Newsflash: RS versie Audi e-Tron GT wordt 700 pk sterk

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+++ If you happen to walk by an AUDI dealership and see an e-Tron or e-Tron Sportback parked inside, know that the German electric crossover is available with Digital Matrix LED (DML) headlight technology as an optional extra. This marks the first time that DML headlights have been mass produced for a production vehicle. DML headlights feature 1.3 million micromirrors per unit, essentially working like movie projectors, emitting tiny particles or adaptable light. Initially, buyers will benefit from five different welcome/leaving animations when the vehicle is parked, each with its unique motion graphics and text that you can select via the car’s MMI touchscreen display. Aside from the available animations, the full feature set of DML headlights includes a 50 meter “light carpet” designed to keep light within the driver’s lane, while also avoiding to blind oncoming traffic. There’s also a low-beam curved lighting function that bends below oncoming traffic and can illuminate people or objects on the side of the road, as well as electrostatically controlled micromirrors that can adjust light beam pixels up to 5.000 times per second. Last but not least, there are the on-ground light arrows that place the car’s tires within its lane. +++

+++ Israeli lidar maker Innoviz Technologies said price reductions for the laser-based sensors will be key to enabling automakers to reach the next level of AUTONOMOUS DRIVING on a large scale. To that end, Innoviz has developed a lidar that costs 70 % less than the InnovizOne product it is supplying for BMW and Magna International’s self-driving car program, which is expected to launch by the end of 2021. Samples of InnovizTwo will be available in the third quarter of 2021, CEO Omer Keilaf said. The product’s software will enable carmakers to collect roadway data from customers and can be upgraded for the next level of autonomous driving. Except for Tesla, most automakers have said their self-driving cars will rely on lidar sensors, which use laser light pulses to measure distances and render precise images of the environment around the car. While Keilaf would not disclose the cost for InnovizTwo, he said the price barrier for automakers to use lidar at the present level of autonomous driving is $500 and his company’s product could meet that barrier. “I believe most customers probably will start with InnovizOne to launch earlier and then will move to InnovizTwo to get scale at a lower cost”, he told. Innoviz, which has raised $252 million, competes with companies such as Velodyne and Luminar. +++

+++ Artificial Intelligence (AI) is something that freaks out many people, especially after Elon Musk famously said in 2018 that it is “far more dangerous than nukes” for the human species. While some people are wary of the ever-increasing presence and power of AI, companies fully embrace the benefits it brings. The BMW Group makes no exception and says AI is already widely used within the company, with over 400 use cases throughout the value chain. However, the German automaker aims to keep AI on a tight leash, as it has set certain boundaries for AI use. More specifically, BMW Group has elaborated a code of ethics for the use of artificial intelligence. “We are proceeding purposefully and with caution in the expansion of AI applications within the company. The 7 principles for AI at the BMW Group provide the basis for our approach”, says Michael Würtenberger, Head of ‘Project AI’. The BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant is one of more than 400 AI applications used within the company. While artificial intelligence is the key technology in the process of digital transformation, BMW says its focus remains on people, with AI’s roles being to support employees and improve the customer experience. That said, the BMW Group and other companies and organizations are involved in shaping and developing a set of rules for working with AI, with the company taking an active role in the European Commission’s ongoing consultation process. The automaker has worked out 7 basic principles covering the use of AI within the company, building on the fundamental requirements formulated by the EU for trustworthy AI. The principles will be continuously refined and adapted as AI is applied across all areas of the company. The first and probably most important principle is “Human agency and oversight”. This means that the BMW Group implements human monitoring of decisions made by AI applications and considers possible ways that humans can overrule algorithmic decisions. The second principle, “Technical robustness and safety”, is about developing robust AI applications and observing the applicable safety standards “to decrease the risk of unintended consequences and errors”. “Privacy and data governance” is the third principle which refers to BMW extending its data privacy and data security measures to cover storage and processing in AI applications. Another essential principle is “Transparency” as the BMW Group aims for “explainability of AI applications and open communication where respective technologies are used”. The fifth principle, called “Diversity, non-discrimination and fairness”, is based on the fact that the BMW Group “respects human dignity and therefore sets out to build fair AI applications”. This includes preventing non-compliance by AI applications. “Environmental and societal well-being” is another principle which commits BMW to developing and using AI applications that promote the well-being of customers, employees and partners. Finally, the “Accountability” principle stipulates that the automaker’s AI applications should be implemented so they work responsibly. “The BMW Group will identify, assess, report and mitigate risks, in accordance with good corporate governance”, the company says. +++

