Newsflash: nieuwe Nissan Qashqai wordt ook leverbaar als e-Power hybride

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+++ Volkswagen and its Chinese joint venture partner SAIC Motor plan to invest 4.13 billion yuan ($590 million) to revamp their car plants in Shanghai to make new AUDI cars, sources from the government said. SAIC Volkswagen, the joint venture of the Wolfsburg-based automaker and China’s biggest automaker, currently only sells cars under the Volkswagen and Skoda marques. With the revamp at its Shanghai plants, the JV is aiming for an annual manufacturing capacity of 60.000 Audi A7 Sportback L liftbacks and 60.000 Volkswagen SUVs. The revamp, expected to be done by the end of 2020, comes as demand for luxury cars in China remains firm. SAIC chairman Chen Hong has previously said the JV plans to roll out the first Audi product in early 2022. “Our Audi project is going normally”, a source at the securities investment department of SAIC said, but he gave no comment on VW’s investment. Audi China said its project with SAIC was proceeding according to plan, without giving any more details. SAIC Motor, an industry bellwether, sold 479.000 vehicles in June, a year-on-year increase of 2.8 % according to the latest production and sales report released by SAIC Group on July 6. Meanwhile, 7 out of SAIC’s 11 vehicle subsidiaries achieved year-on-year sales growth in the same month, showing strong momentum. A number of other auto companies in China have also reported strong recoveries in June sales, with Geely’s June sales up about 21 % year-on-year, Toyota up 22.8 %, Nissan up 4.5 % and Dongfeng Motor up 9.8 %. The Chinese auto market as a whole has returned to positive growth starting in April, with auto sales increasing 4.4 % and 14.5 % year-on-year respectively, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. +++ 

+++ Chinese automobile maker BYD has unveiled the world’s first car carrying Huawei Technologies Co’s HiCar system, which is based on Huawei’s self-developed HarmonyOS. The HiCar system is an in-car smart interactive system that allows drivers to connect their cars with their smartphones and offers a string of services, including intelligent voice assistance and map navigation. Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group, said at the launch event for BYD’s latest electric flagship car model, Han, that compared to Apple’s CarPlay system, Huawei’s HiCar solution can support more applications. According to Yu, using Huawei’s HarmonyOS also makes full use of the hardware capabilities of cars and mobile phones. Huawei said last September that its 5G-based HiCar partnership system includes more than 30 enterprises, including Audi, BYD, GAC and BAIC. +++ 

+++ CHINA had 360 million motor vehicles, including 270 million cars, 68.9 million motorcycles and 4.17 million new-energy cars, by the end of June this year, the Ministry of Public Security said. About 14.14 million motor vehicles were registered over the last 6 months; down by 980.000 year on year, according to data released by the ministry’s traffic-management bureau. There were 69 Chinese cities with over 1 million cars, while 12 cities had more than 3 million cars by the end of June, the data shows. Beijing, on top of the list, had over 6 million cars, followed by Chengdu, which had over 5 million cars. A total of 10.42 million automobiles were newly registered in the first half of this year; a decrease of 2 million compared with the same period last year. In the same period, about 3.33 million motorcycles were newly registered, an increase of 885.000 compared with the same period last year. Among other motor vehicles, including trailers, 395.000 new vehicles were registered; an increase of 135.000 compared with the same period last year. The number of cargo trucks reached 29.44 million, accounting for 10.9 % of the total number of vehicles. In the first half of 2020, about 1.88 million new cargo trucks were registered; an increase of 130.000 over the same period last year. +++ 

