Newsflash: Alfa Romeo Tonale ook als Dodge

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+++ German engineering and technology company BOSCH has opened a new semiconductor factory with the goal of supplying the automotive industry, among other business areas. Computer-chip production for Bosch power tools is expected to begin in July this year, 6 months earlier than initially planned, before production for automotive customers begins in September. The factory in Dresden, Germany, has cost the company around €1 billion to build and is expected to provide 700 jobs. The automotive industry has been heavily impacted by a global shortage of semiconductors during the pandemic, resulting in several manufacturers seeking to overhaul their components supply chains. The shortage, initially caused by an unprecedented rise in demand, has been exacerbated by a chip-plant fire in Japan and blackouts in the chip-making hotspot of Texas. Bosch has implemented significant artifical-intelligence technology in the Saxony facility, which the company says will “save automotive customers the need for the time-consuming trials that would otherwise be necessary before production release”. “Chips for vehicles are the ultimate discipline in semiconductor technology”, said Bosch board member Harald Kroeger. “This is because in cars, these small building blocks have to be especially robust”. Bosch says the development of automotive semiconductors is more complicated than in other areas, requiring “specialist expertise” that it claims to have amassed over the past few decades. “In 2016, every new vehicle worldwide had an average of more than 9 Bosch chips on board, in devices such as the airbag control unit, the braking system and the park assist system”, the firm said. “In 2019, this figure was already more than 17”. +++

+++ DODGE has finally figured out what kind of car it will put the Hornet nameplate on, according to a recent report. One of the world’s least-favorite insects will allegedly soon have a small, Alfa Romeo-derived crossover named after it. The Hornet will land as a Dodge-specific version of the Alfa Romeo Tonale, a city-friendly soft-roader that will slot below the Stelvio when it finally makes its debut. It notes both models will be built on the same assembly line in Pomigliano d’Arco, near the Italian city of Naples, and it adds that the Dodge variant will not be sold in Europe, where the brand no longer has an official presence. Don’t look for a Hellcat V8 under the hood: Power will reportedly come from a turbocharged, 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine. Front-wheeldrive will come standard, and all-wheeldrive will be offered at the plug-in hybrid version. The Tonale was recently delayed by Alfa Romeo boss Jean-Philippe Imparato after he demanded better performance from the gasoline-electric system. If it fits in the Tonale, it fits in the Dodge, and going hybrid will help one of the V8’s last bastions reduce its emissions. While the Hornet will arrive in the United States with an Italian passport, its underpinnings will be more apple pie- than cannoli-flavored. Alfa Romeo is borrowing components from the Jeep Compass to turn the Tonale concept unveiled in 2019 into a production car, so many of these bits will end up under Dodge’s entry-level model, too. Executives haven’t commented on the rumor. Dodge trademarked the name Hornet in 2020, a move which adds fuel to the fire, but a trademark filing is never a guarantee that the terms being protected will reach production. The Dodge Hornet could appear in showrooms in 2022 as a 2023 model. Alfa Romeo’s Tonale is about 1 year away from launch. Dodge received the Hornet nameplate as a hand-me-down after parent company Chrysler absorbed American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1987. AMC used it on a compact model built from the 1970 to 1977 model years and available in several body styles. Dodge slept on it until 2006, when it put it on a decidedly European-flavored concept that was unveiled at the Geneva auto show. It was reportedly approved for production, first on a platform co-developed with China’s Chery, then through a partnership with Nissan that should have spawned a Dodge Ram-based Titan, and finally with help from Fiat. Dodge’s entry into one of Europe’s biggest segments was ultimately canceled after a series of setbacks (including the 2009 financial crisis) repeatedly delayed the project. +++ 

