Newsflash: nieuwe BMW 2-serie Coupé biedt klassiek rijgenot

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+++ ASTON MARTIN is on track to transform the firm into “one of the great global luxury car brands” says new chairman Lawrence Stroll, despite it posting a a pre-tax loss of €260 million in the first half of 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19. The British firm sold 1.770 cars worldwide between January and June; down 41% year on year. Sales were hit by the closure of virtually all its dealerships due to lockdown measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus in various countries. That led to the firm posting revenues of €165 million in the first half of 2020; down 64 % year on year, although that does show signs of recent improvement because Aston posted a loss of €140 million in the first 3 months of the year. Aston Martin also had to suspend production at its factories in Gaydon, where its sports car models are produced, and the new St Athan plant, home to the new DBX. Production has now resumed at St Athan, but Gaydon remains closed while the firm reduces its stock of sports cars. Production is now due to restart there at the end of August. The Covid-19 pandemic came as Aston Martin was in the midst of a major restructuring, with Stroll’s Yew Tree consortium leading a €780 million investment. Stroll was appointed executive chairman in April, sparking a major revamp of the business. Stroll’s plan includes increasing profitability and cutting costs by reducing production of the firm’s key sports car lines to reflect demand, along with a focus on the new DBX. To achieve that, the company is cutting up to 500 jobs. While announcing the Aston Martin’s latest financial results, Stroll noted that the firm has reduced its sports car stock by 869 models in the past 3 months. Stroll has also appointed former Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers as Aston’s new CEO, replacing Andy Palmer, with the Moers due to begin work next week. Stroll acknowledged that “this has been a very intense and challenging 6 months” but added that despite having to deal with the impact of Covid-19: “We have been fully engaged in executing the initial reset in order to achieve our ambition to build Aston Martin into one of the great global luxury car brands. Our ambition for the company is significant, clear and only matched by our determination to succeed, to transform Aston Martin and capture the huge and exciting opportunity ahead of us”. Speaking about the progress made so far, Stroll said: “We are restoring exclusivity to our sports cars, rebalancing supply to demand, which, in the short term, means lower wholesale volumes but is necessary for future success. “The new DBX is critical to our successful future and I am delighted that, after more than a month of closure, production restarted and initial deliveries have now been made. Also critical to our future is the ability to market and engage with our customers. From next year, we will have the great benefit of a highly competitive Aston Martin-branded Formula 1 team giving us a significant global marketing platform to further strengthen our brand and engage with our customers and partners across the world”. Stroll added that Moers is “the right leader for this business. He has a unique combination of being both a CEO and CTO. He has worked at our key partner and I am looking forward to him starting imminently”. Aston Martin bosses expect the pace of recovery from Covid-19 to vary by region but anticipate measures to reduce stock levels in its global dealer network would continue into 2021. Showing the importance of its newest model to future profits, Aston Martin also predicts that its 2020 sales will be evenly split between its sports car models and the new DBX, despite the first deliveries of the SUV having only just begun. +++ 

+++ AUDI SPORT will offer only 1 powertrain in each RS model in future, rather than giving buyers the option of pure combustion-engined or electrified powertrains. While sibling brand Volkswagen will offer GTI petrol, GTD diesel and GTE plug-in hybrid performance versions of its new Golf, Audi Sport sales and marketing boss Rolf Michl has confirmed this won’t be the case for upcoming RS models. Currently, the only electrified model in the line-up is the RS6 Avant, a 48 Volt mild-hybrid, but plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles will arrive in the next couple of years and become a crucial part of Audi Sport’s overall range. The first of these models to arrive will be a plug-in hybrid RS4 and the electric e-Tron GT RS, both due before 2023. Michl said: “We are well known for precise portfolio planning and we want to keep it easy for the customer. We will have one car with one engine. It doesn’t make sense to have different variants. Maybe there will be different variants for different concepts, whether they are electrified, internal combustion-engined or otherwise, but every model will have a single drivetrain”. Michl described Audi Sport’s approach to electrification as “step-by-step”. He said: “Audi is positioning itself as consistently electric. The first step of electrification is already done with the RS6 and there will be fully electric versions with the e-Tron GT. “Our main focus is performance and everyday usability. There are brilliant aspects of electrification for performance cars, such as torque vectoring and amazing cornering speeds. Electrified performance can absolutely be emotional”. +++ 

