Newsflash: Jaguar gaat elektrische sportwagen EV-Type noemen


+++ Despite global demand in new vehicles dropping significantly in the wake of the corona virus pandemic and the restrictions imposed worldwide, the BMW Group posted increased sales of its electrified cars. According to numbers released by the company, a total of 61.652 electrified vehicles, made by BMW and Mini, were shipped to their owners in the first 6 months of 2020, which represented a 3.4 % increase compared to the same time period of last year. “Demand for our electrified vehicles outperformed the market trend in the first half of the year”, said the member of the Board of Management responsible for Customer, Brands and Sales, Pieter Nota. “Our wide range of plug-in hybrid models and the new fully-electric Mini are in high demand among our customers”. Global sales of the BMW branded vehicles dropped by 21.7 % in the first half of the year to 842.153 units. Mini sold 31.1 % less cars, to 118.862 and Rolls-Royce reported a 37.6 % drop, with only 1.560 vehicles delivered. “We are following the development of global demand very closely and continue to plan for various scenarios so we can respond quickly as regions around the globe recover from the coronavirus pandemic at different speeds”, added Nota. “We are seeing a positive development in China, where our second-quarter sales were once again higher than in the previous year”. Europe was the Group’s biggest market, with 372.428 sales recorded from January to June (32.3 % less, including 116.255 shipped to Germany; down 29.1 %). In Asia, they delivered 416.153 cars; an 8.1 % drop, including 329.069 in China (down 6.0 %) and 152.102 of their rides crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas; down 30.5 %, out of which 120.937 made it to the U.S.; down 29.4 %. The BMW Group is ramping up production of electric motors, transmissions, power electronics and batteries for electric vehicles at its largest European manufacturing facility in Dingolfing, Germany. The automaker has opened the Competence Center for E-Drive Production at the plant, which will be able to build 500.000 e-drive units a year from 2022. The Dingolfing factory has produced electric powertrain components for the i3 since 2013, but now its capacity is expanding significantly. The integrated BMW e-drive combines the electric motor, transmission and power electronics in a central housing. The fifth-generation e-drive will be used for the first time in the new iX3, which will go into production in China in late summer. Besides BMW e-drive units, the Competence Center in Dingolfing will make electric powertrain components such as battery modules and high-voltage batteries on eight production lines. 4 additional lines will be set up over the coming years, boosting the production capacity significantly. “We continue to ramp up electromobility and set standards for the transformation of our industry. By 2022, in Dingolfing alone, we will be able to produce e-drives for more than half a million electrified vehicles per year”, chairman of the Board of Management of BMW, Oliver Zipse, said at the inauguration. “At the same time, we will produce a mix of fully-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and models with a combustion engine on a single line, as required by demand, so we can offer our customers the ‘Power of Choice’. This shows how we have paved the way for making the shift in our industry a real success story”, the executive added. Over the next few years, the production area of the Competence Center for e-Drive production will be expanded to 10 times the original size: from 8.000 square meters in 2015 to 80.000. The number of employees will also increase to 2.000 people in the medium term. The expansion of the Dingolfing plant will support BMW’s electrification offensive. By 2021, a quarter of BMW Group vehicles sold in Europe should have an electric drivetrain. That will expand to a third in 2025 and half in 2030. By 2023, the BMW Group will offer no fewer than 25 electrified models, around half of which will feature a pure electric drivetrain. Currently, around 10 % of the vehicles produced in Dingolfing are electrified. With the launch of the iNext electric SUV in 2021, the plant will be capable of building fully-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and models with a combustion engine on a single line. The next-generation 7 Series will also be built in Dingolfing with petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and, for the first time, fully-electric variants. BMW has also released its Q2 sales figures for North America and, as expected due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the numbers aren’t that great. In the April-June quarter, BMW North America sold 50.957 vehicles; a decline of 39,3 % compared to the 83.976 vehicles that it sold in the same quarter in 2019. Mini was hit particularly hard as its sales totaled just 5.288 vehicles; a decrease of 41,5 % compared to the 9.044 vehicles that it sold in the second quarter of 2019. “While automotive sales in the U.S. continue to be impacted by the ongoing global pandemic, the situation has provided an opportunity to institute new practices and find new ways to better serve our customers”, BMW North America president and chief executive Bernhard Kuhnt said. “As a result of these efforts and with the great partnership of our dealers, we have seen an increase in sales over each month of the quarter, which gives us reason to be cautiously optimistic for the second half of the year. As we continue to navigate these uncertain waters, we will always prioritize the health, safety and well-being of our employees, dealers and customers”. In a bid to try and capture as many sales as possible in North America despite stay-at-home orders of varying degrees across many states, BMW expanded its digital sales platform and enabled virtual transactions so purchases can be made digitally before vehicles are delivered to the home of customers. While the sales of new cars from BMW were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, sales of BMW Certified Pre-Owned vehicles dropped by a less-worrying 11.5 % from a year ago to 26.720 vehicles. +++

