Newsflash: Jaguar broedt op Tesla Model 3 alternatief

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+++ BMW M has supposedly started showing the new-generation M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe behind closed doors. The 2 performance models will officially premiere in September, as the company has already announced, and it appears that they will be shown on the 23rd. It will launch in the Isle of Man Green color. The palette will also include the Toronto Red, Tanzanite Blue, Portimao Blue, Dravit Grey, Black Sapphire, Alpine White and Sao Paolo Yellow. The latter will apparently adorn the body of the M4 Coupe at launch. The M3 on display was in the higher output Competition spec, adorned with carbon fiber, with a blacked out kidney grille that was allegedly requested by the firm’s U.S. dealers. It also featured the optional laser headlights and carbon fiber roof with rack inserts. Boasting sporty looks, defined by the larger bumpers and side skirts, different grille pattern, quad exhaust pipes, tiny boot lid spoilers and M-style wheels, the new M3 and M4 will have 480 hp available on tap in the standard versions, courtesy of a 3.0-liter twin-turbo straight-6. The engine will be mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, with an 8-speed auto probably offered as an option, and rear-wheel drive. The 510 hp Competition model will join the lineup, featuring an 8-speed auto and rear-wheel drive as well. Meanwhile, the xDrive all-wheel drive variant will launch later on. +++ 

+++ State-owned Brilliance Auto is the parent company of BRILLIANCE China Automotive Holdings, which builds the likes of the 3-Series, 5-Series and 1-Series, as well as the X1 and X3 locally for BMW. The company is reportedly facing scrutiny from investors who are worried about the former’s ability to handle its debt load following the effects of the corona virus pandemic, and how it went on to affect profits. There has been speculation that the group will struggle after its banks set up a creditor committee to coordinate claims on the company’s debt. The group needs to pay 1.37 billion yuan ($200 million) in outstanding local bonds this year. The fallout of this recent economic crisis within the car industry has already forced Brilliance Auto to sell some of its shares in its subsidiary to another state-owned unit. Furthermore, the company will also give up control over its joint venture with BMW by 2022. In 2019, Brilliance Auto earned a net profit of 11 billion yuan ($1.6 billion), thanks mostly to contributions from the previously-mentioned joint venture with BMW. However, sales for the joint venture are expected to fall this year because of the pandemic. According to a statement released earlier this week, the Chinese carmaker has reportedly “repaid all bonds that have matured without any default”, claiming that its operations will go on as normal. Investors will now be keeping a close eye on Brilliance Auto’s ability to honor its debt repayment in the next 2 years. +++ 

+++ I recently spent some time with the CADILLAC CT4-V, but the company is already looking ahead as they’ve teased the performance steering wheel that will be used in the 2022 CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing. Looking far more aggressive than the steering wheel used in the more mainstream CT4- and CT5-V, the Blackwings will have a unique leather-wrapped wheel with a red racing stripe at 12 o’clock. The sporty styling touches don’t end there as the central spoke features carbon fiber trim and a V-Series emblem. The steering wheel also has a large V-Mode button and a unique switch which provides easy accesses to the Performance Traction Management system. While the rest of the image is blurred, the cars will apparently ditch analog displays for a new digital instrument cluster. Details are hard to make out, but the picture appears to show a central speedometer with a top speed of 320 km/h. Cadillac has been tight-lipped about the upcoming models, but said the “V-Series Blackwing signifies the ultimate in Cadillac performance and craftsmanship”. That isn’t much to go on, but previous reports have suggested the CT4-V Blackwing will have an upgraded version of the twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 that powered the ATS-V. As a result, it should have an output in excess of 470 hp and 603 Nm. The CT5-V Blackwing, on the other hand, is slated to have a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 sourced from the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. This means we can expect an output of around 659 hp and 880 Nm. While the engine specs aren’t official, Cadillac has previously confirmed both models will be offered with a manual transmission. At the time, the company noted there is still a “strong desire” for them from performance driving enthusiasts. However, they’ll have to wait a bit as Cadillac said the CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing won’t be available until the summer of 2021. +++ 