+++ BMW currently has a focus on developing a fleet of new electric vehicles, but the German manufacturer hasn’t forgotten its core customer base, because an all-new 2 Series Coupe is on the way. The new model is aimed squarely at the driving enthusiast, because it will be rear wheeldrive, while manual gearboxes and a straight-6 petrol engine will appear. Coming in 2021, the arrival of the new coupe means the 2 Series model range will continue to be the most diverse in BMW’s line-up. It will sit alongside the 4-door 2 Series Gran Coupe and the firm’s duo of 2 Series-badged MPVs: the Active Tourer and 7-seat Gran Tourer. However, beneath the skin the coupe will share almost nothing with those models. The 2 Series Gran Coupe product manager Gernot Stuhl confirmed BMW’s plans to introduce a new compact 2 Series Coupe that will shun front wheeldrive and downsizing trends. “There will be a successor that will be on a rear wheeldrive platform”, Stuhl revealed. “So customers who want and need a new 2 Series Coupe will find that in our line-up, as well as those who want a 6-cylinder engine”. While the Gran Coupe uses BMW’s front wheeldrive UKL platform, which is shared with Mini, the rear wheeldrive Coupe will make use of a heavily modified version of BMW’s CLAR architecture. That underpins the latest 3 Series, as well as the recently-revealed 4 Series Coupe. The standard 2 Series Coupe engine line-up will rely on 1.5-litre 3-cylinder power, as well as a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol and maybe a 2.0-litre diesel; the latter 2 taken from the 320i and 320d models. A hot M235i version is likely to use the 306 hp turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine seen in the M235i Gran Coupe. 6-cylinder power may be kept in reserve for the flagship M2 Coupe. It’s likely to make use of a detuned a version of the 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-6 found in the X3 M and X4 M SUVs. This motor will also be used in the next M3 and M4 models. The M2 Coupe will be offered in standard and Competition variants. Power will likely be capped at around 420 hp to keep the M2 competitive with the Mercedes-AMG A 45 and next Audi RS3, as well as to ensure there is distance between it and the M3 and M4 models. A 6-speed manual gearbox should be available. Spy shots revealed that the proportions of the new 2 Series Coupe will alter due to the CLAR platform; a longer bonnet, sloping shoulder lines and more angular bodywork can be picked out on these early prototypes. The front end won’t mimic the larger 4 Series, but isn’t a copy of the 2 Series Gran Coupe, either. Instead, it will have angular headlights and an aggressive front bumper design that appears to be influenced by the X2. The tail-lights and rear end are totally different to anything else in BMW’s line-up, too, underscoring the model’s independence in the range and from other 2 Series models. While the coupe is in development, it’s unlikely that a new 2 Series Convertible will follow. Sales of small premium droptops are low and Audi won’t introduce a new A3 Cabriolet, while Mercedes is to phase out the 2-seat SLC in the coming months. When the new 2 Series goes on sale next year, prices should start from around €45.000 for the 218i. +++ 

+++ CADILLAC is embracing their electric future as the company has released a few more teasers of their upcoming Lyriq show car. This time, we get to see the near-production electric crossover’s front fender that has a sliding section that opens to reveal the charging port. Designed to preview an upcoming production model, the thinly veiled concept will be unveiled on August 6th. Cadillac is keeping details under wraps, but said the Lyriq “marks the beginning of a new chapter for the brand; one that is all-electric and redefines the boundaries and limits of mobility and connectivity”. While that isn’t much to go on, the crossover was originally teased at the 2019 North American International Auto Show and it appears to remain pretty faithful to those original sketches. The concept appears to be the same one that was shown at General Motors’ EV Day earlier this year and a previous report suggested it was “about 85 % true to the production vehicle ”. The same report said the crossover had 23 inch wheels and a 4-seat interior with a 34 inch display. The former 2 items will likely be dropped for production, but the 34 inch display should remain. The Lyric is set to arrive in production form in 2022 and is said to be roughly the same size as the current XT5.  It will ride on GM’s new electric vehicle architecture and use Ultium batteries.  The company has previously said the batteries will have capacities ranging from 50 to 200 kWh and offer ranges of up to 400 644 km. +++

