Newsflash: Bentley komt met stekker hybride Flying Spur

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+++ Ferrari has lost a legal battle to trademark the shape of the iconic 250 GTO, opening the door for replicas and lookalike vehicles to be produced. In June 2019, Ferrari complained to a commercial tribunal in Bologna, alleging that niche coachworks company ARES DESIGN was planning to produce replicas of the 250 GTO. The tribunal ruled in favor of Ferrari, but Ares Design then took Ferrari to the Cancellation Division of the European Union Intellectual Protection Office claiming that Ferrari had not put its 2008 trademark to genuine use for a continuous period of 5 years. In documents, Ares Design’s lawyers stated that Ferrari’s trademark had been “filed in bad faith, namely, as a defensive mark in order to block third parties to produce and sell similarly built sports cars”. Ares said that Ferrari had not put the contested design to use since 1964 and when they filed for the EU trademark in 2007 on the design, never actually had any intention to use it. The EU ultimately sided with Ares Design, saying Ferrari had not proven genuine use for a number of goods, which includes vehicles. Ferrari has only maintained the trademark for making toy vehicles. The legal war between Ares Design and Ferrari seems to have been triggered by the Dany Bahar-led company’s announcement in September 2018 that it would manufacture a modern incarnation of the iconic Ferrari 250 GTO based on either the Ferrari F12 or 812 Superfast. +++ 

+++ Spy photographers have snapped a mysterious BENTLEY Flying Spur undergoing testing. While the model doesn’t look terribly special at first glance, it features a charging port on the driver’s side rear fender. The gas cap, as you may recall, is located on the passenger side near the C-pillar. This means we’re looking at a plug-in hybrid variant, but that’s not the only thing interesting about this prototype. the model features a 4-tailpipe exhaust system instead of the dual exhaust used on models with the twin-turbo 6.0-liter W12 that develops 635 hp and 900 Nm. While there’s speculation is the Flying Spur Speed, I’m not entirely convinced by the argument that the quad exhaust indicates this is the Speed. 4 tailpipe exhaust systems are used on the current Continental GT V8 as well as the previous Flying Spur V8 and V8 S. It’s also worth mentioning that the Bentayga Speed, Mulsanne Speed and Continental GT Speed all had dual exhaust systems. Whatever the case, the car spied is a plug-in hybrid and it’s a tad different than previous PHEV prototypes that featured a dual exhaust system. That could suggest this is a performance-oriented plug-in hybrid, but nothing is official as of yet. A lot of questions remain, but upcoming model is expected to share its powertrain(s) with the Porsche Panamera. If this is just a regular plug-in hybrid, it might feature a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 engine and an electric motor that gives it a combined output of around 462 hp and 700 Nm. Of course, if the car spied is the Flying Spur Speed, it could use the same powertrain as the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. That model has a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 and an electric motor that work together to produce 680 hp and 850 Nm of torque. +++ 

+++ After a lengthy teaser campaign, BMW has announced the iX3 will be given a digital unveiling on July 14th. Set to become the brand’s first electric SUV, the iX3 is based on the X3 and features an aerodynamically optimized exterior and an electric powertrain. While the latest teaser image isn’t very revealing, previous leaks have shown the crossover will have a unique front end that closely echoes the one used on the iX3 concept. Key changes will include a fully enclosed grille and an angular bumper that channels air into new vertical intakes. Elsewhere, designers gave the model i-branded front fender vents and aerodynamic wheels. The latter are constructed out of aluminum and feature angular accents which help to reduce drag by approximately 5 %. BMW has said the combination of lightweight construction and aerodynamic styling enables the wheels to increase the iX3’s range by 10 km. Of course, the rear end is also unique as the iX3 doesn’t need a traditional exhaust system. As a result, the SUV has been equipped with a new bumper that features a split diffuser. While full details will be announced next week, the iX3 will have a rear-mounted electric motor that produces 286 hp and 400 Nm. The SUV will also have a 74 kWh battery pack that will allow for a range of approximately 440 km in the WLTP cycle. The iX3 will be built in China and is slated to go into production shortly. The model will be available in a number of different countries, but it won’t be offered in the United States. +++ 

+++ The production-spec BUGATTI Chiron Super Sport 300+ has been spied during a recent round of testing as the French car manufacturer readies it to land in the hands of customers. It has been roughly 10 months since Bugatti shocked the world by announcing it had hit a top speed of 490.484 km/h in a Chiron prototype. Soon after, it announced the model that achieved this top speed feat was the Chiron Super Sport 300+, while revealing that production would be capped at just 30 units worldwide. Bugatti has only previously shown the flagship variant of the Chiron finished in carbon fiber with orange accents, but the prototype has a matte black finish and sits on a set of dark red wheels. The front features enlarged and angular new air intakes while there are also circular air vents on the front wheel arches. Bugatti has also fitted tweaked side skirts while also extending the rear-end of the car, effectively making it a ‘Long Tail’. The rear also features a distinctive exhaust layout and a unique rear diffuser. The only visual difference between this tester and the car previously shown by Bugatti is that this one has the Chiron’s available Sky View dual sunroof. It remains unclear if this will be a standard feature on all Chiron Super Sport 300+ models or an optional extra. Like the record-breaking car, the production model will be powered by a quad-turbo 8.0-liter W16 engine rated at 1.600 hp. Prices start at around €5 million in The Netherlands and Bugatti intends on starting customer deliveries next year. +++ 