+++ Sales of ELECTRIC vehicles have taken a hit globally as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on the economy, a new report has revealed. According to data from market analyst company SNE Research, global sales of electric cars between January and May this year dropped by 20.3 % to 710.000 units, compared to the same time last year. Due to the worsening impact of the pandemic in the US and Europe in particular, global sales of electric vehicles in May were down by 28.7 % year-on-year. The figures include both electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Tesla came out on top, owing to an increase in sales of its Model 3, accounting for 17.7 % of the market, closely followed by BMW which made up 7 %. South Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia ranked fifth and sixth, accounting for 3.7 % and 3.5 % of the market, respectively. In Europe, Hyundai sold 26.500 units during the first 5 months of this year; slightly down from last year’s figure of 27.000 units. Kia beat its last year’s performance as the sales figure went up from 21.300 to 24.600 units on the back of its plug-in hybrids Ceed and XCeed, as well as its electric truck model Bongo over the same period of the time. Last year’s top player, China’s BYD, was pushed down to third place, with its market share dropping to 5.2 % from 12.9 % in 2019. Monthly figures for May showed that the electric vehicle market is going through hard times, as major markets in the United States, Europe and China all struggle to emerge from a pandemic-caused recession, the research firm said. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI Motor Group’s sales of specific models (hybrid, plug-in, electric and hydrogen-powered) in the local market jumped over 36 % in the first half of this year, indicating a growing preference for eco-friendly cars. The top South Korean automaker said its sales of the eco-friendly cars stood at 67.798 as of June; up by 36.2 % compared to the same period last year. Specifically, it sold a total of 37.697 units; up by 29.3 % on-year, while Kia sold a 30.101 units; up by 45.9 % on-year. By type, sales of hybrid and plug-in hybrid models came at 53.000 units from January to June; up by 53.3 % compared to last year. Such models attributed to 76.2 % of the automaker’s overall eco-friendly car sales. Sales of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles grew by 69 % at 2.612 units. But the sales of electric models totaled 13.950 units; inched down by 11 % on-year. Hyundai officials said that the company’s launch of new hybrid models such as Kona Hybrid this year has attracted consumers, while there has been no new EV models, also citing market saturation with foreign EV brands including Tesla Model 3. The automaker’s flagship sedan Hyundai Grandeur’s hybrid model has topped the list for similar model sales at 16.885 units in January-June, followed by the Kia Niro with 10.082 units. Trailing the Niro were the Sorento (6.796), K7 (5.547), Sonata (4.891) and K5 (3.797). Sonata Hybrid saw the largest increase in sales. In the first half of this year, a total of 4.891 units were sold, compared to 1.227 in the same period last year. Meanwhile, EV models’ sales including Kona Electric almost halved by 46.2 % in the first half of this year compared to last year at 7.697 units. Market data showed that overall EV sales in the local market have diminished, such as GM Korea’s Chevrolet Bolt EV which saw 23.5 % decrease in sales on-year and Renault Samsung’s SM3 ZE which only had 457 units sold in the first half of this year. +++ 

+++ The impact that technology has on death and injury rates on the roads is to be investigated at the highest level, following a call for evidence published by the British Department for Transport (DfT). Ministers are worried that while accident rates were consistently falling until 2010, the last decade has seen a “plateauing of casualty figures” rather than a reduction. One of the issues being investigated is the role that the “increasing sources of potential distraction” presented by “advances in car INFOTAINMENT SYSTEMS and mobile phone technology” could be playing in preventing accident rates from falling. As well as distracting infotainment screens and their potential impact on road safety, the DfT will consider how technology can be proactively used to enforce road traffic law. Possible avenues could include cameras that catch drivers using their mobile phones, while Volvo has said it is considering if it has an “obligation to install technology in cars that changes their drivers’ behaviour”. Touchscreens have become increasingly prevalent in modern cars, and are often integral to both their electrical and mechanical functionality. Some high-end cars now come with not 1 but 2 touchscreens, as well as a separate digital display instead of traditional dashboard dials, while frontseat passengers are sometimes catered for by a 4th screen. Not all manufacturers agree this is progress, though. Mazda has previously said it was moving away from touchscreens altogether, after a senior engineer, Matthew Valbuena, warned the company’s research showed leaning over to use a touchscreen caused torque to be applied to the steering wheel. Valbuena added: “With a touchscreen you have to be looking at the screen while you’re touching, so for that reason we were comfortable removing the touchscreen functionality”. The impact mobile phones have on driver behaviour is well-established, but despite penalties, smartphone use in cars is still seen as a major issue. Current road accidents statistics show an average of 5 people die and 68 are injured on UK roads every day. In 2018 there were 25.511 people killed or seriously injured in Great Britain; up from 24.510 in 2010. The review into road safety and policing highlights research from the RAC that shows motorists consider other drivers using their mobiles is the most single pressing issue with regards to road safety, while over 50 % of drivers admit to breaking the speed limit. The DfT’s review will investigate whether greater incidents of collaborative working between the 43 police forces in England and Wales could bring about a reduction in traffic offences and accidents, as well as more effective policing of drug gangs, people traffickers, and other criminals on the country’s road network. Announcing the call for evidence, Baroness Vere from the DfT said: “We are exploring how we can better use intelligence to target dangerous behaviours, how technology can assist in enforcing road traffic law now and in the future and also how to better understand the value of enforcement in influencing road user behaviour and the current enforcement capability”. +++ 

