Newsflash: Volkswagen gaat met ID.6 concurrentiestrijd met BMW iX3 aan

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+++ The decision to rename Renault’s F1 team as ALPINE next year is aimed at building a bigger future for the French sportscar manufacturer that was founded in the 1950s. But while Alpine achieved its most famous sporting successes in the 1970s, which included a victory at Le Mans, de Meo insists that the change is not a nostalgia move. Instead, he sees it as an important step to plot a totally different direction for the Alpine brand, which was resurrected by the Renault company in 2017. “When I entered the company, I saw Alpine as a brand as a very nostalgic thing”, de Meo told selected media. “Nostalgia is okay, but I think we need to look at the future. So we need to think in a different way and use Alpine to build the future: not looking at 60 years ago or 50 years ago. “If there is a fit, if there is a business opportunity because that’s what we’re trying to do right now, then it is to kind of change a little bit the approach to the Alpine story”. De Meo believes that the rebranding of the Renault F1 team will go far beyond just a change of name, as he thinks it will help lead the way for boosting the automotive business. “We want to see results sooner here in Formula 1, then what we will be able to see in the Alpine company”, he said. “I think the Alpine spirit will give it let’s say a boost. And I also know that even if Renault is a glorious brand, I think that the fit within the Formula 1 world of Alpine is even better. It can be even better. “I am a big believer that Formula 1 should be a championship of constructors with brands that make people dream, with the connection possibly between racing on Sunday and selling on Monday. “So with a connection that the customer can touch in the street: looking at Ferraris, Mercedes and some glorious names like Williams. And Aston Martin next year It’s good for the sport”. Although Alpine currently produces just one road car model, de Meo wants to use the F1 platform as the centrepiece for a push to enhance and expand what the company can offer. He believes that any business boost as a result of the F1 rebrand will make it far more obvious exactly what contribution the grand prix efforts make to the Renault Group. “I think it will ensure better energy into the motorsports activity”, he said. “In companies sometimes you have high and lows and sometimes people that are not passionate like me, they tend to see that F1 almost a cost centre. “I want to turn it into something that substantiates the new business model for the company”. +++ 

+++ CHINA is on its way to become the biggest market for electric vehicles (EVs) again by the end of the year, according to a market assessment published by the German Center for Automotive Research (CAR). Sales of electrified cars in the first half of the year were slightly higher in Europe, but the “Elon Musk factor” would support the development of the Chinese market which would not give up its leading position in the electric car market for the next 50 years, according to the CAR forecasts. In total, almost 400.000 fully electric cars and plug-in hybrids were sold in Europe in the first half of the year. In China, only 7.200 fewer electrified vehicles were sold in the same period, according to CAR. China made a “great leap” in all-electric vehicles with Tesla. According to CAR, the Tesla Shanghai gigafactory contributed the sales of almost 50,000 fully electric cars in China in the first half of the year. Thanks to high purchase premiums for electric cars in many European countries, sales of all-electric (BEV) and partially electric (plug-in hybrid) vehicles in Europe “picked up significantly”, it noted. China and Europe were “decisive for the global breakthrough of electric mobility”, said Ferdinant Dudenhöffer, director of the CAR in a statement, noting that the 2 regions were “significantly supporting emission-neutral mobility”. The director told Xinhua that 1.2 million EVs were sold in China in 2019; the most in the world. In terms of sales of all-electric vehicles in the first half of the year, China was already a market leader while more plug-in hybrid cars were sold in Europe, according to the CAR. +++ 

+++ Renault unveiled the new lines of 2 of its bestselling cars, both models manufactured by its Romanian low-cost brand DACIA , recently upgraded to an independent division within the company. Under the helm of its new chief executive Luca de Meo, loss-making Renault is trying to recover from the coronavirus pandemic while also patching up a strained relationship with Japanese partner Nissan. The company announced last week a new organization focused on brands rather than geographies, Dacia being 1 of the 4 new created divisions alongside the Renault brand, the Alpine sport cars and one dedicated to “new mobilities”. The new versions of the Dacia Logan sedan, first launched in 2004, and the Sandero, stemming back to 2007, will be presented in detail on September 29. In an interview, de Meo said Dacia should not depart from its low-cost setting but added the brand should have a “cooler” image. De Meo, who in a previous role at Fiat had relaunched the Italian carmaker’s signature 500 model, is due to unveil its strategic plan for Renault in January. +++ 