+++ First off, in the interest of full disclosure, I don’t know any more about the fate of the 7th generation Chevrolet CAMARO than most online psychics. The only people that do know, at General Motors, have a habit of saying almost nothing about anything future product related. But speculation is fun. That said, it’s starting to look like 2023 will be a repeat of the year 2002 for the Camaro and its legion of fans. Those that remember the dark days of ’02, when the 4th generation Camaro ceased production with no replacement in sight, will get a serious case of deja vu soon when history looks to repeat itself. From everything we heard swirling in the rumor mill, initial work on the 7th generation Camaro at GM has ceased with the teams being assigned to stretch out the 6th generation’s shelf life (like adding new paint colors). It’s not all bad news, though. Chevrolet is adding an LT1 model to the Camaro lineup, which will give cheaper V8 power to the masses. Yep, where you used to have to get the SS package to gain a V8, you can now do that with the less expensive trim package. For 2020, Chevrolet also ditched the front nose treatment that was reviled by just about everyone. There are also still strong rumors swirling about a 6th generation Z/28 variant. Still, that doesn’t help us after 2023 when the flowchart ends for the 6th generation Camaro. When the 5th generation debuted for the 2010 model year, sales went through the roof, but since then sales have been trending steadily downward. However, the main factor that will kill the 6th generation will be the end of GM’s Alpha platform, which the Camaro rides on. Newer designs, such as the Cadillac CT4 and CT5 use the A2XX platform, which we can assume would have been the basis for the 7th generation Camaro, as well. Add in that the Camaro’s biggest proponent at GM, its chief engineer Al Oppenheiser, was reassigned to the electric car team, and it’s easy to see why Camaro fans are feeling hopeless. One could also opine that this hints at an eventual electric Camaro. Still, GM has never stated the Camaro is dead, just delayed, so most likely we will just be facing another hiatus like we did between the 4th and 5th generation cars. This seems more likely since the Camaro nameplate is one of GM’s more valuable brands and the car’s following is legion. I can only hope for a 7th generation of Camaro, but it looks unlikely until 2025 or 2026 at the earliest. But then again, Camaro fans have shown a propensity toward patience. Besides, it might be worth the wait. +++ 

+++ The U.S. auto safety agency disclosed it has opened an investigation into complaints of fuel leaks in older CHEVROLET Cobalt and HHR (photo) cars, manufactured by General Motors. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the investigation covers more than 614.000 vehicles from 2008 to 2010 model years. “The fuel leaks are the result of corrosion of the metal fuel lines underneath the vehicle towards the rear and in the vicinity of the left rear wheel well”, the regulator said after it received 208 complaints of fuel leaks from vehicle owners. NHTSA said there were no reports of fires or injuries from such leaks, and it was probing the scope and severity of the potential problem to assess any possible safety issues with the vehicles. General Motors said it will continue to cooperate with NHTSA in the investigation. +++ 

+++ CHINA is considering introducing mandatory in-car air quality regulations in order to protect the health of drivers. Such a move could conceivably increase costs for carmakers importing vehicles from markets without such requirements. Interior parts suppliers could feel the heat too, as they would need to tweak their products in order for them to meet new in-car air quality rules. According to officials, new models will be required to ace an in-car environment test, after their doors have been shut for hours. Regulators will then test the level of contaminants inside, including formaldehyde and benzene said 3 people familiar with the matter, but who chose to remain anonymous. Chinese officials also want to look at electromagnetic radiation levels, considering how both electric vehicles and ICE-powered cars use more and more electronic devices inside. While some people have gone on record expressing their concerns regarding radiation from these electronics, an official at the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said last year that such radiation isn’t harmful to humans. Back in 2011, China’s environment and quality watchdogs came up with guidelines for passenger cars’ in-air quality, but at that point those standards were simple recommendations, nothing mandatory. Currently, China allows global brands to sell cars without any local certification for in-car air quality standards. However, that could all change sooner rather than later. Take 2019 for example, when China accelerated an independently designed emissions standard for gasoline cars, after using EU emission rules for years. +++ 

+++ CUPRA has still yet to make a decision on whether its Tavascan electric crossover will make it to production. A concept car previewing the model was first shown at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show but bosses have confirmed that plans to introduce the car to market are on hold. The electric crossover concept hinted at a future halo model from Cupra, based on the VW Group’s MEB dedicated electric car platform. The concept was previewed with a 77 kWh battery and 2 electric motors developing 306 hp, and it was widely expected to make showrooms within the next couple of years. However, Cupra boss Wayne Griffiths has said that the firm is currently focusing on plug-in hybrid versions of the Leon and Formentor, as well as the new el-Born electric hatch. “The Tavascan is still a project we are working on, I think it’s a car we really need particularly for the Cupra brand and the concept got excellent reception”, Griffiths explained. “But we still haven’t made a final decision on development or manufacturing on the car. I am pushing for it. “With all the other things we have on our plate, we have enough on at the moment, launching the Cupra brand and plug-in hybrid versions. Our product range has grown very fast”. +++ 

