Newsflash: volgende generatie BMW M5 wordt meer dan 1.000 pk sterk


+++ AIWAYS has started shipping the U5 electric SUV to Europe, where the first cars will arrive in July. Comprising 500 units, the first batch was ordered by Hertz Corsica, which is operated locally by Filippi Auto, and will become available to rent in the French island of Corsica starting next month. “We have been encouraged by recent moves from European leaders, such as those from the French government and others, to invest in and grow the EV market”, said the Chinese startup’s executive vice president for Overseas Operations, Alexander Klose. “During our record-breaking EV prototype drive last year, we learnt that European car buyers are looking for more practical zero emission choices. We are proud to be part of this movement and increase access to EVs for consumers”, he added. Made in Shangrao, China, in a factory with an annual capacity of 150.000 vehicles, the U5 is available to order in across several European countries, including Germany, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The zero-emission SUV will have to undergo scheduled maintenance every 100.000 km and for this Aiways will collaborate with independent workshops in each market. The first zero-emission Chinese SUV to officially launch in Europe is 4.68 meters long, 1.87 meters wide and 1.70 meters tall. It offers 432 liters of boot space with up to 1.555 liters available after folding down the rear seats. Powering it is an electric motor mounted on the front axle that generates 190 hp and 315 Nm. The 63 kWh battery, which promises a 27-minute charging time from 30 % to 80 % when using a DC fast charger, provides the juice for over 400 km. The U5 is equipped with Level 2 semi-autonomous driving, 360-degree camera system, 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, automatic climate control and a sunroof. +++ 

+++ The modern-day ALPINE A110 is a great sports car with a very bad timing. The automobile industry is going electric, buyers are flocking to SUVs and the coronavirus pandemic has affected all automakers, including Renault, who is still trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There have been reports surrounding the demise of some very big names in the French brand’s portfolio, and the first to go are, apparently, the Scenic and Espace minivans and the Talisman mid-size family car. Even the Alpine A110’s future is under question. Fortunately, in the meantime Renault has secured a $5.6 billion loan guaranteed for up to 90 % by the French state. This will be a breath of fresh air, which will help it and its brands focus on what’s next, and it appears that the Alpine brand does have a future. Nonetheless, that future will, in all likelihood, mean electrification, although the challenge is to keep the weight down and create a car that people will want to throw into corners. Renault’s design chief, Laurens van den Acker, who is also responsible for the styling of the Alpine and Dacia brands, recently spoke on the topic: “In the long run, it’s inevitable that we’ll electrify Alpine and it’s not negative”, he commented. “We’re not only doing it because of the regulations. People’s expectations will shift and will push us into this direction. The challenge will be making something electric, which is lightweight. Straight-line speed is no issue, but that isn’t the attraction of Alpine. It’s about throwing a car around. It’s like a Mazda MX-5 or Lotus Elise in spirit”. Electrification could play a big role in the coming years for the RS models too, yet the added weight of the battery packs and electric motors is a very delicate matter. “With RS, you want to use the car on track. We have to find a way to trick you into believing an EV is light when it isn’t”, van den Acker said. “Technologies such as torque vectoring can help make a car feel light when it’s actually 2 tons. I’m hoping technology will be able to give us a fantastic driving experience”. On a related note, the car designer spoke about the future of MPVs, hinting that they might be phased off completely. “In the Scenic, we made a pretty vehicle which is number one in its segment in Europe, but the segment itself is down. I’d rather be number two in a growing segment than first in a dying segment. This, combined with the need to develop electrified vehicles, puts into question the business case for a future line-up”. The Dacia brand is also going electric, with its first zero-emission vehicle for Europe that is based on the Chinese K-ZE. Previewed by the Spring Concept, it’s expected next year, with similar styling and proportions and at an affordable price. “We’re doing everything to keep the price as low as possible. Ironically, some people thought it wouldn’t be a good fit for Dacia, but in fact, it might actually be what many people are waiting for. Not everyone can afford a premium EV”, van den Acker stated. +++ 

+++ One of ASTON MARTIN ’s key shareholder’s recently cut its stake in the British car manufacturer by nearly 5 %. A regulatory filing revealed that Italian private-equity firm Investindustrial Advisors disclosed that it has a stake of 14.99 % in Aston Martin as of May 29, down from its previous stake of 19.92 %. Investindustrial is the company’s second-biggest shareholder after Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll but it remains unclear exactly why the Italian firm has suddenly cut its stake. Regardless of the reason, big things are happening at Aston Martin. Last week, it was confirmed that Andy Palmer will be replaced as the automaker’s chief executive come August by Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers. The soon-to-be ex-chief of AMG will arrive just after the long-awaited DBX launches in July with the promise of being Aston Martin’s bestselling model and arguably, with the weight of the company’s future on its shoulders. It’s not just this managerial shake-up that has been made. In March, Aston Martin shareholders approved a financial rescue package headed by Lawrence Stroll valued at $659 million. This investment will be used by Aston Martin to put the DBX into production and gives Stroll’s investment fund, Yew Tree, a 25 % stake in the car company. As Stroll also owns the Racing Point Formula 1 team, he will head-up a project that will see Aston Martin enter F1 as a works team from 2021. It is understood that the existing Racing Point team will be renamed Aston Martin, meaning the brand’s current sponsorship deal with Red Bull Racing will come to an end at the conclusion of this season. +++ 