+++ Could the explosion of the internet some 20 years ago predict how ELECTRIC cars will be adopted? According to BBC’s chief environment correspondent Justin Rowlatt, the answer is yes. What we’re seeing take place in the automotive industry is not just a change in consumer demand but a technological revolution. Many car manufacturers seem to share this viewpoint and are quickly jumping on the EV bandwagon. The death of the internal combustion engine appears to hasten as major automakers reveal plans not just to slow down but, in some cases, completely stop production of internal combustion engines. General Motors says it will switch to EV only by 2035. Ford says all vehicles sold in Europe will be electric by 2030. Volkswagen stated that 70 % of its will be electric by the year 2030. Jaguar too will only sell electric vehicles by 2025, while Geely-owned Volvo will follow suit 5 years later. Under the same corporate umbrella as the sports car manufacturer, Lotus will go EV-only from 2030. There may be a good reason for the mass exodus away from petrol power. Despite overall car sales slumping by a fifth during the coronavirus pandemic, global sales of electric cars in 2020 rose by 43 % to a total of 3.2 million. It’s a trend that has already been seen courtesy of another techno revolution: the internet. In the late ’90s, the tech-savvy were lapping up PCs to get online. But the explosion in internet use by the new millennium is evidenced in the numbers. By 1995, there were 16 million people online. By 2001, there were 513 million. Today, there are over 3 billion. An S-shaped curve could be witnessed, with steep adoption before market saturation. Driving the change in internet statistics were lower prices, making computer hardware more accessible. The same looks like it will be the case for EVs. Electric cars used to be very expensive due, mostly, to the high cost of their batteries. However, Madeline Tyson, of the US-based clean energy research group RMI, says that a decade ago, it cost $1,000 per kWh of battery power; now it’s nearing $100. With 5 % of cars sold today being electric, it would seem we could be at the beginning on the S curve. However, UBS predicts that the number of EV sales will rise to 20 % in just 4 years, and by 2030 (the steep segment of the curve) we’ll see EV sales jump to 40 %. From there, the next 10 years will, predictably, see virtually every new car on sale be a BEV. The dawn of the EV revolution is well and truly upon us. +++ 

+++ The FERRARI F8 Tributo is only 2 years old, but the rocketship-quick mid-engined supercar is already a bit long in the tooth. We only met the F8 back in 2019 as a 2020 model, and even though Ferrari will never admit this next part, the F8 Tributo was really a stopgap measure to keep the 488 GTB competitive against the shockingly good McLaren 720S. Hence both cars having identical 720 hp outputs. Speaking of things Ferrari will never admit, the F8 is being replaced by a supercar with a hybrid V-6. And it’ll happen sooner than later. Meet the Dino, or perhaps the SF60, and yeah, we’ve made both names up. It’ll crib its platform from the Maserati MC20. We know the MC20 is mid-engine and makes use of an engine that shares features with Alfa Romeo’s 90-degree 2.9-liter V6. Dubbed Nettuno, Maserati’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 makes 620 hp and 700 Nm of torque, plus it has a Honda CVCC-like extra set of spark plugs and mini-combustion chambers. Bringing it all full circle, both Maserati’s and Alfa Romeo’s V6 engines are derived from Ferrari’s 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8, only with 2 cylinders lopped off. Moreover, the carbon-fiber monocoque MC20 platform has been designed from the beginning to accept a battery-electric powertrain. Meaning motor mounts and wiring passages have been baked in from day one. A hybrid powertrain would be easy to implement in a platform designed for both gas and EV duties. Yes, the new entry-level mid-engine Ferrari will be a hybrid. A plug-in hybrid to be specific. Following in the footsteps of the mighty SF90, the forthcoming Ferrari will pack at least one electric motor to assist with forward propulsion. I’m hearing that the total system output will be in the 840 hp range, so we’ll guess 3 motors. We can do some easy extrapolating here. The SF90 has a total system output of 1.000 hp, with the gasoline-powered V8 producing 780 hp. This means 220 of the peak combined hp comes from the hybrid part of the powertrain. And yes, “combined hp” is a black and mysterious art. Assuming the plug-in hybrid components are the same as those of the SF90, we simply add the 220 hp to the MC20’s 620 hp to get 840 hp; a sum that also just happens to be the exact number given by our source. These things write themselves. We can also infer that the Dino will have the same (or a similar) battery as the SF90. That said, given the MC20’s chassis is smaller than the 458/488/F8 platform the SF90 is based on, it’s possible the new 6-cylinder Ferrari will get away with a smaller battery pack. There will be a “pizza motor” sandwiched between the V6 and the 8-speed dual-clutch transmission (the MC20 also has an 8-speed dual-clutch). Expect 2 traction motors, one powering each front wheel, too. The front motors will handle the EV driving duties, just like in the SF90, as well as reverse because the dual-clutch gearbox has no reverse gear. This means that, like the SF90, this baby Ferrari can switch between front-wheel-, all-wheel-, and rear-wheel-drive settings, as the front motors stop spinning above 200 kph. I can infer another thing. This new car will be quicker than both the 812 Superfast and the 812 Superfast Competizione, as not only is the 812 a much more massive car that’s RWD only, but the “normal” version makes 800 hp, whereas the Competizione makes just 830 hp. The baby SF90 will be AWD, smaller, more powerful, and sport instantaneous electric torque. Again, a V6 powered anything will be quicker than a big dog V12 Fezza. And here you thought 2020 was crazy! The Superfast will be faster than the Dino, however, because it retains its glorious V12’s full power output all the way to its 340 kph top speed. Maybe call the new car the Superquick? Just a thought. The question becomes when will we see this new machine? The answer is soon. I guess we’ll see the new Dino or SF60 or whatever Ferrari calls it on or around September 7, the first day of the 2021 Frankfurt Motor Show. Why not wait for Geneva? Because Ferrari has something even bigger planned. I’m talking about the brand’s first-ever SUV, the Purosange. Like the SF90 and this new V-6 model, the Purosange will also be a PHEV. We’ll go ahead and guess that the Ferrari SUV will make use of the fact the hybrid bits can mate to both the company’s V6 and V8 engines. All will be revealed in March. And we’ll learn everything about the Dino come September, though one source is saying Ferrari might reveal its €300.000-plus V6 hybrid supercar even sooner than that, like maybe in the next month or two. Until then, yeah man, it’s a bit sad that the era of the mid-engine V8 is coming to a close. But are you going to turn your nose up at a mini-hypercar packing potentially 840 horses? Didn’t think so. +++ 

