Newsflash: nieuwe Peugeot 3008 krijgt een veel sportiever design

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+++ There are no plans for rear-wheeldrive variants of AUDI Sport models, despite the recent introduction of the R8 V10 RWD. The German maker changed the name of its performance arm from Audi Quattro to Audi Sport in 2016 in order to better encompass its sporty portfolio and to remove confusion with the Quattro four-wheeldrive system offered on all Audis, sporty or otherwise. It was also thought to open the way for front- and rear- wheeldrive variants of RS models. A move to rear-wheeldrive would help enable lower emissions for the Audi Sport line-up, alongside introducing electrified variants, as the pressures of tightening emissions legislations are felt across the company. However, Rolf Michl, Audi Sport’s sales and marketing boss, said: “We have used rear-wheel drive in the latest R8. But normally, Quattro is part of our heritage. It means safe, agile and competitive driving. I don’t hear any different views from people on this, even with electrified versions in the future. We’ll stay with our approach: Quattro is a major part of RS models”. Talking about the broader future of the R8, which has long been in question, Michl said: “The R8 is one of the most important cars in our portfolio and for the entire Audi brand. It’s a real brandshaper”. He continued: “Audi Sport is committed to the R8 and we’re doing everything to get a concept for the future. The R8 shares much with the race car, which proves the competitiveness of the car and a clear commitment, but it has to fit future expectations and is therefore a complex decision”. Audi Sport boss Oliver Hoffmann has previously confirmed that the next-generation R8 will be electrified, but a decision is yet to be taken on whether it will be hybrid or fully electric. Audi is leaning towards the latter option, with the R8 becoming the second electric Audi Sport model after the e-Tron GT RS, which is due in the next 12 months. +++ 

+++ A vehicle’s airconditioning system may sound like a simple thing to develop. With a history that dates back to 1933, you pretty much expect that fitting a vehicle with an A/C unit would be as standard as installing seats. But just like seats, airconditioning units need to be specific with a car’s function as well. This is the case with BUGATTI , and Julie Lemke, the automaker’s designer of its airconditioning systems, aims to shed some light on these matters. As a brief backgrounder, Lemke has been working in the automotive industry since 2013 and with Bugatti since 4 years ago. Lemke explains that one of the challenges in installing A/C for Bugatti vehicles is the fact that each person has its own optimal temperature. In this regard, she makes sure that the A/C works quickly and without noise. It’s important that it works in the background with the occupants only feeling comfortable without even noticing it. Another important hurdle would be speed. Since Bugatti cars, specifically the Chiron, Divo and Chiron Pur Sport, reach incredible speeds, the A/C system is different than conventional ones. It changes with speed, with the cabin accepting only the outside air at speeds 250 kph and above. Most importantly, Bugatti windscreens are almost flat, only having 21.5 degrees of inclination as opposed to the usual 30 degrees of a conventional compact car. This adds more solar heat entering the cabin, not to mention the popular Sky View option on Bugatti cars. To solve this, Lemke said that Bugatti airconditioning compressors have a cooling capacity of up to 14hp. That’s enough to cool down an entire European flat that measures 80 m2, according to Bugatti. +++