+++ A rapid switch to electric cars to meet DENMARK ’s ambitious climate targets will leave a massive gap in its finances, a government commission said. Moving to electric vehicles from those powered by fossil fuels is central to Denmark’s goal of cutting emissions by 70% by 2030 and becoming climate neutral no later than 2050. However, the Nordic country relies heavily on car and road taxes worth some 50 billion Danish crowns ($7.95 billion) a year, or 2.3 % of GDP, to fund its welfare system. In March, the Danish Council on Climate Change, an independent advisor to the Danish government, said the number of electric cars should rise to at least 1 million by 2030 from less than 20.000 now in order to meet the targets. “This would create a significant problem for the economy”, commission head Anders Eldrup told a press briefing. Increasing the number of electric cars to 1 million through raised subsidies and higher taxes on fossil-fueled cars would result in a total net loss to society of 5.7 billion crowns in 2030, the commission said. Under the current tax system, proceeds from car and road taxes are already set to drop by 10 billion crowns each year in 2030, it said. The commission was asked by the government to suggest how to switch from fossil fueled cars to electric cars in the coming decade without jeopardizing the state budget. The transport sector contributes about 40 % of Denmark’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, with less than 1 % of cars powered by electricity. With favorable conditions and early support from the government, Denmark now gets about half of its power from wind turbines and is seen as a pioneer in addressing climate change. +++ 

+++ Renault and Nissan have entered into a new partnership with ride-sharing service Uber as part of a shared drive to promote ELECTRIC vehicle (EV) adoption in Europe. The allied car makers have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the mobility giant and will “explore a strong partnership to provide partner drivers on the Uber App with affordable electric vehicles in European markets, notably in the UK, France, the Netherlands and Portugal”. Earlier this year, Nissan confirmed that it would supply 2.000 Leafs to Uber drivers in London in order to help the mobility service achieve its goal of operating a fully electric fleet in the city by 2025. The new agreement comes as Uber announces that half of all miles driven by its fleets in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Lisbon, London and Madrid will be in EVs by 2025. These 7 capital cities account for 80 % of all Uber’s European business, and customers there will be offered the chance to actively select an EV by the end of next year. As part of the new joint venture, Nissan and Renault will offer their Leaf and Zoe EVs to Uber drivers, likely at a discounted price (the existing London initiative gives Uber drivers around £4.500 off the list price of a Leaf) and launch a joint marketing-and-education initiative alongside Uber to educate drivers about the potential benefits of EVs. The scheme will be extended from London into France by the end of this year, before being rolled out into the other target capitals. Currently, Uber passengers in London pay a 15 pence Clean Air Fee when riding with Uber to help fund the electrification of the company’s 45.000 vehicle fleet in the city. Gilles Normand, senior vice-president for EVs and mobility services at Renault, said: “This MoU with Uber is an acknowledgement of our ability to conquest new markets and to support professionals in their energy transition. Today we capitalise on our competitive advantage: an attractive EV-offer that contributes to large scale electric mobility roll-out”. Renault and Nissan aren’t the first car makers to partner with Uber. In 2018, Toyota invested £388 million in its autonomous vehicle development programme, and in 2016, Volvo and Uber worked together on a series of driverless car trials in Pittsburgh, US. +++ 

+++ A micro electric vehicle (EV) by GENERAL MOTORS ’ (GM) local Chinese joint venture becomes the most sold EV model in China, with 15.000 cars sold in China last month, followed by Tesla’s 11.800 Model 3 sedans, industry data showed. The model, the Hongguang Mini EV, is a 2-door micro electric vehicle launched by the joint venture between GM, SAIC Motor and another partner, SGMW, in July. The starting price for the Hongguang Mini EV is 28.800 yuan ($4,200); less than 10 % of the 291.800 yuan starting price for Tesla’s China-made Model 3 vehicles before they get government subsidies. GM’s new China boss Julian Blissett told in August that it would renew its focus on luxury Cadillacs, roll out bigger but greener SUVs and target entry-level buyers with low-cost micro electric vehicles. Tesla sold 11.000 Shanghai-made Model 3 vehicles in China in July, according to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA). It uses a different counting method than Tesla’s official deliveries. +++ 

