Newsflash: BMW gaat elektrische 3-serie alleen in China verkopen


+++ BMW was an electric vehicle pioneer and the company is now fully embracing them thanks to the introduction of the i4 and iX. That lineup is set to expand even further as spy photographers have snapped new pictures of the electric 3-Series sedan. Apparently based on the long-wheelbase variant, the eco-friendly model sports “Electric Test Vehicle” badging and a unique rear bumper without exhaust cut outs. While the front end is heavily disguised, it will presumably feature an enclosed grille similar to the one used on the iX3. The EV prototype is interesting by itself, but the model appears to be based on the facelifted 3-Series as it features restyled headlights with new boomerang-shaped daytime running lights. Spy photographers couldn’t get close enough to snap interior pictures, but the cabin is decked out in camouflage. While that’s not much to go on, the model is expected to adopt BMW’s Curved Display which consists of a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch infotainment system running iDrive 8. Performance specifications are a mystery, but the i4 could provide some clues. It will be offered in a couple of configurations including an eDrive 40 variant that has an 83.9 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor that develops 340 hp and 430 Nm. It enables the model to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 5.7 seconds, hit an electronically limited top speed of 190 km/h and travel up to 590 km in the WLTP cycle. The company will also offer an i4 M50 with two electric motors producing a combined output of 544 hp and 795 Nm. This cuts the 0-100 km/h time to 3.9 seconds and increases the top speed to 225 km/h, but the WLTP range drops to a max of 510 km. Of course, previous reports have suggested the model could be exclusive to China and there has been speculation it could adopt the iX3’s powertrain instead of the one used in the i4. +++

+++ FISKER has strengthened its deal with Magna International and signed a binding agreement that will allow it to compete with the ever-growing array of electric car manufacturers. Through the partnership, production of the all-electric Fisker Ocean is projected to start on November 17, 2022 at Magna’s carbon-neutral manufacturing facility in Graz, Austria. The agreement covers planned volumes, manufacturing costs, quality metrics, and critical planning and launches phases, and encompasses all facility investments including a bodyshop that will support the Ocean program through 2029. In addition, the contract will provide the opportunity to increase volumes of the Ocean should it be necessary while also creating other models based on the architecture co-developed by Fisker and Magna. “Our complete vehicle systems approach, combining all elements of our portfolio, makes Magna’s proposition highly competitive – in capital efficiency, launch reliability and speed to market”, Magna Steyr president Frank Klein said in a statement. “Our collaboration with Fisker is an excellent example demonstrating the unique capabilities Magna offers as the go-to supplier when it comes to delivering world-class technologies and vehicles for our customers”. Underpinning the Ocean will be a version of the Magna-developed electric vehicle architecture that is modified to create the new FM29 platform. “Our asset-lite model, reinforced by partners like Magna, is powering Fisker towards its planned delivery of the Ocean with features and functions exceeding our original aspirations”, added Henrik Fisker. “From our co-located manufacturing team in Austria to our software engineers in San Francisco, Fisker is scaling rapidly to deliver a range of world-class, sustainable products and services”. +++

+++ FORD ‘s outlook for the second quarter is improving, as the automaker is seeing strong customer reservations for four of its new vehicles. Ford now anticipates its quarterly adjusted earnings before interest and taxes to top its expectations and be significantly better than the year-ago period. Although there’s still uncertainty around semiconductor supply, Ford is seeing improvement in its automotive business due to lower-than-expected costs and favorable market factors. It’s also being helped by increased vehicle auction values. President and CEO Jim Farley will take part in Deutsche Bank’s Global Auto Industry Conference. He will announce that reservations have climbed to 190.000 for the revived Bronco, with 125.000 of those already converted to orders. The vehicle is now in production. There’s also 100.000 reservations for the battery-electric F-150 Lightning pickup; 36.000 for the new Maverick compact pickup and 20.000 for the all-electric E-Transit commercial van. Ford is taking $100 refundable deposits for Bronco and Lightning reservations. No deposits are required to reserve the Maverick and the E-Transit. Ford is expected to announce its second-quarter results and provide an outlook for the second half of the year on July 28. +++