+++ I feel for CADILLAC , a brand I’m inclined to dub the Alex Rodriguez of the automotive world: so much obvious talent, its gifts warped by repeated questionable moves and an inability to conclusively close the deal on The Big Stage. And as with Rodriguez, the expectations are so high at the same time the disappointment is so entrenched that Cadillac gets no benefits of any doubts, the commentariat ruthless with criticism for anything less than an out-of-the-park home run. This latest news, like the Newton-meter torque-based naming scheme initiated earlier this year, likely won’t help. I asked Cadillac about the origin of the Lyriq name for the coming battery-electric crossover. Global head of brand strategy Phil Dauchy explained 3 threads that went into the new moniker. In no particular order, one thread is that “Cadillac”, according to Dauchy, gets more mentions in song lyrics than any other brand, including non-automotive brands. The Music Lyrics Database, while not exhaustive, supports the case: Cadillac has 31 pages of lyric mentions among bands from Rancid to Weird Al Yankovic, beating every other brand we could think of. So … lyrics into Lyriq. The second thread is rolled up with Cadillac’s move to proper names instead of alphanumerics for the sedan and crossover lines, all of those names to end in “iq”, as well as the push into electric vehicles. Dauchy told the nomenclature overhaul and the 2-letter suffix “signal that Cadillac is bringing a different type of vehicle to market, one that works in concert with man, nature, and machine”. He’s bullish on swaying the public with the product, adding, “When you see the Cadillac Celestiq, its size, presence and scale all connote the emotion associated with the name”. The final thread that went into the Lyriq name the alliteration of brand and model names: “With Cadillac and the model name both ending in an ‘ick’ sound, these names roll off the tongue quite well”. This brings up a question raised in a number of comments about the Lyriq, which asks whether the last syllable is pronounced “ick” or “eek”. Until now, I’ve pronounced the coming crossover with an “eek” at the end. “Lyr-eek” strikes me as more luxurious and “Celest-eek” sounds better to me than “Celest-ick”, that latter model being the flagship EV that follows the Lyriq. Of course, it also makes me wonder if I’ve been pronouncing “Cadillac” correctly. I’ll get the lowdown when the Lyriq concept debuts online on August 6. However, considering the unqualified success of concepts like the Elmiraj, Escala, Ciel and the production Escalade, I’m surprised Cadillac “put the ‘i’ before ‘e’ ” in its next chapter. +++ 

+++ CAR SHARING is the key area put on pause by the pandemic, according to the PSA Group’s UK boss, Alison Jones, given the health risk factors involved with more than one person sharing a car. She said: “We were trialling car sharing in cities. In a few months, depending what happens with the pandemic, it may come back. At the moment, it’s paused; how do you sanitise a vehicle in car sharing? We will find a way, I’m sure, and we’ll see the demand and address what customers want”. Jones added that the pandemic had accelerated other areas of PSA’s business (which includes Citroën, DS, Opel, Peugeot and Vauxhall brands) such as online car sales. Jones said: “Peugeot has been online since 2017. We sped up a lot of those developments across the brands as we went into lockdown, such as offering a virtual walk-around of a car. It’s convenient and safe, but we also know there are customers who want to touch their vehicle before they buy and that’s where retailers come into their own and really mix that digital and physical presence”. Jones added that while the market is coming back, it’s not yet clear if that’s for the short term only: “We’ll truly know in Q4, when the furlough scheme ends. That will give us a true indication. And, of course, next year we go into Brexit and what that brings”. Asked whether she supports a car scrappage scheme, Jones responded that the government needs to support the “total economy”. She said: “We’re coming up with a range of ways to support our customers and we’re talking to government about a range of measures, as every industry is. We need government to help the total economy”. +++ 

+++ Labour representatives at German carmaker DAIMLER said that discussions with management over cost cuts had become “rougher”, after a board member said over the weekend that more than 15.000 jobs were at risk. The auto industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, which shut factories and showrooms forcing traditional carmakers to seek deeper cuts. Daimler had already said in November, before the pandemic started, that it would cut at least 10.000 jobs worldwide over the following 3 years, following peers as they cut costs to invest in electric vehicles while grappling with weakening sales. The owner of the Mercedes-Benz brand had stuck with a pledge at the time to avoid forced redundancies at its German workforce until 2029. Daimler board member Wilfried Porth told over the weekend however that more than 15.000 workers would now have to take a buyout or retire to avoid forced layoffs. The works council for Daimler said on Monday it was aware of the seriousness of the situation. “The tone of our discussion is getting rougher and is putting our cooperation to the test”, it said. Daimler managed to come through a crisis in the past, the works council said, adding it had always found a way forward, and did not expect the situation to be any different this time around. Daimler reiterated on Monday the company wanted to avoid forced redundancies, but for this to happen the carmaker needed to find alternative ways of cutting costs. +++ 

