Newsflash: eerste details over Ford Mondeo opvolger zijn bekend

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+++ Tesla and Wall Street made 2020 the year that the U.S. auto industry decided to go electric. Tesla’s market capitalization surged above $600 billion, making the once wobbly startup currently led by billionaire Elon Musk worth more than the 5 topselling global automakers combined. The exclamation point came when Tesla rose to a record high in frantic trading ahead of the stock’s much anticipated entrance into the benchmark S&P 500 index. For 2021, all signs point toward the industry accelerating its shift toward electrification, a turning point as historically momentous as the launch of Ford’s moving assembly line for the Model T or General Motors’ 2009 bankruptcy. Tesla’s ascent came the same year that activist hedge funds and other investors ratcheted up pressure on corporations to fight climate change. Evidence is growing that more investors have concluded the century-long dominance of internal combustion engines is headed toward a close within a decade. From London to Beijing to California, political leaders also embraced plans to start phasing out internal combustion engine-only vehicles as early as 2030. Pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions undermines the logic for significant new investments in internal combustion engines. Thousands of manufacturing jobs are currently tied to internal combustion in the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Japan and other countries. Other powerful forces also shook the auto industry’s status quo this year. The Covid-19 pandemic stripped away the sales and profits that incumbent automakers had counted on to fund methodical transitions to electric vehicles. China’s rapid recovery from the pandemic exerted an even more powerful gravitational pull on industry investment. This was the year GM Chief Executive Mary Barra and other top industry executives began to echo Tesla’s Musk, saying electric vehicle battery costs could soon achieve parity with internal combustion technology. Still, it remained to be seen whether consumers, particularly in the United States, are ready to say goodbye to petroleum-fueled pickups and SUVs. The best-selling vehicles in the United States remain large, petroleum-burning pickups. Demand for these vehicles powered a recovery for Detroit automakers after the pandemic forced factories to shut down in the spring. The best electric vehicle and battery makers could field models that match internal combustion upfront cost as soon as 2023, brokerage Bernstein wrote in a report. “ICE game over with BEV in 2030”, Bernstein’s auto analysts wrote, using the industry’s acronyms for internal combustion engine and battery electric vehicle. The shift toward electric vehicles is speeding a parallel transformation of vehicles into largely digital machines that get much of their value from software that powers rich visual displays and features such as automated driving systems. Across the industry, century-old manufacturers such as Daimler are scrambling to hire programmers and artificial intelligence experts. The capability of software to manage autonomous driving systems, electricity flows from batteries and data streaming to and from vehicles is replacing horsepower as a measure of automotive engineering achievement. Tesla’s use of smartphone-style over-the-air software upgrades was once a unique feature of the Silicon Valley brand. In 2020, the best-selling model line in the United States, the Ford F-150 pickup, was redesigned and now offers over-the-air software updates, making the technology as mainstream as it gets. In the best of times, traditional internal-combustion vehicles would have faced huge costs and disruptions to their workforces to evolve to electric, software-intensive vehicles. But the shock delivered by the coronavirus pandemic gave manufacturers much less money and time to adapt. Consultancy IHS Markit forecasts that global vehicle production will not match 2019 levels again until 2023. Automakers will have produced 20 million fewer vehicles by 2023 than they could have built had output stayed at 2019 levels. “Only the most agile with a Darwinian spirit will survive”, said Carlos Tavares, the PSA chief who will lead the combination with Fiat Chrysler when that merger is completed. The pandemic also elevated the importance of China to the industry’s future. That country’s swift recovery from the pandemic amplified the gravitational pull of its huge market on automotive investment, despite anti-China rhetoric from U.S. and European politicians. China’s drive to reduce dependence on petroleum is compelling automakers to shift investment toward battery electric and hybrid vehicles, and re-center design and engineering activities to Chinese cities from traditional hubs in Nagoya, Wolfsburg and Detroit. Tesla said it will establish a design and research center in China. Daimler chief executive Ola Källenius put it bluntly in October: “We need to look at our production footprint and where it makes sense, shift our production”, he said during a video call. “Last year we sold around 700.000 passenger cars in China. The next biggest market is the U.S. with between 320.000 and 330.000 cars”. +++ 

+++ The prices of lithium-ion BATTERY packs used for EVs have dropped 89 % in the last decade and in just a few years, are expected to drop to the point where automakers can make electric vehicles for the same price as ICE vehicles. 10 years ago, an EV battery cost roughly $1.110 per kWh of capacity but according to a new survey, that figure has fallen to $137 per kWh. In certain markets like China, prices have fallen even more where the batteries used for electric buses cost about $100 per kWh. “If you look at the remarkable cost reduction over the last decade, and what’s expected over the next few years, and pair that with escalating policy measures in Europe and expected in the U.S. and China, then you have this very powerful combination of factors to underpin EV uptake, starting now”, head of clean power at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Logan Goldie-Scot, told Fast Company. “They will continue and accelerate over the next few years. Within four years, major automakers should be able to produce and sell mass-market electric vehicles at the same price and with the same margin as internal combustion engine equivalents”. The study points out that as it stands, the cost of owning an electric vehicle is already less than an ICE vehicle and advances in battery technologies will reduce costs even further. Moving forward, the study also said it is important that there is a greater range of electric vehicles available to purchase. Additionally, they say that the shift to electric vehicles needs to be swift to help mitigate the impacts of climate change. “Even if 100 % of vehicles sold were EVs, it would take over a decade to replace all the cars on the road, or even 50 % of the cars on the road”, senior program manager for energy storage at the nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute, Haresh Kamath said. “So this is a long haul and a gradual evolution at the same time”. +++ 

