Newsflash: TVR start in 2022 met productie Griffith

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+++ Jeff Mannering, executive director of AUDI Korea, said the brand will launch more eco-friendly vehicles in South Korea in the future, aiming to have nearly 40 % of its sales here dedicated to electric vehicles (EV) including hybrid and plug-in hybrid models by 2030. At the moment, the e-tron, which was launched in South Korea earlier this month, is the only eco-friendly model it sells there. The plan is in line with the German headquarters’ EV road map to launch more than 30 electric models by 2025, constituting 40 % of its global sales. Mannering sees an opportunity in South Korea’s EV market as the country has relatively good infrastructure in terms of charging stations, a decisive factor in lowering the barrier to purchasing an EV. “Now is the right time to launch an electric vehicle in South Korea”, Mannering said at a dining event in Hongcheon, where the brand held a 2-day e-Tron test drive program for reporters. “30 kilometers is all it takes in Seoul from one charger to another, whereas in the United States, they are about 148 kilometers apart from each other, and for Europe, 100 kilometers”, he said. Audi’s e-Tron came relatively late to South Korea. The German luxury brand had already launched the model in Europe and the United States last year and even added a Sportback variation to the lineup. Mannering admitted to being late to the EV competition, but said when the brand wants to do something, it wants to do it right. And in that sense, bringing the e-Tron to South Korea now means the infrastructure is stabilized and the number of players in the game is rising. “Adding value” is crucial to survive in such a competitive market, especially where domestic players are no longer considered just a value-for-money option. “The design for domestic carmakers is getting to a cutting-edge level”, he said, implying Hyundai and Kia. “So you have to offer a different experience to the customers to make a difference. How we communicate and so on”. Audi’s charging-on-demand service is part of that effort to make a difference. Under the service, a nearby dealer picks up your car at a reserved time, takes it away, charges it and brings it back. “It adds value to the EVs by taking away the fear of buying an electric car”, Mannering said. Tesla is unrivaled in EV sales globally and South Korea is no exception, even though it started selling its select number of models here just 3 years ago. Tesla was ranked at No. 4 in Korea’s import car market in the first 6 months of this year with just 3 models. It is the biggest threat to Audi Korea, as well, in terms of EV sales. “Tesla sold 7.000 cars in South Korea in the first half and that is pretty amazing”, Mannering said. +++

+++ 2020 has been a difficult year for most companies and that’s putting it lightly. 2020 has been a tough year for everyone and the financial fallout from coronavirus will most definitely take some companies down for the count. In the automotive realm, one of these companies could be BBS , which is reportedly facing bankruptcy. This would be the third time the German-based custom wheel manufacturer has been in hock. In 2007 the company went through bankruptcy and was ultimately purchased by a Belgium company. Another bankruptcy occurred a few years later, and as of 2015, a South Korean company called Nice Corp was the majority stakeholder. The current financial crisis for BBS is the result of an “unexpected disappearance of promised payments”, according to a statement allegedly from BBS. Exactly what that means is unclear. The bankruptcy filing is apparently in Germany only, with diminished demand and halted production due to Covid-19 being the reasons. The move is similar to a Chapter 11 filing in the United States, which means BBS shouldn’t simply disappear. Rather, it’s a reorganizing that, in theory, will allow the company to continue operation. As such, the report says BBS will continue normal operations for now. How this will affect BBS is unclear at this point. +++ 

+++ BENTLEY has ramped up production of the updated Bentayga at its factory in Crewe ahead of deliveries, which will be beginning in Europe soon. The production start comes after the carmaker implemented a number of new health and safety measures in light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The new measures allow the company to return to a 100 % production output, up from 50 % as it had been since the factory reopened in May. Some areas of the factory have had to be redesigned to accommodate the new measures. A controlled, safe working environment with an enforced social distance of more than 1 metre will be in place in some areas, in keeping with the most recent British government guidelines, while other parts of the plant will maintain a strict social distance of two-metres. Mandatory facemasks will be worm by all members of staff throughout the factory. On the Bentayga production line over 100 people work at 43 different stages. “The new Bentayga is a celebration of all that we can do in Crewe and is a testament to the skill, passion and dedication of all of our colleagues who produce cars unmatched by any other car factory in the world”, said Peter Bosch, member of the board for manufacturing at Bentley. “To deliver a sector-defining car that meets our own and customers incredibly high standards and expectations is a significant achievement, particularly at this early stage of production. In the lead up to manufacture commencing we reviewed each individual process to ensure its efficiency and effectiveness, implementing industry-leading lean techniques with social distancing measures included. What we are seeing at start of production is a car that is significantly revised, both inside and out, and yet reaching record quality in manufacture levels across the industry. Raising the bar again as the sector-defining luxury SUV”. The revised production procedure allows Bentley to also be leaner in its process, with improved ergonomics, safer processes, and reduced walking and waiting times due to repositioning and movement of parts among the benefits of the new process. +++ 

