Hyundai’s European operations. “However, everyone has to sell many more battery-electric vehicles. That raises some questions: Does the European market have that many customers who want to buy a full-electric car? How long will it take for the national governments to put in place a strategy to roll out a sufficient number of charging stations?” Hyundai’s low-emissions lineup includes the Ioniq (in electric or plug-in versions) and the Kona Electric. PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares has been adamant that none of his company’s brands, including Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and DS, will be liable for any emissions fines. “For us, it’s an ethical and not just a financial matter” to meet CO2 targets, he told. He did not offer any details, however, on how the brands would meet a target of 7 % of sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. “We have a very precise process (I can’t say a lot about it because it’s highly competitive) that involves our production, our order book, and making our dealers actors in what we are doing, not just followers”, Tavares said. PSA has just started a big push into electrification, with electric versions of the Peugeot 208 and 2008, the Opel / Vauxhall Corsa and the DS 3 Crossback about to go on sale. Plug-in models include the Peugeot 3008, Opel / Vauxhall Grandland X and DS 7 Crossback, and the Peugeot 508. Peugeot brand CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato said his brand had been preparing for the changeover by “monitoring every high-emissions car that is in stock” or in the dealer network. “I don’t know how other automakers will manage their operations”, he told, “but we will be compliant in January”. But not every executive is so confident about avoiding fines. Michael Jost, chief strategist at Volkswagen Group (which faced issues in 2018 meeting deadlines for the new Worldwide harmonized Light vehicle Test Procedure, or WLTP) said, “Next year and 2021 might be challenging since we will be ramping up our EV models”, including the highly anticipated ID.3. “We will work hard to be CO2 compliant and we are pretty sure we will reach all the goals set for the passenger cars”, Jost said. Indeed, the ID.3 is expected to be the bellwether for mass acceptance of full electric vehicles in Europe, as its development was supported by billions of investment from VW Group, and it is roughly the same size as the Golf, Europe’s best-selling car. “The ID.3 is going to be kind of pivotal”, said Jonathon Poskitt, LMC’s head of global forecasting. “If it doesn’t hit the sales it’s supposed to, then maybe that’s a signal that the market is just not there yet”. Yasuhiro Aoyama, the head of Mazda in Europe, which will start selling the MX-30 full-electric crossover this summer, said the Japanese company was 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”. He added: “We will have to sell as many battery-electric vehicles as possible so that we can reduce our potential of facing a CO2 penalty”. Analysts said some of the tactics to increase sales could include self-registration of slow-selling electric or plug-in hybrids, favorable lease deals for employees, sales to short-term rental services and aiming for fleet sales, where running costs are often more important than the dealership price. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has agreed to pay Tesla hundreds of millions of euros to join an emissions pool to benefit from sales of the Silicon Valley company’s electric cars in Europe. But those carry inherent risks, especially with ever-stricter targets looming in 2025 and 2030, said Martin Benecke, an analyst at IHS Markit. “What will you do next year, or the following years?” he said. “You can’t self-register a lot of vehicles if nobody will buy them”. One solution, at least for 2020 and 2021, may be hiding in plain sight: diesels. After diesel’s market share fell sharply in the last several years following VW Group’s admission that it cheated diesel emissions tests, sales appear to be holding steady at about 30 % to 32 % of the European market. “We see a stabilizing in diesel share”, Benecke said. “It’s a good tool to reduce CO2 levels for now, and for company cars or larger SUVs, diesel remains the only option” for lower emissions. But, he warned, any future emissions gains for diesels will be marginal and expensive. LMC’s Bedwell said diesel sales would be flat in 2020, which “in the context of a likely 600,000 unit decline in 2019 is very positive”. In fact, he said, “Already we are seeing signs of reversal in the declining diesel share of some models”, and some automakers are replacing high-emitting gasoline models with diesels, including Audi’s high-performance S range. In the long term, he said, cars such as the Audi SQ5 will be “prime candidates” for battery-electric power, “but right now diesel, or gasoline plug-in hybrid, makes a lot of sense”. Last month LMC said the European market was already starting to see seasonal distortion as a result of impending regulatory hurdles.  