Newsflash: Ferrari komt met opvolger van iconische F40

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+++ AMAZON ’s cloud computing unit will help Toyota build a platform to help manage and monetize data gathered from the automaker’s global vehicle fleet, the companies said. Toyota said its Mobility Services Platform will enable it to process and analyze data that can be used to develop vehicle services from ride and car sharing to behavior-based insurance and maintenance notifications. The deal is an expansion of Amazon Web Services’ existing collaboration with Toyota and marks the e-commerce giant’s expanding foray into the transportation business. In July, AWS announced it was expanding a partnership with Volkswagen to help develop the automaker’s cloud-based software and data portal into an industry-wide marketplace where business customers can buy and sell industrial applications. In the automotive sector, AWS previously has partnered with automotive suppliers such as Aptiv, Panasonic and Nvidia, big transportation providers such as Uber and Avis, and self-driving heavy truck startups Embark and China’s TuSimple. +++ 

+++ The iNext, which could end up being called iX5 in production guise, is a hugely important electric vehicle for BMW . BMW knows it needs to get the production version of the iNext right because it will face some stiff electric SUV competition. So it needs to look good, be technologically advanced, have good range and charging capacity, as well as outright performance. And on the last front, it seems the iX5 will be right up there with the most powerful SUVs. It will be sold in three power guises, with outputs ranging from around 300 to over 600 hp. More precisely, the entry level model will have 314 hp, the mid-range model will have 530 hp and the top of the range model will get 620 hp. All, even the base model, will come with a dual-motor all-wheel drive setup, although their level of performance will vary quite drastically (the most powerful version is nearly twice as powerful as the entry level model). The touch-sensitive materials that lit up inside the concept will be a feature of the production model and they will allow occupants to interact with the car; this feature could debut on the iNext and then also be featured on other higher end BMWs (not necessarily electric models). I still don’t know the exact reveal date for the production model, but BMW has confirmed that series production will commence in July 2021 and it will go on sale in Europe shortly thereafter. +++ 

+++ Electric vehicle startup BOLLINGER MOTORS has revealed it will move its headquarters to Oak Park, Michigan, while also increasing its workforce. In a press release, Bollinger says its new facility is more than 4 times larger than its current one in Ferndale and will serve as the primary base for its operations. It will also allow Bollinger to double its team of 40 employees by the end of 2020 as it pushes forward with its plans to release a handful of all-electric vehicles onto the market. “It couldn’t have come at a better time”, chief executive Robert Bollinger said in a statement. “We were bursting at the seams with new engineers, putting desks out in the shop at the old building; it was especially difficult to keep everyone more than six feet apart”. Both the Bollinger B1 and B2 feature 2 electric motors, one at each axle, which produce a combined 614 hp and 906 Nm. The 2 models also feature a 120 kWh battery pack that includes a regenerative braking system while also supporting AC and DC fast charging. The 2 EVs have an EPA-estimated range of 322 km on a charge. Bollinger has employed a hydro-pneumatic suspension with self-leveling functionality on the B1 and B2. The vehicles also offer high- and low-range driving modes. Earlier this year, the automaker unveiled their versatile new B2 Chassis Cab pickup. This model uses the world’s first Class 3 electric truck platform and will be ideal for plumbers, electricians and construction workers, among other tradesmen. +++ 

+++ CANOO , a U.S. electric vehicle startup already working with Hyundai, will go public later this year at a value of $2.4 billion and aims to start delivering vehicles by the second quarter of 2022. It has joined forces with a so-called special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, and the combined company will be called Canoo Inc following the closing of the deal with Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp in the 4th quarter. The announcement comes as investors are looking to ride the global shift to EVs and echo the surging stock price of segment leader Tesla. A SPAC is a shell company that raises money through an IPO to buy an operating entity, typically within 2 years. “A SPAC has for us a huge advantage because we can generate enough funding to accelerate our development process”, Ulrich Kranz, Canoo’s co-founder and chief executive, told. The former BMW executive cited Hennessy’s long track record, which includes taking school bus maker Blue Bird public in 2015. Hennessey CEO Daniel Hennessy said he looked at more than 12 electric vehicle startups and preferred Canoo’s faster path to commercialization. The deal, including additional money from BlackRock and other institutional investors, will raise $607 million in proceeds. Hennessy raised $300 million in its March 2019 initial public offering. Canoo has developed a “skateboard” (a low-rise platform that bundles batteries and electric motors with such chassis components as steering, brakes and wheels) on which a variety of vehicle body types can be built. Canoo projects 2024 revenue of $1.43 billion and its first profit at $188 million, officials said during a conference call. In February, Canoo, based just outside Los Angeles, announced a deal to develop EVs with Hyundai. Hyundai also has invested in UK electric van startup Arrival, another potential SPAC target. The first of Canoo’s lineup (a pod-like 7-seater) will be available via subscription to U.S. consumers starting in the second quarter of 2022, followed by a small commercial delivery vehicle in 2023 and a sport sedan in 2025, Kranz said. The canoo will have an electric driving range of more than 400 km. Canoo expects to build 10.000 vehicles in 2022, rising to 50.000 in 2024. The same annual rate it expects to reach for the delivery vehicle and sport sedan in 2026, officials said. Canoo plans eventually to expand to China, Kranz said. He added that Canoo will not have a dealer network and will offer monthly vehicle subscriptions bundled with maintenance, charging and access to insurance. Canoo has a letter of intent and is in talks to finalize a deal for Canada’s Magna International to assemble its vehicles, Kranz said. Magna, which also may build vehicles for another EV startup, Fisker, confirmed the talks. +++ 

