Newsflash: Volkswagen registreert e-Samba modelnaam

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+++ ASTON MARTIN will issue new shares worth around 20 % of its existing capital as part of a series of measures to raise about £245 million (€265 million) to help it recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The struggling British firm lost £119 million in the first quarter of this year as lockdown restrictions caused demand for its sports car range to plummet. The latest measures are designed to boost Aston Martin’s finances as it gears up to begin deliveries of the crucial DBX next month. The company will issue new shares worth 19.99 % of its existing ordinary share capital. New chairman Lawrence Stroll’s Yew Tree consortium will buy 24.99 % of those shares, with Prestige Motor Holdings taking 7.78 %. The firm has also received approval for a Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme loan of £20 million and is also planning to draw down around £55 million of borrowing. Under Stroll’s leadership, Aston Martin has recently worked to reduce its dealer stock and cut production of its sports car models, which will involve the loss of around 500 jobs. Stroll said the new steps will “improve financial flexibility in a period of ongoing uncertainty” and provide “additional funding to executive the business plan”. The company has also undergone a major restructuring, with the departure of former chief executive Andy Palmer. Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers will replace him and is due to start in August. Stroll said full production of the DBX has now begun at Aston’s new St Athan plant, with deliveries on course for July. He also said development work has resumed on the Valkyrie hypercar, which is set to be launched next year. Around 90% of Aston Martin’s dealerships have now reopened following the coronavirus pandemic, although the firm expects sales to remain low in the current financial quarter. Aston Martin said it has strong demand for the DBX and predicts the SUV will account for around half its wholesale sales this year. Although the St Athan plant is fully operational, Aston Martin’s Gaydon facility remains closed as it lowers its stock of sports car models. The firm has yet to give a date when the Gaydon facility will reopen. +++ 

+++ E-commerce giant AMAZON has reportedly agreed to pay more than $1.2 billion to buy self-driving startup Zoox, in a move that sheds light on the company’s huge ambitions regarding autonomous vehicle technology. Amazon will pay more than $1.2 billion, according to 2 people familiar with the matter. One of the people said Amazon would work with Zoox to create a ride-hailing fleet, which would put the e-commerce giant against the Google-backed Waymo. Mind you, some analysts expect Amazon to focus on integrating autonomous technology into its delivery fleet. The deal follows purchases of stakes in electric truck maker Rivian and self-driving startup Aurora. The transaction means a majority of Zoox investors will get their money back, with some of them making a positive return. Among the main investors are Lux Capital, DFJ, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Atlassian co-founder Michael Cannon-Brooks. Advanced talks between Amazon and Zoox were first reported in May but the companies did not make any comments. Zoox was founded in 2014 and valued at $3.2 billion in July 2018. The company had planned to launch a pilot program for its ride-sharing service this year, but the coronavirus pandemic halted vehicle testing. The health crisis hit the company pretty hard and Zoox had to layoff 100 employees in April. +++ 