+++ Former Nissan chairman Carlos GHOSN is helping everyone who stood by him, he said in an interview broadcast on Saturday, though he declined to comment on cases of people accused of helping him flee to Lebanon from Japan. Ghosn, the ex-chairman of an automaking alliance of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors was arrested in Japan in late 2018 on charges of underreporting his salary and using company funds for personal purpose; charges he denies. In late December, he made a dramatic escape from house arrest in Japan, where he was awaiting trial, and fled to Beirut, his childhood home. Japan has asked the United States to extradite U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son Peter Taylor, who are accused of helping Ghosn flee and were arrested in May. Asked in an interview with Al Arabiya TV if he was trying to help the Taylors and others involved in his escape, Ghosn said: “You are talking about specific people and I will not comment on those people who you are singling out. What I’m saying is that I am helping everyone who helped me; I’m helping them with my means, with my thinking, and in any way I can”, he said. “I am not talking about those people you mentioned specifically”, he said, adding that he was talking about people who helped him “in general”. Ghosn has refused to discuss details of his escape from Japan, saying it would put in danger those who helped him. A U.S. judge said on Friday that Michael and Peter Taylor posed too great of a flight risk to be released on bail given the “spectacular” allegations against them. Ghosn told Al Arabiya he made “the entire plan” for his escape but he had needed information and assistance from people whom he was not ready to endanger by talking about the matter. Earlier this month, an executive from a Turkish private jet operator, 4 pilots and 2 flight attendants appeared in court on charges of helping to smuggle Ghosn via Istanbul. Ghosn also said Japan had yet to send his case file to Lebanon as requested by the Lebanese government. “It has been 6 months and they haven’t sent the file. Why haven’t they sent the file?” +++ 

+++ Goodbye and good riddance to the HELLISH FIRST HALF OF 2020 . For many it was by far the worst and most worrying 6 month chunk of their lives. But despite all the obvious tragedy, pain and injustice, several intriguing, significant, sad or amusing developments emerged in the final week of June. The maddest story I stumbled across concerned Hollywood superstar Mark Wahlberg. Too much sex and drugs and rock and roll? Hardly. The dear chap simply liked his Buick so much that he bought a franchised dealership to accompany it. That’s in addition to the Chevrolet franchise he bought to go with his Chevy. And if hardman Marky gets bored with them, he’s also got his Airstream business to occupy his time. Would you buy a new or used car or caravan from him? Apparently, his fans and others stand in line to do just that. Vinnie Jones, please note.  Closer to home, SUVs have lately taken over as the No. 1 sellers. And, in the final days of the month, makers launched even more all-new or heavily updated versions. These included the LPG-powered Duster, whose maker, Dacia, is asking if LPG might be a wiser successor to petrol and diesel than electricity. It’s a good question. Meanwhile, Suzuki weighed in with its strangely appealing Across and Land Rover launched its Defender Hard Top commercial vehicle and looked for a pandemic-free window to properly launch its range of Defenders costing up to €120.000 and possibly a tad more. Very deliberately, a spanner was thrown into the works by Ineos, unleashing its old-school Defender-lookalike vehicle built in Wales, badged Grenadier and, some had hoped, starting in the €45,000s, although €60.000 is more likely and that’s before taxes. A cheaper option could be the all-new version of another important SUV: Bronco. With the help of the Disney organisation (honest), Ford is just about to launch it. And since the manufacturer decided not to officially export this iconic 4×4 to Europe, you can always buy one when on holiday in the US, before shipping it back home as a personal import. Volkswagen spent the last week scratching its head asking why and how it allowed its traditionally bestselling car in Europe, the Golf, to lose its No.1 slot in the sales chart. One reason is that the new model is too pricey and unnecessarily complicated. The Renault Clio that’s taken over from the Golf isn’t so laden with gizmos and feels more like a small/mid-size family hatch than the supermini it’s supposed to be. More importantly, the least expensive Clio is around €8.000 cheaper than the bog-standard Golf. I rest my case. One of the final acts on one of the final days of June? The organisers of Geneva killed off the greatest annual motor show on earth for 2021. And it’s RIP Frankfurt, Paris (plus some other big shows) in the coming years, too. Still, all that money saved on the eye-wateringly expensive global motor-show circuit should result in cheaper cars, right? We’ll see. +++ 