+++ GENERAL MOTORS will increase its investment into electric and autonomous vehicles by 30 % through 2025. The car manufacturer will spend $35 billion on electric and autonomous vehicles through 2025. General Motors originally announced an investment of $20 billion into electric and autonomous vehicles until 2025 in March 2020 prior to the coronavirus pandemic spreading across the globe. In November 2020, it announced an increase to this investment to the tune of $27 billion. Reports of GM increasing its investment into electric and autonomous vehicles comes just a few weeks after Ford announced that it will invest $30 billion into EVs by 2030. As part of its investment, General Motors will build 2 new battery factories in the United States. Details, including locations, of these facilities remain unclear but they will join 2 battery plants already being built through GM’s joint venture with LG Chem. It is understood that GM will invest about $2 billion into each of the new battery plants. General Motors intends on offering 30 electric models globally by 2025 and wants to exceed annual sales of 1 million EVs in the United States and China by the same year. GM chief executive Mary Barra will meet with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other key Democrats this week to discuss electric vehicles and vehicle emissions. The automaker has thrown its support behind President Biden’s proposed $174 billion bill to boost EVs and charging as part of a broad infrastructure plan. +++

+++ HYUNDAI plants at home and abroad are suspending production due to an ongoing shortage of automotive computer chips. Hyundai said Monday that it is halting the assembly line for passenger cars at its Alabama plant in the U.S., though the engine production line for affiliate Kia is operating as usual. Kia’s Georgia plant will also scale down its 3-shift work schedule to 2 shifts for the same period. Hyundai and Kia are suffering the setback even as their Tucson and Sorento SUVs are enjoying growing popularity in America. At home, Hyundai’s plant in Asan, South Chungcheong Province will be closed for 1 day, which will halt production of about 1.100 Sonata and Grandeur sedans. This is the fourth production suspension at the Asan plant this year. It already closed for a total of 7 days on 3 occasions in April and May. It is expected to close for another 6 weeks in the second half of this year to install new production lines for the electric Ioniq 6. Industry insiders expect chip supply to improve a little in July. But the prevailing view is that it will take more time until the situation is back to normal. “It takes time before products hit the market even though global chip makers are increasing production”, an industry insider said. “Some automakers will have to suspend production in the second half too as chip makers are inundated with orders at the moment”. +++

+++ JEEP is aware that among the many attributes of its vehicles, initial quality is not high on the list; far from it, actually. The brand (and indeed all former FCA marques) consistently rank poorly on JD Power’s well-respected initial quality survey. So it says it’s doing something about it. The change starts in Detroit where Stellantis recently opened a renovated plant called the Mack Plant. Although it has been in operation since 1916, this wasn’t a simple refresh. The automaker tore the factory down to the girders in order to build it back up into a new kind of plant that would nip quality issues in the bud. The factory is building the next-generation Grand Cherokee L, which introduced a new, upmarket look for the SUV that is being rolled out to other vehicles like the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. To make the upgrade credible, Jeep put a premium on quality. To ensure the Grand Cherokee L would be as well-built as possible, the brand put the vehicle and manufacturing teams together six months earlier than it normally would, to help them build a construction plan that would be as well thought out as possible. That meant that Jeep had a hand in creating the layout of the Mack Plant’s floorplan to customize the manufacturing process as best as it could. The full redesign of the plant also meant a new workforce that Jeep could pick and make feel invested in the quality of the Grand Cherokee L. The company pulled experienced workers from other lines to put them in charge of the Mack Plant and created a deliberately slow onboarding process. “It was an opportunity to set a new precedent”, Jeep’s model responsible for the Grand Cherokee L, Mario Holmes, told. “This is their car”. On the plant floor, there’s a sign that reads “Build no defect. Accept no defect. Ship no defect”. In order to accomplish that mission, workers are given the ability to stop the line if they find any defect, which means that they are caught before they go on the vehicle. That will mean fewer vehicles being sent to dealerships and then being recalled, saving the company money. Testing also happens more frequently at the Mack Plant. At 3 distinct points on the production line, workers test the vehicle and its parts to make sure that fewer defects slip through the cracks. That also means new tests, like “Buzz, Squeak, and Rattle” and a 9 position water test that seeks to ensure that water doesn’t leak into the vehicle when it is on an incline, something a Jeep, in particular, might be subjected to. Mechanical engineers, too, have been moved onto the factory floor to get them closer to the vehicle they’re responsible for. That, Jeep believes, will create a more cohesive partnership from design to manufacturing, helping teams work together to find manufacturing processes that work the first time. Finally, data mining helps track trends drawn from repair information to find patterns that will help engineers design better parts, effectively stopping issues before they appear in new vehicles. The whole change is part of a process that Jeep hopes will help it climb the rankings on JD Power’s initial quality survey, as it has started doing. More importantly, the company hopes that it will help get a better product out to the customers. +++