+++ BUGATTI will be postponing discussions regarding a second production model, as it will prioritize cash conservation for at least the rest of this year. Overall though, Bugatti president Stephan Winkelmann believes his company’s image and brand recognition factor would help it in principle launch another model, more practical and more affordable than its €3.5 million Chiron hypercar. However, Winkelmann also believes that even very wealthy customers may not be ready to spend a great deal of cash on a hypercar during times like these. “For the time being, we need to put this issue aside. Given the prevailing economic conditions, our utmost priority is on liquidity”, Winkelmann told. Back in November, the Bugatti boss said that a potential second model would be an electric-powered grand tourer or crossover, capable of seating up to 4 people and priced between €750.000 and €1.5 million in the Netherlands. Still, it wouldn’t be a genuine SUV, nor a sedan, and the rear seats would at least be large enough to accommodate children. “We will not jump on the SUV trend. We want to do something different”, said a company source. “But the car would not be a sedan, either”. A second model would potentially increase the French carmaker’s annual production to as many as 900 units, from fewer than 100 currently. It would also require a considerable investment with regards to more staff and extra capacity. Last year, Bugatti posted record production, revenue and sales volumes, as well as a double-digit operating margin, said Winkelmann, without going into specifics. +++ 

+++ The government in CHINA has enacted preferential measures on new energy vehicles in rural areas that will last until December, in an effort to boost sales and the rural revitalization strategy. According to a notice the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, a total of 10 domestic carmakers, including Great Wall, Changan, Chery, BYD and BJEV, are to promote 16 new energy vehicle models throughout the countryside. The automakers are offering varying discounts, on average 2,000-5,000 yuan ($285-$715), according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers who will be carrying out related events in rural areas from late July. The local governments will provide subsidies to encourage villagers and reduce the expense for them to trade for with new energy vehicles. 5 promotional events are being organized for rural residents in Qingdao in Shandong province; Haikou in Hainan province; Kunming in Yunnan province; Chengdu in Sichuan province; and Taiyuan in Shanxi province. From July 2019, China’s new energy vehicle sales retreated for 12 consecutive months after a steep cut in government subsidies. In the first half of 2020, the sales of new energy vehicles reached 393.000 units; a decline of 37.4 % year-on-year. But the CAAM data shows the sector has registered a monthly recovery. In June, a total of 104.000 new energy vehicles were sold; up 26.8 % from May. Chen Qingtai, president of China EV100, the industry’s leading think tank, said at the Automotive Market and Consumption Forum that China’s vehicle sales growth will expand and move from the east to the central and western regions, from cities to villages. He estimated that by 2030, 160 people per 1.000 will own a car in rural areas, adding up to more than 70 million vehicles. Xu Haidong, vice-chief engineer of the CAAM, said that new energy vehicles have a huge market in China’s vast rural areas and hold many advantages over gasoline vehicles. The advantages include the convenience of installing charging piles as most families in rural areas have yards outside their homes, they are cheaper to “fuel” than gasoline cars and have lower maintenance costs because new energy vehicles have fewer components. According to research by CAAM, the car purchase budget of rural customers is less than 50.000 yuan on average. The promoted models will be priced below 100.000 yuan and carmakers are expected to subsidize and cut prices for villagers. For example, BJEV will cut the price of its EC3 model from 73,800 yuan to 59.800 yuan and will provide a subsidy of 5.000 yuan if a customer trades in his or her vehicle. Changan is to sell its E-Star in rural areas. The carmaker said it will introduce a comprehensive car purchase policy of 10.000 yuan, which includes exchange subsidies, a free charging pile and cash discount, according to Shanghai Securities News. Zhejiang Hozon New Energy Automobile Company is one of the carmakers that will launch promotional events in rural areas. The founder and chairman of the company, Fang Yunzhou, said promoting new energy vehicles in rural areas will help more Chinese to enjoy better transportation, promote the upgrading of supporting industrial chains and provide more jobs for local people. Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consultancy firm Automotive Foresight, said after the government subsidies’ cuts, compact electric vehicles were losing market share because they have no advantage over rival gasoline vehicles. “The promotional events in rural areas will help to promote the sales of small new energy vehicles, as well as replace the low-speed electric vehicles which are widely used in rural areas and are not safe and don’t meet any production standards”, Zhang said. According to the market research firm Zhiyan Consulting, there will be 5 million low-speed electric vehicles in rural areas by the end of 2020. Zhang said that their low price is the most competitive factor in rural areas. Carmakers should launch low-price new energy vehicles, even they don’t feature long ranges or large capacity batteries, he suggested. +++ 