+++ The average price of a new car in the United States last year was $35,932. This month, the biggest discount off the retail price of a new car in America is awfully close to that figure at $34,001. For those keeping track (as we do every month with a post like this one), that’s by far the largest DISCOUNT I’ve seen so far this year, and it means buyers of the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera are paying an average transaction price of $273,819. The British carmaker calls the DBS “the ultimate production Aston Martin”. With a 720 hp V12 engine pulsating underhood, sufficient to push this grand touring coupe from 0-100 km/h in a skosh over 3 seconds and on to a top speed of 340 km/h, who am I to argue? If that’s too rich for your blood (and let’s be honest, it’s still a whole heck of a lotta money) the next biggest discount might be at least a little more attractive. According to data provided by TrueCar, buyers of the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT are seeing discounts of $23,103 off the car’s average sticker price of $159,995. That’s a heck of a lot of car for $136,892, though admittedly still expensive. But at 14.4% off retail, it’s a better deal than the $132,122 average transaction price of the 2020 BMW M8. The BMW’s $16,497 discount equals 11.1% off the M8’s $148,619 sticker. +++

+++ California air regulators on Wednesday urged automakers and engine manufacturers to disclose by the end of the year any unapproved hardware or software programs that compromise a vehicle’s EMISSIONS control system. The letter from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) follows a string of penalties against automakers for using software to evade emissions requirements since 2015, including Volkswagen, Daimler and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. California noted it has other pending emissions investigations and said “voluntary disclosure will trigger a reduction in penalties; failure to do so may affect the result of future enforcement actions”. A group representing major automakers did not immediately comment. The letter also went to manufactures of medium and heavy-duty vehicles and engines, motorcycles, off-road small and large spark-ignition engines, off-road recreational vehicles, spark-ignition marine engines, and evaporative systems for off-road small and large equipment and marine watercraft. CARB noted next year it will open a new state-of the-art testing laboratory and employ new techniques that could detect additional violations. Last month, Daimler agreed to pay $2.2 billion to settle emissions cheating allegations involving 250.000 U.S. Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles. The U.S. Justice Department said Daimler failed to disclose 16 auxiliary emissions control devices allowing “vehicles to perform in a variety of consumer-desirable ways”. Diesel vehicles have come under harsh U.S. scrutiny since Volkswagen admitted in September 2015 to installing secret software on 580.000 U.S. vehicles allowing them to emit up to 40 times legally allowable emissions. Volkswagen has agreed to U.S. settlements worth more than $25 billion. Both Volkswagen and Daimler have halted sales of U.S. passenger diesel vehicles. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2019 reached a settlement worth about $800 million to resolve claims it used illegal software that produced false results on diesel-emissions tests. CARB has collected more than $1 billion in fines from the auto settlements, saying they “revealed a sad litany of disbenefits to public health as a result of excess emissions, and a commensurate amount of money… for mitigation and penalties with numerous manufacturers”. +++

+++ It has been confirmed that a hot Audi RS e-Tron GT will crown the German brand’s electric performance car line-up. The RS e-Tron GT will be the first fully electric vehicle to be developed by Audi Sport, and it will go on sale alongside the regular saloon in the middle of next year. Audi had intended to launch the standard E-TRON GT at this year’s Los Angeles Motor Show, but plans were scrapped due to the ongoing pandemic. The grand unveiling is now scheduled for early in 2021, but already Audi has confirmed that a hot version will be launched at the same time. It marks quite a shift in strategy at Audi Sport, whose models tend to be launched around two years after the arrival of the regular version. The RS e-tron GT will be clearly marked out by a unique aero-optimised bodykit, flared wheelarches and an aggressive rear diffuser designed to create more downforce at higher speeds. The roof and some trim will be made from carbon fibre, to help save weight. Under the skin, the e-Tron GT, as well as the hot RS version, will be based on the same platform as the Porsche Taycan. Audi has yet to issue any official details or performance data on the powertrain, but the e-Tron GT will use a triple-electric motor set-up, whereas the Taycan only uses two. A large 95 kWh battery is expected to be fitted to the RS model, while 2 electric motors will be attached to the rear axle and one on the front. Active and fully variable torque vectoring will control the power split at the rear wheels to maximise agility and handling. Audi even says the triple-motor set-up allows “the capacity to perform controlled drifts”. Unique chassis tuning, re-engineered suspension and a lowered ride height will all feature on the RS. Using the Taycan as a benchmark, expect power from the RS e-tron GT to be in the region of 700 hp. That will ensure a 0-100 kph time of around 3 seconds. The large battery should enable a range of around 400 km on a single charge, while the platform has been developed to accommodate rapid charging at a rate of 270 kW. The flagship model is expected to cost in excess of €155.000 when it arrives, while lesser versions of the e-tron GT should start from around €100.000. All versions of the e-tron GT will be produced at Audi’s Böllinger Höfe facility in Neckarsulm where the R8 supercar is also built. The flexibility of the site also allows the company to produce additional body styles, should Audi choose to broaden the e-tron GT line-up. +++ 

