Newsflash: McLaren laat modelnaam Sabre registreren

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+++ Markus Duesmann, the head of AUDI , will also head the research and development division at German carmaker Volkswagen’s premium brand, 2 sources told. Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler, Audi’s current head of development, will retire, the sources added. Duesmann will become head of technical development at Audi with immediate effect. Nearly 3 months after becoming chairman of the Board of Management, the Supervisory Board additionally entrusted him with responsibility for this task at Audi. Duesmann will realign the premium brand’s development division with a special focus on process quality. He will be supported by a chief operating officer, who will coordinate the day-to-day business of the development engineers, and a chief transition architect, who will organize the realignment of the technical development at Audi. Rothenpieler is leaving the company at his own request. Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Herbert Diess, says: “One of our most experienced development engineers is leaving the company after 34 years. Many cars from Volkswagen, Bentley, Škoda and most recently Audi bear his signature. The Supervisory Board thanks Hans-Joachim for 34 years of successful work at the Volkswagen Group and wishes him all the best for the future. I am convinced that Markus will accelerate the transformation with a view to the Audi aspiration of Vorsprung durch Technik”. Deputy chairman of the Supervisory Board and chairman of the General Works Council, Peter Mosch, said: “With his many years of experience at the Group, Hans-Joachim has given stability to the entire development team in turbulent times and after many personnel changes. And for that, he has earned the gratitude of everyone at Audi. The next steps that are required will now be a matter for the boss: at a crucial moment of digital and environmental upheaval for Audi, to accelerate processes and modernize the structures of our Technical Development division in an employee-friendly manner”. Rothenpieler came to Ingolstadt from Wolfsburg in November 2018. In the past 18 months, he continued the evolvement of what his predecessor had initiated. He established new competencies in the areas of electric mobility and digitalization, including artificial intelligence. Born in Westphalia, Rothenpieler has worked for the Volkswagen Group since 1986, including as head of Complete Vehicle Development at Skoda, as member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at the Bentley brand and as member of the Board of Management for Development at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. Duesmann has been chairman of the Board of Management of Audi since April 1. An engineer himself, he has since then also held overall responsibility for research and development throughout the Volkswagen Group as a member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG. +++ 

+++ EU industry chief Thierry Breton has urged EU governments to be more active in setting global standards for ultralight BATTERY metal lithium, key to many strategic industries and electric cars, or cede technological advantage to China. Breton’s warning underlines the European Commission’s concern as China seeks to increase its influence in setting standards for a metal crucial to the bloc’s electric car and green energy ambitions, involving major companies such as Volkswagen and Siemens. His warning comes ahead of a June 24-25 vote by the International Organisation for Standardisation’s (ISO) technical management board on a Chinese proposal to set up a committee on lithium standards. China has proposed itself as the secretariat. The standards would cover lithium mining, extraction, testing, analysis and conversion to useful lithium compounds, such as for use in lithium-ion batteries. “The EU’s key trading partners are very active in developing international standards in key markets to protect and increase their competitive advantage”, Breton said in a letter to industry ministers in the 27 EU countries. “We need to be vigilant about such processes which can, without the right engagement, unintentionally harm our economic competitiveness and technological leadership”, he said. “It is in our interest to give European companies a competitive advantage by making sure that international standards are in line with ours, whether they are ready or in the making”, Breton said. France and Germany last month agreed jointly to invest up to €6 billion to make electric vehicle batteries, taking on the United States and China. Breton said the Commission would ask the European Committee for Standardization and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization to monitor work on new lithium standards. Acknowledged as the 21st century energy metal, lithium can be used in applications including glass, petrochemical, metallurgy and in the battery, energy, aerospace and nuclear industries. +++ 

