Newsflash: Porsche komt met afslankpakketten voor 911 Turbo S


+++ A potential and sudden loss of steering control has prompted AUDI to recall certain 2019 Q8 and Q7 models, as the issue could in some cases lead to a crash. The problem starts with the bolt connecting the steering shaft to the steering gear, which could loosen and well, you know the rest. Steering loss is the last thing you want while driving. The German carmaker will proceed to notify Q7 and Q8 owners, letting them know when Audi dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the steering shaft bolt, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on May 15. I should note that the 2 Q7 models in question are pre-facelift, which means that your updated SUV shouldn’t have this issue. +++ 

+++ BYD is ramping up efforts to bolster its electric vehicle business and boost global expansion, after the company announced the launch of FinDreams, a new sub-brand which specializes in core component production for clean energy vehicles. The sub-brand was unveiled in mid March. It is supported by 5 subsidiaries, namely FinDreams Vision Co Ltd, FinDreams Technology Co Ltd, FinDreams Moduling Co Ltd, FinDreams Battery Co Ltd, and FinDreams Powertrain Co Ltd. Each unit specializes in different key fields of auto manufacturing. According to BYD, the establishment of FinDreams also marked a key step of the company’s go-global strategy. The 5 subsidiaries supporting the sub-brand will be granted more autonomy and help the company expand the reach of its EVs to consumers around the world. Industry experts said BYD’s move is part of its global expansion strategy. “For the overseas market, the independent system has more autonomy, greatly increasing the cooperation possibility and the degree of freedom, which can even attract the integration of external capital and the exchange of technology. Plus the background of its parent brand BYD, the newly established brand will definitely bring in benefits”, said an official. The first quarter of 2020 Electrified Transport Market Outlook report said growth momentum in the world’s EV sales weakened last year. The rate stood at a mere 10 % yearly growth, or 200.000 units of increments, compared to the level reached in 2018. However, sales in Europe may surge this year, which is expected to offset the nearly flat EV sales in China and the United States. As a result, global EV sales will continue to grow, to an expected 2.4 million units, BNEF said. With an eye on opportunities in the European market, BYD has charted expansion plans in overseas EV markets. So far, the company’s electric cars have reached consumers in more than 100 cities across more than 20 European countries. They include Amsterdam, London, Brussels, Oslo, and Turin in Italy. BYD will continue to enhance cooperation with partners in Europe this year to help deepen the electrification of European public transportation vehicles. This would be done in countries such as the United Kingdom and the Benelux nations. It would offer new energy solutions to local governments, the company said. Shi Jinman, an automobile analyst at Guotai Jun’an Securities, said BYD had long made plans of separating its component production business as early as 2017. The company started to accelerate that move last year. “The establishment of the independent brand benefits the company as the move makes it easier to reach more clients from both the domestic and overseas sectors. In addition, the overseas subsidiaries can work more efficiently on making decisions such as building local plants, and take advantage of BYD’s digital channels to boost global expansion”, she said. For automobile companies that are going global, localized plans are key to their expansion strategy. Companies should conduct user group analysis in target markets to better tap the local market. There are usually no big returns earned at the beginning of going global, the cost could be high, and this will bring certain pressure on companies’ cash flows, Shi said. BYD said despite the challenges brought by the novel coronavirus outbreak, the company’s resumption rate has recovered to over 80 %. It added the previous tightness of upstream and downstream supply chains was also eased. +++ 

