Newsflash: Dodge gaat Alfa Romeo model verkopen

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+++ A relatively new saga involving hornets in the Pacific Northwest begins with the adjective “murder” and gets worse from there. A relatively dated saga involving hornets in the automotive industry begins with the name “Dodge” and is, or could be, much friendlier to plant and animal life. Last year, former Dodge parent company Fiat Chrysler trademarked the term “Dodge Hornet” for the first time. 2 months ago, an Italian publication credited its sources with news that current parent company Stellantis will create a Dodge version of the ALFA ROMEO Tonale and call it the Hornet. As Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recast its U.S. lineups to give Dodge more focus and give Chrysler a reason to exist, Dodge lost the Caliber, Nitro, and Journey. The coming Hornet will replace the Journey; a space Dodge could do well to return to. Never given much love by the parent company, the Journey turned into a hoary old thing over its 13 years on the market, but sold in remarkable numbers to the end. According to Car Sales Base, sales increased nearly every year for the first 9 years of the Journey’s life. Even during the sales decline over the last 4 years of its production life, the Journey found 298.594 homes in the U.S. More than 12.000 zombie units have been moved off lots this year. A Dodge Hornet likely wouldn’t offer the Wal-Mart rollback pricing the Journey was known for. Also, the Hornet would pack in just 2 rows, whereas the Journey offered 3. Nevertheless, we’re now talking about three vehicles sharing major internal organs; the Alfa Romeo Tonale leans heavily on the Jeep Compass platform and internals, and the Dodge is expected to be built at the same Naples, Italy plant as the Alfa Romeo. The economies of scale are there. As for powertrain, we know there’s a Tonale PHEV coming, but it’s thought to get its plug-in system from the Jeep Renegade 4xe that’s based around the smaller 1.3-liter 4-cylinder with either 190 or 240 total horsepower instead of the larger 2.0-liter engine in the Wrangler 4xe. I expect this for the Hornet, too, and for the Hornet to match the Compass 4xe’s 50 km of all-electric driving. I’ll look for official information to come after the Tonale launches in early 2022. +++

+++ Sales of passenger cars in CHINA last month declined from a year ago, an industry association said. Retail sales of passenger vehicles, including sedans, SUVs, and multipurpose vehicles, dropped 6.2 percent year-on-year to 1.5 million units in July, data by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) showed. However, the sales were 1 percent higher compared with the same period in 2019, said the CPCA. On a monthly basis, the sales decreased by 4.9 percent, the association said. Passenger vehicle sales in the first seven months stood at around 11.45 million units, a 22.9-percent rise year-on-year. The robust year-on-year growth for the January-July period was due to the low base last year when passenger car retail sales dropped 19 percent during the period. New energy vehicle sales also contributed to the high growth, the CPCA added. Luxury car sales fell 18 percent year-on-year in July to 200,000 units. Compared with the same month in 2019, it rose 7 percent, reflecting robust demand amid China’s consumption upgrades, the association added. China’s auto sales rose 19.3 percent year-on-year to nearly 14.76 million units in the first seven months of 2021, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed. Sales of passenger vehicles increased 21.2 percent year-on-year to nearly 11.56 million units in the January-July period, according to the data. 1 in every 10 vehicles sold in China from January to July this year was a new energy vehicle, and their popularity is expected to grow further in coming months, according to a top industry association. A total of 14.76 million vehicles were delivered in the first seven months this year, and of them 1.48 million were electric cars and plug-in hybrids, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. “The sales from January to July are already higher than those in any previous whole year”, said the association. It estimates that NEV sales could reach 2.4 million this year, up from its previous estimate of 1.8 million. The NEV segment has been growing fast in China, as more and more private car owners are considering such vehicles as decent alternatives to gasoline vehicles. Statistics from the association show that sales of electric and plug-in hybrid family cars totaled 1.4 million in the first 7 months, accounting for 94.6 percent of China’s total NEV sales in the period. In July, 5 carmakers sold over 10,000 NEVs in China, according to the China Passenger Car Association. BYD ranked first at 51,000 units. It was followed by Tesla, whose deliveries reached almost 33,000 units. SAIC-GM-Wuling came third at 27,000 units. GAC’s Aion and SAIC each sold over 10,000 units in the month. NEVs have also seen their proportion grow in China’s vehicle exports. Statistics show a total of 170,000 vehicles were shipped overseas in July, up 180 percent year-on-year. Of them, over 31 percent were electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association, said Tesla alone sold over 20,000 China-made vehicles in overseas markets in July. He estimated that Tesla’s total exports from China could reach 100,000 this year. Tesla exported almost 30,000 vehicles in the second quarter from its Shanghai plant. “Due to strong US demand and global average cost optimization, we have completed the transition of Gigafactory Shanghai as the primary vehicle export hub”, said Tesla in a statement. +++

