Newsflash: Polestar laat 550 pk sterke cross-over in de VS bouwen

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+++ FERRARI has officially announced the reveal date for its “revolutionary” next supercar: 24 June. The firm has yet to confirm any details about the upcoming model, but a teaser video featuring 2019 Formula 1 Pro Series world champion David Tonizza hints that it will be a radical departure from the brand’s current line-up. The video doesn’t give a glimpse of the car itself, but it appears to show the Ferrari esports driver using a real car’s steering wheel and includes a brief audio clip of an engine being fired up. It is highly likely that the new model will be the entry-level hybrid supercar confirmed by Ferrari in 2018. Codenamed F171, the new car is widely expected to use an electrified V6 powertrain, making it the firm’s first since the Dino to use 6 cylinders, and the second hybrid capable of electric-only driving, following the SF90 Stradale. It is understood the car will use a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 and single electric motor, with a combined output of around 700 hp in order to compete with the 680 hp McLaren Artura. Unlike the all-wheel-drive SF90, this new model will be rear drive only. It’s currently unclear if the engine will be an all-new Ferrari creation, or if it will be related to the 3.0-litre Nettuno seen in the recent Maserati MC20 supercar, albeit without any hybrid assistance. The hybrid powertrain will also appear in the upcoming Purosangue SUV and will be key to furthering the brand’s electrification efforts, which will include a fully electric model by 2025. +++

+++ HONDA will cease production of the Clarity, its hydrogen fuel cell (FCEV) car, because of low sales. It will also end production of the Legend and Odyssey MPV. The Clarity was the Japanese firm’s first FCEV model when it was launched 6 years ago and the car’s plug-in hybrid variant will also be discontinued as the battery-electric version was in 2020. It is believed Honda will now focus on its upcoming electric models and has not ruled out hydrogen technology in the future. The Clarity was a lease-only vehicle and it is believed a poor hydrogen refuelling infrastructure and a high asking price of around €60.000 contributed to slow demand for the model. The car was never officially on sale in Europe, although 6 initial vehicles were sent to our marketregion to increase awareness and show the capabilities of fuel cell vehicles. Only 2 FCEV cars are currently on sale in Europe: the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo. Honda has also discontinued 2 other models following slow sales. The high-end Legend saloon, which featured self-driving technology and dates back to 1985, and the Odyssey, which first hit roads in 1994, will both cease production despite recent product refreshes. The Clarity, Legend and Odyssey were all constructed at Honda’s Sayama plant, which is set to close at the end of March 2022. Honda formed a partnership with General Motors in 2013 to develop fuel cell vehicles. This partnership will continue, and the Japanese firm will consider future hydrogen models. +++

+++ HYUNDAI Motor Group chairman Chung Euisun visited an autonomous vehicle venture and a robotics firm during his trip to the US, as part of the group’s vision to grow through future mobility solutions, the automaker said. Chung headed for Motional, a $4 billion, Boston-based joint venture kicked off in March last year by Hyundai and US mobility startup Aptiv. After meeting with Motional’s executive members to discuss the technology development road map, Chung tested a self-driving Ioniq 5. In February this year, Motional became one of the world’s first companies to achieve Level 4 autonomous driving, after successfully putting its self-driving vehicles on public roads in Las Vegas. Level 4 refers to a state in which a vehicle may fully drive itself under restricted conditions. At Level 5, the vehicle’s automated driving functions may be operated under all conditions. Motional’s plan is to launch a commercial rototaxi service on some US routes by 2023, in partnership with US ride-sharing platform Lyft. Hyundai’s latest EV Ioniq 5 is currently on roads for related testing, according to the automaker. Headquartered in Boston, Motional has offices in Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Santa Monica, Singapore, and has recently added a Seoul office that will play a key role in autonomous driving testing, officials said. Chung also visited Boston Dynamics, the US robotics startup that is 80 % owned by the Korean auto giant. Hyundai spent $1.1 billion late last year for the equity buy. The Hyundai Motor Group chief’s second visit to the US this year is seen as reflecting his firm commitment to new growth businesses, in line with the group’s earlier announcement to inject around 8.1 trillion won ($7.25 billion) in the US by 2025 to expand the EV market share and smart mobility solutions. +++