+++ Major foreign automotive manufacturers have been witnessing a steady recovery in vehicle sales in CHINA , even as car brands around the world saw their business performance taking a severe hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first half of 2020, 7.7 million passenger cars were sold in China, dropping 23 % from a year earlier, according to the China Passenger Car Association. However, foreign brands such as Volkswagen, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota all posted strong signs of rebounds, mainly driven by the increasing demands of Chinese consumers in the post-pandemic period. Volkswagen delivered 1.59 million cars from January to June in the mainland and Hong Kong, falling 17 % year-on-year, while its market share in China grew 1.2 %, accounting for nearly 20 % globally. Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China, said sales in both high-end and basic models showed significant recovery, with SUVs in particular generating a sales increase of 9.3 % in comparison to the same period last year. BMW also saw its Chinese market boom after the economy gradually reopened since March this year. With global sales declining 23 % to 962.572 units in the first half of 2020, BMW still delivered 329.069 new cars in China, and sales in the second quarter climbed 17.1 % year-on-year. Jochen Goller, president and CEO of BMW Group China, said that the company would continue to expand investment and introduce new technology in China, the largest single market for BMW across the globe. With a particular emphasis on electric vehicles and digital transformation, BMW’s new energy vehicle sales increased 49 % year-on-year in the January to July period. According to a business report by Jaguar Land Rover from April to June, 98 % of its distributors have resumed work globally. The Chinese market has posted a steady recovery, with sales up 10 % in June month-on-month. In particular, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport saw sales in June soaring 108 % and 27 % year-on-year, respectively. For Toyota, sales in the Chinese market in the first half of 2020 hit 753.000 units, accounting for about 18 % of share in global market. +++ 

+++ The average age of EUROPE ’s vehicle fleet is 10.8 years for cars, 10.9 years for vans, 12.4 years for trucks and 11.4 years for buses. These numbers vary from country to country and especially region to region, as Eastern European buyers tend to hold onto their rides a great deal longer than Westerners. Strictly talking passenger vehicles, Austria, Luxembourg and the UK have the youngest fleets in Europe, with Lithuania, Estonia and Romania on the opposite side of the spectrum. These figures come courtesy of ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association), who compiled this report last year based on 2018 numbers; so, while the study may not be perfectly accurate for 2020, it’s still very interesting from a statistical standpoint. For Austria, the average age of their fleet was 8.2 years, whereas Lithuania, Estonia and Romania’s fleets were 16.9, 16.7 and 16.3 years old on average, respectively. Greece and the Czech Republic also have quite old fleets, with averages of 15.7 and 14.8 years respectively. In Western Europe, you’ve got France and Belgium with averages of 9.0 years, Denmark with 8.8, Germany 9.5 and Sweden with 9.9 years. Meanwhile, people living in southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal) will all likely keep their cars for more than the EU average of 10.8 years. Ultimately, since the UK is no longer a member of the EU and Luxembourg is, for some reason, not taken into account, Austria takes first place as the country with the European Union’s youngest passenger vehicle fleet. Thus, at an average of 8.2 years, you could say that for certain segments, buyers in Austria are trading up as soon as a new generation model comes out. +++ 

