Newsflash: BMW presenteert iNext op 11 november

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+++ ASTON MARTIN expects electrified models to account for more than 20 % of its global sales by the year 2024, said CEO Tobias Moers, who also confirmed that a plug-in hybrid version of the DBX luxury SUV is scheduled to arrive in 2023. Now that the British brand has secured access to advanced Mercedes-Benz tech, it could even scrap its hybrid V6 drivetrain project (which was supposed to debut on the Valhalla), in favor of a Mercedes unit. After expanding on their partnership, Mercedes could boost their 2.3 % stake in Aston Martin to as much as 20 % in return for hybrid and EV powertrains. “We are still working on that hybrid drivetrain, but we now have alternatives. It’s too early to say”, stated the Aston Martin CEO, implying that his company now has a choice to make regarding development. After the Valhalla, Aston Martin will debut an electrified Vanquish, with Moers stating that people who buy mid-engined supercars nowadays expect them to have some type of hybrid technology. As for a fully-electric model, it will arrive in 2025-2026, utilizing Mercedes-Benz technology. I should point out that Aston Martin was planning to launch its first EV in 2021-2022 using the revived Lagonda badge, however those plans have now been scrapped. “Lagonda has a different purpose for the future. Electric-driven cars are supposed to be Aston Martins”, he said. While he’s open to using a Mercedes electric architecture, Moers didn’t specify if it would be a complete platform. “If you did everything yourself, like creating a new EV architecture, your capital expenditure line would look dramatically more expensive”. Moers also hinted at a new front-engine sports car for 2023, one that’s likely to replace the DB11. +++

+++ AUDI achieved breakeven thanks to a strong third quarter in which deliveries and revenue were up year-on-year and operating profit clearly positive. In the first 9 months, 1.2 million Audi brand vehicles were delivered with a revenue of €33.3 billion, an operating profit before special items of €221 million and operating return on sales before special items of 0.7 %. The net cash flow of €3.8 billion was significantly above the high prior-year figure despite the corona crisis, partially due to one-time effects. Chief Financial Officer Arno Antlitz: “In the corona crisis, Audi is proving its resilience and thus maintaining its financial scope to continue investing in future fields such as electrification and digitalization”. After a very challenging first half of the year against the backdrop of the corona pandemic, Audi is now catching up operationally and financially. Deliveries and revenue in the third quarter were both higher than in the prior-year period and operating profit is clearly positive. On a cumulative basis, the company has achieved breakeven in terms of operating profit and confirmed its ability to generate cash. “In an economically difficult environment, we succeeded in lifting our operating business in the third quarter close to the level of recent years again. Audi is thus proving its resilience in the corona crisis and is maintaining its financial scope to continue investing in future fields such as electrification and digitalization”, Antlitz said. Thanks to a sharp rise in demand since the middle of the year, the Audi brand’s cumulative deliveries of 1.187.190 vehicles in the first 9 months (2019: 1.357.102) developed significantly better than the overall market, which contracted by 20.2 %. Deliveries in China actually rose by 4.4 %. Against the backdrop of the economic recovery in key markets, the company delivered approximately 30.000 or 6.4 % more vehicles in the third quarter than in the prior-year period. Demand for Audi models in China rose significantly by 17.8 % in the third quarter; deliveries in Europe remained at the previous year’s level, while sales in the US market rose from a still-low level. Due to the negative impact of the corona pandemic on markets and sales, revenue amounted to €33.264 million in the first 9 months of the year (2019: €41.332 million). Positive factors were the good sales performance of individual models such as the all-electric e-Tron and, against the backdrop of strong business in China, higher revenue from the supply of parts kits for local production. The positive market trend in the third quarter is also reflected by a 1.7 % increase in revenue compared with the same quarter of the previous year to €12.788 million (2019: €12.571 million). With an operating profit of €114 million for the first 9 months (2019: €3.239 million), Audi clearly exceeded the breakeven point following the pandemic-related losses in the first half of the year. The operating return on sales was 0.3 % (2019: 7.8 %). Adjusted for special items of minus €108 million related to the diesel issue, operating profit amounted to €221 million and the adjusted operating return on sales was 0.7 %. In the successful third quarter, the company posted an operating profit of €864 million (2019: €938 million) and an operating return on sales of 6.8 % (2019: 7.5 %). Audi’s financial result increased significantly to €1.089 million (2019: €429 million) due to the sale of HERE shares to new partners and the disposal of a subsidiary within the Volkswagen Group. Financial result also reflects higher net interest income and the strong business in China. Profit before taxes of €1.117 million in the third quarter was above the previous year’s figure (€1.088 million) and was €1.202 million in the first 9 months (2019: €3.668 million). Despite lower earnings due to the pandemic, Audi generated a net cash flow of €3.783 million, above the high level of the prior-year period (€3.271 million). In addition to the targeted reduction of inventories, particularly in the second quarter, and cash inflows from the sale of investments, strict cost discipline and significant savings on non-vehicle-related investments also contributed to the net cash flow. Antlitz: “We take future-oriented decisions on where to invest and what to leave out. We are not cutting back at all on strategically important projects, on our product portfolio and especially on our electric roadmap”. The Audi Group is now cautiously optimistic about the rest of the year, but it is hardly possible to estimate the impact of the second wave of the corona pandemic reliably. Subject to this development, the company expects the positive delivery trend to continue in the 4th quarter. Audi deliveries and revenue in the full year are likely to be significantly below the respective prior-year figures. Operating profit is expected to be substantially lower than in 2019, but clearly positive. Audi is now forecasting a net cash flow at the previous year’s level. +++ 