+++ FORD passenger car sales in Europe were significantly affected by the Covid-19 lockdown in the second quarter (no surprise here) as deliveries decreased by 56 % year-over-year to 109.129. However, there is positive news on the plug-in front. The new Kuga PHEV was responsible for 51.1 % of total Kuga sales during the second quarter. Since the total volume was 13.080, we assume that 6.684 were plug-in hybrids, which is really not bad. The Kuga PHEV share out of the total Ford volume was over 6.1 %, which is also a surprisingly positive result. Together with other models, in the near future Ford might be above 10 %. The other Ford PHEVs in Europe are: Explorer PHEV, Transit Custom Plug-in Hybrid and Tourneo Custom Plug-in Hybrid. With Mach-E, a new BEV based on Volkswagen’s MEB platform, Transit Electric and other models, the future of Ford in Europe finally starts looking electrifying. +++ 

+++ Volvo, which was bought by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group from Ford in 2010, plans to merge with GEELY and list in Hong Kong and possibly Stockholm, as well as on a stock market in mainland China. Geely said last month that its board had approved a preliminary proposal to list new renminbi shares on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-like Star board. “In connection with this (the Shanghai listing), Geely cannot discuss a potential combination of the companies”, a Volvo spokeswoman said about the merger. Talks would resume as soon as Geely Auto had “ended its activities related to that”, she said. The Gothenburg-based carmaker reported an operating loss of 989 million Swedish crowns ($110 million) for January-June, versus a 5.52 billion profit in the first half of last year, as revenues fell 14 % to 111.8 billion crowns. Volvo had warned in March that sales, earnings and cash flow in the first half of 2020 would decline from a year ago as the coronavirus pandemic weighed on its business. In April it announced plans to make 1.300 white-collar workers in Sweden redundant. +++ 

+++ Gordon Murray Automotive ( GMA ) has confirmed that its McLaren F1-inspired T.50 supercar will be revealed on 4 August and has teased some of the details of its new Cosworth-developed 3,9 litre, naturally aspirated V12 engine. Describing the engine as “a Formula 1 engine for the road”, the new 3.9-litre unit is supported by a 48 volt mild-hybrid system and produces 670 hp, with 467 Nm at 9.000 rpm. The aluminium-intensive engine weighs 178 kg (roughly 62 kg less than the McLaren F1’s powertrain) and it has a redline of 12.100 rpm, which makes it the highest-revving engine ever fitted to a road car. It revs through to that redline from idle in just 0.3 seconds and drive goes to the rear wheels only via a lightweight, short-shift 6-speed manual gearbox developed by Xtrac. Gordon Murray cites the Honda V12 from the 1991 F1 World Championship-winning McLaren MP4/6 as direct inspiration for the Cosworth V12 in the T.50, combined with elements of the BMW V12 engine powering the McLaren F1, too. Above all, Murray says he wants the T.50’s engine to be a visual nod to analogue supercars, with no carbon or plastic covers obscuring it. The T.50 has been designed with a fastidious approach to weight saving. Its carbon fibre monocoque weighs around 150 kg, while GMA claims the entire supercar will weigh less than 980 kg. To achieve such a low kerb-weight figure, engineers and designers shaved grammes of excess weight off almost every component in the T.50’s structure. The supercar’s pedal box is 300 gram lighter than the McLaren F1’s, while its transmission is 10 kg lighter. Its windscreen is made from ultra-thin glass, which is 28 % thinner than the glass in a typical road car. Meanwhile, the driver’s seat weighs just 7kg, and the 2 outboard passenger seats weigh less than 3 kg each. GMA’s engineers even modelled the diameter and length T.50’s fixings to ensure they’re only as strong as they need to be. On the completed product, these 900 nuts, bolts and washers around the T.50’s chassis will be finished in titanium to keep the supercar’s kerb-weight to a minimum. The car will employ groundbreaking aerodynamics. This includes a large 400 mm ground-effect fan inspired by the Brabham BT46B Formula One car, which Murray designed in the late seventies. But the T.50’s complex aerodynamic systems extend beyond the fan. The car also has active under-body elements and rear aerofoils, and there are 6 different aero modes. We’ve also been told that the V12 engine and traction control settings will all be configurable. Just 100 examples will be created, with deliveries due by 2022, and each car carrying a price-tag of €3 million. +++ 