+++ LOTUS has revealed a digital instrument panel that is pre-loaded with data from 4.127 race tracks from around the world. The plug-and-play system can be retrofitted to Elise and Exige V6 models built after 2008. The dashboard features built-in GPS which, when combined with a range of performance indicators, can allow track day drivers to time, record and download driving data and racing lines to help them hone their skills. A camera input allows users to capture footage of their hot laps, while the GPS system allows coordinates of start/finish lines to be entered in order to record split times. The information is shown on a 6 inch colour TFT screen, which slots into the instrument binnacle in place of the conventional analogue clocks. The customisable display also shows conventional driving data like road speed and engine revs. If fitted at a Lotus dealer (for an extra cost) the instrument display comes with a 24-month warranty; a package Lotus has now introduced for any parts bought at and fitted by an approved service centre. +++ 

+++ There was a gentle reminder this week that while the car industry is packed with incredible innovation, technology and engineering, it is, first and foremost, about people. Because it has been announced that Skoda boss Bernhard MAIER is to leave the firm when his contract concludes in a couple of weeks’ time. It’s perhaps unusual for Autointernationaal.nl to single out an individual CEO like this, but Skoda remains one of the most popular brands with my visitors and Maier’s departure marks the end of a phenomenal chapter in the company’s 125-year history. He leaves after introducing models like the Kodiaq, Karoq, Kamiq and Scala, and with sales now nudging the 1.3 million mark, pretty much double what they were a decade ago. At a personal level, Maier has always been acutely aware of the Dutch market’s importance to his brand, keen to engage with media, often asking as many questions as those we put to him. If anything, the rumours swirling around the German media last week suggest that Maier’s biggest problem may have been that he was simply doing too good a job. Members of the overarching VW Group Supervisory Board are said to have been mildly disgruntled at Skoda’s ability to not only build cars more cheaply in Eastern Europe, but also make them to basically the same standard of quality as more expensive Volkswagens. Maier’s departure comes at the middle of a turbulent period among VW Group management, with a switch at the helm of the VW brand itself and the CEO position at SEAT lying unfilled after Luca de Meo switched to Renault. These jobs are key to the ongoing success of the brands and the VW Group. But more importantly for us, the people who fill these roles will influence which cars customers are offered by some of the biggest brands in the business. The achievements of the outgoing Skoda boss are proof of that. +++ 