LMC said it expected automakers would take measures to move registrations of high CO2 emitting cars from 2020 into the last quarter of 2019. “Our default position is that automakers will do everything in their power not to miss CO2 targets”, LMC said. Besides fines, automakers would not want to take the “potentially unquantifiable losses that would stem from image damage in these environmentally conscious times”, LMC said. “The pulling forward of sales from 2020, coming on top of other confidence-sapping factors, leads us to forecast a rather disappointing 2020 Western Europe car market just over one percentage point lower than that seen in 2019”. Even bigger challenges loom as CO2 rules will get even tougher for automakers operating in Europe. The new European Commission said last month it will propose revising legislation on CO2 emissions standards for cars and vans “to ensure a clear pathway from 2025 onward toward zero-emissions mobility”, it said in a document called the European Green Deal. The revision is set to happen by mid-2021. +++ 

+++ In FRANCE , new-car sales rose 28 % in December, as automakers tried to sell models with high CO2 emissions before new EU regulations went into effect on January 1. There were 211.194 cars registered last month, according to data from industry association CCFA. For the year, the French market rose by 2.3 % to 2.21 million. Cars registered after January 1 count toward the EU’s fleet emissions target of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer. For 2020, automakers are allowed to exclude 5 % of their sales, but that exception will not apply in 2021. Within the 95 g/km target, every automaker has a specific figure it needs to reach, based on the average mass of all cars sold. The push to sell high-pollution vehicles was reflected in an increase of overall CO2 emissions in France in December to 113 g/km, after the figure had fallen to 109 g/km in October. A similar jump was seen in August 2018, ahead of a deadline to certify vehicles under the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure, or WLTP. As a result, most automakers and brands recorded double-digit sales increases in December. The top gainers were Land Rover, up 142 %, and Jaguar, up 113 %. Mitsubishi sales increased by 90 % and Nissan sales rose by 81 %. Among French automakers, Renault Group sales increased by 30 %, with the Renault brand up 27 % and budget brand Dacia increasing by 38 %. PSA Group sales rose by 6.5 %, with Peugeot sales up 8.2 %, Citroen up 10 % and DS up by 58 %. Sales at German brand Opel fell by 34 %. Volkswagen Group sales increased by 38 %, with the Volkswagen brand up 24 %, Audi up 74 %, Skoda up 58 % and Seat up 8.7 %. Porsche sales rose by 389 %, although the sports-car brand sold just 230 vehicles in December 2018. BMW Group sales were up by 48 %; 69 % at BMW brand and 13 % at Mini. Daimler recorded a 35 % increase; 31 % at Mercedes and 61 % at Smart. Fiat Chrysler sales rose 36 %, with gains of 32 % at Fiat and 50 % at Jeep. Ford sales increased by 25 %. Volvo sales were up by 77 %. Among Asian brands, Kia sales rose by 53 % and sister brand Hyundai was up by 32 %. Sales at Toyota, which sells most vehicles with hybrid powertrains and is close to its 2020 emissions targets, rose by just 3.2 %. The Renault Clio was the best-selling model in France, with around 140.000 sales in 2019. The Clio was followed by the Peugeot 208, the Citroen C3, the Peugeot 3008 and the Dacia Sandero. Renault was the best-selling brand, with a 21 % market share, followed by Peugeot at 17 % and Citroen at 12 %. PSA Group’s market share was 33 %, and Renault Group’s was 26 %. By powertrain, gasoline sales for the year rose to 58 % from 55 % in 2018. Diesel sales fell to 34 % from 39 %. Hybrid sales were up to 5.7 % from 4.9 %, with just 0.8 % plug-in hybrids; a category that many automakers are counting on to help lower fleet emissions in 2020 and 2021. Similarly, full-electric vehicle sales rose to 1.9 % in 2019 from 1.4 % in 2018. Crossovers and SUVs made up 38 % of the market in 2019, up from 36 %. Hatchbacks and sedans together had 49 % of the market, a slight drop from 50 % in 2018. +++ 