+++ The BMW iNext, an electric SUV with advanced autonomous systems, will be unwrapped on 11 November as the next step in the brand’s transition to a maker of electric vehicles. Making its first production-spec appearance as part of a wider event looking “ahead to the future of mobility”, the iNext sits on a radical new platform and will provide the “building blocks” for the BMW Group’s future. Official images previously showed the production car testing in prototype form in Sweden ahead of an expected sales launch in 2021. While the iNext is a similar size to the X5, BMW has said that it represents ‘Project i 2.0’, sitting outside of its planned range of electric ‘i’ SUVs as a new ‘technology flagship’ for the brand. The test car was running at BMW’s winter testing facility in Arjeplog, Sweden, and features a number of notable differences from the concept first shown in 2018. The backwards-opening rear doors have been replaced by a conventional pair and larger B-pillars have been added. While disguised, the grille on the test car is a more standard item than the concept’s bold translucent panel that is used to house many of the autonomous systems. The iNext will be built at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Germany from 2021. It will be the first car from the firm to use a new platform that will be able to spawn conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, plug-in hybrids and electric cars using the same basic architecture and on the same production line. This will underpin future BMW models from the 3 Series upwards and allow a rear-engine configuration in some. BMW will build all of its future models on 1 of 2 platforms: 1 for front-wheel drive cars and 1 for those with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. On the latter platform, electric cars will have a rear-mounted drivetrain as standard. Plug-in hybrids will have a rear-mounted electric motor and a transversely-mounted engine driving the front wheels. Electric models will retain the classic BMW rear-wheel-drive layout. Other options will include twin-motored, four-wheeldrive electric cars and conventional mechanical four-wheel-drive ICE models. BMW sources say the maximum range of the electric models could be up to 450 miles in future X-series models (which are likely to have a bigger battery capacity), while the plug-in hybrids will manage a range of around 100 km. The new architecture will also incorporate a new autonomous technology platform that will eventually offer Level 5 autonomy, wherein the car does not require a driver. BMW showed all three prototype autonomy ‘PAD’ processing units at the 2018 Los Angeles motor show, the smallest of which will first appear in 2021 on the production iNext to offer Level 3 autonomy (hands-off and eyes-off) at up to 130 kph on motorways. The Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous systems will enter testing in 2021 on a fleet of pilot cars. Level 4 aims for ‘hands-off and mind-off’ autonomy in urban situations, while Level 5 will offer driverless urban travel at up to 70 kph. The controversial styling of the iNext concept reflects the production vehicle in only a ‘broad-brush’ way, according to BMW insiders. Expect the sheer surfaces, especially around the sides and rear, to be translated, along with the large windows and an interior that has much of the switchgear blended in as touch-sensitive surfaces that appear upon demand. +++

 

+++ Sales of electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen-powered vehicles in CHINA , the world’s biggest auto market, are forecast to rise to 20 % of overall new car sales by 2025 from just 5 % now, the State Council said. Sales of so-called new energy vehicles (NEV), which include battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles will rise as China’s NEV industry has improved their technology and competitiveness, the State Council, China’s cabinet, said in a policy paper as part of the release of the country’s 14th 5-year plan through to 2025. The State Council advocated for significant improvements in the technologies of China’s electric vehicle components and building more efficient electric vehicle charging and battery swapping networks to make electric vehicles more convenient. The paper also said the Chinese government will improve the green car quota system to guide automakers to make more environmentally friendly vehicles after it ends NEV subsidies in 2 years and boost NEV sales for public uses such as bus and trucks. Companies including Tesla, Volkswagen and Nio are expanding electric vehicle production in China, with sales expected to be around 1.1 million units this year. The new outlook for NEVs in 2025 is lower than a 25 % goal mentioned in a policy proposal published by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology last year. +++ 