+++ Elon Musk appears to be opening a new front in the European battle for electric car supremacy: the power behind the wheel. Musk’s Tesla has recently acquired a license that will enable the carmaker to trade electricity across Western Europe, and the company has also been surveying customers in GERMANY about potentially using Tesla electricity in their cars. Such moves, consultants and energy industry executives say, could set the stage for the company (possibly with one or more partners) to take on established utilities in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market and autos heartland. Generating and trading power could help Tesla lower the running costs of its cars at a time rival automakers, including BMW, Audi, Porsche and Mercedes, are churning out new electric models. It could also step up competition to utilities such as Vattenfall and EnBW, which are investing in electric mobility services too, but like peers RWE and E.ON  are lumbered with the cost of winding down fossil fuel and nuclear power plants. Tesla already sells solar panels and the Powerwall battery storage system for homes, but now appears to be looking at selling electricity directly to customers and using the home storage systems to provide services to the grid. In June, the company became a member of the Paris-based EPEX Spot power exchange, a platform used to trade much of western Europe’s intraday cross-border electricity. A month later, it surveyed German customers about their interest in energy services. “What would encourage you to switch from your existing energy supplier?”, the survey said, according to a copy. “Would you buy a Tesla photovoltaic system and home storage (Tesla Powerwall) if you could switch to a specially designed Tesla electricity tariff?”, it added. Tesla also asked potential energy customers whether they would allow the company to control when cars would charge. This could allow it to coincide charging with cheap electricity rates during off peak hours, consultants and industry executives said. It could also open the way for Tesla to use power stored by customers to help balance the electricity grid, an increasingly important service in Germany as it becomes ever more dependent on volatile wind and solar power. Companies offering similar services in Germany include Shell-owned Sonnen, virtual power plant operator Next Kraftwerke and power aggregator Lichtblick. Tesla’s interest in renewable energy was one of the factors that led it to choose Brandenburg state around Berlin as the site for a new factory, a person familiar with the company’s deliberations told. In the first half of this year, some 65 % of the electricity on the Brandenburg grid was generated from renewable sources, mostly wind. But like other areas in the north of the country, it often wastes energy because Germany’s networks are limited in how much green power they can transport over long distances. Tesla’s Gigafactory 4 in Brandenburg will require 100 megawatts (MW) of power and up to 400 MW if battery cell production is also launched, according to transmission grid operator 50 Hertz. Tesla is a long way from building up enough battery assets to deliver frequency regulation at grid scale, say specialists such as utility Axpo. But the company has made several steps to expand its energy activities in recent months. In May, it applied for a UK license to supply power. It also uses a platform to bring users of its solar and Powerwall battery system into the electricity market in Australia. “The next and obvious step for Tesla is to get into production, especially of renewable power”, said consultant Berthold Hannes, who has 30 years of energy advisory experience. “Tesla could use its own locations, for example the roofs of plants or the sites of charging points, and alternatively, or in addition, it could take stakes in solar plants or wind parks”, he said. Germany pioneered the solar power market and is in the process of laying a policy framework that will make it easier for decentralized power generation and supply. “Tesla’s long-term plan definitely includes tackling the energy industry in a bigger way, though it’s questionable whether it invests enough at the moment in that area”, said a former member of Tesla management, who declined to be named. Thomas Deser, a portfolio manager at Union Investment, said it was unlikely Tesla would enter the German electricity distribution business on its own, “but it could do so with a competent partner from the energy industry”. Volkswagen’s chief executive Herbert Diess sought to quell speculation that the world’s largest carmaker, which is on a mass production push for electric cars, has plans to develop deeper ties with start-up rival Tesla. Diess met with Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk in Braunschweig, Germany, last week and during his visit he let Musk drive its new ID.3 electric car. “Just to be clear: we just drove the ID.3 and had a chat. There is no deal/cooperation in the making”, Diess said. +++  

+++ HYUNDAI has completed the final stages of its testing programe for the new Tucson ahead of its unveiling on 15 September, promising a “revolutionary redesign” for the SUV. In recent months, the 4th generation Tucson has been tested on the Nurburgring, in Sweden, around The Alps and in the south of Spain as it gears up to take on the Nissan Qashqai. Most recently, Hyundai was testing the SUV’s towing capacity on mountain roads in Austria, and has released a series of images showing a camouflaged prototype with a trailer. The latest pictures follow official teaser images that recently previewed both the exterior and interior styling of the Tucson, which Hyundai says reflects an “avant-garde Parametric Dynamics design theme”. The Tucson will be given a bold new front grille along with bold front lights referred to as ‘parametric hidden lights’. The daytime running lights are integrated into the grille, with Hyundai saying they will only be visible when switched on. The new Tucson’s interior showcases Hyundai’s vision of a “dual cockpit layout”, with a large portrait-angled touchscreen built into the centre of the dashboard and minimal use of physical switchgear. Sangyup Lee, Hyundai’s global design boss, said that the new Tucson’s design continued the marque’s Senuous Sportiness design language. He added: “With the all-new Tucson, we are introducing its ultimate evolution and a definitive statement about Hyundai’s unstoppable forward momentum”. Hyundai says the new Tucson is bigger and wider than its predecessor, with a stretched wheelbase to provide a “coupé-like character”. +++ 