+++ China’s best-selling SUV maker GREAT WALL MOTORS is overhauling itself amid a changing automobile industry and aims to become a global technology-driven mobility company. The company, headquartered in Baoding, announced the decision to speed up its transition and unveiled 2 vehicle platforms and a smart system. The decision came as part of a solution to the question its founder and chairman Wei Jianjun asked when the company celebrated its 30th anniversary last week: “Can we survive through the next year? The chance is slim, in my opinion”. Wei, 56, attributes the company’s achievements mainly to China’s reform and opening-up policy and the steady economic situation in the country. With a unique sense of urgency and risks, he has been closely watching the changes in the industry and making preparations. Coded Lemon and Tank, the 2 modular vehicle platforms are the results of five years of development and an investment of over 20 billion yuan ($2.86 billion), said Wei, who has been advocating “appropriately undue investment in research and development”. Lemon is flexible and scalable, spanning subcompact to fullsize vehicle bodies and variants of SUVs, sedans and MPVs. It also covers 4 powertrains: internal combustion engines, hybrids, electric and fuel-cell vehicles. The company said Lemon engines will have a heat efficiency of 51.5 % in 2025 and second-generation fuel-cell powertrains will enable vehicles on the Lemon platform to run for 1.100 kilometers. Tank is a platform for offroad vehicles. It will feature 2,0 and 3,0 liter turbocharged engines and a vertically deployed 9-speed automatic gearbox, which is also China’s first. The 3,0 liter engine produces a maximum output of 354 hp and a top torque of 500 Nm, with a heat efficiency rate of 38 %; the best in its segment. The third brand is coded Smart Coffee. Great Wall Motors said it covers autonomous driving, electrical systems and smart cabins. It is compatible with the Ethernet, 5G and vehicle-to-everything technology. Based on the smart system, Level 3 autonomous driving will start to work from 2021 and will grow into Level 4 and above. Great Wall Motors said more than 50 test vehicles have conducted road trips passing 1 million km. The company calls the Smart Coffee brand the “digital engine” of its transition to a global mobility company. The first model to feature the system will be a Wey model, Great Wall Motor’s upscale marque. Wei added that Great Wall Motors will release a new human resources plan and other programs in August to attract more professionals and speed up the transition. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI became the bestselling car maker in Vietnam during the first half of this year, surpassing Toyota by a slight margin. The South Korean automaker sold 25.358 units during the first 6 months of 2020, according to data from Hyundai and the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, with its Japanese rival trailing by 181 units. Hyundai cars accounted for 21.3 % of the market share; up 2.6 percentage points from the same time last year. It marks the first time the car manufacturer’s share of the Vietnamese market has exceeded 20 % since launching a production joint venture there in 2017. The company’s market share in the Southeast Asian country has enjoyed a gradual increase in recent years, from 13.3 % in 2017 to 18.7 % in 2019. While the overall demand in the market fell by over 27 % amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Hyundai suffered a 17 % drop. In contrast, Toyota’s market presence fell to 21.1 % during the first half of 2020; down from 25.5 % in 2017. Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing automobile markets in Southeast Asia, with total sales volume having grown from some 226.000 units in 2017 to 348.000 in 2019. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER recently reached the impressive milestone, having now produced more that 1.5 million examples of its Ingenium engine at its Engine Manufacturing Centre in Wolverhampton. The all-aluminium Ingenium family of clean, refined and efficient diesel, petrol and electrified engines, are designed to maximise performance while reducing the environmental impact and running costs for motorists. The latest version of the engine is a 6 cylinder diesel powerplant which features mild hybrid technology and powers the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Jaguar Land Rover will continue to develop the Ingenium family of engines on its way to a zero emissions future, eventually culminating in a concept hydrogen fuel cell powertrain solution. “We are experiencing unprecedented demand for cleaner-running vehicles, so it’s more important than ever to deliver clean and efficient engines without compromising on the performance or all-terrain capabilities our customers have come to expect”, said Ken Close, Jaguar Land Rover powertrain operations launch director. “Our Ingenium powertrains offer the very best of both worlds: better fuel efficiency and lower emissions, and even greater torque for a more responsive and engaging drive”. The new 6-cylinder diesel follows the similar 6-cylinder petrol engine that arrived last year. Both share the same key architecture, cylinder head, cylinder block and crankshaft, as well as the assembly and testing of the engine. Both are put into use at Jaguar Land Rover’s vehicle manufacturing plants all over the world; a large majority of which are used in British based facilities including Solihull, where Range Rover models are produced. +++ 