+++ While much of the world’s output is grinding to a halt because of the coronavirus, CHINA is slowly emerging from its shutdowns by restarting production at factories and resuming some flights. A recovery in the world’s second-largest economy provides some relief for global manufacturers in the months ahead as the outbreak continues to wreak havoc in Europe, U.S., India and Latin America. Employees are returning to work, production lines are starting to roll and even the original outbreak epicenter of Wuhan is ending its lockdown soon. Car sales in China probably hit a bottom last month and are set to gradually rebound as the spread of the virus slows and consumers return to shopping, an auto industry group said. “Real-time indicators show that China is restarting its industrial complex”, analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein said. “Clearly the restart is at an early stage, but things are gradually improving”. Here’s where some automakers in China are now with their ramp-ups: BMW (Production at BMW’s Shenyang plants resumed on February 17 and the automaker said it is confident the Chinese government will manage the crisis and defeat the epidemic. “We remain confident in the medium and long-term business outlook of our No. 1 market worldwide”, it said), Daimler (Daimler has reopened its factory in China, and has said the vast majority of its dealerships have reopened), Fiat Chrysler (The company said its manufacturing operations in China have restarted production under the approval of the relevant regional and national governments. More than 90 percent of its dealers and 95 percent of staff at the joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group are back online, and “the overall manufacturing and commercial operations are gradually resuming business”, Fiat Chrysler said). Ford (The automaker said its Chinese plants resumed production on February 10 and are continuing to ramp up. Both its local joint ventures have achieved almost 100 % recovery, though some Hubei or Wuhan employees are still under travel restrictions), Honda (The Japanese automaker said capacity is gradually recovering at its 2 Chinese ventures and so far they have not had problems caused by parts shortage there due to strain in supply from outside of China). PSA Group (The Peugeot and Citroen maker’s joint venture with Dongfeng Motor has restarted car production at its plant in Wuhan city, the epicenter of China’s coronavirus outbreak. The joint venture is also building cars from 2 other manufacturing bases in Chengdu and Xiangyang). Nissan (All Nissan factories in China have resumed work and production is set to align with government mandates, the company said). SAIC (All SAIC Motor plants in China have resumed production, with the company adjusting output levels based on demand. The automaker has contingency plans to secure parts in case of any disruptions, it said). Tesla (Tesla’s factory in China has recovered from a virus-related shutdown better than many in the industry, helped by aid from local authorities. After resuming operations on February 10, the plant has surpassed the capacity it had before the shutdown, reaching a weekly production of 3.000 cars, a company representative said). Toyota (The auto giant’s plants in Guangzhou and Changchun have returned to their regular 2-shift schedule, while in Tianjin, all production lines are back to 2-shift arrangements except one that remains at one shift. The Chengdu plant is sticking to its usual one shift. More than 98 % of Toyota’s dealerships are open again and the company has no plans as of now to adjust its China sales target, it said). Volkswagen (Almost all production sites are back to operational, Volkswagen Group said. Challenges include a slow national supply chain and logistics ramp-up, as well as limited travel options for employees. All of Volkswagen and its partners’ component production sites are producing again, it said. The company is adjusting its output levels based on current conditions, such as by moving to one shift instead of two previously, according to the company). Volvo (Earlier this month, Volvo reopened its 4 manufacturing plants in China after an extended closure period to cope with the virus outbreak. The automaker said that current showroom traffic indicates a return to normal in China’s car market. Volvo makes vehicles in Chengdu, Luqiao and Daqing and builds engines in Zhangjiakou). +++ 

+++ ELECTRIC VEHICLES are promoted as eco-friendly, but they’ve been plagued by claims saying they’re actually worse for the environment when you account for electricity generation and other factors. Despite that, a new study published in Nature Sustainability suggests electric vehicles are indeed more eco-friendly; in most cases. While the study is highly technical, it found that in 2015 “driving an average EV had a lower lifecycle emission intensity than driving an average new petrol car”. However, that’s dependent on how ‘green’ the energy grid is. In particular, the study found that, on average, “even very inefficient EVs would be less emission intensive than very efficient new petrol cars if the grid’s emission intensity was below 700 gCO2e kWh−1”. The authors added electric vehicles generally have lower lifecycle emissions than most petrol cars and this finding is “robust against variations in uncertain production emissions, such as uncertain embodied emissions from producing batteries of EVs”. While there is some market variation, the findings hold true for 53 of 59 world regions and this accounts for 95 % of global road transport demand. They added that electric vehicles have an average of 31 % less emissions per km than petrol-powered cars when weighted for demand. In 2015, EVs were “almost always” more efficient than petrol-powered models in North America as well as large sections of Africa and South America. However, EVs had higher emissions than petrol vehicles in a handful of countries such as India, Poland and the Czech Republic. Lead author Florian Knobloch said: “The idea that electric vehicles could increase emissions is a complete myth”. He added: “We have run the numbers for all around the world, looking at a whole range of cars and even in our worst-case scenario, there would be a reduction in emissions in almost all cases”. +++ 