+++ A new smartphone app by crash-test body Euro NCAP aims to make car accidents safer for emergency services and first responders by alerting them to the location of high-voltage batteries and wires; key components in ELECTRIC CARS that pose significant risks if cut improperly or damaged. Car makers are already obliged to make ‘rescue sheets’ for their vehicles, indicating where firefighters should cut them if they need to remove a car’s roof, for example. From this year, Euro NCAP is awarding points in its crash tests based on whether or not this information is “readily available”, a response to the fact that as cars become more complex, “knowing where it’s safe to cut a vehicle should extrication be required is increasingly challenging”. The new smartphone app, dubbed Euro Rescue, goes some way to making life easier for emergency services by gathering these rescue sheets together in one resource, which can be accessed both on and offline. As well as telling fire crews where high-voltage EV components are, the app informs them where airbags, and seatbelt pretensioners are located on all cars, vital information given these safety features contain explosive materials. The app is available to download for free for Android and Apple smartphones, and has been developed in conjunction with the International Association of Fire & Rescue Services. It is initially available in English, French, German and Spanish, with all European languages being covered from 2023. Pierre Castaing, president of Euro NCAP said: “This Euro Rescue application, the result of joint work between manufacturers, fire and rescue services and Euro NCAP, is the first visible result of the progress that can be made in terms of tertiary safety; others are to come”. +++ 

+++ Back in May, I heard about FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA) considering a government-backed loan for Italy worth as much as €6.3 billion and now it seems that the deal is close to going down. The Italian government is ready to approve the credit facility, which would then become Europe’s biggest government-backed financing deal for an automaker since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, this deal still needs an ‘OK’ from Finance minister Roberto Gualtieri, which could still happen this week, after his accounting offices already approved the terms, said people familiar with the matter. The next step will then be for the loan to get green-lit by Italy’s state auditor. Italian banking group Intesa Sanpaulo already gave the go-ahead for the loan last month, with credit insurer Sace offering to guarantee 80 % of the amount. FCA already said that it plans to use the credit facility exclusively for its Italian activities, such as to pay workers’ salaries and its suppliers, as well as for planned investments at domestic facilities. The country’s automotive supply chain holds 200.000 small and medium-sized companies, generating more than €100 billion in annual revenue. “Car sales in Italy will plunge this year to 1.2 million compared to 2.1 million in 2019”, said Dario Duse, a managing director at consulting firm Alix Partners, who predicts that the industry may take more than 5 years to return to pre-pandemic levels in terms of sales. +++ 

+++ FORD said that it will offer hands-free driving on its new Mustang Mach-E in fall 2021, which is 6 years after Tesla and 4 years after General Motors introduced similar systems. The system, called Active Drive Assist, will be offered on several Ford models, most notably the Mustang Mach-E, an all-electric crossover that goes on sale later this year and is targeted at the Tesla Model Y market. Ford said U.S. buyers can order the Mustang Mach-E this fall with the Active Driver Assist hardware package, which includes extra radar sensors and a driver-facing camera, but the software won’t be ready until fall 2021. Tesla introduced its first semi-automated hands-free driver assist package, called Autopilot, in 2015. GM followed 2 years later with a similar semi-automated feature called Super Cruise on the Cadillac CT6. Tesla has constantly revised and updated Autopilot and now offers the feature across its entire 4-model range. GM is expanding Super Cruise to other Cadillac models this fall and will offer an enhanced version to other GM brands over the next 3 years. Ford said the Active Drive Assist software can be installed when ready next year through a wireless over-the-air update, similar to how some computer software programs are installed and mobile phone apps are updated. Tesla has offered over-the-air updates since 2012. +++ 

+++ GEELY is expected to be the first carmaker listed on China’s Nasdaq-style sci-tech innovation board, also known as the Star market. The company issued a statement saying the board has approved the initial proposal to list on Shanghai’s Star Market. Though the details and timetable have not yet been reviewed and approved by related departments, if successful, Geely will become the first automaker returning to the A-share Star Market. In recent years, Geely has been putting efforts into becoming an international automotive group via acquisition and industrial layout, a PR official from the company told. “In the future, we hope to further the transform into an international tech company”. In April, China’s top securities regulator adjusted the threshold for innovative red chip companies, or companies registered overseas but operating in the Chinese mainland, making them eligible to seek a listing on the domestic market under a pilot scheme. The new requirement allows overseas-listed innovative red chips with a capitalization of 20 billion yuan or above and in possession of self-developed, world-leading technologies, innovative strengths and a strong position in their industries to apply for a domestic listing. At present, Geely has topped auto sales among domestic independent brands for the third consecutive year. In the first 5 months, its market share reached 6.9 %, in line with policy requirements. Opening financing channels of the capital market in A-share market can promote diversified financing modes, optimize capital structure and increase companies’ capital strength, the official said, adding that listing both in the A-share market and Hong Kong can make better use of domestic and international market resources to help Geely’s technical transformation and long-term development in the future. Li Shufu, chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, aims to build Geely into a global enterprise that can enjoy equal popularity with Japanese automaker Toyota. In February, Geely announced it will merge its business with Volvo Cars, both subsidiaries of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, and planned to seek listings both in the Hong Kong stock exchange and Stockholm as well. As of June 12, Geely’s market value was HK$116.7 billion. +++ 