+++ Beginning with a new SUV next year, LINCOLN has announced the electrification of its entire model range by 2030, together with the expansions of connected services as the company prepares for its 100th anniversary in 2022. Lincoln’s first fully electric model will be unveiled in 2022 and will be offered in both North America and China. It’s not the first time we’ve heard about an electrified Lincoln SUV as the company had announced a partnership with Rivian back in 2020 but that deal was cancelled, officially due to the coronavirus-pandemic, with Ford then saying it would take over the project itself. The in-house developed SUV will be based on Ford’s battery-electric flexible architecture offering rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive options. This platform will serve as the base of a total of four “new and distinct” fully electric vehicles debuting in the next years. According to Ford’s luxury arm, their first electric model will “deliver a more spacious interior that creates the ultimate expression of the Lincoln sanctuary”. From the teaser sketch, we can see four individual seats and plenty of headroom/legroom for both rows. It will also have clever storage solutions, a huge touch screen with custom themes showcasing the night sky, and a large panoramic vista roof shedding more light into the cabin. The new model will be equipped with the latest driving assistance systems including the ActiveGlide technology. The latter will offer a hands-free driving experience in prequalified sections of divided highways, thanks to the hardware that includes an advanced camera, a radar, and driver monitoring technologies. The zero-emissions SUV will join the plug-in hybrid Aviator and Corsair in the growing electrified line-up. Lincoln expects its zero-emission models to reach 50 % of its global sales by 2025, as part of the Ford+ plan with a total investment of more than $30 billion for electrification. By 2030 the whole range will be electrified although we will still have internal combustion offerings with the Lincoln badge. Besides electrification, Lincoln focuses on improving the suite of its connected services available through the Lincoln Way app. The cloud-based Lincoln Intelligence System will integrate electrical, power distribution, and computing systems, enabling an “always-on” relationship with clients. The software will receive over-the-air updates for improving performance and other characteristics of the car without changing the actual hardware. The company also announced that all future vehicles will be connected to a new Android-based digital platform. For existing customers, Lincoln will roll out updates for the 2021 Nautilus this summer, improving the navigation, the Apple CarPlay, and the digital owner’s manual. A second update will follow this fall for the Alexa digital assistant. Nearly one-third of Lincoln’s sales in the U.S. are completed online, so the brand is working on a new digital sales platform “to meet the changing needs of clients”. At the same time, the planned expansion of the Vitrine dealerships that started in 2018 is back on track, with 28 new facilities already operating plus 50 more currently under construction. +++

+++ Just 3 days after LORDSTOWN MOTORS chief executive Steve Burns and chief financial officer Julio Rodriguez resigned from the company, the electric startup is suddenly sounding quite hopeful. In a regulatory filing made with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lordstown said that it would not be able to start production of the Endurance pickup truck unless it raised more money. It also flagged survival problems. Now, the company’s new executive team is portraying a much more optimistic view. Lordstown president Rich Schmidt claims that the company will begin building the Endurance in late September and has enough money to last until May 2022. Schmidt added that the company is able to make 15.000 trucks over the next 24 months and said that Lordstown continues to look for new funding. “It’s a new day at Lordstown Motors, and there is no and will be no disruption to our plans to start production”, added Lordstown executive chairwoman Angela Strand. Schmidt stated that when production of the Endurance starts in September, it will do so before the vehicle has passed all necessary crash and engineering tests needed to clear sale in the U.S. As such, vehicles that roll off the production line will be held until testing is complete and, if necessary, will be modified before they are sent to customers. Following the departure of Steve Burns and a dozen other senior executives, Lordstown admitted that many of the pre-orders it has received are non-binding. However, Schmidt insists that the company does have binding orders for all the trucks it is expected to make in 2021 and 2022. +++

