Newsflash: Jeep broedt op elektrisch instapmodel

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+++ You might expect to see clouds of blue smoke emanating from the tailpipe of a broken-down hooptie, but surprisingly, EXCESSIVE OIL CONSUMPTION is also an issue with some late-model vehicles from several different manufacturers. Those include the Audi turbocharged 2.0-liter (2010–2108), the Audi supercharged 3.0-liter V6 (2011–2019), the BMW turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 (2012–2019), the Mini turbocharged 1.6-liter (2010–2015), the Subaru 2.0-liter B4 (2012–2017), the Subaru 2.5-liter B4 (2010–2018), the Volkswagen turbocharged 1.4-liter (2016–2019), the Volvo turbocharged 3.0-liter L6 (2011–2015) and the Volvo 3.2-liter L6 (2010–2014). In response to the issue, manufacturers recommended that owners contact the automaker’s customer service department or reach out to their local dealer if they have a concern. Excessive oil use can sneak up on an owner because of the long factory-recommend service intervals. Few owners regularly check their oil, and of course, having a gas station attendant offer to do so when filling up your tank is for most people merely the stuff of legend. +++

+++ JEEP is investigating a smaller SUV that would sit below the Renegade in the brand’s line-up and it’s set to be all-electric. As part of Jeep’s celebrations for its 80th anniversary, brand boss Christian Meunier has announced that there would be a “fully emissions-free Jeep in every segment by 2025”. However, Jeep’s head of exterior design, Mark Allen, also hinted at a range expansion to tie in with electrification: “We’re looking at every segment possible”, he said. It’s set to include a new small baby Jeep. When asked if Jeep’s line-up could extend beyond the Wagoneer at the top end and Renegade at the bottom, Allen said, “Absolutely. We’re looking beyond those projects. The Renegade is a B-segment so obviously there’s room below that and that’s something we’re looking at. But we’re probably not looking at something larger than Wagoneer. It’s a beast!” Allen also hinted that other new Jeep models are being considered in addition to the smaller model. “There are a couple of other forks in the road that we’re looking to cover”, he said. “But I’ve got to point out that just a few years ago we had 3 vehicles and we’re up to this line-up that we have now. We’ve been extremely busy and it’s really been pushed by market demand and worldwide coverage. There’s been tremendous growth to the brand in a short amount of time”. Although Allen wouldn’t be drawn on what a new baby Jeep would look like, it’s a safe bet to assume it would feature traditional Jeep styling cues like the seven-slot grille, trapezoidal wheel openings and short front and rear overhangs. “We always refer to the very first Jeep when we start a new project”, Allen confirmed. If the baby Jeep were to arrive before Meunier’s date of 2025 for full electrification it would have to use the new generation of parent company Stellantis’s CMP platform that’s set to debut in 2022. Although this new version of CMP will feature full-electrification (as it does already with cars like the Peugeot 208/e-208 and 2008/e-2008, and Opel’s Corsa/Corsa e and Mokka/Mokka e models) it’s unlikely that platform would be able to accommodate 4-wheeldrive; a pre-requisite for any Jeep. More likely is that the new model would make use of Stellantis’s new electric technology, announced at the company’s recent EV day. The all-electric STLA Small platform isn’t due until 2026 but could well accommodate 4-wheeldrive with electric motors on both axles. With batteries ranging from 37 kWh, Stellantis is also targeting a range of up to 480 km from its new models; around 160 km more than is available from cars on the existing e-CMP platform. Meunier also confirmed that the new Grand Cherokee should be in showrooms early in 2022. However, there are currently no plans to sell the flagship Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer in Europe. The new Grand Cherokee will feature Jeep’s 4xe plug-in hybrid electrification tech before full EV versions arrive by the middle of the decade and Meunier revealed that during the month of June, a third of all Jeep models sold were 4xe plug-in hybrids. Although Jeep is committed to electrification, Meunier did admit that Jeep was looking at hydrogen power, too. “It’s very exciting”, he said. “We have some ideas of what we can do with it”. +++ 

+++ LORDSTOWN MOTORS said hedge fund YA has committed to purchase up to $400 million of the company’s shares over a three-year period, coming at a crucial time when the electric-truck maker faces heightened regulatory scrutiny related to its SPAC merger and vehicle preorders. Under the deal, YA can receive nearly 35 million Lordstown shares upon execution of the agreement, subject to the approval of Lordstown shareholders, as well as a small discount on the shares whenever purchased, according to a regulatory filing. Some industry observers called it a good deal for Lordstown. “Existing shareholders are not taking $400 million worth of dilution. It’s like a standby commitment on the part of YA to buy stock when Lordstown says it needs more money”, said Erik Gordon, professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “I was surprised”, Gordon said. “It’s more like the knight in shining armor than the vulture at the carcass”. He added that Monday’s commitment creates a cushion of liquidity that could help the Ohio startup attract funding from others. The agreement comes a month after Lordstown warned it may not be able to continue as a “going concern”. The company had since attempted to allay fears by saying it was in talks with multiple parties to raise funds. The investor is a fund managed by Mountainside, New Jersey-based investment manager Yorkville Advisors Global. Yorkville has investments in more than 700 companies in over 20 countries, according to its website. Its current active sectors include healthcare, metals and mining, energy, technology and cannabis. Some of its investments include cannabis deals network Leafbuyer.com, copper ores company Copperstone Resources and biotechnology company CytoTools. +++ 