+++ Former Nissan and Renault boss Carlos GHOSN began his astonishing escape from Japan with a bullet train ride from Tokyo to Osaka, possibly accompanied by several people. Japanese authorities also said they may still press for Ghosn’s extradition from Lebanon to face multiple charges of financial wrongdoing, even though the country does not normally extradite its nationals. Security cameras captured Ghosn leaving his home on December 29 and arriving some hours later at Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station, where he took the train to Shin Osaka Station. The international fugitive then went by car to a hotel near Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, where he boarded a private jet at 11:10 p.m., according to the media report. Ghosn was forbidden from leaving Japan while awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct, which he has denied, but he fled at the end of last year to escape what he called a “rigged” justice system. Prosecutors are now working with police to piece together Ghosn’s route and find out who helped him, Kyodo said. In the government’s first briefing since Ghosn skipped bail, Justice Minister Masako Mori said that as a general principle, Tokyo could request the extradition of a suspect from a country with which it has no formal extradition agreement. Such a request would need to be carefully examined based on the possibility of “guaranteeing reciprocity and the domestic law of the partner country”, Mori told reporters in Tokyo. Mori did not say what would guarantee reciprocity: the idea that benefits or penalties extended by one country to citizens of another should be reciprocated. She also did not say if there were any Lebanese nationals in Japan wanted in Lebanon. Mori offered little insight into the events of Ghosn’s escape to his ancestral home, repeatedly saying she could not comment on specifics because of an ongoing investigation. Japanese officials broke days of silence about the Ghosn case, saying they would tighten immigration measures and investigate his escape thoroughly. The authorities have also issued an international notice for his arrest. Lebanon has said it received an Interpol arrest warrant for Ghosn and that he entered the country legally. A senior Lebanese security official meanwhile has said Lebanon does not extradite its citizens. Mori also defended Japan’s justice system against Ghosn’s charges that it was “rigged” and discriminatory. In Japan, suspects who deny charges against them are often detained for long periods and subject to lengthy questioning without a lawyer present, a system critics call “hostage justice”. “Various comments about Japan’s justice system and this unjust departure are 2 different things”, Mori told, saying criticism of the justice system could not be used to justify Ghosn’s escape. “Departure in an unjust way without proper procedure is tantamount to smuggling, an illegal departure amounting to a crime”. +++ 

+++ HONDA is preparing in mid-2020 to become the first Japanese automaker to launch a vehicle with Level 3 autonomous driving, according to sources familiar with the matter. Level 3 autonomy frees up the driver to engage in different activities such as reading and watching TV. Honda’s car is expected to offer such hands-off self-driving capabilities only in slow traffic on congested expressways, the sources said. Audi already sells cars capable of Level 3 autonomy in Japan with self-driving at busy times on expressways. Honda’s Level 3 car will likely be introduced after Japanese automakers jointly test autonomous vehicle operations on public roads in Tokyo around July, they said. In Level-3 driving, drivers need to be available to take full control of the vehicle in case of emergency. At Level 4, no driver interaction is needed, though the controls are available. A Level 5 vehicle will no longer need a driver, having no conventional driving outfitting such as a steering wheel. +++ 

+++ LAMBORGHINI ’s first series-production hybrid models are set to feature pioneering electric technology, with the supercar firm focusing on lightweight supercapacitors and the ability to use carbonfibre bodywork to store electrical energy. The Italian manufacturer has teamed up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a number of research projects focused on supercapacitor energy stores (which can be charged faster and store more energy than similarly sized lithium ion batteries) and ways of storing energy in new materials. Riccardo Bettini, Lamborghini’s head of R&D project management, said that although it is clear that electric power is the future, the current weight requirements of lithium ion batteries meant that “at the moment, it’s not the best solution” for the firm. He added: “Lamborghini has always been about lightness, performance, enjoyment and engagement. We need to keep that in our super-sports cars in the future”. The technology was previewed on the Terzo Millennio concept car, shown in 2017, and a small supercapacitor will be featured on the forthcoming limited-run 820 hp Sián. That model pairs the firm’s 6.5-litre V12 with a 48 Volt e-motor built into the gearbox and powered by a supercapacitor. The e-motor produces 34 hp and weighs 34 kg and Lamborghini claims it’s 3 times faster to charge than a lithium ion battery of equivalent size. Although the supercapacitor used on the Sián is relatively small, Lamborghini and MIT are continuing their research. They have recently secured a patent for a new synthetic material that