 

+++ Skoda has preveiwed the interior of the new ENYAQ iV , its first electric model built on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform, ahead of its unveiling on 1 September. The new SUV, which uses the same underpinnings as the new Volkswagen ID.3, is said to have an interior that “reflects modern living environments”. Designers have exploited the MEB platform’s lack of transmission tunnel and long wheelbase to create a cabin that’s “visually even airier and to create a feeling of even more space”, Skoda claims. New features making their debut on the Enyaq (and which can be expected to appear on future Skoda EVs) include a storage cubby underneath the centre console and a multi-level dashboard. Skoda has also revealed that the SUV will have 585 litres of boot space, a 13.0 inch central touchscreen and a head-up display with augmented reality. It also claims that rear passengers will benefit from “exceptionally generous” leg room. Skoda also says it has done away with the conventional trim level structure of its current line-up in favour of a range of new ‘design selections’, which each use sustainably produced and recycled materials. They will be clearly split into separate ‘themes’, with a range of option packages available additionally. The Enyaq is due on sale in 2021 and will be a key part of Skoda’s plan to launch 10 electrified models under the iV sub-brand by the end of 2022. Skoda has confirmed that, similar to other MEB-based machines, the Enyaq will be offered with a choice of rear and four wheeldrive, 3 battery sizes and 5 power outputs. The largest battery will be a 125 kW unit giving an official range of 500 km. The Czech firm said the model “combines brand-typical virtues such as a generous amount of space, emotive design and well-balanced proportions with a sustainable yet fun driving experience”. It added that the machine offers similar interior space to the Kodiaq, while being shorter than the Octavia. The Enyaq nameplate is derived from the Irish name Enya, meaning ‘source of life’, with the ‘q’ at the end matching Skoda’s existing combustion-engined SUVs, the Kamiq, Karoq and Kodiaq. The model is based on the Skoda Vision iV concept, which was revealed in 2019. +++

 

+++ FORD has reportedly secured around 230.000 reservations for the all-new Bronco. In the 2 weeks since reservations books opened up after its online reveal on July 13, automotive enthusiasts have been clamoring. All 3.500 First Edition models were quickly accounted for, prompting the automaker to double production to 7.000 units. As it turns out, though, it is not just the First Edition that shoppers have been reserving. Approximately 230.000 reservations for the Bronco have been placed since July 13. Mind you, the number does not account for the Ford Bronco Sport. This figure comes roughly a week after a Ford spokesperson told that “reservations have been so popular that some customers may not receive their Bronco until 2022”. The Ford spokesperson added that the first deliveries are scheduled for spring 2021. It was also confirmed that customers with reservations will have their Broncos built before production of stock units bound for dealerships commence. Of course, securing 230.000 reservations for the Bronco does not mean Ford has sold that many. Those looking to reserve a Bronco can do so with a $100 refundable deposit, but it won’t be until this December that customers are able to convert this into an order through their selected dealership. Nevertheless, the positive reception to the Bronco bodes very well indeed for Ford’s latest SUV plus it should put Jeep on high alert. +++

+++ HYUNDAI has just announced an advanced new airconditioning system that improves interior air quality. The technology will initially be available on select models in South Korea before been rolled out to Hyundai, Kia and Genesis vehicles worldwide. The system consists of 3 airconditioning technologies dubbed After-Blow, Multi-Air Mode and Fine Dust Indicator. The first of these, After-Blow, dries the condensate on the evaporator and suppresses mold growth in the air conditioning. More specifically, the system is triggered when the engine is turned off. Ordinarily, the condensate on the evaporator drains naturally for about 30 minutes. For 10 minutes, After-Blow will be activated to dry the evaporator and any condensate leftover in the air passage. After-Blow uses an intelligent battery sensor to monitor the battery and automatically stops functioning when the battery is low. The second technology, Multi-Air Mode, involves the air being dispersed through newly added multi-air slots in the driver and passenger seats, in addition to the normal air vents. This system aims to provide a more pleasant environment with a gentle breeze. Last, but not least, is the Fine Dust Indicator, which measures and displays the concentration and pollution level of ultrafine particles (PM 2.5) inside the vehicle. If the level of ultrafine particles exceeds a certain threshold, the air-cleaning mode will run to purify the air in the vehicle. It does so by automatically switching the air speed between 3 and 8 while also enabling air-recirculation mode and activating the air conditioning to reduce humidity. If this doesn’t do the trick, owners will be prompted to replace the air conditioner filters and clean contaminated seats or mats. +++