+++ KIA has formed Purple M with CODE42.ai. The new company will be dedicated to electric vehicle (EV) mobility. No shareholding breakdown was given for the venture and the total capital was not disclosed. The new company will utilize CODE42.ai’s Urban Mobility Operating System (UMOS), which offers various services related to EVs, including ride-hailing, car-sharing, on-demand taxis and delivery. The automaker explained that while interest in EVs has risen in Korea in recent years, mobility services are still limited to vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. The new company will be able to create opportunities with the customer base of Kia and CODE42.ai’s technology. Song Chang, founder and CEO of CODE42.ai, will serve as the chairman of the company, while Seo Young-wu, a former CEO of Poolus, a carpooling company which recently shut down its service due the unfavorable environment, will serve as Purple M’s CEO. “Our goal is to accelerate the era of electric vehicles through Purple M”, said Song of CODE42.ai. “The integrated mobility and logistics platform UMOS will be central to building an e-mobility ecosystem encompassing everything from infrastructure to services”. +++

+++ SAMSUNG chief Lee Jae-yong meets with Hyundai chief Chung Eui-sun again next week to follow up on Chung’s visit to Samsung SDI’s plant in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province in May. This time, Lee heads to Hyundai’s R&D center in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province on July 21, where he is to learn more about the latest trends and technologies in eco-friendly vehicles, and explore cooperation with Hyundai. For a long time, Samsung and Hyundai were sworn enemies in their battle for the top spot among Korean conglomerates. Hyundai’s displays were supplied by LG, and semiconductors for automated driving by foreign companies such as Infineon and Intel. But they decided to bury the hatchet and cooperate in the field of future mobility as the business environment gets tougher. +++ 

+++ Volkswagen and Ford said a U.S. legal row between SOUTH KOREAN BATTERY MAKERS could disrupt supplies of the key electric vehicle parts and cost U.S. jobs during the Covid-19 outbreak, according to documents submitted to a U.S. trade panel. The 2 carmakers asked the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) to allow SK Innovation to manufacture batteries at its proposed U.S. factory in Georgia for use in Ford’s fully electric F-150 and other electric cars. Last year, South Korean battery maker LG Chem sued small rival SK Innovation over alleged trade secret theft in the United States, seeking to bar SK from producing battery cells in the U.S. and importing the components necessary to make the cells. “Any remedial orders should seek to avoid collateral damage to SKI’s existing customers”, Volkswagen said in its public interest comments to the ITC in May. “To avoid a catastrophic supply disruption”, the commission should allow SK Innovation to manufacture EV batteries in the U.S. facility, Volkswagen said. Ford said that LG Chem’s assertion that it can replace SK Innovation as a supplier is not “credible” given EV battery supply shortages and the long development period required for EVs. LG Chem declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation. SK Innovation is building its first battery plant in Georgia to serve Volkswagen’s EV base in neighboring Tennessee starting 2022. SK Innovation also plans to add a second U.S. plant to supply Ford’s electric pickup trucks and other models. “The risk to such U.S. jobs is especially unacceptable in light of current economic conditions caused by Covid-19”, Ford said in its public interest comments to the ITC. This year, the ITC preliminarily ruled in favor of LG Chem, dealing a blow to SK Innovation. The ITC is set to make a final ruling in the case on October 5. +++ 