+++ FERRARI may be readying a one-off with a design inspired by the iconic F40. According to unnamed sources, the latest vehicle from Ferrari’s ‘Special Projects’ division will be unveiled in the coming days and dubbed the SP42. It will apparently be inspired by the F40 and if it is indeed a one-off, has inevitably been commissioned for a very wealthy collector. The Ferrari SP42 will have a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, likely the same 3.9-liter unit as the F8 Tributo that is rated at 710 hp and 770 Nm. However, it is entirely possible the one-off could benefit from a slight increase in power. The Ferrari F40 has one of the most iconic designs in Ferrari’s rich history with perhaps its most identifiable component being the towering rear wing. Ferrari has been reluctant to use large rear wings on its modern road cars so it will be interesting to see if the SP42 has a wing like the F40. I have my fingers crossed it will as that would perfectly complete the design. Ferrari has produced a host of unique ‘SP’ vehicles in recent years. One of the more recent creations is the P80/C unveiled back in March 2019. This car is based around the Ferrari 488 GT3 racing car and took four years to develop. It was inspired by the 330 P3/P4 and the 1966 Dino 206 S and has a design radically different than any other Ferrari. +++ 

+++ Having been in production since 2014, the 6th generation FORD Mustang is slowly approaching the end of its life cycle. Previous reports had suggested that the Blue Oval come up with a strategy about its successor, which is allegedly due in late 2022. The time frame has now been reconfirmed by sources close to the company’s plans, claiming that it will launch for the 2023 model year. Its first mid-cycle refresh is expected in 2025, and suppliers have been told that the life span of the muscle car has been expanded to 8 years, meaning that it will remain in production until 2030. Ford’s future rival to the likes of the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger might migrate to the same platform as the Explorer and Lincoln Aviator. As a result, it should have a bigger footprint, translating into improved interior space and larger cargo area. But that’s not the biggest news, because if they stick to this plan, then the new-generation Mustang will also be compatible with all-wheel drive. There have been talks about an electrified V8, with the ICE powering the rear wheels and an electric motor setting the front wheels in motion. It is unknown yet whether the turbo-4 variant will live on, but Ford has allegedly decided to keep offering both coupe and convertible versions of its pony car, in left- and right-hand drive. As fir the design, the new Mustang is understood to go down the evolutionary road, whereas the latest technology gear will be implemented in the more driver-focused cockpit. +++ 

+++ GEELY booked a 43 % drop in half-year profit and trimmed its full-year sales goal, sending its shares down 4 %, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to trouble the world’s biggest auto market. The results come as China’s overall auto sales slowly recovers from a virus-blighted start to the year. Sales climbed for the 4th consecutive month in July, yet are still down 12.7 % for the year to date. China’s highest-profile automaker (due to group investments in Volvo and Daimler) posted January-June net profit of 2.3 billion yuan ($331.37 million). It sold 530.446 vehicles, down 19 % on year, leaving revenue down 23 % at 36.82 billion yuan, meeting analyst estimates. “Geely’s 1H20 earnings are largely in line with our expectation, thanks to its significant cost cut efforts, especially in wages and investments in fixed assets”, said Haitong International analyst Shi Ji. However, the automaker knocked 6 % from its full-year sales goal to 1.32 million vehicles (down 3 % on year) just 2 weeks after maintaining a target set shortly before China’s virus lockdown in January. Geely has a market capitalisation of about $21.2 billion, eclipsing international peers better known outside of China such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Nissan. Its parent, the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, plans to merge the automaker with affiliate Volvo and list the successor in Hong Kong and possibly Stockholm. Merger talks were suspended in June, however, while the Hong Kong-listed automaker worked on listing shares on mainland China’s Nasdaq-like STAR board. Geely plans to revamp factories at home and abroad using manufacturing platforms developed with Volvo since 2013. It also aims to start European exports this year of the 01 crossover vehicle under its premium brand Lynk & Co. Geely scaled down its sales target to 1.32 million vehicles, down from 1.41 million. The new goal, if reached, will represent a 3 % fall from its sales in 2019. Geely made the announcement in its half-year report, in which it registered a 23 % fall in revenue to 36.82 billion yuan ($5.3 billion) and a 43 % drop in profit to 2.32 billion yuan. The carmaker said its financial performance was worse than expected, primarily because the coronavirus pandemic stopped customers from visiting showrooms in the first half of the year. Its first monthly sales increase happened in April, and continued on an upward trajectory in the following months. Geely sold 530.446 vehicles in the first half of 2020, down 19 % from the same period last year. Despite the slide, Geely ranked first among Chinese carmakers and 4th in the Chinese market. Its market share in China went up to 6.74 % by June, up from 6.51 % at the start of the year. Statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show that passenger sales in the same period slumped 22.4 % year-on-year, while Chinese-branded carmakers saw a 29 % nosedive. The association estimated that sales for the entire year will fall 10 to 20 % from 2019. Confronted with uncertainty in the market, Geely said it will speed up introduction of new vehicles, especially new energy ones, to consolidate its leading position in the Chinese auto market. “Our new product launches will be at a high level in coming years and offer enough power to maintain our long-term growth”, the carmaker said. According to its plan, Geely will launch 6 models in the second half this year. It launched another three in the first half. The company also aims to start exports of its 01 crossover under its premium brand Lynk & Co to European countries later this year. Geely’s exports from January to June totaled 19.573. Geely said it has basically finished setting up sound distribution networks in its major international markets. Exports are expected to become another driving force of its revenue in coming years, said the company. In late July, Geely said it will build more Geely-branded vehicles on its Compact Modular Architecture, which has been reserved until recently for high-end models by Volvo, Polestar and Lynk & Co. Geely and Volvo started to develop the CMA in 2013, which is designed to be compatible with combustion engines, mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles. The company said cumulative sales of vehicles built on the architecture surpassed 600.000 units by the end of July. +++ 