+++ If HONDA ’s play was to confuse people about the next-generation Civic Type R, then hats off. Over the last year, rumours have swung from suggesting Honda would make it all-electric, to Honda adding no electrification at all to the hot hatch, and all points in between, which appears to be where we are now. The latest rumour circulating the web says it’ll be a hybrid, again. The rumour comes from Japan, where it is reported that the next-gen Type R will be nearly a 400 hp hybrid with all-wheeldrive. Honda will pair the Type R’s turbo 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine with 2 electric motors. It’s similar to the NSX’s powertrain setup, though it’ll be reversed in the Civic: the petrol engine will power the front wheels while the 2 electric motors will power the rears. The latest speculation contradicts rumours from last month that suggested that the Japanese automaker would keep the next-gen Type R purely petrol-powered. Then again, pinpointing what Honda plans to do with its hot hatch hasn’t been easy. In an interview last month, Honda Europe’s Senior VP said “no decisions have been made on that yet”, failing to provide any concrete answer as to what Honda is planning. The current-generation Type R powers the front wheels with its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine making 310 hp and 400 Nm, which is plenty for the 1.406 kilo hatch. An additional 90 hp would make the Type R a completely different beast behind the wheel. It’s only available with a 6-speed manual gearbox. We won’t know what Honda is doing with the Type R until Honda releases some official information. Until then, though, rumours will continue to circulate as the internet speculates about what Honda’s follow-up to the new Type R could be when it arrives. And we bet that’s how Honda likes it. The next-gen Civic Type R is expected to arrive for the 2022 model year, so don’t expect anything substantial from Honda anytime soon. +++ 

+++ The HYUNDAI i30 N has been a runaway success for the South Korean automaker and for 2021, it will receive a facelift and be available with a dual-clutch transmission. Following in the footsteps of the rest of the i30 range, the new hot hatch will receive updated front and rear fascias that promise to make it look a touch more aggressive. For example, there will be slimmer headlights with sharp new LED daytime running lights, an enlarged grille, and refreshed taillights with new inner graphics. Power will continue to come from a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 250 hp in standard form and 275 hp in Performance guise with a maximum torque of 378 Nm on overboost. Drive will be sent exclusively to the front wheels via an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. The dual-clutch to be used by the facelifded i30 N will be the same 8-speed wet dual-clutch transmission as the new Hyundai Veloster N. As such, the gearbox will feature a host of unique features aimed at increasing driver involvement. For example, there will be an ‘N Grin Shift’ (NGS) mode that increases torque by 7 % by allowing turbocharger overboost and maximizing transmission response for 20 seconds. The transmission also includes ‘N Power Shift’ (NPS) that engages when the car accelerates at more than 90 % throttle and upshifts at the perfect time to deliver maximum power to the wheels. For those that like to row their own gears, a 6-speed manual will continue to be offered. It will be interesting to see if the dual-clutch ends up outselling the manual. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR has released sales numbers for the I-Pace in the first half of 2020. It’s share out of the total brandsales have reached a new high on a quarterly basis. It’s been quite some time since we last heard about the Jaguar I-Pace global sales results, as the company switched from monthly to quarterly reports. The numbers are not too optimistic, as on top of all of the challenges that the Jaguar brand already had, along came the Covid-19 lockdown. I-Pace sales have decreased in the first quarter by 33 % year-over-year to 2.955 and by 46 % in the second quarter to 2.481. So a total of 5.436 units were delivered so far this year. For comparison, Jaguar’s overall sales went down in Q1 by 43% and by 52% in Q2, which allowed for an increase in the I-Pace share out of overall volume, respectively to 10.4% and 13.2% (a new high). Charts show a decrease in sales over the last 3 consecutive quarters, which is disappointing. Hopefully, the trend will be soon reversed with the introduction of the new, upgraded modelyear 2021 Jaguar I-Pace. Cumulatively, Jaguar sold almost 30,000 units of the I-Pace over a little over 2 years. +++ 

+++ We’re just hours away from the unveiling of the Ford Bronco and JEEP is trying to grab some attention by introducing the Wrangler Rubicon 392 concept. Presumably created for the canceled Easter Jeep Safari, the Wrangler Rubicon 392 is a high-performance model named after the displacement of its 6.4-liter V8 engine. The massive V8 produces 456 hp and 609 Nm. It is connected to an upgraded 8-speed automatic transmission which sends power to a 4-wheeldrive system. This setup enables the concept to rocket from 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in less than 5 seconds. Of course, the concept isn’t just about going fast as it has been equipped with a number of off-road goodies including Dana 44 axles with front and rear lockers. Engineers also installed a two-inch lift kit, numerous suspension upgrades and 17-inch beadlock wheels wrapped in 37 inch mud-terrain tires. The modifications didn’t end there as the concept has been outfitted with a 2-mode exhaust, rock rails and steel bumpers. Other highlights include a Warn winch and a steel belly pan to protect from damage. Thanks to all these changes, Jeep says the Wrangler Rubicon 392 is an off-road monster that boasts 337 mm of ground clearance as well as the ability to ford 864 mm of water. The model also has approach, departure and breakover angles of 51.6 °, 40.1 ° and 29.5 ° respectively. On the styling front, the concept wears a Granite Crystal exterior with bronze accents. The model also has a ram air hood, custom half doors and a power soft top. Other highlights include a sport steering wheel and red leather seats with gold contrast stitching. While Jeep has previously downplayed the possibility of offering a V8 Wrangler, the company appears to be changing their tune. As they hinted, “Jeep enthusiasts have been clamoring for a V8-powered production Wrangler in recent years and the new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is an indication they may soon get their wish”. +++ 