+++ Like most cars on the market, sales of the CHEVROLET Camaro dipped significantly through the second quarter of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately for General Motors, the competitors Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger performed slightly better. In the second quarter, a total of 6.675 Camaros were sold in the United States; a decrease of 46,3 % compared to the 12.433 units that were sold in the same period of 2019. Sales in Canada dipped by 41 % down to 590 units; down from the 993 examples that were sold in the second quarter last year. There are a number of other small markets where the Camaro is sold. In South Korea, for example, 15 units were sold (a 59 % decrease), in Mexico 8 examples were sold (an 89 % decrease) and in Brazil, just a single Camaro was delivered; a 98 % decrease from the 40 sold in the second quarter of 2019. Competitors such as the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger fared a little better in the second quarter. Leading the sales race was the Mustang with 15.717 examples sold in the United States; a 27,3 % decline from the 21.625 units sold in the second quarter of 2019. As for the Dodge, 9.880 units were sold; a 35,2 % drop from the 15.237 that reached the hands of customers in the same period of 2019. Bizarrely, there were 2 sports cars in the U.S. that actually enjoyed higher sales in the second quarter than they did in the same period last year. Sales of the Mazda MX-5 jumped by 9,9 % to 2.620 units, while sales of the aging Nissan 370Z increased by 23,8 % to 749 examples. +++

+++ CHINA ’s passenger car sales in June fell 6.5 % year on year to 1.68 million units, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said. Retail sales were in line with expectations and signalled a continuing recovery in the passenger car market, the association said during an online briefing. Luxury automakers’ sales outpaced the overall market, CPCA Secretary-General Cui Dongshu said. Sales of new energy vehicles (NEV), which include battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, hit 85.600 units. Pure battery electric vehicle sector sold 67.000 units in June with U.S. maker Tesla accounting for 23 % of the market, the CPCA said. Cui said the association expects NEV sales in the second half this year to be significantly higher than in the same period last year. Passenger car sales rose to 1.61 million units in May; up 1.9 % from a year earlier.+++

+++ DAIMLER chief executive Ola Källenius said that his company, as well as the car industry as a whole, are facing painful salary cutbacks due to the economic fallout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This situation will result in carmakers having to restructure their business more harshly than they originally thought, said Kallenius during a webcast hosted by the German manufacturer’s main labor union, IG Metall. This “significantly harsher reality” will require “drastic” salary cuts, he added, while also mentioning the fact that Daimler executives will face bigger reductions than rank-and-file workers. These cuts are necessary to protect the company’s financial status and safeguard its investments in future technologies, he said. Back in April, Kallenius indicated that previously planned measures might not be enough to counter where the market was going. Right now, Daimler as well as BMW and the Volkswagen Group are all bracing for second-quarter losses. In March meanwhile, Källenius did say that his company’s wasn’t in need of any additional funds (via state aid), claiming that the industry had “a very good order intake before the crisis”. One development plant that has already been sidetracked is Daimler’s co-op deal with BMW, which would have seen the 2 companies co-develop next generation autonomous driving and parking technologies. These systems should have made it into passenger vehicles sometime in 2024 and beyond. However, the 2 carmakers put their business on hold temporarily to pursue individual development paths. +++