+++ To mark 15 years of localization in the Chinese market, DAIMLER , parent company of Mercedes-Benz, has hailed this strategy as being a key element of its success. Daimler started local production of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars at the Sino-German joint venture Beijing Benz Automotive Company with the E-Class back in 2005. In 2010, the first long-wheelbase E-Class dedicated to customers in China rolled off the assembly line. Today, locally-produced Mercedes-Benz passenger cars include a range of 8 different models, including 4 long-wheelbase models exclusively designed for customers in China, and 1 battery electric vehicle. Early this September, the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Long-Wheelbase, tailored to the Chinese market, rolled off the assembly line of the joint venture in Beijing, and hit a local production record of 3 million passenger cars. A few weeks later, this special new model made its market launch in China at the Beijing auto show in late September. Starting from the very first localized Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Beijing Benz plant has been continuously making enhancements to ensure that it complies with Mercedes-Benz’s global unified production standards. One point is the Quality Live system built using internet of things technology. The system enables employees to check the quality of every vehicle in real time, identifies potential issues and proposes effective solutions for quality management. Throughout the production of the E-Class Long-Wheelbase, a range of highly precise robots are equipped for stamping, welding, painting and assembly processes to ensure efficiency and accuracy with micron-level processing precision. For the production of the E-Class Long-Wheelbase, the plant utilizes optical inspection equipment for surface defects of stamped parts, that can detect invisible defects within 30 seconds. It’s the world’s leading defect detection system for stamped parts. On the production site, automated guided vehicles, or AGVs, can be seen operating in an orderly manner to transit vehicle parts with accurately calculated routes, enhancing the transportation efficiency and agility throughout the production process. The plant is also testing some pilot projects, exploring ways to bring 5G technology into real use to further increase its productivity. Local talents and research and development are also integral parts of Daimler’s localization efforts. With a strong local team and comprehensive training programs for employees, Daimler continues to contribute to the development of the Chinese automotive industry. To even better learn the tastes of customers in China and develop products that fit local demand, the Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China Center was opened in Beijing in 2014, and has become Daimler’s most comprehensive R&D center outside of Germany. Daimler has also expanded its cooperation with IT companies to further improve the digital experience for customers in China. For instance, the integration of China specific connectivity features and smart home solutions provide customers with a more seamless digital experience. As for MPV products, the first Mercedes-Benz Vans Research and Development Center outside Germany was established in Fuzhou in 2013, with a scope of work including product development and prototype construction, as well as component and vehicle testing. With the design, construction and equipment strictly aligned with Daimler’s global standards, the center boasts advanced facilities needed for vehicle development. For more than a decade, Mercedes-Benz has manufactured vans catering to the needs of customers in China at the Sino-German joint venture Fujian Benz Automotive Company. Currently, the carmaker is locally producing 2 Van models, the V-Class and the Vito, at the Fuzhou-based plant. The new Mercedes-Benz V-Class L celebrated its market launch in September. With major milestones for localization in 2020, Daimler remains dedicated to its strategy of further investment and expanding its local footprint in production, research and development and purchasing to even better serve the needs of its customers in China. +++ 

+++ The Hyundai Motor Group said it has appointed Luc DONCKERWOLKE to chief creative officer in charge of design-related communications for the Genesis brand, electric vehicle Ioniq and its fuel cell vehicles. Donckerwolke originally joined the South Korean automotive group in 2016, gradually overseeing design for Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands as the chief design officer before resigning in March to focus on his health. He is returning to the group following temporary time away in which he took to take care of personal matters, according to the automaker. “It is with great honor and pride that I start this second chapter at Hyundai Motor Group to consolidate creativity. In collaboration with design teams, I will communicate diversity and richness of group brands’ design, which is not only technologically dynamic but also customer-centric”, he said. Hyundai said Donckerwolke is considered a perfect fit for the new role of CCO as he has been deeply involved in establishing the current design direction and strategy for Hyundai, Kia and Genesis. He resumes his career as executive vice president and his office will be located at the Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Center. +++

 