+++ A man in Florida has been charged after allegedly ripping off the government’s coronavirus Paycheck Protection Program and using the money to buy a LAMBORGHINI Huracan. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 29 year old David Hines of Miami submitted various fraudulent loan applications making numerous false and misleading statements about the payroll expenses of his companies. In fact, rather than applying for loans to cover roughly $200,000 of his monthly business expenses, Hines submitted 4 applications through Bank of America claiming combined monthly expenses of $4 million to pay 70 employees. 3 of the 4 submissions were approved and the government soon made the first of 3 planned deposits of $3.984.557 into Hines’ Bank of America account. Within days of receiving almost $4 million, authorities allege Hines purchased a Huracan Evo for $318,497. He also transferred $60,000 to a person listed as ‘Mom’, spent $4,000 at Saks Fifth Avenue, $8,500 at the Graff jewelry boutique and a further $7,000 at Miami’s Setai hotel. Authorities came sniffing after Hines got into a hit-and-run accident in his Lamborghini back in July, leading Miami police to impound the Italian exotic. The incident caught the attention of authorities and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection was soon able to determine what Hines had done. The complaint alleges that Hines did not make any of the payroll payments that he claimed on his loan applications. He has been charged with one count of bank fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, and one count of engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds. +++

+++ The new MBUX infotainment system is one of the bigger things to look forward to when the new MERCEDES-BENZ S-Class debuts later this year, and based on what we’ve already seen, there’s plenty of reason to be excited. New details on the flagship show us additional features like an advanced air suspension, rear-axle steering and plenty more, all designed to give the S-Class the modern makeover it truly deserves. One of the most significant additions to the S-Class is E-Active Body Control. The same hydropneumatic air suspension from Mercedes SUV models like the GLE and GLS carries over to the S-Class for the first time, and it pretty much follows the same premise. A damper in each wheel with 2 working chambers has an adjustable valve and a hydraulic pressure reservoir that lifts the vehicle up, down, and to the side. Yes, to the side. Part of the advanced E-Active Body Control system is the addition of Pre-Safe Impulse Side collision control. New on the S-Class but available elsewhere in the Mercedes range, Pre-Safe can raise the vehicle up to three inches ahead of an impending collision to minimise damage to the affected side. Both the E-Active Body Control suspension and Pre-Safe Impulse Side control will be optional on the S-Class. Another facet of E-Active Driving Control is the ability to scan the road ahead (while in Comfort mode specifically) and proactively adjust the suspension accordingly. Again, that’s the same as what’s currently available in the GLE and GLS. The S-Class now features rear-axle steering for the first time. An electric motor attached to a spindle at the rear axle drives a belt that adjusts the angle of the rear wheels depending on the steering input. Interestingly, Mercedes-Benz offers 2 different versions of rear-axle steering: one with an angle of up to 10 degrees and another with up to 4.5 degrees of motion. With that, the turning circle of the new S-Class is up to 2 meters narrower. Last week, the company also gave us an early look at the S-Class’s new frontal airbags for the second row. These new wing-shaped airbags protect backseat passengers from head-on impacts, and unlike traditional airbags, keep the air trapped inside. These new second-row airbags are only available with the Executive Rear Seat Package. The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class debuts later this year. +++

 

+++ The British success story of MINI production is extending into the electric age, with the company confirming healthy build numbers of its first battery-powered model. 11.000 examples of the Mini Electric have been built since production commenced at the facility in Cowley, Oxfordshire in November last year. 3.000 orders for the car have been placed in the United Kingdom alone since its launch. This means the UK is the second-largest market for electrified Minis, taking 19 % of all Electric and Countryman S E plug-in hybrid sales. The company predicts that a third of 3-door Minis produced will be electric by 2021. Although the production figure is some way off the number of Nissan Leafs usually built annually in Sunderland (21.000 in 2018), it’s a strong figure for a new product launched prior to a global pandemic that has caused factory closures and a fall in demand for new cars. +++