+++ The FISKER Ocean isn’t slated to go into production until November of 2022, but the company has already announced plans to build a climate neutral vehicle by 2027. Fisker didn’t go into many specifics, but said the effort will focus on all 5 phases of a vehicle life cycle including sourcing, manufacturing, logistics, the use phase and end-of-life. The company went on to say the vehicle will use recycled materials and remanufactured components, and be built at plants which run exclusively on renewable energy. The automaker will also promote end-of-life recycling as well as the use of public charging networks that run on 100 % renewable energy. That’s pretty vague, but CEO Henrik Fisker said “We plan to radically disrupt the mobility industry by setting an ambitious goal for ourselves: to produce a climate neutral vehicle by 2027”. The company added they won’t be purchasing carbon offsets to achieve their goal, but acknowledged “suppliers and logistics partners may contain offsets to achieve climate neutrality”. Fisker went on to say the automaker “will endeavor to promote a circular economy by sourcing recycled materials and remanufactured components – and work to utilize public charging points running on 100% renewable energy.” The executive went on to say the company already has teams focused on sourcing “climate positive materials and critical components such as aluminum, steel, electronics and lithium-ion batteries from companies with carbon-neutral commitments”. Besides announcing plan for a climate neutral vehicle, Fisker dropped a new teaser for Project Pear. It’s not very revealing, but it suggests the model will have curvaceous bodywork and a sleek greenhouse. Fisker hasn’t said much about Project Pear, but the electric vehicle will be built in the United States and ride on a lightweight platform known as FP28. Pricing is slated to begin at less than €40.000 in the Netherlands and production is set to begin in the 4th quarter of 2023. +++ 

+++ TESLA ‘s chief of its heavy trucking unit, Jerome Guillen, has left the company, the electric-car maker said, barely 3 months after taking over the role. Guillen, who has been with the company for over a decade, was named president of Tesla Heavy Trucking unit in March, with a mandate to lead the company’s entry into the heavy trucks market. Guillen previously oversaw the company’s entire vehicles business as president of the Automotive unit, a role to which he was appointed in 2018. Tesla is yet to begin delivering its battery-powered Semi electric commercial truck, saying supply constraints could delay its mass production to 2022. +++ 