+++ Nissan says its huge factory in Smyrna, Tennessee, will close for 2 weeks starting Monday due to COMPUTER CHIP SHORTAGES brought on by a coronavirus outbreak in Malaysia. The shutdown is among the longest at any U.S. auto plant of this size since the semiconductor shortage, which has hobbled auto production worldwide, started to hit late last year. Nissan said that it ran short of chips due to a Covid-19 outbreak at a chip factory in Malaysia. It expects production to resume August 30. The 6 million-square-foot Tennessee factory employs 6,700 people and makes six Nissan models, including the X-Trail, the company’s top-selling U.S. vehicle. Analysts say the closure of the large Nissan factory for 2 weeks is a sign that the semiconductor shortage may not be coming to an end late this year as many auto executives had hoped. Few U.S. factories have been down for 2 weeks in a row, and they usually are plants that make lower-volume, less-profitable vehicles, such as sedans. Automakers have tried to conserve chips for plants that make their top sellers, largely SUVs and pickups. But pickup plants have been shut down sporadically as well, including 3 General Motors factories this week. Guidehouse Research Principal Analyst Sam Abuelsamid said Smyrna is a crucial factory for Nissan and its shutdown is a sign that the end of the semiconductor shortage may not be in sight. “It’s looking like it’s going to stretch at least into the new year”, he said. With continuing Covid-19 outbreaks across the semiconductor supply chain in Asia and other regions, supply problems may last even longer than that, Abuelsamid said. The shortage and plant closures, coupled with strong consumer demand in the U.S., have caused shortages of new vehicles across the nation. That has driven up prices, and the shortage has spilled into the market for used vehicles. The chip shortage is starting to improve, but the coronavirus delta variant is starting to cause problems at factories in the semiconductor supply chain, making matters worse, said Phil Amsrud, senior principal analyst for IHS Markit who studies the chip market. Large chip foundries in Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia take large silicon wafers and turn them into multiple smaller integrated circuits. They’re then shipped to “back end” manufacturers in Malaysia where they are cut into chips that are used in automotive control computers. But outbreaks among workers in those factories, and in the shipping business, are affecting supplies again, as evidenced by the Nissan shutdown, Amsrud said. Also, chips that automakers are getting now may not be the right ones for products they want to build in the future, he said. In addition, many countries that do the back-end work like Malaysia have low vaccination rates, Amsrud noted. “It looks to me like we’re just set up for delta getting a foothold in all of these locations”, he said. “I think delta is going to still cause us all sorts of problems”. +++