+++ DAIMLER will deepen cost cuts because of an expected second-quarter operating loss and despite some signs of a recovery in demand for luxury cars, the chief executive said. Daimler said sales of its Mercedes-Benz brand dropped almost 19 % to about 870,000 cars in the first half, although the brand achieved its best second quarter sales so far in China. Despite the rebound in China, the business losses racked up in recent months would not be recovered by the end of the year, demanding more cost cuts, CEO Ola Källenius told shareholders. “Our previous efficiency goals covered the upcoming transformation, but not a global recession. That’s why we are further sharpening our course”, Källenius said, adding that the company was in talks with labour representatives about savings. Daimler, which reports second-quarter results on July 23, said it expected a significant decline in sales for the period, a negative adjusted group operating profit and negative free cash flow in the industrial business. The company expected a recovery to levels before the coronavirus crisis would take a long time. Källenius cited expectations by the International Monetary Fund for 2020 to record the worst worldwide recession in almost a century. “The group’s unit sales, revenue and earnings are likely to be lower this year than in 2019”, he said, adding that Daimler could increase production swiftly once demand picked up again. “Already in June, global retail car deliveries were slightly above the prior-year level again”, Källenius said. +++ 

+++ When your entire range consists basically of three available models for Europe (3 Crossback, 7 Crossback and 9 sedan), it’s easy to understand how DS Automobiles just became the only premium carmaker to meet the EU’s CO2 targets for 2021. The European Commission set a target for 95 g/km CO2, which DS trampled with its average fleet emissions of just 79.9 g/km, registered in the first half of this year. According to DS, no other premium carmaker managed to get below the 110 g/km mark. In Europe, DS is currently selling the 3 Crossback and the 7 Crossback, which boast mostly Euro 6 units, as well as plug-in hybrid (7 Crossback E-Tense) and a fully electric variant (3 Crossback E-Tense). The upcoming DS 9 saloon will also be available with a range of plug-in hybrid powertrains. By 2025, the French brand says they will only offer electrified powertrains, in a bid to further reduce CO2 emissions. DS claims that they’ve also relied heavily on experience gained in Formula E with the DS Techeetah team, which actually won the title in the 2018-2019 season. The carmaker just recently added another electrified member to its range in the E-Tense 225 phev version of the DS 7 Crossback, featuring CO2 emissions that range from 31 and 36 g/km. Meanwhile, fuel consumption is rated between 1.4 and 1.6 lITER/100 km. Another factor that helped DS achieve this status is the fact that next year’s 95 g/km CO2 target already applies to each carmaker’s 95 % least emitting models in 2020, helping DS escape the €95 penalty per each g/km exceeded per vehicle registered. +++ 

+++ FERRARI may add a more powerful trim to its Portofino model line in the coming months, according to a recent filing by the Italian automaker with the Environmental Protection Agency for a vehicle simply called the “2021 Ferrari F164 BCB”. While the array of numbers and letters may mean little to the layperson, Ferrari fans will note “F164” is the internal model code for the Portofino. It’s possible this EPA filing signals Ferrari’s intent to introduce an updated Portofino to its 2021 model line. That said, I doubt this is the case given the brand already submitted fueleconomy figures with the EPA for a “2021 Ferrari Portofino”. I wager, then, that this upcoming model represents something different and knowing Ferrari, it’s likely a more performance-oriented variant of the brand’s entry-level drop-top. Although the letters “BCB” are difficult to decipher, the vehicle’s application for certification refers to the model’s internal code as “F164 FL”. Admittedly, FL may stand for “facelift”, however this may simply be an EPA-compliant code to denote any sort of vehicle update or variant a company still wishes to keep secret. It’s also possible(and at least 10 times sexier) the “FL” is Ferrari’s own code and nods to “Formula Libre” (much like what the 2 letters stood for in the Ferrari 166 FL of mid-20th-century fame). Spanish for “Free Formula”. Formula Libre racing allows for vehicles of various types to compete against one anothe, say a front-engined, grand touring convertible and a mid-engined coupe. According to Ferrari’s certification summary information report, the F164 BCB cribs its powertrain from the upcoming Roma coupe (which goes by the internal code F169). As such, the model’s twin-turbocharged 3.9 liter V8 engine boasts 612 hp; 21 hp more horses than the unit in the Portofino. The BCB also trades its less powerful convertible kin’s 7-speed self-shifting transmission for an 8-speed gearbox, à la Roma. The BCB’s additional power and extra gear ought to help it both on the track and the street. Expect the model to shave a few ticks from the Portofino’s manufacturer-estimated 3.5 seconds trot to 100 kph, while the BCB’s combined and highway fuel-economy figures actually improve. I’ve reached out to Ferrari about this possible update or addition to the Portofino model line, but have yet to hear back from a company spokesperson. Nevertheless, I’m hopeful the famed sports car manufacturer will clue us into what exactly the F164 BCB is in the coming weeks. +++ 

+++ FORD said its China vehicle sales increased 3 % in April-June from a year earlier, its first quarterly sales rise in the world’s bigggest auto market in almost 3 years. Ford has been seeking to recover from a slump in sales unprecedented for a major global automaker in China, with sales sinking 26 % last year after a 37 % drop in 2018. Company sources have previously said those sales were hurt by an aging model lineup, a breakdown in relationships with its joint venture partners and dealers, as well as missteps by past management teams. China sales for the second quarter climbed to 158.589 units, Ford said in a statement, attributing the rise to a stronger vehicle lineup including new SUVs and locally-made luxury Lincoln cars and “strong demand following the lifting of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions”. By contrast, rival General Motors said its sales in China for the quarter declined 5.3 % to 713.600 units. Industry-wide vehicle wholesale sales rose 4.4 % in April and 14.5 % in May and are expected to grow 11 % in June, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers has said. In China, Ford makes cars through its joint ventures with Chongqing Changan Automobile and Jiangling Motors. In the United States, where sales have been hit by lockdowns and travel restrictions, Ford’s sales plunged 33 % during the quarter. +++ 

