Newsflash: volgens BMW zijn waterstof modellen over 5 jaar niet duurder dan gewone auto’s


+++ BMW ’s vice president for hydrogen, fuel cell technology, and vehicle projects, Jürgen Guldner, believes the cost of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will plummet in the coming years. He says hydrogen-powered models could become as cheap as ICE-powered vehicles within 5 years. Guldner revealed work is underway on BMW’s third generation of hydrogen powertrain technology. This comes almost 5 years since BMW teamed with Toyota in 2015 to collaborate on hydrogen technology. “We are already starting to work on the third generation with a clear challenge to bring down the cost to the point where we can enter the market”, Guldner said. “2025 would be the earliest for price parity with ICEs. If you look at the plans that Japan, Korea and others have published, they all suggest a window of opportunity between 2025 and 2030 for equalizing the cost with conventional technology”. Guldner says one way to reduce the costs of hydrogen powertrains will be to reduce the amount of platinum used to make the small cells in the fuel cell stack. In 2022, BMW is expected to launch its X5 FCEV having previewed the hydrogen SUV in the form of the i Hydrogen Next FCEV concept from last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. Prototypes currently being tested by BMW are good for between 402-482 km of range, but Guldner says they will soon be capable of traveling 563 km. Hydrogen versions of the X6 and X7 should follow the X5 FCEV into the market. +++

+++ Renault’s board is expected to meet soon to approve the nomination of Luca DE MEO , the former head of Volkswagen’s Seat brand, as its next chief executive. The likely appointment comes as the French carmaker seeks to mend a rift with partner Nissan and settle management turmoil after the arrest of former alliance boss Carlos Ghosn. For the Italian De Meo, it marks a return to the company where he started his career in the industry more than 25 years ago. He replaces Clotilde Delbos, who took over as interim CEO after Thierry Bollore was ousted in October. Here are some key facts about De Meo’s career: He has more than 25 years of experience in the auto industry, starting at Renault and holding various positions at Toyota, Fiat, Lancia, Audi and Seat. He was CEO of Seat, Volkswagen’s Spanish value brand, for 5 years until he stepped down this month. His most recent achievement was repositioning Seat, imbuing it with a more sporty image and creating the Cupra sub-brand aimed at youthful buyers. Under his watch, Seat also expanded production beyond Spain. The Tarraco is now built in Volkswagen’s main plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, while the Ateca is built in Skoda’s Kvasiny plant in the Czech Republic. De Meo was a board member at Audi between 2012 and 2015, responsible for sales and marketing. Audi is at the center of an emissions cheating scandal at VW after engineers developed software to disguise excessive pollution in diesel cars. Between 2002 and 2009, he was at the Fiat Group, where he headed the Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Fiat and Abarth brands. At Toyota Europe, he was general manager of product planning for the Toyota Yaris in 1997. The Italian national De Meo also speaks French, having started his career at Renault in product marketing in 1992. He was born in Milan in 1967 and studied business administration at the city’s Bocconi University. +++

 +++ Details of FERRARI ’s first production electric vehicle, arriving by 2025, appear to have been revealed in a series of patents leaked online. A series of sketches and accompanying data suggest that Maranello’s first electric car will be a low-riding GT that could rival the Porsche Taycan and upcoming Tesla Roadster. A plan view shows the EV is likely to feature a 2-seat or 2+2 layout, a long bonnet and short overhangs, much like the firm’s 812 Superfast flagship. Also shown are details of the model’s 4-wheeldrive powertrain, showing that an electric motor will be mounted to each wheel, and will apparently be capable of operating independently, perhaps allowing for the ability to rotate on the spot. Precise technical data and performance details remain unconfirmed. Ferrari’s first electric car is likely to use technology taken from the new SF90, which pairs a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with a trio of electric motors for a combined power output of 1.000 hp, making it Ferrari’s most powerful road car yet. At the SF90’s launch last year, Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri called it “the first step in a direction that Ferrari will enter in unwavering focus and confidence”. In August 2019, the firm’s chief technology officer Michael Leiters explained that keeping weight down and ensuring a high top speed were priorities for any Ferrari EV. “Right now, the technology is not mature enough”, he said. “Look at customer requirements: the most important thing is sound. Today, there is also a problem on range, which for a sports car really is a problem. The range of an electric car is especially so if you accelerate or go with high speed”. +++