+++ FISKER , which is going public through a merger with a so-called blank check company, said auto supplier Magna International will supply the vehicle platform and build the electric carmaker’s Ocean SUV. As part of the deal, Magna will receive warrants to purchase a stake of up to 6 % in Fisker, giving the EV maker an overall valuation of about $3 billion, Fisker Chief Executive Henrik Fisker told. “We’re full speed ahead”, Fisker said in a telephone interview. “This is a huge turning point. We realized Magna would be an amazing partner because having skin in the game obviously means we both have the same goal of getting this car to market”. Fisker, which is merging with Spartan Energy Acquisition Corp, said it had finalized a deal with Canada’s Magna to build the Ocean in Europe, marking the Canadian supplier’s first entry into contract manufacturing for an EV startup. While Magna has built vehicles for traditional automakers for years, analysts and investors have speculated it could eventually build for technology companies like Apple. Magna retrofits vehicles for Alphabet’s Waymo and builds vehicles for BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar at its plant in Graz, Austria. Magna also has a tentative deal to build vehicles for EV startup Canoo Holdings, which is also going public later this year through a reverse merger with a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Magna’s stake in Fisker is subject to hitting 3 engineering and production milestones through the planned start of production of the Ocean in November 2022, Henrik Fisker said. Fisker Inc said in August it had a tentative deal for Magna to build the SUV at its Graz plant. Magna President Swamy Kotagiri told the stake is more about Magna getting compensated. “We really want to be the Switzerland for the automotive industry: neutrality”, he said. “We’re not siding with one customer”. “This is a unique competitive position for us, particularly with new mobility players and (automakers) seeking to expand their electrified offerings”. Further terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Kotagiri said Fisker’s pricing was based on volume. Fisker is targeting initial sales of 8.000 SUVs in 2022, 51.000 in 2023 and 175.000 in 2024. Fisker had previously said it was negotiating to use Volkswagen’s MEB electric-vehicle platform, but Henrik Fisker said the company remains in talks with the German automaker to use unspecified body and interior parts. Closing a deal addressing Fisker Inc’s platform and manufacturing needs was seen as critical by investors. Fisker’s inability in July to close the deal it initially targeted with VW sent shares in Spartan Energy down 20 %. Fisker and Magna are in talks with major EV battery manufacturers about supplying the necessary batteries, a Fisker spokesman said. Use of Magna’s aluminum-intensive vehicle platform will allow the Ocean to have an electric driving range of more than 480 km and enable Fisker to offer buyers the option of a third row of seating, Henrik Fisker said. The vehicle will have a starting price of $37,499. Fisker’s merger with Spartan is expected to close on October 30 and its shares will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ‘FSR’, Henrik Fisker said. +++ 

+++ FORD will join an emissions pool with other car makers as it seeks to reduce its CO2 levels and avoid fines imposed by EU regulations. The announcement comes just days after Renault opened an emissions pool and Volvo indicated it would be open to doing so, suggesting that the two brands are among the manufacturers Ford is planning to partner with. In a statement, Ford said that although it was on track to meet its emissions targets, problems with its Kuga plug-in hybrid (which has withdrawn from sale since August following safety issues) mean that it will fail to meet the EU’s passenger vehicles levels “on our own”. Ford must therefore purchase emissions credits from other manufacturers to avoid harsh EU fines. Transport & Environment claimed that Ford was less than 1.4 g/km from meeting EU targets at the start of the year. The Kuga PHEV was taken off sale in August and 20.808 examples recalled by Ford due to concerns about overheating battery packs, which resulted in some cars catching fire. Ford has also told buyers not to charge their high-voltage battery “until further notice” and drive the car only in “EV Auto” drive mode. Ford has given affected owners a free 3-year service and maintenance plan and, as of October, owners are also being offered a €500 voucher towards fuel as a goodwill gesture. While Ford is struggling to meet its EU targets for passenger vehicles, it expects to exceed its targets on light commercial vehicles. In light of this, Ford said: “We have filed separately our intent to form an open pool so other OEMs, including Volkswagen, can benefit from the positive CO2 performance of our light commercial fleet”. Ford and Renault are not the only manufacturers to exploit CO2 pools. Last year, Tesla made headlines when it admitted that it was making “hundreds of millions” of pounds selling EV credits to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. +++

+++ Japan will seek to create a commercial HYDROGEN fuel supply chain by around 2030 to support reducing carbon emissions, Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said during a virtual hydrogen conference. Japan will try to speed up technological developments to help scale up a transportation system for hydrogen using ships by around 2030, Kajiyama said, pointing to a plan by Kawasaki Heavy Industries to ship liquefied hydrogen from Australia to Japan early next year for the first time in the world. Kawasaki launched the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier last December. Japan unveiled a basic hydrogen strategy in 2017 aiming to import about 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen in 2030. To support making hydrogen fuel more commercial, Kajiyama said his ministry has requested a hydrogen budget of $800 million for the next fiscal year, 20% more than this year. “Given growing momentum in actions taken by many countries toward wider use of hydrogen, we have come to share a common understanding that hydrogen is an essential energy for decarbonisation”, Kajiyama said. Hydrogen has been touted as a clean alternative to fossil fuels. Now, as major economies prepare green investments, advocates are trying to push the niche energy into the mainstream. In northern Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, the world’s biggest renewable energy-powered hydrogen plant, with 10 megawatts of capacity, was built in March. Chiyoda Corp succeeded in a pilot project in June to ship hydrogen in a chemical form, methylcyclohexane, from Brunei to Japan as fuel for power generation. Also, Toyota and 8 other firms said that they will form a new nation-wide hydrogen association in December to promote hydrogen supply chains and global alliances. +++

