Newsflash: Fiat zegt verbrandingsmotor vaarwel

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+++ Starting in June, BMW is rolling out over-the-air updates to 1.3 million vehicles worldwide beginning in Germany. The update will improve maps on iDrive 7 and will add Amazon Alexa integration in 4 markets. Officially called BMW iDrive 7 Version 21-03, the base update will improve the BMW maps service with cloud-based route calculations that can make real-time decisions about traffic and accidents to get owners to their destinations faster. The update will also add context-related information, such as store hours and images, to more than 120 million points of interest. Entering addresses will also be made easier thanks to the rollout of “one-box search”. The function allows users to enter the address they are looking for in a single line (like you would on Google) rather than requiring them to fill out several search boxes for country, city, street, number, etc. The over-the-air update will also provide improvements to safety systems like Lane Departure Warning. Setting for the function be savable, meaning that you can turn it off permanently if you do not want it and it will only be reactivated when the driver so chooses by accessing the settings. In France, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S., Amazon Alexa integration will be added with this update. The system will operate in the same way as it does anywhere else, allowing owners to add items to a shopping list, check the news, play music, or whatever else they may need to do with their voice. The system will also link with Alexa in their home, allowing shopping lists to follow them wherever they go. Finally, the system update will fix a few bugs, such as the error that caused album artwork not to display properly when music is played via an Android device connected through Bluetooth. It will also fix an issue that resulted in Surround View not being positioned on the control display correctly on certain vehicles. Although the roll-out of the updates is starting this month, BMW warns that it may be delayed in certain markets as a result of Covid-19 considerations. +++ 

+++ FIAT has committed to becoming an electric-only brand by 2030, pledging to phase out all combustion-engined models from its global line-up from 2025 onwards. The firm recently launched a new electric-only version of its hugely popular 500 city car, which will be sold alongside the existing combustion-engined 500. The firm said it wanted to improve access to electric cars, lower the barrier to entry, including improving the charging infrastructure, and contribute towards improving air quality. “Between 2025 and 2030, our product line-up will gradually become electric only. This will be a radical change for Fiat”, said Fiat boss Olivier François. “The decision to launch the new 500, electric and electric alone, was actually taken before Covid-19. Even then, we were already aware that the world could not take any more compromises. We were reminded of the urgency of taking action, of doing something for the planet Earth”. Fiat is the latest brand to commit to heavily or fully electifying its fleet in the wake of increasingly tough leglisation. Several countries have already committed to banning sales of virtually all new non-zero-emission cars from 2030 onwards, but Fiat’s commitment to become electric only by that date will apply in countries where ICE sales are still allowed. The move fits with Fiat’s increased focus on city cars, led by the popularity of the 500. It also helps differentiate the brand from other mainstream marques in the Stellantis group, such as Opel and Citroën. Fiat has given no details of plans for future EVs beyond the new 500, but the brand says production will not be limited to city cars. In 2019, it unveiled the Centoventi Concept EV, which effectively previewed a next-generation Panda. While that car is likely to use the Fiat-developed small platform that underpins the new 500, it is likely the firm will also develop EVs on Stellantis’s CMP platform, which is used by the Peugeot e-208 and Opel Corsa-e. The Turin-based firm says it will aim to improve the availability of charging stations for communities who do not have regular access, such as those in apartments, and look to increase the number of fast-charging points. Fiat confirmed its switch to an EV-only brand while announcing a new partnership with architect Stephano Boeri to rethink urban environments for the EV age. The partnership will result in the conversion of the roof of the Lingotto factory in Turin to feature 28.000 plants, in an attempt to improve air quality. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS plans to increase shipments of its vehicles over the coming weeks as the pressure of the semiconductor shortage begins to ease. In its recently-released financial results, GM said its figures for the first half of the year would be “significantly better” than previously forecast, having indicated that profit would fall to about $500 million in the second quarter from more than $3 billion in the first quarter. Now, GM has confirmed that it will increase production of its heavy-duty pickups at its Flint plant in July, increasing output by about 1.000 trucks per month. In addition, various factories will forego typical summer vacation closures to help recover lost production. GM will also ship approximately 30.000 midsize pickups to dealers that were originally assembled without select electronic features and kept at the Wentzville plant until they could be finished. “The global semiconductor shortage remains complex and very fluid”, GM’s vice president for North America manufacturing and labor relations Phil Kienle said in a statement. “Customer demand continues to be very strong, and G.M.’s engineering, supply chain and manufacturing teams have done a remarkable job maximizing production of high-demand and capacity-constrained vehicles”. GM has revealed that it will be able to increase production of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra because it has worked out ways to improve efficiency on the Flint production line. “We were already on production target. But every year we go through productivity improvement”, shop chairman for UAW Local 598 that represents workers at the plant, Eric Welter, told. “We increased line speed and that increase will equal 1,000 more pickups built a month”. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI and its affiliate Kia have racked up record monthly sales in the U.S. for the third straight month. The 2 carmakers sold a combined 170,315 cars in May, following more than 150,000 in April and 144,000 in March. Hyundai sold 93,745 cars and Kia 80,298, up 56 percent and 75 percent respectively. The increase was led by strong consumer demand across its lineup from gasoline vehicles to eco-friendly cars. +++ 