+++ The Renault Clio overtook the Volkswagen Golf to become the best-selling car in EUROPE in February, according to the latest European car registration figures for the month. New versions of both these models have recently launched, but the latest Clio has been available to order longer than the new Golf. As a result, some 24.914 Clios were registered throughout February, while the Golf was narrowly behind with 24.735. Both nameplates saw an overall reduction in registrations last month. There was a 4 % year-on-year reduction in Clio registrations, while the Golf was down 21 %. Other notable figures in the monthly figures include a 10 % boost in sales for the Fiat Panda, bringing it up to fifth place, and the absence of any SUVs from the top 10 ranking. Overall, it was another month of decline for the European car market. Registrations fell 7 % year-on-year, from 1.143.852 in February 2019 to 1.063.264 in February 2020. Electric car registrations doubled in France and Germany: these vehicles now make up 14 % and 11 % respectively of the countries’ monthly car registration figures. The United Kingdom has an EV penetration rate of 13 %, the second-highest of the 5 largest European car markets, but even France’s figure pales in comparison to Norway, where 75 % of all new cars sold are electric. Felipe Munoz, global analyst at JATO Dynamics, commented: “The situation is rapidly deteriorating in Europe due to complex regulation, lack of available homologated cars, and increasing pressure on the economy. All of these factors are having a detrimental impact on consumer confidence”. +++ 

+++ The novel coronavirus outbreak is starting to take a heavy toll on the U.S. car industry as the first auto plant workers have lost the battle with the Covid-19 disease. Both assembly plant workers were employed by FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA), which has already lost another employee at its Auburn Hills headquarters in Michigan earlier this week. The 2 new Covid-19 fatalities were confirmed by a UAW spokesperson. The representative said one of them worked at FCA’s Ram pickup plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, while the other was employed at a plant in Kokomo, Indiana. It is unclear when the workers died and whether they are the same employees that tested positive earlier this month at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant and the Kokomo Transmission plant. “I want to extend sincere sympathies from myself and the entire International Executive Board for the families of 2 of our members, one at FCA Kokomo and one at FCA Sterling Heights, who have lost their lives to this virus. This is a terrible tragedy for our entire UAW family”, president Rory Gamble said. “This is a terrible tragedy for our entire UAW family”, he added. As for FCA, a company spokeswoman told the company couldn’t share information for privacy reasons. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles closed all of its North American assembly plants last week through March 30. According to the UAW, the carmaker intends to comply with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order and not reopen its plants on March 30. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS wants to withdraw roughly $16 billion from its credit facilities as a proactive measure against all the uncertainty revolving around global markets due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This action will preserve financial flexibility and give the U.S. carmaker a strong cash position of about $15 billion to $16 billion at the end of March. GM is also suspending its 2020 guidance for the exact same reasons, just as Ford did last week. “We are aggressively pursuing austerity measures to preserve cash and are taking necessary steps in this changing and uncertain environment to manage our liquidity, ensure the ongoing viability of our operations and protect our customers and stakeholders”, said GM chairman and CEO, Mary Barra. “Over the past several years, we have made necessary, strategic decisions and structural changes that have transformed the company and strengthened the business, better positioning us for downturns”. Meanwhile, GM Financial is said to continue to have strong liquidity and capitalization. Liquidity stood at $24 billion at the end last year, with the carmaker expecting to end the first quarter of 2020 at a similar level. Its liquidity level is meant to support at least 6 months of cash needs, without access to capital markets. “GM Financial has prepared for times like this by maintaining a strong financial position and ready access to cash. We are confident that we will be able to navigate the challenges created by this environment without capital from GM”, said Dan Berce, GMF president and CEO. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI is adding a fuel-saving mild hybrid variant to its new-generation i20. The 48 volt hybrid system will be offered with the i20’s 1.0-liter engine version and will reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 3 % to 4 %, Hyundai said. It also said it has given the third-generation i20 an “energetic” look to help it stand out in busy urban areas. The i20’s styling now follows Hyundai’s new “Sensuous Sportiness” design language. The hatchback also gets infotainment and safety upgrades. The dashboard has a 10.25-inch central infotainment touchscreen with split-screen functionality for multitasking. This is visually linked to a 10.25-inch instrument screen in front of the steering wheel. The i20’s new safety equipment includes a forward collision avoidance that now offers pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as navigation-based advanced cruise control. The i20 is 30 mm wider, 24 mm lower and 5 mm longer than the current car. It has a 10 mm longer wheelbase, providing increased seating space for rear passengers in the rear, Hyundai said. Trunk space has been increased by 25 liters to 351 liters. The i20 also weighs 4 % less than the current model, which helps reduce CO2 emissions, Hyundai said. Sales of the i20 fell 7.5 % to 84.692 in Europe last year. The i20 was the third most popular Hyundai after the Tucson and Kona. Hyundai will continue to build the i20 will in Izmit, Turkey. The new i20 will roll out in European market starting late summer. Hyundai has also given a midcycle update to its i30 range, which comprises hatchback, fastback and station wagon versions. The update includes a new 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder mild hybrid gasoline engine. Hyundai will also give the i30 station wagon a sportier “N line” version. +++