+++ A U.S. appeals court has denied GENERAL MOTORS ‘ petition to remove a lower court judge from its racketeering lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but said the companies’ heads need not meet to settle the issue. The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said U.S. District Judge Paul Borman abused his discretion by requiring GM boss Mary Barra and FCA’s head, Mike Manley, to meet face-to-face for reasons unrelated to the case and without taking into account the risks of travel during the Covid-19 pandemic. The district judge’s order for the parties to report back to the court in only 8 days was also unwarranted, the appeals court said. Borman in June ordered Barra and Manley to meet by July 1, and later amended his order to allow other officials in their place. “We do not mean to say, however, that the district judge may not order a pretrial settlement conference and/or mediation in the normal course”, the appeals court said in a filing. The court in June stayed Borman’s order requiring officials from the 2 firms to resolve the lawsuit and rejected GM’s request for a new judge to oversee the case, saying Borman’s desire for a quick settlement was “not so extreme” that he needed to be replaced. GM said in a statement it was grateful that the court had quickly reviewed and granted its petition for a writ of mandamus, that is, setting aside the requirement to meet. However, the company did not comment on the rejection of its request to reassign the case to another judge. GM sued FCA last year, accusing the Italian-American company’s executives of bribing United Auto Workers union officials to secure labor agreements that put GM at a disadvantage. +++ 

+++ KARMA AUTOMOTIVE has announced the expansion of its European business in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, in addition to the company’s presence in the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Spain, and Portugal. The California-based, Chinese-backed company has been in the headlines recently for not doing so well. It was considering filing for bankruptcy before the Wanxiang Group decided to give them another shot and more funding. Karma Automotive also received between $5 to $10 million in paycheck protection loans after going through multiple rounds of layoffs over the last year. Karma Automotive is a company created out of the ashes of Fisker, which launched the original Fisker Karma back in 2012. That same car exists today (sort of) as the Karma Revero, featuring a range-extending hybrid powertrain with dual electric motors and a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo engine for a combined output of 403 hp and 80 km of EV range. Karma has already revealed the updated Revero GT that features a revised design and a new hybrid-electric powertrain with a combined output of 528 hp and 128 km of EV range. “We are currently in discussion with a number of potential retail partners in Germany as well as Switzerland and Austria who have the ability to meet evolving consumer expectations alongside Karma’s distinct design and technology offerings”, said Rogier Kroymans, Karma’s vice-president European Sales and Network Development. The company says that the first model to be offered in Germany, Austria and Switzerland will be the original Revero and not the GT version, albeit in limited numbers before they launch their future models in 2021. +++ 

+++ LOTUS will bring together its steel fabrication and lightweight structures departments in a new, purpose-built facility in Norwich, creating up to 125 jobs in the area. While the British brand’s steel fabrication arm is located near its headquarters in Hethel, its lightweight structures department is based some 180 miles away in Worcester. Lotus says the new investment “demonstrates its commitment to the region and to Norwich”. The new 12.300 m2 Hurricane Way factory will produce aluminium chassis structures for the Elise, Evora and Exige sports cars, as well as aluminium components for “other global car companies” (likely Volvo, LEVC and Lynk&Co, which are also owned by Chinese car-making giant Geely). Also taking place in the new building will be the welding and fabrication of steel structures, including subframes and suspension components. The Worcester building in which this currently takes place will be repurposed by the freeholder when Lotus leaves in May 2021, and staff will be offered the opportunity to transfer to the new location. Lotus has been owned by Geely since 2017. It says that it has outgrown its existing facilities as its expansion under Chinese ownership has continued. This latest move will allow it to upgrade its machinery and tooling in preparation for new models arriving in the coming years. The decision is being supported by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership. Chris Starkie, chief executive of the organisation, said: “We are delighted to have helped Lotus complete this deal to develop a new production facility in Norwich. It underlines the commitment of this globally recognised brand to the county with which it is synonymous and reinforces our region as a centre of excellence in low-volume, high-tech manufacturing”. His views were echoed by the leader of Norwich City Council, Alan Waters, who said: “The potential of dozens of new jobs in the pipeline also comes at a particularly welcome time as we continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic. We very much look forward to continuing to work with Lotus as the new facility gets up and running”. +++ 