+++ INDIA ’s commerce minister has asked automakers to find ways to reduce royalty payments to foreign parent companies for use of technology or brand names, in an effort to boost local investment and reduce outflows. In India’s competitive auto market, top-selling carmakers Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai’s local unit pay millions of dollars in royalties to parent companies in Japan and South Korean for using their technology and brand to build and sell cars. The minister, Piyush Goyal, in a meeting last week asked officials from groups representing carmakers and auto parts manufacturers to review such payments with a view to reducing them, said people with direct knowledge of the discussions. “The concern raised during the meeting was that the outflow is high, even for old technologies, and something should be done about it”, said one of the sources. The sources declined to be named as the talks are private. India, for years, has debated imposing stricter caps on royalty payments which spiked after 2009 when foreign investment rules were eased and restrictions on such payments were removed. The country’s markets regulator last year suggested imposing curbs on payments exceeding 2 % of revenue. The limit was finally set at 5 % after complaints from some sectors and fears it may dissuade foreign firms from investing or sharing technology. Recently however, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has made a renewed push to make the country a major manufacturing hub by encouraging domestic production and curbing imports. It also wants to increase local investment and reduce foreign outflows. While India does not restrict the amount that can be paid as royalty, any payment by a locally listed company exceeding 5 % of revenues needs shareholder approval. Listed companies such as Maruti Suzuki and parts makers including Bosch, Schaeffler India and Wabco India typically pay royalties of between 1 %-5 % to their foreign owners. Maruti Suzuki paid 38.2 billion rupees ($510 million) as royalty to its Japanese parent Suzuki in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, amounting to 5 % of its revenue, according to its annual report. Privately-owned companies such as Hyundai’s local unit paid $150 million or 2.6 % of revenue as royalties to its South Korean parent in fiscal 2019 and Toyota’s India arm paid $88 million or 3.4 % of revenue to its Japanese parent, government data shows. Royalty provision has been important in attracting foreign investments into various sectors in India, especially autos, said Vaibhav Gupta, partner at tax firm, Dhruva Advisors. “Depending on the form in which the government brings back such caps, it may impact the ability of auto companies to benefit from the use of foreign brands and technical knowhow”, said Gupta. He said for many foreign companies royalties are a profit repatriation strategy and changes to these could impact operating and supply chain structures from a fiscal perspective. Such payments have also been a long-standing issue with minority shareholders. A February report by proxy firm Institutional Investor Advisory Services showed royalty paid by 31 leading Indian companies with foreign parents, including Maruti and Bosch, grew 9 % in fiscal year 2019 to total $1.11 billion. +++ 