+++ Europe’s car market is performing better than expected as the region emerges from lockdowns imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, KIA Europe chief operating officer Emilio Herrera said. June was the first full month in which car buyers were able to return to showrooms across Europe and the results gave automakers hope for the future, Herrera said. “The recovery is much better than expected”, the executive told. “Within the given circumstances it might not be such a bad year as we were thinking when the whole thing started”. June sales results varied widely from country to country. Sales in France improve 1 % as incentives drew customers into showrooms, while sales in Germany and the UK fell 32 % and 35 % respectively. Kia saw a greater sales improvement than the overall market, Herrera said, without giving figures. Government supplied figures in Germany show Kia’s sales dropped 26 % in June against a 32 % dip for the total market. “In times of crisis, we do slightly better because we’re more a rational brand”, Herrera said, referring to the brand’s competitive pricing and its 7 year warranty. Herrera said part of the sales rise was due to accumulated demand as customers were unable to replace cars due to lockdown restrictions, but he forecast a return to normality in July, helped by government incentives. The UK is the only major European market not to offer a stimulus package to boost vehicle sales. European automakers association ACEA in June forecast that car sales in the EU, plus the UK, will fall by 25 % to 9.6 million this year. That would be the lowest number of cars sold in the EU since 2013 after Europe emerged from the 2008-09 financial crisis. LMC Automotive forecasts that sales in Western Europe will fall by 26 percent to 10.6 million. +++ 

+++ In December 2019, General Motors sold its 50 % stake in the GM-AvtoVAZ joint-venture which built the Chevrolet Niva SUV. The buyer was none other than AvtoVaz Group, which last week began building the rebadged LADA Niva at its plant in Togliatti, Russian Federation. Changes over the Chevrolet version include a new radiator grille featuring the Lada logo as well as a Lada-badged steering wheel. Everything else stays largely the same. As a reminder, the Chevrolet Niva, which from now on will be sold as the Lada Niva, is a distinct different model from the old Lada Niva (a.k.a. the VAZ-2121), which remains on sale in Russia as the Lada 4×4. The newer Lada Niva, known as the VAZ-2123, was developed by AvtoVAZ and entered production in 2000 under the Lada brand. 2 years later, the model began to be manufactured under the Chevrolet brand by the GM-AvtoVAZ joint venture. The main components of the Chevrolet Niva, including the bodywork, chassis and power unit, were produced at AvtoVAZ’s facilities, while painting and final assembly were undertaken at the partner production site. In total, AvtoVAZ and GM built more than 700.000 Niva SUVs since 2000. “Lada Niva seamlessly complements the Lada lineup, becoming the second all-wheel drive SUV in the family”, said Olivier Morne, Lada executive vice president of Sales and Marketing. “We intend to further develop its sales, which are now organized in the largest dealer network in Russia, which today has more than 300 sales and service centers”, he added. AvtoVAZ says demand is still strong for this Niva despite it being a 20-year-old vehicle. Back in 2014, GM previewed the next-generation Niva with the Niva Concept. The production model was supposed to launch in 2016, but those plans never materialized.+++ 