+++ BENTLEY is working on a facelift for the Bentayga. It will make its debut later this year. The new grille and headlights will resemble the ones used on the Flying Spur. The model will also feature a sportier front bumper with larger air intakes and restyled fog light surrounds. The Bentayga will be equipped with taller taillights as well as a modified rear bumper. Inside, we can expect an updated infotainment system and possibly some new driver assistance systems. Engine options are expected to carryover. +++ 

+++ BMW kicked off the teaser campaign for the facelifted M5 last week, but new details are starting to emerge about the next-generation model. While everything should be taken with a grain of salt, the next super sedan will reportedly be electrified. Details are limited, but the next M5 will arrive in 2024 and be offered with 2 different powertrains. The base model is slated to feature the same plug-in hybrid system as the rumored X8 M. It will reportedly consist of a V8 engine and at least one electric motor. This setup could give the model a combined output of around 760 hp and 1.000 Nm of torque. The plug-in hybrid will reportedly be joined by a fully electric variant which could have a 135 kWh battery pack and 800 volt technology just like the Porsche Taycan. The battery would reportedly power 3 electric motors which each produce 340 hp. 1 motor is said to power the front wheels, while 2 would turn the rear wheels. If everything pans out, the M5 EV would have a theoretical combined output of 1.020 hp. This is said to enable a 0-100 km/h time of 2.9 seconds, which would make it 0.4 seconds faster than the current M5 Competition. The car is also said to have a range of up to 700 km (WLTP). While nothing is official, BMW M boss Markus Flasch recently confirmed the company is working on electrified M cars. If that includes a fully electric M5 as rumored, we’ll just have to wait and see. +++ 

+++ The BMW 4 SERIES is probably one of the hottest Bimmers right now. Not just because of its new mild-hybrid engine that makes a total of 390 hp and 500 Nm in the M440i xDrive, but most of the talks go to the massively controversial kidney grille. That’s rightfully so since those huge vertical grilles beg for your attention. As such, expect the new M4 Coupe to adopt the same grille. The M4, along with the new M3, will debut as rear-wheel-drive models when they hit dealerships by early 2021. They will be revealed in September of this year, as officially confirmed before, but the market launch of the xDrive versions will be in late 2021. Of note, this is the first time that BMW will offer the M3 and M4 in AWD flavours. The Munich-based automaker has started this path with the M5 and now it’s trickling down to the smaller high-performance nameplates. For purists and die-hard manual-shift fans out there, the M3/M4 duo will be initially offered as a Pure trim, which means manual transmission and 480 hp. Aptly named so, these Pure variants are said to have restyled front and rear aprons, unique wheel designs and standalone signature colours. As for the M3’s grille, well, there hasn’t been any report about the M3 adopting the massive vertical grille. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t, for the sake of its detractors out there. +++ 

+++ The BOLLINGER B1 and B2 are pretty unique, and that’s being proven today as the company has been granted patents for their Passthrough and Frunkgate. Starting with the Passthrough, it’s an opening that spans the entire length of the vehicle. This makes transporting long items such as ladders and lumber a breeze. In the B1, a SUV, the Passthrough can accommodate items that are up to 4 meters long. Likewise, the B2 pickup can hold items up to 4.9 meters long. Those needing more room can simply lower the tailgate. While the Passthrough is a practical addition, it’s not the only unique feature. Up front, there’s a Frunkgate which resides where you’d normally find a grille. It folds down like a tailgate and allows owners to store up to 243.5 liters of luggage in what would typically be the engine compartment. To improve access, the model has a small hood and a lockable door in the passenger cabin. The compartment also has 4 electrical outlets which makes it the “perfect spot to store and connect power tools”. In a statement, CEO Robert Bollinger said “The Passthrough and Frunkgate have been among our trucks’ most defining features and were an integral part of our DNA since day one”. He added: “Our new patent is proof that Bollinger Motors is reinventing trucks from the ground up”. The B1 and B2 are slated to go into production next year and both have 2 electric motors that produce a combined output of 623 hp and 906 Nm. This will enable them to accelerate from 0-96 km/h in 4.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 160 km/h. The models are also equipped with a 120 kWh battery pack which should deliver a range of approximately 322 km. Besides the traditional pickup and SUV, Bollinger will offer a B2 Chassis Cab. It features an open rear frame as well as 2- and 4-door configurations with multiple wheelbase lengths. The company envisions the model could be turned into everything from ambulances to tow trucks. +++ 