+++ Tesla’s CEO Elon MUSK said that the electric carmaker is open to licensing software and supplying powertrains and batteries to other carmakers. This won’t be the first time Tesla has supplied parts to other manufactures; previous deals included proving battery packs to Mercedes and Toyota. “Tesla is open to licensing software and supplying powertrains & batteries. We’re just trying to accelerate sustainable energy, not crush competitors”, said Musk on Twitter. He didn’t provide further details but did confirm that this includes licensing its Autopilot driver-assistance software to anyone interested. This isn’t the first time Tesla has expressed its interest in licensing both its software and hardware to other companies; back in 2014, the Palo Alto-based carmaker announced that all of its intellectual property would be freely available. “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology”, the company said back then. That didn’t stop them from filing a lawsuit against Rivian Automotive, accusing them of poaching its employees and stealing trade secrets, mind you. Elon Musk admitted in an earnings conference call that the Tesla models are not “affordable enough” and that the real limitation to the company’s growth is battery production. To that end, Tesla will expand its collaboration with Panasonic, CATL and LG Chem, and is looking to build a new battery factory in California. Tesla is also expected to announce a new “low-cost, long-life” battery pack on September 15, which will reportedly debut in the Model 3. +++ 

+++ The PSA Group has revealed plans for a new electrified eVMP platform that will underpin its larger vehicles from 2020 onwards as it moves towards a fully electrified line-up. The French giant, whose brands include Citroën, DS, Peugeot and Opel/Vauxhall, currently uses 2 ‘multi-energy’ platforms: CMP and EMP2. The CMP architecture, for small vehicles, can utilise combustion engined and electric powertrains, while the EMP2 is designed for ICE-only and plug-in hybrid systems. By 2025, PSA says it will shift from these 2 platforms to 2 “100% electrified” platforms. The first of those will be the eEVP architecture, which will be used for “a wide basis” of C and D-segment vehicles, including saloons and SUVs. The first vehicle built on the platform, due in 2023, will be the next generation Peugeot 3008. It’s designed for electric vehicles with a range of between 400 and 650 km, depending on the body, thanks to “60 – 100 kWh of embedded energy” within the wheelbase. PSA says that the platform can also support hybrid powertrains, which will be “offered on certain markets” where needs must. According to PSA, key to the efficiency of the eEVP platform is the optimisation of development and industrialisation costs. It says the eVMP has been developed with “extended carry-over” from the EMP2 platform and can be made on existing plants and production lines to limit investment. Nicolas Morel, PSA’s head of research and development, said: “This global platform will make it possible to offer a range of vehicles that are perfectly respectful of the environment, meeting the changing expectations of our customers and guaranteeing driving pleasure and safety on board”. PSA is currently in the process of merging with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It didn’t say whether the new eVMP platform would be utilised by FCA brands as part of the merged group, Stellantis. +++

 

+++ BMW will retire its 3.0-liter QUAD TURBO CHARGED DIESEL ENGINE in September, but not before celebrating it with two special editions of the X5 and X7, aptly named the Final Edition. Now, we will start by telling you that you can have neither of the 2, unless you live in Romania, as both of them are exclusive to the eastern European country, according to the company’s local arm. For a swansong, changes are actually modest, as they include the ‘Final Edition’ entry sills and a pretty long list of standard features, such as the laser headlights, semi-autonomous driving, head-up display, Harman Kardon premium sound system, acoustic glass, ‘Crafted Clarity’ trim inside and a few other bits and pieces. The 3.0-liter quad-turbo inline-6 engine pumps out 400 hp and a massive 760 Nm. The X5 M50d, which is basically the diesel alternative to the full-blown X5 M, takes as little as 5.2 seconds to complete the 0-100 km/h sprint, and flat out, it will do 250 km/h. The larger X7 M50d packs the same output and torque, but due to the added weight, it is 0.2 seconds slower to 100 km/h. Top speed is also limited to 250 km/h. In the WLTP cycle, the German automaker states that the X5 M50d returns 8.3 l/100 km and emits 218 g/km of CO2. The X7 M50d achieves a combined 9 l/100 km and has carbon dioxide emissions of 235 g/km. +++

 