+++ HYUNDAI is looking to establish itself as a major player in Europe as far as electric mobility is concerned, and its new Ioniq EV brand should do the trick. The Korean carmaker will kick things off in the region with 3 new fully-electric models, all of which will reportedly go on sale within the next 4 years. First in line will be the Ioniq 5, a mid-size crossover based on the Concept 45. The Ioniq 5 will debut in Europe in the middle of next year, followed in 2022 by the Ioniq 6 sedan and the Ioniq 7 large SUV in 2024. All 3 models will sit on the carmaker’s new electric Global Modular Platform (e-GMP). “In a relatively short span of time, we have the potential to become the biggest provider of EVs in Europe, especially with the new lineup of dedicated EV models under the new Ioniq brand”, said Hyundai Europe president and CEO, Michael Cole in an interview. Cole based his prediction on an estimate that Hyundai will sell roughly 60.000 zero-emissions vehicles this year, at which point it would rank as one of the biggest players in Europe’s EV sector. Hyundai decided to turn Ioniq into a stand-alone brand “in response to fast-growing market demand”, as well as to accelerate the carmaker’s push of leading the global EV market, which is a pretty massive goal. Together with its sister brands Kia and Genesis, Hyundai aims to sell a combined 1 million battery-electric vehicles by 2025, which they believe will give them 10 % of the global EV market. +++

+++ Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) plans to launch its electric JAGUAR I-Pace in India early next year, the automaker’s country head told, as governments across the world push for more clean-energy vehicles. The British luxury carmaker owned by India’s Tata Motors also plans to launch plug-in hybrid versions of its vehicles in coming months, including the Land Rover Defender, JLR India’s Rohit Suri said. Earlier, JLR launched the new Defender SUV in India, widening its portfolio as demand recovers gradually in the face of the coronavirus crisis. The launch also comes ahead of major festivals, such as Diwali in November, during which Indians often make large purchases. “We are cautiously optimistic that the product line-up will accentuate the recovery we are witnessing”, Suri said, adding that the I-Pace launch is planned to take place in the first 3 months of next year. India has been promoting the use of electric vehicles and plans to offer $4.6 billion in incentives to companies setting up advanced battery manufacturing facilities in the country as part of the effort to boost investment in clean-energy cars. Tata Group companies including Tata Motors, Tata Chemicals and Tata Power plan to make electric cars and batteries, set up charging stations and build a battery recycling plant. +++

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR) still has more than 3.000 workers on furlough, with production of its saloons still greatly reduced at its Castle Bromwich factory, according to reports. Confidential production plans are confirming the British manufacturer has a substantial number of its workforce still furloughed under the UK government’s job retention scheme. JLR was forced to suspend production due to the national lockdown in March and placed many of its workers on the furlough scheme. While most of its plants are now operating at close to pre-pandemic levels, with 2 production shifts, the reports suggest Castle Bromwich, where the Jaguar XE, XF and F-Type are produced, is still running at substantially reduced capacity. JLR plans to produce around 11.000 cars there in the financial year that ends in March 2021: around 4.000 F-Types, 3.500 XEs and 3.500 XFs. Last year, the facility produced 35.000 cars. Fewer than 300 XEs will be produced each month for the rest of 2020, although the number is expected to increase as the updated version goes on sale. The reopening of the plant is understood to have occured as production shifted to the facelifted XE and XF model, and JLR focused on readying the new machines before scaling up production. While JLR has more than 3.000 staff furloughed, every other UK car maker now has fewer than 80 staff on the scheme, which will conclude at the end of this month. However, Jaguar Land Rover is the UK’s largest automotive car maker, with more than 30.000 staff, and at the peak of the lockdown around 20.000 of those were on furlough. JLR said that the number currently on furlough has been reducing each week as production has ramped up and the end of the furlough scheme approaches. The firm is planning a “small number” of job cuts (understoof to be between 100 and 200) via a voluntary redundancy scheme at the end of the scheme, which will be aimed at management and salaried staff currently on furlough. Other employees are set to return to work after the end of the scheme, although JLR told that it has yet to decide if it would make use of the government’s new job support scheme, which will pay up to 22 % of the salary of workers on reduced hours. In a statement JLR said: “As the UK Government’s furlough scheme comes to an end, Jaguar Land Rover is implementing a very small targeted voluntary redundancy programme for some management and salaried employees currently on furlough. This is a prudent step given the challenges facing the global automotive industry in which we compete, giving these employees the choice to consider new opportunities outside of the company having been out of the business for more than 7 months”. +++