+++ April was a challenging month for the auto market in EUROPE , as due to the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, passenger car sales went down by some 78 % year-over-year. Even the booming plug-in car segment was affected and noted a decline of 16 % year-over-year; actually the first monthly decline in a few years. There were roughly 31.500 new plug-in registrations, which allowed for an extraordinary market share of 11 % (5.8 % for BEVs). After the first 4 months of 2020, total passenger plug-in car sales exceed 260.000 (7.8 % of the market, including 4.4 % for BEVs). Despite April not being the last month of a quarter, the Tesla Model 3 once again was the topselling model in Europe with 2.461 units. That’s enough to keep it in first place also for year-to-date (23.659), ahead of the Renault Zoé (2.070 in April and 22,692 YTD). The Volkswagen e-Golf was third for the month (1.638) and for the year (12.128). Things are getting very interesting, as the Audi e-Tron (1.368 in April and 9,679 YTD) soon might take over the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (937 in April and 10.264 YTD) in 4th place. +++ 

+++ Last year, FORD and Volkswagen teamed up to invest in Argo AI, an autonomous vehicle platform company, at a valuation of more than $7 billion. Their common investment will allow both companies to independently integrate Argo AI’s self-driving system into their own vehicles, allowing them to scale up production on a global level, while also improving their competitiveness in this growing sector. This newly-founded global alliance, which doesn’t involve any cross-ownership between the 2 carmakers, will also result in Ford using Volkswagen’s MEB electric vehicle architecture to design and build at least one high-volume EV model in Europe come 2023. Recently, Ford Autonomous Vehicles CEO and Mobility vice president, John Lawler, went on record talking about this partnership and what it means to his company. “In my previous role as vice president of Ford corporate strategy, I can tell you firsthand the moment our teams started talking, all 3 parties could see the value of working together. Here’s what we saw and why we believe it works for everyone involved, including our future customers. Building a safe, scalable and trusted self-driving service, however, is no small task. It’s also not a cheap one. We’ve committed to spending more than $4 billion through 2023 on the development of our self-driving service. A large part of this investment is dedicated to developing the self-driving system. With Volkswagen’s investment in Argo AI, we will now share the cost of developing Argo AI’s technology”. Last month, a report came out that Ford’s strategy for a commercial rollout of robotaxis and driverless delivery pods in the U.S. has been set back by the viral outbreak and delayed until 2022. “In addition to shared development costs, the deal with Volkswagen makes Argo AI’s self-driving software the first with commercial deployment plans for both Europe and the U.S. Because it can tap into both automakers’ global reach, Argo AI’s platform has the largest geographic deployment potential of any autonomous driving technology to date. Scale and geographic reach are important factors in developing a self-driving system that is robust and cost efficient”, added the Ford executive. +++ 

+++ Long before Hyundai crowned today’s i30 N hot hatchback as its sportiest offering in Europe, the South Korean brand had flexed its dynamic competence muscle with a 2-door coupe and later a rear-wheel-drive GENESIS Coupe. The former entered Europe for the 1997 model year as a handsome but generally forgettable front-wheeldrive model. However, the latter vehicle, which arrived for 2010, truly helped Hyundai establish itself among enthusiasts. It faded from the market just before the Genesis sedan it was based on morphed into the standalone Genesis luxury brand elsewhere, but could it come back? I asked Scott Margason, Hyundai’s director of product planning, for his thoughts. Somewhat surprisingly, Margason told me that if he had his way, Hyundai would once again offer a vehicle like the Genesis coupe. And why not? With its rear-drive underpinnings, handsome styling and available 306 hp V6 engine, the Genesis Coupe was an impressive and capable performance car. The Hyundai even took top honors in a comparison test against 6-cylinder variants of the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang. Unfortunately, there’s no indication Hyundai plans to revive the 2-door sports coupe, although the brand is exploring a mid-engined, rear-drive sports car to serve as a halo vehicle for its performance-oriented N sub-brand. There have been rumors that Genesis, the luxury sub-brand spun off from the original Hyundai Genesis sedan and Genesis Coupe models, might churn out a 2-door coupe; however, such a model would surely be less pony car and more personal luxury coupe, à la the brand’s Vision G concept. +++ 

+++ Even though GERMANY had its car showrooms open all of last month, most customers still stayed away from making purchases, despite all of the safety measures taken by retailers. New car sales fell 50 % last month, which is only slightly better than the numbers from April, which stood at 61 %. There were a total of 168.148 registrations, according to data released by the KBA transport authority. Meanwhile, the head of the VDIK importers association, Reinhard Zirpel, said that reopening the dealerships “had almost no positive effect on demand. The state of the passenger car market remains dramatically bad”, he added. While Germany did double its incentives for both fully electric cars as well as plug-in hybrids, the stimulus package featured no benefits for buyers of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles. According to the ZDK dealers association, the package is “not even a drop in the ocean” in helping to move unsold new cars worth roughly €15 billion in dealerships. As for how each brand did individually, all German carmakers saw a drop, with BMW down 62 %, Opel down 60 %, Volkswagen down 52 %, Audi down 46 % and Mercedes down 43 %. The largest drop among foreign brands was registered by Dacia, down 63 %, followed by Seat with 61 % and Ford with 57 %. Even Tesla, which had a decent month of April, suffered a 28 % drop in May. However, there were some carmakers that actually saw an increase in volume, as Subaru and Fiat were both up 13 %. Meanwhile, sales of fully electric vehicles went up 21 % to 5.578 for a 3.3 % market share (up for 1.4 % in May of 2019) and registrations of PHEV models more than doubled to 6.755 units, with their market share increased to 4 % from 1 % the year before. As for gasoline and diesel cars, sales dropped by 56 % and 52 % respectively. +++ 