can be used as the “technological base” for a more powerful next-generation supercapacitor. Bettini told the technology remains “at least 2 to 3 years” away from being production ready but supercapacitors are “the first step in the roadmap” to electrified Lamborghinis. A related MIT research project is studying how to use carbonfibre surfaces infused with synthetic materials for energy storage. Bettini said: “If we can capture and use energy much faster, the car can be lighter. We could also store energy in the bodywork, using the car as a battery, which means we can save weight”. Although Lamborghini aims to roll out hybrid powertrains in the coming years, Bettini said it is still working towards a target of 2030 for its first full-electric car while the firm studies how “to keep Lamborghini’s DNA and emotion”. Despite that, the marque is considering making its planned 4th model line, set to be a 4-seat grand tourer due around 2025, fully electric. It is also likely to launch a conventional plug-in hybrid version of the Lamborghini Urus using the powertrain featured on the closely related Porsche Cayenne. Lamborghini is undertaking research to develop a sound for its electric cars that will ensure maximum driver engagement. The firm has long regarded the sound of its V10 and V12 engines as key to their appeal. “We’ve tested with professional drivers in our simulator and switched the sound off”, said Lamborghini R&D’s Riccardo Bettini. “We know from the neurological signals that when you stop the sound, the engagement falls because the feedback disappears. We need to find the sound of Lamborghini for the future that can allow our cars to retain emotion and engagement”. +++ 

+++ MITSUBISHI has signed on to Israeli startup Otonomo’s car-data marketplace as Japanese automakers race to make up ground on U.S. and European rivals to provide in-vehicle connected services. The first Japanese auto manufacturer to join a platform like Otonomo’s, Mitsubishi Motors will get access to a network of some 100 retailers, insurers and others who will pay for the data and provide revenue-generating services such as parking apps, on-demand car washing and subscription-based refueling. The initiative will roll out this year in the United States and Europe, with Japan following later, the companies said. They did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. The Japanese have lagged in providing connected-car services, with just 30 percent of vehicles sold last year equipped with embedded connectivity, compared with more than half in the United States and Europe, according to consultancy SBD Automotive. It could be a costly missed opportunity. McKinsey predicts the market for in-vehicle data will swell to as much as $750 billion by 2030. In addition, the Japanese brands risk losing touch with an increasingly connected consumer globally. “It is about understanding customer behaviors: how they use their cars and how they maintain them”, Mo Al-Bodour, a Detroit-based analyst at SBD, said. “This has implications that range from current customer relationships to how future products should be designed”. Other Japanese manufacturers have so far focused on building their own platforms. Toyota has a subscription-based service called T-Connect, which offers things like real-time traffic information and links to a human operator for help with restaurant booking or getting assistance in the event of an accident. Honda has developed a similar offering called Honda Connected, but it has partnered with Alibaba in China to develop connected services specific to that market. What Otonomo offers is a way to scrub and standardize the data coming out of the vehicles and ensure its use conforms to the privacy laws of each region. The 4 year old, Tel Aviv based startup also has partnerships with Daimler and BMW. It expects to announce more tie-ups with car makers later this year, co-founder and CEO Ben Volkow said. +++  

+++ PORSCHE introduced the 718 Boxster and Cayman GTS over 2 years ago and it appears the company is working on upgraded models with a new 6-cylinder engine. Both will eschew the fixed rear wing and have a less extreme diffuser. The updated Cayman GTS will use the same 4.0-liter 6-cylinder engine as the Cayman GT4. In the latter model, the mill develops 420 hp and 420 Nm. To keep the model hierarchy intact, the engine will be detuned for use in the GTS. The exact numbers remain mystery, but sources have suggested the car will have 400 hp. If that’s correct, the 6-cylinder GTS would have 35 hp more than its 4-cylinder predecessor. Like the current GTS, the model is slated to be offered manual and PDK transmissions. With the latter gearbox, the new car should beat the current GTS’ 0-100 km/h time of 4.1 seconds when equipped with the Sport Chrono Package. However, it remains unclear if the top speed would increase from its current rating of 290 km/h. Interestingly, there’s the possibility that Porsche could keep the current GTS around even after the new model is introduced. If that happens, the high-performance variant could be known as the GTS 4.0. Of course, that’s just speculation and the company’s plans could vary by market. +++ 