+++ HOLDEN dealers say they have been abandoned by both General Motors and the Australian government after mediation between dealers and car manufacturer failed last week. The US car giant announced it was pulling the Holden brand out of Australia in February this year, leaving its network of 185 car dealership franchisees in limbo. Holden dealers said they have sent 24 emails to federal Industry minister Karen Andrews asking the government for assistance but have not received a single response from her office. They are also concerned about General Motors’ plans to introduce its General Motors Speciality Vehicles (GMSV) brand to Australia by converting selected models to right-hand drive for sale in Australia. “A Holden dealer has written to Andrews about the GMSV plans and expressing disappointment at the inaction of the minister’s office, which has sat on draft legislation that would help resolve the dispute with GM and address the substantial power imbalance between franchisee and franchisor”, a spokesperson for the Australian Holden Dealer Council said. Ms Andrews said she continued to engage with dealers, meeting and speaking with them directly about their ongoing negotiations and also had been in contact with dealer representatives. “Minister Cash and I also met this week with GM Holden to reiterate the expectation of the government, and Australians, that they negotiate in good faith and ensure a fair outcome for the Aussie dealers who’ve carried their brand for decades”, she said. ALP senator Deborah O’Neill said the failed mediation showed the substantial imbalance of power that existed between franchisors and franchisees. “It has been over 15 months since the Parliamentary Report into Franchising highlighted this exact issue that Holden dealers now face, but this government refuses to stand up for small business and is beholden to large franchisors such as General Motors who are abandoning their car dealers here in Australia”, she said. Holden’s offer to the dealers, of $1.500 per vehicle for the next 2,5 years alongside partial reimbursement for capital expenditure such as showroom refurbishments and a continuing service arrangement for dealers beyond the current franchise agreements, is open until the end of June. However, the compensation offered by Holden, which equates to approximately $146 million, is well short of dealers’ demands for $6.100-a-car, which they say takes into account the full extent of the losses they face and would result in a compensation figure of $594 million. One of the affected franchisees is Ken Jacka, who has been forced to sell his Holden dealership in Maryborough which was started by his father in 1979. “General Motors has been saying you can stay on offering parts and service but that’s difficult when you have no new cars, that is the crux of what we do”, he said. “As much as I want to make it work, it doesn’t work”. Jacka said he had sold what remained of the business and the property to the local Toyota dealership in a “bittersweet” deal which retained jobs for about half his staff. “We sold it at less than building value only, we have basically given the business to them”, he said. “It’s sad. I’m glad my old man is not here to see what has happened to the brand. I have never driven anything but a Holden car and I don’t know what I will drive now”. A spokesperson for Holden said the company had considered all matters raised during its discussions with dealers and remained of the view that its offer to dealers was fair and reasonable. “We will continue to work with dealers who wish to transition their businesses and access our transition support package”, a spokesperson for Holden said. “Our broader focus is with our 1.6 million Holden customers”. +++ 

+++ An expected meeting between HYUNDAI Motor Group executive vice chairman Euisun Chung and LG Group chairman Koo Kwang-mo will focus on the 2 conglomerates’ partnership in the electric vehicle (EV) battery businesses on June 22, according to an industry source and media reports. The 2 executives will meet at LG Chem’s EV battery-making plant in Ochang, North Chungcheong, behind closed doors. It is said that Koo invited Chung to give a look around the manufacturing lines. The Ochang plant is a major production facility that handles LG Chem’s domestic supplies. It’s been a month since Chung visited Samsung SDI’s Cheonan plant in South Chungcheong, where Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong offered a tour of the EV battery manufacturing lines and gave a briefing on Samsung SDI’s research and development of all-solid-state batteries. The meeting was seen as indicating the possibility of a future partnership, when development of the all-solid-state batteries advances toward commercialization. At the moment, Samsung SDI doesn’t supply its lithium-ion battery to Hyundai Motor Group’s EV lineup. LG Chem has been a major EV battery supplier for Hyundai Motor Group’s vehicles, being equipped with a large quantity of Hyundai’s EV models, while SK Innovation’s batteries are used in most of Kia’s EV models. Last year, Hyundai Motor selected SK Innovation to supply the first batch of EV models that will launch from 2022 under its new EV-dedicated E-GMP platform. LG Chem was then selected as one of the battery suppliers for the platform’s second batch. +++ 