+++ LUCID MOTORS has revealed it will open 20 retail locations and service centers across North America by the end of 2021. The electric vehicle manufacturer will refer to these outlets as ‘Lucid Studios’. Facilities set to open first will include a studio at Lucid’s headquarters in Newark, California, a Los Angeles Studio and Los Angeles Service Center in Beverly Hills at the same site previously leased by McLaren Beverly Hills, a San Jose Studio, Miami Studio, West Palm Beach Studio, New York City Studio, and a DC Metro Studio in Tysons, Virginia. Lucid will adopt a direct-to-consumer model much like Tesla and offer “a digitally enhanced luxury experience tailored to each customer’s purchase and ownership preferences”. Customers will be able to visit a Studio in person, make their inquiries entirely online, or any combination of the two. Lucid says it selected locations with relatively small footprints in high-traffic areas. “Just as the Lucid Air is meticulously designed and engineered to be a new benchmark in the luxury electric car segment, we designed Lucid Studios to be engaging, to start conversations and to help educate people about the performance and efficiency benchmarks possible in an electric vehicle”, chief executive and CTO of Lucid Motors, Peter Rawlinson said. “A Lucid Studio is a place for people to learn about our unique brand while supporting every facet of the customer journey”. The long-awaited Lucid Air will premiere on September 9. We will have to wait until then to get finalized specifications, but understand the Air will be able to cover more than 644 km on a single charge while being able to sprint to 60 mph (96 km/h) in roughly 2.5 seconds and, in all likelihood, hit a top speed of more than 200 mph (322 km/h). +++ 

+++ Even though MCLAREN just secured a €172 million loan this past month, the British brand will eventually need more funds, seen as how sales for 2020 are expected to be down across the board. The supercar maker gets most of its revenue from sales of high-series models, but a slump in demand is certainly going to affect their numbers, which is why solutions such as possibly selling a stake in its racing outfit have already been considered. McLaren also raised €340 million from its shareholders back in March in order to fund a revised 5-year business plan, which began in Q1 of this year with production cuts meant to reduce the number of unsold models in dealerships. “Additional financing will be required by the Group to meet its liabilities as they fall due over the next 12 months”, said the carmaker in its 2019 annual report, published at the end of last month. However, the company won’t need to raise more funds this year, a spokesman told. Before securing that €172 million loan from the National Bank of Bahrain, McLaren was reportedly on track to run out of money by mid-July. At the same time, the carmaker was already losing money going into 2020, after posting a €32,5 million loss before tax in 2019. A massive 84 % of McLaren’s revenue came from car sales in 2019, with its F1 team accounting for 12 % and its applied technology division for 4 %. This year, the company forecasts it will sell just 1.500 cars (compared to 4.662 units in 2019). However, this year’s product mix will include ultra-expensive models from its Ultimate Series range, such as the €2.5 million Speedtail and the €2 million Elva. +++ 

+++ NISSAN is only a few days away from presenting the Ariya, an electric crossover that will take on the likes of the Tesla Model Y and other vehicles in the segment. The model will be officially unveiled during an online event scheduled for July 15, but until we will finally see it in all its glory, the Japanese automaker continues to tease it. The latest clip shows 2 Ariya vehicles testing on snow and ice, perhaps close to the Arctic Circle, and on the road, in a warmer environment. Announced last year’s Tokyo Motor Show by the striking looking Ariya Concept, the production model will look similar, boasting a nearly identically shaped grille with 2 LED strips on each side acting as the daytime running lights and slim LED headlights. Even the cutouts in the bumper mirror the looks of the show car, and further behind, we can see that Nissan has chosen to keep the plastic cladding around the wheel arches and on the side skirts. Expected to launch in Japan first, with other markets to follow, including China, Europe and eventually the United States, the Ariya will feature a zero-emission powertrain featuring two electric motors, one on each axle. For now, specific details remain unknown. It will also get the company’s ProPilot 2.0 semi-autonomous driving system, which will aid drivers on their daily commutes by allowing the car to take control of the steering, brakes and throttle on the highway. +++ 

+++ The PEUGEOT 108 has been updated for 2020, with a range of colour and trim updates, as well as some additional optional extras. The new model is on sale now. The 108’s body panels remain unchanged over the outgoing model’s, although Peugeot now offers a new metallic green paint finish and a choice of 2 exterior styling packs (Green Vector and Grey Vector), both of which add a range of decals around the car’s headlamps and door pillars. Peugeot has also introduced a new green finish for the flagship 108 Collection’s retractable fabric roof. However, it can only be specced with the company’s Diamond White, Smooth Green, Ravel Black and Zircon Grey paint finishes, with Peugeot’s Antelope Red body colour being paired with a black convertible roof. Standard equipment for the entry-level 108 Active includes LED daytime running lights, electric windows, manual air conditioning and a 7 inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Buyers also get a range of safety equipment, such as hill-hold assist, a speed limiter, tyre pressure sensors and a brace of airbags. The mid-range Allure model adds 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, automatic headlights, rear privacy glass, keyless entry and start, interior floor mats, a reversing camera, a rev counter and a contrasting black roof for the hardtop model. Peugeot’s flagship Collection model upgrades the 108’s specification further, adding chrome door mirrors, coloured centre caps and a choice of two interior colours schemes. Buyers have their choice of either grey fabric upholstery with green trim for the air vents and gear knob, or tartan fabric upholstery and red cabin trim. There’s also a brief list of optional extras including an integrated satellite navigation system, metallic paint and a space-saver wheel to replace the car’s standard puncture repair kit. Buyers can also spec an improved safety package which adds active city braking, lane departure warning and a traffic sign recognition system. Peugeot only offers 1 engine on the 108: a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder petrol unit with 72 hp and 126 Nm. The powertrain can only be specced with a 5-speed manual gearbox. +++ 