+++ The state of Israel has filed a $152 million lawsuit against Volkswagen, Audi and local distributor Champion Motors for alleged fraud and negligence relating to the DIESELGATE scandal. The state filed the lawsuit with the Tel Aviv District Court claiming that between 2008 and 2016, Volkswagen, Audi and Champion Motors imported roughly 12.000 vehicles into the country with the brand’s EA189 engine that came outfitted with software designed to cheat diesel emissions testing. In the lawsuit, it is alleged that Volkswagen and its associated companies used falsified data from the software to mislead Israeli authorities and fool them into thinking the vehicles were compliant with the country’s environmental regulations. Calcalist Tech adds that the vehicles would not have been approved for local sale had accurate emissions data been provided. The lawsuit adds that the vehicles equipped with the EA189 engine were responsible for emitting 3.881 tonnes of nitrogen dioxide gasses. “The damage caused by the defendants, who, through their shortcomings, caused excessive emissions of thousands of tonnes of pollutants and mortally damaged the state’s policy meant to reduce polluting emissions and improve air quality in order to prevent illness, death, and damage to the public’s health”, the lawsuit adds. Authorities in various other countries have also pursued Volkswagen in the fallout from dieselgate in recent years. Germany, Spain and Australia have filed lawsuits against the German automaker, although the most notable example was that of the United States aggressively pursuing Volkswagen, which ultimately resulted in a $22 billion settlement. +++

+++ Mere days after FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA) unveiled a host of potent new performance models from Dodge, the automaker has admitted that electrification is the future of performance. During an interview, FCA North America Head of Passenger Cars, Tim Kuniskis, admitted that electrification will come to the company’s performance models, even though the new Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, and Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock have no electrification in sight. “We’re very interested in electrification, specifically for performance”, Kuniskis said. “I think it is absolutely the future of performance and it’s what is going to enable performance to exist amid environmental regulations. I’m not going to say there’s no way to avoid it, because I’m not looking at it as something we want to avoid. I think it’s going to be the next evolution, the next step of even higher performance than anything that we’ve seen up until this point. It’s going to open up massive capability”. FCA already has a few electrified vehicles in its portfolio, such as the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and the Fiat 500e. Like most electrified vehicles on the market, these cars are more focused on efficiency than they are performance, but as more automakers start to embrace electrification, it’s inevitable that electric motors will soon start to supplement internal combustion engines in some of the industry’s most powerful vehicles. However, Kuniskis added that it is not yet economically viable for FCA to go down this route. “Right now, electrification is not cost-effective. Let’s say you have a trim that you want to make into an awesome electrified performance car and you’re going to sell 5.000 of them. There’s no way to justify the expense to do that because of the cost of technology. When the cost comes down across the mainstream, now that opens up the door for the crazies”. So then what can we expect from future electrified FCA models? Well, seen as how Dodge for example already has cars that put down more than 700 horsepower, it’s possible that sometime in the future, performance FCA products could approach the 4-figure horsepower mark. +++

+++ JAGUAR has registered to trademark the name Jaguar EV-Type, further fuelling speculation that the brand’s next sports car will be electric. The trademark, which is still pending according to the Wipo global brand database, was first applied for in mid-February. While trademarks are often registered by companies for a variety of reasons and don’t always preview the name of a forthcoming model, it is understood the British brand is actively considering an electric sports car. The name EV-Type appears to be a reference to the iconic Jaguar E-Type sports car of the 1960s and 1970s. This, along with the fact that the only Jaguar model still using the ‘Type’ suffix is the F-Type, adds considerable weight to the assumption. It is still believed that Jaguar hasn’t firmly decided on what form the replacement for the F-Type will take, despite its designers having strong ideas. Former design director Ian Callum revealed last year that he had created a blueprint for Jaguar’s next-generation sports car with a mid-engined layout and a look inspired by the ill-fated C-X75 of 2010. That design is thought to be dependent on a decision to make the next F-Type an EV; another proposal for a front-engined petrol car also remains on the drawing board. Last year, Jaguar unveiled the Vision Gran Turismo Coupé concept as a digital model designed exclusively for the Gran Turismo videogame franchise. The company gave no indiciation that it would create a production version of the 1020 hp electric supercar, but its characterising features (a high beltline, long bonnet and swooping rear deck) are inspired by the C-X75 and F-Type, and could preview the design of future Jaguar EVs. One stumbling block would be the need to spend big on developing a bespoke platform for an electric sports car, although this issue could be helped if Jaguar Land Rover extends its budding collaboration with BMW. Regardless, a successor to the F-Type isn’t due to be launched for another 2 years at the earliest, as the coupé and convertible were heavily updated only a few months ago. +++