+++ BMW is planning to step up its production of electric vehicles, chief executive Oliver Zipse told. “We are significantly increasing the number of electric vehicles. Between 2021 and 2023, we will build a quarter of a million more electric cars than originally planned”, Zipse told. BMW wants roughly every fifth car it sells to be powered by an electric motor by 2023, Zipse said, compared to about 8 % this year. The manager also reiterated his call to speed up the expansion of charging infrastructure. “15.000 private and about 1.300 public charging points would have to be put into operation every week as of today. Unfortunately, we are a long way from that”, he told. +++ 

+++ In CHINA , automakers are ramping up efforts to enter overseas markets with some recent successes this year. However, insiders claim there is a long way to go to achieving a solid foothold. SAIC -GM – Wuling Automobile is to make inroads into North America, with the export of vehicles to Mexico starting from January. The Sino-US joint venture said 500 Baojun-branded compact SUVs, the first shipment, have rolled off the assembly line. “Considering the presale orders, Mexico can become the largest overseas market for the model”, said the carmaker in a statement. The SUV, called Baojun 530, is the first model the carmaker has specifically developed for global markets. Since its launch in 2019, it has been sold in 21 countries and regions, with deliveries totaling 96.584 units. On December 12, SAIC – GM shipped the first batch of more than 290 Chevrolet Trax to Uzbekistan. Since 2001, the joint venture has exported its products to markets in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. According to statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, SAIC ranked first in terms of exports during the first 11 months this year, followed by Chery, Changan and Great Wall Motors. From January to November, Chery exported a total of 100.126 vehicles; up 15 % year-on-year. The automaker’s high-end brand Exeed has entered the Russian market. According to Chery, it is expected to export 500.000 vehicles with a value of $5 billion annually by 2025. Besides traditional automakers, Chinese new energy vehicle startups are poised to enter overseas markets. Last week, NEV startup WM Motor reached cooperation with two foreign companies to explore more opportunities in overseas markets. WM Motor joined hands with South Korea’s Myoung Shin Group. The cooperation between the 2 focuses on fields including vehicle exports, production, retail and smart mobility. WM Motor, as a leading Chinese NEV maker, has strength in NEV technologies and products, which is very much in line with the needs of South Korean electric vehicle consumers, according to a senior executive with Myoung Shin Group. The day before, the startup inked an agreement with Enel X, a subsidiary of Italian energy giant Enel. Based on the strategic cooperation agreement reached by the 2 sides, WM Motor will take advantage of Enel X’s network covering more than 80 countries and regions, to promote its export of electric vehicles. As scheduled, WM Motor’s products will arrive in the Southeast Asian market in the first quarter of 2021. Nio founder and CEO William Li said: “We hope to enter some countries that are more welcoming to electric cars in the second half of 2020”. It is reported that Nio’s first foray into the foreign market will be in Europe, with no specific country disclosed. Statistics show that China exported 36,900 NEVs in total in the first 6 months this year; up 140.7 % from the same period of 2019. However, insiders said that Chinese NEV makers’ exporting vehicles to Europe may have gained more publicity significance than practical. In order to gain a foothold in overseas markets, they should first solve the problems of the lack of overseas marketing and aftersales service networks. Chinese NEV companies should pay attention to not only improving their products, but also developing related industries like charging and battery swapping, to make solid strides in overseas markets, insiders said. +++ 

+++ CHINESE ELECTRIC CAR STARTUPS experienced rapid growth in recent years among global competition, especially from the United States’ electric carmaker Tesla, which has lowered prices of its vehicles in the Chinese market. According to auto insurance data from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, Chinese electric car startups delivered 104.000 units in the first 10 months of this year. It marks a surge of 104.32 % year-on-year amid rising momentum in the new energy vehicle sector. In October, car insurance policies on Chinese electric car startups reached 16.756 units; an increase of 157.78 %, data from the commission showed. The startups are represented by Nio, Xpeng and Lixiang, which is also known as Li Auto. The 3 launched initial public offerings in the US. Nio is the first Chinese electric car startup listed in the US, and it held its IPO in 2018. The company, founded in 2014, offers three premium electric SUVs (ES8, ES6 and EC6) and offers a battery-swap service, which allows customers to subscribe for car batteries. In the first 11 months, Nio delivered 36.721 electric cars; up 111 % compared with same period last year. As for Li Auto, the 5-year-old carmaker went public in the US in July this year. It sells an extended-range electric vehicle, which has a gasoline engine that can generate electric power for the battery. Li Auto announced early this month that it has so far delivered more than 30.000 new vehicles only a year after deliveries began. It is also the first startup in China to achieve that milestone. 1 month after Li Auto’s IPO, Guangzhou-based Xpeng Motors made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange. Xpeng produces electric vehicles including the G3 SUV and the P7 four-door sedan. Earlier this month, Xpeng announced the first delivery of its electric vehicles to customers in Norway. It is the first Chinese electric car startup to make a foray into the overseas auto market. Xpeng delivered 2.732 vehicles last month; an increase of 30 % month-on-month, setting a record. In addition to Nio, Li Auto and Xpeng, there are other electric car startups in China that have showed positive growth, such as WM Motor and Hozon Auto. New energy vehicles are expected to see record high sales this year. Forecasts say there will be total deliveries of 1.3 million in 2020; up 8 % year-on-year. Deliveries in November totaled nearly 200.000 vehicles, more than double the figure in the same month of 2019, according to the statistics of China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. +++