+++ If you’re one of the few American readers of this site who is in the market for a $350,000 ROLLS-ROYCE Dawn, well, first of all, good for you. And you should be prepared to keep some extra money in your pocket too as the drop-top Roller leads this month’s list of the largest monetary discounts with an average of $14,733 taken off the machine’s $359,250 sticker price. That means buyers are paying an average transaction price of $344,517 for the Dawn this month. An intriguing pair of supercars land in second and third positions. The Acura (Honda) NSX is selling for an average of $145,174 this month, which represents a 9 % discount, or $14,373. With an eerily similar 9 % discount of $14,079 comes the Aston Martin Vantage, which has an average transaction price of $142,002 this month. The Maserati Quattroporte is up next with an average discount of $13,634. Another Rolls-Royce model lands in the fifth spot, but instead of the aging Dawn it’s the brand-new Cullinan. Although the luxury ‘ute boasts a large discount of $12,427, its staggeringly high retail price of $332,750 means buyers are getting a little less than 4 % off the sticker. +++ 

+++ SEAT said it plans €5 billion in investments in 2020-2025, mainly in new R&D, equipment and electric cars, after investing 3.3 billion in 2016-2020. The interim chairman Carsten Isensee said its main Barcelona plant will produce electric vehicles starting in 2025. He also said Spain needs to “wake up” and follow other European countries in giving more incentives for electric cars. Carmakers are ramping up production of battery-powered vehicles to try to meet tough European emissions regulations, but the hefty costs involved have come just as demand for cars has been hammered by the coronavirus crisis. Several governments have launched aid packages for the sector, often including incentives to buy electric cars. “Countries like Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and France are much more sophisticated in the willingness to prepare their countries in line with the Paris agreement to substantially reduce the CO2 footprint”, Isensee told. Spain’s Socialist-led government announced on June 15 a €3.7 billion aid package for the auto industry. It included a €250 million scheme to encourage drivers to trade in older cars for new low-emission and electric vehicles. Isensee said the help was a “step in the right direction”, but insufficient. He said there was practically no electric charging network and more incentives were needed as the average Spanish car is 13 years old, signalling weak purchasing power. He said a public-private collaboration was needed to have more electric vehicles in the next 3 years, including companies such as wind power producer Iberdrola. SEAT’s new investment plan compares with the €3.3 billion it spent in 2016-2020. It includes new electric vehicles after the first one launched last year. SEAT is willing to make electric vehicles at its main Martorell plant, outside Barcelona, starting in 2025, but this will depend on government support and other factors, Isensee said. He added SEAT’s second quarter would be worse than the first, when it made a €48 million loss due to the health crisis, but was confident the company would recover. While 2020 production would be well down on 2019 due to factory closures during the coronavirus lockdown, there were no plans to reduce the workforce, he said. He added SEAT was not interested in the Barcelona plants that Nissan intends to close. After record sales in 2019, SEAT had a turbulent start to the year as Luca de Meo stepped down as chairman in January, now becoming Renault’s chief executive. +++ 

+++ SKODA boss Bernhard Maier will leave the firm at the end of the month, the latest in a string of moves among senior management in the Volkswagen Group. The 60-year-old German has served as the Czech brand’s CEO since November 2015, when he moved over from sister brand Porsche. Under his leadership, Skoda has greatly expanded its sales and model line-up with the launch of the Kodiaq, Karoq and Kamiq SUVs. The firm is also gearing up to launch the Enyaq iV, its first bespoke electric vehicle, based on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform. No reason for Maier’s departure has been given, nor confirmation on whether he is leaving the Volkswagen Group. Maier has served in various roles within the Group since joining to run Porsche’s German division in 2001. In a statement, Skoda said a successor would be elected in line with Czech law and would be announced at the firm’s next board meeting in August. Volkswagen Group chairman Herbert Diess said that Maier “has made an extraordinary contribution to enhancing the brand’s profile”, adding: “His years at Skoda are among the most successful in the company’s 125-year history”. Maier’s departure from Skoda is the latest in a string of management changes within the Volkswagen Group, with include Ralf Brandstätter taking over as CEO of Volkswagen from Diess. According to reports in the German media, Maier had been considered for a switch back to take over Porsche from Oliver Blume, who would in turn switch to the CEO role at Volkswagen, but that plan changed after Brandstätter’s appointment. Maier upset some Group board members with his push to expand Skoda sales in key Volkswagen markets while undercutting the German brand on cost, thanks to lower production costs in the Czech Republic. +++ 

+++ Students from Skoda’s Vocational Academy are developing an open-top Spider version of the Scala, which has been named the SLAVIA in recognition of the Czech brand’s origins. Skoda founders Václav Laurin and Václav Klement first began working together 125 years ago, repairing and then selling bicycles under the Slavia name. Students from Skoda’s Vocational Academy are developing an open-top Spider version of the Scala, which has been named the Slavia in recognition of the Czech brand’s origins. Skoda founders Václav Laurin and Václav Klement first began working together 125 years ago, repairing and then selling bicycles under the Slavia name. The roofless version of the family car will be revealed later this month and will be the seventh concept car produced by students on the Czech firm’s training scheme. Previous machines have included a Kodiaq-based pick-up and a convertible Karoq. The Scala Spider is being developed by a team of 20 apprentices currently training at Skoda’s Mlada Boleslav headquarters, with guidance from design chief Oliver Stefani. Skoda engineers are giving advice to the team while the machine is constructed. The Scala was launched in late 2018 and this is the first time the hatch has been used as the basis for a student car project. The students are given a standard version of the car and the design freedom to adapt it as they wish. Having decided on an open-top bodystyle, design work has focused on making the car’s lines more prominent to give it added ‘visual dynamics’. The finished Scala Spider is scheduled to be revealed in June and there is no production intent for the car. The first student car concept was the Citijet, a 2-seat Citigo. It was followed by the Funstar (a Fabia-based pick-up), the Atero (Rapid-Spaceback-based coupé), the Citigo-based electric Element, the Sunroq (a Karoq convertible) and last year’s Mountiaq. +++ 