+++ BMW should shift course and establish a technology platform just for electric cars, moving away from developing cars that can be fitted with either electric or combustion engines, the head of the influential works council said. “Only with our own e-architecture can we fully exploit the advantages of an electric vehicle”, Manfred Schoch told. Schoch said a dedicated electric platform is needed if the German luxury carmaker is not to be overtaken by competitors from California (like Tesla) or from China. Schoch’s call comes after some BMW managers have pushed for a new electric strategy internally for some time. Those managers hope that the company will now quickly shift to develop a pure e-platform, which would make cars lighter and give them a longer battery range and a bigger interior. Asked about the report, a BMW spokesman said the company was currently “optimally positioned” and declined to comment on speculation about internal discussions. BMW is understood to be developing an electric version of the 3 Series to sit alongside the 530 hp i4 by 2023. The forthcoming i4 will be BMW’s first electric saloon and the firm is yet to officially confirm plans for an electric 3 Series. A BMW spokesperson declined to comment, but in a statement said: “By 2023, the BMW Group portfolio will include 25 electrified models and half of those will be fully electric”. Munich will officially launch its new iX3 electric SUV later this year, with the 4 Series Gran Coupé-based i4 arriving in dealerships in mid-2021. BMW design chief Domagoj Dukec recently told that the decision to launch an i4 rather than an electric 3 Series was because “electrification is still at the point where some people doubt if they should go for it or not, and it’s still a little more expensive. So electric cars need more emotion, and we believe an electrified i4 makes more sense than an electric 3 Series”. But with sales of electric cars rising rapidly (and costs likely to drop as manufacturers achieve greater economies of scale) it’s likely there could be suffient demand for an electric 3 Series by 2023. It’s not yet known what powertrain an electric 3 Series would use, but it’s unlikely to share the performance-oriented i4’s 530 hp, 4-wheeldrive set-up, given the 3 Series’ practical, executive billing. More likely is a variation of the as-yet unrevealed powertrain used by the iX3. Although BMW has yet to offer performance and range data for the production variant, the iX3 concept was said to offer a battery capacity of more than 70 kWh, a range of around 400 kilometres and an electric motor rated at 274 hp. As with the i4, however, the electric 3 Series would be a likely candidate for a dual-motor, 4-wheeldrive range-topper in the vein of the Tesla Model 3 Performance. The i4 sits atop a modified version of Munich’s CLAR architecture, which underpins the standard 3 Series and new 4 Series and is designed for both combustion engine and electric powertrains, so an electric 3 Series would be much cheaper to develop than an all-new, bespoke EV saloon. There’s no indication, either, as to what the new model could be called. An obvious choice would be i3, but it’s unlikely BMW would link its mainstream flagship saloon with the radically styled hatchback that has been on sale since 2013. The 3 Series has been available in petrol-electric plug-in hybrid guise since 2016. The current 330e packs a combined 252 hp, offers an electric-only range of 60 kilometres and can now be specified with 4-wheeldrive. +++ 

+++ CADILLAC is embracing their electric future as the company has released a new teaser video of the Lyriq “show car”. Designed to preview an upcoming production model, the thinly veiled concept will be unveiled on August 6th. Cadillac is keeping details under wraps, but said the Lyriq “marks the beginning of a new chapter for the brand, one that is all-electric and redefines the boundaries and limits of mobility and connectivity”. While that isn’t much to go on, the crossover was originally teased at the 2019 North American International Auto Show and it appears to remain pretty faithful to those original sketches. The Lyriq has a fully enclosed grille which is illuminated and flanked by triangular air intakes that appear to be blocked off. Moving further back, we can see a short hood and a flowing roofline. There’s also streamlined bodywork and what could be a charging port hidden behind the front fender. The concept appears to be the same one that was shown at General Motors’ EV Day earlier this year and a previous report suggested it was “about 85% true to the production vehicle”. The same report said the crossover had 23 inch wheels and a 4-seat interior with a 34 inch display. The former two items will likely be dropped for production, but the 34 inch display should remain. The Lyric is set to arrive in 2022 and is said to be roughly the same size as the current XT5. It will ride on GM’s new electric vehicle architecture and use Ultium batteries.  The company has previously said the batteries will have capacities ranging from 50 to 200 kWh and offer ranges of up to 644 km. +++ 