+++ Pricing and performance details have been announced for the entry-level LUCID AIR set to hit the U.S. market in 2022. As standard, the Lucid Air base model will come with a single electric motor producing 480 hp but customers will be able to opt a dual-motor powertrain that includes all-wheel drive. This variant has a projected EPA estimated range of 653 km and will be available from $77,400. Those looking to secure an early allocation for the entry-level Air can do so with a reservation fee of $300. Customers who reserve now will also receive three years of complimentary charging at Electrify America’s network of charging stations. Key standard features for the Lucid Air include PurLuxe animal-free interior trim in a Mojave theme and a 34 inch cockpit display while being available with the company’s DreamDrive suite of driver-assistance systems. Sitting above the base model in the range is the Lucid Air Touring, previously confirmed to start at $95,000. It also has 653 km of range but comes standard with a dual-motor system, all-wheel drive and has 620 hp. Acceleration details for this variant have also been confirmed with it hitting 60 mph (96 km/h) in 3.2 seconds and hitting a top speed of 250 km/h. It too is available to reserve with a $300 deposit. The first 2 Lucid Air variants to hit the market in the second quarter of 2021 will be the Air Grand Touring and Air Dream Edition. The former of these pumps out 800 hp, has a range of 832 km and starts at $139.000. Meanwhile, the Air Dream Edition delivers 1.080 hp, has a 748 km range with the standard wheels and starts at $169.000. +++

+++ Owner MANUALS spend most of their time in the glove box and a rarely read. While you may occasionally pull them out to look at something specific, most people don’t give them a second thought. However, Bristol Street Motors was curious about them so they conducted a study which found that 60% of motorists didn’t bother reading their manual before driving for the first time. The study also found that a majority of people would rather get information about issues with their car from YouTube, the internet or friends and family. However, 29 % of respondents said they read their owner’s manual in full. That’s somewhat surprising as most manuals are about as exciting as watching paint dry and include sections on equipment your car might not even have. It’s also worth noting that manuals have gotten longer as cars have become better equipped and more high tech. That can be seen in the study’s estimated reading times for the United Kingdom’s 30 most popular vehicles. According to the study, it would take owners approximately 11 hours and 45 minutes to read the manual that comes with the Audi A3. The nearest competitors, the Seat Ibiza and Mercedes C-Class, are nearly 1 hour behind as both of those manuals will take owners about 11 hours to read. Rounding out the top 5 spots were the Mercedes A-Class (10 hours and 4 minutes) and Kia Sportage (9 hours and 21 minutes). The study also compared the reading time of manuals to popular books, and found it takes longer to the read the A3’s manual than to read The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. In fact, the A3’s manual is so long that it’s right up there with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The study also noted that people typically own eight cars in their lifetime, so they’d spend an average of 2 days, 2 hours and 19 minutes reading all the manuals for them. +++

+++ Not so long ago, a man named Chris Harris claimed that the McLaren Senna could be as fast as a GT3 car around the Silverstone GP circuit. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t, but it did come close. Thankfully, a video features test driver Christian Gebhardt taking the MERCEDES-AMG GT Black Series for a hot lap around the Hockenheim race circuit. Sure, the new AMG Mercedes blitzed road cars like the McLaren 720S and Ferrari Pista to the tune of around 2 seconds, but how does it fare against its GT3 race car compatriot? Thankfully, Hockenheim is one of the stops for the ADAC GT Masters racing series, and it just so happens that the AMG GT3 race car recently qualified in eighth-place, circling the track in 1 minute and 38.5 seconds. Unsurprisingly, with a lap time of 1:43.3, the road car is a speculative 5 seconds slower than the race car, but there’s more than meets the eye. While that may seem like eons of difference on track, the GT3 car was at the hand of Maro Engel, a Mercedes factory driver with victories at events like the 24 hours of Nürburgring and Macau GT Cup, with Maro in the road car, I’d wager the gap would be closer. Bro science comparison aside, it’s clear that the AMG road challenger will melt any circuit in its path. As the new car utilises a flat-plane crank compared to its predecessor’s cross-plane, the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine sounds more docile, but it’s hard to argue with its 720 hp and 800 Nm output. Thanks to its clever Michelin Cup 2 R tyres and aggro aerodynamic package, the new vehicle is sure to hug any corner like its favourite granny. While it’s been rumoured that the rapid Mercedes has been around the Nürburgring Nordschleife n 6 minutes and 40 seconds, the lap time hasn’t been officially released. The German automaker remains tight-lipped, but we’d be surprised not to see a new production lap record in this car’s future. +++