+++ MERCEDES-BENZ will officially pull the wraps off its new generation S-Class later this year, but further prototypes of the flagship saloon are already being seen with minimal disguise. It is clear that the 7th generation BMW 7 Series rival takes an evolutionary approach to the exterior redesign, with a similarly curvy look to today’s car. Headlights and taillights will take inspiration from that of the latest CLS. Further details include a new interpretation of the classic Mercedes-Benz grille and door handles that sit flush with bodywork and pop out when the car is unlocked. The latter is understood to be one factor contributing to best-in-class aerodynamic properties. The interior takes a more radical step forward, with a greater emphasis on technology. The minimalist dashboard is dominated by a Tesla-style portrait display (significantly larger than any screen Mercedes has offered in previous models) paired with a freestanding digital instrument display. The interior of the new S-Class will feature the second-generation version of the firm’s MBUX infotainment system, with fewer physical controls, 5 touchscreens and an array of motion-detector, sensor-operated functions. The 7th generation S-Class looks set to regain its place at the forefront of the brand’s technical know-how, with a range of new electrified powertrains and advanced driver assist features. Comfort and technology levels will take a boost, with the target of lifting it beyond rivals such as the 7 Series and Audi A8. The new Mercedes flagship, which is due in showrooms next year, has been developed to support 2 distinctly different saloon models for the first time. While standard versions are set to receive a range of plug-in hybrid drivetrains, the German car maker will also launch an aerodynamically optimised pure-electric version that will serve as the flagship model for its new EQ electric vehicle sub-brand. Badged EQ S, the new model will offer a claimed range in excess of 500 kilometres on the latest WLTP test cycle when it goes on sale in 2022. Plug-in hybrid versions of the S-Class will feature part-time zero-emission capability for distances of up to 100 kilometres, together with the option of a newly developed 4Matic 4-wheeldrive system with fully variable apportioning of drive between the front and rear axles. The EQ S forms part of Mercedes’ €10 billion programme to introduce more than 10 dedicated electric vehicles to the market within the next 6 years. In a further change, it is believed that Mercedes-Benz has decided to do away with its long tradition of offering the standard S-Class, which goes under the internal codename W223, with 2 different wheelbases. Nothing is official at this stage, but it is understood that the growth of the E-Class to a length of 4.920 mm is behind a decision to produce the new S-Class exclusively in long-wheelbase guise, with the car measuring around 5.280mm in length. However, while the standard S-Class sits on the MRA platform, the more technically advanced EQ S will be the first Mercedes-Benz model to be based on the new Modular Electric Architecture (MEA) platform. Unlike the structures being developed to underpin smaller EQ models, it is not based on an existing platform but has been developed as dedicated EV architecture with a flat floor to house batteries. The drivelines set to power hybrid versions of the new S-Class are based around Mercedes’ latest 3.0-litre and 2.9-litre in-line 6-cylinder petrol and diesel engines and the AMG-developed 4.0-litre V8, all of which operate in combination with a disc-shaped electric motor housed within the automatic gearbox and a lithium ion battery located in the boot floor. The electric EQ S is set to receive 2 electric motors (1 acting on the front axle and the other 1 driving the rear) providing permanent 4-wheeldrive in all variants. In the EQ C, this set-up delivers more than 400 hp and 700 Nm, although engineers involved on the development of the EQ S suggest it will offer even greater levels of power and torque, with a planned AMG performance model earmarked to produce more than 600 hp. Despite the differing platforms, both the standard S-Class and the EQ S are set to share the same active suspension system. A development of the existing S-Class’s AirMatic+ system, it works in combination with a 48 Volt electrical architecture and a stereo camera that scans the road ahead to adjust the spring and damper action on each wheel, allowing it to not only counteract body lean in corners but also to better control pitch. The EQ S will adopt its own distinct styling. Reflecting the packaging advantages inherent in electric vehicles, it receives a shorter bonnet and more heavily raked windscreen than the standard version of the new S-Class, similar to that of the CLS. +++ 