+++ Last Monday, LEXUS announced the new IS would debut on June 9th. Now, the company has postponed the unveiling due to what it simply described as the “recent global situation”. While Lexus didn’t elaborate, there’s been one story that has dominated headlines all this week. That’s the death of George Floyd who died on May 25th after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The killing of yet another unarmed black man, who was clearly in distress, sent shock waves across the United States. Protests have occurred in cities across the country and some have turned violent and resulted in looting. The protests continue and have been gaining traction globally as there have been gatherings in Berlin, London, Paris and New Zealand; just to name a few. The outcry has been so loud that several automakers have even weighed in. Among them was Toyota who released a statement on social injustice saying, “We all have witnessed unacceptable bigotry and a lack of education around the Covid-19 virus to more recent societal issues of violence, killings and racism against African Americans in Minnesota, Kentucky, Georgia and elsewhere. These events may be difficult for many of us to process and our thoughts are with all those directly affected and their families and friends”. Toyota went on to say “We stand behind our commitment to diversity and inclusion, and we remain steadfast in our belief for equality, respect and inclusivity for all people”. While it’s possible the coronavirus may have played some role in the decision, the car was going to be given a digital debut so that shouldn’t have been much of a factor.  It’s also worth noting that other events have been cancelled as a result of the protests including a look a the Playstation 5. Getting back to the IS, Lexus said a new date will be announced soon. The company has been tight-lipped about the model, but it is expected to feature new styling as well as carryover powertrains. +++ 

+++ LORDSTOWN MOTORS , the EV startup that has bought GM’s former Lordstown Assembly Plant in Ohio, is expected to unveil its Endurance electric truck later this month as part of an online event. Initially, the company had planned to debut the Endurance at the Detroit Auto Show next month but, as you probably know, the event got canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. To sweeten the wait until the Endurance’s unveiling, Lordstown Motors has posted a more realistic set of renderings on its website than the previous ones repeatedly featured in the media. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, let’s just say the Endurance electric truck doesn’t look half bad. Key styling elements include the sleek horizontal LED headlights and taillights, closed-off grille which an identical structure to the body panels, straight wheel arches, and black stripes that extend from the headlights and taillights. The in-wheel hub motors are also visible inside the 20 inch wheels, giving the Endurance an interesting, high-tech look. As far as specifications go, I know that the 4 in-wheel hub motors produce a total of 600 hp, enough for a 0-96 km/h sprint of 5.5 seconds and a governed top speed of 128 km/h. No info regarding the battery pack capacity has been disclosed yet but Lordstown Motors claims the Endurance can cover about 402 km per charge on the EPA cycle.The batteries can be charged to 95 % capacity in 10 hours using a Level 2 7kW AC charger or 0.5 hours to 1.5 hours using Level 3 DC charging. Since we’re talking about a pickup, Lordstown Motors says the Endurance offers a towing capacity of 3.400 kg and a gradability of 30 % at GVW (gross vehicle weight). The company aims to build 30 pre-production electric trucks by December and 20.000 units next year. That’s an ambitious target considering that the price is $52,500; about double the starting price of a Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado. The Endurance will be eligible for the $7,500 tax rebate, though. +++ 

+++ MASERATI has finally decided to step into the electrified era of automobiles and will do so with their first-ever hybrid car: the Ghibli. Despite the Ghibli Hybrid official nomenclature, it is, in all likelihood, a plug-in hybrid model, as previous reports have indicated. The car was supposed to premiere at the 2020 Beijing Auto Show, but since the event got postponed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it should debut later this year. “The natural world is full of moments where a single spark evolves into something new; an instant where hybridization acts as the catalyst for change, and divergent elements clash and combine; meet and mix; encounter and evolve; giving rise to something better than before”, said the automaker. “From this same inspiration comes the all new Ghibli Hybrid: the first in a line of new vehicles at the vanguard of a new era for Maserati”. The trident brand didn’t say anything else about it, but we do know the hybrid model will launch as part of the executive sedan’s second facelift. On the outside, the car will bring the usual design updates that will revolve around the refreshed front and rear ends. Inside, expect a new infotainment system that will feature a larger display, and a fully digital instrument cluster. These touches, perhaps joined by the trim updates, will make the Ghibli feel more modern which it badly needs, given that the current generation has been in production since 2013. Other electrified models are in the pipeline at Maserati. One of them will be the new SUV that will slot under the Levante, and is apparently due for the 2021 modelyear. The successors of the Granturismo and Grancabrio are due in 2021 and 2022 respectively, both offered exclusively as battery-electric models. Some sort of electrification is expected for the MC20 supercar too, whose presentation was recently pushed back to September. +++ 