+++ With the current JAGUAR LAND ROVER boss, Ralf Speth, due to retire in September, the British carmaker is actively searching for his replacement. This week, word has it that their shortlist includes former Audi CEO Bram Schot, as well as ex-BMW development chief Klaus Fröhlich, who left the Bavarian company last month. An official announcement could come as early as this week. Speth’s retirement was mandated by company policy from Tata Motors, although he will become the non-executive vice-chairman of Jaguar Land Rover going forward. Aside from Fröhlich and Schot, JLR’s shortlist also includes Nick Rogers, who is the company’s head of engineering, as well as Fred Schulze, head of production at Audi’s home plant in Ingolstadt, Germany. As per the same report, FCA boss Mike Manley (another rumored replacement for Speth at JLR), was left off the shortlist. Fröhlich and Schot both left their respective employers this year. The latter also held the title of sales and marketing chief, before taking over as interim CEO for Audi after German prosecutors detained former chief executive Rupert Stadler for his alleged role in the dieselgate scandal. In April, Schot was replaced as Audi CEO by former BMW exec Markus Duesmann. It’s quite clear by now that JLR’s shortlist only includes executives that used to work for other premium carmakers, which has been the British brand’s hiring theme ever since it was purchased by Tata Motors from Ford back in 2008. +++

+++ The 2021 model year will mark the return of the iconic Bronco nameplate in Ford’s lineup and one of its main rivals will be another iconic SUV: the JEEP Wrangler. So, what is Jeep going to do about it? Update the range with new visual and technology features that should make it more appealing for new buyers, that’s what. According to a report, the Selec-Trac transfer case, previously available on the Sahara, will find its way to the Sport models as well. The system allows the automatic switch from 2- to 4-wheeldrive, improving traction on sticky or slippery surfaces. The Rock-Trac will be added to the Rubicon and the front-facing camera, sourced from the Gladiator Rubicon, will launch on the Sahara and Rubicon variants of the Wrangler. The tire fill alerts will be introduced to vehicles equipped with the 7-inch infotainment system while the previous optional Technology Group package on the Sport S will become standard on the grade. This adds automatic air-con with air filtering, a 7-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, sat-nav, TFT color display, SiriusXM with a one-year subscription, and a USB port. The Gladiator will ‘lend’ the Off-Road Plus to the Wrangler Rubicon, and the rumored Mojave is understood to feature it as well. Finally, Jeep will update the color palette of its 4×4 by adding the Hydro Blue and Snazzberry later on, and the Sarge Green, Firecracker Red, Granite Crystal, Black Billet Silver, Sting-Gray, Bright White and Hellayella are expected to be added as well. +++