+++ In an interview last October, Daimler and MERCEDES boss Ola Källenius admitted the company might have exaggerated with the expansion of its compact car offerings: “We went a bit too far to cover each and every space into each and every segment” before explicitly referring to compact cars. Apparently, this has prompted some to speculate Mercedes will eventually exit the compact segment altogether, but that’s simply not true. The very same head honcho told this week the three-pointed star remains committed to small cars as they’ve been “phenomenally successful at broadening our lineup and growing Mercedes’ customer base”. He went on to say they’ve also been a big hit financially and have played their part in “lifting the overall scale for our brand”. “We are not exiting that segment per se, because there are many positions in our compact portfolio that generate healthy profitability”. However, not every single car will survive as Mercedes will only focus on those that generate a tidy profit margin by “carefully choosing the portfolio positions in that segment”. In addition, the German luxury brand won’t chase mainstream automakers by introducing a cheaper entry-level car, thus refuting rumours of a sub-A-Class model. So, which cars are staying and which are going? Ola Källenius didn’t go into any details, so all we can do is speculate for the time being. Is there really a need for an A-Class Saloon and a CLA? Although unquestionably more interesting than a crossover, the CLA Shooting Brake is a niche product. The compact estate is in a league of its own as it doesn’t have any direct rivals, although a Kia Proceed GT is somewhat similar. The GLA and GLB are likely safe given the current SUV-hungry state of the market and the fact both are getting electric equivalents. There’s also an A-Class L Saloon with a long wheelbase just for China where it’s locally produced and is probably futureproof since sedans are still in great demand in the People’s Republic. As for the B-Class, perhaps there’s still an MPV market significant enough to justify its existence, especially since BMW has committed to a second-generation 2 Series Active Tourer. +++

+++ The Munich Motor Show has big shoes to fill as it replaces the Frankfurt Motor Show and is set to kick off on September 6th. However, things aren’t looking good as OPEL has decided to pass on the event. That’s a major blow and it would be a bit like Ford or GM skipping the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The absence was confirmed by a Stellantis spokesperson who told: “The brands of the Stellantis Group will not participate in this year’s IAA in Munich”. While there was little doubt that most of Stellantis’ brands would skip the show, Opel was said to be considering the event and apparently decided against it. This is unfortunate for attendees as the show likely would have been their first chance to check out the redesigned Astra, which will be unveiled in August. The decision is the latest blow for the Munich Motor Show as it was reported earlier this year that the Volkswagen Group will only have a small presence at the event. Audi, Cupra, Porsche and Volkswagen are set to attend and they’ll reportedly be joined by BMW and Mercedes as well as Dacia, Ford, Polestar, Nio and Wey. Officials have previously downplayed the relatively slim lineup of automakers by saying: “IAA Mobility is changing from a pure car show to a mobility platform” which will have “exciting premieres” ranging from “e-bikes, e-scooters, bicycles, electric cars to public transport”. That doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but Audi will use the event to introduce their electric flagship known as Project Landjet. The model is rumored to be a large 3-row crossover with an electric powertrain and a range of around 650 km. Previous reports have suggested the production model will arrive in 2024, so it’s possible Audi will simply be showing a concept. However, Project Landjet is also expected to spawn vehicles for Bentley and Porsche. +++

+++ The first shocking reports that RIMAC could be involved in a deal to take over Bugatti appeared in September last year when German media claimed a deal could be announced in a few months’ time. Meanwhile, in March 2021, Mate Rimac confirmed the Croatian automaker is in talks with Porsche for a strategic investment with Rimac looking to raise between €130 million and €150 million. Now, it seems that the manufacturer is ready to kick its operations into a higher gear with 2 major moves planned for next year. The same media now report that Rimac will soon take over Bugatti, the French hypercar automaker, fuelling the rumours from 2020. Not much else is known yet, though the deal will materialise through a joint venture with Rimac holding 55 % and Porsche 45 % of the shares. Previously, Mate Rimac has declared “Porsche’s stake will increase but nowhere near to 50 percent and Rimac will remain independent”. Unfortunately, both Rimac and Porsche are very, very short on information which leaves us with the impression that the companies are trying to keep as much as possible in secret. Rimac is also looking to go public in 2022 with the aim to reach a valuation of around €5 billion. +++

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