+++ CALIFORNIA approved a groundbreaking policy to wean its trucking sector off of diesel fuel by requiring manufacturers to sell a rising number of zero-emissions vehicles, starting in 2024. The mandate, passed unanimously by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), was hailed as a major step toward reducing climate-warming emissions and improving public health for low-income communities near busy highway corridors and ports. “California is once again leading the nation in the fight to make our air cleaner”, governor Gavin Newsom said after the vote. Environmentalists say the mandate, which applies to medium-duty and large trucks, will put an estimated 300.000 zero-emission trucks on the road by 2035. The proposed mandate is expected to start in the 2024 model year and initially require 5 % – 9 % zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) based on class, rising to 30 % – 50 % by 2030. By 2045, all vehicles should be ZEVs “where feasible”. The regulation would apply to pickups with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 8.500 pounds or more, but not to light-duty trucks, which are covered by separate zero-emission regulations. CARB plans a separate rule in early 2021 that will require large fleet owners to buy some ZEVs. The move comes as a rising number of companies including Rivian, Tesla, Nikola, Volvo and General Motors are working to introduce zero-emission trucks. And as California joins Washington and Oregon in preparing a charging infrastructure for electric trucks called the West Coast Clean Transit Corridor. Heavy-duty trucks are the largest source of smog-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution in California. The Environmental Protection Agency said in September that California’s light-duty ZEV mandate was preempted by federal law. A group of 23 U.S. states has sued, seeking to reverse that determination, and an increasing number of states are choosing to follow California’s emissions standards. The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association said the regulation would help stimulate the heavy-duty ZEV market but warned the targets would most likely need future downward adjustments. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS ’ OnStar has been saving lives for more than 2 decades and now it’s coming to a smartphone near you. Thanks to the company’s new Guardian app, OnStar members and up to 7 of their friends and family can access the company’s safety services from their smartphone. Given this, they’re available even when traveling in a non-GM vehicle. The app provides access to four main features and the most notable is mobile crash response. It uses your smartphone’s sensors to detect a crash and can alert an OnStar advisor when one occurs. On Android phones, you can be automatically connected to an Onstar advisor, who can send emergency crews to the scene if necessary. On Apple devices, it’s a bit more complicated, as the app will contact an OnStar advisor who will then call you. This can make things a bit tricky as it requires the call to be answered and that could pose a challenge if you’re injured or can’t get to your phone. The app also provides easy access to roadside assistance for any vehicle. It also allows users to connect to OnStar Emergency-Certified advisors who are available 24/7. GM says they’re specially trained and can assess a situation, provide critical medical instruction and contact 911 as needed. Lastly, the app allows you to share your location with friends and family. This should make keeping tabs on teenagers a bit less stressful. The new service is available to OnStar members with a current subscription and will require an “OnStar Guardian service plan add-on”. There’s no word on how much that will cost, but the company is giving eligible members a complimentary 6 month subscription if they redeem the offer by July 31th. +++ 

+++ GENESIS , Hyundai’s luxury brand, will start sales of a face-lifted G90 sedan in South Korea from July 2. The company also unveiled a special edition of the model dubbed the Stardust. The new G90 is a partially revamped version of the first generation of the large sedan, which was launched in Korea in 2018 as a rebranding of the EQ900 model. The facelifted G90 will have adaptive control suspension and an intelligent front-lighting system as standard features for all trim levels. Previously, the adaptive suspension system, which reinforces the stability of the steering on inconsistent road conditions, wasn’t included as standard. The intelligent front-lighting system, which cuts the high beams when a frontal camera recognizes an approaching object, wasn’t offered on the original G90s. Genesis said it will sell 50 units of the limited edition Stardust G90. The Stardust edition features a twinkling effect on its dark gray exterior. The carmaker explained the effect requires a special paint process that must be done at a separate assembly line, which limits production quantities. “With the G90 Stardust edition, the brand’s luxury reputation is expected to be elevated”, the company said. The facelifted G90 comes with a 3.3-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, a 3.8-liter gasoline engine or a 5.0-liter gasoline engine. The G90 is equipped with multiple safety features, such as parking collision-avoidance assist reverse (PCA-R) and adaptive control suspension. Hyundai sells the G70, G80 and G90 sedans, as well as the GV80 SUV, under the Genesis brand. Its sales fell 26 % to 1.288.629 vehicles in the January-May period from 1.748.911 units a year earlier as people opted not to visit dealerships amid the coronavirus outbreak. +++ 

