Newsflash: elektrische Ford Transit komt binnen 24 maanden


+++ Battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd ( CATL ) said its new super battery “is able to be mass produced”, a move which industry insiders believe will be game-changing for the electric vehicle industry. The Chinese battery supplier, with clients including world-leading carmakers like Tesla, BMW and Daimler, confirmed its new battery can last 16 years and power a lifetime range of 2 million kilometers. “Such a battery is already able to be mass-produced and will greatly reduce cost”, the company said, adding it would cost less than 10 percent more than the batteries now inside EVs. +++ 

+++ According to a recently leaked document, the C8 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 is next in the hopper. The rumors I’ve heard so far make me suspect the race-focused daily driver will be as big a leap over the previous Z06 incarnations as the mid-engined Stingray is over the front-engined Corvette. The heart of the matter is said to be a atmospheric 5.5-liter DOHC V8 derived from the engine in the C8.R, the race car needing at least 300 homologated retail examples to satisfy IMSA authorities. The latest hearsay pegs an output of 650 hp and 600 Nm, which means losing 57 Nm to the previous car’s supercharged 6.2-liter V8, but gaining the natural aspiration that Z06 owners covet. Here you can read about how the coming Z06 will make more efficient use of its power: it starts where the rubber plantation meets the road: the mooted specs are 20-inch wheels in front wearing 275/30 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires and 21-inchers in back dressed in 345/25 hoops. The wheels are an inch larger in front and back than those on the C7 Z06 and ZR1, both C7 models fitted with the same wheel and tire package. The rumored C8 Z06 tires might be best known from the Porsche 911 GT3 RS and GT2 RS, Michelin tabbing its motorsport division for a road-legal version of its Le Mans-winning racing rubber. With a hardcore focus on dry performance, Michelin says a set of Sport Cup 2 Rs are good for a half-second advantage per kilometer on a dry track compared to the Pilot Sport Cup 2 ZP (for “Zero Pressure” run-flats), the stock tire on the C7 Z06 and ZR1. To put some context to the tire sizes, the fronts are 10 millimeters narrower than those on the C7 Z06 and ZR1, while the rears are 10 mm wider, but with the same aspect ratio fore and aft. The front tires are 30 mm wider than those on the base C8 Stingray, the rears 40 mm wider than the entry-level car. The extra meat compelled “Chevrolet to widen the Z06’s fenders considerably”. If true, the C8 Z06’s expected wider track played a part as well; on the C7, the Z06 featured an extra half-inch of track width compared to the Stingray. It’s not clear if the Pilot Sport Cup 2 Rs would be the standard or optional tires. The Z06 typically offers a Z07 Performance Package that upgrades bits like the suspension, brakes, tires, and aero. On the C7 Z06, upgrading to Z07 spec meant getting a set of Pilot Super Sport Cup 2s. Certain to go heavy on carbon fiber throughout, the Z06 is predicted to offer a set of carbon fiber wheels like the quartet that sold on eBay earlier this year for $4,500. At that price, the wheels were only slightly more expensive than a new set of Pilot Sport Cup 2 Rs. Some of the active aerodynamic features GM has applied to patent might be lumped into the aforementioned Z07 kit. This could mean “adjustable wings, splitters, and even side flaps”; all of which have appeared in patent submissions covering standard and hybrid powertrains. There’s a bit of controversy out back, however: It was previously reported that the Z06 would boast a “massive” fixed rear wing that “will differ in appearance and functionality from the wing on the race-going C8.R” and resemble the mongo spoiler in back of the Agera RS. Now, sources claim that’s not happening. Engineers are thought to be pushing for a center-exit exhaust system, but need to convince the higher-ups to give the green light and approve funding. The tweak wouldn’t only be cosmetic, with center pipes alleged to “improve the pitch” of the flat-plane crank V8, lending an even more exotic note than we heard from the camouflaged prototype blasting up a mountain road in January. I’m not sure how the coronavirus shutdown affected the Z06 program, but a Chevrolet spokesperson has said “Our global product development teams have begun to resume normal operations after the COVID-19 shutdown”. The new beastie could come as early as the 2022 model year, if not 2023. +++ 