+++ The latest-generation MAZDA 3 has proven itself to be a winner and chances are it will soon be made even better. While the Mazda3 is currently available with a host of good engines, including the marque’s innovative new Skyactiv-X powertrain, there is one thing that it’s lacking and that is forced induction. Well, that looks set to change. At least, in the U.S., where the 2021 model year Mazda3 will be offered with a turbocharged engine in both sedan and hatchback body styles. In case that isn’t enough to get you excited, it will also be sold with all-wheel drive. Oh yes. All turbocharged Mazda3 models are listed as ‘6AT’ meaning they will only be available with an automatic transmission and not the manual gearbox that is available with lesser variants. This won’t be a concern for the vast majority of buyers, however. Another interesting tidbit is that the turbocharged, all-wheel drive Mazda3 variants are listed as ‘PP’ models. There’s an outside chance it could mean Performance Package, although I wouldn’t hold my breath. Details about the turbocharged engine bound for the Mazda3 remain unclear. However, there’s a good probability it will be the same 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder used by models including the Mazda6, CX-5, and CX-9. This powertrain is good for 250 hp and 420 Nm. It remains to be seen whether Mazda will put that much power in its compact car without adding the coveted ‘Mazdaspeed’ moniker to it. +++ 

+++ The coronavirus has hit the MCLAREN Group particularly hard in recent months and will lead to the delay of select models, including the replacement to the current Sports Series. Not long after McLaren announced that it sold just over 300 cars in the first quarter of the year and will reduce its workforce by 25 %, the decision has been made to push back the next-generation Sports Series that was expected to premiere before the end of the year. The new entry-level McLaren range will utilize an all-new platform sporting a twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder hybrid powertrain. The car is viewed as one of the most important under the marque’s Track 25 business plan and when it does eventually launch, will preview future production models from McLaren. Recent spy shots of the new McLaren Sports Series model suggest that it will look quite a lot different than the current 570S but still be identifiable as a McLaren. One key piece of design visible through the camouflage of prototypes have been thin horizontal LED taillights, more akin to those of the McLaren GT and Speedtail than the curved taillights of the current Sports Series and Super Series (720S, 765LT). While some may be upset to hear the new Sports Series will have a twin-turbo V6 rather than the twin-turbo V8 of the current car, the presence of an electric motor will inevitably help to increase horsepower while improving fuel efficiency. In addition, the car could be capable of up to 30 km of range on all-electric power. +++ 

+++ The decline of PLUG-IN ELECTRIC CAR sales in April was significant, but compared to the overall market, it was actually better than average. Total sales amounted to over 110.000 (down 30 % year-over-year), which was enough for a market share of 2.8 %. Two-thirds of the volume were BEVs. After the first 4 months of 2020, the total sales exceed 570.000 (down 12 % year-over-year) at 2.7 % market share. For comparison, the passenger car market went down by 45 % year-over-year in April and 29 % YTD. In April, the only car with a 5-digit sales result was the Model 3 (11.761). The topselling Tesla also already exceeded 85.000 YTD, which is close to 4 times above the result of the second-best (Renault Zoe; 2.118 in April and 22.811 YTD). The second and third best selling models for the month were BYD Qin Pro BEV (5.096 and 13.486 YTD, or 5.632 and 14.778 YTD including Qin BEV). The current situation and relatively small differences between the models mean that all the scenarios are possible. We can imagine that soon, Tesla Model Y will quickly go up and who knows, maybe we will see 2 Teslas on the top? 3 brands were able to score 5-digit result in April: 1. Tesla (14.793 and 103.193 YTD), 2. BMW (11.991 and 34.191 YTD), 3. Volkswagen (11.115 and 38.702 YTD). Interestingly, still there is no Chinese brand in top three, but it might change, especially if BMW will no be able to keep up the pace. Tesla is so far the only, which managed to sell more than 100.000 EVs so far this year. +++ 

+++ POLESTAR has teamed up with Plugsurfing in Europe in order to improve EV public charging convenience before initial Polestar 2 customer deliveries kick off. The ‘2’ is now available in Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Plugsurfing is offering over 195.000 compatible EV charging points, while also providing a convenient solution to accessing and paying for electricity from multiple public charging service providers. “This international European partnership with Plugsurfing is the first of these solutions and it paves the way for more partnerships which will also include national and local solutions”, said Polestar CEO, Thomas Ingenlath. Through this partnership, the Swedish brand can offer its customers the flexibility to charge easily when traveling abroad. What Plugsurfing does is they basically remove any such requirements as needing foreign bank accounts or local mobile phone numbers in order to charge your vehicle in other countries. “The Plugsurfing RFID tag, which will be supplied as standard with every new Polestar 2 in Europe, allows owners to reduce the number of apps, accounts and authentication processes required to charge their cars from the thousands of different charging service providers in the region. Customers will register an account with Plugsurfing, and thus benefit from one payment and authentication solution rather than requiring unique apps and accounts for a multitude of charging service providers”. Upon receiving their car, future Polestar 2 owners will be advised with regards to the charging infrastructure and how to utilize the Plugsurfing solution. +++ 