+++ It is not unexpected nowadays for an automotive executive to claim some aspect of Apple as a model for what they’re doing, such as having a distinctive minimalist design language or an app-based monetization strategy. But when Darren Palmer cites Apple, it is for an entirely different reason, one meant to advance the understanding of what FORD is working to accomplish with the Mustang Mach-E. Palmer is one of the original members of Ford’s Team Edison, the group that was organized in 2017 to advance the development and adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). And today he is Ford’s global director for BEVs, which means he is responsible for launching the portfolio of electrics Ford is rolling out, with the Mach-E in the vanguard. Palmer says he was in the room the day the Mach-E was conceived. So what about Apple? Palmer says that when the iPhone launched in 2007, not only was capacitive touchscreen technology a departure from the norm, but “they changed the use from what was merely a phone to an internet portal”. Yet while people saw the lack of buttons, the change in use case wasn’t recognized. He recalls talking to people at the time and asking what they thought about the iPhone. The ordinary folk (not the tech enthusiasts) simply said that it was a phone without a keyboard, and then tended to add, “But you have to charge it every night, and my phone lasts 3 days”/ In other words, they were not impressed. They saw the shortcomings, not what it could do. Palmer says that when a friend or family member who was experienced with an iPhone demonstrated it (generally enthusiastically) to these same people and they then had a chance to try it, “They’d say, ‘Oh my word, why didn’t I try this before? This is a revelation to me’. Electric cars can be like that”. Which is why the Mustang Mach-E is what it is. Palmer talks about “amplifying the attributes” about making it clear what the functions and benefits are. The Mach-E’s development team was fully cognizant that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) weren’t a new thing. They also (through surveys conducted among BEV owners in places including California, Norway, Europe and China) discovered that it was important to create a “want” rather than a “must”: People needed to want the vehicle rather than be legislatively put in one. “When people see the true benefits of electric vehicles, it drives that want and desire”, Palmer says. “We want to pick up on early majority adoption”, Palmer says. This is not looking for a niche, it’s looking for more. Which is one reason why the Mustang Mach-E is a crossover: “We sell hundreds of thousand of them. They are very useful in people’s lives”. Putting the Mach-E into a form that has built-in demand removes an obstacle to acceptance. Palmer also admits that battery technology (the Mach-E is available with 68 kWh and 88 kWh lithium-ion batteries) is such that batteries take up space that can be more readily accommodated by a small SUV than a small sports sedan. He says that at some point, battery density will allow packaging (and range) for a “more traditional sports coupe”. One of the attributes that the Mach-E emphasizes is performance. “It is tuned to feel like rear-wheel drive”, Palmer says. “When you step on the accelerator, you feel the car yawing around the center, being pushed by the rear wheels. This car is distinctly tuned to feel like a Mustang. In the BEV space, the vehicles usually feel flat or as if they are front-wheel drive”. Another attribute related to that is throttle response. “We didn’t choose for it to feel like a gasoline-powered car”, Palmer says that it reacts to the accelerator in 0.1 seconds. “Someone told me a blink is 0.3 seconds”. Maximum torque is achieved, he says, in 0.5 seconds. And he cites a 0-to-100 time of 4.9 seconds. All of which seems to indicate that they’re looking for the enthusiast buyer. That’s not entirely the case. There are also all those potential buyers of things like a Kuga. “For a lot of people driving this (a new majority) this will be the first time they’re driving an electric car. They’ll discover the feeling and will be delighted”, Palmer says. What’s more, there are things like the 15.5-inch center screen that provides information for everything from range to the nearest in-network charger; the ability to select distinct (and quite perceptible) drive modes called Unbridled, Whisper and Engage; and the forthcoming hands-free driving via CoPilot360, functionality that will be delivered via over-the-air update. If the Mustang Mach-E amplifies the performance aspects of what a BEV can be, then the following models that Ford is bringing to market have their own important characteristics. The E-Transit is being positioned as having a lower total cost of ownership than gasoline-powered vehicles (e.g., 40 % reduced maintenance costs over 8 years), which is key for commercial customers. This is a point of amplification. Palmer describes the F-150 as being “the best tool in the world” and he says that the electric version will serve to amplify what that truck can do. While the buyers of some electric vehicles have had to accept certain flaws, Palmer says that this isn’t acceptable for Ford. “The doors fit properly, the plastics and other materials color-match, the bumpers don’t fall off, the roof doesn’t come off when you wash it, the door handles don’t get stuck in cold weather”. This is a strategy to provide electric vehicles for people who are not willing to compromise, and won’t need to. +++ 