+++ NISSAN has started production of the new, third-generation Qashqai at its UK manufacturing facility in Sunderland. The Qashqai has been a record-breaking sales hit: no other car is made in the United Kingdom in greater numbers. A staggering 3.5 million have been signed off at Nissan’s Sunderland factory since the introduction of the first Qashqai in 2007. The factory has received a £400 million investment in preparation for the third-generation model. Among the new facilities and machinery is a £52 million panel press to create the largely aluminium body of the new car, along with 117 new robots to ensure that quality and safety targets are met. Elsewhere on the production line, 4 new robots have been installed to apply sound deadening to boost refinement levels, and the assembly process for chassis and suspension parts has been revised to accommodate the Qashqai’s new platform. To mark the commencement of production of the new model, Nissan is looking to introduce more young people to the automotive industry, by offering every school child in the North East a place on the Nissan Skills Foundation. Nissan says that 65.000 children have taken part in the initiative since launch in 2014, which involves an array of activities designed to engage young people with car manufacturing. Alan Johnson, Nissan’s vice president for UK manufacturing, said: “We know it has been a tough year for young people, so we’re using the launch of this next-generation car to step up our efforts to inspire the next generation of manufacturing talent”. The new Qashqai is on sale now with a smattering of new kit, including Nissan’s ProPilot semi-autonomous driving system, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a hybrid powertrain. The first cars are to be delivered this summer. +++

+++ POLESTAR ‘s third model, a striking electric SUV with a performance focus, will enter production in the USA next year. Simply called the 3, following Polestar’s numerical naming strategy, the SUV will be the first Volvo Group production car to use parent company Geely’s new SEA architecture. The Polestar 3 will be built at Volvo’s Ridgehill facility in South Carolina, alongside the current S60 and next-generation XC90, in line with the electric performance brand’s  global aspirations. The USA is the world’s second biggest global market for EVs, following China, where Polestar models are currently built. Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said: “Polestar 3 will be built in America, for our American customers. I remember the great response when I first shared Polestar’s vision here in the USA and I am proud that our first SUV will be manufactured in South Carolina. From now on, the USA is no longer an export market but a home market”. Benefits of US production are said include shortened delivery times for American customers, and reduced environment impact from shipping cars around the world. It will also, claims Polestar, allow the 3 to be offered at a competitive price point. The styling of the 3 remains under wraps ahead of its official unveiling, but design boss Max Missoni previously told that the futuristic Precept concept (photo) will have a heavy influence. “The design language of that car is something that you can and should expect in our future cars, starting with the Polestar 3”, he said. It will be positioned as a rival to the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace, with the SEA underpinnings expected to offer competitive levels of performance. The first car to use that platform, Geely’s new Zeekr 001 shooting brake, claims up to 700 km of range from its largest, 100 kWh battery and uses a 550 hp twin-motor powertrain to achieve 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. The taller 3 will have less of a focus on outright pace, but Polestar has confirmed it will emphasise aerodynamic efficiency, likely with the aim of maximising range. Other features include a Google-developed infotainment system, as used by the Polestar 2, and a range of “high-end, safety focussed autonomous driving features”. +++ 

+++ We know that a refreshed PORSCHE Macan is on the way but don’t know a whole lot about what’s changing. At least until now because some journalists got to drive a prototype and was able to reveal a lot of the updates, including more power for all models. The base Macan will still have a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder that will now make 265 hp and 430 Nm, instead of 252 hp and 370 Nm for the current model. The Macan S gets a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 making 380 hp and 520 Nm, rather than 354 hp and 480 Nm from a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 for the existing one. Finally, the Macan Turbo goes away but upgrades to the GTS let the model take its place. It has a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 with an upgraded ECU and running 33.4 psi (2.3 bar) of boost to make 440 hp and 550 Nm. For comparison, the existing GTS makes 380 hp and 520 Nm, and the Turbo has 440 hp and 550 Nm. The updated GTS will ride on an air suspension that will be able to drop the ride height by 1 centimetre in Sport Mode. An optional GTS Sport Package will add a torque-vectoring system for moving power side-to-side between the rear wheels. The spy shots already tell us that there are small exterior styling changes, which is normal for Porsche. The front fascia and rear diffuser are slightly different. Autocar also notes that there are different wheels and new colours on the way. The cabin will have bigger changes. There’s a new digital instrument cluster and a 10.9 inch infotainment screen that replaces the current 7.0 inch monitor. The refreshed Macan will reportedly debut in late July. Because of the upgrades, the price for the GTS will increase, but it allegedly won’t be as high as the current Turbo. +++ 