+++ MERCEDES-BENZ has announced sweeping changes to plans for its product line-up over the next 5 years, and it will double down on electric cars by introducing an executive saloon EV within the next 18 months, alongside two pure-electric SUVs and a flagship EQS limousine. Called the Mercedes EQE, the new saloon will give the German company a direct rival for the Tesla Model S and trump both of the current E-Class’s main competitors, the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, by becoming the first full-electric offering from a German premium brand in that area of the market. The new model will be based on Mercedes’ dedicated Electric Vehicle Architecture (EVA); a platform that will make its debut in 2021 with the launch of the EQS limo. That flagship model is expected to feature a 100 kWh lithium-ion battery with a theoretical range of up to 700 km, plus fresh levels of autonomous technology and connected services. EVA has been described by Christoph Starzysnki, vice-president for Electric Vehicle Architecture at Mercedes, as “fully scalable”, and a downsized version, most likely with a smaller battery delivering around 480 km of real-world range, will support the EQE and a sister SUV. The saloon should be available with single and dual-motor layouts, too, offering customers the chance to decide whether they’ll focus on performance or range. Mercedes accompanied its announcement with the first official images of the 2 EQE models, albeit wearing disguises, as they joined the EQS in testing near the Black Forest in Germany. Our exclusive images here peel away the camouflage to show how Mercedes’ design team will incorporate its ‘EV’ styling cues, first seen on the current EQC, into a lower, sleeker saloon. The front is influenced by the styling of the EQC, using ultra-slim LED headlights and a flush grille that celebrates the car’s lack of a combustion engine. The rear of the car looks rather more conventional, albeit with tail-lights that have been designed to clean up the trailing air and reduce drag to improve the car’s battery range. The most notable element of the side profile, meanwhile, is an extremely short rear overhang; a sign of how Mercedes has tried to exploit EVA and the lack of a combustion engine by stretching the wheelbase to its limits in search of better cabin accommodation. No dimensions have been issued, but the EV layout means that the EQE could boast rear legroom comparable to that of the latest S-Class. Mercedes says the EVA products, led by the EQS, will be launched “from 2021” and adds that the EQE saloon and SUV will “follow soon”. We’re likely to see the first of these models as early as 2022, with sales starting later that year or in early 2023. +++

+++ Ford revealed its comprehensive charging solutions for Europe, which seems to cover all aspects of owning the upcoming MUSTANG MACH-E from early 2021. From home charging, through public charging and access to the Ionity fast charging network for long-distance travel: let’s see all the points of the offer, one by one. Ford encourages that the package will result in a seamless, stress-free and confidence-inspiring all-electric vehicle ownership experience. All new Ford Mustang Mach-E to come with 2 charging cables as standard: 1. Universal Home Charge Cord (6.7 metres; the cable to charge from standard domestic sockets and 32 Ampere blue industrial sockets for higher speed charging. There will be several adapters as the domestic sockets vary between countries. “Appropriate adapters will be provided for use in the customer’s home market, and additional adapters for travelling will also be available”. 2. FordPublic Charge Cable (6 metres long; the cable to charge from public/work charging points (Type 2 outlets, Mode 3). “Compatible with the common charging standard in Europe, enabling customers to easily connect to AC chargers while at work or to top up their batteries while shopping or watching a movie in town. At 6 metres long, the cable helps ensure convenient charging is never out of reach”. 3. Ford Connected Wallbox (in the case of “simple, cost-effective” home charging, the company will offer an optional Ford Connected Wallbox installation in partnership with six partners in 14 initial markets: Alpiq: Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy; Centrica: the UK and Ireland; DEFA: Norway and Sweden; Eneco: the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg; ETRA: Spain and Portugal; Zeborne: France. There will be 2 versions of the wall-mounted wallbox with 7.5-metre cable: 3.A. 7.4 kW (charging from 10-80% state-of-charge should take about 8 hours (standard-range battery) or 10 hours (extended-range battery). 3.B. 11 kW (3-phase; charging from 10-80% state-of-charge should take about 6 hours (standard-range battery) or 7 hours (extended-range battery). Charging from 10-80% state-of-charge should take about 6 hours (standard-range battery) or 8 hours (extended-range battery). The wallbox is connected, which means that it allows you to check the status remotely: “Owners can remotely monitor and control the Ford Connected Wallbox from their smartphone using the FordPass smartphone app, 3 enabling them to check on current charge, energy used, and even remotely enable family or friends to use the charger. The wallboxes are weather-proofed for outdoor installation, and are equipped with an integrated 7.5-metre cable”). 4. FordPass Charging Network (finally, public charging. It will be possible from more than 155,000 charging points (AC and DC) in Europe using a single account. The FordPass Charging Network service is delivered in partnership with NewMotion. “Customers will be able to use the FordPass app to effortlessly locate, navigate to, pay for and monitor charging at locations across 21 countries – initiating and paying for services from a single account”). Those who order the Mustang Mach-E this year and into 2021 will receive 5 years of free access to the FordPass Charging Network and 1 year of free access to the Ionity network. This second offer sounds pretty interesting. Then the rate will be reduced to €0.31 per kWh (instead of €0.79 per kWh standard). According to Ford, at 150 kW, the Mustang Mach-E with extended-range battery, in 10 minutes will replenish around 119 km of range. +++ 