+++ If you’ve been reading all the articles that I’ve posted showing the adventures of Tesla’s FULL SELF DRIVING (FSD) Beta program and you want to try it out for yourself, just have a bit more patience, as you will soon be able to. According to a tweet Elon Musk posted recently, FSD will be made available through a subscription model starting in early 2021, even though it was initially expected to make its public debut before the end of 2020. So it’s been pushed back a few months, but then again, this isn’t the kind of service that a manufacturer could offer in an unfinished, buggy state. This delay does mean Tesla still has testing and bug fixing to do, and based on what we’ve seen in some videos, that’s definitely the case, although FSD is already undeniably pretty impressive, even if it seems like it’s still far from foolproof. And while Elon Musk did confirm FSD would be available through a monthly subscription model, he seems to prefer it if you buy it outright (for $10.000) as a permanent option on your vehicle (that has HW 3.0). His exacts words were: “I should say, it will still make sense to buy FSD as an option as in our view, buying FSD is an investment in the future. And we are confident that it is an investment that will pay off to the consumer, to the benefit of the consumer. In my opinion, buying FSD option is something people will not regret doing”. Pricing for the monthly subscription has not been announced yet (don’t expect it to be cheap), but it will surely work out to a lot less for those leasing their vehicle or looking to sell it soon. The subscription model also makes sense as a means for people to test out FSD before they commit to paying the full asking price to have it permanently enabled. +++ 

+++ HORIZON ROBOTICS aspires to become the largest AI chipmaker for China’s car market in 3 years, as the startup’s top executive expects its automotive-grade processors to come pre-installed in at least 5 million vehicles in 2023. Yu Kai, Horizon’s founder and CEO, said the number will help the company amass a roughly 50 % share of the Chinese market that year, beating better-known rivals Mobileye and Nvidia. “AI chips are the engine of smart vehicles”, Yu, who once led the autonomous driving unit of Baidu, China’s leading search engine, told. Established in 2015, Horizon is the first Chinese maker of AI chips for vehicles’ autonomous driving and smart on-board functions. It outsources chip production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. The first production model with pre-installed Horizon chips was the Uni-T SUV from Changan, which hit the market in June this year. 3 months later, an electric Chery SUV followed suit, with Level 2 autonomous driving functions enabled by Horizon’s Journey 2 processor. Thanks to their popularity, over 160.000 chips are expected to be this year, Yu said. Horizon has received orders for more than 20 models from different companies. Yu did not give the names of the companies involved, but said most Chinese carmakers are partnering with Horizon in one way or another. Horizon has worked with Audi to develop both hardware and software to help the German carmaker receive its test license for autonomous driving on public roads in Wuxi. The company has joined hands with international suppliers as well, including France’s Faurecia and Germany’s Continental. Yu said Horizon will launch its latest-generation chip, the Journey 5, in 2021. The new chip will feature a computing capacity 30 % higher than Tesla’s full self-driving computer. Horizon’s expertise has piqued the interest of the capital market. The company said last week that it has received $150 million as part of a financing round worth over $700 million. The funding is led by investors including 5Y Capital, Hillhouse Capital, and Capital Today. The round came less than two years after the company completed its $600 million Series B round, which valued the firm at $3 billion. The startup raised over $100 million in its Series A financing round, led by Intel Capital, in late 2017. Yu said the company will go public in China in 1 or 2 years, installed in vehicles by the end of without giving details. +++ 

+++ With compact SUV sales in Europe down 37 % through October, HYUNDAI ’s Tucson nameplate has been overtaken by the Kona as the brand’s bestselling model on the Old Continent. However, according to Hyundai Italy boss Andrea Crespi, this is only temporary as the latest-gen Tucson “will be back as Hyundai’s top-seller”, he told. Europe’s bestselling compact SUVs are the Volkswagen Tiguan, Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008. Crespi added that Hyundai hopes to sell 15.000 Tucsons in Italy alone come 2021, of which 7.000 should be hybrids and 1.500 plug-in hybrids (the PHEV model will arrive in Europe in February). This latest generation model has a lot going for it, starting with the bold exterior design featuring angular sheet metal, but also flared fenders and a complex grille design. Some of these styling cues are even considered “a no-go at design schools”, said chief designer SangYup Lee, while referring to the crossover’s triangular shapes and crisscrossing character lines. Compared to its predecessor, the new Tucson is 20 mm longer, 15 mm wider and 5 mm taller. Meanwhile, the wheelbase has grown by 10 mm, resulting in an additional 26 mm of backseat legroom. All powertrain configurations come with available all-wheel drive, except for the 1.6-liter 115 hp diesel option. The Korean carmaker is also planning a sporty N Line version, expected to arrive early next year. Speaking of powertrains, diesel units accounted for 66 % of the previous-generation Tucson’s sales in Italy, and while Crespi expects that number to drop, he still believes diesel engines remain desirable. “The share of diesels will shrink, but it won’t disappear”, he said. +++ 