+++ In a recent interview, vacuum-cleaner magnate Sir James DYSON admitted to spending £500 million of his personal fortune developing his electric SUV program before calling it quits last October. His proposed Dyson EV was as audacious as Elon Musk’s original Model S sedan back in 2012. With a planned range of 1.000 kilometres and a 7-seat capacity, the unveiled Dyson prototype conjures images of a Range Rover designed by Apple. At about $610 million at today’s exchange rates, that’s a lot of scratch for Dyson to have poured into his dream car. Or is it? The mainstream headlines that gasped at Dyson’s stake (a half-billion quid!) belied most people’s understanding of the automotive industry. To them, I reference a column I wrote back in 2017, predicting the doom of ventures such as Dyson’s. Outsiders to the automotive manufacturing scene have no sense of the massive scale involved in undertaking such an enterprise. Manufacturing artisanal crumb suckers may be a pricey gambit, but manufacturing cars is expensive. A half-billion dollars gets a novice automaker his first-string team of engineers, designers, and executives. It gets him some pretty renderings, clay models, an R&D facility, a few operational hand-built prototypes, and the building blocks for a factory. It gets him in the door with regulatory agencies and patent offices. And that’s about it. But to build cars in serial production in volumes required for long-term profitability and survivability? You need to add a zero onto the end of Dyson’s investment. And then some. Even to billionaires, the size and scope of auto manufacturing becomes daunting once they wade out of the shallows. Such hubris is hardly a new phenomenon. In 1946, shipping tycoon Henry J. Kaiser announced to the Detroit swells that he was going to spend the then-monumental sum of $50 million to launch his own car company that would challenge the GMs and Fords of the world. From the back of the room, one curmudgeon muttered, “Give the man one white chip”, referring to the smallest bet in poker. Kaiser’s enterprise floundered, undercapitalized and always scrambling for cash flow, for a few years before collapsing. How much is $50 million today? About $650 million: spot-on to Sir James’ ante. Some people never learn. Dyson says he isn’t finished, that the company’s R&D facility will continue developing advanced battery tech in hopes it can one day be a key supplier to other automakers. I seriously doubt Dyson’s original vision was to be a mere supplier. Which is why I raise a glass to Elon Musk and his dogged determination to persist and stake his personal fortune despite fearsome odds. Get past his mercurial personality, his Joe Rogan doobie-fest, his Twitter rants, the relentless work schedule he demands of his team, his legal issues with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and his baiting of short-sellers of Tesla stock. That’s the sideshow. You simply have to admire someone who has grown an electric car company from scratch, developed 4 model lines with more to come and started to show operating profit. Sure, Elon has had his “one white chip” moments. His realization that “building cars is hard” must have prompted snickers in Munich, Detroit, and Nagoya. And some automaker newbies, upon confronting the “manufacturing hell” of not only assembling cars en masse but also assembling “the machines the make the machines” might walk away, having met their match. Not Elon. He doubled down. Now Tesla has finally launched a vehicle (the Model Y), that nicks the mainstream SUV-buying audience. And despite Elon’s years of hard work and Tesla’s billions of dollars spent, this is where things will actually get serious. Tesla’s long-term success as a large-scale automaker hinges on the Model Y breaking through to the mainstream buyer. In a 2014 interview I had with Elon, in a rare moment of grounding, he waxed prophetic about Tesla’s chances of triumph: “We’ll do our best to make it happen”, Musk said. “I think we will, but this is not a bold assertion we unequivocally will. There is a possibility we may not”. In 2014, few people would imagine what Tesla would become. Elon’s one white chip has grown into many. +++ 

+++ FIAT plans to resume production of its Panda small car at its plant in Pomigliano, near Naples in southern Italy, on June 16, a union representative said. The restart, initially scheduled for June 8, had been postponed this month because of weak demand in the face of the coronavirus crisis. The company has informed unions that production would restart at pre-crisis levels, said Gianluca Ficco of the UILM union. “Fiat told us it aimed to give continuity of production and jobs, even if that will also depend on demand, which is still very weak”, Ficco said. “So we can’t rule out further stops if demand proves too weak”. A spokesman for the Italian-American carmaker confirmed plans to restart Panda production on June 16. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has already resumed regular production of vans and of Jeep’s Renegade and Compass models in Italy, as well as preparatory work for the new electric Fiat 500. Ficco said he hoped that the new hybrid version of the Panda would help to support volumes and that the government would agree measures to support demand and production in the Italian automotive industry. Italy is considering incentives of up to €4,000 to buy the latest generation of petrol and diesel cars, joining France and Germany in offering support to an industry that has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis. +++ 