+++ A number of auto shows were struggling even before the pandemic and the coronavirus certainly didn’t help as events were canceled, delayed, and reimagined. Some automakers have reportedly decided to avoid them altogether. Lamborghini, for instance, is seeking a more “intimate relationship” with customers and they believe this can be best established at events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Last week, TOYOTA and Lexus effectively threw a mini auto show of their own at their U.S. headquarters in Plano, Texas. The media-focused event saw a number of debuts and officials used a panel discussion to talk about the future of traditional auto shows. They said auto shows are still important as 11 million people attended them annually before the pandemic. However, they acknowledged the shows are evolving and we could see more digital events in the future. These became prevalent during the pandemic as it wasn’t feasible or safe to host large in-person events. What the auto show of the future looks like remains unclear, but it could be more consumer-focused. Officials alluded to this as they noted that they enable potential customers to check out their entire lineup at one event without any sales pressure. They went on to say this is something that is hard to pass up. A recent study highlighted their importance as approximately 70 % of households attending the New York Auto Show were in the market for a new vehicle within the next 12 months. Furthermore, half of the households that went on a buy a new vehicle said their auto show experience influenced their purchase. +++ 

+++ New passenger car registrations in the UNITED KINGDOM amounted to 156.737, which marks a return closer to pre-pandemic levels. The volume increased almost eightfold from the low base a year ago, however, compared to May 2019, it’s down 14.7 %, and down 13.2 % compared to the 10-year May average. In such circumstances, the passenger plug electric car registrations increased to 22.975 (up 607 % year-over-year), taking 14.7 % of the market. One of the most important findings is that plug-in hybrids are expanding at a much quicker rate than all-electric cars. If nothing will change, both categories soon might be equal. Sales in May: BEVs: 13.120 (up 441% year-over-year) at market share of 8.4 %; PHEVs: 9.855 (up 1.092 % year-over-year) at market share of 6.3 %; Total: 22,975 (up 607 % year-over-year) at market share of 14.7 %. So far this year, more than 100.000 new passenger plug-in cars were registered in the UK at an average market share of 13.8 %. Sales Year-To-Date: BEVs: 54.051 (up 145 % year-over-year) at market share of 7.5 %; PHEVs: 46.068 (up 214 % year-over-year) at market share of 6.4 %; Total: 100.119 (up 173 % year-over-year) at market share of 13.8 %. Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “With dealerships back open and a brighter, sunnier, economic outlook, May’s registrations are as good as could reasonably be expected. Increased business confidence is driving the recovery, something that needs to be maintained and translated in private consumer demand as the economy emerges from pandemic support measures. Demand for electrified vehicles is helping encourage people into showrooms, but for these technologies to surpass their fossil-fuelled equivalents, a long term strategy for market transition and infrastructure investment is required”. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) does not reveal detailed registrations stats for models, but we guess that the Tesla Model 3 remains the top-selling EV year-to-date. Kia reports that its e-Niro is #2 YTD with 919 units in May. “The Kia e-Niro retained its place as the second best-selling BEV in the UK so far this year, with 919 sales in May. More than doubling its previous monthly sales, Soul EV also made an important contribution”. The Vauxhall Corsa-e (in the rest of Europe known as Opel Corsa-e) noted 2.204 registrations YTD (over 10 % of all Corsa), while the Vauxhall Vivaro-e vans are at 874 YTD. “The all-electric Corsa-e has been the bestselling new electric car in the small Battery Electric Vehicle sector this year, with 2.204 registered, while the Vivaro-e remains the highest-selling electric Light Commercial Vehicle in the UK, with 874 registrations in 2021”. MG brand reports that 31.7 % of its sales this year (10.760) were all-electric cars. That would be about 3.411. “More than 3 in 10 MGs sold (31.7 %) were pure electric against an overall market penetration of 7.5 % for BEVs across all brands”. +++

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