+++ Ford hasn’t publicly announced how much it will charge for the electric version of the 14th-generation F-150 , but it confirmed the truck won’t land in the same price bracket as the recently-introduced GMC Hummer EV. Jim Farley, the company’s new CEO, stressed he wants to make electric technology as accessible as possible. “We are not going after the $100.000+ market. These are affordable vehicles”, he revealed in an interview. He added the line-up of EVs he has in mind will cost between $20.000 and $70.000 before options enter the equation, and he pointed out those figures apply to the European and American markets. What he didn’t clarify is whether those numbers include available government incentives. If they don’t, a $20.000 electric car could give Ford a significant advantage on either side of the pond. In the United States, the cheapest new electric car is the Mini Cooper SE, which starts at $29.900 and offers 110 miles of range. In Europe, the crown goes to the Renault Zoe, which carries a base price of €24.200 in France. I don’t know what a Ford-badged EV with a $20.000 base price could look like, though the firm’s burgeoning alliance with Volkswagen gave it access to the modular MEB platform that underpins the ID.3 and the ID.4. One MEB-based model has been announced for the European market. Similarly, nothing guarantees the entry-level model will be sold in the United States. As of this writing, Ford’s cheapest EV is the Mustang Mach-E ($43.995). At the other end of the spectrum, Farley’s statement confirms the aforementioned electric F-150 won’t cost more than $70.000. For context, GMC’s Hummer EV will land with a base price of $112.595, though cheaper variants will join the range a little later in the production run, and the Tesla Cybertruck’s base price is pegged at $39.900. While Ford won’t venture into six-digit territory, nothing prevents its upmarket Lincoln division from marching into the space occupied by Tesla, among others. How the firm will adopt electrification remains to be seen; It planned to build an SUV on a platform sourced from Rivian, but the project was abruptly canceled in April 2020. Lincoln executives stressed they remain committed to releasing an electric car in the not-too-distant future. +++

+++ FORD said it had closed the sale of one of its factories in Brazil to civil construction and logistics firm Construtora Sao Jose and asset manager Fram Capital, without disclosing the price. A previous agreement to sell the factory in Sao Bernardo do Campo, which makes the poor-selling Ford Fiesta as well as buses, to Brazilian automaker CAOA fell through last year. Ford subsequently announced it was closing the plant. The Ford statement disclosing the sale to Sao Jose and Fram did not give any details on the transaction. +++

+++ Carlos GHOSN said French criminal investigators will travel to Beirut to question him next year in a probe of expenses covered by a Dutch subsidiary of Renault and Nissan. Authorities in France are investigating the former Renault chairman’s interactions with a car distributor in Oman and spending on events and trips that may have been personal, as well as payments made by Renault-Nissan BV to consultants. “Why should I flee the French judiciary?”, Ghosn said in an interview. “I will answer the questions that come my way. I have a clear conscience”. He said he made “a mistake” in accepting a proposal by Versailles Palace to use a hall at the former seat of French royalty free of charge to celebrate his wife’s 50th birthday. “If I had known everything that would happen and the way it would be perceived, I would never have done it”, Ghosn said. His entourage previously said he would pay back costs. Ghosn, who holds French and Brazilian passports, said he won’t risk traveling to the 2 countries out of fear that any problem along the way could give Japanese authorities an opportunity to obtain his extradition. He said he retains armed bodyguards, though he doesn’t think any jurisdiction would try to kidnap him. “I’m forced to stay in Lebanon”, Ghosn said. Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo almost 2 years ago and escaped to Lebanon in December. He tells his version of events in a book in French that is going on sale this week. Its title translates as “Time for the Truth”. Planning the escape took “a few weeks”, rather than months, he told. +++

+++ HONDA has joined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in efforts to avoid EU emissions fines by pooling its fleet with Tesla this year. Revealed in a European Commission filing from last week, it’s the latest company to declare its intent to join together with another manufacturer to help meet the tough 95 g/km fleet average CO2 target and avoid hefty fines. Rules dictate that companies that have earned a high number of emissions credits (supercredits) for selling low-CO2 models, such as EVs, may sell them on to others struggling to meet their CO2 targets. Pooling these credits allows car makers to count their combined fleets as one. It’s reported that Tesla has made more than $1.4 billion between 2016 and 2018 by selling these credits to other US manufacturers. FCA avoided billions in fines by spending hundreds of millions to join Tesla’s EU pool and now Honda is doing the same, although a figure is yet to be disclosed. The European Commission document suggests that Honda has registered only around 1.000 examples of its E electric supermini in Western Europe since it was introduced earlier this year. That figure isn’t enough to generate enough supercredits for Honda to avoid EU fines. Last week, Ford announced plans to form a CO2 pool with Volvo and Polestar to avoid fines. Toyota and Mazda are expected to do similar, while Renault has opened up its CO2 pool to other manufacturers. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Group has joined forces with SAIC and its subsidiary, MG. +++