+++ PEUGEOT has launched a new restoration service for its heritage vehicles, operating from the workshops of the Musée de l’Aventure in Sochaux; Peugeot’s own museum dedicated to displaying the company’s most famous classic vehicles. Peugeot’s in-house restoration service won’t be open to the public until early 2021, but the firm’s engineers are already hard at work: they’re currently rebuilding an original 205 GTi 1.9 to factory fresh specification. Images show the current state of the rebuild and, as you can see, it’s an extensive refurbishment. The shell has already been stripped bare of its engine, suspension and interior, and any rust holes the engineers find are being filled in with the correct gauge steel, stamped to match the original panels. Once the body rot has been remedied, Peugeot plans to draft in an army of engine builders, panel beaters, painters and textile trimmers to put the 205 GTi back to how it was when it first rolled off the production line more than 35 years ago. That means everything (even the weave of the fabric on the seats) will match that of an unmolested minter. The project has required Peugeot to secure an enormous catalogue of parts, but the French brand says it has sourced pretty much everything required to rebuild its most popular heritage models. Peugeot has also got its bases covered for any elusive items, as the brand plans to simply make the missing parts new using either specialist tradesmen or 3D manufacturing techniques. After the public launch takes place, customers will be able to either buy a newly restored vehicle straight from the factory or take their own vehicles to the Musée de l’Aventure and have them restored officially by Peugeot’s workforce. +++

+++ PORSCHE ‘s roll-out of 992-generation 911 variants is continuing in earnest, and now the most track-focused of them all, the GT3 RS, has taken to the Nürburgring. I spotted the prototype on public roads earlier this year, but the McLaren 620R rival was not spotted driven in anger the first time. Likely to make its debut in 2021, the hardcore model follows on from spyshots of the ‘standard’ GT3 variant upon which it’s based. Tell-tale signs that it is no ordinary GT3 include a giant dual-wing spoiler with a bespoke mounting platform. This is targeted at generating downforce levels on par with those of a fully fledged racing 911. Further differences that mark the prototype out as the GT3 RS include a different rear bumper design (incorporating a diffuser element) and a revised centre-exit tailpipe. New cooling vents on the bonnet and front wings also feature, along with a larger front splitter. Details of the new GT3 RS’s performance capability remain thin on the ground. I do know, however, that it will make use of the naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-6 engine used first in the 991-generation run-out 911 Speedster last year. That puts out 510 hp and 480 Nm, revs to 9.000 rpm and is paired exclusively with a manual gearbox. Expect the standard GT3 to approach that, but given the old GT3 RS made 520 hp, it’s likely that some further fettling will raise the output further for the new model. Other race-spec details are expected to include rose-joined suspension and specification upgrades close to the 911 Cup racer. The interior will be typically stripped-out to save weight, with the GT3 RS likely to be one of, if not the, lightest 911 variants on sale. We will see the new GT3 before the GT3 RS is unveiled. That’s likely to be early 2021, given pandemic-related delays. So although it’s not confirmed, we could see the GT3 RS in the latter half of next year. +++

+++ Citroën and Peugeot will end production of the C1 and 108 and withdraw from the traditional city car market. A decision to leave the A-segment petrol car market has been taken ahead of the PSA Group’s merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. No timeline for their removal has been given. Costly development of engines and exhaust filtration systems to meet ever-tightening emissions laws are making value offerings increasingly difficult to justify. Manufacturers such as Ford and Opel have removed their city cars from the market, while the future of the the Seat Mii, Skoda Citigo and Volkswagen Up trio looks bleak. PSA has already sold its stake in its joint venture with Toyota, through which the C1 and 108 have been related to the Toyota Aygo and built alongside it in the Czech Republic since 2005. Although PSA declined to comment on the future of its smallest models, a spokesman for the company said it needed “a reflection with fresh and disruptive ideas” on how best to meet customers small car needs while meeting European Union emissions targets. Citroën recently launched the Ami, an electric quadricycle that can be driven in some European countries by 16-year-olds without a driving licence. It’s capable of just 45 kph and only 75 km of range but can be rented for as little as €19.99 per month and bought for only €7.000. +++

+++ U.S. automotive component maker Joyson Safety Systems (JSS) said it is investigating inaccuracies in the reporting of SEATBELT webbing test data at a Japanese factory acquired from bankrupt airbag maker Takata over 2 years ago. “JSS is currently reviewing available and relevant data over a 20-year period on a test-by-test and product-by-product basis”, the Michigan-based company’s global communications director Bryan Johnson said in a statement. The inaccuracies were found in reporting from the factory in Hikone, Japan, which JSS bought from bankrupt airbag maker Takata in April 2018. JSS said the inaccuracies arose before its acquisition of the plant. Takata’s faulty airbag inflators caused the auto industry’s biggest safety recall and have been linked to numerous deaths and injuries, mainly in the United States. The Japanese transport ministry has asked JSS’s unit in the country to submit an investigation report, and has also told automakers to prepare for recalls of the seatbelts in question. A transport ministry official told the ministry was still investigating how many cars were affected by the issue and whether any such vehicles were shipped to markets outside of Japan. JSS Japan is the top seatbelt maker in the country with a market share of about 40 %, as well as just under 30 % globally. Most of Takata’s airbag inflators held a chemical compound which could explode with excessive force, sending metal shrapnel into vehicle compartments. In 2017, Takata pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing over its inflators, including submitting false inflator test results to automaker clients to induce them to buy its defective products. +++