+++ FORD chief operating officer Jim Farley gave new details on timing for the company’s all-electric version of its F-150 pickup and the EV Transit van, telling that both vehicles would arrive “within 24 months”, or by mid-2022. Ford previously had said the all-electric Transit van would debut “for the 2022 model year” and had not given specific timing for the F-150 EV. That timing puts Ford somewhat behind General Motors, which has said it plans to field an electric pickup truck from the resurrected Hummer brand in late 2021. It’ll be a less traditional truck than the F-150, however, as would the variety of other electric pickups reportedly on their way. Rivian plans to start deliveries of its R1T battery-powered pickup, for which it is already collecting $1,000 deposits, late this year. Tesla says its Cybertruck EV pickup will reach customers in late 2021. And EV startup Nikola has announced it will begin taking deposits for its own Badger EV pickup later this month, with deliveries promised for 2021. Both Tesla and Nikola have seen their stock prices soar in recent days, as investors appear to be very enthusiastic about the prospect of EV pickups. Maybe that spurred Farley to be more forthcoming about Ford’s plans. +++ 

+++ JAPAN is looking to eliminate tariffs on cars and car parts as part of a new trade deal with Britain, post-Brexit. Until Britain’s exit from the union, its trade policy had largely been directed by the EU, but now it is needing to agree free trade deals with nations across the world, including Japan. “In the negotiations, we hope to urge Britain to bring forward the period for which tariffs will be removed mainly for autos and auto parts, as well as adopt high-level rules on digital trade”, Japan’s trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama told a news conference this week. Last year, Japan was Britain’s 4th biggest trading partner outside the EU, with government statistics showing that trade between both nations amounted to £31.4 billion. Britain is said to be hoping that an agreement with Japan could pave the way for it to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which includes the likes of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand as well as Japan among its 11 members. British trade minister Liz Truss has already entered discussions with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, regarding joining the partnership. “Both ministers agreed to start negotiations to build a new economic partnership and work towards an early agreement to secure business continuity for both countries”, said a statement from the foreign ministry. Meanwhile, talks between Britain and the EU are said to be making little progress with just weeks remaining until the deadline to secure a post-Brexit deal. +++ 

+++ The new LEXUS IS sportssedan was scheduled to make its debut today, but Lexus has made the decision to postpone the digital unveiling indefinitely. Lexus cites respect for “the recent global situation” as the reasoning for the postponement. This week, Lexus released a simple statement on the digital debut of the 2021 IS. “Considering the recent global situation, Lexus has respectfully postponed the premier of the new IS, which was originally scheduled for June”, it said. “Revised timing will be announced soon”. With worldwide outpouring of civil protests in regards to the death of George Floyd, police brutality and the movement for police reform (all in the midst of a pandemic) it seems like a malapropos time to unveil a new car. When I reached out to Lexus for further clarification on when the car would debut, the company said it hopes to have more news at a later date. When it does debut, the next-generation sports sedan will utilize rear-wheeldrive, and I expect all-whee drive to be an option. The new IS will ride on an evolutionary modified version of its current “New N” platform, as opposed to an all-new setup. +++ 

+++ After introducing its latest version of MBUX on the A-Class back in 2018, Mercedes has since updated pretty much every model with its latest-generation infotainment software. One of its key features is voice control and the German carmaker is rolling out an over-the-air update in certain markets that allows for more informal language to be used. Chinese customers, for example, can already book cinema tickets and order/pay for takeaway food on the go. Why is this AI-tech so important when it comes to convenience? According to a recent report, the market for automotive AI systems will rise from $2 billion today to $26.7 billion within the next 5 years, which is a massive shift. Unlike some of their rivals, Mercedes did not look to partner up with a large tech company and decided to invest in its own personalized system, which is how MBUX was born. But could Mercedes end up making as much money from its AI systems as it does from selling cars? This is what MBUX head of user interactions Nils Schanz had to say when asked that very question: “This is what we are aiming for, and this is why we are investing so heavily in MBUX. We can see there is huge business potential”. Schanz went on to clarify that his job is to focus on the user experience and not revenue, and that Mercedes isn’t planning on charging owners for using their in-car services (like food ordering). However, what they could do is sell access to the platform to third-party app creators. “We can see how the business model could develop as a significant source of revenue, although right now there’s no revenue sharing model”, added Schanz. The system’s voice function is a main focus for the company, because voice “is the safest way, because it keeps a driver’s hands on the wheel and eyes on the road”. Still, Mercedes’ head of user experience design, Klaus Frenzel, told in a separate interview that “there’s not one perfect way of interacting with the car”, which means the carmaker will continue investing in multiple interfaces. As for ordering and paying for food while driving being dangerous, Schanz stated that his company has “safety experts who are really looking at driver distraction and we have strict rules, so we can do nothing that distracts the driver too much. The food-ordering experience has been optimised to reduce and simplify it so that it limits the distraction as much as possible. We’re always looking to make it possible to do anything without looking at the screen”. +++ 