+++ INDONESIA has eased lending rules for the purchase of electric vehicles (EVs) and on business loans linked to their manufacturing in a bid to boost investment in the sector, the financial services authority (OJK) said. In a statement, OJK said it ha eased rules on credit assessments and risk calculations for loans to buyers of EVs as well as for industries manufacturing components and batteries. It also said loans related to the development of infrastructure, such as charging stations, could be exempt from limits set by OJK. The move follows the government’s 2019 regulation aimed at accelerating the development of domestic electric vehicle industries, it said. Indonesia is keen to create a full nickel supply chain industry, starting from mining the ore, extract nickel chemicals used in EV batteries, down to building EVs at home. Indonesia this year stopped exports of unprocessed nickel ore to ensure its nickel supply will be processed domestically, including for the battery chemical plants that are currently under constructions. The central bank also removed loan downpayment requirements for purchases of environmentally-friendly vehicles for lenders with low non-performing ratio levels in its last policy meeting in a bid to boost consumption. +++ 

+++ JEEP apologizes for not bringing back the Grand Wagoneer sooner, but the team at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) probably would not have been able to do the premium 3-row SUV justice if it had come out a decade ago, at least according to the automaker’s head of design, Ralph Gilles (photo). “The times were not quite right at the time”, says Gilles, in an interview following the global reveal of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept that is a precursor to the short wheelbase version of the top-end SUV which goes on sale next summer for the 2022 model year. There will also be a long-wheelbase version, and it will be part of a larger Wagoneer family with 2 sizes of a more affordable, mainstream 3-row, as well. “Had this vehicle been born 10 years ago, I don’t think we would have executed it as well”, says Gilles. “There is luxury in every square centimeter of this vehicle. “My team 10 years ago wasn’t ready for that”. Since then, a lot has been learned, from other parts of the company, about how to build luxury vehicles. “A lot of things had to align, whether it was our knowhow, our capabilities, the platforms available to us, but honestly our confidence in the fact that the segment is very stable”, says Gilles. “Clearly looking back now, yes, we probably should have tried to get it out sooner, but I think our customers are still ready for it”. Gilles has helped create a number of versions over the years (designs that date back to the mid-’90s and are stored in a warehouse) as the full-size SUV project gained favor and was pushed back, repeatedly. Despite numerous delays, it was never dropped from the automaker’s series of 5-year product plans. “I think we ended up with the right one”, Gilles said. “Some of them were trying too hard to be retro or trying too hard to be spaceships. We went with something much more timeless. I think the design is elegant”. The automaker has enough retro with the Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Challenger, he said, acknowledging everyone wants to know where the wood panels went. “We thought about it for about 2 minutes. But then reminded ourselves the original had contact paper on the sides. There was no credible way to do it without actually cheapening the vehicle, so we said we’re not going to put it on the outside, we’re going to put it on the inside of the car this time”, says an unapologetic Gilles. And there are some similarities to the original, namely the way the windows were lowered as much as possible for an abundance of glass and a panoramic view. Also, the way the front grille leans forward is reminiscent of past Wagoneers, says Gilles. What did not make the cut: the rear window does not go down; a tradeoff to keep the glass width the team wanted. Not going retro was the right call, says Christian Meunier, president of the Jeep brand. The large SUV segment has changed; the vehicles are larger and more premium, with more technology and functionality than they were during the Grand Wagoneer’s past life. Retro styling today would be a mistake, he said. The new timeless design will allow the vehicle to live for 20 years. The segment sells about 500.000 units a year in the U.S. and Meunier says Jeep will be among top 3 in terms of total sales with 70 % of customers opting for the Wagoneer and the rest choosing the Grand Wagoneer. The beauty of the premium 3-row SUV is it is truly incremental to the Jeep brand and to the automaker in general, says Gilles. It will grow the brand and also retain Jeep Grand Cherokee customers who want a third row. While some might switch to a Ram pickup, many had to turn to the competition. But, because it the GW’s sales are incremental and it is not replacing an existing vehicle, there was no urgency, either. “This vehicle is a flagship of interiors for FCA in general, a flagship hopefully for the brand and we aim to be at the very top of the segment on the get-go versus climbing our way slowly”, says Gilles. “We want to launch among the very best in the world”. The Jeep team promises that while the mainstream Wagoneer will be premium and have a strong family resemblance to the much pricier Grand Wagoneer, there will be enough differentiation, especially in the quality of materials, to justify a the latter’s price tag that could be $40.000 higher. Creating the $60.000 – $70.000 Wagoneer was definitely a challenge for the team, said Meunier. And yes, we should expect further variants. Jim Morrison, head of the Jeep brand in North America, says they will listen to customers, who are already demanding versions that take on- and off- road performance to the limit. The executives would not say if additional models must wait for subsequent model years but they noted that Jeep has kept Grand Cherokee sales leadership by continuing to add new attractions, among them the supercharged Trackhawk and off-road-ready Trailhawk trims. And the Wagoneer family uses a modified version of the Ram platform and is expected to share some powertrains too. The new Ram 1500 TRX has the supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat V-8 pumping out 702 hp; perfect for a performance version of the Grand Wagoneer in the future. FCA showed the new concept to dealers who have been clamoring for it for years. There will be more ability to order the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer online, customers will be offered concierge service to pick it up and deliver it after service, customers will have a free 24/7 hotline and the SUV will come with 3 years of free maintenance. “One of the reasons it took so long is we wanted to do it right”, Gilles says. “We did not rush this car at all. I apologize to everyone that it took us so long but when you come to a party late, you bring a damn good bottle of wine”. From a luxury image standpoint, “we want to beat Range Rover”, said. “From a business standpoint, we want to beat GMC and Cadillac”. General Motors’ GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade model lines are leading sellers in the North American large, luxury SUV segment. Last year, GMC sold nearly 75.000 Yukons. Cadillac sold 35.424 Escalades, while Ford’s Lincoln brand sold 18.656 Navigators in 2019. Luxury SUVs built on the underpinnings of big pickups represent one of the most profitable segments in the global auto industry. Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer prices could range from $60,000 to $100,000, Meunier said. That is comparable to the Escalade and Yukon lineups. Most such vehicles are sold in North America and in certain Middle Eastern markets. FCA’s Jeep brand has not had an entry in this segment for decades. In Jeep’s absence, GM’s Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon and Ford’s Expedition and Lincoln Navigator models have dominated the segment in North America. Jaguar Land Rover’s Range Rover models have defined the premium end of the large luxury SUV market in North America and in other markets. Vehicles as large as the Grand Wagoneer, which is derived from a Ram pickup, are rare in China, the world’s largest market. The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will be built in a factory in suburban Detroit; a handicap for selling in China. However, Meunier said “there’s an opportunity for China which we will test in the next few weeks”. +++ 