+++ General Motors and local HOLDEN dealerships across Australia are still yet to agree to terms on compensation after General Motors made the call earlier this year to kill off the Holden brand. The Australian Holden Dealers’ Council and GM have been going back and forth during dispute resolutions and earlier this month, held 2 days of talks but were unable to come to an agreement. In a recent statement, Australia’s minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, called on General Motors to honor its promise to negotiate compensation with Holden dealerships in good faith. “Dealers have repeatedly shown they are committed to working with GM Holden to reach an outcome and finalize protracted negotiations stemming from GM’s decision to retire the Holden brand in Australia. GM Holden should demonstrate that same commitment”, she wrote. GM’s decision to kill off the Holden brand has upset many Australians because over the years, the company has received more than $2 billion in local taxpayer support. “Australian consumers, dealers and the Government have shown great commitment to GM Holden over many years, including more than $2 billion in taxpayer support. It’s now time for this multinational to repay some of that faith”, Andrews added. In a recent statement, GM Holden said it is responding to the most recent letter regarding the dispute from the Australian Holden Dealers’ Council and is remaining steadfast with its compensation offer. GM Holden says that in 2019, dealers lost an average of $605 per new car sold and only made $351 per new car sold over the 2017-2019 period. GM Holden is offering dealerships $1.500 per vehicle based on 2019 sales. The automaker will also provide additional compensation to dealers for unamortized capital investments, special circumstances, and dealers who are solely dependent on Holden. Additionally, it will pay for the removal of signage and has provided dealers with $130 million in stock liquidation bonuses that will enable them to make substantially enhanced profits. GM reiterated that its offer has been on the table since February and will remain open through to June 30. +++ 

+++ Days after a border clash with China this month in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, New Delhi told firms to find ways to cut imports from China. But 2 big industries, automobiles and pharmaceuticals, say this is easier said than done. Like many countries, INDIA relies on China for products such as electronic components and drug ingredients because it cannot make them or source them elsewhere as cheaply, company and industry figures say. Thus any moves to curb imports or make them costlier without developing alternatives will hurt local businesses. “We don’t import because we like to, but because we have no choice”, said R.C. Bhargava, chairman of Maruti Suzuki, the country’s biggest carmaker. “To attract companies to produce locally, we need to be more competitive and lower our costs compared with other countries”. India imported around $70.3 billion of goods from China in the fiscal year to March 2019 and exported just $16.7 billion; its widest trade deficit with any country. The government is now consulting with companies on tightening curbs on 1.173 non-essential products, a trade body official said on condition of anonymity. They include toys, plastics, steel items, electronics and specific auto components, which feed vehicle manufacturing. This is on top of plans to raise trade barriers and import duties on around 300 products from China and elsewhere, as part of prime minister Narendra Modi’s self-reliance campaign. In April, India also tightened rules for investments from neighbouring countries, including China, to prevent opportunistic takeovers after the pandemic. Over a quarter of India’s auto part imports ($4.2 billion) came from China in 2019, including engine and transmission parts, according to data from the Auto Component Manufacturers’ Association of India (ACMA). Some of these components are critical and hard to source elsewhere immediately, said Vinnie Mehta, director general at ACMA, whose members include companies such as Bosch, Valeo and Minda Industries. “We cannot have a knee-jerk reaction, especially when we are emerging from the disruption caused by the pandemic”, he said. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER is looking into the development of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle as part of a £73.5 million (€84 million) British government funded programme into the automotive sector to help reduce carbon emissions. Known as Project Zeus, JLR is working on the technology with a number of UK-based partners, including Delta Motorsport, Marelli Automotive Systems and UKBIC. The project is in its infancy and will roll on for a number of years with all 4 companies playing a role in evaluating, analysing and developing hydrogen technology. Such a method will allow the technology to be brought to market much quicker than if JLR were to undertake it on its own. A document issued by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy stated: “Working with world-class research and industry partners, Jaguar Land Rover is developing a prototype hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. The project will deliver a zero tailpipe emissions premium fuel cell SUV concept with Jaguar Land Rover attributes, such as long range, quick refill, towing, off road capabilities and low temperature performance”. JLR turned its attention to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles shortly after the launch of its first electric vehicle, the Jaguar I-Pace; with the company appointing Ralph Clague as Head of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in March last year. The Government statement added: “The project will help drive significant growth and capability in fuel cell electric vehicle design and manufacturing, providing a competitive edge in intellectual property and supply chain for the UK”. Given the early stages of the project, it’s unclear when the fuel cell vehicle will launch and if the model will be badged as a Jaguar or Land Rover model. +++ 