+++ The global frenzy for electric vehicles that has seen TESLA ’s stock surge 3-fold is now juicing the shares of a South Korean supplier that has become the world’s biggest maker of electric vehicle batteries. LG Chem has surged more than 62 % this year to a valuation of more than $30 billion, becoming the 6th largest stock on the benchmark Kospi index and leaving Hyundai, the nation’s largest automaker, in the dust. While LG supplies many automakers, including Hyundai, it’s been particularly fueled by a deal to supply batteries to Tesla’s China factory, which is pumping out Elon Musk’s cars at a growing clip. Expanding EV subsidies in Europe and Tesla’s stupefying rally have buoyed related stocks worldwide despite global economic concerns. Fundamentals matter little, with Tesla just starting to show profit and EV truck-maker Nikola yet to produce its first semitruck. “We believe LG Chem is set to benefit the most in Europe with its high market share and positioning”, said Jae Lee, chief executive officer at Timefolio Asset Management SG Pvt, a Singapore-based hedge fund that holds shares of the company. LG Chem had 24 % of the global EV battery market as of the end of May. China’s CATL has been hurt by the pandemic, the trade war and a scaling back of government subsidies in its home market, though it recently forged a supply contract of its own for Tesla’s Shanghai facility. LG Chem had a $124 billion battery order backlog in early 2020, and aims to expand capacity to 100 gigawatt hours by the end of 2020 and 120 GWh in 2021. “LG Chem has the largest capacity for EV batteries in the world now and it’s even increasing it, while rivals are not doing so”, said Wooho Rho, an analyst at Meritz Securities. Rho and at least 6 other analysts raised their price targets for LG Chem this month, with Meritz expecting a consolidated operating profit of 532 billion won ($440 million) for the quarter ended June; the most in about 2 years. Some investors worry Tesla could announce a new battery supplier at its “Battery Day” event on September 22, Rho said, adding that such concerns are probably overblown given the high barriers for any potential new partner. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA will make 2 % fewer vehicles globally in August than originally planned, the Japanese automaker said, as output recovers gradually from a steep drop because of the coronavirus pandemic. The company said it aimed to make 15.000 fewer vehicles than its initial plan, which was around 750.000. August’s reduction is smaller than the cut of 10 % seen in July, and June’s 40 % reduction. As Japan fears a second wave of infections spreading from the capital, one Toyota employee working at its headquarters has tested positive for coronavirus since developing symptoms earlier this month, the company said. Toyota added it disinfected the affected work sites on July 17 and restarted operation shortly afterwards. In the midst of the pandemic, the company also plans to skip media briefings for its fiscal first and third quarterly results, but only release filings, a company spokeswoman told. Global automakers are slowly getting vehicle production back on track after the closure this year of many plants to curb the spread of the virus, although many still anticipate that output and sales will be lower than last year. The updated production plan represents an output cut of 9 % from a year ago. Toyota said it would produce 6.000 fewer vehicles at home and 9.000 less overseas. +++ 