+++ General Motors said it is acquiring an 11 % stake in U.S. electric truck maker NIKOLA , worth about $2 billion, and will team up with the company to make a pick-up. The companies will jointly build the Nikola Badger truck and expect production by the end of 2022. The truck will compete with Tesla’s Cybertruck, as well as electric pickups planned by startup Rivian, Ford and GM itself. Nikola claims the Badger will have a range of 1.00 km, compared with Cycbertruck’s claimed range of more than 800 km. The Cybertruck and other electric pickups have not launched yet. The alliance with Nikola is the second major deal in a week for GM and highlights the pressures faced by the auto industry to share costs to meet demands for cleaner vehicles. Last week it announced a tie-up with Honda to develop new internal combustion models. The agreements also signal the urgency of CEO Mary Barra’s efforts to convince investors that GM can slash costs in its traditional, internal combustion business and develop a profitable, viable electric vehicle business to compete with Tesla. General Motors will receive $2 billion in newly issued Nikola stock and will get a right to nominate 1 director to the electric truck maker’s board. It expects to receive benefits in excess of $4 billion between equity value of shares, contract manufacturing of the Badger, among other perks as part of the agreement. The companies expect to save $4 billion in battery and powertrain costs over 10 years and over $1 billion in engineering and validation costs. +++ 

+++ NISSAN said its sales in China fell 2.4 % in August from a year earlier, while rival Toyota and Honda sales surged in the world’s biggest auto market. Nissan is determined to boost sales in China as it struggles to fix problems from ousted leader Carlos Ghosn’s aggressive expansion drive. It said it sold 126.592 vehicles in China in August; up 4.7 % from the previous month as sales continue to recover from China’s coronavirus lockdown earlier this year. Toyota sold 164.400 vehicles in China last month; up 27.2 % from last year. Of the total, 20.700 came from its premium Lexus brand, which showed a 22.3 % sales jump compared to a year earlier. Honda sold 148.636 units; up 19.7 %. +++ 