+++ The JEEP Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will eventually be here, establishing Jeep in a luxury stratum the same way the original Wagoneer did in 1963. The differences today are that the original Wagoneer took 3 years to develop, today’s Wagoneer has taken 3 times that so far, and the luxury SUV market is presently stuffed to its cross-stitched Nappa leather seams. The Grand Wagoneer’s rock crawl to production has taken so long that some dealers think the body-on-frame, full-sized SUV could get here too late. The final product will hope to justify its tardiness by being the plushest Jeep imaginable, full of tech touches, and clearly the Jeep of the segment. An eye-opening rumor is that a Grand Wagoneer plug-in hybrid will pack enough battery to go 50 kilometres on a charge. Supposedly not due until about a year after the Wagoneer launches with conventional powertrains, the PHEV will join Jeeps planned models wearing the 4xe designation like the Wrangler 4xe shown at this year’s CES. Powertrain and range details remain unknown for planned PHEV versions of current models, with official debuts of the Wrangler, Compass and Renegade 4xe pushed to September or thereabouts. Jeep has promised features like “”comprehensive technological and driving assistance features as standard”, fast acceleration, electric all-wheel drive and blue accents. If the Grand Wagoneer went on sale this year, getting 50 kilometres of driving on electric power would not set the bar for big SUVs. The landscape is changing so quickly. On the traditional engine side, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer is also expected to get FCA’s new 3.0-liter inline-6, and at one time there was official paperwork outlining a model with a 719 hp Hellcat engine. I meant it when I said “the plushest Jeep imaginable”. The Grand Wagoneer can’t only be a luxurious Jeep, which wouldn’t be that hard to do anyway. MI said one trim levels could reach as high as $100,000. That fits with a quote from former Jeep boss Mike Manley, now head of parent company FCA, who said in 2016 the Grand Wagoneer could cost as much as $140,000. An MSRP that … grand … is a larger hurdle mentally than financially for a lot Jeep’s current buyers, never mind the conquested shoppers the brand wants to lure. Eye candy to sell the goods is said to come in the forms of a 12 inch infotainment screen running Uconnect 5, plus a customizable infotainment interface for the passenger and an upgraded rear seat theater system. Materials will be the contemporary luxury standard wood, aluminum, and leather. A new rearview mirror projecting an image from the rearview camera and driver assistance systems providing Level 3 autonomy are also anticipated. +++ 

+++ KIA has expanded the line-up of the e-Niro with 2 new models, including a sub-£30,000 entry-level variant with a smaller battery that offers a range of up to 310 kilometres and a sub-€40.000 price tag in The Netherlands. The Korean firm’s popular EV has previously been offered in a single spec, featuring a 64 kWh battery and a 204 hp electric motor. The expanded 3-model line-up comprises variants branded DynamicLine, ExecutiveLine and GT-Line. The new top-spec model features a new 3-page 11kW AC charger, allowing for faster home charging. The new entry-level e-Niro is fitted with a 39 kWh battery, which is used to power a 136 hp electric motor. Kia claims a 0-100 kph time of 9.7 seconds and a top speed of 150 kph. The 7.2 kW AC charger can recharge the e-Niro’s 39 kWh battery from empty in 6 hours and 10 minutes, with a 0-80 % charge taking 57 minutes on a 100 kW DC rapid-charger. The e-Niro 39 kWh is offered with 17 inch alloy wheels, a 7.0 inch digital instrument cluster and an 8.0 inch infotainment touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Driver assistance systems including automatic lights, adaptive cruise control and forward collision avoidance are also included. The e-Niro GT-Line is described by Kia as the flagship version of the EV. It features the upgraded 11 kW 3-phase AC charger, which cuts a full battery charge to exactly 7 hours. As well as the upgraded charger, the e-Niro GT-Line also adds kit including an electric sunroof, bi-function LED headlights, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and an 8-speaker JBL stereo. +++ 