+++ In JAPAN , manufacturers of metals, including steel and aluminium, saw their output plunge in the April-June quarter as automakers temporarily shut factories to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus and to match slumping demand. They expect a gradual pick-up in metals used in automobiles and other industries toward next March, but not enough to bring demand back to pre-pandemic levels, suggesting a smaller annual import of raw materials such as iron ore, coking coal and primary aluminium ingots. “Demand for steel used in automobiles will recover from the July-September quarter as automakers are stepping up output, but it won’t be back to 100 % by March”, Junichi Akagi, general manager of JFE Steel, Japan’s second-biggest steelmaker, said earlier this month. Crude steel output at the world’s No.3 steel producer plunged 31 % in the April-June quarter versus a year earlier to 18 million tonnes, according to the Japan Iron and Steed Federation, with orders of ordinal steel from automakers slumping 58 % to 920.000 tonnes; the lowest quarterly level since 1971. The nation’s production of aluminium rolled products slid 15 % in the quarter, the Japan Aluminium Association said. With the auto segment accounting for about 20 % of steelmakers’ local demand, and 15-18 % for suppliers of rolled aluminium products, a recovery in car production is a key for the suppliers’ recuperation from devastated earnings. “Our steel output in the October-March second half will rise 20 % from the April-September half as industry activities, centred in automobiles, are expected to rebound”, JFE Holdings president Koji Kakigi said last week. JFE Steel may restart 1 of the 2 blast furnaces which were temporarily suspended to cope with the Covid-19 crisis, in October, Kakigi said. Nippon Steel president Eiji Hashimoto, also the head of the steel federation, has warned Japan’s crude steel output may fall below 80 million tonnes this financial year, the lowest since 1968. UACJ, Japan’s biggest aluminium roller, also forecast a recovery in demand from automakers after June, but cited “uncertainty” over the outlook. Faced with collapsing demand for finished metals, Japan’s import of raw materials dropped sharply in the April-June quarter, with iron ore dipping 21 % year-on-year, coking coal sliding 8 % and primary aluminium ingots declining 16 %, according to trade data. If a recent resurgence in Japanese coronavirus infections prompts restrictions in industry activities, a further reduction in imports of these materials is likely, industry experts say. +++ 

+++ The MERCEDES-AMG GT Black Series was officially revealed exactly a month ago, so you might be wondering why prototypes are still draped in camouflage. That’s a good question, and Nürburgring taxi service Fastabast Taxi Experience claims to know the answer. If the company’s name rings a bell, that’s because it was exactly correct regarding the engine’s output a week before the car celebrated its world premiere. It is believed Mercedes-AMG is attempting to set a new lap record at the Nürburgring for the fastest production car. During the final stages of development, a prototype of the Black Series reportedly lapped the Green Hell in 6 minutes and 58 seconds. However, the boys and girls from Affalterbach were not entirely satisfied with the performance and continued to fine-tune the car. A revised front splitter is reportedly part of a new aero package AMG has been working on to shave off more seconds from the lap time. Allegedly, the Black Series lapped the Nordschleife in 6 minutes and 40 seconds, although we remain skeptical as an improvement of 18 seconds would be massive. Interestingly, the flat-plane-crank V8 4.0-litre twin-turbo engine has also been massaged to extract anywhere between 120 to 150 hp, which would bring the grand total to 850 hp. If the claimed 6:40 time is accurate, the Black Series will be crowned the fastest-ever production car at the Nürburgring, thus dethroning the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ (6:44.97). To earn the title for a production car, Mercedes-AMG would have to sell this specification of the Black Series in some form. It remains to be seen whether this is all happening, but given the track-focused nature of the ultimate GT, a lap attempt with the regular model seems plausible at the very least. If it’s not on the agenda, it would make sense for the F1-engined One hypercar to try and obliterate the production car record. +++ 

+++ With a lot of buzz created by the new MERCEDES-BENZ S-Class’ interior and technology, it was only a matter of time until we finally received some solid news about the enthusiast’s higher performance, yes still posh, version of the fullsize luxury saloon. As with many manufacturers these days, it seems that the next biggest step to creating sporting potential is to harness an electric powertrain in the most efficient and effective way possible. BMW supposedly as their eyes set on making the M5 electric, so, naturally, Mercedes-Benz wants a piece of that pie, too, albeit with a much larger saloon. The upcoming Mercedes-AMG S 63 in all its electrified glory has all but been confirmed, that is, until an article was released, sharing their impressions on the almost-here S-Class. While much of the story focuses on the driving dynamics and nifty technology found in the impressive S 500 variant powered by an electrically assisted 3.0-litre inline-6 that makes 460 hp and 600 Nm of torque, the chassis and all the interesting safety systems and driving features all hold promise. More importantly, the whole engine lineup was obviously hinted at already, stating the availability of 2 diesels in S 350d and S 400d trim, a pair of 6-cylinders in the S 450 and S 500, and one V8 in the S 580. There will be a V12 with a mild-hybrid system in the Maybach S 650, too. But, if you want the fastest S-Class around, you’ll want to wait for the S 63e AMG, which will do 0 to 100 kph in under 3.5 seconds thanks to 800-plus hp. I’m pretty sure that those numbers are more or less another confirmation that the S 63e AMG is definitely coming soon. It’ll most likely be powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 with an electric motor, rocking a 612 hp combustion engine and a 204 hp electric motor. Expect more news soon, with the release of the S-Class in September, with the S 63e AMG coming the following year. +++ 