+++ A prototype for the CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 has been filmed testing in Michigan and the engineer behind the wheel gave us an excellent chance to hear the car’s engine. This clip was filmed near GM’s Milford Proving Ground and shows a heavily-camouflaged C8 Corvette prototype accelerating away from the camera. It sounds dramatically different than the current Corvette Stingray with its 6.2-liter naturally-aspirated V8 engine. The prototype’s engine howls in a not too dissimilar way to naturally-aspirated engines we’re more accustomed to seeing out of Ferrari. This makes sense as the new Corvette Z06 is widely expected to feature a 5.5-liter naturally-aspirated V8 engine with a flat-plane crank. This engine will be derived from the one used by the Corvette C8.R race car. However, whereas the C8.R’s engine is capped at 500 hp and 650 Nm due to racing regulations, some speculate Chevrolet may be able to extract as much as 650 hp and 813 Nm from the road-going engine. If true, that would make the new Z06 one of the most powerful naturally-aspirated cars on sale, trailing behind a couple of Lamborghinis, Ferraris and the forthcoming Aston Martin Valkyrie. It is not just the new Z06 that has Corvette enthusiasts excited. After the Z06 arrives for the 2022 model year, Chevrolet will reportedly release a Corvette Grand Sport with a 6.2-liter V8 rated at 600 hp and 678 Nm later. Other variants reportedly on the cards include a ZR1 with a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 producing 850 hp and 1.119 Nm. The C8 family could then be completed in 2025 with a Zora variant combining this 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 with an electric motor to make a combined 1.000 hp and 1.322 Nm. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS plans to focus more on electric vehicles and smart-driving tech in China to curb a slide in sales after more than 20 years of growth. The world’s largest car market makes up nearly a fifth of GM’s profit, so it’s vital for the U.S. carmaker to put its operations in China on the right track again. General Motors will overhaul its Chinese lineup by renewing its focus on luxury Cadillac models, rolling out bigger and more efficient SUVs, and targeting entry-level buyers with affordable micro EVs. GM’s new China boss Julian Blissett told that new technologies such as EVs and cars with near hands-free driving for highways would be priorities for the automaker in the Asian country. GM China is expected to announce some of the new technology and product rollout plans during a GM Tech Day event in Shanghai attended by CEO Mary Barra and China head Julian Blissett. “This market is rapidly electrifying. Cadillac is on a path to very heavy electrification. Buick is also going to heavily electrify”, Blissett told, adding that GM’s Chinese brands Baojun and Wuling would also go down the electric route. GM is present in China with the Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac brands, as well as the Wuling and Baojun local brands. Sales of the U.S. automaker fell to 3.1 million vehicles in 2019 from a record 4 million in 2017. This is due to multiple factors, including a slowdown in China’s economy and increasing competition both from established global carmakers like Toyota, Volkswagen and Honda, and Chinese companies like Geely and Great Wall Motors. Blissett said the key objective was to get back to sales of 4 million vehicles a year as soon as possible, but could not give a precise time frame for when GM would hit that goal. One way to do that is to launch more SUVs, and GM China’s boss says bigger crossovers and SUVs are on the way for Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac; many of them electric. Nevertheless, gasoline-powered SUVs will continue in China for the time being as they offer “huge opportunities” to boost sales there. The General also plans to transform Wuling into a brand more focused on micro, electric “people-mover” vans. “In the next 5 years, more than 50 % of our capital and engineering deployment will go towards electrification and autonomous-drive technology. That should give you an indication where GM is betting on its future”, Blissett commented. +++ 

+++ GENERATION Z consumers are an emerging buying group for automobiles in China, as about 40 million of them will have the demand and be willing to buy cars over the next 5 years. Consumers born between 1995 and 2009 have their own distinct consumption preferences compared with their predecessors, according to the report jointly released by auto information provider Autohome and consultancy Deloitte. Generation Z consumers are more willing to spend on cars and they are more eager than their predecessors to use financial products such as loans to buy cars, the report said. Generation Z consumers in China account for 15 % of their household expenditures, in comparison with the 5 % in France and 4 % in the United States, said the report. The annual sales volume of new energy vehicles in China is likely to hit 3 million units in 2025, thanks to technological advancements and consumption upgrades including Generation Z consumers’ desire for better products, according to another report released by Autohome. Fu Bingfeng, deputy secretary general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, said China so far has 4.6 million new energy vehicles on road. “The number is scheduled to hit 5 million units by the end of this year. I think the target can be met, judging from the current situation”, Fu said. Zhang Jingyu, co-president of Autohome, said automobile makers and retailers need to make more efforts, including upgrading their marketing strategies and after-sales services, to adapt to Generation Z consumers’ changing shopping preferences. +++ 