+++ Chevrolet is gradually plucking sedans and hatchbacks from its American range. It quietly confirmed it will soon end production of the SONIC (in the past sold as Aveo in Europa), one of its most affordable cars, in order to free up production capacity to build an EV. Ford ruffled more than a few feathers when it trumpeted its plans to pivot away from sedans and hatchbacks in 2018. Chevrolet is following the exact same path, but it’s taking a more subtle approach. Sonic production will end in October 2020, a spokesperson told, and the Detroit-area Orion Assembly factory that makes it will be retooled to manufacture a Bolt-based electric crossover tentatively called Bolt EUV. It’s due out in 2021. Chevrolet explained it’s putting the Sonic out to pasture without a replacement in sight “due to declining demand” and its decision is hardly surprising. Demand for small cars (especially hatchbacks) collapsed during the second half of the 2010s. The company sold about 100.000 examples of the Sonic in 2014, yet it only managed to move 13.971 units off dealer lots in 2019. To put that figure into perspective, the Sonic was outsold by the Bolt (16.418 units), the Corvette (17.988 units), and the ancient Express van (77.457 units). Combine the Sonic’s poor sales with Chevrolet offering 2 similarly sized crossovers, the Trax and the Trailblazer, and it’s easy to see why the company is letting the model die off. With the Impala out of the way and the Sonic on death row, Chevrolet’s range will include a single sedan, the Malibu, and one hatchback, the Spark. Neither are long for this world. Insiders suggest the ax will fall on the Malibu at the end of the 2023 model year, meaning about halfway through 2022. That’s 2 years earlier than expected. Details about the Spark’s future remain murky, but I wouldn’t bet on seeing a next-generation model. Sister company Buick is binning its sedans, too; it confirmed it will stop selling the Regal at the end of the 2020 model year. Cadillac is the only General Motors-owned brand that remains firmly committed to the body style. +++ 

+++ TESLA has just registered its best month for South Korea in June, selling a total of 2.827 vehicles and bouncing back from its April and May slumps. Its bestseller was easily the Model 3, which became South Korea’s no.2 imported car, surpassing the BMW 5-Series and Audi A6, trailing only the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Meanwhile, the once-dominant Hyundai saw its Kona Electric sales drop 31 % in June to 2.513 units. According to an unnamed source, another 4.000 to 5.000 South Korean customers have the Model 3 on order. However, most of them will need to wait until at least September to take delivery. Of course, South Korea’s generous subsidies of 12.43 million won ($10.380) for the Model 3 have certainly helped boost sales, dropping the car’s price down to under $40.000. But it’s not just that. There genuinely seems to be a national craze about the Californian EV-maker. For instance, after Korean actor Yoo Ah-in drove his Tesla Model X while filming a reality show, there was an immediate spike in orders, said a person familiar with the matter without elaborating. Then there are the South Korean Tesla fans who go as far as to track the routes of ships bringing Teslas to Asia. “I am not interested in cars, but I am interested in the Tesla brand and its technologies”, said Kang Sung-mo, a 39-year old Korean man who runs an advertising production agency. Meanwhile, one of the nation’s latest trendy cocktails is a mix of HiteJinro’s Terra-branded beer and the Korean liquor ‘soju’: together, their names are pronounced “Tesla” in Korean. +++ 