+++ The recently-unveiled Sian Roadster gave us a short glimpse of the Italian brand’s future; at least that’s what LAMBORGHINI wants to tell us. Armed with futuristic design and a more edgy approach than its Sian coupe counterpart, the Sian Roadster previews what the brand can do in terms of design. But that doesn’t end there. The Sian and Sian Roadster are both using a hybrid powertrain, which means that the brand is on its way to an electrified future. No surprise there, really. The future of Lamborghini, however, lies in the Aventador. The fighting bull is no doubt the most popular nameplate from Sant’Agata Bolognese, which makes its successor a pretty important vehicle for the marque. Giovanni Perosino, Lamborghini’s chief commercial officer, bares some information about the upcoming Aventador replacement in a recent media roundtable. You’d be glad to know that Lamborghini intends to keep its V12 dominance in the future, which should find its way in the top-dog supercar. More importantly, as the Sian hinted, hybridization will likewise be adopted into the lineup. Again, no surprise there. However, Perosino said that the Sian’s supercapacitor isn’t going to be used in the next Aventador. While the proposition of symmetrical charging and discharging function seems like an attractive idea, Lamborghini sees the next Aventador as a supercar that will be used more often than the rare Sian and Sian Roadster. In that regard, a conventional hybrid powertrain will be more suitable for frequent operations, fulfilling the very purpose of hybridization: meeting emission regulations. +++ 

+++ Chinese electric vehicle maker LI AUTO has filed for a US initial public offering with a string of leading banks and equity firms including Goldman Sachs and Snowball being underwriters. According to its prospectus, the company registered a revenue of 850 million yuan ($120 million) and a gross profit of 68 million yuan in the first quarter of this year. Li Xiang, founder and CEO of Li Auto, said earlier that he hoped to establish a company that has a valuation of up to $100 billion. Founded in 2015, the EV startup mainly produces smart electric SUVs. Its 6-seater Li One model went into mass production in November last year and has sold 10.400 units by June. The fresh deal was co-managed by Snowball, a leading online equity company of Snowball Group. The platform leverages advanced technology to provide investors access to global securities listed on major stock markets. The active engagement of Snowball into the IPO filing of Li Auto means that Snowball Group officially realized the closed loop of IPO financial services, which ranged from marketing to underwriting. +++ 

+++ The all-electric LOTUS Evija is on track to reach the hands of customers before the end of the year and it is promising to deliver mind-boggling performance. Whereas forthcoming electric hypercars such as the Rimac C_Two, Pininfarina Battista, and Tesla Roadster promise to hit 100 km/h in less than 2 seconds, Lotus has engineered the Evija to provide the type of rolling acceleration to leave ICE-alternatives like the Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport for dead. Lotus attributes director Gavan Kershaw revealed that the Evija will hit 200 km/h in less than 6 seconds. That is quick but is no faster than the Chiron Pur Sport. Where the Evija will stand out is its ability to accelerate at even more ferocious speeds when it is up and rolling than from a standstill. In fact, whereas the Chiron needs 6.5 seconds to run from 200 kph to 300 km/h, the Evija will do that same sprint in less than half the time. “I’ve driven some of the Formula One cars, even the T125 with 1.000 horsepower-per-tonne, and they’re quite brutal. This has got such strength and growth: it’s a bit like going up the runway where you’re pushed back in your seat and held there. It’s a lovely sensation”, Kershaw said. 6 driving modes, dubbed City, Range, Tour, Sport, Track and Off will be available. Quizzed if the Evija will feel like a Lotus should, Kershaw indicated that a lot of thought has gone into how the vehicle performs on the road. “I think the thing that’ll do it is the 50 metre test, where you sit in it, the controls are in the right place and then the way that it just reacts to a throttle input or a brake pedal is just right. Does it do what I want when I turn the steering wheel? And the level of roll that we allow; there’s nothing worse than feeling on the edge and not quite knowing where the limit is. And then obviously you get to the straight bits and the scenery starts coming past you quite quickly”. Powering the Evija are 4 electric motors that combine to produce 2.000 hp and 1.700 Nm. When Lotus first announced the vehicle last year, it said it was targeting a range of around 400 km. However, when quizzed about the range and asked if a figure around 240 km was in the right ballpark, executive director of engineer Matt Windle replied, “that’s the area that we’re looking at as a minimum. We want people to drive this car. We need to give them useful range. But then also people are going to want to see how it performs and it needs to drive like a Lotus”. +++ 