+++ Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has announced a voluntary recall regarding certain units of the JEEP Cherokee, from the 2014 to 2017 model years. According to the information released by the automaker, the affected SUVs need to have their transmission software updated, as the driveline connection could slip under certain circumstances. Drivers could experience a loss of propulsion and they won’t be able to engage ‘Park’ anymore, when the vehicle is stationary. “Should the above driveline failure occur, a warning lamp will illuminate in the vehicle’s instrument cluster and the updated software will deliver propulsion by engaging rear-wheel drive as needed”, the company noted. “And should ‘Park’ not engage as intended, the software will also help secure the vehicle by automatically applying its parking brake”. FCA is aware of one accident related to this condition, with no injuries. Furthermore, they have received 829 warranty claims and 3 field reports that are potentially tied to the issue. A total of 67.248 Cherokees are included in this safety campaign in the U.S. market, alongside another 13.659 in Canada, 716 in Mexico and 9.940 elsewhere. All of them were built between April 14, 2014, and October 10, 2016, and are equipped with the 2-speed Power Transfer Unit (PTU), as vehicles with a 1-speed PTU are not affected. Both dealer and owner notifications are scheduled for July 31, and those who have already repaired their rides independently will be reimbursed after sending the original receipt and/or other proof of payment to FCA in order to confirm the expense. +++ 

+++ Another week, another trademark application, though this one is more exciting, as it was submitted by MCLAREN . The British exotic car maker is looking to secure the Sabre nameplate, and they filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on June 10 for it. It has met the minimum filing requirements and has yet to be assigned to an examiner. The moniker can be used for “sports cars and structural parts therefor”, but does this actually mean that a new hypercar is around the corner? I’m tempted to say “yes” and bring the discussion towards a possible successor of the P1 hybrid. Nonetheless, this is pure speculation, as the truth is that nobody outside Woking knows what it could be. Moreover, it’s very common for automakers to file trademarks for new nameplates with patent offices all over the world and never use them again, a practice meant to discourage the competition from coming up with identical or similar monikers. Now, for those of you not familiar with the term, a sabre is, according to Wikipedia, “a type of backsword with a curved blade associated with the light cavalry of the early modern and Napoleonic periods”. McLaren’s new lighting signature does seem to have been inspired by the sabre, so take that information as you wish. +++ 

+++ On a conference call with journalists, the director of Vehicle Development at MERCEDES-AMG , Drummond Jacoy, revealed some interesting details about the recently introduced facelifted Mercedes-AMG E 63 4Matic+. Among them was the fact that Mercedes could make the luxury sports sedan and wagon more powerful, but the company is keeping the highest-output version of the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 exclusive to the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S. It’s understandable that Mercedes would want to ensure that an AMG-specific model was at the top of the power hierarchy. That being said, it’s a little sad to learn that an even wilder 640 hp AMG E 63 S Estate could exist, but must defer to another model. Still, 612 horsepower and 850 Nm of torque are more than enough to have fun, and it’s more power and torque than either the Audi RS 6 Avant and BMW M5 have. The M5 Competition, however, beats the AMG E 63 S by 13 hp, although it has significantly less torque. Another interesting detail Jacoy shared was why the E 63 S’s twin-turbo V8 hasn’t yet been paired with a 48-volt mild-hybrid assist system like other recent AMG models. He revealed that there isn’t room in the engine bay to combine it with the equipment for that system. Certainly, the small fuel economy gains associated with a mild-hybrid assist and its more advanced start-stop system aren’t much of a selling point on a 612 hp sedan, but every gain is welcome. Adding such a system could also support an electrically driven turbocharger, as Mercedes is already using on some of its straight-6 engines, which could reduce lag and improve performance. I wouldn’t be surprised if the company is already preparing its next-generation V8 AMG E-Class models to take advantage of this technology, though, particularly as Mercedes is collaborating with Garrett to make larger, more powerful electric turbos for future engines. +++ 