+++ FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES has introduced their new Uconnect 5 infotainment system which is based on Android. Billed as the “most advanced Uconnect system ever”, it’s up to 5 times faster than its predecessor. The significant speed boost can be chalked up to a new Atlantis architecture and an upgraded 50K MIP chip. The system also features 6 GB of RAM and up to 64 GB of flash memory. Besides promising “lightning quick” responses, the system will have up to a 12.3 inch display. That’s significantly larger than the company’s typical 8.4 inch display and even bigger than the 12 inch display offered in Ram pickups. FCA says the infotainment system has been designed to accommodate a variety of screens and aspect ratios, including those with standard, landscape and portrait orientations. More interestingly, the company noted additional outputs allow up to four screens per vehicle. FCA didn’t say much about this, but noted multi-screen setups can display up to 15 million pixels and the displays can “work separately or in harmony, depending on user preference and purpose”. Besides being a digital powerhouse, Uconnect 5 promises a significantly improved user experience. According to the company, screen graphics will be specific to each brand and trim level. They’ll also reflect the cabin of various vehicles as the system will have detailed backdrops that match interior colors and themes. Android is famous for its customization and FCA is embracing this as they’re promising new levels of personalization. In particular, the home screen will be customizable and allow users to add icons for commonly used features. The system also has a “new, card-based format that allows display screens to be personalized, simplified and grouped by individual needs and interests while delivering a cleaner, fresher look”. Users will even be able to add widgets for further customization. The infotainment system supports up to five different user profiles and each will save an individual’s preferences. This includes more than just the infotainment system as each profile can remember a driver’s preferred temperature, seating position and mirror placement. The system will also feature Alexa, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are currently available on more than 80 % of FCA products in North America, but Uconnect 5 will bring that number up to 100 %. The system also supports wireless connectivity so won’t have to plug in your phone to access Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Furthermore, Uconnect 5 has an improved voice recognition system with a natural voice capability. This allows you to speak naturally and tell the system commands such “Find an available EV charging station near me”. Speaking of voice tech, models equipped with Uconnect 5 will feature a new wake word that correlates to the brand. In Pacifica minivans, users would say something like “Hey Chrysler, change the temperature to 20 degrees”. Other notable improvements include dual-phone connectivity and an all-new navigation system from TomTom. The latter features traffic information, EV and connected services as well as last mile navigation and maps that update automatically in the background. Rounding out the highlights are an improved Wi-Fi hotspot and over-the-air updates. FCA didn’t say which vehicle Uconnect 5 will debut in, but the company is working on a handful of new models including a 3-row Jeep that will go into production later this year. +++ 

+++ FORD says it has developed a 3D-printed locking wheel nut made using a unique biometric signature based on the driver’s recorded voice in a bid to prevent wheel and tire thefts. Ford worked with industrial 3D printing supplier EOS to create the locking nuts, which feature unique contours based on the driver’s voice, similar to how some systems use biometric identification based on an iris scan or a fingerprint. Here, engineers record the driver’s voice for at least one second, then use software to convert the resulting soundwave into a physical pattern that can be 3D printed. They then convert the pattern into a circle and use the design for the indentation and key on the locking nut. The nut and key are designed as a single piece, then 3D printed using acid and corrosion-resistant stainless steel. What’s more, inside the nut are unevenly spaced ribs and indentations to prevent a thief from making a wax imprint of the pattern, since the wax breaks when it’s pulled from the nut. Ford says drivers could also use something like the car’s logo or their initials to create the pattern if they don’t want to record their voice. For now, the locking nuts are just a concept. But the technology could presumably prevent the kind of theft of wheels from, say, a brand-new Chevrolet Corvette C8, that we saw last week in Detroit. Of course, Ford presumably had these 3D-printed wheel nuts in development long before the C8, which was likely on loan to a journalist or GM employee, ended up on cinderblocks. Thefts of motor vehicle accessories, which includes wheels and tires, fell 4.1 % in 2018 to 272.124 incidents, according to the most recently available FBI statistics. Tire and wheel theft has become a particular problem in Detroit, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Ford says 3D printing holds enormous promise for automakers by dramatically speeding up tooling and parts production, lowering weight and creating parts that wouldn’t be possible via conventional production techniques. The company says it has used 3D printing for more than 30 years to make prototype parts and shorten development times for new vehicles. Vehicles like the Ford GT, Focus and Mustang GT500 all feature 3D-printed parts. +++ 