+++ The MASERATI Ghibli Hybrid was supposed to be presented at the 2020 Beijing Motor Show, but the restrictions imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic threw a wrench in those plans. Then, the company announced a new presentation date, July 15, yet that one has now been postponed too: by 1 day. Now I’m being told that the car will finally (fingers crossed) make its debut on July 16. The model will premiere on the automaker’s official website, during an online event, and should serve to rejuvenate an executive sedan that has been around since 2013. The trident brand has big expectations when it comes to this model, as it will be their first-ever hybrid, or more likely a plug-in hybrid, as previous reports have stated. Details surrounding the powertrain are still a very well preserved secret, though in all likelihood, it might get a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine, working in conjunction with an electric motor. The setup, which was highlighted by a sticker on a scooped prototype’s windshield, is understood to kick out a combined output of 330 hp. The facelifted Ghibli will also sport updated front and rear ends and maybe a new infotainment system inside, featuring digital gauges. Maserati has not announced whether the Ghibli Hybrid, which is the official name of the car, will premiere at the same time as the regular variants, or if it will arrive at a later date. Last week, Maserati unveiled a new 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that will power its MC20 supercar. It dubbed the engine “100 % Maserati”, but that doesn’t appear entirely accurate. The engine, known as the Nettuno, weighs less than 220 kg and is good for 630 hp at 7.500 rpm and 730 Nm of torque from 3.000 to 5.500 rpm. It revs through to 8.000 rpm and Maserati says it uses technology derived from Formula 1. As it turns out, it also uses parts from Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. While taking a deep-dive into the engine, it was discovered that it shares many similarities with Ferrari’s F154 V8 used by the SF90 Stradale (and other models) and the Alfa Romeo 690T engine used by the Giulia and Stelvio, which itself is essentially just a V6 version of the F154. The 88 mm bore and 82 mm stroke of Maserati’s Nettuno engine are identical to the F154 and the 8.000 rpm rev limit is the same. In addition, the 1-6-3-4-2-5 firing order of the Nettuno is the same as the Alfa Romeo 690T engine. When actually looking at the Maserati engine, it has been discovered it has the same bolt pattern and flanges as the Ferrari engine as well as the same crankshaft position sensor and mounting. The oil filter housing and mounting pattern are also shared with the F154 and a match with the engine found in the Ferrari California T. A video released by Maserati showing the cylinder block has also revealed it is identical to the F154 albeit with 2 fewer cylinders. Admittedly, there are some things that differentiate the Nettuno from any Ferrari engines. For example, it runs an 11:1 compression ratio and has a new head design developed by Maserati. The engine also sports dual spark plugs and a pre-chamber combustion system that is said to reduce noise low down in the rev range while also improving the fuel consumption and lowering the CO2 emissions. Of course, it is no surprise the Maserati engine shares many similarities with Ferrari as developing a new engine from the ground-up would have been wildly expensive for the car manufacturer, particularly for a model like the MC20 that likely won’t sell in huge volumes. +++

+++ The MERCEDES-AMG One is one of the most eagerly-awaited performance cars of recent memory and the car manufacturer has just dropped a new clip showing a prototype being put through its paces. Filmed at a circuit in Immendingen, Germany, the Mercedes-AMG One is arguably the most ambitious street-legal performance car that the automaker has ever developed. Sure, it has been hampered by various delays, but it appears as though development is back on track as Mercedes inches closer to kicking off customer deliveries next year. During this video, we don’t only get an up-close look at the advanced Formula 1 powertrain but are also provided with an opportunity to see the hybrid hypercar being tested at high speeds. At one stage, outgoing Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers jumps behind the wheel of a prototype. He, as well as the rest of the team, suggest the car has reached all of its performance benchmarks. In a closing statement, Daimler boss Ola Källenius confirms that development of the One is on its “final stretch” and says the car is running at maximum power. As a reminder, the AMG One will use a Formula 1-derived powertrain that includes a 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 engine that works alongside 4 electric motors. The finished car churns out a cool 1.000 hp and will be able to hit 200 km/h in less than 6 seconds while continuing through to a top speed of beyond 350 km/h. As impressive as the straight-line performance will be, it will be in the corners where the One will really shine. +++

+++ Automotive subscriptions promised to be the next big thing in this industry, as they gave users access to multiple vehicles for a flat monthly fee. However, they haven’t exactly been popular and a number of them have already come and gone, including Book by Cadillac. Now, the latest subscription service to get the boot is the MERCEDES-BENZ Collection, which launched as a pilot program a little over 2 years ago. It offered residents of Philadelphia and Nashville access to an assortment of vehicles for a little over $1,000 per month. Over the following months, Mercedes modified and expanded the service by adding an AMG tier and by offering the program in Atlanta. However, these efforts were ultimately in vain as the service wasn’t very popular. Mercedes-Benz USA’s Adam Chamberlain said: “demand was just OK”. He added: “If the demand would have been unbelievable, then it could have gone further”. While Mercedes had hoped the subscription service would prove popular with new customers, only a “few hundred” people signed up. Given such weak demand, it’s no wonder that the subscription service will wind down this summer. Despite this disappointing result, Mercedes said the service taught them a few very important things about online sales. The program also helped to draw in new and younger customers to the brand. As Chamberlain noted, the average Mercedes customer is 55 years old and the subscription service attracted customers who were approximately 10 years younger. +++