+++ MINI looks to be readying a subtly facelifted version of its new Electric hatchback just a year after it was first launched, as part of a round of updates for its line-up. As with a camouflaged prototype of the Cooper S 5-door hatchback spotted last week, the Electric looks to gain a reshaped bumper and front grille, but covered-up interior elements suggest the EV could also be given a new infotainment system. Changes elsewhere are likely to be much more subtle, given the car was only recently launched. The 5-door, however, is due a substantial facelift before 2023 (having only been subtly updated once in its 7 year lifespan) to bring it into line with newer rivals including the Audi A1 Sportback, Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio. A prototype spotted looks to be hiding only small styling tweaks beneath its front and rear camouflage wrap, but more interesting are clues that it’s a plug-in hybrid. The ‘E-FZG’ sticker in the front windscreen means the mule’s powertrain is composed of both internal-combustion and electrical elements. Given that Mini is yet to introduce mild-hybrid or hybrid options to its line-up, it’s likely to be a variation of the larger Countryman Cooper S E All4’s plug-in hybrid powerplant. No charging socket is visible, but the Countryman’s is on the opposite side of the car to the fuel filler cap. Such a move would make sense, given Mini’s gradual transition to a maker of pure EVs, and would secure it an early spot in the burgeoning plug-in family hatchback market, which is currently occupied by models including the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz A250e and Volkswagen Golf GTE. It’s not yet known whether the Cooper S would be offered solely as a plug-in hybrid. Earlier this year, it was reported that BMW had delayed development of the next-gen Mini hatchback, both for reasons related to the cost of upgrading its Oxford factory and because of uncertainty surrounding Britain’s relationship with the European Union. The model is set to move from its UKL1 underpinnings (developed in 2014) to a new platform, likely BMW’s front-driven FAAR architecture or an entirely new platform developed in partnership with Chinese company Great Wall Motors. The FAAR architecture already underpins a plug-in variant of the BMW X1. If it does follow in the footsteps of its larger sibling, the Cooper S PHEV can be expected to take its power from a turbocharged 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine delivering 136 hp and 220 Nm at a low 1.250 rpm, with a brushless electric motor serving up 89 hp and 160 Nm. It’s likely to improve on the Countryman PHEV’s 40 kilometre electric-only range but will weigh substantially more than its petrol-only sibling, so performance figures will likely be affected. Elsewhere, expect updates to be in line with those of the recently refreshed Countryman. Design tweaks will be minimal, but the hatchback is likely to receive the Electric’s digital instrument display, an optional 8.8 inch touchscreen and a raft of new personalisation options. +++ 

+++ NISSAN unveiled an electric crossover vehicle yesterday, the Japanese automaker’s first major all-new model since getting embroiled in the scandal surrounding its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn. At its global premiere in Yokohama, the new vehicle Ariya was billed as “a new chapter for Nissan”. The event was held online because of the coronavirus pandemic. “I can tell you this is a no-compromise car”, Nissan chief executive Makoto Uchida said, stressing the Ariya symbolizes the company turning a new leaf in its business, culture and products. “You have to drive it to feel it”, said Uchida. The Ariya is set to go on sale in Japan by the middle of next year, and in Europe, North America and China by the end of 2021. The Ariya is Nissan’s first all-new global model in 5 years, hoping it will symbolize its road to recovery after more than a year of scandal and a precipitous decline into earnings losses. But initial sales plans for the Ariya are modest, people with knowledge of the matter told; an indication that the vehicle will do little to lift Nissan’s bottom line. Featuring Nissan’s latest self-driving technologies, the Ariya has a driving range comparable to Tesla models and will sell from around 5 million yen ($47,000). That makes it more upscale than the X-Trail, Nissan’s topselling global model known as the Rogue in North America. “We were under orders from management not to make any compromises with this model as it represents where the company stands today and will lead to the Nissan of the future”, Hikaru Nakajima, Ariya’s chief engineer, told reporters this week. In a market dominated by Tesla and amid increasing competition from other automakers launching and planning their own electric SUVs, Nissan plans to sell just 30.000 for the model’s first full year of global sales, 2 sources said. “It’s a bit underwhelming”, said one source who was involved in the product’s development, referring to the sales target. “Is this going to be a vehicle that brings a halo effect to the brand or not?”, the source said. A third person said the automaker plans to produce 40.000 units in Japan in 2021, eventually ramping up annual production to 100.000. It will also build the model in China, 2 people said. By comparison, the X-Trail and Rogue together sold more than half a million units in Nissan’s key markets last year, while Tesla’s electric Model 3 sedan notched up sales of more than 300.000. The sources were not authorised to speak with media and spoke on condition of anonymity. Focused on expanding in emerging markets, Nissan let its vehicle portfolio age but the strategy has tarnished the automaker’s brand and hurt sales. Those problems have been compounded by the ouster of former CEO Carlos Ghosn in late 2018 over allegations of financial misconduct, charges he denies. In addition to being Nissan’s first all-new global model in 5 years, the Ariya is its first brand-new EV in a decade after the Leaf which made its mark as the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle. The Ariya is also the first vehicle to sport Nissan’s revamped logo, which uses a flatter, thinner typeface and a skinnier circular emblem. Koji Endo, head of equity research at SBI Securities, said the Ariya had been positioned to show what Nissan can do in terms of design and technology rather than for volume sales, and that Nissan’s aim was to use this to draw customers to upcoming fresh versions of high-volume models. “Nissan wants to send a message to the industry that it is a company that can still compete on technology and R&D capability, and develop high-spec cars”, he said. The Ariya will go head to head with the Model Y crossover, which Tesla began delivering in March, as well as Ford’s Mustang Mach-E which is due out later this year. +++ 