+++ Following in the footsteps of the regular MINI hatch, Convertible and Clubman, the second generation of the Countryman is up next for a mid-cycle update and which should be revealed either in Geneva this March or in Paris later in September. Spied testing near the Arctic Circle, the prototype pictured here continues to hide its front and rear ends under camouflage, but already know what to expect. Changes include revised lighting graphics with the ‘Union Jack’ pattern at the rear, updated grille with honeycomb insert in the Cooper S variant and redesigned bumpers. A revised color palette and new alloy wheel offerings will round things up on the outside, whereas in the cabin, expect some subtle adjustments. The 2021 modelyear Countryman should feature a new infotainment system with a larger display and improved tech gear. Customers will likely get to choose between revised upholstery and new color trims, which should further highlight the revamped nature of the car. The engine lineup should carry over largely (if not completely) unchanged from the outgoing models. The petrol and diesel range has outputs that vary between 103 hp in the 1.5-liter 3-cylinder and 306 hp in the 2.0-liter turbo-4 found in the John Cooper Works (JCW) variant. The latter does the 0-100 km/h in 4.9 seconds and maxes out at 250 km/h. The Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is believed to be part of the lineup with identical mechanicals, meaning a total output of 224 hp and 385 Nm. Nought to 100 km/h takes 6.8 seconds in the plug-in hybrid model, which has an electric range of almost 60 km. +++ 

+++ The MITSUBISHI Eclipse Cross is in for its first mid-cycle refresh and spy photographers snapped a prototype with the front and rear ends all covered up. Set to replace the outgoing iteration, which has been in production since the end of 2017, the crossover that slots between the ASX and Outlander will bring revised styling believed to include a front end similar to the facelifted L200 pickup. The slender headlamps will flank a refreshed grille and will sit above new fog lamps. The bumper appears to look less striking and the camo’d side skirts suggest that Mitsubishi’s designers have likely tweaked them. At the back, the facelifted Eclipse Cross has lost the Toyota C-HR-like split window, or so it seems at a first glance, as the tailgate has a cleaner design. The rear lamps are all-new and so is the bumper, while the roof wing seems bigger now. We should expect some relatively minor technological updates inside, with the company probably updating the software of the 7 inch infotainment system. Everything could be wrapped up in new upholstery options. The engines will supposedly carry over, with North America getting the same 1.5 liter gasoline burner, developing 152 hp. The facelifted Eclipse Cross is likely due later this year. +++