+++ A Daimler shareholder calls the MERCEDES-BENZ EQ C “too late, too expensive and too boring”. He argues it’s one of a series of misguided investments that have negatively affected the company’s profits. Inge Speich is Deka’s Head of Sustainability and Corporate Governance, and Deka has a stake of around 0.5 % of the Daimler group. During a recent shareholders meeting, Speich spoke out about the fact that he believes Mercedes’ first mass-market EV, the EQ C, is a bit of a flop. He said: “We look back at a lost year for Daimler”, adding that the car is “Too late, too expensive and too boring”. I recently drove the Mercedes EQ C and found it a very competent luxury car, one of the best premium high-riding EVs to travel aboard. However, it lags behind rivals in terms of range and fast charging speed, not to mention the fact that mechanically speaking, it’s basically a gutted GLC with EV internals. This surely doesn’t help its cause (since its rivals are designed from the ground up as EVs). And it seems the CEO of Daimler, Ola Källenius, is on-board with this point of view, although he doesn’t specifically target the EQ C. He talks more broadly about how the group missed its self-imposed efficiency improving measures and how it was not prepared for a massive global recession (the one that has been caused by the pandemic): “Our previous efficiency goals covered the upcoming transformation, but not a global recession. Daimler can do better and we are determined to deliver”. Källenius went on to say that even though Mercedes will have revealed no fewer than 5 EVs, as well as 20 PHEVs by the end of 2020, meeting the EU’s strict emissions rule will be difficult for both this year and 2021. The next Mercedes EVs to be launched are the EQ A crossover and the EQ S large saloon. Now Daimler is looking at massive cost-cutting and streamlining of its operations. Last year in November, they announced that more than 10.000 jobs will be cut across the world, which the company expects will result in €1.4-billion in savings by 2022. +++ 

+++ NISSAN plans to change the emblem it attaches to the front and the rear of its vehicles for the first time in about 20 years. Looking ahead to its future ventures incorporating autonomous driving technology, the new emblem design will be simpler, with its 3-dimensional effect restrained. The new design is also meant to signal a departure from the corporate image tarnished by the saga surrounding former chairman Carlos Ghosn. The redesigned emblem is expected to debut on the new Ariya electric vehicle, set to hit the market within this fiscal year. Nissan will replace the old emblem on other models one by one, in step with their model updates. The letters forming ‘Nissan’ and the round encircling rim will be thinner. Also, in order to enhance the sensitivity of millimeter-wave radar, which is to be used for such functions as automatic braking, the emblem will have a flatter surface as a whole, a change from the current three-dimensional design. Traditionally, Nissan’s emblems have often combined a ring shape representing a “morning sun rising into the sky” around its name. The current emblem has been used since 2001, the same year that Ghosn took over as chief executive officer. +++ 

+++ PEUGEOT is planning a major overhaul for the next-generation 3008. When it arrives in 2022, the French brand’s mid-sized crossover could shift away from its practical beginnings and morph into a style-focussed coupe-SUV. Peugeot’s chief designer, Gilles Vidal, believes that what the company has learned about the buying habits of its current customers has provided enough of a business case to push the 3008 towards the more sporting end of the market, while offering an improved version of the 5008 for those in need of greater practicality. Vidal said: “What we want to deliver to the market in the future is concepts that go all the way to what they stand for. If we talk about the 3008, it is not bought by families. It’s a couple who didn’t have kids yet or a couple who don’t have their kids anymore; either end of the spectrum, basically”. This means the 3008 could evolve into a sleeker coupé shape for its next generation. The 3008 is all but certain to remain a 5-door, although Vidal’s team of designers are likely to play with the roofline and sacrifice a little rear cabin space to give the car a chunkier, more aggressive stance. The styling choices aren’t too far removed from those used by Land Rover with the Range Rover Evoque, which is another car that’s frequently bought by families with no children. If implemented, Peugeot’s decisions would move the 3008 firmly out of the family SUV market, which is occupied by the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga. The third-generation Peugeot 3008 should be one of the PSA models based on the firm’s updated EMP2 underpinnings. Called EMP2 V4, the architecture will continue to support combustion engines, but will also be compatible with pure-electric and 48 volt mild hybrid technology, which will be developed in tandem with the Belgian company Punch Powertrain. Crucially, the new EMP2 V4 platform will allow Peugeot to retain the flexibility of a plug-in hybrid powertrain in the 3008 range; something that its sister brand Citroen can’t with the newly revealed C4, as it’s based on the smaller (more EV-focussed) CMP platform. The new C4 has shown us that PSA’s familiar range of 1.2-litre 3-cylinder PureTech petrol engines will make it into the next decade and I expect at least some of them will find their way into the new 3008’s chassis. The Citroen will be available in either 100 hp, 130 hp or 155 hp outputs. PSA’s existing turbocharged 1.5-litre diesel engine has also been carried forward onto the new C4, albeit with a slightly less potent 100 hp tune, and it’s reasonable to suggest it will also appear on the new 3008 in 130 hp form. When it comes to the plug-in hybrid, the current model recently received a 300 hp 1.6-litre unit with 13.2 kWh battery pack and a maximum claimed electric range of more than 60 kilometres, but this will be updated for the next-generation model to 360 hp and the PSA monniker. +++ 