+++ TESLA appears to be moving closer to developing a battery pack that it says will be good for 1 million miles (1.6 million km) of driving. On December 26, Tesla in partnership with physicists from Canada’s Dalhousie University, filed a patent for a new lithium-ion battery technology claimed to easily outperform the current lithium-ion batteries used commonly by most current EVs. Elon Musk said Tesla was working on a 1 million mile battery pack in April 2019. Such a battery pack likely wouldn’t prove all that important for Tesla’s consumer-oriented vehicles, as the average lifespan for a vehicle in the United States is just 150,000 miles. However, a long-life battery could prove very useful for long-haul trucks that are frequently driven up to 150,000 miles per year. The 100 kWh battery used by current Tesla Model S and Model X variants is said to be good for between 1,000 and 2,000 discharge cycles. The new lithium-ion technology described in the patent, if used in the promised 1 million mile battery, may only lose 5 % of its capacity after 1.000 discharge cycles and hold 90 % of its capacity of 4,000 cycles. The new battery chemistry described in the patent claims to boost efficiency, energy density, and longevity at reduced costs over current batteries. The new cathode crystal structure and chemical makeup would also mean it is more resistant to damage from charge cycling. Solid-state batteries are being favored by many car manufacturers as the future of electric vehicles. However, the patents reveal that Tesla and Elon Musk believe lithium-ion batteries still have lots of life left in them. +++ 

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , car registrations fell for the third consecutive year in 2019, dropping 2.3 % to 2.3 million cars according to preliminary figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Following 2016’s high, registrations have now fallen 7.5 %; the equivalent of 580,000 registrations across the year. While that figure puts the UK market at a 7 year low (with 2013’s 2.26 million registrations restricted by an economy emerging from recession) it is still ahead of the 10 year average, albeit with that figure skewed by the collapse of registrations to below 2.0 million at the height of the recession in 2009. Last year’s fall came despite 2018’s supply of new vehicles being severely restricted by the requirement to re-homologate them to meet new emissions regulations. Despite that artificial drop, during last year 9 of the 12 months recorded year-on-year registrations falls. Private registrations fell 3 %, while fleet registrations rose around 1 %. Highlighting that split, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said the fall was chiefly down to consumer confidence being low in light of political and economic instability and public confusion over the legislative approach to Euro 6 diesels, particularly in upcoming clean air zones. While petrol registrations rose 2.3 %, diesel registrations fell 21.8 %, making up just over 25 % of the market and falling to its lowest market share since 2003. “Consumer confidence for big ticket items just isn’t there at the moment, and there’s clear evidence of that impacting car sales”, said Hawes. “It’s also evident that people are confused about clean air zones and whether diesels will be allowed in them. The Government approach is that they should be and that they can be part of the solution, but the situation needs clarity and to be uniformly applied; we don’t want a patchwork of regulations”. While numerous clean air zones are planned for city centres around the UK, only Bristol has applied so far to ban all diesels, something which remains subject to Government approval. The only sectors of the car market as defined by the SMMT to grow in 2019 were the so-called Dual Purpose category for large 4x4s, which rose 12 % and the Specialist Sports Vehicles category, which rose 19.2 %, boosted by the pent-up demand for the Tesla Model 3. The 2 largest categories, Superminis and Small Family Cars, accounted for 57 % of the market but fell 6 % and 4 % respectively. Full electric car (BEV) registrations rose 144 %, but accounted for just 1.6 % (or 38.000) of all registrations, while Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles (AFV), encompassing all hybrids and electric vehicles, rose 20.6 % to account for 7.4 % of the whole market. Hybrids dominated AFV registrations, rising 17 % year-on-year and accounting for 98.000 vehicles. Notably plug-in hybrid registrations fell by 17.8 %, taking a 1.5 % market share; below that of pure electric vehicles. This was largely down to supply issues, although Hawes