+++ The next-generation RENAULT Kangoo will be launched in autumn this year, not long after its arch-rival, the fifth-gen Volkswagen Caddy, arrives in dealerships across Europe. Previewed by the Kangoo ZE Concept last year, the 2021 Renault Kangoo has not been seen in public until now, at least not in cargo van guise. That changes now as photographers spotted a prototype undergoing cold weather testing near the Arctic Circle in northern Europe. On the outside, the third-generation Kangoo appears more chunky than its predecessor, thanks in part to the new horizontal headlights which give the vehicle more visual width. Expect similar upper and lower grilles, as well as vertical taillights with a C-shaped signature. The 2021 modelyear Kangoo appears slightly wider and longer, which should translate into improved cargo volume and passenger space. According to reports from French media, the upcoming Kangoo will switch to the CMF-C platform also used by the Megane. This will enable it to offer a 160 hp Plug-in hybrid powertrain, as well as a 140 hp 1.3-liter TCe turbocharged 4-cylinder unit and two 1.5-liter Blue dCi diesels with outputs of 85 hp and 115 hp. The all-electric Kangoo Z.E. will be the last to arrive in 2021. The new platform will also allow the new Kangoo to offer modern tech such as a tablet-style touchscreen-based infotainment system on higher-end trim levels and numerous driving aids. Expect more comfortable seats and more storage spaces compared to the current model. The all-new Renault Kangoo will be unveiled in spring 2020 as a cargo van, with the passenger version following in autumn 2020. Both the Kangoo and Kangoo Z.E. will be built at Renault’s MCA plant of Maubeuge, in the north of France. Renault has pledged to invest €450 million over 5 years in the facility. +++


+++ Jose Vicente de los Mozos, the straight-talking No. 2 from the Renault Group, is parachuting in South Korea again, less than a year after his last visit to RENAULT SAMSUNG Motors. De los Mozos will be at the Renault subsidiary in Busan for 2 days starting Wednesday, making a stop there on his tour of the French automaker’s overseas facilities. Last year, the acting deputy CEO brought tough love to the troubled automaker, saying that something has to give for the company to survive. Since then, labor and management have remained in conflict, and they seem no closer to reaching an agreement. According to Renault Samsung Motors, de los Mozos, executive vice president of manufacturing and supply chain at Renault Group, is visiting the Renault Samsung Motors factory in Busan to review the manufacturing facilities and engage in conversations with workers. The executive is not spending much time in Korea as he is on a tour of all Renault Group facilities around the world. Renault Group has an 80 % stake in Renault Samsung Motors. The visit of De Los Mozos comes in the midst of another flare up of the conflict between management and the workers, and a breakthrough of some sort is needed to keep the operation viable. The union and management of Renault Samsung Motors are scheduled to return to the negotiating table from February 4 to February 7 to further discuss an agreement on the wage levels and working conditions of last year. Disruptions by the union forced Renault Samsung Motors to suspend night-shift operations at it sole auto manufacturing plant from January 10 to Thursday last week, which is when the both sides agreed to return to the table. Hard-line protests have been steadily losing popularity, even among unionized workers, and the participation rate for the last strike was only around 30 %. The continuing conflict has been primarily centered on wage increases. For 2019, the union has been asking for an 8.01 % increase in base pay, a bonus of 4 million won ($3,400) and a promise for new hires. Renault Samsung Motors has been refusing to raise the base wage level, as weak sales and the loss of contract production orders have resulted in losses for the company. In 2019, Renault Samsung Motors sold a total of 90.591 cars, down 34 % from 137.208 posted a year earlier. Its production contract with Nissan for X-Trail SUVs came to an end late last year. The arrival of de los Mozos to Busan brings hope that the deadlock could be broken, as the Renault Group No. 2 has become known for his direct but reasonable style. During his visit to the Renault Samsung Motors factory in February last year, de los Mozos warned that any rise in costs will harm the competitiveness of the factory in terms of group-wide production decisions. He then also pointed out that production costs per hour at the Busan factory are already some of the highest among all Renault factories worldwide. +++