+++ RENAULT has now sold more than 300.000 electric vehicles (EVs) in Europe, with the Zoe taking the lion’s share. The manufacturer announced the news just a few days after announcing a commercial version of the Zoe, which is aimed at the urban delivery market. The addition of the Zoe Van brings the number of electric vehicles in Renault’s range to 5, with commercial vehicles accounting for most of those. Alongside the Zoe Van, there’s the Kangoo Z.E. Van and the much larger Master Z.E.. At present, the Zoe is the sole conventional passenger car available, but the Twizy electric quadricycle remains on sale. At the same time, the brand is also selling E-Tech hybrid versions of its Captur and Clio models, while an updated Megane with plug-in hybrid power will go on sale in August. However, these vehicles do not contribute to Renault’s EV sales figures. As a result, the Zoe is leading the French firm’s EV charge; a model offensive that has been in progress since 2010. In France alone, more than 100.000 Zoes have been sold, accounting for a third of the company’s European EV sales. The company recently sold more than 1.000 new Zoes to vehicle subscription service Onto, further boosting its numbers. And despite the impact of the coronavirus on new car sales, Renault claims a total of more than 37.500 new Zoes were sold during the first half of 2020. That’s an increase of almost 50 % compared with the same 6-month period in 2019. However, despite the obvious optimism that surrounds the news, EV fans shouldn’t get too carried away just yet. While 300,000 sales in Europe is undoubtedly impressive, it’s a tiny fraction of the millions of cars sold across the continent over the past 10 years. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), more than 15 million new passenger cars were registered across the European Union in 2019. And a similar number left European showrooms in 2018. +++

+++ If you happen to own either of SKODA ’s 2 plug-in hybrid models, the Citigo iV or Superb iV, you can now use Amazon Alexa to start or stop charging remotely, as well as to check on your remaining range, control air conditioning levels, plus a few other functions. The remote charge feature is particularly convenient since you can simply use your voice to initiate it without having to press anything. In order for it to work, customers simply need to make sure their charging cable is connected before uttering the following phrase: “Alexa, ask Skoda, I want to start charging my car”. You can use the software in 1 of 4 languages: English, French, German or Italian. This upgrade is available across all Skoda iV models. In addition, you can also check remaining oil levels, find your current parking location and even get a “vehicle health check”. Alexa can also let you know if for example your doors and windows are closed, or if your lights are off and the car is locked. All you need to do in order to use the popular voice assistant is have an Amazon account and an Alexa device, through which the Skoda Connect Alexa skill is activated. Then you need to link this skill to your Skoda Connect user account and you’re good to go. The Czech brand will continue rolling out tech updates across the rest of its iV range, including the Octavia iV and Octavia iV vRS plug-in hybrids, which are due later this year. +++

+++ SOLID STATE BATTERIES are something of a holy grail for electric vehicles and it appears they’re closer than many people realize. Toyota was planning to introduce a concept with solid state batteries at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. While the games were postponed by the coronavirus pandemic, development of the batteries continued and now they have been installed in multiple concepts. However, there’s no word on when they will debut as the Summer Olympics have been pushed back to 2021. Little is known about the concepts, but solid state batteries promise a number of benefits over traditional lithium-ion batteries. Key among them are higher energy densities which would allow for smaller and lighter battery packs. They’re also slated to be safer and offer faster recharging times. Toyota’s Keiji Kaita hinted at their capabilities as he told the publication their prototype solid state battery can be fully recharged in less than 15 minutes. There’s no word on the battery’s capacity, but he noted they require “significantly less” time to recharge than an equivalent lithium-ion battery. Unfortunately, there are still a number of issues that need to be worked out. Safety and durability issues are reportedly preventing engineers from reaching high energy densities. The company also appears to be fine tuning the chemistry to minimize battery degradation. On top of this, there’s the issue of mass production. The batteries have to be made in an “ultra-dry, nonaqueous environment” and the current method of doing this involves transparent booths where workers assemble the batteries using sealed rubber gloves. In essence, it’s a bit like building a battery is a sand blasting cabinet. This is obviously less than ideal and Kaita described it as “slow, awkward and ill-suited to mass production”. Despite the problems, Kaita said the batteries should go into limited production by 2025. They will initially cost more than lithium-ion batteries and he suggested production volumes will likely remain low for several years. On the bright side, Toyota appears to be committed to building some amazing batteries as one of their goals is for solid state batteries to “keep more than 90 % of their original performance in the long run; perhaps 30 years”. +++