+++ On purely business grounds, RENAULT could do without its plant in Maubeuge. Like its sister factory, 75 kilometers away in Douai, the plant opened nearly half a century ago as part of a government effort to stem the decline of France’s northern industrial coal belt. Production at the 2 sites is now at just a fraction of their combined capacity. With the auto industry’s already weakening fortunes crushed by the pandemic, Renault’s 3-year survival plan hinges on cutting €2 billion in costs and 14.600 jobs worldwide, about a third of them at home. The root of the problem, according to chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, is overcapacity in France and Maubeuge is among sites whose future is being mulled. “Not so fast”, say unions and the government of president Emmanuel Macron. Bucking health rules on social distancing, thousands marched through the town on Saturday to oppose any move to shut the plant. Even before Senard unveiled his plan, Macron ordered Renault to reconsider any moves to streamline production in its northern factories and consult with unions. Not surprisingly, Senard, who has signaled the closure of a site in Choisy-le-Roi, near Paris, has tried to defuse tensions, saying that shutting the Maubeuge plant had not even crossed his mind. Closing a factory in the best of times in France can test the mettle of an executive. But Senard will be trying to do it over Macron’s twin resolves to save the local car industry and get the pandemic-wrecked economy back on track. The government now expects an 11 % contraction this year, more than previously anticipated. To top that, Renault is counting on €5 billion in loans backed by the state, its most powerful shareholder. “To save Renault, the government will have to accept that it will reduce its industrial footprint in France”, said Jean-Pierre Corniou, a partner at consultancy SIA Partners. While politicians the world over wrestle with such issues, French interventionism tends to make the inevitable worse. “Jean-Dominique Senard is trying hard, but the house is burning”, Corniou said. The first step in what promises to be a long-drawn process began Tuesday when labor representatives, local politicians and management met at the finance ministry to discuss Maubeuge. If history is a guide, it will be one of many such gatherings. France has a long record of industrial battles involving bosses, unions and political leaders. The well-worn French playbook includes lots of bluster and ends up in bitterness all around after sites close, often costing millions in taxpayer money and false hopes of a rekindling of mass manufacturing. A former Whirlpool plant near the northern city of Amiens (Macron’s hometown) died a slow death over nearly 2 decades, benefiting from millions in government subsidies. It became a flashpoint during the 2017 presidential campaign. ArcelorMittal and oil giant Total were also objects of political grief over, respectively, a steel plant at Florange and now-closed refinery at Dunkirk. In one spat, ArcelorMittal CEO Lakshmi Mittal was threatened with the nationalization of his French site; an empty threat that has not stopped it from steadily shrinking ever since. In Renault’s case, perfectly in line with the French way, finance minister Bruno Le Maire has demanded a “site by site, job by job” evaluation of the company’s strategy and warned that closing plants should be a last resort. Following Tuesday’s meeting, the minister agreed to sign off on the state-backed loan and said talks between Renault and unions would continue next week to guarantee a level of employment and activity at Maubeuge beyond 2023. For the site, which employs about 1.725 people, it does not help that Macron made a visit there in 2018 when more jobs and investments were promised. Renault’s problems pre-date the pandemic, stemming from years of expansion under former leader Carlos Ghosn, who sought to make the 3-company alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi into the biggest global vehicle manufacturer. As they grappled with management turmoil and bitter infighting following Ghosn’s 2018 arrest, they lost focus in the global race with rivals including Volkswagen Group and Toyota to make more electric models. Renault’s struggle to cut costs at home will add to the difficulties. “There has been a long deterioration in Renault’s competitiveness, so rationalization is unavoidable”, said Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois. “Carrying this out is tricky, especially during a crisis. The company is being quite vague about what exactly has been decided and what is still being negotiated”. French unions are demanding that the company bring more manufacturing back home. “Renault may be too big for its needs, but French workers are being asked to make the greatest sacrifices”, said Franck Daout, a spokesman for the CFDT union. Senard has vowed to sell the Caudan (Fonderie de Bretagne) site, and transfer operations at Choisy-le-Roi to the nearby Flins factory. While Maubeuge has crystallized anger, vehicle production is set to be phased out at the Dieppe plant and Flins. Renault’s factory utilization in France stands at just 60 %, Senard says, with output at about 655.000 vehicles for a maximum capacity of 1.9 million. “We can’t sustain this situation for long”, he said. In the tussle to get the job done, Renault acting CEO Clotilde Delbos has held up archrival PSA as a model. PSA underwent a painful revamp under CEO Carlos Tavares and now boasts industry-leading margins and has also stolen a march on Renault with a planned merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. One key aspect was PSA’s decision to stop making cars at a plant in Aulnay-sous-Bois in 2013, the first car factory closure in France in 2 decades. After the company made the case that its very survival was at stake, the government watered its stance on job cuts down to “inevitable” from “not acceptable”. Tavares is fond of talking about PSA’s near-death experience and his vision of an industry in which the strongest will survive. Senard has so far taken a soft approach, saying he plans to take a lot of time to reach a consensus with unions. Yet his message is clear. “Politicians should take into account the future of our industry without focusing on short-term objectives that have electoral connotations”, he said on national television. +++ 