+++ China’s leading automaker First Automotive Works (FAW) Group said sales of its iconic brand HONGQI surpassed 153.000 units in the first 10 months of this year; up 103 % year-on-year. The automaker sold 23.000 cars of the brand in October; an increase of 93 % year-on-year, indicating a rising demand for the vehicle. Hongqi’s sales exceeded 100.000 vehicles last year. The company has set sales targets of 200.000 cars this year and 600.000 in 2025. Founded in 1953 in the northeastern city of Changchun, capital of Jilin province, FAW Group is regarded as the cradle of China’s auto industry. The state-owned FAW Group is planning to invest 210 billion yuan ($31.4 billion) in its Hongqi brand’s research and development, as part of the effort to make it a globally renowned premium brand. FAW, Chinese partner of Volkswagen, Toyota and Mazda, unveiled the plan at a technology meeting it held last week in Changchun, Jilin province. The carmaker said the number of staff for Hongqi research and development as well as other innovative services will reach 30.000 in 10 years. At the same event, FAW Chairman Xu Liuping unveiled a tech roadmap called R. Flag for the Hongqi brand by 2030, which covers 7 aspects including electrification, connectivity and digitalization. Hongqi has seen rapid development since a comeback strategy was launched in 2018. Established in 1958, Hongqi was known for its limousines and parade cars made for top Chinese leaders, but its sales had been almost negligible until very recently. It now offers 8 models and another 13 are under development. Sales in October reached 23.000; an increase of 93 % year-on-year, indicating a rising demand for the brand, despite the coronavirus pandemic. The company estimates its sales this year will exceed 200.000 and reach 400.000 in 2021. Besides the Hongqi brand, FAW has made progress with other brands as well. FAW now has 112 models available in the market bearing 5 different marques. It has another 59 models in development and 43 planned. The carmaker sold 2.66 million vehicles in the first 3 quarters of 2020; up 8 % from the same period last year. Statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show that carmakers in the country sold 17.11 million vehicles from January to September, down 6.9 % year-on-year. +++

 

+++ HYUNDAI Motor Group chairman Euisun Chung and top management met with leaders of the company’s union to promise cooperation in a time of rapid change in the auto industry. The meet-up between the 2 parties is an unusual one for Korea’s largest automaker, whose labor union is notoriously famous for its hard-line activities. This is the first time since 2001 that Hyundai Motor Group’s chairman met with union leaders. According to Hyundai and the labor union, the leaders met after president Moon Jae-in’s visit to the carmaker’s Ulsan plant. Hyundai chairman Chung, presidents Ha Eon-tae, Lee Won-hee and executive vice president Chang Jae-hoon took part in the 90-minute discussion with Hyundai’s labor union head Lee Sang-soo. Results of the meeting were positive, both sides said in separate statements. The labor union had asked for a face-to-face session last month in a comment released right after Chung’s appointment to the chairman position. “Stabilizing labor-management relations is a big goal during my term as chairman”, Chung was quoted as saying by the labor union. “We need to find ways that could align the labor union members’ satisfaction with the company’s growth”. Chung stressed cooperation between management and the labor union is of the utmost importance as the auto industry is going through a transformational phase with the rise of electric vehicles (EVs). “Management and labor should work together in order to ensure the company is ahead of change. I will do my best as chairman. Cooperation from the field is very much in need”. The labor union’s Lee requested that investment for future mobility businesses be concentrated in Hyundai’s Ulsan complex. The production increase of electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles raises concerns for the labor union as these eco-friendly cars require fewer parts than vehicles powered by internal combustible engines. Shifting production lines could lead to massive downsizing of current production staff. “Ulsan was the epicenter of Hyundai Motor’s growth. For the sake of its local economy, investments in new businesses should be focused there”, said Lee. “Business restructuring is unnecessary at this point. Production of alternative parts for EVs should be handled within the Ulsan plant”. Lee also expressed opposition to Hyundai expanding foreign investments for future-oriented businesses, saying that increasing investment for facilities inside the country would enhance overall productivity and quality. “Investments in research and development and production equipment should be greatly increased”, Lee suggested as a way to overcome quality issues. Hyundai is currently grappling with reports of more than a dozen Kona Electric’s catching fire, while the automaker reported a quarterly loss in the July-September period due to provisions for costs related to the Theta 2 gasoline engine. “There should be no division between management and labor when it comes to quality. Let’s work on this together”, Lee added. The meeting is a symbolic event as the company has had a long history of intense management-labor conflicts, cited by analysts as a major risk factor. Signs of recovery surfaced this year when the labor union and management agreed to freeze annual wages for the first time in 11 years. It was the third time this had happened in the company’s history, the other times being the Asian financial crisis in 1998 and global financial crisis in 2008. This also marks the second year that the 2 held wage negotiations without a walkout; a frequent occurrence in prior occasions. “There seems to be a common understanding that the current situation the auto industry is facing, with the Covid-19 and the global economic recession, calls for efforts from both sides”, Hyundai said in a statement. +++ 