+++ The LAND ROVER Discovery was rebooted a little over 3 years ago. We’re likely to see the Disco go through a mid-cycle refresh soon. Visually, this Discovery will stay just like the current model. Maybe there’s a new bumper coming or maybe this mid-cycle refresh won’t be about styling. Engine-wise, Land Rover’s 48 volt mild hybrid technology find its way into the Discovery for a boost of efficiency. Also, the 3.0-liter inline-6 available in the Range Rover could very well find its way under the hood of the Discovery. This also comes with the fuel economy and efficiency benefits of a mild hybrid system. The diesel engine will likely carry over to the refreshed Discovery without many (or any) changes at all. There is also the possibility of the Discovery latching onto the plug-in hybrid tech already found within Land Rover’s lineup, too. If it does, that’d mean the SUV would be offered with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder teamed up with an electric motor. We may not see the PHEV show up right away, though. I also expect the Discovery to receive a refreshed interior, likely featuring the stacked screen setup that’s making its way into every new Land Rover and Jaguar product these days. The lack of visual changes doesn’t worry me, because the Discovery still looks fresh, rugged and unique in its space. More tech and better powertrain tech will definitely make for some hearty new reasons to consider a Discoveru whey SUV shopping soon. I expect the refreshed Discovery to launch before the year is out and go on sale as a 2021 model year. +++ 

+++ Just a few weeks after it emerged that a turbocharged variant of the MAZDA 3 is in the works, the Japanese car manufacturer has previewed the engine note of this very car. Not only does this teaser reveal how the compact car will sound with this engine, but it also flashes up the date of July 8, which could be when the car is revealed or at the very least, when official details about it are announced. The most likely candidate to power this new flagship Mazda3 model will be the automaker’s 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine currently used in the Mazda6, CX-5 and CX-9. This engine is rated at a very respectable 250 hp and 420 Nm, giving the car the same horsepower as the entry-level Hyundai i30 N and roughly 70 Nm of additional torque. Despite what these impressive figures may suggest, it seems unlikely Mazda will market the car as a hot hatch and it almost certainly won’t feature the same trick limited-slip differentials and suspension setups like cars such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Hyundai i30 N. What’s more, it is understood the Mazda3 turbo will only be available with an automatic transmission and not a 6-speed manual. Four-wheeldrive will be standard. +++ 

+++ The Covid-19 crisis has not delayed plans to finalise a MERGER between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and PSA to create the world’s 4th largest carmaker by the first quarter of next year, FCA’s chairman John Elkann said. “In spite of the huge challenges that have materialized with the Covid-19 emergency, I can confirm that the work of our teams towards the completion of the merger has continued apace and we expect to meet our objective of combining as a single company by the first quarter of next year”, Elkann said during the group’s shareholders’ meeting. “The Covid-19 crisis has further underlined the compelling logic of this merger”, he added. +++ 

+++ According to the latest news, Tesla has increased the maximum Supercharging rate of the MODEL S / MODEL X from 200 kW to 225 kW. The info about 225 kW comes from the 2020.24.6 software update info: “Your car is now able to charge at V3 Superchargers at up to 225 kW peak rates. As usual, when you navigate to a Supercharger, your car will condition its battery during the drive, so it can charge faster”. Because Tesla did not release any announcements, it’s too early to determine whether the upgrade concerns only the new/latest models, with 2020.24.6 software update, or a broader group of versions. Potentially, the move to 225 kW may be related to some, undisclosed yet, hardware upgrades to the battery. Anyway, at 225 kW the Model S/Model X almost matches the 250 kW peak charging capability of the Model 3/Model Y. +++ 

+++ NISSAN will lay off about 200 workers at a plant in Mexico amid local and global challenges facing the automotive industry, the carmaker said. “Stemming from changes in the global and local industry, we have had to make important decisions to ensure the sustainability of our operations in today’s environment”, a spokesperson told. The job cuts will take place at a Nissan plant in the central state of Aguascalientes, the firm said. +++ 