+++ The last MORGAN to be built on a simple steel ladder-frame chassis has left the firm’s Pickersleigh Road factory, 84 years after it made its debut under its first 4-wheeled model, the 4/4. The platform has been in near-continuous use since then, with production only pausing during the Second World War and the coronavirus pandemic, making it, Morgan says, “the longest-running production car architecture of all time, anywhere in the world”. The Plus Four 70th Edition was the steel platform’s swansong. Featuring a gold-painted chassis, platinum metallic bodywork and a motorsport-inspired valance, it was limited to a production run of just 20 models. 4 examples had been completed before the factory closed as a result of the pandemic, but now the final model has been delivered to its owner, a Morgan collector. In recognition of modern customers’ need for greater road ability, even in traditional sports cars, the company will introduce “a range of models” that will utilise versions of the light and rigid CX-generation chassis it introduced with the Plus Six in 2019. “We recognise a need for a more resolved core product that meets both our customers’ needs and future legislative requirements”, said Morgan CEO Steve Morris. “The advanced engineering of the new platform is a vital underpinning for the next generation of Morgan sports cars”. The chassis decision is part of a suite of changes and improvements that follow the purchase of the Malvern Link sports car company by Investindustrial, an Italian private equity firm that is also a major shareholder in Aston Martin. Developments include the opening last year of a modern and extremely spacious engineering and development centre (dubbed M-DEC, for Morgan Design and Engineering Centre) on a new site close to its Pickersleigh Road base. “We need space to work on new projects”, said chief designer Jon Wells. “It has to be away from the suppliers and visitors who visit us nearly every day”, added Morris. “So we’ve made it close, but separate”. Work is also under way on a major refurbishment of the Pickersleigh Road visitors’ centre, which annually greets 30.000 people, each of whom pays £24 for an expertly guided 2-hour tour. Morgan is extremely secretive about the exact specification of its forthcoming new models, though it is believed most will maintain Morgan’s classic look. The new Plus Four was revealed in March as the second model to sit atop the new CX-generation architecture. Using a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine from BMW mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, it shares just 3 % of its parts with the old car, despite its familiar design. The performance and all-round capability of the Plus Six has proved so good that Morgan bosses regard it as a spiritual successor for the potent Plus 8 of former times, rather than the V6 Roadster. +++

+++ NISSAN has raised $7.8 billion in financing from its creditors since April as it tries to shore up its cash position in the face of falling sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, its latest annual securities report shows. In a filing to Japanese financial authorities, the automaker said it had raised a total of 832.6 billion yen ($7.8 billion), including 712.6 billion yen announced in late May to respond to the novel virus. Japan’s No. 2 automaker is struggling to recover profitability after posting its first annual loss in 11 years, suffering from falling sales, a tarnished image and a deteriorating cash position even before the virus outbreak sapped global demand for cars. Under new chief executive Makoto Uchida, Nissan has pledged to cut 300 billion yen from its fixed costs over the next 4 years, by slashing its production capacity and vehicle model range by around 20 %. Unveiling its recovery plan in late May, Uchida said improving cash flow would be Nissan’s biggest challenge, though the company expected to have positive free cash flow in the second half of the current financial year, compared with a negative 641 billion yen in the year to March. In addition to the secured funding, Nissan has said it has 1.1 trillion in net cash in its automotive business and credit lines of up to 1.3 trillion yen. But the company has acknowledged that more funding might be needed to cushion the blow of the coronavirus if it continues to weigh on sales in the coming months. Nissan posted a 40 % year-on-year fall in global vehicle sales during the March-May period, when global automakers shuttered most of their vehicle plants and car dealerships were closed to stem the spread of the virus. +++

+++ Despite the booming sales of crossovers and SUVs, RENAULT has decided to pull the plug on its flagship high rider, the Koleos, in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The midsize model, which is based on the same platform as the Nissan Rogue / X-Trail, remains on sale until the end of July. A spokesperson confirmed the decision, explaining it was taken “due to commercial reasons that align with Renault’s policy of offering the most suitable vehicles in the market for our customers”. At a first glance, this seems to be related to the poor sales numbers. According to CarSalesBase, a total of 12.371 examples were sold across Europe in 2019; down from 18.999 units registered the year before and 13.232 in 2017. Presented at the Beijing Motor Show in 2016, the second-generation Koleos is a challenger to the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento. It slots in the company’s lineup above the compact Kadjar and is offered with just 1 diesel engine. Renault’s massive restructuring plan could target other models besides the Koleos, including the midsize Talisman, and the Espace and Scenic minivans. +++