+++ Sales from carmakers in SOUTH KOREA rose 41 % last month from a year earlier on strong overseas demand amid a quicker-than-expected recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and a lower base effect, industry data showed. The country’s 5 carmakers (Hyundai, Kia, GM Korea, Renault Samsung and SsangYong) sold a combined 608.430 vehicles in May, up from 432.621 units a year ago, according to data from the companies. Their domestic sales fell 13 % to 124.145 units last month from 142.410 a year ago. But overseas sales jumped to 484.285 from 290.211 during the same period. Hyundai and its affiliate Kia outshined rivals here, with their overseas sales helping prop up their monthly performance. On top of robust sales of their SUV models, the companies benefited from a lower base effect, as they suffered disrupted production at their plants due to the pandemic in the same month of last year. In May, Hyundai’s sales jumped 43 % to 323.129 units from 226.456 a year ago, and Kia’s climbed 49 % to 245.994 from 164.893 over the cited period. The monthly results were backed largely by strong overseas SUV demand for Hyundai’s Palisade, Tucson and Santa Fe, and Kia’s Sportage and Sorento. In contrast, shortage of semiconductor components affected vehicle production in their domestic plants and sales last month. This year, Hyundai and Kia said they will continue to focus on promoting their new models, including Hyundai’s all-electric Ioniq 5 and Kia’s all-electric EV6 model, to ride out the pandemic crisis. They aim to sell a combined 7.08 million vehicles this year; 1.7 % lower than the 7.2 million units they sold last year. Renault Samsung and GM Korea suffered declines in their May sales due to lack of new models amid the pandemic. GM Korea’s sales fell 34 % to 16.428 units last month from 24.778 a year ago, while Renault Samsung’s were down 13 % to 10.348 from 11.929 during the cited period. But SsangYong’s sales rose 6 % to 8.750 units from 8.254 on increased shipments of its SUV models. The SUV-focused carmaker has been in the debt-rescheduling process since April 15 as its Indian parent Mahindra has failed to attract an investor amid the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic and worsening financial status. From January to May, the 5 companies’ combined sales rose 23 % to 3.06 million units from 2.48 million in the year-ago period. A global chip shortage is expected to affect carmakers’ vehicle production in June and their sales. Carmakers are readjusting their vehicle production volumes while competing with electronics companies to get more chips to minimize output reduction. +++ 

+++ Cash-strapped SSANGYONG submitted a self-rescue plan put together by management and labor, including half of its staff taking unpaid leave for up to 2 years. The aim is to avoid layoffs but drastically reduce labor costs. The workers taking unpaid leave will be half of the automaker’s manufacturing workers and 30 % of office staff. But they could return to work in a year if Ssangyong makes any money. Under the plan, employees are paid only 50 % of their wages and no welfare benefits until June 2023. Managers will have another 20 % of their wages docked on top of a 20 % pay cut they took earlier. “We suffered a large-scale layoff in 2009, so employees agreed to share the pain”, a Ssangyong staffer said. Labor and management also agreed to hold wage negotiations every 3 years instead of 2. Ssangyong’s labor union will vote on the plan on June 7 or 8. It requires the support of more than half of the automaker’s workers, but many workers are opposed to the furlough and it remains uncertain whether the plan will be accepted. Ssangyong hopes to overcome the crisis by rolling out its first electric car in the second half of this year. +++ 