+++ 2 special upgrade packages have just been announced for the new PORSCHE 911 Turbo S, dubbed the Lightweight Package and Sport Package. Those shopping for the current flagship Porsche 911 who opt for the available Lightweight Package will benefit from slimmer acoustic glass, lightweight bucket seats at the front, the removal of the rear seats, and reduced sound deadening. The Lightweight Package also includes options such as the PASM Sport Suspension system and the Sport Exhaust System that features two oval-shaped tailpipes as opposed to the quad tailpipes of ‘standard’ Turbo S models. The changes strip away 30 kg of unnecessary weight and the package is offered exclusively for the Coupe. Then we come to the available Sport Package. While the name may suggest it is focused largely on added performance, that’s not actually the case. Instead, the Sport Package comes complete with the available Sport Design side flairs, front fascia, and rear wing while also adding various gloss black accents, dark silver wheels, and distinctive taillights. Coupe models equipped with the Sport Package also get a carbon fiber roof while Cabriolet models do not. Porsche has yet to put either the Lightweight Package or Sport Package into production just yet meaning we don’t know how much they will set back buyers. Regardless of price, both sound ideal for those that don’t think the new 911 Turbo S is quite ‘enough’, despite coming outfitted with a twin-turbo 3.8-liter 6-cylinder churning out 650 hp. +++ 

+++ RENAULT said it was temporarily halting production at its 7 factories in South America. Output will be suspended at Cordoba, Argentina; Curitiba, Brazil; Envigado, Colombia; and Los Andes, Chile. Some 9.000 employees will be affected. Latin America is a key market for Renault, with 424.537 sales in 2019; a drop of 2.9 % from 2018. Brazil is the group’s 4th largest market by country, with about 239.000 sales last year. Renault also said its annual shareholders’ meeting scheduled for April 24 will be postponed to a date “sometime in May or June”. +++ 

+++ It has been reported that a number of used TESLA owners are allegedly discovering that features on their newly-purchased cars have been disabled. A man by the name of Alec purchased a 2017 Tesla Model S from a used car dealership in December 2019. The dealership he bought the car from had recently acquired the car from Tesla at an auction and at the time, the electric sedan was equipped with the Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self Driving Capability options. The original owner paid $8,000 for these options. Just 3 days after the used car dealer purchased the Model S, Tesla ran an audit of the software in its vehicles and decided to remove the Enhanced Autopilot feature in the Model S without informing the dealership. Alec was only informed of the software’s removal after taking the car into a Tesla Service Center for repairs in January. In a statement issued to Alec, a Tesla representative support told him the following: “Tesla has recently identified instances of customers being incorrectly configured for Autopilot versions that they did not pay for. Since, there was an audit done to correct these instances. Your vehicle is one of the vehicles that was incorrectly configured for Autopilot. We looked back at your purchase history and unfortunately Full Self Driving was not a feature that you had paid for. We apologize for the confusion. If you are still interested in having those additional features we can begin the process to purchase the upgrade”. Tesla owner Brett purchased a used 2018 Model X P100D from a Tesla dealership in March 2019. The SUV was equipped with the $20,000 Ludicrous Mode option and Brett decided to cough up an extra $5,000 to have Full Self Driving added. However, upon installing this software, Tesla decided to remove Ludicrous Mode because he didn’t pay the $20,000 (!) for it. Other used Tesla owners have also encountered similar issues with another Model X P90D owner claiming Ludicrous Mode was removed 60 days after he purchased the used SUV. I repeatedly attempted to contact Tesla’s PR department regarding the removal of features, but I have not heard back. +++ 