+++ With a mixture of realism and regret, but no remorse, it’s my job to tell you that lockdown has claimed yet another victim. It’s the beast known as the INTERNATIONAL MOTOR SHOW . Join me in acknowledging that a lethal cocktail of Covid, crippling costs, changing consumer demands and travel restrictions has made it almost extinct. Traditionally, such shows were staged in legendary car capitals like Detroit, Geneva, Frankfurt and Paris. They’ve all had their day. On a happier note, the future looks rosy for local exhibitions. And here are some of the non-virtual, Covid-compliant events scheduled to receive you, in the flesh, from late 2020 to summer 2021. The humble, different, free-to-enter Pop-Up Motor Show at Festival Place Shopping Centre, Basingstoke, Hants, was shocked by attracting thousands of observers (me included) during its recent opening days. Despite an understandable lack of space and new cars, it’s worth popping in (before 24 December). Organisers at Goodwood are being super-cautious by saying “new dates for 2021 will be announced later this year” for the Festival of Speed. Think June or July, probably. It’s not confirmed if the Moving Motor Show will be included, but regardless, the quintessentially English FoS is always a class act. The London Motor Show is moving from ExCel to Battersea Park. From 14-16 July the promise is an exhibition by day, music events by night. Elsewhere, but with few notes of explanation, CarFest’s organisers insist 2021’s events will be “Camp” gatherings – with Camp CarFest North at Bolesworth Estate, Cheshire (23-25 July) and Camp CarFest South at Laverstoke Park Farm, Hampshire (27-29 August). Simpler to understand and cheaper to attend is the British Motor Show, which takes place at Farnborough International Exhibition Centre, Hants, on 19-22 August. Importantly, an official partner is the respected Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI). Also important: this event is nowt to do with the dead-and-buried British International Show. So it’s RIP for giant international car exhibitions where punters could look, but not always touch and rarely enjoy a test drive. The future for such savagely expensive static global automotive events in the western world is almost as grim as the prospects for Blockbuster stores, coal mines and typewriter-repair engineers. Conversely, long live local motor shows, whether they’re big or small, occasional or annual, with or without entry fees. At best, such occasions will feature private test tracks where customers can try before they buy. At worst, demonstrations and test drives will be on public roads. With the groceries and drinks that we shop for and the places we eat out, the growing tendency is to think and buy local. So let’s do the same with car shows. Enthusiasts of every description should be warmly welcomed, but so too should the teachers with kids to educate, and the careers officers looking to place youngsters in the exciting vehicle design and manufacturing industry, which is here to stay, unlike the bloated, defunct international motor show. +++ 

+++ Tata Motors owned LAND ROVER has some big plans for the beginning of this decade as aside from the already confirmed all-new XJ and Range Rover, several other models are in the pipeline. One of them will be a large-and-in-charge J-Pace SUV indirectly confirmed by World Car Awards jurors more than a year ago, along with a long-rumoured Road Rover, sort of like a jacked-up rugged estate. There will also be an additional model: a baby Defender. Allegedly earmarked for a 2022 release, the entry-level SUV from Land Rover is said to be significantly cheaper. While the fullsize Defender’s exterior styling will rub off on the new small SUV, the interior will be significantly different. To achieve that attainable starting price and still make a profit, Land Rover is working on a “stripped back interior” with fewer amenities and possibly cheaper materials. The vehicle’s more compact size will translate into a less roomy cabin. At the heart of the petite Defender will be JLR’s 3-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine already found in bigger models. The 3-pot engine will send power to the front wheels at launch, with future versions to boast a plug-in hybrid setup and all-wheel drive. Its name remains shrouded in mystery for the time being, although the report claims it will adopt a moniker that hasn’t been used before within JLR. If the 2022 launch is accurate, we’re expecting to see spy shots with prototypes undergoing testing from next year. +++ 

+++ MITSUBISHI has announced that it aims to increase its passenger car sales for electrified vehicles, which include electric and hybrid cars, to 50 % worldwide by fiscal 2030. Mitsubishi made the decision in response to changing environmental regulations in Europe, the United States and other countries. The company plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per vehicle by 40 % in fiscal 2030 in comparison to fiscal 2010. The carmaker previously planned to increase the sales of electrified vehicles to 20 % by fiscal 2020 by boosting the production and sales of such vehicles in Southeast Asia and other regions. Other Japanese carmakers have also set sales targets for electrified vehicles. Toyota plans to sell more than 5.5 million electric vehicles in 2030, of which more than 1 million cars are expected to be EVs and fuel cell vehicles. Honda is also aiming for two-thirds of its global sales to be electrified vehicles by 2030. +++ 