+++ The British government claims to be fully behind the electric car movement and recently announced that it would ban the sale of most ICE vehicles by 2030, an ambitious target that will make it one of the earliest countries to switch to electric power. So you might expect that government’s climate spokesperson to be all in favor of EVs, or at least appear so in public. But Allegra Stratton recently revealed that she prefers to drive her third-hand Volkswagen Golf over an electric car. Stratton, who lives in London, claimed she preferred DIESEL power because she has to make regular trips of 200-250 miles to visit elderly relatives far from the capitol. “They’re all journeys that I think would be at least one quite long stop to charge”, she explained, adding that those stops would slow the journey down and cause discomfort to her 2 young children who might otherwise sleep for the entire journey (if you’ve got kids, you’ll know exactly why she thinks this is a problem).Stratton conceded that she might consider switching to an electric car in future if “the stop time for charging improves so much it’s half an hour”. Not surprisingly, Stratton’s comments resulted in attacks from all sides. Environmental campaigners and politicians from the opposition Labour Party jumped on what they saw as the hypocrisy of someone so senior in the government’s environmental arm being so out of step. And EV supporters picked holes in her reasoning, pointing out that EVs are exempt from the London congestion charge, which could potentially save her money, and some can accept almost a full charge in less than 30 minutes. But I absolutely understand Stratton’s thinking. She has a car that works just fine, is cheap to run and is probably fully paid off. I doubt she drives into central London for work, and probably lives outside the congestion charge, so the daily fee doesn’t affect her. Living in London, she probably doesn’t even use the car much at all, so can’t see the point in spending $600 every month on an EV lease. And when she does need to use a car to make those long trips to see family, an old diesel Golf’s 500-mile range and 60 mpg is hard to beat. Despite having driven and enjoyed dozens of electric cars, I’m not ready to switch, either. Firstly, the true (as opposed to advertised) driving range of most affordable electric cars is substantially less than 300 miles. That’s worse than a gasoline car and almost half the range of a diesel. But most journeys are less than 300 miles and you’ll want to take a break on a long journey anyway, EV fans will say. And it’s true, most of my weekly journeys are short. But they’re punctuated by 3-, 4-, 5- and even 7-hour trips, and on those kind of journeys I like to keep moving. I don’t want to hang around in a service station car park charging my car. I want to take a leak, grab a coffee and get going. And then there’s the charging issue. Yes, some cars can charge in 20 minutes, but most can’t. And even those that can, can only do it when connected to the fastest chargers, which aren’t at every location. I’ve done long journeys in EVs before and more than once arrived at a charger that my app told me was free 5 minutes earlier, only to find it was broken, or someone had that very second plugged in and would be occupying it for most of the next hour. I’ve never consumed so much cake as I have when taking a long trip in an EV. I’ve also never driven so slowly because I’m always thinking about the dwindling range. And I hate driving slowly. Conversely, I’ve run stacks of diesels and for all their noise, vibration and stink, I’ve found them really useful and likeable. I love that the leggiest can do over 700 miles on a tank meaning I can drive hours to the airport, not have to worry about finding a charger to hook up to, and when I get back on an 11 pm flight there’s still enough juice in the tank to take me all the way home without stopping. I love that I can add another 700 miles in 2 minutes, and that give or take the odd variation in flow rate, any random fuel pump I come across is going to top me up as quickly as the next one. But most of all, I love that ICE cars allow you to be spontaneous in the way EVs don’t.Don’t get me wrong, I like EVs. I like their sense of calm, their explosive performance and the thought of how much more appealing cities will be when they’ve cleaned up the air quality, which I haven’t forgotten is the main focus of the EV story. The cars and technology have come on in leaps and bounds over the last decade, and solid-state tech will change the game again. When that happens, maybe Angela Stratton will be ready to make the shift. Maybe I will, too. For some people the current EVs fit perfectly with their needs, so they’re happy to move across. But at this moment in time not everyone is ready to switch, for a variety of reasons. I think Stratton was naive in admitting her thoughts in the interview, but I admire her honesty. +++

+++ The HYUNDAI Motor Group and battery producer LG Energy Solution are joining forces to establish a $1.1 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Indonesia, the companies said. The 2 companies signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indonesian government for the plant, which would produce 10 gigawatt-hours worth of NCMA (nickel, cobalt, manganese, aluminum) lithium-ion battery cells annually, enough for 150.000 electric vehicles, the firms said. For the project, Hyundai Motor Group and LG Energy will establish a 50:50 joint venture. Indonesia will provide tax breaks and other incentives to support the stable operation of the envisioned plant, the firms said. The factory, to be built on a 330.000-square-meter plot of land in Karawang, near the capital of the Southeast Asian country, is to break ground in the fourth quarter of this year. Construction is slated to be completed in the first half of 2023 and the factory will begin mass-producing the battery cells in the first half of the following year. The battery cells produced there will be used in Hyundai and Kia models built upon Hyundai’s Electric-Global Modular Platform, the Hyundai Motor Group said. A signing ceremony was held July 28 at LG’s headquarters in Seoul, attended by Hyundai Mobis president and Chief Executive Officer Cho Sung-hwan, LG Energy Solution President and CEO Kim Jong-hyun and others. Indonesian Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia and Indonesia Battery Corp. President Director Toto Nugroho also joined virtually. Hyundai Mobis is the auto parts business unit of Hyundai Motor Group. As for the reasons to choose Karawang for the production base, the 2 companies said the city provides optimal conditions. Located close to Jakarta, it boasts well-established transportation networks, including airports and seaports, and there are also other large-scale industrial complexes in the area. Hyundai said their cooperation with LG Energy Solution, a prominent battery maker specializing in advanced lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, will support Hyundai Mobis to secure stable supply of the auto parts as global demand rises. The automotive group said it aims to expand its battery electric vehicle lineup to more than 23 models and sell 1 million electric vehicles to the global market annually from 2025. +++

+++ INDIA , the world’s fifth-largest automotive market, may reduce import duties on electric vehicles coming into the country as a result of lobbying efforts from Tesla. The country may lower import duties by 60% to 100% of what they currently are on EVs that cost more than $40,000 and by 40% to 60% on EVs worth less than that, 2 sources who asked to remain nameless told. “We haven’t firmed up the reduction in duties yet, but there are discussions that are ongoing”, one of the officials told. Although India is a big market, the majority of vehicles that sell there are priced at less than $20,000. Electric vehicles make up only a small proportion of total vehicle sales and luxury EVs make up an even smaller proportion of sales still. Tesla argued that more luxury EVs might sell in India if the country reduced import duties. “Reducing import duties is not a problem as not many EVs are imported in the country. But we need some economic gain out of that”, the official told. “We also have to balance the concerns of the domestic players”. Indeed, Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, said on Twitter last month that an Indian factory was “quite likely” if the company was successful in its lobbying efforts. Bids to reduce import duties on luxury vehicles have long been opposed by India’s domestic automakers. As a result, an average of just 35,000 vehicles is imported every year. Tesla’s efforts to target luxury EVs have also been supported by companies like Mercedes, Jaguar, and Audi, among others, which have their own EVs now, too. Although India’s automakers still object to reducing the import tariffs, by and large, the government may be relenting in order to help EVs take a foothold in the nation. +++