+++ One of the first jobs that new Jaguar Land Rover boss Thierry Bolloré will have to get to grips with when he starts next month will be what to do with JAGUAR . Some contenders for the CEO role mooted ideas ranging from killing or selling the brand to focus solely on Land Rover, to closing the Castle Bromwich plant and moving production abroad. But Bolloré will have a bold new plan in front of him that centres around Jaguar becoming a fully electrified brand to compete with the likes of Tesla and Polestar. Central to that plan is a compact model designed to take on the Model 3. Sales of the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace are going well, following its success as European Car of the Year in 2018 and World Car of the Year in 2019. Meanwhile, Jaguar has confirmed that the replacement for the flagship XJ saloon, which is set to arrive next year, will also be fully electrified. Castle Bromwich will become the home of electrified Jaguars, with the large J-Pace electric SUV due to be built there, too, alongside a new, as-yet unnamed more road-biased Range Rover. But it’s the prospect of smaller, all-electric Jaguars that is most exciting and relevant, with an all-electric replacement for the XE a strong possibility. Sales of the XE collapsed by almost 28 % in the last financial year, which has prompted a radical overhaul to boost sales. The plan for smaller, electrified Jaguars does have support at board level, with JLR’s director of engineering, Nick Rogers, telling me: “A small electric Jag would be great. We need to think about that. That’s a really cool space that ideally we want to be in, and ideally our customers want us to be in, and it’s extremely relevant at this time”. Similarly, Jaguar’s design boss, Julian Thomson, is a fan of smaller cars, recently telling me: “I would love to do smaller Jaguars. I think, reflecting on what’s happening around the world, I would love to do cars which are smaller, more efficient and have all the inherent values of a Jaguar, which are a beautiful thing to look at, with a fantastic interior, and are just great to drive. I’d love to do smaller cars like that”. The success of the Tesla Model 3 across the world (outselling both the current Jaguar XE and XF combined) hasn’t gone unnoticed at senior levels within JLR, while bosses have also been keeping a watchful eye on Volvo’s all-electric offshoot Polestar and its new Polestar 2 model. So an all-electric saloon (in effect a baby brother for the new XJ) is said by insiders to be very much on the cards. As with the XJ, the all-electric XE would likely make use of JLR’s new Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) and, as with the Model 3 and Polestar 2, sit slightly higher off the ground than a traditional 3-box saloon to allow for extra space to accommodate the batteries in the floor. We’re told that the all-electric powertrain would be true to Jaguar’s sporting luxury ethos, providing excellent performance and refinement. The new MLA platform would also provide the brand with a cost-effective way of electrifying the rest of the Jaguar line-up, with replacements for the E-Pace and F-Pace being a priority. However, both of these SUV models are in line for substantial facelifts in the coming months, which will bring with them plug-in hybrid versions of the existing cars, to further edge Jaguar towards an electric future. And it may not stop there. There have been rumours of an even smaller electrified Jaguar that could come about as a result of JLR’s ever-closer ties with BMW. The 2 firms have already agreed to work together on electric powertrains, and that is expected to extend to the supply of internal combustion engines. The agreement could then go even further towards platform sharing between the two firms, which would help slash development costs, and enable Jaguar to build a smaller all-electric hatchback or crossover, similar in size to BMW’s 1 Series or X2. One of Bolloré’s trickier decisions, though, will be whether or not to replace the F-Type sports car. Many Jaguar executives, including Thomson, feel that it’s essential for Jaguar to have a sports car in its line-up. However, the market for cars like the F-Type and rivals such as the Porsche 911 is shrinking, and there’s more money to be made from other electrified models. With Bolloré expected to focus more on market share and profitability for Jaguar, a sports car may well be something that he will struggle to justify. Just over 6.000 examples of the F-Type were sold in the last financial year, making it Jaguar’s second worst performing model after the XJ, which will get its dramatic overhaul next year. +++ 

+++ JAPAN ’s minivehicle ownership rate fell at the end of 2019 from a year before, marking the first drop in 44 years, according to industry data. Consumers’ move to replace their cars with smaller ones has apparently come to an end, said an official of the Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association. The number of minivehicles on the road in Japan at the end of last year rose 0.7 % from a year before to 31.216.609 units, according to the association. But the ownership rate per 100 households fell to 54.40 from 54.41 as the pace of growth in the number of households was higher. The number of households grew particularly in metropolitan areas, including Tokyo and Osaka, where the ownership rate is relatively low. Minivehicles, or vehicles with engine displacements of up to 660 cc, are still popular thanks to their maneuverability and enhanced safety features. But the ownership rate is “expected to continue falling”, an official at a major Japanese automaker said, citing a high pace of growth in the number of households. The association started the annual minivehicle ownership survey in 1975. The survey period was changed from the end of March to the end of December in 2013. The drop in the ownership rate marked at the end of March 1976 stemmed from a minivehicle system revision. +++ 

+++ Chinese battery and electric car maker KANDI Technologies Group said it is actively exploring setting up an electric and off-road vehicle manufacturing plant in North America. The U.S.-listed company said it is in the early stages of discussions with various partners, including local government agencies from the U.S.-Mexico border, but warned negotiations would not guarantee that a plant will be built. Many Chinese electric vehicle (EV) makers are looking at the United States for expansion as demand for EVs picks up. China’s Li Auto, backed by food delivery giant Meituan Dianping, recently made a Nasdaq debut. Xpeng, backed by Alibaba and Xiaomi, filed for a U.S. listing in July. Kandi said it plans to forge a position in North America’s electric vehicle market by offering lower-cost vehicles after eliminating shipping costs and tariffs. The company recently began accepting pre-orders for its K23 and K27 EV models in the United States, priced at $9.999 and $19.999 with the federal tax credit. The vehicles will be available for delivery from the 4th quarter of 2020. In contrast, Tesla’s bestselling Model 3 is priced at around $37,990. +++