+++ Tesla will come to INDIA early next year, country’s transport minister Nitin Gadkari told. The electric-car maker will start with sales and then might look at assembly and manufacturing based on the response, the minister told here the newspaper. India has been keen to reduce its oil dependence and cut down on pollution, but its efforts to promote electric vehicles have been stymied by a lack of investment in manufacturing and infrastructure such as charging stations. The first model to be launched will be Model 3, the cheapest among Tesla vehicles. Chief executive officer Elon Musk on Sunday confirmed India foray in 2021 in a reply, but said it would not happen in January. In October, the government of Maharashtra had invited Tesla to the state, weeks after Musk suggested entering the country next year. +++

+++ Gerry McGovern is much more than just a car designer. His brief as chief creative officer at JAGUAR LAND ROVER is as much about the direction of the brands he’s responsible for as devising the look of some of Britain’s most stylish cars. McGovern has been heading Land Rover design since 2004, but has now been given responsibility for Jaguar, too. It’s the first big appointment by new JLR boss Thierry Bolloré and arguably the most important. Jaguar has always played second fiddle to Land Rover in terms of sales and, therefore, financial impact on the JLR business. Now’s the time for that to change with McGovern guiding the future of both brands. He gave an exclusive insight into his plans, starting with why he feels it’s important to have one man leading the vision for Jaguar and Land Rover: “The automotive landscape will change significantly over the coming years, with pending legislation potentially forcing automotive bands into similar technical solutions for its products. So it makes sense for JLR to have one creative leader to ensure that the essence of both its unique brands, in design and overall tonality, is developed in a compelling manner while maintaining clear differentiation. The chief creative officer must of course be supported by a Design Director for each brand, with Julian Thomson at Jaguar and Massimo Frascella at Land Rover providing a strong and balanced creative leadership for the JLR enterprise. Thierry is very much aligned with this view”. McGovern has clearly clicked with the new boss, as he explains: “I’ve found him truly inspirational, his insight into luxury consumerism is something that resonates with me. You’d understand that, given that he’s a Parisian and that’s where a lot of great luxury brands emanate from”. With McGovern just weeks into his new role, it’s too early to say what future Jaguars will look like, but work has already been started by his team. “It’s in its infancy, but I’ve started to work with the team defining a future design strategy for Jaguar”, he says. So what can we expect to see from McGovern’s team? “That’s the million dollar question isn’t it?” he replies. “Over the years, I’ve developed a structured approach where, before we start designing anything, we go through quite an intense creative intellectual process where words are written down to help define a vision. A design strategy evolves from this process to create the guidelines for the design team. The design strategy that we developed for Land Rover over time became the bible for everything we did. We have talked a lot in the past about Jaguar’s unique design heritage, which is clearly important to give the brand its authenticity. However, if just applied to a modern design language it will not be credible. Whatever we create has got to have integrity. You start by looking at the past and see if anything is codifiable in a relevant, modern context. Ultimately it’s about capturing the essence of your heritage, not a retrospective look and feel”. So, it’s clear that future Jaguars will acknowledge the past, but look to the future, as McGovern explains: “Jaguar cars of the past were of their time, they weren’t looking back, they were looking forward. So, you consider the past, you observe the present, you imagine, then you plan and then you execute. At the moment, we’re in the actual process of the reimagining. Words such as exuberance and drama come to mind. Think of that jaw-dropping moment when the E-Type was viewed for the first time”. One car that McGovern references as being one of his favourite Jaguar designs isn’t necessarily one you might expect: the XJ-S. “When that came out, it didn’t initially resonate with me. However, over time I got to admire it. What I liked is that it wasn’t trying to emulate anything that had gone before, but still looked like a Jaguar”, he says. McGovern references modernity a lot when he talks about Jaguar design, as he has done about Land Rover, but he also talks about exclusivity. “When you buy a piece of luxury jewellery, say a Cartier for instance, you know that its intrinsic value will increase year by year. Can you imagine if you bought a luxury vehicle that did the same? That just gives you a flavour, but I haven’t got anything to show anybody yet. But we have a level of alignment around the emerging design and brand strategy”. However, there’s the small matter of a pair of new Jaguars set to be unveiled in the next couple of years: a new all-electric XJ, plus the rumoured J-Pace SUV, neither of which McGovern will have had any influence over. It’s quite possible that these 2 cars, along with the rest of the current Jaguar line-up, won’t fit the vision for the future of the brand. Although McGovern wouldn’t give any clues to the shape of future Jaguars, he did reveal his brief to his design team: “Think big. Dream. Don’t feel constrained. And by the way, don’t even think about the competition”. It will be some time before we see a Jaguar created by a McGovern-led design team on the road, but the next generation of Range Rover is due to break cover next year and McGovern is quick to point out that he won’t lose his focus on the Land Rover family. “We can’t be complacent about Land Rover”, he says. “We’re going to have the new generation of Range Rover coming and when you see it, you will be instantly struck by its overwhelming and compelling sense of modernity. And yet, you’ll see it’s unmistakably a Range Rover. In terms of Defender, we’ve established that. And I think the world is its oyster: there are all sorts of things you can develop to build what I think is a brand in itself”. With the Defender and Range Rover pillars looking after themselves, where does that leave Discovery? “For me, the one area that is ripe for development is Discovery”, says McGovern. “Because now that we’ve got Defender doing a specific job that the Discovery in the past has had to compensate for, there is now the opportunity to create something different. So we are focused on this. As too is the next generation of architectures. Because they will define potentially what a lot of our future vehicles look like. The challenge for Land Rover is going to be how we continue the transformation while circumnavigating the challenges ahead. How do we embrace electrification, aerodynamics and all these other things that could pull us in one direction, while maintaining the essence of the brand?” It’s not just the outside that McGovern is focused on, though. “We need to continue our emphasis on the changing world of materiality, it will be an area for development in terms of new materials that will contribute significantly to differentiate our design DNA”. Then there’s vehicle technology and connectivity: areas that teams under McGovern’s control are already working on. “Design can play a bigger role in bringing a more consistent look and feel to the branding in its totality”, he says. “From the ability to communicate outside the car to the way you communicate in it, connectivity will have to be considered as a total digital ecosystem and be presented to the consumer as a flawless consistent communication that is both intuitive and negates potential information overload”. When it comes to the much-rumoured new crossover model, McGovern gives little away. “I wouldn’t believe everything you read in the press”, he says. “However, while I see opportunities for new types of products within the Land Rover brand I do not see any sense in a fourth pillar, because this would be a deviation of our fundamental strategy. Let me put it another way: we continue to explore opportunities because Land Rover, particularly, and Range Rover have shown with the Evoque and with the Velar, to a degree, the potential stretch in the brand. So we will continue to look”. +++ 