+++ MERCEDES-BENZ sold more than 70,000 passenger cars in May and achieved a double-digit growth in China, German carmaker Daimler announced. “The retail sales in our biggest market China provide us with optimism”, said Britta Seeger, member of the board of management of Daimler and Mercedes Benz, responsible for sales and marketing. Daimler’s core brand would get “step by step back to normality”. After a production suspension caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Mercedes-Benz car plants had successfully restarted production. From June onwards, all Mercedes-Benz plants worldwide would be gradually restarted, according to Daimler. Last week, the German carmaker announced that global deliveries to car dealers in May were down 28.6 % compared with the same month last year, with almost 135.000 passenger cars of the Mercedes-Benz brand sold worldwide. +++ 

+++ BMW Group’s premium compact car brand MINI is hosting the New Countryman’s World Premier event in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, on June 24. It is the first time in the Mini’s 60-year history to hold a world premiere in Korea. The company said the Korean market’s geographical and national characteristics suit the Mini brand’s identity. “BMW Group acknowledges Korea as a market where traditional and modern, nature and urban charms coexist and vibrant energy and creativity stand out. Such characteristics of the Korean market fit well with what Mini Countryman seeks for a lifestyle”, said a Mini Korea official. The Countryman is the brand’s only SUV. The automaker said South Korea has been the only market globally with an upward annual growth for 15 consecutive years since its establishment. Last year, Mini ranked first place for sales in the category of premium compact cars in Korea, and joined the “10,000-unit club” in its yearly sales. Mini Korea said the New Countryman World Premier event will take place at Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, under a theme of “Add inspiration to new norm”. The event will air in real time via its digital channel for a global audiences. +++ 

+++ According to a leaked email from Elon Musk to employees, Tesla is experiencing MODEL Y manufacturing and supply chain challenges. In addition, Musk makes it clear that he’s aware some employees are dealing with difficult conditions on one assembly line. Musk refers to the Model Y, and says “especially GA”, as a top priority for production and manufacturing engineering”. He points to GA4 as being a top priority for facilities improvement. It’s clear he’s aware that workers “in GA4” are facing tough conditions. GA4 is Tesla’s sprung structure (tent) that was used to expand the Fremont factory for ramping up Model 3 production. Musk emphasises the importance of ramping up Model Y production, as well as minimising “rectification needs”. Meaning the cars need to be as free of issues as possible. Clearly the company doesn’t have time to be reworking these vehicles after regular production is complete. Musk says he hopes the employees understand these priorities “really makes a difference to Tesla right now”. In more positive news, the CEO says the automaker is doing “reasonably well” with the Model 3, Model S and Model X at this time. “It is extremely important for us to ramp up Model Y production and minimize rectification needs. I want you to know that it really makes a difference to Tesla right now. The Model Y, especially GA, is the top priority for both production and manufacturing engineering. GA4 is also top priority for facilities improvements. For those working in GA4, thank you for bearing with tough conditions. Will get better fast. I will be walking the line personally every week. We are doing reasonably well with S, X, and 3, but there are production and supply chain ramp challenges with Model Y, as is always the case for new products. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Thanks, Elon”. What do you think? Was this expected not only due to Covid-19, but also based on Tesla’s past? Does this come as a surprise since the Model Y shares a platform and many parts with the Model 3? +++