+++ NISSAN said it will cut more shifts at its 3 assembly plants in Japan due to falling demand, as the automaker struggles to recover from a drop in sales triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, Nissan sad it will cancel all night shifts at one of its production sites in Kyushu, southern Japan, from June 29 to July 31. Night shifts at its other Kyushu site will be stopped from July 20 to July 31, it added. In addition, Nissan will stop output at its plant in Oppama, Kanagawa prefecture, on two days in July, while its factory in Tochigi prefecture will be closed over eight days next month. The automaker’s plants are normally closed on weekends. The people with direct knowledge of the issue told that night shifts at the Oppama plant would also be cancelled from late June. A spokeswoman said there were no night shifts scheduled at the plant at the moment. Nissan’s latest production cuts come as global automakers are reeling from plunging sales amid plant closures in many countries earlier this year to curb the spread of the virus. Nissan has been slashing output at home and abroad since February, beginning in China. The Japanese automaker is taking a particularly big hit as sales and profitability have been deteriorating before the virus outbreak. Last month it unveiled an aggressive restructuring plan after posting its first annual loss in 11 years. The latest output cut would be another big hit for its Kyushu plant. Much of the plant’s production is exported. The plant makes the Rogue, Nissan’s topselling SUV model (which is marketed as X-Trail in Europe), whose sales have slowed ahead of plans to launch a remodelled version this year. +++ 

+++ Their silhouettes don’t stir dreams of adventure like a sports car or trendy SUV, but VANS are a rare source of profit for European carmakers, which is why EU regulators are focused on them as they decide whether to back an industry mega-merger. European competition regulators are worried that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) and PSA’s proposed merger may harm competition in small vans. With a total of 755.000 vans sold last year in Europe, the combined FCA and PSA would get a market share of around 34 %, based on industry data, more than double that of Renault and Ford, with shares around 16 % each. Volkswagen and Daimler follow with market shares of 12 % and 10 % respectively. “Commercial vans are important for individuals, SMEs and large companies when it comes to delivering goods or providing services to customers”, European Union competition chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement, announcing an in-depth investigation into the proposed merger. “They are a growing market and increasingly important in a digital economy where private consumers rely more than ever on delivery services”. Dario Duse, a managing director at consultancy firm AlixPartners, said demand for vans was not based on people’s disposable income, as for cars, but rather on GDP and industrial trends, and in particular the logistics industry, where big players such as Amazon or DHL operate. “Logistics is a business segment which is having a significant growth, for several reasons including e-commerce, where you need efficient and agile vans for interurban and city deliveries”, he said. “LCVs (Light Commercial Vehicles) may recover faster than passengers cars in the post-Covid-19 phase”. Sales of vans up to 3.5 tonnes in Europe amounted to 2.2 millions vehicles last year, compared to 15.8 million for passenger cars, according to data provided by the European Auto Industry Association (ACEA). The light commercial vehicles (LCVs) market may be secondary in terms of volumes, but it remains highly profitable in an industry where margins are constantly under pressure. Margins are generally higher than on passenger cars, up to 5-10 additional percentage points, AlixPartners says. “With LCVs you don’t have to fulfil a series of consumer expectations that drive additional complexity and costs, such as for interiors. LCV customers are more rational and business driven”, Duse said. And while electrification in heavy trucks is complicated, it might come sooner for LCVs. “If we look at the total cost of ownership, which is key for businesses, electric battery vans are already competitive with those with traditional engines”, he added. Prices in the van business are supported by a lower number of competitors and by the lifespan of a product marketed as a long-term investment for professionals. Pricing is also supported by customised offers for vans. The Renault large van factory at Batilly, for example, offers no less than 350 versions of its Master model. Profitability also comes from widely shared platforms: Renaults rolls out vehicles for brands including Fiat, Nissan, Opel and Daimler. FCA and PSA have been producing LCVs for decades through Sevel, a 50-50 joint venture, whose plant in Atessa, central Italy, is Europe’s largest van assembly facility. +++ 