+++ Nissan’s all-new QASHQAI , due to be unveiled later this year, will be offered with Nissan’s e-Power hybrid system. Nissan chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta said: “The Qashqai will come to Europe with e-Power. It’s one our core technologies. In Europe we will have e-Power and we will have battery EVs. This is where we are defining our technologies”. E-Power uses an internal combustion engine as a generator to charge a battery, which then drives an electric motor via an inverter. So E-power models, such as the Note that’s currently sold in Japan, feel like an electric car to drive with the instant hit of torque and near-silent running, while offering fuel consumption similar to that of a full hybrid model. The new Qashqai, which has already been caught testing, is expected to be seen later this year and go on sale in 2021. The e-Power model is likely to be available soon after launch, with Nissan possibly ditching diesel power altogether from the new Qashqai line-up. It’s also possible that a plug-in hybrid Qashqai will be launched, using technology from partner Mitsubishi. Gupta also hinted that the new Ariya was only the start for a range of new Nissan EVs. Asked whether the Ariya platform could go bigger and smaller, he said: “Absolutely , this is a dedicated EV platform, we call it CMF-EV. We can go longer and we can make it short, but not with the purpose of making it short. We are starting with the cabin space and what the customer is looking for inside the cabin”, Gupta described the Ariya as a “C-segment car with D-segment space” with the flat floor and wheels pushed to each corner design giving the car a lounge-like interior. He also confirmed that the technology in the Ariya would be available to Alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi. Nissan’s Senior Vice President, Global Product Planning and Program Management, Ivan Espinosa also confirmed the plans for an e-Power Qashqai, while also hinting that the tech could find its way into the Juke, too. “Could it go into the Juke also?” he said, “Why not? Espinosa also said that the Juke could become fully electric at some stage, unlike rival cars from Volkswagen. The German giant has confirmed that its ICE models, such as Polo and Golf, would never be fully electrified and would cease to exist in markets where only EVs could be sold. Asked whether existing models could be sold as an EV, Espinosa told: “The Juke could be 100 % electric in future, why not”. However he also said that is down to customer demand, hinting that new electric models might become more popular than the Juke. +++ 