+++ JAPAN wants to eliminate sales of gas-powered vehicles in approximately 15 years as it looks to morph into a carbon free country by 2050. A plan announced by prime minister Yoshihide Suga last week calls for the automotive industry to go carbon-free by the mid-2030s by bolstering renewables and hydrogen. Speaking of Japan’s intent to achieve net zero carbon emissions in 30 years, Suga said green investment doesn’t need to be a burden but is instead an opportunity for growth. Japan’s strategy outlines a roadmap to achieving the goals through various sectors and projects a 30-50 % increase in electricity demand. The plan also calls for Japan’s use of renewables to be tripled and for the use of nuclear power to be increased. To encourage a switch to renewables, the Japanese government will provide tax incentives and offer other support. Suga estimates an annual growth of 90 trillion yen ($870 billion) by 2030 and 190 trillion yen ($1.8 trillion) by 2050 under the plan. Japan’s move to eliminate petrol-powered vehicles hasn’t been well received by everyone in the industry. In fact, Toyota president Akio Toyoda recently lashed out at the growing hype around electric vehicles and expressed concerns about politicians pushing too hard to ban ICE vehicles. “When politicians are out there saying, ‘Let’s get rid of all cars using gasoline,’ do they understand this?” he asked at a recent news conference for the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. He also claims that because Japan gets most of its electricity from burning coal and natural gas, electric vehicles won’t actually help the local environment. +++ 

+++ Hyundai and KIA witnessed their overseas sales of environment-friendly vehicles surpass the 300.000-unit mark for the first time this year, industry data showed. From January to November, the 2 affiliates of Hyundai Motor Group sold a combined 306.266 electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell electric vehicles in overseas markets. The figure shows an increase of 26.8 % from the 238.155 environment-friendly vehicles sold in the same period last year. “While the market situation was not easy with the Covid-19 pandemic, the sales of environment-friendly vehicles in overseas markets increased”, an official with the automotive group said. Electric vehicles accounted for the largest proportion of that number, with 137.286 vehicles sold during the period. This is double last year’s 68.907 vehicles, as Hyundai’s Kona Electric and Kia’s Niro EV witnessed a surge in popularity. Hybrid vehicles were next on the list with 118.816 units sold, as PHEVs posted 49.299 sales and fuel cell EVs 865. +++ 