+++ Japanese government figures tried to bring Nissan and Honda to the table for MERGER talks this year, but the project fizzled out due to the companies’ rejection of the idea. The suggestion was made to the major Japanese automakers at the end of last year, amid intensified global competition in the auto sector to shift toward self-driving electric vehicles, according to 3 people familiar with the matter. The idea of bringing together Nissan and Honda appears to have come from advisers to prime minister Shinzo Abe, as they were worried that the state of Nissan’s alliance with Renault had soured badly since the 2018 arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn over financial misconduct. Abe’s aides feared that Nissan’s deteriorating ties with Renault could result in the alliance collapsing altogether and “leave the Japanese company exposed”. The 3-way alliance also involves Mitsubishi. Officials of Honda, Japan’s second biggest automaker by volume, resisted the idea, pointing to Nissan’s complex capital structure with Renault. Nissan, the country’s third largest carmaker, was also opposed to it as the company focuses on getting its alliance back on track. The idea disappeared before it reached the boards of the 2 companies. Among Japan’s 8 big car brands, 4 of them (Mazda, Subaru, Suzuki and Daihatsu) are tied by cross-shareholdings with Toyota, the country’s leading automaker, leaving only Honda without a capital tie-up. Increasing demand for electric cars and other technology spending has helped accelerate mergers or alliances of automakers around the world, with Peugeot owner PSA Group merging with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Ford and Volkswagen forming alliance last year to save costs. +++ 

+++ Europe’s best-selling plug-in hybrid model, the MITSUBISHI Outlander, is enjoying the type of market dominance you wouldn’t usually expect from a nameplate with an uncertain future. Yet, that’s exactly the status of the Outlander, as well as the ASX and the Eclipse Cross. These 3 models made up 64 % of Mitsubishi’s 53.242 passenger car sales in the first 6 months of this year. Despite all that, the Japanese carmaker will reportedly halt SUV exports to Europe starting this September, in order to focus its resources on southeast Asia. The Outlander PHEV managed to overcome not just the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but also a more competitive plug-in hybrid market than ever before. A next-generation Outlander PHEV is set to arrive next year, featuring a brand new powertrain, more power and greater electric-only range and speeds. The 2021 Outlander PHEV will also see a “host of updates to each trim level”, said the carmaker. But it won’t be sold in Europe. +++ 

+++ Nürburgring lap records might not mean a lot to you, but PORSCHE argues these attempts are an accurate way to show off a car’s performance chops. Remember the 918 Spyder and its 6:57 time in 2013? What about the 911 GT2 RS with a lap time of 6:47 in 2017? Of course, we mustn’t forget the 919 Hybrid Evo, which has the outright ‘Ring record with an incredible 5:19 time in 2018. Fast forward to 2020, the Panamera has set a Nurburgring lap record as well, albeit a highly specific one. It’s the fastest “executive car” at the Nordschleife, beating the Mercedes-AMG GT63 S in both the 20.6 km and 20.83 km track layouts. Porsche has now released a full onboard video with the record-breaking attempt of 7:29.81, following last week’s preview video that was a little over 3 minutes long. While the company from Zuffenhausen remains coy on details regarding the car used for the record run, we do know it’s some kind of Turbo model you’ll be able to buy. It goes without saying the full roll cage and those body-hugging seats are unlikely to be found on the production model, but Porsche did mention several upgrades over the regular Panamera Turbo. More power is being promised over the 550 hp and 770 Nm available in today’s Turbo model as the new version is claimed to go by the name of Turbo S to sit between the Turbo and the range-topping Turbo S E-Hybrid. The horsepower count may be as high as 634 hp and torque may climb to 832 Nm. In other words, expect a healthy bump compared to the regular Panamera Turbo. Porsche said the world premiere of the facelifted version is scheduled to take place on August 26. +++ 

+++ RENAULT ‘s website states a new and what appears to be the final WLTP range ratings for the upcoming all-electric Twingo Z.E. This new entry-level model will be able to go 190 km in the combined range category, which is 10 km or over 5.5 % more than previously anticipated. In the city, where most of those cars will be used, the range will be 270 km; 20 km or 8 % more than previously. First deliveries for the Twingo Z.E. will start in late 2020, although it’s not expected to be a high volume model (on par with Zoé for example). At least not initially. Renault may treat the Twingo Z.E. like Volkswagen Group treats its triplets (Volkswagen e-Up, SEAT Mii Electric and Skoda Citigo-e iV); they are a tool to lower the average emission (and meet the requirements), probably sold at a small loss if needed. +++ 