+++ Britain must use its coronavirus recovery plan to fund climate measures such as accelerating a PHASE OUT of new petrol and diesel cars by 2032 and making homes more energy efficient, a report by the government’s climate advisers said. The recommendation came as the committee published its annual report on Britain’s progress in meeting climate goals, showing government policies still fall well short. Britain last year became the first G7 country to announce plans to reach net zero emissions by 2050, which will require wholesale changes in the way Britons travel, generate electricity and manage their housing stock. Since the target was set global economies have been rocked by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and are setting out recovery packages. Britain is expected announce a stimulus package later this year. “If we are to emerge successfully from Covid-19 there is only one route, and that route is one which enables us also to fight climate change”, the chair of the Committee on Climate Change, John Gummer, said in a press briefing. Britain has significantly reduced emissions from the electricity sector by increasing renewable power generation and closing coal plants, but lags in other areas like homes, transport and agriculture. A target to phase out new petrol and diesel cars should be brought forward to 2032 from 2040 currently, with money plowed into electric vehicle charging and incentives to encourage people buy low-carbon cars, the CCC said. Money could also be raised by increasing taxes on fossil fuel used for transport, it said. Among several measures suggested, the CCC also said Britain should introduce schemes to make homes more energy efficient and fit low carbon technology like heat pumps, which will also create jobs and help spur economic recovery. +++ 

+++ RENAULT ’s flagship van Master has achieved accumulated sales of 3 million units globally in 40 years since its launch. It is sold in 50 countries, topping the van category of sales in Europe for 5 consecutive years. The model’s interior can be modified depending on the purpose of the vehicle such as a camping car, school bus and refrigerated vehicles, according to the company. In March, the upgraded New Master Van and Bus were rolled out, with improved exterior and interior, as well as convenient features. “The Master has proved to be a qualified commercial vehicle in the European market for years. The new model has been upgraded with sophisticated exterior and efficient interior space and cross-wind functions. With these features, it will continue to lead the commercial vehicle market”, a spokesman said. +++ 

+++ SKODA has unveiled its latest compressed natural gas (CNG) model in the Octavia G-Tec, which boasts a gas-only range of 500 km in the WLTP cycle. The new Octavia G-Tec is technically a hybrid, since it also utilizes a 9-liter gasoline tank, aside from the 3 CNG tanks installed in the underbody, which store a total of 17.33 kg of natural gas. Skoda will launch the new model across Europe this autumn. Power comes from a 1.5-liter TSI unit that provides an output of 130 hp, and an economy of 3.4 to 3.6 kg per 100 km in the WLTP cycle in CNG mode, as well as 4.6 liters per 100 km in gasoline mode. Using just the gasoline in its 9 liter tank, the Octavia G-Tec can actually cover another 190 km for a total range of roughly 700 km. Also, switching between CNG and gasoline mode happens automatically, without the driver having to do anything. The only times in which the Octavia G-Tec accesses its gasoline fuel supply is when the engine is started after the natural gas has been topped up, or when the outside temperature is below -10 degrees Celsius. It will also do it when the gas tanks are so empty that the pressure drops below 11 bar. In terms of practicality, if you opt for an Octavia G-Tec liftback, you’ll be left with 455 liters of trunk volume, whereas the Combi model will still give you a capacity of 495 liters, despite the CNG tanks. +++ 

+++ Automotive production in SPAIN recovered slightly in May from historic lows in April, data released on Thursday showed, although output was still down sharply year-on-year. Production fell 68 % in May, with about 92.900 vehicles rolling out of factories, industry association Anfac said. That compared with a 98 % drop registered in April, when the country’s strict coronavirus lockdown paralyzed manufacturing. Spain earlier this month unveiled a €3.7 billion aid package to promote investment in the automotive industry after Nissan said it would close its largest factory in the country, with the loss of thousands of jobs. +++ 