+++ TESLA ’s Model Y dethroned longtime favorite the Mercedes-Benz E-Class to become the top-selling imported car in South Korea in May, industry data showed. According to market tracker CarIsYou, 3.461 Model Y vehicles were newly registered with local authorities that month, compared with 2.387 E-Class vehicles. Sales of the Model Y, the all-electric compact SUV and the latest release from the American electric car brand, began in earnest here last month. From January through April, the E-Class occupied the top spot. Separate data compiled by the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association, which excludes Tesla, showed that Mercedes-Benz sold 7.690 cars in the same month, retaining the title of bestselling imported car brand. Coming in second was BMW with 6.257 unit sales. Volkswagen, Volvo and Jeep followed with 1.358, 1.264 and 1.110 units sold, respectively. If Tesla had been counted it would have taken the third spot, after BMW. According to the association’s data, sales of imported cars were up 3.5 % to 24.080 units in May compared with the corresponding period last year. These figures also exclude Tesla. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA used the debut of the Corolla Cross in the US as an opportunity to show the BZ4X electric crossover concept in North America for the first time. The automaker now confirms that the production version debuts later this year and goes on sale in early 2022. “Roughly the size of a RAV4, with the versatility to stand apart from other BEVs, it will be well-positioned in the sweet spot of the market”, said Lisa Materazzo, group vice president of Toyota Marketing. The automaker isn’t willing to share European-market details about the vehicle yet, saying market info is coming “at a later date”. The photos that Toyota is sharing suggest that the production version of the bZ4x could look very similar to the concept we are seeing here. There aren’t many wild design flourishes that would be impossible to bring to production. The most fanciful element is the yoke-style steering wheel that’s on display in some of the pictures. Although, other shots show a traditional, circular wheel, so this feature might be something exclusive to the show car. The cabin includes a digital instrument cluster, a widescreen infotainment display, and a tiny screen for the HVAC system. The centre console includes a knob for selecting the drive modes. There are no specific powertrain details about the bZ4X yet. The model is all-wheel drive, which suggests a two-motor setup. It rides on the e-TNGA platform. Toyota co-developed the BZ4X with Subaru. The other brand will also get a version of the electric crossover that it will call the Solterra. The vehicle will arrive in Europe and the US in mid-2022. Toyota will eventually have a family of 7 BZ models by 2025. Based on trademarks, they will be the BZ1X through BZ5X, including some without the ‘X’ in the name for ones without all-wheel drive. They will be among 15 EVs available globally from the automaker by that time. There will also be 70 electrified products worldwide from the company. +++ 

+++ Strong business demand helped the UNITED KINGDOM car market to continue its recovery, with fleet sales accounting for more than half of the 156.737 new cars registered in May, but demand for vehicles was still down compared with the same period in 2019. The 156.737 registrations last month marked a 674.1 % rise from last May, when dealerships were shut due to the first lockdown and only a handful of sales were registered. The strong recovery came with showrooms now open following the most recent lockdown, but the sales total was still down 14.7 % on May 2019, and it was 13.2 % lower than average May sales over the past decade. Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) made up 8.4 % of all new cars sales in May, with 13.120 registrations. That was down from 12.0 % in May 2019, when the figure was boosted by EV firms such as Tesla continuing contactless deliveries. In the first 5 months of 2021, the 54.051 BEVs sold accounts for 7.5% of the market, compared with 4.3% in 2020. Petrol-engined cars remained the most popular choice, with pure-ICE or mild-hybrid examples making up 60.4 % of registrations so far this year, down from 64.7 % in 2021. Diesel continued to decline, with pure-ICE and-mild hybrid versions accounting for 18.0 % of sales, down from 22. 4% over the first 5 months of 2020. The Volkswagen Golf was the most popular car among buyers in May, with 4.181 sold. The Vauxhall Corsa was second for the month, with 3.643 registrations, which means it remains the most popular car in the UK so far this year. The British firm has sold 20.024 examples of the supermini in the first 5 months of 2021, comfortably clear of the Ford Fiesta (17.700 registrations), Mercedes-Benz A-Class (16.752) and Volkswagen Golf (14.979). +++