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , dramatic changes in buying habits emerged from car sales figures for June, the first full month that car retailers have been open post-lockdown. UK new car sales fell 34.9 % year on year in June. The figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), announced earlier this week, show a significant improvement over April and May (down 97 % and 89 % respectively) but are still far from the industry’s hoped-for comeback, after being out of action for more than 2 months. Dramatic changes in buying habits emerged from UK car sales figures for June, the first full month that car retailers have been open post-lockdown. SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes described June’s new car sales as “not a recovery and barely a restart”. He added: “Many of June’s registrations could be attributed to customers finally being able to collect their pre-pandemic orders, and appetite for significant spending remains questionable”. There were 145.377 new cars sold in June; a decline of 78.044 units over June 2019. For the year to date, the market has fallen by almost half (48.5 %), with 653.502 new cars sold in the first 6 months making it the lowest level since 1971. However, while the decline certainly reflects economic uncertainty, UK-wide retailers are not yet fully up and running. Only English dealerships were open for the full month, with delayed reopenings for Welsh and Scottish showrooms. In England, 1 in 5 retailers remains shut and reports suggest upwards of 30 % of sales staff remain on furlough. The irregularities of the top 10 bestselling cars from the past few months started to normalise in June, with the main players, the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta, back at number 1 and 2 spots. That’s in stark contrast to April, when the Tesla Model 3 (never before even listed in the top 10) became the best-selling car, with 658 sold. This was thanks to socially distanced delivery of a number of pre-ordered sales before the lockdown. Even so, the electric Model 3 remains at number 9 in June’s top sellers. Tesla is 1 of just 2 brands that have managed to grow UK sales in the first 6 months of 2020. The other is underdog MG, which has long been off the radar for most UK buyers. Thanks to its ZS EV, another electric car, MG achieved its best yet June volume, with 2025 cars sold and a record monthly market share of 1.4 %. For the year to date, the sales of Chinese-owned MG are up a quarter, moving it ahead of Dacia, Lexus and Mitsubishi in the sales charts and putting it within reach of Fiat, Mazda and Suzuki, which are all less than 1.000 sales ahead, according to the SMMT figures. Both Tesla’s and MG’s success reflects the growing demand for plug-in vehicles, which was already on the rise pre-pandemic. Plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles held more market share than ‘regular’ hybrids in June, while pure EVs had a 6 % share, with sales up by 262 %; the equivalent of 8.903 cars. Despite this rise, Marshall Motors Group CEO Daksh Gupta, doesn’t believe it’s related to lockdown: “We are starting to see an increase in prominence of hybrid and EVs, but there’s a huge shortage in supply. There’s more appetite for environmentally friendly vehicles, but this was improving anyway rather than as a result of lockdown”. Diesel-powered car sales, which have been steadily decreasing over the past few years because of the backlash following Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal, now account for less than a fifth of sales. Just 23.011 diesel vehicles were sold in June, compared with 87.896 petrol ones, the latter making up 60.5 % of overall share. By comparison: in 2016, diesel car sales accounted for almost half of total volume. Given the economic uncertainty, it’s no surprise that fleet sales fell by a substantial 45.2 % in June, which the SMMT attributed to “businesses pausing purchasing amid expenditure reviews”. Private demand was more resilient, falling 19.2 % compared with June 2019 and accounting for more than half of the overall market. Of those private buyers, Gupta identified 2 key trends that are helping sales: those who would ordinarily use public transport and those described as ‘revenge buyers’; the consumers who haven’t struggled during lockdown thanks to the furlough scheme or otherwise and want to treat themselves after lockdown and no longer have holidays high up their agenda. As a result, the number of cars part-exchanged (previously making up 63 % of buyers) has now dropped to 50%. Nonetheless, car retailers remain cautious about the year ahead. Jardine Motor CEO Neil Williamson described its sales in June as “better than our worst-case scenario”, adding: “Let’s wait and see if it continues”. Vertu boss Robert Forrester said: “June saw robust sales in all areas of the business, reflecting pent-up demand, and this is expected to continue for some time. We should not declare victory too early given the economic weakness likely to be created by the rise of redundancies across the UK and many sectors in major trouble. This may be only the end of the beginning”. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN ’s labour chief Bernd Osterloh has been on a roadshow to tell analysts and investors the carmaker has no need for deeper cost cuts in Germany. Existing cost reduction measures, agreed in 2016, will be enough to help the company to overcome the coronavirus crisis, Osterloh said, according to an analyst note from MainFirst. “Osterloh stated that the Future Pact program that was initiated in 2016 is still driving cost down. That gives VW a lead over European peers. Incremental cost cuts are not needed at the moment”, the MainFirst note said. A spokesman for Osterloh’s offices confirmed the remarks. A spokesman for Volkswagen later said Osterloh’s comments referred to deeper structural cost programmes, like mass layoffs, rather than ongoing efficiency improvements. If demand drops further, VW can cut costs by reducing the working hours of its workforce, Osterloh told analysts. Osterloh also said unions fully support chief executive Herbert Diess and that the Volkswagen ID.3 electric car is a strong product which is fully on track. Diess said that Osterloh “once again made clear that the workers council stands completely behind the strategy of Volkswagen”. Regarding the planned full takeover of truck maker Navistar, Osterloh said this remained strategically the right step, but that increasing VW’s stake in the business was currently not a priority. +++ 

+++ If you own a plug-in hybrid VOLVO model and you live in a Volvo On Call market, you can now use the smartphone app to gain new insights into your purely electric driving patterns. The goal here is for Volvo PHEV owners to drive fully electric as much as possible. So with that in mind, the Volvo On Call app now allows you to see how much distance you’ve driven in fully electric mode, as well as your electricity and fuel consumption, among other metrics. Later this year, the app will also show drivers their CO2 footprint and the estimated fuel costs saved by driving in fully electric mode, both of which should be very helpful. “Just like a step counter helps people exercise more, I believe that by giving people better insight into their driving patterns, it will help them to drive in a more sustainable way”, said Björn Annwall, Head of EMEA at Volvo. “We see plug-in hybrids as ‘part-time electric cars’ that encourage changes in people’s behaviour and help pave the way for a transition towards fully electric cars”. These new functionalities are available for all Volvo plug-in hybrid models built on the SPA and CMA platform and sold after 2015, in the 47 countries where Volvo On Call is available. Volvo will also integrate similar functionalities in China into the popular WeChat platform. In the next 5 years, Volvo plans on launching a range of fully electric models, as per its ambition to make all-electric cars account for 50 % of its global sales by the year 2025, with the other half being hybrids. The carmaker’s first-ever EV, the XC40 Recharge P8, will go into production later this year. First deliveries however will take place in 2021. +++

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