+++ SEAT and Cupra will receive a research and development investment of €5 billion by 2025, with a focus on preparing both brands for further electrification. Vehicle development will be a core pillar of the latest in a long line of Volkswagen Group electrification investments announced over the past few years, with Seat’s technical centre taking the lead. Factories will be upgraded, too, with the 2 firms’ facility in Martorell, Spain intended to become a future hub for Seat’s and Cupra’s electric vehicle production. The announcement follows the reveal of the Cupra el-Born, the first electric hot hatchback to be introduced within the VW Group. It’s set to go on sale in 2021, after a decision was taken last year not to introduce a specific Seat version but instead focus on the higher-margin Cupra variant. Cupra CEO Wayne Griffiths said the decision to launch the model initially as a performance variant is “a win-win for both brands, our customers and our dealers”. He added: “I don’t think we will lose anything by launching it as a Cupra. I think we’ve been able to differentiate the car more in terms of design, make the car much more provocative, more sporty, more sophisticated inside and outside. It shows us that Cupra can perfectly combine electrification and performance”. Griffiths said the decisions to work on the Cupra model started “very soon after” the original Seat-badged concept was unveiled. It was a process of around 18 months to transform the model from its original Seat form to the Cupra version. When asked if the decision not to do a Seat version indicated that the investment focus was shifting away from Seat and towards Cupra, Griffith said: “We will be investing €5 billion in both brands, in electrification and technology. We’ve just invested €1 billion in the new Seat Leon. We will be spending money on both brands because one is not there to substitute the other. They have totally different purposes, different positioning, different types of cars, different design. They complement each other excellently. We have a limited amount of investment and we have to share that across the brands, and we have a third brand now with Seat MO for micro mobility. These areas of the company are profitable. And we’ve done a good job with Seat, moving it in the last 4 to 5 years from being quite irrelevant in terms of market share to become the fastest growing brand in Europe with a market share of over 3 %”. At last year’s Frankfurt motor show, Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess hinted at a plan being considered to rebrand Seat, which would see the Spanish maker taking the Cupra name instead in order to push it further upmarket. However, such a plan or decision has yet to be officially confirmed. The Cupra brand itself has had a relatively successful start, helped by it being launched off the back of 2 popular models: the Cupra Leon and a Cupra version of the Seat Ateca. Both models have sold over 40.000 examples combined since the division was split from Seat 2 years ago. +++

+++ SUZUKI has confirmed that the Jimny off-roader will be removed from the European market later this year. The Japanese manufacturer has stated that dealer supply will cease in the coming months, citing more stringent EU emissions regulations as the SUV’s cause of death. Earlier this year, Suzuki said the Jimny would remain on sale in “very limited numbers” during 2020 and that the car would be pulled from the market in 2021. However, this date has been pulled forward, following the EU ruling that all car makers must ensure their vehicles emit no more than 95 g/km of CO2, as an average across their fleet. Exemptions exist for low-volume manufacturers and there are concessions such as super credits, which reward brands for selling pure electric cars. Car makers that produce heavier vehicles are also allowed to have higher fleet average emissions than those that produce light cars. As a manufacturer of small cars and with no pure electric vehicles in its portfolio, Suzuki has few immediate options other than to cull the Jimny. The Jimny’s relatively high CO2 emissions of between 154 and 170 g/km, coupled with its low mass of 1.135 kg, mean it’s the latest car to fall foul of the regulations. This trend is one that also threatens Europe’s small-car market as a whole. The future of city cars looks increasingly shaky as firms struggle to balance high emissions and low kerb weights against the disproportionately expensive development costs and low profit margins of small cars. And while the Suzuki Swift Sport, Vitara and S-Cross are set to come with mild hybrid systems as standard, the Jimny has only ever been available with a relatively simple non-turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine; a type of powerplant that does not typically fare well during emissions testing. Suzuki says it “will make every effort to ensure delivery to its customers who have already placed an order”. However, the company also explained: “At launch in late 2018, Suzuki announced that the higher CO2 emissions levels of this model would adversely affect its whole range CO2 average in Europe after 2020”. In recent months, Jimny customers have typically been added to a waiting list rather than placing deposits, with dealers allocating cars to customers only when vehicles were delivered. Suzuki previously told Europe’s annual allocation of Jimnys was far lower than demand, while its factory in Japan was at maximum capacity. For those desperate to own a Jimny, though, one glimmer of hope remains. The Jimny may return in an commercial form at a later date, though Suzuki was unable to confirm whether this would come to the Netherlands. The commercial variant will come with even fewer creature comforts than the standard car. +++