+++ Nidec will spend 200 billion yen ($1.9 billion) on a new plant in Serbia to build MOTORS FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES as it seeks to win more business from automakers turning away from internal combustion engines. Nidec founder Shigenobu Nagamori has said he wants a 35 % market share for energy-saving electric motor technology know as e-axle or e-drive by 2030, which is expected to have grown ten times by then to as much as $30 billion a year. The technology is expected to make electric vehicles more affordable and help cut carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles which account for 17% of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation in Washington. The plant, which follows construction of an EV motor plant in China, is slated to open in 2023 with annual production of between 200.000 and 300.000 units a year. Nidec, also known for its miniature electric motors for smartphones and other electronic devices, acquired automotive electronic control system producer Honda Elesys in 2014 and the automotive electronics unit of Omron in 2019. It faces competition from other companies such as Japan’s Denso and Aisin Seiki, which last year formed a joint venture called BluE Nexus in 2019. +++ 

+++ China has unveiled a development plan for its NEW ENERGY VEHICLE (NEV) industry from 2021-2035 that aims to accelerate the country into an automotive powerhouse. The plan, released by the State Council, China’s cabinet, listed 5 strategic tasks: to improve technology innovation capacity, build new-type industry ecosystems, advance industrial integration and development, perfect the infrastructure system, and deepen opening-up and cooperation. The specific targets include bringing the average power consumption of new, purely electric passenger cars down to 12 kWh/100 km and raising the proportion of new NEVs in the sales of new vehicles to 20 % by 2025. By 2035, purely electric automobiles are likely to become the mainstream in the sales of new ones, while those used in public transportation will be exclusively electrified, according to the plan. Boasting the world’s most sizable inventory of NEVs, China accounts for 55 % of global NEV sales. The annual sales of energy-saving and new energy vehicles is estimated to account for 50 % of the country’s total by 2035, according to an updated technology roadmap launched by the China Society of Automotive Engineers. The updated technology roadmap, or the Technology Roadmap for Energy Saving and New Energy Vehicles 2.0, reveals that by 2035, the annual production and sales in China’s automobile industry will be dramatically improved, and safety, efficiency, convenience, economy and going green will become the main upgrading directions in travel. At that time, gasoline-powered passenger vehicles will be converted to hybrids, as NEVs will become the mainstream, said Li Jun, director-general of the China Society of Automotive Engineers. The new technology roadmap also proposes overall goals for China’s automobile industry by 2035, which include that the industry will realize electrification transformation; intelligent connected vehicle technologies will be mature and widely applied; a concerted, efficient, safe and controllable automobile industry chain will be formed; an intelligent mobility system comprising travel, energy and urban development will be established; the mechanism of technological innovation will be improved. According to the upgraded technology roadmap, by 2035, the annual sales of electric vehicles will account for more than 95 % of all NEVs in China. From 2030-35, hydrogen and other fuel-cell vehicles will have a wide application, and the number of such vehicles will reach about 1 million. In 2025, 2030 and 2035, the average fuel consumption of new cars including NEVs will reach 4.6, 3.2 and 2.0 liters per 100 kilometers, respectively. The average fuel consumption of new cars excluding NEVs will reach 5.6, 4.8 and 4.0 liters per 100 km. High-level autonomous vehicles will enter the market by 2025, and will be widely used on highways by 2030. And by 2035, autonomous vehicles are expected to be able to run with other vehicles on the same road. In terms of power battery technology, the technology roadmap states that by 2035, China’s power battery technology will be in a leading position in the world, and a complete, independent and controllable power battery industry chain will be formed. It is estimated that by 2035, the number of slow charging piles will total more than 150 million, comprising private and public ones. And the public fast charging poles will reach 1.46 million units, serving more than 150 million vehicles. At the same time, battery swapping will be widely used in the urban mobility service industry, which includes taxis and online car-hailing. By 2035, it is expected that the lightweight index of fuel-powered passenger vehicles will be reduced by 25 % and that of electric passenger vehicles by 35 %. According to Li, by 2035, China’s automobile industry will realize an independent and controllable industry chain, complete intelligent industrial transformation and will have an enhanced innovation capability. Meanwhile, a policy system conducive to low-carbon and intelligent development will be formed for the country’s automobile industry, and a comprehensive talent system will be established. +++ 