+++ So you own a fantastic hypercar, drive it to your local supercar meets, maybe do some weekend trips with it, but you don’t actually have the chance to extract more performance out of it. A track day is too daunting, and some actual high-performance driving lessons can’t seem to fit into a busy schedule? RIMAC is coming up with an amazing way that customers can actually communicate with their cars. No, we’re not talking about voice commands or digital assistants; we’re talking about actual feedback and encouragement. Pioneered by Rimac’s autonomous driving division, “Driver Coach” is essentially an artificial intelligence that analyzes tons of data to give you the best way to extract performance on the track. The best part? It can also drive for you. Rimac’s upcoming C_Two has some breathtaking numbers: 1.900 hp and a sub-2 second 0 to 100 kph time. There’s a lot of power there to get you into trouble in the wrong hands, but there’s also a lot of potential to get the most out of your hypercar experience. Sacha Vrazic, director of Rimac’s autonomous driving team, said about this interesting concept: “What we are building is a system where AI plays a key role in teaching the driver how to perform on racetracks, at the maximum vehicle performance”. Sacha explains: “Not all of our customers are professional drivers, but we want them to really enjoy the car and have fun with it”. The system uses a supercomputer to analyze and store 6 terabytes of data every hour, gathered from 9 onboard cameras, Lidar, radar and 12 ultrasonic sensors. Algorithms take care of all the number-crunching to give drivers the most dynamic and personalized experience. Heck, it can even determine if the driver’s fear takes over at a braking point after a very long and fast straight, and recommends a new approach by maybe braking earlier to reduce that anxiety, or being able to take over and show the diver how it’s done. All of this while it talks to you as it learns the track, and keeps you safe by correcting any driving errors as they happen on the fly. Also, the system is able to react to other vehicles and objects in real-time, unlike autonomous GPS track cars that are programmed at specific points. “We used professional drivers of course, to help us understand the ideal lap, but the AI can compute a perfect lap as well”, Sacha tells. “Then we put the pro driver lap and what we consider as our (the AI) lap on top of each other, and see the difference. That’s a big part”. All of this will be standard on the Rimac C_Two when it is finally launched. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA will resume automobile production in all of its manufacturing bases around the world for the first time since February, a source with knowledge of the matter said. Toyota’s factory in Venezuela, the last where output had remained suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to restart operations on Monday, according to the source. Besides Venezuela, where the Japanese automaker produced only 416 vehicles in 2019, output in more than 20 other countries in which it has plants has already resumed in stages, while not yet returning to pre-coronavirus levels. Toyota, which produced about 5.63 million vehicles overseas last year, is forecasting that global auto demand will be on a recovery trend and plans to gradually boost output. In April, Toyota’s overseas output tumbled 66.2 % from a year earlier, but the company saw a 53.0 % decline in the following month. As for domestic production volume in July, Toyota last month anticipated that it would be 10 % down from its initial projection. The rate compares with a drop of about 40 % in June, according to the automaker. +++ 

+++ TURKEY ‘s vehicle production dropped 29 % to 518.727 in the first half, according to a statement by the Automotive Manufacturers Association (OSD). Output in June was down 5.4 % from a year earlier to 103.273 units; a marked recovery from the decline of 54 % in May, as the economy stirred back to life following the shock of coronavirus. Since June, buyers of domestically-made cars have been able to finance purchases with low-interest long-term loans from state banks. Turkish vehicle exports fell 27 % to 70.813 in June, the OSD data showed, versus 60 % in May. Many factories halted operations after Turkey identified its first Covid-19 case on March 11 and production amounted to 11.164 vehicles in April and 63.145 in May. Turkey has an annual production capacity of nearly 2 million vehicles. +++

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