+++ New RENAULT GROUP mobility outfit Mobilize will launch a trio of bespoke electric vehicles in the coming years, aimed at creating “a circular and all-encompassing programme to support EV uptake”. The Mobilize brand was launched as part of Renault’s landmark ‘Renaulution’ transformation strategy. It will provide electric transport solutions for urban environments, as well as developing new car charging, subscription and finance schemes. Mobilize said its ambitions “stretch beyond automotive” and it is “looking to promote an ecological transition through flexible, sustainable, use-oriented mobility and energy solutions”. The first 3 Mobilize models are described as “tailor-made” and will be unrelated to the Renault Group’s mainstream production EVs. They will also be unavailable for private sale, aimed instead at providing open-access, pay-per-use services. The 2-seat Duo heads up the Mobilize line-up, having been previewed earlier this year with the EZ1-Prototype concept. Intended to be built using 50 % recycled materials (and to be 95 % recyclable) it will be used for urban car-sharing services. The ultra-compact EZ1-Prototype draws obvious influence from Renault’s now-discontinued Twizy urban EV, and although no technical details have been revealed, it is likely to offer a similar range of around 100 km. The Duo will also spawn a single-seat “utility” variant called the Bento, which has a load capacity of 1.000 litres and is designed to provide delivery services for urban businesses. The Hippo is the brand’s third model. Described as a “lightweight, all-electric utility vehicle”, it will sit atop a modular platform and feature quick-change storage compartments that allow it to be easily adapted for different uses, including refrigerated containers and parcel bays. With an equal focus on urban and rural environments, the Hippo is likely to have the longest EV range of the 3 models and will be substantially larger, given its 3.000-litre storage capacity. As well as launching a dedicated range of vehicles, Mobilize will seek to improve electric infrastructure and energy storage facilities. It is engaged in a ‘Smart Island’ scheme to encourage EV adoption, roll out new charging solutions and install new energy generation facilities on the French island of Ile d’Yeu. It has also partnered with German firm Betteries to develop a new energy storage system made up of used EV battery packs. With a maximum capacity of 9.2 kWh, the units are said to provide enough power per day for the average household and could be used as a power source in remote locations where a grid connection is impossible. +++ 

+++ Financially troubled SSANGYONG said it will launch its first electric vehicle (EV) in Europe later this year as it seeks to speed up its sales process and survive in the changing business environment. SsangYong said it named the EV variant of the Korando the ‘Korando e-Motion’ and has begun domestic production to first target the European market in October. SsangYong said it has also been developing an all-electric SUV with a goal of launching it next year to join the global automotive industry’s EV transition. The automaker said it will realign its structure to develop competitive eco-friendly models to dispel concerns over its viability and catch up with the latest industry trends. “We will spur development of the new EV to release it earlier than expected”, court-appointed manager Chung Yong-won said in a statement. “We are expanding our eco-friendly lineup and developing a new business model to become more competitive”. The SUV-focused automaker has struggled with declining sales at home and abroad due to a lack of new models and Indian parent Mahindra’s decision not to inject fresh capital into the Korean unit. SsangYong has been under court receivership since April as Mahindra failed to attract an investor amid the prolonged pandemic and worsening financial status. SsangYong said half of its workers will go on unpaid leave for 2 years beginning next month as part of self-help measures to speed up its sales process. The company also plans to sell further assets to raise funds and not to hire new employees over the next 5 years to streamline its structure, while the union promised to stage no strikes for years to come. Under court receivership, SsangYong’s survival depends on whether there will be a new investor after debt settlement and other restructuring efforts. It is the second time for SsangYong to be under court receivership after undergoing the same process a decade ago. Court receivership is one step short of bankruptcy in South Korea’s legal system. In receivership, the court will decide whether and how to revive the company. +++

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