+++ TESLA broke ground at its new Gigafactory in Berlin, Germany late last month and is expected to start production at the site as early as July 2021. However, it has been prompted to tweak its plans. It was only in February that a German court granted Tesla permission to clear part of a forest for the Berlin factory and already huge progress has been made at the site, including the clearing of the forest and the leveling out of the ground. New blueprints set to be presented this week or the next one will address some concerns of environmental critics and include a reduction in the amount of freshwater required and wastewater created at the site. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk says the facility will produce batteries, powertrains, and vehicles, starting with the Model Y. He wants to see the first Model Ys rolling off the production line by July 2021. The schedule was recently echoed by the economy minister in the state of Brandenburg, Jörg Steinbach, despite the new plans. “We expect a proposal that in sum will be more environmentally acceptable and thereby even more approvable”, Steinbach told. “I assume that within the first half of next year cars will be rolling off the conveyor belt there”. Tesla’s Berlin Gigafactory project could be worth as much as €4 billion and lead to the employment of 12.000 people who would build 500.000 vehicles annually. +++ 

+++ The TESLA MODEL 3 was the best-selling vehicle in California through the first quarter of the year. During the first 3 months of the year, a total of 18.856 Model 3s were sold across the state. That is a higher number than recorded by any other single model in any other segment of the market. The second highest-selling vehicle in California through Q1 was the Honda Civic, which topped out the C segment with 18.001 sales followed by the Toyota Camry, that was the highest selling D segment vehicle with 17,871 units sold, and the Toyota RAV4 which was the 4th-highest selling vehicle with 17.261 new registrations. In the ‘Near Luxury’ segment that the Model 3 competes in, it easily outsold the BMW 3-Series (3.473 sales), Lexus ES (2.703), Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2.199) and Audi A4 (1.099), as data from the California New Car Dealers Association reveals. Of course, it is important to note that this was no normal quarter due to stay-at-home orders issued across the United States due to the coronavirus pandemic. Car dealerships across California were closed as they weren’t deemed essential businesses, clearly impacting sales. Tesla, meanwhile, was in the unique position to capitalize on its online-focused sales model whereas many other car manufacturers and franchised dealerships struggled to adjust to online sales. Looking at car sales in California through Q1 more broadly, Tesla was one of only 10 automakers to register an increase in new car registrations compared to the first quarter of 2019. Genesis recorded the largest jump with sales rising by 323.3 % from 189 vehicles to 800. Other companies to increase sales in Q1 included Audi (8.6 %), Chrysler (57.8 %), GMC (13.5 %), Kia (9.2 %), Lincoln (15.3 %), Mitsubishi (9.4 %), Ram (92 %), Tesla (9.3 %) and Volvo (10.7 %). +++ 

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , registrations fell 89 % in May; only slightly less negative than a 97 % collapse in April, as car dealerships were hit by the government’s coronavirus lockdown, industry data showed. The number of new cars sold last month at 20.247 was 163.477 fewer than in May 2019, the SMMT industry association said. The figure was the weakest May for sales since 1952. The cars registered in May were sold though “click and collect” services that the government agreed to in the middle of the month. The Tesla Model 3 was the UK’s best-selling car for the second month in May, with 852 units sold, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa (790) and Ford Fiesta (760). Dealerships in the UK were allowed to reopen for car sales on June 1 as the British government relaxed measures imposed to slow the spread of Covid-19. “After a second month of shutdown and the inevitable yet devastating impact on the market, the re-opening of dealerships is a pivotal moment for the entire industry and the thousands of people whose jobs depend on it”, SMMT boss Mike Hawes said. “Early reports suggest there is good business given the circumstances, although it is far too early to tell how demand will pan out over the coming weeks and months”, Hawes said. James Fairclough, head of AA Cars, said: “There are encouraging signs for the industry that latent demand has been building during the lockdown period and boosted by people who usually commute by public transport, now considering the purchase of a car”. The SMMT has estimated that dealership closures cost the U.K. Treasury 61 million pounds ($77 million) a day in lost taxes and state-wage support, while the lost output is expected to cost the sector as much as 12.5 billion pounds. Elsewhere in Europe in countries where showrooms have been reopened for several weeks, the industry showed tentative signs of a recovery last month with sales in France and Germany falling 50 %; an improvement over April plunges, while Spain also showed a slight recovery. +++ 