+++ An allegedly leaked slide from an internal TOYOTA presentation suggests that the Mk2 GT86 will make its debut next summer. When it arrives, the new car will feature a fresh rear-wheel-drive platform and, according to the rumours, a new 255 hp turbocharged engine. A Subaru badged version will go on sale too, after the 2 companies agreed to continue their business agreement to develop sports cars together earlier this year. Specifications for the engine are yet to be announced, but I expect it will be sourced from BMW’s parts bin. Toyota recently confirmed that 2 in-line 4-cylinder versions of the GR Supra will be available for the European and Japanese market; the most potent of which will use the same 255 hp 2.0-litre engine found in the mid-range BMW Z4 sDrive30i. Should the same engine be transferred into the new GT86 in the same state of tune, it’ll have a maximum torque figure of 400 Nm, which is a 195 Nm increase over the outgoing model. However, the engine isn’t currently available with a manual transmission in any of BMW’s vehicles so, unless Toyota and Subaru can develop one to suit, the next GT86 could be automatic-only. The current GT86 and BRZ are both powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre boxer engine, which develops 197 hp and 205 Nm. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox, providing a 0–100 kph time of 7.6 seconds. Toyota and Subaru also recently agreed to co-develop a new all-wheel-drive battery-electric SUV, tasked with rivalling the likes of Volkswagen ID.4 and Tesla Model Y. The brands stated that both of these business arrangements will further “develop and strengthen” their longterm partnership. Toyota has also increased its stake in Subaru by 3.17 %, upping its overall ownership of the brand to 20 %. +++ 

+++ In the UNITED STATES , automakers General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler are expected to extend their current shutdown in North America into the month of April as the fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus continues. At this point, the exact dates that Detroit’s Big Three automakers will restart vehicle production remains up in the air. Ford said in a statement that it does not plan to restart production until at least April 6 but warned it could be further delayed into April. United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble sent a letter to union members saying that FCA had “no plans to reopen on March 30”. GM has yet to confirm its plans (its last statement said the decision when to reopen “will be reevaluated week-to-week after” March 30) but unnamed sources told that it will also comply with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order barring non-essential businesses from operating until April 13. Gamble’s letter said the union is “waiting to hear from GM and are demanding that they put our members’ safety first and adhere to government and health officials’ recommendations to stay-at-home”. A spokeswoman for Whitmer was unable to clarify on Tuesday whether auto production is considered essential or not. Michigan has declared vehicle sales by auto dealers to be impermissible under the order, but dealerships and other facilities can make repairs. A group representing major U.S. and foreign automakers warned in a letter to U.S. lawmakers with other industry groups that “Auto industry analysts are expecting sales to be down by as much as 40 % in March compared to 2019”. The letter said 95 % of North American auto plants are currently closed. +++ 

+++ The VOLKSWAGEN Group plans short-time working for about 80.000 employees in Germany after the coronavirus pandemic forced the automaker to idle its European factory network. Under German short-time working rules the state pays part of the reduced salaries for workers. A Volkswagen spokesman said the reduced hours would be introduced in factories in Lower Saxony, Hessen and Saxony until April 3. VW Group’s Audi und Porsche brands, and its trucks division MAN, have also applied to introduce short-time working to save costs. Businesses large and small face a disruption that “goes far beyond” the level of the financial crisis of 2008-2009, VW supervisory board member Bernd Althusmann said. He is the economy minister in Lower Saxony, where VW has its global headquarters. VW also will support its German dealership network with additional liquidity. The automaker said it had also offered to push out repayment dates, extend credit allowances and make interest rate payments more favorable for its German dealers. Besides Europe, VW factories in other regions including Russia and South America have also halted operations, while VW’s operations in its largest market China are gradually ramping up output again after the shutdown. +++

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