+++ Hydrogen and electric truck startup NIKOLA went public last month and the company’s market capitalization has already soared past that of Ford. Since Nikola started trading publicly, shares in the company have more than doubled and during intraday trading, the company’s market value eclipsed $30 billion, higher than the $28.8 valuation of Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s market cap of $20.5 billion. Nikola has yet to deliver a single vehicle but claims to have secured over $10 billion in pre-orders from commercial clients that include brewer Anheuser-Busch who has ordered 800 trucks. Interest in the company has seen the fortune of its chairman and founder Trevor Milton jump to as high as $9 billion making him the 188th richest person in the world. The startup has unveiled a handful of hydrogen and electric trucks in recent years. In December 2019, it presented the Nikola Tre, an all-electric truck with a modular battery system with a total capacity of 720 kWh. The Tre also pumps out 644 hp and 1.800 Nm. More recently and perhaps more importantly, Nikola announced in February that it will join the growing market of all-electric pickup trucks with a vehicle it dubs the ‘Badger’. Although the Badger has only been previewed through a series of detailed renderings, Milton revealed on Sunday that Nikola will unveil a fully-functional prototype in the coming months. He added that he wants to see the Nikola Badger outsell the Ford F-150. It is understood fuel-cell and battery electric vehicles of the Badger will be produced. The EV variant will utilize a 160 kWh battery pack and have a range of about 483 km. By comparison, the fuel cell variant will be capable of traveling 966 km on a single charge. Peak power will sit at 906 hp and 1.329 Nm. +++ 

+++ NISSAN South Korea, which is shutting down its business operations from 2021, has sold out the last batch of its cars with discount promotions in 1 day. According to industry insiders, Nissan Korea sold its flagship sedan Altima at a 10 million ($8,383) to 13.5 million won cheaper price, while Maxima was priced 14.5 million won lower. They are about 35 % cheaper than the original prices, which were around 29.1 million won and 45.2 million won, respectively. Nissan Korea said that Altima was sold out in 1 day, while Maxima is also selling out rapidly. According to the company, the vehicles on sales promotions had been kept at its Pyeongtaek PDI center, where vehicles are inspected before sales. Nissan Korea said that it will also notify customers with promotion sales for its premium brand Inifini cars soon. The carmaker’s customer and after sales service for vehicle quality guarantee and equipment management will continue until 2028. +++ 

+++ While the RENAULT – Nissan – Mitsubishi alliance seemed wobbly after the sudden fall from grace of the all-powerful Ghosn, the crisis that has arisen will instead make it closer than ever. “As it happens to FCA and PSA, the crisis will force the members of the alliance to strengthen it”, says Felipe Muñoz, Jato Dynamics’ global analyst. “The Japanese market is due to become a strong market compared with its peers in the West, so the Alliance makes even more sense for a company like Renault that’s highly exposed to the European downturn”. After Renault’s exit from China, the alliance recently announced it would restructure itself based on global spheres of influence. Nissan will lead in China and the US, Renault in Europe and Mitsubishi in South-East Asia. The move is designed to stop overlap in operations and research and development and to ensure stronger global coverage. However, what remains unclear is who will have the ultimate power and leadership in the alliance post-Ghosn, if only to stop civil war breaking out and ensure decisions made deliver for all parties.
A further complication is what the French government thinks of it all given that it owns a 15 % stake in Renault. “We still need to understand what role will the French government play in the rescue of its economy and its key companies, including Renault”, says Muñoz. “Its role will determine how close Renault and Nissan can get”. It’s a mixed bag for Nissan’s Sunderland factory: production volume has been falling for a number of years and last year dropped by a fifth over 2018, totalling 346.535 vehicles. The Japanese firm also cancelled plans to build the next X-Trail there, blaming the diesel sales downturn and uncertainty over Brexit. On the other hand, Nissan is clearly committed to the site, having invested £400 million to produce next year’s third-generation Qashqai in the north-east. It also produces the Leaf, one of the biggest-selling EVs in Europe, and the Juke, another popular SUV. Nissan’s chief operating officer, Ashwani Gupta, said in March that the investment showed the company’s confidence in the factory, which he described as “best in class”. However, he added that its business model is “not sustainable” in the event of a Brexit deal that puts up major barriers to trade between the UK and the EU. Another possibility for Sunderland was thrown into the mix last month. Renault confirmed that it would shut its Barcelona factory, and there are as-yet unconfirmed reports that Nissan is in talks with its French partner to build the Captur and Kadjar SUVs at Sunderland in a bid to consolidate production and boost the fortunes of the plant. Talking about how Sunderland is regarded by Nissan today, Peter Wells, an industry expert at Cardiff University says: “It was seen as highly productive and intimately associated with the Qashqai, which became a cash cow. Now that has somewhat unravelled. Others have caught up with the Qashqai, and Brexit hasn’t helped. In some respects, the plant has followed a natural trajectory. The Micra went to India, as Nissan couldn’t make enough money building it here. There has been an inevitable drift upmarket; volumes have dropped but values have gone up. I’m quietly optimistic about the plant’s future”. Renault had big plans for China, opening a vast factory in Wuhan in a joint venture with Dongfeng to great fanfare by then CEO Carlos Ghosn in 2016. But last month, the French firm handed the factory over to its Chinese partner and ended the sale in the country of all its petrol-engined vehicles. “Renault had issues in China long before this crisis, so its decision was anticipated”, says Muñoz. “It’s not the only maker with difficulties there. Many others haven’t been able to understand the dynamics of Chinese regulation and Chinese consumers. Those makers will follow Renault”. Suzuki was the last foreign car maker to leave China, back in 2018, but others are known to be struggling. General Motors, PSA and Ford all experienced big declines in sales in the country in 2019, and any potential recovery at the start of this year was curtailed by the coronavirus crisis. Intriguingly, the pandemic could ultimately end up helping the domestic Chinese car makers both at home and abroad. A huge emphasis is being put on electric car sales, the scale of which foreign manufacturers in China just aren’t ready to serve, unlike the native car makers. Now the locally produced Chinese cars and brands are maturing, many Chinese companies are at the point where they can consider export plans, just at the time when the world is looking for cheaper electric cars. “China is the best example of how the industry is due to be reconfigured”, says Muñoz. “In addition, China is likely to focus even more on electric cars, and the players without a big presence won’t be able to operate there any more”. +++