+++ RENAULT will develop and assemble the next generation of partner Nissan’s Micra models, a senior executive at the Japanese firm said, as the 2 companies try to reboot their alliance with tighter cooperation in production. Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s chief operating officer, said in an interview that the Micra plan was an example of their “leader-follower” strategy, with one firm taking the lead on certain car types. Nissan Micra models are already assembled at Renault’s Flins factory in France, although that site is set to be turned over to recycling activities around 2024, when the life cycle of the car ranges made there expires. “For the next generation of Micra, we will follow Renault, and we will ask Renault to develop and make the future Micra for us”, Gupta said. Both struggling financially, Renault and Nissan have cleared the decks of old managers and outlined joint cost-saving plans as they try to move on from a scandal surrounding former alliance boss Carlos Ghosn. +++ 

+++ There’s so much to say about the comparison between SALOONS and SUVs/crossovers these days, but most (if not everyone) will tell you that SUVs are all the rage. Sales numbers are proof and the fact that you see them more on the road right now than before further solidifies that notion. With that said, Mercedes-Benz is still in full confidence with SALOONS , especially with the S-Class, which made a recent global debut for its 7th generation. In light of that event, Mercedes chief Ola Källenius shared his thoughts with a handful of media personnel. “With regard to relevance, the saloon in the luxury segment remains highly relevant”, Källenius said in an interview. Källenius, of course, is happy with how Mercedes’ SUV sales are turning out, representing a third of every car sold from the German automaker. The GLS is the main key point in the Mercedes SUV lineup, as well as the GLS Maybach, answering the SUV demand from its customers. But Källenius isn’t losing hope with its 3-box vehicles, especially the S-Class. According to him, the upper-luxury segment saloons “seems to be very, very solid”. The flagship S-Class saloon remains to be a strong seller for Mercedes. In fact, its biggest market isn’t in Europe or in the U.S.: it’s in China where 700 S-Class saloons are sold every month. Indeed, saloons are here to stay, but it won’t take long before the time that you have to spend a little more than what you should if you want a saloon in your garage. As for the S-Class Coupe and Convertible, well, those 2 have been confirmed to be meeting the end of the road. +++ 

+++ Hyundai and SK INNOVATION will expand their partnership in electric vehicles (EVs) by exploring what’s called the Battery-as-a-Service (BaaS) concept. BaaS, a concept similar to the Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) idea utilized by car-sharing platforms like Uber, refers to managing various aspects of a battery’s life cycle as demand for EVs increases. The 2 companies said Tuesday that they signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in the field. The cooperation will involve selling batteries as well as leasing or renting them, managing the batteries through their life cycles and recycling or reusing them. “Unlike previous partnerships in which battery makers only supplied batteries to mobility companies, this aims to achieve BaaS, which will allow more varied partnerships between mobility and battery industries”, Hyundai said in a release. SK Innovation’s batteries in Kia’s Niro EV will be the first in the project. The companies will work on recycling batteries from EVs to be used as energy storage systems (ESS) and extracting metals from used batteries such as lithium, nickel and cobalt. “The latest collaboration with SK Innovation, which is in charge of the first batch of batteries that will be used in EVs manufactured on the E-GMP platform, planned for operation from 2021, signals an important step toward further partnerships between battery and mobility industries,” said Chi Young-cho, president of Hyundai in charge of the strategy and technology division. Jee Dong-seob, CEO of SK Innovation’s battery business, said the 2 companies will come up with new business opportunities throughout the life cycles of EV batteries that will contribute to the government’s Green New Deal project. Hyundai and SK Innovation have already been collaborating in the EV battery business. The battery maker has been supplying lithium-ion batteries for Kia’s all-electric and plug-in hybrid models such as Niro and Soul. SK Innovation rival LG Chem supplies its batteries for Hyundai’s eco-friendly models. Hyundai executive vice chairman Euisun Chung has been active in expanding its partnerships with domestic battery makers this year. In the first half of this year, Chung made a visit to manufacturing plants of all 3 South Korean battery makers (LG Chem, SK Innovation and Samsung SDI) to be briefed about each company’s core technologies and met with their chiefs. Samsung SDI doesn’t currently supply batteries to Hyundai. But the meeting between Chung and Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong provoked speculation that an official partnership is near. SK Innovation will supply the first batch of batteries for EVs assembled on the E-GMP platform from next year. LG Chem is in charge of the second batch. Suppliers for the third and fourth batches haven’t been decided. +++ 