+++ TESLA has yet to confirm the location of its second Gigafactory in the United States and only recently started work at its Gigafactory in Berlin, but that didn’t stop Elon Musk from hinting that the car manufacturer is looking to build yet another plant. Shortly after being asked on Twitter if Tesla will “expand Tesla mega factories in Asia outside China?”, Musk responded with a resounding “Yeah” before adding that “first we need to finish Giga Berlin and a second US Giga to serve eastern half of North America”. This is the first time Musk has commented on a potential second Gigafactory in Asia that could join the current site located just outside of Shanghai. Unfortunately, Musk didn’t specify where exactly this new Gigafactory could be located, but given the well-established automotive industries in Korea and Japan, it seems likely one of these countries will be chosen. Making Korea and Japan all the more appealing are local battery manufacturers and established suppliers. In the midst of the coronavirus-forced shutdown of Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, Musk asserted the company would leave the state and establish new headquarters elsewhere. However, this no longer appears to be the case as the automaker is actually planning to expand production capacity at the site. What’s more, Tesla is also looking to grow capacity at Giga Shanghai and its original Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. With growing production plans and its share prices reaching record highs, it is appearing increasingly likely that Tesla’s stranglehold on the electric car market will continue for quite some time. +++

+++ VAUXHALL ’s Ellesmere Port plant will not necessarily reopen in September as expected, with the decision depending on “demand”, according to the UK boss of its parent firm PSA. Vauxhall announced in early June that it would not reopen until after 1 September due to “the commercial situation” of the Astra model built there, but today PSA managing director Alison Jones said that the factory reopening in September was not a done deal. Jones said: “We haven’t given Ellesmere Port a firm date for reopening. We’ve been clear that we need to see demand. We’ve been clear that we need to see demand to open each and every one of our factories across the world. We are working closely with trade unions”. Vauxhall’s Luton facility, where the Vauxhall / Opel Vivaro, Peugeot Expert and Citroën Dispatch are built, was one of the earliest plants to reopen in May having been closed since March. With strong demand for its commercial models, PSA has introduced a third shift at that site, with staff redeployed from Ellesmere Port to Luton for a temporary period on a voluntary basis. Talking about its approach to reopening plants, Jones commented: “Our response has been a combination of health (we were one of the first to get our plants operating safely with barrier protocols) and then the economic situation. We’re not opening our plants until we know that demand is there. It’s no good making cars and vans and then parking them in a car park. Health is our priority and demand second”. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN has released more details about the future role of its Emden plant in Germany, which currently builds the Passat and Arteon. The conversion of the Emden plant for EV production has already started, with the first electric cars set to roll off the production line from 2022. The all-new VW ID.4 electric compact SUV will be first to enter production at the Lower Saxony plant in 2022, with other all-electric models to follow later. The plant will continue to build the Passat and Arteon “for a transitional period of several years”. I’m guessing that’s until the next-generation models come out, as reports claim they will be manufactured in Bratislava, Slovakia. The Emden plant will have a production capacity of up to 300.000 electric vehicles per year in the final stage of development. To make that possible, the plant will gain a new hall with an area of almost 50.000 square meters where only EVs will be assembled. In addition, the press shop and body shop are to be expanded by 23.000 square meters. The paint shop will also be modernized and a new ‘bi-color hall’ with an area of 6.000 square meters will be constructed. This hall will be used to paint the vehicles’ roofs black, as the 2-color paintwork is one of the trademarks of the ID. family. Finally, a new high-bay shelving unit and an automated small parts warehouse are also planned. All these buildings are expected to be completed by the summer of 2021. “All in all, the company will invest about €1 billion in the transformation of the factory. Emden will be developed into a cornerstone of our electric strategy”, said Ralf Brandstätter, CEO of the Volkswagen brand. Volkswagen aims to become the world market leader in e-mobility and the brands’s goal is to launch more than 20 all-electric models by 2025. +++

Reageren is niet mogelijk.