+++ SOUTH KOREA ‘s auto exports more than halved in May from a year earlier due to falling demand in the face of the new coronavirus pandemic that as infected more than 7 million people, data showed. Local carmakers shipped 95.400 units of cars overseas last month; down 57.6 % from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. In terms of value, auto exports also fell 54.1 % over the period to reach $1.81 billion. In the first 5 months of 2020, the country shipped 693.805 units of cars; down 32.6 % on-year, the data added. South Korean carmakers have been facing an unprecedented challenge as consumers around the world tighten their belts following the Covid-19 pandemic, which has put great strains on the global economy. Industry leader Hyundai’s exports crashed 58.5 % in May from a year earlier, which was especially due to the sluggish sales in the European and North American markets. The robust sales of the Palisade SUV, however, offset the fall in part. Kia also saw its exports plummet 58 percent over the period as its overseas distributors shut down businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Exports of Renault Samsung and SsangYong fell 66.3 % and 83.2 % respectively over the cited period. Outbound shipments of General Motors Korea also halved. By destination, exports to North America sank 54 % and shipments to the European Union lost 30.3 % on-year in May. Sales to Asian countries moved down 65 %. South Korea’s combined auto production decreased 36.9 % on-year to 231.099 units in May due to the fewer number of working days coupled with shortages in some parts. Domestic sales, on the other hand, managed to edge up 9.7 % to 168.778 in May on the back of carmakers’ promotions and marketing efforts. +++ 

+++ TESLA ’s stock jumped above $1.000 a share after chief executive Elon Musk told his staff it was time to bring the Semi commercial truck to “volume production”. Musk did not specify a time frame for ramping up production of the Semi. Musk tweeted “Yes” to a question on Twitter about whether the report of the leaked Semi truck production email was accurate. Tesla’s shares rose about 6% to hit $1,000 after media reported Musk’s email, making the Silicon Valley company the second-most valuable automaker in the world, behind Toyota. Tesla’s share surge could position Musk for another payout from a stock compensation plan tied to the company’s market capitalization. The stock also got a boost from a bullish call by Wedbush, which lifted its target price for the automaker to $1,000 and said Tesla could have “more room to run”. Investors also are anticipating Musk will unveil new “million-mile” battery technology that could deliver longer life, lower costs and better range for future Tesla vehicles. “Production of the battery and powertrain will take place at Giga Nevada”, Musk wrote. Most of the other work will probably take place in other states, he wrote, without stating where. Musk has said Tesla is scouting other U.S. states for a site to build a new factory, hinting that Texas could be a candidate. Oklahoma and other states are campaigning for the investment. When Musk unveiled the prototype of the futuristic, battery-powered Semi in 2017, he said the Class 8 truck would go into production by 2019. More recently, he said the Semi would go into volume production by 2021. Musk’s message coincides with a surge in the share price of rival clean truck maker Nikola. Nikola, an electric and fuel cell truck startup, earlier this month began trading on Wallstreet. Shares in Nikola have more than doubled in price over the past week as the company’s CEO has used Twitter and interviews to promote plans to launch an electric pickup truck to Tesla’s forthcoming Cybertruck. Nikola and CNH Industrial’s Iveco commercial truck operation last year formed a joint venture to build a battery electric and fuel cell truck line called the Nikola Tre. Iveco has said orders are strong for the electric version of the truck, due out next year. Nikola said it had hired a former Tesla executive, Mark Duchesne, to lead its manufacturing and a former Caterpillar executive, Pablo Koziner, to head its hydrogen fueling and battery recharging business. +++ 