+++ TVR has outlined a bold 18-month plan to reboot its activities and bring its Griffith sports car to production in 2022 by raising new funds in the bond market and pressing ahead to fit out its assembly facility in Ebbw Vale, Wales. The revitalised firm, whose principal directors, chairman Les Edgar and operations chief John Chasey, were joined late last year by a new CEO, Jim Berriman, is now in the throes of raising £25 million on the Dublin bond market; Europe’s largest. The bosses calculate that by the time TVR starts building cars, it will have spent around £45 million on the project. TVR already holds orders worth around £40 million for the 320 kph Griffith, which was revealed at the Goodwood Revival in 2017. The company says it continues to enjoy the support of an “amazingly passionate” body of around 500 potential owners who each contributed holding deposits of between £2.500 and £5.000 more than 2 years ago to join the waiting list for the first batch of Launch Edition cars, which are priced at around €160.000 in the Netherlands. “It’s no secret that this project has turned out to be tougher than we expected and has taken longer”, Edgar told. “But we’re all still completely dedicated to building a sustainable sports car business. Many of the delays have been caused by problems beyond our control”. Edgar cited the example of an unforeseen European Union requirement for the Welsh government to offer the factory-fitting contract to bidders across Europe, which resulted in an 18 month delay. The contract has now been let to a local company, which has issued a detailed schedule of works and is ready to go. But another delay has been the understandable preoccupation with Covid-19 of the Welsh government, which is a 3 % stakeholder in TVR’s project and the provider of a £2 million loan. TVR bosses are necessarily diplomatic about their situation but are clearly hoping that, given the announced departure of Ford from Bridgend and Ineos’s likely decision to cancel building a plant there in favour of buying the Smart factory in France, TVR’s role in sustaining Welsh car making, and helping to support existing component suppliers in a disadvantaged area, will take on new significance. “We now have much more certainty about this project”, said Berriman, an experienced automotive industry executive engineer who cut his teeth at Land Rover before working on the Goodwood-built Rolls-Royce range. “We have a Griffith prototype that’s in great shape and works well, but now the real work starts. Now we have to productionise the car and achieve EC Small Series Type Approval, which allows us to build 1.000 examples of each model type a year. That gives us pretty good production head room, especially as we have an entry strategy to the US that allows another 325 cars a year. But we’ve got some chunky engineering to do, like ABS calibration, emissions testing, building prototypes for crash-testing and taking the car through homologation, which is where the new investment comes in”. The TVR trio believe equipping the factory for production should be relatively straightforward, because the iStream assembly process was developed by Gordon Murray, who also designed the car. The process requires little on-site tooling and can be handled by semi-skilled workers. Major components, such as the tubular steel chassis with its bonded-in composite strengthening panels, come from external suppliers. Once Ebbw Vale is in full swing and making 2.000-plus Griffiths per year, TVR expects to employ around 200 people; a major boost for an area of the country that’s officially categorised as disadvantaged. TVR’s bosses say the Griffith Launch Edition will be very well equipped so as to simplify the assembly process. “We’ll be offering a car with a natural value of more that €200.000 if you judge it against, say, the Aston Martin Vantage”, said Edgar. “But given TVR’s background, we shouldn’t try to command prices beyond €180.000 from the start”. Once production is under way, TVR will follow a Porsche-style business model by offering Griffith derivatives, perhaps a plusher GT with extra soundproofing and luxurious trim, plus a lighter, faster and noisier Sport version. The Ford Mustang that provides the Griffith’s 5.0-litre V8 engine (via Cosworth, which fits a dry sump) is already available in 700 hp-plus supercharged form and this is a path that TVR is very likely to follow. More than 50 % of TVRs were Ford-powered from the brand’s foundation in 1946 to its end of production in 2006. For now, TVR’s assertion about engine power is to keep repeating the fact that the Griffith Launch Edition will have a power-to-weight ratio exceeding 400 hp per tonne; enough to push it to a 320 kph top speed with acceleration to match. Since the whole car will weigh around 1.300 kg at the kerb, the V8 will need to produce around 500 hp; a relatively gentle tweak of the Mustang Bullitt’s 480 hp. Such gentle massaging of the power and torque looks easy, given the fact that Ford-supplied ‘crate engines’ are often fitted with purpose-built electronics by an accredited supplier, the former Roush Engineering, now a division of Belgian company CMB Tech. “We’re delighted to be using Ford components”, said Berriman. “Ford are willing partners and we’re enjoying rekindling an old relationship. Besides, it’s hard to beat Ford components for reliability and cost. We believe investors will see our alliance with them as a bonus, and that the link will help our residual values and insurance rating”. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN is confident in China’s new energy vehicle market, with the first car built on its electric-only MEB platform to roll off the assembly line this year, said Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of the German company’s operations in China. 2 MEB models will launch before Spring Festival and are on massive sale from 2021, said Wöllenstein in an interview. “China is determined to make NEVs a success and Volkswagen is determined to make it a success, and I am confident it will happen”. Wöllenstein said despite the fall in NEV sales since July 2019, Volkswagen’s plans will not change. The carmaker expects to sell 1.5 million such vehicles a year in 2025 and to spend €1.6 billion in electrification and digitalization this year in China. Volkswagen has inked deals to increase its stake in a joint venture with JAC to 75 % from 50 % and to acquire a 26 % stake in China’s third-largest battery maker, Gotion. Wöllenstein cited the 2 deals, worth more than €2 billion, as examples of Volkswagen’s confidence in China’s electric car market. In terms of the NEV market, he said what matters most is not subsidies, which were a major driving force of sales growth, because financially they are not sustainable. Instead, he said, it is the cars and services that make a difference, citing Tesla’s popularity in China. Wöllenstein expects a gradually rising trajectory in the overall market, with the year 2025 as a tipping point. But he added that the growth may be slow in 2021-22. In terms of sales, Volkswagen expects a single-digit fall this year, better than the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers’ estimate of a 10-20 % slump for the overall market. In the first half of 2020, the company delivered 1.59 million vehicles under its brands from Jetta and Skoda to Audi and Porsche; down 17 % year-on-year. China’s overall car sales slumped 22 % compared to the same period in 2019. Despite the fall, Volkswagen grew its market share to around 20 % by the end of June. Wöllenstein said he expected the automaker’s sales in the second half of 2020 to be level with the same period of 2019. Volkswagen has 3 car-making joint ventures in China: FAW-Volkswagen, SAIC Volkswagen and JAC Volkswagen. Volkswagen is working with SAIC to prepare for Audi vehicles production. Wöllenstein said Audi wants to have a new partner in China, but he added that FAW-Volkswagen will remain the largest one. +++ 