+++ A new study from Warrantywise, the leading extended car warranty provider in the United Kingdom, has revealed the Top 10 most and least most RELIABLE used car brands and models according to its Reliability Index. Using data from over 131.000 extended car warranty plans, the Reliability Index judges every car on things like the frequency of repairs and repair costs. In what comes as no real surprise, Japanese manufacturers dominated the top of the list, locking out 4 of the first 5 spots. Honda topped the list overall with 89.38/100 on Warrantywise’s Reliability Index. Lexus was second, helped by the RX which didn’t record a single fault or repair, making it the most reliable individual model on the list. Toyota and Suzuki locked out third and fourth respectively ahead of Dacia. Outside the top 5 were Hyundai (6), Smart (7), Kia (8), Fiat (9) and Renault (10). “Warrantywise boasts one of the largest data samples when it comes to painting an accurate picture of the dependable (and not so dependable) used cars currently on the market”, said Lawrence Whittaker, CEO of Warrantywise. “Our business continues to go from strength-to-strength as we are seeing a very noticeable upswing in the number of car buyers turning to pre-owned cars where they can get a high-specification vehicle for less. However, any savings on purchase price can be immediately off-set if a used car develops faults outside of manufacturer warranty and our Reliability Index continues to provide precise, quantifiable data on the best and worst-performing used cars on the market”. At the other end of the spectrum if was supercars and luxury cars that registered the worst scores. Ferrari scored just 13.84/100 in the Reliability Index. Faring slightly better were rival McLaren (15.12/100) and Rolls-Royce (26/100) which both logged a proportionally high number of high-cost repairs to reduce their scores. Bentley and Lamborghini completed the top 5 of worst offenders, ahead of Subaru, Chrysler, Maserati, Land Rover and Tesla. When it came to individual models, the Bentley Continental GT was given the unenviable crown of the least reliable used car model according to the Warrantywise Reliability Index, with fuel system, electrical, and engine issues cropping up frequently. Apart from the Bentley Continental GT, the most unreliable used cars were the Audi A7 Sportback, the BMW X6, the Porsche Cayenne, the Chevrolet Captiva, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, the Jaguar XJ, the Audi Q7, the Mazda CX-5 and the Land Rover Range Rover. The Top 10 most reliable used car models were the Lexus RX, the Honda Jazz, the Mitsubishi ASX, the Dacia Sandero, the Mazda 2, the Volkswagen Up, the Nissan Leaf, the Lexus CT, the Ford Ecosport and the Suzuki Alto. +++

+++ In SOUTH KOREA , the car market performed well in the first half of this year although the global demand shriveled amid the coronavirus epidemic. Sales of Korean and imported vehicles here from January to June increased 5 % and 17.3 % on-year. The industry attributes the rise to a cut in consumption tax that went into effect in March to boost domestic spending. But deduction shrank from 70 % to 30 % from July and automakers have to offset any slowing demand with new model launches. Again it is SUVs they are betting on amid a seemingly endless appetite here for the fat road-hoggers. Hyundai is going to release several new SUVs, starting with the new Tucson next month followed by a partially facelifted version of the Kona and the new Genesis GV70. The new Tucson is an all-new 4th generation, while the GV70 is the luxury brand Genesis’ first compact SUV. Kia will also bolster its SUV lineup. It plans to release an all-new version of the Sportage and a partially revamped Stonic in the second half. Ssangyong, which is in serious financial trouble, will release a partially facelifted G4 Rexton in the 4th quarter. Importers will also bring in newer models that have not been available in South Korea. Mercedes-Benz is going to launch the GLB in the third quarter. The GLB made its debut in the global market in June last year and attracts attention with a 7-seater model with 3 rows. Audi plans to launch the SQ8, a new high-performance coupé-style SUV, while GM already unveiled the high-end CT4 and CT5 Cadillac sedans on July 2 and will start sales in September. It will release the XT4 small SUV later this year. +++ 