+++ ROLLS-ROYCE has detailed the measures it has taken to reduce noise inside the next-generation Ghost, including a series of ‘acoustic tuning’ measures to make the cabin calmer and more comfortable. The second-generation luxury saloon, due to be revealed next month, will gain 4-wheel drive and a raft of upgrades, and Rolls-Royce has also taken measures to ensure it enhances its credentials by reducing noise inside. Citing customer feedback affirming that interior comfort is a key consideration for customers, Rolls-Royce’s designers undertook a process to minimise the noise disruption inside the cabin. The process, which the firm called its Formula for Serenity, involved adding extra insulation to the aluminium chassis, with a double-skinned bulkhead section between the cabin and the 6.75-litre V12 engine to reduce noise from the unit. Sound-absorbing materials were also added in the roof, boot and floor. Rolls-Royce then reviewed individual parts to minimise the noise they produced, for example smoothing the inside of the airconditioning ducts. To ensure the cabin wasn’t disconcertingly quiet, the firm then undertook a process of “acoustic tuning”, tuning each component to a specific frequency to create a single small noise, which it calls a ‘whisper’. To do that, engineers developed new damping units for the seat frames and new ports between the cabin and boot. The measures Rolls-Royce has taken to reduce noise in the new Ghost’s cabin were outlined in the latest of a series of animated films, in which the firm has detailed several key features of the new car. These include a video highlighting the new allwheel steeringsystem, previously seen on the latest Phantom, and the switch from rear- to four- wheeldrive. Rolls-Royce has also detailed a new suspension technology making its debut on the Ghost. Called the Planar system, it features what the firm describes as a “world-first technology” in the form of an upper wishbone damper unit mounted above the front suspension assembly for “an even more stable and effortless ride”. The system has taken 3 years to develop. There’s also the Flagbearer system, which uses cameras to read the road ahead and prepare the suspension, and Satellite Aided Transmission, which uses GPS data to preselect the optimum gear for a corner. The new Ghost switches to the latest version of the Rolls-Royce aluminimum platform used by the Phantom and Cullinan, and company boss Torsten Müller-Otvös noted the only components carried over from the successful original were the Spirit of Ecstasy figurehead and umbrellas. That aluminium spaceframe is said to “accommodate significant advances in Rolls-Royce’s hallmark magic carpet ride and dynamic abilities”. New Ghost engineering lead Jonathan Simms elaborated: “Ghost clients told us that it’s the car in their collection that they’re drawn to the most. They love its uncomplicated versatility. It’s not trying to be a sports car, it’s not trying to be a grand statement; it’s simply exceptional and exceptionally simple. When it came to creating a new Ghost, one that outshines its incredibly capable predecessor, the engineering team had to start from scratch. We pushed our architecture even further and created a car even more dynamic, even more luxurious and, most of all, even more effortlessly usable”. Rolls-Royce boss Torsten Müller-Otvös says that the new Ghost luxury saloon, set to be revealed later this year, will be “the purest expression of Rolls-Royce yet” with a ‘pure’ design to reflect a new trend towards “Post Opulence”. The luxury car firm is currently putting the finishing touches to the second-generation version of the Bentley Flying Spur rival, and Müller-Otvös has attempted to smooth the path to the launch of the crucial machine in an open letter issued to prospective clients that tacitly addresses the challenge of launching an ultra-luxury car given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The firm has also release the first official outline sketch teaser of the car. In the letter Müller-Otvös notes that since it was launched in 2009 the original Ghost has become the most successful model in Rolls-Royce’s long history, which he attributed to it being a car that owners could enjoy driving or being driven in. He added: “They also appreciated the car’s pared-back simplicity, or as they put it, ‘a slightly smaller, less ostentatious means to own a Rolls-Royce’. Going further, our clients expressed an ardent desire for even more minimalism in design”. Müller-Otvös said the firm’s research showed that trend reflects a wider movement among luxury customers towards what Rolls has termed ‘Post Opulence’; a move “towards luxury objects that celebrate reduction and restraint”. While noting that Rolls-Royce models will always “inspire greatness and present a sense of theatre and magic”, Müller-Otvös said the new Ghost, which has taken 5 years to develop, will reflect that movement towards reduction. “Ghost is the purest expression of Rolls-Royce yet”, wrote Müller-Otvös. “It distils the pillars of our brand into a beautiful, minimalist, yet highly complex product that is perfectly in harmony with our Ghost clients’ needs and, I believe, perfectly in tune with the times in which we are all living”. The Ghost will be launched with a digital event later this year, which Müller-Otvös wrote would be preceded by a series of four animations giving an insight into “what we believe is the most sublime expression of Rolls-Royce yet”. +++ 