+++ Being in charge of any company is challenging, but few CEOs are as connected to their customers as MCLAREN ’s boss, Mike Flewitt. Most customers have his email address so his inbox is more akin to a YouTuber’s comment section than a CEO’s gmail account. And one thing customers tell Flewitt is don’t build too many cars. Specifically, customers don’t want a crossover. That might sound obvious, but it’s something that other supercar manufacturers have been doing more and more. Obviously there’s Porsche and Lamborghini, but even Aston Martin has made the DBX. Flewitt sees McLaren as different, though. He’s not interested in the rapid growth that Aston was looking for that has led to it being bailed out by Lawrence Stroll’s consortium. “I hope things work out for Aston Martin”, Flewitt told in an interview recently, but he thinks it and McLaren are taking different paths. “I sometimes wonder whether people think we are conservative or ambitious with what we have done with McLaren, because we have done a lot in 8 years”. Indeed, 2020 has been a busy year for McLaren with the Sabre, the 720S’s racing debut, and more. But production remains low. The company’s plan for the future doesn’t envision more than 5.000 units per year. “I don’t think there are 10.000 McLarens to sell”, Flewitt says. “If we get one message from our customers, it’s don’t build too many cars”. That message affects how McLaren plans drivetrains, too. Although the brand is planning a new plug-in hybrid chassis, it won’t be making an EV anytime soon. “Our brand is completely grounded in motorsport, supercars, and drivers’ cars”, explains Flewitt. “It is way too early to be stretching the brand into other areas and trying to give brand credibility to a product that clearly has nothing to do with our history”. But the wind is blowing in a certain direction and Flewitt recognizes that. He told that McLaren is only looking to hybridize to meet emissions requirements, but that the engineering has made something worth putting the McLaren badge on. “We have managed to harness the technology to make a more exciting car with better attributes to it, so it makes sense”, he said. We’ll know more about the hybrid powertrain when McLaren fully unveils the Artura in 2021. +++ 

+++ Suffice to say, the MUSTANG MACH E is one of the, if not the, most controversial cars that were introduced in 2019. It’s an electric vehicle and an SUV with a Mustang badge; semantics that didn’t sit well with a number of Ford patrons and certainly not among the pony car’s fans. But if you’re among those who accepted the idea of an electric Mustang crossover, you’d be glad to know that there’s a possibility of a faster, more powerful Mach-E, possibly even exceeding what the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition offers. This is according to Jason Castriota, Ford’s global brand director for battery vehicles, in an interview while discussing the reasons behind the name. “You can imagine that we can hopefully develop the Mustang Mach-E into greater performance versions”, Castriota said in the interview. “Hopefully” was the keyword, but I’ll take that as a hint. Castriota ended the interview by sharing Ford’s intention to take advantage of its best-known brand names in the name of electrification. In short, take the Mustang name further and make electrified versions that speak of performance. Don’t fret, though, as he put his foot down and said that there won’t be a Mustang pickup nor a commercial van. Good. To put things in context, the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition makes 480 hp (as with the regular GT) but torque is at 850 Nm. This allows the Performance Edition to sprint from standstill to 100 kph in just 3.6 seconds. This, of course, is at the expense of a shorter EPA-estimated range, down to 380 km from the GT’s 400 km. If or when the more powerful Mach-E comes, expect an even shorter range – just like you do in a performance version of a vehicle with a conventional internal combustion engine. +++ 

+++ The Ford MONDEO will be killed as part of the Blue Oval’s bloodbath, but it appears the model won’t be gone for long. While rumors have already suggested the car would be reborn as a Subaru Outback-inspired wagon known as the Mondeo Active, photos of the alleged model have now surfaced online. The images suggest the Mondeo Active will feature a prominent grille which is flanked by slender headlights. Additional details are hard to make out, but the model will get flush-mounted door handles, roof rails and a panoramic moonroof. Out back, there will be a sloping rear window and an upright liftgate. This gives the model a 6-Series GT vibe and designers presumably went that route to avoid making the car look too stationwagon-like. While the exterior doesn’t seem too impressive at this point, the same can’t be said about the cabin. The model will be equipped with a massive widescreen infotainment system which spans nearly the entire width of the dashboard. The display is presumably broken up into 3 sections including a digital instrument cluster, an infotainment system and an entertainment screen for the front passenger. Elsewhere, there will be minimalist air vents and what appears to be a rotary shifter similar to what’s found in the Focus. Little else is known about the model at this point but, assuming it’s the Mondeo Active, it could be launched late next year and offered with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine as well as a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Of course, that’s far from official at this point. +++ 

+++ RENAULT boss Luca de Meo is set to unveil a “Renaulution” plan on January 14th and it sounds like the automaker will be announcing a series of cuts. Details are limited, but the Renaulution plan is primarily focused on cutting costs. This will be achieved through a variety of measures including a reduced product lineup. There’s no word on which models will be cut, but the publication says “De Meo wants to reduce Renault’s broad range of products and services by around 30 %”. Slow sellers will undoubtedly be the first to go and that means the Talisman could be among the victims as sales have fallen by more than 50 % and totaled just 16.405 units in Europe last year.  Previous reports have also suggested the Espace and Scenic could be living on borrowed time. Besides eliminating models, the plan reportedly calls for avoiding “technology fields that are not immediately usable”. The company is also slated to adopt a more realistic global strategy as De Meo reportedly admits their current “geographic expansion has not produced the expected results”. As part of this, Renault’s Chinese efforts could become more reliant on local partners. Speaking of partners, Renault is committed to their alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi. de Meo contends breaking up the alliance would send all three to the “second league of car manufacturers” and noted a handful of “magical projects” are in the works. It remains unclear what those projects are, but electrification is expected to play a big role in Renault’s future. This was previewed by the Megane eVision concept and Alpine officials have hinted at high-performance electric vehicles which could ride on the same platform that underpins the Nissan Ariya. +++ 