+++ Neither Fiat Chrysler Automobiles nor PSA will appear in the forthcoming combined company. Instead, they plan to call it STELLANTIS upon completing the merger that would create one of the world’s largest auto companies. The companies said the new name has its roots in the Latin word “stello”, which means”to brighten with stars”. PSA said the merger is expected to create one of the new leaders in the next era of mobility while at the same time preserving all the exceptional value and the values of its constituent parts. The announcement confirms for the first time that Fiat and Chrysler won’t appear in the parent company name. But they will live on as badges for individual brands. Brand names such as Jeep and Peugeot will continue as well. “The stakes are high here”, Marcus Collins, a marketing professor at the University of Michigan, told. “A new name presents a clean slate, but you only have so many chances to reinvent yourself”. The 2 automakers agreed in December 2019 to merge in a $50 billion deal, which is expected to help them leverage their global scale and advance new technologies for meeting tougher environmental regulations. As the cost of doing business continues to grow for global car companies, collaboration among traditional rivals has become a more attractive option. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Fiat Chrysler and PSA have said they are pressing ahead with the merger deal and expect it to close in the first quarter of 2021. Company executives said the 2 sides will have equal share in the newly formed company and the deal will result in annual cost savings of about €3.7 billion. +++ 

+++ A German court has ruled that TESLA ’s use of the term Autopilot to describe its cars’ autonomous driving capabilities is “misleading for consumers”. Munich Regional Court made the ruling in response to a complaint from Germany’s Central Office for Combatting Unfair Competition. It found that Tesla models are still unable to complete a journey without human intervention, even equipped with the firm’s Autopilot software and the optional “Full Self-Driving Capability” package. The court said that in using these terms in its marketing and sales material, Tesla suggests that its models “are technically able to drive completely autonomously”, but drivers are still required to be alert at all times and intervene in case of emergency. In July 2019, the Californian brand had promised “full potential for autonomous driving” for German customers by the end of the year. The functions, already deployed in some markets including the US, were to include traffic light recognition and automatic stopping and starting in urban areas. Tesla has now been banned from using this language in Germany, where vehicles are not yet permitted to drive autonomously on public roads, though it can appeal the decision. Matthew Avery, research director at vehicle testing body Thatcham, which is a part of the Euro NCAP safety body, said: “We have long warned of the pitfalls to the Autopilot system. Its seemingly competent performance can encourage drivers to hand too much control to the vehicle and lose sight of their responsibilities behind the wheel. This is a progressive process that begins when motorists are marketed the ‘self-driving’ experience.Autopilot is not a self-driving system. It is there to provide driver assistance, not become an invisible chauffer. We support the German competition commission’s ruling. Naming is key, and Autopilot is an especially misleading term”. Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to criticise the ruling, arguing that the Autopilot system was “named after the term used in aviation”, and drawing links with the German word for motorway: autobahn. Israeli tech firm Mobileye, which helped develop Autopilot, cut ties with Tesla in 2016 following a fatal crash involving the system and the Full Self-Driving Capability option was removed from the brand’s site in 2018 following assertions from safety body Euro NCAP that it was misleading. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN is one of the first to enter automobile production in China, the world’s leading automotive market. In fact, it’s second only to American Motors which produced a Jeep product based on the Jeep Cherokee. Volkswagen’s joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) Motor dates back to 1984 and saw production of Volkswagen and Skoda cars for the People’s Republic. Of note, SAIC is one of the big four state-owned car companies in China, along with Changan Automobile, FAW Group, and Dongfeng Motor Corporation. After almost 40 years, it seems like the SAIC Volkswagen joint venture is looking into expansion by revamping its car plants in order to accommodate a new brand. And you’ve guessed it right: it’s going to be Audi, VW Group’s global luxury arm. The joint venture plans to invest 4.13 billion yuan for the revamp, effectively adding Audi into its portfolio. The revamped plant allegedly wants to produce 60.000 long-wheelbase versions of the Audi A7 Sportback annually, along with 60.000 new Volkswagen SUVs. The first Audi car will be rolling out of the plant by 2022. This isn’t the first time Audi will reach China, though. The German luxury brand has been in collaboration with the FAW Group since 1995. While the expansion of the SAIC-Volkswagen venture would seem like stepping on Audi-FAW’s toes, it’s actually a usual occurrence in this country. Of note, since the 1990s, Volkswagen cars in China are built by both the SAIC-Volkswagen and FAW-Volkswagen ventures. +++

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