+++ SSANGYONG said it has signed an initial agreement with Chinese carmaker Songuo Motors to export its Tivoli. Under the basic agreement, SsangYong will deliver the Tivoli in the form of knockdown units to Songuo Motors’ plants in China to be assembled into complete vehicles for exports to the Middle East and Africa from late this year, the company said in a statement. Songuo Motors plans to develop its own vehicle based on the Tivoli platform through technological partnership with SsangYong and produce 60.000 units of the model a year at its plant in the Shandong Province, it said. SsangYong aims to launch an all-electric SUV in the domestic market next year to strengthen its SUV-focused lineup. From January to May, its sales fell 32 % to 39.206 units from 58.030 in the same period a year ago. The carmaker’s lineup consists of the flagship Rexton, as well as the Tivoli, Korando and Rexton Sports. In 2011, Indian carmaker Mahindra acquired a 70 % stake in SsangYong for 523 billion won ($437.93 million). It currently owns a 74.65 % stake in the SUV-focused carmaker. Mahindra is considering selling its stake in the Korean unit amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying SsangYong needs a new investor. +++ 

+++ TESLA wants to start building a large vehicle assembly plant in the southwestern United States as early as the third quarter of this year, the company told Texas officials in documents made public this week. But the company is still pitting Texas and Oklahoma against each other in an effort to secure tax breaks, the documents show. The plant would build Tesla’s electric pickup and Model Y, according to reports. Tesla told officials in Travis County, Texas, the automaker wants to invest about $1 billion to build a 4 million to 5 million square foot vehicle assembly plant employing 5.000 people on the grounds of what is now a cement operation near Austin. But it needs tax breaks to make the site competitive with an alternative location in Oklahoma, according to documents filed with Texas officials. The Austin-American Statesman reported details of the company’s filings. Tesla officials could not immediately be reached for comment, but Tesla chief executive Elon Musk previously hinted about a Texas plant, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott has spoken with Musk about the possibility. Tesla’s sole U.S. vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California, covers 5.3 million square feet; a large plant, but not large enough for the growing company. Tesla has had to build cars under a tent adjacent to the plant. Musk clashed with California officials after Alameda county officials ordered the Fremont factory to halt production and comply with coronavirus stay-at-home orders that took effect in March. He threatened to move future operations to Texas or Nevada. The California plant has since reopened. +++ 

+++ When it arrives in showrooms this fall, the new Acura TLX will be the first vehicle equipped with the new THREE CHAMBER FRONT PASSENGER AIRBAG design Honda announced last year, reinforcing the automaker’s commitment to infused the sports sedan with state-of-the-art safety bonafides. The new airbag was designed and developed by engineers at Honda’s R&D campus in Ohio and auto supplier Autoliv to mitigate the risk of severe brain trauma associated with angled frontal collisions. With its official launch in the new TLX, the airbag will begin to be offered to other automakers through Autoliv. Work on the new airbag design stemmed in part from a 2013 U.S. Department of Transportation study that used MRI scans to look at brain injuries resulting from vehicle accidents and led to the creation of Brain Injury Criteria methodology for measuring brain injuries in vehicle crashes. Accordingly, Honda and Autoliv designed an airbag that does away with the traditional single-inflatable chamber in favor of something likened to a catcher’s mitt, with a central “sail panel” net catching and slowing down the head and directing it inward between the two inflated side chambers. The idea is to better manage lateral forces in a collision that can cause an occupant’s head to rotate severely and at high velocity. Honda is hailing the new airbag as a major advance in airbag design. It follows the company’s introduction, in 1990, of the first vertically deploying front passenger airbag for the 1991 Acura Legend, a design that became broadly adopted in the industry. Honda is packing lots of other safety features into the new Acura TLX, including knee airbags for driver and front passenger, both contained beneath a panel on the underside of the instrument panel, and 8 airbags total, the most ever for the model. It will also come standard with the AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety and driver-assist technologies and Acura’s Advanced Compatability Engineering body structure, which has been advanced to boost occupant safety by redirecting energy away from the passenger compartment in a frontal crash. Acura says it expects to get a 5-star crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Acura hewed closely to the Type S concept from last year in styling the new TLX, borrowing the former’s crisp lines and creases and low-to-the-ground stance. Standard is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 272 hp, with an available 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 promising a big upgrade over the outgoing 3.5-liter V6. Both engines will send their power through a 10-speed automatic transmission. It also sits on a new and stiffer platform, with a new suspension setup and Type S and A-Spec packages available. +++

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