cautioned that it also showed the impact of removing the £2.500 grant previously given to buyers by the Government in 2018. “The technology is intrinsically more expensive, even in some cases when you factor in whole life costs, and we need to stimulate the market”, he said. “The drop is a clear warning that buyers are not yet ready to commit unless they are incentivised”. Grants of up to £3.500 for electric cars are due to end in March, with no replacement yet announced. As a result Hawes cautioned the SMMT couldn’t predict future EV registration levels, saying: “What’s clear is that the Government is committed to tackling climate issues. Our industry is committed to playing its part too, but what’s clear is that while it can supply the vehicles it cannot force demand for them. The markets where EV sales are rising are all driven by incentives. for plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles, and we’re hoping that both will be addressed”. Hawes also warned that a consequence of the drop in diesel registrations was a rise in the average CO2 emitted by new vehicles sold for the third consecutive year, up 2.7% year-on-year to 127.9 g/km. Around half of that rise was as a result of the academic switch to measuring using the more stringent WLTP test method, but a quarter was down to the drop in sales of diesels, with a  further quarter a result of buyers opting for heavier vehicles, predominantly SUVs. The average CO2 figure is particularly pertinent because manufacturers must hit a European-wide average of 95 g/km by the end of this year. Britain will be included in that target but, if Brexit progresses as expected, from 2020 onwards it will have to hit the figure based on its own registrations alone. The SMMT has suggested that to achieve that BEV registrations would have to rise from 1.6 % to 27 % of the market, or alternatively-fuelled vehicle registrations from 7.4 % to 56 % of the whole market, assuming petrol and diesel registrations remained constant. The SMMT provides regular updates for new car registration predictions, based on polling car makers in the UK. It’s latest poll was conducted after December’s General Election and suggests a total of 2.27 million registrations during the year, down a further 1.6 % on 2019. However, this figure was greater than that predicted back in October, rising from 2.2 million. “Consumer confidence is the main issue and it is impossible to predict how it will swing”, said Hawes. “Nobody wants to see decline, but the factors affecting it are mostly out of our control. All in all it is not a pretty picture – although nor is it a disastrous one”. The Ford Fiesta was the UK’s most-registered new car once again in 2019, although demand fell from 95,892 units in 2018 to 77,833 units last year. The other 9 best-selling cars of 2019 in the UK were: the Volkswagen Golf (58,944 units), the Ford Focus (56,619), the Vauxhall Corsa (54,239), the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (53,724), the Nissan Qashqai (52,532), the Ford Kuga (41,671), the Mini Hatch (41,188), the Volkswagen Polo (37,453) and the Kia Sportage (34,502). +++ 

+++ Luxury carmakers Daimler and VOLVO , owned by China’s Geely, are considering cooperating to cut the costs of developing combustion engines. A Volvo manager was cited as saying there were initial talks with Daimler, but no concrete plans, while a company spokesman said it was too early to talk about firm projects, although it was not excluding anybody. A Daimler spokesman said the company’s cooperation with Geely, which owns a 10 % stake in the German carmaker, was developing in a positive way, but declined to comment further. Global tariffs, accelerated by a trade war between China and the United States, as well as higher investment requirements for electric and autonomous vehicles, are forcing carmakers to seek new ways to cut and share costs. In October, Volvo said it would merge its engine development and manufacturing assets with those of Geely, creating a division to supply in-house brands and also potentially others with next-generation combustion and hybrid engines. This new division would start operating by the end of March, which could be a possible starting point for cooperation with Daimler, while a further step could be a partnership to develop electric power trains. Geely and Daimler have said they plan to build the next generation of Smart electric cars in China through a joint venture and the companies are also cooperating on a premium ride-hailing service in China. Geely bought Volvo in 2010 from Ford, allowing the Swedish brand to operate on an arms-length basis. But in recent years, it has deepened cooperation between the 2 brands. Volvo already supplies engines to some Geely-branded vehicles, sharing technology through Geely’s Lynk brand. Both companies share and develop common vehicle platforms. +++

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