+++ SSANGYONG has established a new sales network for the Middle East as part of its reinforcement of overseas operations amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the firm said. It will open a store in Baghdad, Iraq, within the month, after opening a showroom in Kuwait on Augist 10. The company explained the decision is part of its efforts to prepare for the post-pandemic market. “As the economic slowdown due to Covid-19 prolongs, we are reassessing the overall sales environment and strengthening sales competitiveness, rather than focusing on an immediate sales increase”, the company said in a statement. Instead of holding full-fledged opening ceremonies, the automaker said it would focus on social media and online marketing as well as newspaper ads to expand its brand awareness for the time being. SsangYong has also previously moved its UK office from Luton to Swindon, from which it said will bring about a more effective distribution service given its close location to the Port of Bristol. +++ 

+++ When you tell people that TESLA can improve its cars via software updates that happen while it’s parked at home (not sitting at the dealership), they may be surprised. However, if it’s just an update to the touch screen, sort of like the ones your mobile phone or computer may get from time to time, it may seem like no big deal. What if your car could receive updates to make it faster, more agile, and improve its endurance? Car and Driver put the Tesla Model S up against the Porsche Taycan back in February. Not only was the Tesla a touch slower to 60 mph than the electric Porsche, but it also didn’t have the staying power of the Porsche. This means while the Tesla may have performed well on its first launch, it couldn’t repeat that performance over and over. It tired quickly. The Taycan, on the other hand, is known to launch over and over with little impact on performance. Since those tests, Tesla has sent many over-the-air software updates to its global fleet. One update was coined “Cheetah Stance”. Essentially it helps the Model S and Model X launch better in multiple ways, some of which are impacted by changes to the car’s adaptive air suspension. However, the update, as well as other updates, have worked to make the cars faster and more agile, improve range and efficiency, and even give these Teslas stamina. Car and Driver retested the Model S since the updates. Now, it matches the Taycan’s 0-to-60-mph time, which was 2.4 seconds. The update also shaves a whopping average of 2 seconds off the Model S’ times for the short run and the quarter-mile pass. Most importantly, the publication did 15 consecutive runs only to learn that consistency and endurance have also improved drastically. C&D wrote: “Across all 15 runs, the average time in both metrics dropped by a massive two seconds compared to our previous test. That’s a staggering gain in performance from twiddling a few lines of code, and we continue to marvel at the breadth and depth of the changes Tesla is making with its continual software updates”. what’s even more compelling is that Tesla is never done with these updates. The Model S will continue to improve more and more via over-the-air software updates. It’s already way ahead of most of the competition and it will get better as time goes on. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA will offer its cars in India on leases or shorter-term subscriptions, hoping to tap growing demand for private transport as travelers cut down on communal journeys in the Covid-19 pandemic. The Japanese automaker said it would offer leasing plans to corporate and retail customers of 3 to 5 years across its portfolio of cars (including the Glanza hatchback, Yaris sedan and Fortuner SUV) for as little as 21,000 rupees ($281) a month. Naveen Soni, senior vice president, sales and service at the carmaker’s India unit, said the need for safe transport was growing and leasing or subscription models offered a more cost-effective solution than buying a car. So far, leasing and subscription services in India have largely focussed on the higher end of the auto market and therefore make up a fraction of the overall numbers, said Soni. “The lower end of the market is where the bulk is”, he said, adding that was where Toyota would also focus. Toyota’s competitors in India, such as Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai, have formed partnerships to offer similar services, as carmakers look to boost revenues amid the pandemic. Toyota’s India unit has formed a separate team to drive the business and it will partner with its Japanese parent’s global mobility services brand, Kinto, as well as ALD Automotive and SMAS Auto Leasing. +++ 

+++ Spy photographers have caught the new VOLKSWAGEN Golf R on numerous occasions, but now there is a first glimpse at the Variant. The most notable cues that reveal its high-performance intentions are the lightweight alloy wheels which are backed up by a high-performance braking system with blue calipers. The prototype has also been equipped with a rear bumper that has been modified to allow for a 5-tailpipe sports exhaust system. We can also expect aerodynamic side skirts, a larger rear spoiler and an aggressive diffuser. The sporty styling changes will continue in the cabin as there should be R-brand sport seats with 2-tone leather. We can also expect a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters and a dedicated R button which presumably puts the vehicle into a special performance mode. Volkswagen has been tight-lipped about the upcoming Golf R, but it’s expected to use a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces around 333 hp. It will likely be paired to a dual-clutch transmission which sends power to a standard all-wheel drive system. The standard Golf R is expected to debut soon, but the Variant is likely a ways off as it appears to be in the early stages of development. As a result, it might not arrive until several months after the hatchback. +++

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