+++ As environmentally-friendly vehicles grow in popularity in SOUTH KOREA , consumer claims of defects in their electric vehicles have multiplied in recent years, latest data shows. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Korea Transportation Safety Authority, the number of electric vehicles registered in the country is 131.923 as of November, a 12-fold increase from 10.855 at the end of 2016. Complaints of faulty vehicle parts grew even faster during the period. A total of 275 such claims have been filed by consumers from January through November this year. That represents a 46-fold increase from just six cases in all of 2016. As electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles are expected to gain a stronger foothold on roads here, in line with a national push for carbon neutrality, the surge in defect claims is worrying considering the lack of resources and personnel to properly look into and analyze the claims that could be critical to public safety. The KTSA, which is in charge of vehicle inspections, has been reinforced after some 40 BMW vehicles caught on fire in 2018. But because the institute is largely focused on internal combustion engines, critics say more preparation is needed to deal with electric vehicles utilizing more advanced technologies. It has also been pointed out that the reason for the delay in analyzing the causes of the recent fires in Hyundai’s Kona Electric vehicles is due to the lack of test infrastructure, such as an explosion-proof laboratory. The government has invested 39 billion won ($35.5 million) to build a environmentally-friendly vehicle part management center in Gwangju, the construction of which will be completed in October 2021. South Korea aims to roll out 1.13 million electric vehicles and 200.000 fuel cell vehicles by 2025 as part of its “Green New Deal” initiative. +++ 

+++ TESLA shares have gone on a wild ride over the past 12 months and according to at least one analyst, the electric automaker’s stock is overpriced. The company’s shares have increased by over 650 % in 2020 and has been boosted by things like minor profits, a stock split, and Tesla’s inclusion in the S&P 500. As of Tuesday, Tesla shares were trading at $640, giving the company a market cap of over $600 billion, more than the 9 largest automakers combined. “While Tesla is a great company, Tesla stock has very strong signs of being overpriced”, partner and head of research in Europe at Research Affiliates Vitali Kalesnik said in an interview. “When we’re looking at the types of assumptions that we need to justify these valuations, one would need very, very aggressive assumptions. Tesla’s current valuation is in the bubble territory”. Kalesnik also made mention of the potential electric vehicle being developed by Apple that according to a new report, could launch as early as 2024. News about this latest Apple project saw optimism for Tesla stock tempered while helping to increase the price of Apple shares. There are other car manufacturers that investors also need to consider before jumping on the Tesla bandwagon. “Tesla does have some advantages in the EV market and many of its competitors admit it”, Kalesnik said. “Having said that, its competitors have significantly larger cap expending. They are putting together very aggressive, multibillion-dollar plans to enter into the market. Volkswagen is already producing. Toyota has serious plans, and recently it came out with its advances in the solid-state battery, which is supposed to revolutionize the EV industry”. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA said its global production in November climbed 7.0 % from a year earlier to 828.066 units, marking a record for the month and showing resilience against disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. While many other Japanese carmakers logged declines in the reporting month, Toyota increased production for the third straight month, thanks to firm demand in China and Japan. Total global production by 8 major Japanese carmakers, including Toyota, fell 0.3 % to 2.36 million units; the first drop in 3 months, according to data released by the companies. Production by Nissan fell 5.6 % for the 14th straight month of declines as it has shifted its focus to profitability from sales volume in a departure from the strategy set by its former Chairman Carlos Ghosn. Like Toyota, Honda has seen some recovery, raising its global output by 11.4 % last month on robust demand in China. Mitsubishi , a member of a 3-way alliance with Nissan and Renault, saw a 25.7 % fall on weak domestic demand. Global sales of the 8 automakers decreased 3.6 % last month from a year before to 2.24 million cars. Toyota sold 852.213 vehicles worldwide; up 1.8 percent and also a record for the month of November, due to robust sales of its RAV4 and luxury Lexus models in China and firm demand for its revamped Harrier SUV and compact cars in Japan, the company said. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA has unveiled an operations management system that enables multiple autonomous vehicles to run on the same road network simultaneously. Toyota’s e-Palette autonomous electric vehicle will be used in the athletes’ village for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next summer. 4 e-Palettes carried passengers on a course at a Tokyo facility during a recent demonstration of the new operations management system, which constantly monitors the speed and location of the vehicles. The e-Palettes were shown avoiding collisions and stopping at precise locations. Designed to shorten the waiting time of users and ease congestion, the system manages the operation of the vehicles to ensure that they can get to where they need to be when they need to be there. The system will be used in Toyota’s Woven City initiative, a “smart city” the company plans to begin constructing in Shizuoka Prefecture in February. Toyota said it aims to commercialize the system in the first half of the 2020s. +++

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