+++ VAUXHALL ’s Ellesmere Port plant won’t reopen until after 1 September due to “the commercial situation” of the Astra model built there, parent company PSA Group has announced. Production was suspended at the site in March. The PSA Group, Vauxhall’s parent firm, did not offer further explanation in the release, but with European showrooms only just opening after being closed for around 2 months and demand for new cars set to remain low for the remainder of the year, Vauxhall/Opel is likely facing significantly reduced demand for the family car. The bulk of PSA’s European plants have reopened, including Vauxhall’s Luton facility where the Vauxhall / Opel Vivaro, Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch are built. With strong demand for the commercial models, PSA will begin a third shift at that site, with staff redeployed from Ellesmere Port to Luton for a temporary period on a voluntary basis. In a statement, the PSA Group said: “The company proposal will protect employment and support the ability to respond to significant demand for LCV production with highly trained and skilled workers for the Ellesmere Port site, while demand for Astra is building sufficiently”. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN has revealed that first deliveries of the all-electric ID.3 hatchback will take place across Europe this September. So far Volkswagen has only taken deposits from interested customers across the continent, but many potential buyers who have expressed interest will be able to finalise their orders on 17 June. However, Dutch buyers may have to wait until July to complete, though with September deliveries still targeted. The ID.3 will be launched in a single, limited-run “1st Edition” specification. Each example will feature a rear-mounted 204 hp electric motor and 58 kWh battery pack. Global production of the ID.3 1st Edition will be limited to just 30,000 units and all of them have already been reserved, including those allocated for the Dutch market. However, VW has now outlined 3 separate versions of the 1st Edition ID.3, each with different levels of equipment and price tags. Alongside the ID.3 1st Edition will be 1st Edition Plus and 1st Edition Max versions of the car, with the range topper priced from “under €50,000” in Germany. Cheaper versions of the ID.3 will be released not long after the more expensive 1st Edition models hit the road. In Germany, when the line-up is complete, prices will probably start from €30,000. Volkswagen says the car will be around £800 cheaper than an an equivalently specced petrol or diesel Golf. Volkswagen’s most recent electric vehicles, (the e-Golf and the e-Up), are both based on combustion-engined platforms. However, the ID.3 marks the debut of the brand’s all-new MEB platform: a bespoke pure-electric platform that will soon underpin dozens of electric vehicles from Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda and Audi. The standard-issue, entry-level ID.3 will feature a less powerful 150 hp electric motor and a smaller capacity 45 kWh battery. Volkswagen’s 204 hp electric motor will also be offered with a 77 kWh battery in higher-specced models. Mid- and higher-spec ID.3s will offer support for 100 kW fast charging as standard, which will allow around 300 kilometres of range to be added in half an hour. However, the uprated charging system will be offered as an optional extra on the entry-level model, in a bid to keep down the sticker-price. As such, it’ll stick with a 50 kW charger. Late last year, Volkswagen also confirmed it was “actively considering” a high-performance version of the ID.3. It’ll feature the same MEB platform as the standard car, but it’ll come with a more potent electric drivetrain and an uprated battery pack, designed using the expertise gained from the ID.R racer project. Regardless of output, Volkswagen guarantees that the ID.3’s batteries will retain at least 70 % of their usable capacity for 8 years or 160.000 km. Frank Blome, Head of Volkswagen’s Centre of Excellence in Salzgitter said: “Our goal is to make sure the batteries last as long as the cars”. +++

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