+++ SUBARU has stopped accepting built-to-order requests for the BRZ, saying that any new orders would only be satisfied by the remaining stock at the dealerships. The message appeared on Subaru’s website in Japan, signifying that the production of the current BRZ is officially ending. Not that we didn’t expect that, as the Japanese carmaker has launched several special editions across different markets as a swan song for the sports coupe. Both the Subaru BRZ and the Toyota GT86 come out of the same factory in Japan, Subaru’s Gunma assembly plant, which indicates that the Toyota variant is stopping production as well. This also means that the time for the reveal of the next-generation Toyobaru twins is closer. The new BRZ and Toyota’s GR86 are expected to finally feature a more powerful turbocharged boxer engine, which most likely will be a variant of the brand’s 260 hp 2.4-liter turbo FA24 unit. Toyota and Subaru confirmed the upcoming models last year; the most trustworthy reports suggest that the 2 compact sport coupes will migrate on Toyota’s TNGA platform along with the adoption of the turbocharged flat-4 engine. The outgoing Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86 were generally praised for their excellent handling, with complaints focusing mostly on their naturally aspirated 2.0-liter boxer engine for its lack of torque. Switching to a turbocharged unit would solve that issue while the new platform is expected to be significant advances in the handling and safety fronts. Subaru and Toyota were reportedly going to reveal the new BRZ and GR86 this summer but due to the ongoing pandemic, this had to be postponed. The new models will probably debut sometime towards the end of the year. +++ 

+++ The new-age Toyota SUPRA could soon be offered with a 6-speed manual transmission if a new report out of Japan is to be believed. The Supra is a great sports car but keen driving enthusiasts have been calling for a stick shift from before the vehicle was even presented 18 months ago. So far, we have yet to be such a gearbox but according to a Japanese publication, it is on the way. According to the publication, the car manufacturer is looking for ways to keep the Supra an appealing option for buyers by routinely updating it and launching new variants. This has already happened with the addition of a 4-cylinder to the range. Next on the cards could be a high-performance Supra GRMN version and one with a manual gearbox. It is unclear what engine the manual gearbox could be mated to. Toyota has previously revealed that it has tested manual Supra prototypes and the Supra’s brother from another mother, the Z4, is sold with an available manual mated to a 4-cylinder. Consequently, it is possible the Supra 4-cylinder could also get a stick shift. The more compelling prospect is that the flagship Supra GRMN may get the manual. Japanese reports have stated in the past that the GRMN could sport the same 3.0-liter twin-turbo 6-cylinder as the latest M3 and M4; 2 cars that will both be offered with a manual transmission. +++

+++ TESLA reported revenue of $1.4 billion in China in the second quarter; soaring 102.9 % year-on-year and accounting for 23.19 % of the total. During the first 6 months, Tesla reported $2.3 billion in revenues in China, accounting for 19.13 % of the total $12.02 billion. Tesla delivered 31.000 electric vehicles to China-based customers in the second quarter, accounting for one-third of its global sales. Tesla reported revenue of $3.09 billion in the United States; down 11.2 % year-on-year and accounting for 51.19 % of the total. China and other markets outside the US contributed $1.55 billion; down 29.08 % year-on-year. Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, Tesla’s only US assembly plant, the Fremont factory in California, shut down for nearly 6 weeks, while the Shanghai gigafactory made a great contribution to the electric carmaker. Last week, Tesla said it earned net income of $104 million for April to June, marking the first time the company has posted a profit for 4 straight quarters. The company delivered more than 90.000 vehicles in the second quarter, surpassing analyst expectations. +++ 