+++ Now of course, none of us break the speed limits while driving the public road, so in theory, manufacturer-fitted SPEED LIMITERS should be okay. Apparently not. According to a new online study from car supermarket Motorpoint, the majority of motorists don’t want such devices on their cars. It showed that 61 % of 1.524 respondents were against the ruling that by 2022, all new cars are to be fitted with speed limiters across Europe and the UK. European Commission legislation ruled that all new cars to be fitted with an ‘Intelligent Speed Assistance’ (or ISAs), which use GPS data to track cars and prevent them from breaking speed limits and would signal an alert when the driver hits the speed limit. The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) believes that the change will help reduce collisions on the roads by 30 % and save up to 25.000 lives over the following 15 years. “While we welcome such new technology as part of the continuing drive to make our roads safer, we still need to guard against an over reliance on gadgets such as speed limiters when travelling in our cars and need to continue to keep our eyes on the road and hands on the wheel at all times”, said Mark Carpenter, chief executive officer of Motorpoint. +++ 

+++ Robots are not efficient enough for TESLA ’s new car factory in Germany, which plans to replace hundreds of them with giant aluminium casting machines to build simpler chassis parts, a person familiar with the matter told. The electric carmaker has struggled to raise production volumes through hi-tech automation and was forced to fly in a new production line from Germany to Nevada in 2018 after robots failed to coordinate seamlessly at the U.S. factory. For the new Model Y, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has said he will replace 70 components glued and riveted into the car’s rear underbody with a single module made using an aluminium casting machine. That’s just the start of a new automation drive, with the vehicle’s front module and other parts to come, the source said. “Will be amazing to see it in operation! Biggest casting machine ever made. Will make rear body in a single piece, including crash rails”, Musk said on Twitter on August 13. He did not say where or when the new machine would be rolled out. Tesmanian, a blog specialising in Tesla news, said the company’s new plant in Brandenburg, near Berlin, would be supplied with 8 Gigapress machines. Car bodies have traditionally been made by assembling multiple stamped metal panels, which has helped carmakers to design crumple zones to absorb energy during a crash, but Musk is charting a new course at the Brandenburg plant. “He wants the car’s body to be made from modules, as few of them as possible”, the source explained. “He sees casting as the new way forward. Like casting a toy car out of metal”. The Gigapress, which is the size of a small house, will be supplied by Italy’s IDRA Srl, and forms a key part of Musk’s drive to reinvent “the machine that builds the machine”, the source added. IDRA declined to comment. IDRA has previously said it has supplied its first ever Gigapress to a North American auto manufacturer, without naming it. Musk’s push to reduce manufacturing complexity comes as German carmakers BMW, Mercedes and Audi face pressure from their workers to preserve domestic assembly jobs which are under threat as regulators push electric cars that have fewer components than combustion-engined ones. Aluminium has proven cumbersome to use in large components because it is difficult to stamp into complex shapes. To get intricate ridges and other shapes, aluminium pieces have needed to be glued or riveted, since welding deforms the metal. Injecting molten aluminium into a cast and having robots pull out the moulded metal allows Tesla to combine several manufacturing steps. Sandy Munro, chief executive officer of manufacturing consulting firm Munro & Associates and a previous critic of some of Tesla’s manufacturing processes, lauded its improvements. “We were very critical of Tesla when we first started on their vehicles. The gaps were horrific, the weld spatter was everywhere. Nothing fit”, Munro said during a recent presentation with consultants Frost & Sullivan. But the switch from the Model 3 to a larger vehicle, the Model Y, resulted in a step change in manufacturing improvements, he said. Tesla has already reduced the rear underbody to 2 parts, forming the largest piece of aluminium that Munro has seen in 30 years of analysing components. “This is the biggest casting we have seen in a car company. This is just spectacular”, he said. +++ 