+++ Got your eye on a sturdy medium sized German wagon? The new MERCEDES-BENZ C-Class Estate will also get an All-Terrain version. While the E-Class All-Terrain is marketed as a one-size-fits-all solution for folks who want the looks (and ostensibly dynamics) of a wagon combined with the practicality (again, suspect) of a crossover, its smaller sibling likely won’t be quite so fancifully positioned. The All-Terrain’s key competitors here would be the Audi A4 Allroad and the Volvo V60 Cross Country, both of which utilized a fixed-height suspension. +++ 

+++ The current generation of the SUBARU WRX launched 7 whole years ago, and now it’s finally being replaced this year with an all-new version for 2022. The sport sedan will be revealed at this year’s New York Auto Show in August. Certainly there’s some general statements about how it’ll be exciting: “The newest WRX will be here so fast, it will take your breath away”. But that doesn’t exactly give you a clear idea of how much power the all-wheel-drive sports sedan will make, or what transmissions it will have, or any number of things. Spy shots show it will be a very evolutionary design with crisper lines, wider fenders and a clear relation to the Levorg. I’m expecting it to use either an uprated version of the FA20 turbocharged 2.0-liter engine in the current WRX, or a performance version of the FA24 turbo 2.5-liter from the Outback. +++ 

+++ As I reported earlier today, TESLA posted a bigger second-quarter profit than expected as it raised vehicle prices and cut costs. In fact, the automaker earned $1.1 billion in the April-June period (more than 10 times its profit at the same time last year) while revenue nearly doubled from last year to about $12 billion. That’s excellent for investors, but customers anxiously waiting for updates on the automaker’s upcoming Cybertruck and Semi truck didn’t get similarly good news. In a statement provided to shareholders, the automaker said “we have shifted the launch of the Semi truck program to 2022. We are also making progress on the industrialization of Cybertruck, which is currently planned for Austin production subsequent to Model Y”. When pressed for an update on the timing of the long-awaited Cybertruck electric pickup, Lars Moravy, vice president of vehicle engineering at Tesla, said it “is at a stage where we finished basic engineering of the architecture of the vehicle” and added “we are moving into the beta phases of Cybertruck later this year and we will be looking to ramp up production at Giga Texas after Model Y is up and running”. Put simply, it seems there is very little chance that any Cybertrucks will be delivered before the end of 2021, as was originally announced when the truck debuted in 2019. And the Semi, which was unveiled way back in 2017, has officially been delayed again. In a call with investors and analysts, Tesla executives said that volume production growth for this year will depend on parts availability, as it aims to grow deliveries by more than 50 %. Musk said Tesla has “many calls at midnight, 1 a.m., just with suppliers about resolving a lot of the shortages”. While some people had suggested Tesla build its own chip factory, he pointed to the long leadtime. “That would take us, even moving like lightning, 12 to 18 months”, he said. Still, Musk said Tesla expects to start limited production this year of the Model Y at factories under construction in Texas and Germany. “It is difficult to say when the last of the technical challenges will be solved”, he said, referring to its 4680 battery cells. He said Tesla has a backup plan of using its existing 2170 batteries, adding that its battery cell suppliers would double production next year. During yesterday’s announcement, Tesla said operating income rose with volume growth and cost reduction, which offset higher supply chain costs, lower regulatory credit revenue and other items including $23 million in losses on investment in cryptocurrency bitcoin. Tesla’s profitability has often relied on selling regulatory credits to other automakers, but in the second quarter, Tesla was profitable without these credits for the first time since the end of 2019. Its net income was $1.14 billion in the second quarter. Revenue from the credits only totaled $354 million. “Tesla impressed with its numbers, as most of its revenue came from vehicle sales”, Jesse Cohen, a senior analyst, said. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN is planning 3 initial versions of the ID.Buzz van. 2 of them are designed for Europe, the first being a “ride-pooling” version, the second a cargo van. I’m not crystal clear on final seating capacity, but the Euro people-carrier is expected to have 6 seats, each of them accessible individually and with a screen for each seat. For reasons that will become clear later, I assume this is actually an 8-passenger van. The cargo van will most likely look much like the Buzz prototypes caught in spy photos in June, with sheetmetal replacing most of the windows. A few years after launch, this Euro-focused cargo version is expected to be the Volkswagen Group’s first Level 4 autonomous vehicle on sale. An executive in charge of autonomy said the company’s plan is to have delivery drivers be passengers (driver’s license optional) focused on delivering the parcels while the truck navigates itself to the day’s drops. Europe will get short- and long-wheelbase versions of the ID.Buzz. The van will be built in Hannover, Germany “alongside large and luxurious electric SUVs that will be produced there for different Volkswagen Group brands”. This could be where the recently announced ID.8 large electric SUV is assembled. The U.S. only gets the long-wheelbase version, which will be aimed at ride-sharing services that carry passengers “traveling alone or in small groups”. The notable detail here is that it will have only 4 seats: 2 facing forward and 2 facing toward the rear of the vehicle”. I’m guessing that this excludes the 2 seats in the cockpit (facing forward). If that’s so, that’s why I figure Europe’s version is an 8-seater. Or else we’re getting the strangest floorplan ever seen in a passenger van. The base variant sends around 200 hp to the rear wheels only, the most expensive trim sends around 300 hp to all 4 wheels. The Buzz is said to be on schedule to debut next year and go on sale before the end of 2022. +++

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