 

+++ The Supreme Court in South Korea upheld a lower court’s ruling in favor of workers at KIA that fixed bonuses should be counted as standard wages, lowering the curtain on the almost decadelong legal battle. The Supreme Court confirmed that the automaker should pay its workers back wages, based on a calculation that counts regular bonuses in “ordinary wages”. Workers have been sensitive to the issue as ordinary wages are used as the standard for gauging overtime, severance and other allowances. Some 27,000 workers filed the suit in October 2011, demanding the company recognize regular bonuses, meal allowances and daily expenses as part of the ordinary wages. A local court ruled in favor of the workers in 2017, saying regular bonuses, meal allowances and daily expenses should be included in the scope of ordinary wages. The Seoul High Court also sided with workers at the country’s No. 2 automaker 2 years later, but it slightly reduced the amount of back payments by excluding some meal and family allowances initially included in the lower court’s definition of the base payment. The court told the company to pay its workers 422.3 billion won ($355 million) in unpaid wages and interest. With the highest court’s ruling, the company should pay some 50 billion won to approximately 3.000 unionized workers in additional back pay. For the 2 previous lawsuits against the company, some 27.000 workers participated, but many dropped out after the 2017 decision. As in the previous rulings, the top court rejected the claim by the carmaker that the unionized workers violated “the principle of good faith” by suing the company knowing that it would damage the company’s financial status. +++ 

+++ LOTUS will launch an all-new sports car in 2021. It’s internally known as the Type 131 and, when it eventually reaches the market, it’ll be the British brand’s first all-new model in 12 years. However, the Type 131 won’t replace any of Lotus’s existing vehicles. It’ll sit somewhere between the Exige and Evora in the company’s line-up,and it will adhere to the Lotus mantra of “simplify, then add lightness”. Little is known about the Type 131’s specification, other than that it’ll be based on an all-new, lightweight platform. Contrary to early rumours, the new sports car will shun hybrid drive in favour of a purely combustion powered reliant powertrain, in the interest of weight reduction. This decision means that, for the time being, Lotus will reserve electrification for its flagship Evija hypercar. It’s also possible that Lotus could source the Type 131’s engines from within parent company Geely’s roster, rather than relying on Toyota. Back in 2019, Lotus’s CEO, Phil Popham, outlined the Type 131 project to Auto Express last year. He said: “We’re busy now investing in a pretty aggressive business plan that will deliver an all-new sports car next year. It’ll be shown towards the end of next year and go on sale some time after that. We are investing in new platforms as well”. Popham continued, saying: “The Type 131 won’t be all-electric, unlike the hypercar, which will. Beyond that, whatever cars we have will include pure-electric derivatives. It’s not the only propulsion system we’re working on, but BEV will be part of it”. On Lotus’s potential shift to Geely-sourced engines, Popham said: “Our engines at the moment come from Toyota, but we will have access to powertrains that exist within the group today and powertrains that are under development. But we’re not restricted to that. We’re very free to collaborate with, and source from, other manufacturers. What we won’t do, however, is just stick a badge on a group product. We can get access to platforms, engineering expertise and resources. But if we are to produce a car in a new segment, it’s got to be true to the DNA of Lotus. We’ve got to be involved right from the start of the engineering of any new platform”. The Type 131 looks set to  incorporate elements of the second-generation Elan, with a similarly low nose and broad stance. Like all of Lotus’s current combustion-engined models, this new sports car will also be mid-engined. This new sports car’s Type 131 nomenclature suggests there are a few more models waiting in the wings on the company’s timeline, as it leaves four potential models empty between the Type 130/Evija hypercar and the last Lotus to use the naming pattern: the ill-fated Type 125 Exos track day car. It has long been rumoured that Lotus is piecing together an SUV project and, when asked if such a vehicle had been accounted for in the company’s future product plans, Popham refused to rule out the possibility. “I wouldn’t discount anything”, he said: “We’re a premium brand, not a volume brand, with premium products, premium price, and a premium offering. But as for the segments we can go into, I wouldn’t discount anything from sedans, GTs and crossovers to SUVs. The key is that you’ve got to be able to produce a car that’s true to the DNA, that is for drivers. That means different things in different segments, of course, but nevertheless, it’s got to be a Lotus, it’s got to appeal and it’s got to make us money. If it can’t do those three things then we won’t go into the segment”. +++ 