+++ If you’re looking for an affordable USED VEHICLE , there are countless options. However, some are better bets than others. While all used cars will need some kind of maintenance and repair, it’s best to avoid models which are known to be problematic and have expensive repair bills. With that in mind, Consumer Reports compiled a list of vehicles which are most likely to need an engine rebuild or replacement. While the publication notes major problems are generally rare, they can happen and this can leave owners on the hook for thousands of dollars in repairs. To find the models which were most likely to need engine work, they analyzed data from their annual surveys to determine those with the “most severe problems, as determined by frequency and cost”. The worst offender was the Audi A4 from the 2009 and 2010 model years. These vehicles were equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and they typically need work on them between 172.200 and 246.230 km. Instead of buying an Audi, the publication recommends consumers get an Acura TL (European Honda Accord), Infiniti G-Series or Lexus ES. Coming in at number 2 was the 2008 Ford F-350 with the 6.4-liter Power Stroke diesel engine. The heavy duty truck can see engine problems occur after as little as 104.607 km). Unfortunately for shoppers, Consumer Reports says there aren’t any good alternatives. Moving down the list is the retro-inspired 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engnie can experience issues at around 164.958 km, so the publication suggests shoppers get a slightly newer Toyota Matrix (Verso) instead. Of course, you could probably also get a Pontiac Vibe as it was pretty much the same as the Matrix. The 4th most likely vehicle(s) to need engine work was the 2008-2009 Mini Hatch and Clubman. Shoppers are steered towards the Mazda3 as the Mini’s can develop engine problems around 196.340 km. Rounding out the top 5 was the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain. While the publication doesn’t specify which engine was problematic, it says issues can occur with as little as 135.990 km). Instead, buyers might want to consider the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. Finishing out the top 10 are the 2006 Jeep Wrangler 4-cylinder, 2010 Cadillac SRX, 2003 Acura MDX, 2006 Buick Lucerne and 2010 GMC Acadia. +++ 

+++ With the issues encountered by the new generation Golf and the ID.3 electric hatchback, the Dieselgate scandal which is still far from being over, and the latest racism accusations, VOLKSWAGEN sure has a lot on its plate. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so it appears that the Group is planning a massive management reshuffle, which will see Herbert Diess stepping down from the helm of Volkswagen, although he will remain the chairman of the Group. Steering the Volkswagen ship going forward will be Oliver Blume, who is currently CEO of Porsche. He will be brought in to put V-Dub on the right track. The personnel changes will not end here, as Skoda’s head honcho, Bernhard Maier, who has held the reins of the Czech brand ever since the end of 2015, will be pulled from his position and named CEO of Porsche. Before leading Skoda, Maier worked at Porsche from 2001, leading the Sales and Marketing division. Jochen Sengpiehl, VW’s chief marketing officer and the man responsible for an allegedly racist Instagram video, will reportedly be sacked. The clip has since been pulled down, but can still be found online. Volkswagen has since apologized and promised to investigate the approval process of the ad. Volkswagen  is considering more cost cuts to help cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a spokesman for the German automaker said. The issue was recently discussed at an internal. “There were general deliberations about what further cost measures could be taken to respond to the pandemic”, the spokesman told. “There are no concrete decisions yet”. Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess was quoted as telling top managers at a meeting: “We must significantly cut R&D expenditure, investments and fixed costs compared with the previous planning”. The group’s net liquidity would “continue to decline at least until July due to weak demand”, Diess said, adding that not all group brands would achieve a positive result in 2020. This meant the main VW passenger car brand must reduce its so-called material overheads by 20 %. +++

+++ Volkswagen has made some quite big changes going from the VOLKSWAGENGOLF Mk7 to Mk8, particularly on the interior, but the transition didn’t sit well with at least some of the owners of the previous model. We already know that the German carmaker has trouble with squashing the software bugs of the new Golf and upcoming ID.3, but it appears that they performed a number of cost-cutting measures on their compact hatchback that doesn’t sit well with existing owners. VW Group specialist Mtl Car Garage from Slovenia got their hands on the new Golf Mk8, giving us a side-by-side comparison with a Mk7 Golf R. In their video, they list a number of cost-cutting measures they found on the new car and air their criticism on the model’s ergonomics. Sure, some of them are small things like replacing the Mk7’s hood strut for a traditional holder, but others are more irritating, like removing the small storage area on the driver’s side and the felt lining from the glove compartment, causing all your stuff to rattle on bumps and corners, as well as the absence of nearly every physical button from the interior. The Golf was known as having one of the most familiar and ergonomically perfect interiors in its class, at least until the Mk8 model arrived. Sit inside a Mk7 and everything is right where you’d expect to find it. The new Golf, however, offers a very different experience. Functions that you would normally operate at the touch of a button are now buried inside the new infotainment system, including turning off the start-stop system, while the touch-sensitive control panel of the A/C system requires more familiarization with its uncommon slide controls. In addition, the digital instrument cluster is surrounded by acres of shiny piano black trim that extends to the new, also touch-operated light switch panel, and is a dust and fingerprint magnet. +++ 

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