+++ Auto sales in the United States may take 3 years to recover to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels even as sales continue to rebound from an April low, the CEO of Japanese carmaker SUBARU said. “The feeling of Subaru America is that a return to the 17 million vehicle level could take 2 to 3 years”, Tomomi Nakamura said during a press roundtable in Tokyo. In 2019 vehicle sales in the United States, which accounts for around two thirds of Subaru’s sales, rose to 17.3 million. The maker of the Outback and Forester will see likely see U.S. sales of around 600.000 this year compared to a forecast of 700.000 made before the coronavirus outbreak, Nakamura said. That figure may grow to around 660.000 next year, he added. +++

+++ TESLA cut the price of its Model S Long Range in the United States to $69,420, its website showed, following a tweet flagging the cut earlier from Chief Executive Elon Musk. The cut is Tesla’s second this week for the high-end sedan, following a 4 % cut to $71,990. The company also reduced by 3 % the price of its Model S in China, where it had previously cut the starting price of its Model 3. The starting price for Model S is now a thousand times that of a pair of red satin shorts that Tesla started selling in July for “$69.420” to poke fun at the company’s naysayers. Tesla introduced its Model S in 2012, but in recent years the car has faced competition from the automaker’s less expensive, mass-market Model 3, launched in 2017, which currently starts at $37,990. The Model S makes up only around 5 % of Tesla’s unit volume, said a Credit Suisse analyst in a client note. The analyst said the Model S price reduction was likely in response to price cuts by electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors, which sells its luxury sedan Air model at a starting price of $69,900. That includes a $7,500 U.S. government electric vehicle tax credit, for which Tesla vehicles are no longer eligible. The price cuts also come as competition in the electric vehicle market (long dominated by Tesla) heats up, with several automakers launching new electric vehicles next year. Daimler is scheduled to release an electric version of its Mercedes-Benz S-class, the EQS, next year. Analysts expect the EQS to be significantly more expensive than the Model S, however, with the latest version of the gasoline-powered S-class retailing at more than €100,000. +++

+++ TOYOTA has confirmed that the second-generation Mirai will premiere in production guise in December. The Japanese car manufacturer previewed the new fuel cell car at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show with a near production-spec concept. A teaser image shared on the Japanese website for the Mirai confirms the road-going model will look virtually identical to the concept. The first-generation Mirai is one of the most ungainly curiously-styled vehicles on the market and, while some like the quirky looks, I suspect the styling has had a negative impact on sales. With the second-generation model, Toyota went back to the drawing board and created a sleek 4-door sedan that is longer, wider and lower, while also rocking a far more conventional and appealing shape. More specifically, the concept was 4.973 mm long, 1.885 mm wide and 1.468 mm tall while boasting a generous wheelbase of 2.918 mm. As the production model will stick true to the exterior design of the concept, it’s fair to presume the interior will do the same. Consequently, it will include a digital instrument cluster, a large central touchscreen, plush surfaces clad in leather, a wireless smartphone charger, and a 14-speaker JBL audio system. Technical specifications for the second-gen Mirai remain under wraps, but it is reported Toyota aims for the hydrogen sedan to have 30 % greater range than the current model, meaning it could be capable of doing up to 653 km on a single tank. +++

+++ It was only a couple of days ago when VOLKSWAGEN unveiled the Golf GTI Clubsport and now the peeps from Wolfsburg are turning our attention towards an even spicier hot hatch. Teased for the first time, the Golf R will break cover on the 4th of November, according to a preview video published on the dedicated R social media channel on Instagram. Oddly enough, the adjacent clip also shows the T-Roc R for some reason, a potent compact crossover part of VW’s extended performance lineup that also encompasses speedy versions of the Arteon / Arteon Shooting Brake, Tiguan, and Touareg R. The R-mageddon should also include a Golf R Variant based on spy shots showing prototypes of the long-roof Golf with quad exhausts. There’s not much secrecy regarding what will reside underneath the bonnet as the Golf R is expected to use the same turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine as the R-badged Arteon and Tiguan models. We’re looking at 333 hp and 420 Nm in a DSG-only hatch and estate duo. Some of you will recall an interesting rumour from earlier this year, which talked about VW’s intentions of using the inline-5 engine from Audi. However, high-ranked officials from the Four Rings reportedly said no, thus forcing VW to stick with its tried-and-tested 2.0 TSI engine. Interestingly, spy shots from yesterday could show Audi is willing to share its 2.5 TFSI powertrain after all, with a 400 hp version of the Cupra Formentor allegedly on the way. Following its official premiere next month, the new Golf R will likely go on sale in the first half of 2021 in Europe. +++

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