+++ The forthcoming LUCID AIR “will be the fastest charging electric vehicle ever offered”, the automaker has confirmed. Prior to the vehicle’s September 9 debut, Lucid has revealed that thanks to the Air’s 900 Volt+ electrical architecture, custom lithium-ion battery cells, the sophisticated battery, and advanced thermal management system, it can charge at up to 32 km per minute with a peak charging rate of over 300 kW. This will translate to 482 km of range in just 20 minutes of charging. Lucid has also joined forces with Electrify America to offer its U.S. customers three years of complimentary charging at the ever-growing network of Electrify America charging stations, including ones rated at up to 350 kW. Lucid Air owners will be able to easily locate and see real-time availability of Electrify America charge locations across the country. For home charging, the automaker has developed the Lucid Connecting Home Charging Station. This station offers bi-directional charging which means owners can use their Lucid Air as a temporary energy reserve to power their homes. Lucid will work with Qmerit to install charging points at the homes of its owners. Lucid has added that the Air utilizes the universal CCS connector and also has a 19.2 kW AC onboard charger. “We designed every aspect of the Lucid Air and its platform in-house to be hyper-efficient, from the powertrain to the aerodynamics, and we’ve set several new benchmarks through these efforts including the longest range EV with an estimated EPA range of 832 km”, Lucid Motors vice president of hardware engineering Eric Bach said in a statement. “With our ultra-high voltage 900 Volt+ electrical architecture and the proprietary Wunderbox, we have significantly increased the speed of energy getting into, around, and even out of the vehicle, delivering the world’s fastest charging EV packed with future-ready charging features”. +++ 

+++ Chinese electric vehicle maker NIO has launched a battery leasing service that will allow drivers to buy an EV without owning the battery pack, one of the most expensivecomponents, thereby lowering the starting price of its cars. The service, called “battery as a service” (BaaS), entails drivers paying a monthly rental fee for use of the batteries. The cheapest Nio car after subsidies is now an ES6 crossover priced 273.600 yuan ($39,553) without ownership of the battery pack, versus 343.600 yuan including the pack. “We believe with BaaS, more customers of gasoline cars will consider electric vehicles”, Nio’s chief executive William Li told reporters. Nio operates 143 battery-swapping stations around China, where drivers can swap spent battery packs for fully charged replacements. Li said Nio was building a new battery-swapping station in China every week and planned to build 300 new stations next year. Li also said the firm hoped to enter some international markets from the second half of next year starting with some European countries. He added the firm aimed to enter more markets from 2022. The industry ministry has said it would promote the adoption of vehicles with batteries that can be swapped between different makes and models. To that end, Nio’s battery packs are the same shape and size across its lineup, which is comprised of 3 cross-overs. EV models from peer BAIC BluePark New Energy Technology also have standardised batteries. The batteries for Nio’s leasing service will be supplied by a company established by Chinese battery makers including leader CATL. The company has registered capital of 800 million yuan, a government filing showed. +++ 

+++ Porsche has confirmed the facelifted PANAMERA will make its world premiere on August 26. The German car manufacturer has been testing out the facelifted Panamera for quite some time and, earlier in the week, announced that the Panamera Turbo variant had just set a new executive car lap record around the Nurburgring, completing a lap of the grueling German circuit in just 7:28.91. A single teaser image of the facelifted Panamera provided by Porsche indicates what recent spy shots have suggested; namely that the styling modifications will be minor. In fact, the only obvious design change that is visible in this photo are tweaked LED daytime running lights sitting above the air intakes. If we were to guess, a handful of other minor styling modifications will be made. For example, Porsche should equip the facelifted Panamera with updated headlights and taillights, as well as tweaked front and rear bumpers. Porsche has yet to announce powertrain options for the updated Panamera but it will be likely sold in the same guises as the outgoing model. As such, the range could kick off with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 producing 340 hp and 450 Nm. Other variants on offer could include the Panamera S that is currently rated at 440 hp and 550 Nm, the GTS with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, the record-setting Turbo (which will be upgraded to 630 hp), and a new Turbo S E-Hybrid. +++

 

+++ The Naturally Aspirated engine is a dying breed but PORSCHE says it is eager to keep making them, even if that means turning to hybridization. While the vast majority of Boxster, Cayman and 911 models are now turbocharged, there are still a handful of sports cars with NA engines being produced by the German automaker, like the Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder and will soon include 992-generation models of the GT3 and GT3 RS. When quizzed about the carmaker’s plans for its high-revving naturally aspirated engines, head of the Porsche 911 and 718 ranges, Frank-Steffen Walliser, said the company is “very motivated” to keep these engines alive. “Low-rev electric motor torque and a high-rev normally aspirated engine would fit perfectly together”, he said. “It could help a normally aspirated engine to survive”. It remains unclear when we can expect to see the first hybridized naturally aspirated powertrains from Porsche, but as recently as March, the company did say the 911 is not yet ready to morph into a hybrid due to the additional weight of the batteries. Consequently, it’s reasonable to assume we won’t see Weissach couple its naturally aspirated engines with electric motors just yet. While Porsche is still very much committed to keeping its NA engines kicking, it is also aggressively increasing its presence in the electric vehicle market. Most notably, the next-generation Macan will be sold exclusively as an EV, although the current model will stick around for a while to cater to certain markets. Moreover, before the end of 2020, Porsche is also expected to unveil the Taycan Cross Turismo. +++ 