+++ TESLA is planning to build a new battery manufacturing facility in California as part of the company’s efforts to make its own automotive batteries. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has said earlier this week that they will give a tour of Tesla’s battery cell production on September 15, which the automaker calls “Battery Day”. Previous reports suggest that the carmaker is going to announce a new low-cost, long-life battery pack that will have the ability to last for 1 million miles. According to the EV maker, they already run a “small-scale” battery manufacturing operation in Fremont but documents revealed that Tesla has applied for city government approval to build an expanded battery-building operation, with the project dubbed “Roadrunner”. The facility will employ up to 470 workers, of which 400 “work in shifts, such that there are 100 employees working at manufacturing and production operations at any given time, all day, every day”. Tesla is currently manufacturing batteries in collaboration with Panasonic at their Gigafactory in Nevada and has also contracts with LG Chem and CATL. The company has recently signed a new 3-year agreement with Panasonic over the production and supply of battery packs at the Gigafactory. The company has also broke ground at its new Gigafactory in Berlin, Germany, which is expected to be ready next year, targeting a production launch as early as July 2021. +++ 

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , car manufacturing output fell 95.4 % year-on-year in May, with just 5.321 vehicles rolling off production lines. The figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show a slight improvement over April, which saw production drop by 99.7 % year-on-year and only 197 cars made. Two-thirds of UK factories are up and running, albeit at a limited capacity, but significantly, Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port and Jaguar Land Rover’s Castle Bromwich facilities both remain closed. However, those which are open are limited by social distancing requirements and reduced demand, given key global markets are only just now re-opening and the UK is still in relative lockdown. Bentley’s Crewe plant was one of the first to re-open in early May, but remains at half its capacity. Talking earlier this week, Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark said: “We closed down early and we restarted early. The safety of our colleagues has been of paramount importance. Within 3 to 4 weeks we should be up to 100 % production capacity, but today, we’re just 50 % of normal capacity”. In May, 4.260 cars were exported, and with English showrooms not reopening until 1 June, only 1.054 models were built for domestic buyers. Year-to-date, UK factories have made 324.763 cars; down 41.7 % on 2019. That translates to 230.000 fewer vehicles made and revises the SMMT’s production outlook for 2020 as a whole to fewer than 1 million cars. Earlier this week, the SMMT warned that up to 1 in 6 car industry jobs could be under threat and called for Government support to kickstart the sector. Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “May’s figures are yet more evidence of why the UK industry, like its global rivals, needs dedicated support to drive a successful restart. Government assistance so far has been vital in keeping many businesses afloat, but the job isn’t done. Measures to boost cashflow, including additional and tailored finance schemes, tax relief and business rates deferral would deliver immediate results when liquidity is most acute. We have to retain the highly skilled jobs the sector provides but also ensure the business conditions are competitive so we can unlock the investment that will drive long-term recovery, a green recovery, which is inextricably linked the sector’s success”. +++ 

+++ We already know VOLKSWAGEN is working on the modern, electric answer to the Microbus. We first saw the ID.Buzz concept a few years ago and have since been eagerly awaiting a production version, which I expect in 2022. I don’t yet have an official name for that production vehicle, but Volkswagen has filed for the “e-Samba” trademark with the European Union Intellectual Property Office. The original Samba was a version of the Volkswagen Type 2, or Microbus, that was meant to help its occupants better appreciate the view thanks to the brilliant strategy of adding a ton of windows to the vehicle. It once had a total of 23 windows or, in later models like the example above, 21 windows. In addition to the regular windshield, side windows and rear window, it also had a number of smaller windows built into the roof. It also had a giant, panoramic, fabric sunroof, as well as windshield panes that opened up in order to further expose occupants to the elements. So the ‘e-Samba’ trademark could be the name of the new electric van. Or, and this is what I’m hoping for, it could be the name of a variant of the upcoming vehicle, perhaps one with a ton of extra glass or some other features to help capture the spirit of the original. It’s also possible VW doesn’t have specific plans to use the name yet. One thing’s for sure: It’ll have more power than the 54 hp bus in our driveway. +++

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