+++ The TOYOTA Group sold 4.16 million cars globally in the January-June period, likely becoming the world’s best-selling carmaker on a first-half basis for the first time in 6 years, data released by the company showed. The figure, including sales of minivehicle-maker Daihatsu and truck producer Hino, represented a 21.6 % drop from the same period a year earlier on slowing demand amid the coronavirus pandemic. But it surpassed the 3.89 million units sold by Volkswagen, which marked a 27.4 % decline from a year before. The alliance between Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi will release its sales data later in the day but it is expected to fall short of Toyota’s. Toyota alone globally produced 3.31 million units in the first half of 2020; down 28.6 % from the previous year. Its global sales in June decreased 16 % to 706.555 units from a year earlier; improving from a 31.8 % decline in the previous month, due partly to robust sales in China. In June, Toyota’s global output excluding that of its subsidiaries dropped 24 % from a year earlier to 588.816 units, down for the 6th straight month, but improved from a record 54.4 % plunge in May as its factories around the world gradually resumed production in the reporting month. The company’s overseas output in June fell 11.6 % to 428.909 vehicles and domestic production tumbled 44.8 % to 159.907 units. The automaker halted production for 4 days at all its plants in Japan due to weak demand. “We are on an upward trend” in global sales, Toyota said, expecting that it will recover to year-before levels early in 2021. +++ 

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , car production levels have fallen to the lowest levels since 1954. UK car production has fallen 42.8 % in the first 6 months of this year, with just 56.594 units made; the lowest number since post-war materials rationing was lifted in 1954. The dramatic, coronavirus-led drop-off has led to urgent warnings from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) that there could be dire consequences for the automotive industry’s estimated 820.000 workers, around 168,000 of which are directly employed in manufacturing. To date, the SMMT estimates that more than 11.000 jobs have been lost in the automotive sector, following cut-backs at manufacturers including Aston Martin, Bentley, McLaren and Nissan and retailers including Jardine Motors Group and Lookers. However, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes warned that the worst cuts were likely to come from October onwards, when the Government’s job retention furlough scheme is set to end. “Nobody has a crystal ball, but it looks like we find out the true scale of the issues in the 4th quarter”, he said. “These figures are yet more grim reading for the industry and its workforce, and reveal the difficulties all automotive businesses face as they try to restart while tackling sectoral challenges like no other. Recovery is difficult for all companies, but automotive is unique in facing immense technological shifts, business uncertainty and a fundamental change to trading conditions while dealing with coronavirus”. Around 285.000 fewer cars have been made this year than last in the UK, with a combined estimated value of €9 billion. The decline is chiefly the consequence of 4 factors in the wake of coronavirus: a reduction in global demand to buy cars, the ongoing closure of factories, the reduced production capacity of reopened factories to meet social distancing guidelines, and a focus from manufacturers and retailers to sell stock prior to making more cars. “The outlook for the full year is now 880.000 units, which puts us below 1 million for the first time since the heights of the recession in 2009, and back to a level that was last consistently seen back in the 1980s”, said Hawes. June’s figures do mark an upturn from April and May, during which just 5.511 cars were made. However, Hawes also conceded that stock produced but ultimately unsold for the peak sales month in March was still filtering through the retail system, constraining the need to ramp up production in some quarters. Ongoing concerns lead to renewed call for Brexit clarity Typically more than 80 % of UK produced cars are exported (although that figure is currently closer to 90 %) with the majority, at 56 %, heading into the EU. The US, China, Japan and South Korea are also significant export markets. With post-Brexit trading terms with Europe set to begin on January 1, but yet to be revealed, Hawes stressed the urgent need for clarity in order for the industry to thrive again in future. “The critical importance of an EU-UK free trade agreement is self-evident for UK Automotive”, said Hawes. “Our factories were once set to make 2 million cars in 2020 but could now produce less than half that number, a result of the devastating effects of the pandemic on top of already challenging market conditions and years of Brexit uncertainty. “This industry has demonstrated its inherent competitiveness and global excellence over the past decade. Its long-term future now depends on securing a good deal and a long-term strategy that supports an industry on which so many thousands of jobs across the country depend”. The SMMT also released details of a survey of its members, made up of automotive firms in the UK, revealed that 93.5 % of them feel a lack of clarity is now severely hampering their ability to prepare for the end of the transition period. 61.3 % said Covid-19 has diverted resources away from Brexit preparations, while 77.4 % viewed securing a tariff and quota free FTA as crucial to their future success. Without a free trade agreement, instead operating to WTO terms, SMMT-promoted analysis suggests that production could remain at around 800.000 cars a year, meaning 1.46 million less cars would be made in the UK between now and 2025, with a lost value of more than €45 billion. +++

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