+++ New research from SKODA has revealed that Brits spend a massive 5,5 million hours searching for their parked cars. The Czech manufacturer carried out a survey of 2.000 drivers and it revealed that more than half (52 %) said that they were unable to find their cars at least once a year. A further quarter admitted to doing it twice in the last year, while 14 % said they ‘lost’ their car 3 or more times annually. More than one in 10 male drivers (12 %) said that they had ‘lost’ their car 3 or more times in the last 12 months, compared to 16 % of females. When it came to finding their cars, it took males an average of 6.4 minutes compared to 5.6 minutes for females. Drivers aged 18-25 lost their car on average 2.5 times a year; 5 % of those even admitted to doing so more than 10 times in the last 12 months. Meanwhile drivers aged over 66 only lost their car on average 0.82 times a year. Shopping centre car parks were the most common locations for forgetting where motorists parked (58 %), with supermarkets second (36 %), followed by airports (21 %) and events and festivals (12 %). Skoda also revealed some real life ‘lost car’ stories: “I had gone shopping and there were four multi storey car parks. I couldn’t even remember which one I was parked in, or which floor so spent ages just walking round every multi storey”. “I was shopping for a dress for my hen night in a large shopping centre. I couldn’t find my car when I returned to the car park. I searched for half an hour for it. Then I asked a security guard to help. In total, six security guards were looking for my car. They couldn’t find it. I had to report it as stolen. I rang my brother to give me a lift home. Guess what? As we drove out of the car park, there was my car parked where I’d left it”. “Many years ago some friends and I went to a football match and arrived late; we all got out of the car and ran to the ground. At the end of the game it took two hours to find the car which we had parked in a terraced street. The problem was all the local streets looked the same”. “Going round and round in circles at an airport car park looking for my car for at least 30 minutes, getting near to tears when remembering I’d actually got a taxi to the airport in the first place. It had been a long flight!”. Skoda owners needn’t worry about losing their car either, thanks to the Skoda Connect App, which includes the ‘Parking Position’ feature which allows drivers to easily locate their car. +++ 

+++ Electric and intelligent integration and individualization will become new trends for auto manufacturing. SOFTWARE Defined Vehicles, or SDV, will become core features of enterprises in enhancing market competitiveness, said Wu Song, deputy general manager of GAC Group. Software will outweigh hardware and become the main source of a vehicle’s value, accounting for 60 % up from 10 to 30 %, and the future of automobiles will integrate entertainment, leisure, work and travel, Wu said. As software becomes more important and complicated, high-tech suppliers and original equipment manufacturers will fight for the lead, said Pan Jiming, general manager of SAIC Motor’s planning department. The SDV era has come, Pan said, adding automobiles are not products but a platform for services and a technology ecosystem with high frequency of iteration is emerging. SDV refers to future vehicles defined by software technology, with artificial intelligence at the core. SDV consists of 4 components: centralized electrical and electronic architecture, which is the central hub of smart vehicles; basic software platforms for subscribing services; artificial intelligence technology, which will be the core technology to differentiate experiences with intelligent vehicles and remote refreshing Over-the-Air technology to allow the vehicle to grow, iterate and upgrade, Pan said. China Association of Automobile Manufacturers has released data showing sales of Chinese brand vehicles reached 3.43 million units, accounting for 36 % of total passenger vehicle sales from January to July this year. +++ 