+++ VOLVO boss Håkan Samuelsson believes that the firm’s heavy focus on electrification and connectivity will help it to achieve long-term growth, despite the pandemic hitting sales and revenue in the first half of 2020. The Swedish manufacturer sold 269.962 cars worldwide between January and June 2020; a 20.8 % drop from the 340.826 sold in the same period last year. Volvo posted an operating loss of 989 million krona. Revenues fell by 14.1 %. While Volvo’s sales in Europe (where most countries introduced lockdown measures between March and June) fell by 29.5 % to 123.198 units, there were encouraging signs from China. While sales in that market were hit by lockdown measures in the first quarter, sales were up year-on-year in the last 3 months and Volvo’s first half sales total of 65.741 units in the region was down just 3.0 % year-on-year. Sales in the US were down 13.7 % in the first half but also rose year-on-year in June. Another positive sign for Volvo has been the success of its plug-in hybrid models, with the 38.000 sold a 79.8 % rise on the first half of 2019. They also account for nearly a quarter of all Volvo’s European sales. With the recent launch of the XC40 T5 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid, the firm now offers a plug-in hybrid version of every model in its range, as part of a heavy focus on electrification through its new Recharge line. Volvo is aiming for full electric vehicles to account for half of its sales by 2025, with the rest hybrids. The fully electric XC40 P8 Recharge will be launched later this year. Samuelsson said the sales growth of Volvo’s plug-in hybrid models “demonstrates a strong trend towards our strategic ambition of being a company electrifying faster than rivals”. He added: “The downturn we saw in the first half is a temporary one. We expect to see a strong recovery in the second half of the year, and our Recharge range of electrified cars puts us in a strong position to meet the emerging trends we’re seeing. This pandemic has strengthened our confidence that our strategic ambitions are the right ones and that an accelerated transformation of our business will lead to long-term growth. We will continue to focus on and invest in electrification, online sales and connectivity”. Volvo’s first half sales figures also show the continued rise in popularity of its SUV models. The XC40, XC60 and XC90 accounted for 69 % of all vehicles the firm sold, while the V40, V60 and V90 took 17 %, and the S60 plus S90 range 14 %. With the exception of its American facility in Charleston, South Carolina, all of Volvo’s production plants have now resumed production following various Covid-19 lockdowns. Demand for the S60 is lower than expected, however. Due to the limited lockdown introduced by the Swedish government, the firm’s Torslanda plant lost only 15 days of production. +++ 

+++ XPENG MOTORS announced the conclusion of its C+ round fundraising. The electric vehicle maker is valued at up to $4 billion after the latest round of fundraising from major investors including Aspex, Coatue, Hillhouse Capital Group and Sequoia China. In addition, Xpeng Motors acquired several billion yuan in unsecured credit from China Merchants Bank, China CITIC Bank HSBC and other banks from home and aboard. The Guangzhou-based EV maker was jointly created in 2014 by UC’s founder and former general manager for Alibaba’s Mobile Business Group He Xiaopeng, YY’s founder Li Xueling, Cheetah Mobile’s CEO Fu Sheng and Tencent’s senior executive Wu Xiaguang. The company has set up branches at Beijing, Zhaoqing and Silicon Valley for design, development, production and marketing. Xpeng Motors has completed 10 rounds of fundraising from investors like Alibaba, IDG Capital, Morningside Venture Capital and CICC Capital since its founding. The EV maker rolled out its first pure electric smart vehicle Xpeng G3 in December 2018 and the second model, Xpeng P7, in April 2020. Xpeng has been outsourcing vehicle production to Haima Automobile. Its own plant in Zhaoqing, Guangdong province, won the production license in May, which will help Xpeng’s development. Xpeng raised $400 million in November 2019. It delivered 16.608 vehicles that year. +++

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