+++ Word got out last week that SUZUKI is planning to retire the Jimny from the European Union due to the tougher CO2 emission norms that will take effect in 2021. Suzuki’s UK subsidiary partially confirmed the rumors in a short statement saying that the Jimny “will remain on sale in the UK in very limited numbers throughout 2020”. The company did not say what will happen after that, however. Still, sources said the Jimny will be discontinued in Europe from 2021. Said report did offer a ray of hope, as it claimed Suzuki would bring back the Jimny as a commercial vehicle in 2021 and later on as a passenger vehicle following an engine update. That might not be the case, though, as Suzuki UK told me. I asked the company’s PR people whether there was some truth to the report from India, specifically the part about the Jimny getting an engine update. “No, I have not heard anything about a different engine for the future for this model”, Suzuki spokesperson Alun Parry, told. This will be pretty hard to swallow for die-hard Suzuki Jimny fans who haven’t yet been able to get their hands on the all-new model. While this isn’t a definitive no, it’s a strong indication that the Japanese carmaker does not plan to invest more money in the Jimny to lower its CO2 emissions for Europe. Besides Japan, where the Jimny is also offered in a kei car version powered by a 64 hp 0.66-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder petrol engine, all other markets around the world get the pocket off-roader with the naturally aspirated 1.5-liter 4-cylinder petrol unit. The K15B engine delivers 102 hp and emits 154 g/km of CO2 with the 5-speed manual or 170 g/km CO2 with the 4-speed automatic transmission; way more than the EU’s mandatory 95 g/km CO2 maximum fleet average per manufacturer. +++


+++ India’s TATA Group is making its biggest push yet toward clean vehicles with plans to make electric cars and batteries, set up charging stations and build a battery recycling plant, senior executives said. To try to curb pollution and reduce its fuel import bill, India is pushing automakers to produce electric vehicles, but has faced resistance from some that say the charging infrastructure needs to be set up first and battery costs are too high to allow the manufacture of affordable EVs. Companies from the steel-to-autos Tata conglomerate plan to address some of these issues. Tata Motors, Tata Chemicals, Tata Power and Tata Croma, a chain of stores selling consumer electronics, are pooling resources and expertise to build an electric vehicle ecosystem, the executives told reporters in Mumbai. The plans were announced ahead of the launch of Tata Motors’ electric sport-utility vehicle (SUV) Nexon EV, which was attended by N Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, the automaker’s parent group, and family patriarch Ratan Tata. “This is the launch of an ecosystem, which is the real need, not just another vehicle launch”, Günter Butschek, managing director at Tata Motors, which also owns the British luxury car brand Jaguar Land Rover, said. Tata Power, which has set up 100 charging stations, will add another 650 in more than 20 major Indian cities over the next year, the company’s CEO Praveer Sinha said. All stations will support fast charging and will be linked to a mobile application, which has been developed with Tata Consultancy Services, for payments and to check the availability of chargers, Sinha said. Tata will use its chain of Croma stores to display digitally its EVs, and some stores could offer test drives and charging stations and may even sell cars. The Nexon EV, priced starting at $19,700, is one of four electric car models that Tata Motors plans to launch over the next 2 years. The others will also be an electric version of its existing cars and will include a hatchback, sedan and SUV. The EV will be sold through Tata dealers and its retail Croma stores, Butschek said during the launch, adding the company will offer an 8 year warranty on the battery. One of the biggest hurdles to building affordable EVs in India is the cost of the batteries, which are typically imported making them expensive. Tata Chemicals has built a battery recycling center and acquired land to set up a battery manufacturing plant that is expected to be ready in 3 years, CEO Ramakrishnan Mukundan said. It plans to invest $113 million in the plant, which will have initial capacity of 200 megawatts with potential to scale it up to 2 gigawatts, depending on domestic and global demand, he said. +++

+++ TOYOTA has just released a teaser image for the Chicago Auto Show, and it should get the attention of off-roaders. It shows a tan Tacoma cruising through a dirt road, indicating that the company has off-road variants coming. While the image suggests a Tacoma, it won’t just be the midsize pickup getting special or updated models. The company released a statement alongside the image: “The forecast for the Windy City looks sporty and outdoorsy,  with a touch of nocturnal mischief as Toyota debuts new variants to the portfolio”. I’m rather curious about the “nocturnal” part. There may be some new lighting features on some of the off-road models. Toyota introducing rugged or special-edition trucks and SUVs at the Chicago Auto Show is becoming something of a tradition. Last year it brought the RAV4 TRD Off-Road, Land Cruiser Heritage Edition, Sequoia TRD Pro and updated Tacoma. The year before that featured a bunch of TRD Pro updates. +++

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