+++ A U.S. automotive distribution company may submit a binding offer to acquire a stake in SSANGYONG next month as the carmaker’s Indian parent looks for an investor, media reports said. HAAH Automotive Holdings, an Irvine, California company that imports vehicles for the U.S. market, is preparing the binding bid to make an investment in SsangYong, according to local news reports. A binding offer refers to an offer made by a bidder to acquire a company after the due diligence phase of a sale process is complete. Mahindra, the parent company, is looking for a new investor in SsangYong, a spokesman said. “HAAH Automotive Holdings does not comment on rumor and speculation”, the U.S. company’s spokesman Chris Hosford said in an emailed statement. Mahindra, which owns a 74.65 % stake in SsangYong, recently said it will give up its status as the biggest shareholder of SsangYong if it finds a new investor. Mahindra has said it does not have a plan to commit fresh capital into SsangYong. Mahindra said early this year it would invest 230 billion won ($194,000) in SsangYong for the following 3 years after obtaining approval from its board. But its board voted against the investment plan last month as the Covid-19 outbreak continues to affect vehicle sales in global markets. Instead of the proposed 230 billion won ($194 million), Mahindra said it would consider a “special one-time infusion” of up to 40 billion won over the next 3 months to help SsangYong continue operations. The one-time cash investment falls far short of the 500 billion won Mahindra managing director Pawan Goenka had said is needed to turn SsangYong around by 2022. Last week, KPMG Samjong Accounting, the auditor of SsangYong, declined to give its opinion on the carmaker’s earnings results for the January-June period. If Samjong gives no opinion on SsangYong’s annual financial statements for the year, the company can appeal the decision within a week and will be given one year to improve its financial health. SsangYong could be delisted if its accountant again refuses to offer an opinion on the company’s annual performance for the following year after the one-year period. The SUV company has continued to report net losses for the past 14 quarters through the second quarter of this year. From January to July, it sold 56.846 vehicles, down 28 % from 78.687 units in the year-ago period. SsangYong’s lineup consists of the flagship G4 Rexton, as well as the Tivoli, Korando and Rexton Sports SUVs. In 2011, Mahindra acquired a 70 % stake in SsangYong Motor for 523 billion won. +++ 

+++ SUBARU has teamed up with tech company Xilinx in order to upgrade its EyeSight safety system. Once ready, the system will be rolled out in Japanese market models, initially. EyeSight will use Xilinx’s UltraScale multiprocessor system-on-chip setup, providing the power needed to process its stereo images into 3D “point clouds” with “ultra low latency and functional safety”, said Xilinx exec Willard Tu. “That’s really needed so that the EyeSight system can accurately understand and react to dynamic driving situations”, he added. Xilinx also works with the likes of Daimler, Continental, Magna, Veoneer and Pony.ai. Subaru’s EyeSight system features two outward-facing cameras, placed on top of the windshield just above the rearview mirror. Currently, the system is able to scan the road ahead looking for obstacles, as well as other vehicles and pedestrians. In the United States, EyeSight offers adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, lane-departure and sway warning, lane-departure prevention and lead vehicle start; the latter tells you if the vehicle that’s stopped ahead has resumed moving. Its most important component of course is the stereo camera, which going forward will become even better, according to Eiji Shibata, the carmaker’s GM of automated driving and advanced safety. “This is where the Xilinx feature comes in”, he said. “That allowed to us roughly double the field of view”. The first model to benefit from the upgrade will be the Japanese market Levorg, which will boast active lane-change assist, auto deceleration and hands-off driving in congested traffic; all optional extras. Subaru has also updated the system’s driver-monitoring capabilities, in order for it to better deal with situations such as driver distraction, unintentional acceleration and loss of consciousness; another optional feature. According to Shibata, these new functions were developed for Japanese roads and driving conditions. However, the U.S. is targeted too. “We do have a schedule internally, and we are developing these products for the U.S. market”, added Shibata. “I believe that in the near future, we can bring that to the U.S. market, as well. However, not all these functions can be brought as they are to the U.S. roads. We want to make sure that we develop these functions specifically for the U.S. road situation, as well, and then bring them to the U.S. market as they become ready. The new stereo camera will be brought to the U.S. market very quickly, but each and every function, which needs the appropriate software development, will be introduced as they become ready one at time, or few at a time, for the U.S. market”. The system uses 2 cameras to get a stereo field of view of the road and combines that data with input from radar sensors mounted around the vehicle rather than using more expensive sensors such as lidar, which uses laser light to measure the car’s distance away from objects. Xilinx’s chip will provide the processing power for the camera images, the companies said. The system will have functions such as slowing the car down before a curve on highways based on an estimation of the curve. The system will also be capable of hands-free driving during traffic jams at speeds below about 50 kph as an add-on option. The feature will only be available in Japan on the Levorg, and requires the vehicle to be loaded with high-resolution mapping data. The driver would still be required to keep his or her eyes forward on the road, and sensors inside the cabin will detect whether the driver is paying attention. Subaru also plans to update the system over time with new features, which played into the decision to choose Xilinx’s chips, officials said. The chips are what are known as programmable chips, so some of how they work can be changed as new features are added. “We can do a lot more data processing, as well as provide these different features”, Satoshi Katahira of Subaru’s advanced safety system design department told in an interview. +++ 