+++ VOLVO is planning a 2.5 million-tonne reduction in its annual carbon emissions by reusing and remanufacturing components on a large scale. The process, which it calls a “circular business principle”, will include recycling key materials such as steel and aluminium, remanufacturing complex components like gearboxes and reconditioning individual parts. Volvo remanufactured some 40.000 parts last year, saving 3.000 tonnes of CO2, and recycled 95 % of its production waste (including 176.000 tonnes of steel) to save 640,000 tonnes of CO2. Volvo is also collaborating with battery reuse specialist Battery Loop to investigate the potential for a second life for high-voltage EV and hybrid batteries, all with the intention of becoming a ‘fully circular business’ (using entirely recycled parts) by 2040. Mechanical components included in the company’s reconditioning programme include brake calipers, electric rear axles, compressors, generators, suspension and chassis parts and EV traction motors, as well as engine blocks and cylinder heads. Anders Kärrberg, Volvo’s head of strategy and sustainability, said: “There are major sustainability benefits of doing this. If you compare a new part with a remanufactured part, you save about 85% of the CO2. There are major benefits in terms of reducing consumption of the virgin material, too”. Kärrberg explained that parts such as calipers could be remanufactured 3 or 4 times, extending their life to 20 years before being superseded during the evolution of design. He said: “We’re on the track of doubling the consumption of metals and minerals in the next 40 years, and we’re generating more and more waste. This is simply not sustainable. It’s not just that we’re generating waste materials: we’re also generating a lot of CO2. In order to reach the Paris Agreement and reduce CO2, we have to do more recycling and remanufacturing. This is why companies like Volvo are in for a fundamental change. A circular economy will be important, but we do see a business opportunity in this and financial benefits in more efficient use of materials and remanufacturing. It’s good for the environment, but it’s good for business as well”. Giving high-voltage batteries a second life once their capacity has reduced too far through age and use for them to satisfactorily power an EV is widely regarded throughout the car industry as being a sound method of reducing the environmental impact of battery production. Volvo’s director of traction battery development, Ulrik Persson, believes doing so could extend the life of an EV battery to as much as 2 decades or even more. Pure EV batteries are worked hard through the aggressive cycling they undergo. He said: “Fast charging is an example of aggressive cycling, as is high-speed motorway driving, where you run the power through the battery system very quickly during charge and discharge”. Second-life applications can be far less aggressive, with much gentler demands being made on the batteries for stationary applications, such as grid balancing: the storing in batteries of surplus electricity that’s generated off peak, to be fed into the grid during peak periods at a battery-friendly rate. Using old EV batteries for grid balancing is a valuable addition to sustainable energy generation from wind turbines and solar panels, which may harvest large amounts of energy when demand is low. “Battery systems need to be dimensioned to each application”, said Persson. The battery capacity used in a particular application will determine how deep or shallow the cycling is. Too much is wasteful; too little will result in deep cycling. As long as the battery system isn’t deeply discharged, and instead just part of the available capacity is used, Persson believes the prospect for extended life is good. He said: “The design life for our battery systems is 15 years. I think the life of the battery could be extended for an additional five or maybe 10 years if the battery is used in the correct way. Time will tell and other factors will play a part. The battery degrades not only from cycling but also ageing and temperature”. Once batteries do reach the end of their life, the aim is to retrieve and recycle as many materials as possible. To achieve the circular economy, we must treat all ingoing materials as precious, and we’re participating in extensive research into hydrometallurgical extraction of the battery materials at Chalmers University in Gothenburg,” said Persson. +++

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