+++ TESLA MODEL Y production in China is likely to begin ahead of schedule, as early as November. Work is progressing rapidly on the phase 2 project of Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory, which will be mainly used to produce the Model Y, and the main structure of the plant has been completed. Tesla has to proceed with “interior decoration” and “electromechanical works,” with the former set to be done by October, and the latter by November. The Model Y is the second car Tesla make in China after the Model 3. Tesla China earlier said it started taking bookings for its made-in-China Model Y and production of preordered cars will start next year. The Shanghai Gigafactory, Tesla’s first such facility outside the United States, started trial production in late October and is now producing 3.000 vehicles a week. It took only 358 days for the Shanghai Gigafactory to deliver its first Model 3 electric car to a local buyer after the groundbreaking ceremony for its phase 1 plant. Its goal is to have a production capacity of 500.000 vehicles per year. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA reported a 23 % drop in U.S. new vehicle sales in August versus the same month in 2019, as a two-month industrywide shutdown of auto production in the spring to halt the spread of Covid-19, as well as an uncertain economic recovery, weighed on sales. This was Toyota’s fifth straight month of U.S. sales declines. Hyundai said its U.S. sales fell 8.4 % in August, largely due to a decline in fleet sales to rental car companies, government agencies and corporations. Hyundai had posted a slight sales gain in July. Automakers have struggled to get inventory to dealers to replenish stocks following the pandemic-fueled shutdowns. This has enabled them to scale back consumer discounts on popular models and raise vehicle prices. According to consultancies LMC and J.D. Power, which had predicted industrywide U.S. new vehicle sales to be down 20 % in August, nearly 45 % of vehicles sold during the month spent fewer than 20 days on dealer lots, 35 percentage points more than the previous year. TrueCar subsidiary ALG said that the average transaction price for vehicles was up 3.9% in August versus the same month in 2019. While U.S. demand for new vehicles has remained stronger than expected after driving off a cliff in March and April as a number of states shut down because of the coronavirus, there is plenty of uncertainty over whether a sustained recovery is possible. Outbreaks of COVID-19 across southern and southwestern U.S. states during the summer appear to have slowed the economic recovery. Unemployment remains high and could weigh further on sales moving forward. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN sees no need for a 4-day week at its plants to secure jobs despite a growing shift to electric cars that are easier to build and require fewer workers, the company’s head of labour relations was quoted saying. Germany’s largest trade union IG Metall on August 15 proposed negotiating for a transition to a 4-day week across industry to help secure jobs, against the backdrop of economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis and structural shifts in the auto sector. But labour chief Bernd Osterloh told that VW’s existing cost-cutting plan, that includes reducing the workforce by up to 7.000 through the early retirement of administrative staff at its Wolfsburg headquarters, was enough to help it overcome the coronavirus crisis and other issues. “At the moment we are not talking about less work”, Osterloh said. “With the Golf we had the production levels of last year in June and July and introduced extra shifts”, he added, referring to one of the company’s most popular models. “The 4-day week is not an issue for us”. Demands by IG Metall, which represents 2.3 million employees in the metal working and electrical sectors, are potentially significant in Germany because they often set benchmarks for wage negotiations in those industries and beyond. VW in 2016 set out a cost-reduction programme dubbed Future Pact, but the company has ruled out compulsory layoffs until 2025. Osterloh was quoted as saying in July that VW had no need for deeper cost cuts to counter the effects of Covid-19, which dealt a severe blow to car sales. +++ 

+++ Spy photographers have snapped a near-production ready version of the pure-electric VOLKSWAGEN ID.6 , ahead of its expected Chinese-market release next year. There’s still no official word yet on whether the new SUV model will be sold in Europe, but the fact that a test mule was spotted undergoing development in the Alps could mean it’s more likely. The upcoming flagship Volkswagen ID.6 was previewed by the ID.Roomzz concept at the 2019 Shanghai Motor Show; and this development mule appears to have retained most of the show car’s styling features. Volkswagen has ditched the concept’s wing-mounted cameras and swapped its quirky dot-matrix front bumper for a more conventional unit, but the SUV’s basic shape goes pretty much unchanged. The ID.6 will also adopt the same “face” as the rest of Volkswagen’s pure-electric ID. range, with similar headlamps and C-shaped grille surrounds. The rear of the vehicle looks almost identical to the imminent ID.4, albeit scaled up to luxury SUV proportions. Volkswagen has used a similar lighting design and tailgate layout, while the rear spoiler appears to be a larger facsimile of its smaller sibling’s. Inside, there’ll be strong similarities with the rest of the ID. line-up. Expect the same compact digital instrument cluster, high-mounted infotainment system and capacitive heater controls. Buyers should also get an ambient interior lighting system, along with a suite of eco-friendly trim, such as ArtVelours upholstery, which is made from recycled plastic bottles. As with Volkswagen’s other electric vehicles, the ID.6 will be based on the company’s MEB underpinnings. The most potent model will feature a pair of electric motors – one up front and one at the rear – which should provide an output of 306 hp and a 0–100 kph time of less than 7 seconds. There’s no official word on range for the flagship model yet, but the ID.Roomzz concept was powered by and 82 kWh battery pack, which Volkswagen said offered a range of 450 km according to the WLTP cycle. A 150 kW fast-charging system will also likely be provided, which will see the battery recover an 80 % charge in just 30 minutes. As with the ID.4, buyers should also be offered an entry-level, single-motor powertrain with 204 hp and smaller battery packs ranging in size between 45 kWh and 77 kWh, which is constant across the company’s new electric line-up, due to the layout of the MEB platform. When it eventually reaches the global market, the ID.6 will act as a direct rival for the BMW iX3 and forthcoming Polestar 3. It will also act as the technological flagship for Volkswagen’s all-electric range. +++

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