+++ TESLA boss Elon Musk took to Twitter and posted again about the upcoming Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability rewrite. He said the “FSD improvement” will be a quantum leap. He already has it in his car and expects it to go into limited public release in 6 to 10 weeks. Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Capability has been undergoing incremental updates for years. Essentially, Autopilot (plus the paid package, which adds features like Navigate on Autopilot) is Tesla’s Full Self-Driving suite with missing features. As the company makes improvements and readies each new feature, it pushes each out to its fleet. However, this upcoming update is not just a small, incremental “tweak”, but a full rewrite to the technology’s “fundamental architecture”. With that said, the system has a long way to go before it will be considered fully autonomous. Currently, it’s unofficially a Level 2 (or arguably Level 3) system. Musk says he’s confident it will be capable of Level 5 in the near future. He also said the technology will be feature complete by the end of 2020. These timelines have been continually pushed back, but it really comes down to wording and definitions. Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Capability could actually be “feature-complete” soon. This doesn’t mean it will be Level 5 or able to drive itself without assistance. However, it does mean that all the features will be present to do so. They could just need further tweaking and updating. Tesla’s technology could be “capable” of some Level 5 abilities soon as well, though that doesn’t mean those features will be fully pushed to its global fleet. There could be more testing needed, work with regulators, etc. Musk did respond to a comment asking about regulatory approval, so it seems it will just continue to be a waiting game for now. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA will withdraw from the U.S. subcompact car market, it was learned this week. Currently, the Yaris is the only subcompact car sold by the automaker in the United States. Toyota will stop selling the model once stock runs out, according to informed sources. The company will narrow its product range for the U.S. market, where larger vehicles such as SUVs are more popular than subcompact cars, the sources said. Toyota outsources the production of the Yaris to a Mexican plant of Japanese partner Mazda. The model’s production for the U.S. market ended in June. The plant, which also manufactures the Yaris for shipment to Canada and Puerto Rico, will cease production in August and November, respectively. The subcompact car market in the United States has been shrinking, and the tendency has been forcing automakers doing business in the country to review their strategies. Last year, Toyota stopped selling the Aqua subcompact car in the United States and limited its subcompact lineup for the U.S. market to sedan and hatchback models of the Yaris. +++ 

+++ Prosecutors in Stuttgart, Germany, have dropped a market manipulation probe against VOLKSWAGEN ‘s chairman in exchange for a €1.5 million payment, parent company Porsche Automobil Holding SE said. Proceedings have been dropped against chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch and Matthias Müller, a former chief executive of Volkswagen, the Stuttgart prosecutor’s office said. They were charged with failing to alert investors to VW’s unfolding diesel emissions scandal in 2015. Other charges against Pötsch and current CEO Herbert Diess were dropped in May in exchange for a fine of €9 million. In addition to their roles at Volkswagen, both Pötsch and Müller were members of the board of Porsche Automobil Holding SE, the family-owned company which has 53.3% voting stake in Volkswagen AG. A spokesman for Porsche Automobil Holding SE said the company welcomed the settlement and reiterated that Pötsch and Müller had not violated disclosure rules. Porsche Automobil Holding SE further said it would pay the €1.5 million to settle the case. In Germany, payments can be accepted by prosecutors in exchange for dropping criminal charges. Prosecutors had looked at whether executives at the holding company that controls Volkswagen manipulated markets by delaying the disclosure of VW’s emissions scandal in 2015. The Stuttgart prosecutor’s office launched the probe at the behest of markets regulator BaFin, but Volkswagen executives have argued the scale of the financial fallout from diesel cheating was not foreseeable. +++ 

+++ New cars are basically rolling computers. Everything from the engine to the infotainment runs on a series of ones and zeros, and a lot of that technology requires input from the driver. So it’s no surprise that JD Power has a study designed specifically to discern which bits of tech drivers love and which bits they loathe. “New technology continues to be a primary factor in the vehicle purchase decision”, says JD Power’s Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & human machine interface research. “However, it’s critical for automakers to offer features that owners find intuitive and reliable. The user experience plays a major role in whether an owner will use the technology on a regular basis or abandon it and feel like they wasted their money”. The J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study found that VOLVO owners are happiest with the technology packed inside their vehicles, followed by BMW and Cadillac, all brands that JD Power classifies as premium. The highest-rated mainstream brand is Hyundai, followed by Subaru and Kia. As was the case with the organization’s Initial Quality and APEAL studies, Tesla’s numbers aren’t officially included because they are the only automaker that has not granted JD Power approval to contact its owners in states that require it. Tesla’s projected score of 593 would have put it in second place, right behind Volvo’s score of 617. The lowest-ranked brand in the TXI Study is Mini, with Porsche right behind. Diving a little bit deeper, JD Power’s findings suggest that the technologies new car buyers care most about are related to helping them see their surroundings better. Camera systems, including rear-view mirror cameras and ground-view cameras, scored highest in five of the six satisfaction attributes measured in the study. The technology that owners could really do without? Gesture controls. Owners who answered JD Power’s survey say they don’t use gesture controls much at all after initially trying them, and they don’t really care if their next vehicle has them. We have to wonder if those responses might be what kept BMW out of the top spot. The TXI Study also found that owners are split on automated driving helpers, like lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking. JD Power suggests that owners may need more training on those systems before they learn to trust them. +++

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