+++ Steve Tomlin, who runs a RENAULT dealership in Britain, says sales of the Zoé have shot up this year, a turnaround he partly puts down to a fading of “range anxiety”, the fear of running out of power mid-journey. The revamped model, which has accounted for a third of Tomlin’s sales for a couple of months this year, has a range of 400 km. By contrast the previous model, which drew much lower sales, offered 300 km when fully charged. “Range anxiety has gone away and once you explain how easy it is to live day to day with an electric vehicle, that has a big impact on sales”, said Tomlin, general manager of Martins Renault & Dacia in Reading, about 65 km west of London. Renault told that UK sales of the Zoé had more than doubled this year, and that in France its zero-emission cars had outsold its diesel models this year through to the end of September (19 % versus 18 %) in a significant milestone. The company said it had trained 30.000 dealer staff across Europe on electric-vehicle technology. “At the beginning, we were facing some psychological barrier linked to autonomy: oh la la, am I going to have a breakdown, I won’t have any more electricity”. said Denis le Vot, Renault’s head of sales. “We learned these lessons very well”. Yet there’s a hard road ahead, and range and staff training is not enough. High battery costs and lack of manufacturing scale mean electric vehicles (EVs) are still more expensive than conventional vehicles, often in the region of 20-30 % more. This means Renault and other automakers rely on government subsidies to support demand, but such aid is patchy across Europe. Battery costs are, however, expected to fall further, meaning some EVs should cost same as or less than combustion-engine models around the middle of this decade, according to industry experts. “The first firms to achieve the ultimate goal (an affordable, unsubsidized electric vehicle) will gain a valuable competitive advantage”, Bain & Company said. Until then, carmakers need to sustain electric sales and build up production muscle, but avoid overstretching their finances while they sell a lower-margin product. Renault said its approach relied on making use of government subsidies and offering discounts on EVs, installing free charging stations for customers, along with the staff training. In France, government subsidies, combined with a scrappage scheme and discounts from Renault, can shave up to €11,500 (more than a third) off the price of the Zoé for example. Aside from the financial pressures and the challenges of changing decades-old consumer behaviour, however, Renault also faces fierce competition at a time when all carmakers have to build up EV sales to meet strict EU emissions limits. The Zoé may be accruing sales, but it was still a distant second to Tesla’s Model 3 globally in the first half of this year, while the race is intensifying as carmakers from Volkswagen to Toyota invest hundreds of billions of dollars to flood the market with new models. Transport & Environment, a group campaigning for cleaner travel, estimates EVs will triple their market share in Europe this year, after making up 8 % of European car sales in the first half of 2020. “What has changed this year is not the subsidies but the fact that carmakers have invested in and brought forward adequately-priced vehicles with adequate performance”, said Julia Poliscanova, Transport & Environment’s senior director for vehicles. Yet, for the foreseeable future, subsidies are crucial. “Whether it’s China or elsewhere, you still need a government mandate and support for EVs”, said Terrence Curtin, CEO of auto supplier TE Connectivity. Norway has shown that huge subsidies for EVs, including tax breaks and low road tolls, have worked so well that a typical buyer of a small electric Nissan Leaf is “an average working man aged 30 to 50”, according to Frode Lehne, head of Mobile Skøyen, a Nissan dealership in Oslo. Ulf Tore Hekneby, a managing director at Harald A. Moller, which imports many Volkswagen group brands into Norway, said 91 % of the Audis and 58 % of the VW brand cars the company sold in Norway this year to September were electric. Some European governments are upping their commitments. Germany, for instance, doubled its electric car subsidies to €6.000 in the summer as part of a recovery plan for an auto industry hit hard by the pandemic, while France also raised its subsidy to €7,000 from €6.000. But it’s harder in other European markets with less generous subsidies or where incomes are lower. Sales in the Baltic states, for instance, have suffered because the countries either don’t offer subsidies, or those on offer are not enough to make EVs affordable, according to Hekneby of Harald A. Moller, whose parent group has dealerships there. A total of 191 EVs were sold across the industry in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia during the second quarter, versus 12.156 in Norway, even though the Baltic countries have a combined population slightly larger than Norway’s. “Demand is close to zero”, Hekneby said. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA plans to produce around 4.6 million cars globally in the July to December period, which would be its highest output for the second half of a year, as it attempts to regain ground lost during the Covid-19 pandemic, sources familiar with the plan said. The firm hopes to see a 5 % increase in output from a year earlier. Its previous record output of 4.53 million vehicles for the period was marked in 2015. Toyota has informed its suppliers of the plan, the sources said. The automaker produced 841.915 cars in September alone, the highest number for the month of September and up 11.7 % from a year earlier, on growing production in the Chinese, North American and European markets. The increase followed declines in July and August, and Toyota expects the recovery to continue after October, the sources said. In the first half of the year, the company produced 3.31 million vehicles worldwide; down 28.6 %. For all of 2020, it is expecting a total output of around 7.9 million vehicles, down around 13% from the previous year. +++

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