+++ KIA announced that its all-electric EV6 received a product carbon footprint certification from independent environmental consultancy the Carbon Trust. That makes it the first Korean car to ever receive the certification. “This is important validation of a broad range of measures we are now taking to reduce the carbon footprint of a vehicle throughout its lifecycle”, said Sangdae Kim, Kia’s head of business planning. “As we introduce more electrified models to our lineup over the coming years, we will step up our sustainability efforts and ensure we are achieving high levels of transparency when it comes to environmental impact”. The certification takes the vehicle’s whole supply chain and lifecycle into consideration when measuring a product’s carbon footprint. The EV6, then, was helped along not only by its electric drivetrain but by its interior made of PET recycled plastics. Although the company has revealed the total carbon footprint of the vehicle, it’s worth noting that the mining of batteries tends to make EVs more carbon-intensive to make than traditional cars. Lower lifetime emissions, though, do come down the road since their use causes fewer emissions than a gas engine. The Kia EV6 is capable of up to 300 miles of range (though that hasn’t been validated by the EPA yet) and makes up to 580 hp. That’s good enough for a 0-96 km/h time of just 3.5 seconds in its highest output variation. An entry-level model with just 170 hp and a smaller battery pack is also available. +++

+++ MERCEDES is in hot water in Australia as the country’s consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has filed a lawsuit against it. The automaker is accused of having downplayed the risks of driving with defective Takata airbags. The ACCC alleges that Mercedes staff told customers it was “okay” to continue using vehicles that were more than six years old and that the recall was precautionary. The ACCC asserts that consumers were exposed to potentially serious injury or death as a result of the actions Mercedes is claimed to have taken. “These alleged representations used language which was inconsistent with the requirements of the compulsory recall notice”, the ACCC said. Takata airbags are part of the world’s largest recall, affecting 100 million vehicles of numerous brands around the world. The parts were found to be defective and could send deadly shrapnel flying through the cabin. Mercedes, though, claims that its vehicles only used so-called “Beta” airbags, not the Alpha ones that were associated with the highest risk by the ACCC. The “recall process overseen by the ACCC did not require affected Mercedes-Benz vehicles to be off the road or owners to cease driving them until the repair was undertaken”, said the company. The ACCC counters, though, that its recall notice included both the Alpha and the Beta airbags, citing a death in Sydney that was attributed to the lower-risk part. Daimler, Mercedes’ parent company, says it has replaced 97.7 % of affected airbags to date and that it has cooperated with the ACCC through its investigation. +++

+++ NISSAN has announced a goal for all-electric vehicles to account for 40 % of its U.S. sales by 2030. The Leaf is the brand’s most important EV and will soon be launched by the all-electric Ariya SUV. In addition to targeting EV sales of 40 percent by 2030, Nissan said that “even more” of its sales will be for electrified models, without specifying an exact figure. “With LEAF, Nissan showed our pioneering spirit in electric vehicles”, Nissan Americas chairperson Jeremie Papin said in a statement. “Now with more than a half-million pure EVs sold and more than 5 billion electric miles driven on roads around the world, we’re helping to lead the electric vehicle revolution. Nissan is fully committed to doing our part toward building a cleaner, safer and more inclusive society for all”. “It is critical to have industry and government working together to advance consumer adoption of EVs, as well as the manufacturing and infrastructure support to get the next-generation of electrified mobility on the road”, Papin added. “First and foremost, we want more American consumers to enjoy the benefits of electrification: lower emissions, lower operating costs and a lot more fun behind the wheel”. Nissan’s announcement comes just after it was revealed that President Joe Biden will sign an executive order that calls for 50 % of new vehicles sold throughout the U.S. in 2030 to be zero-emissions capable. As part of this plan, the Biden administration wants to establish a national network of electric vehicle charging stations and make incentives available at the point of sale. +++

+++ TESLA has issued an apology to some Model S buyers who have had their vehicles delayed, some until February next year, while suggesting they can take delivery sooner if they’re willing to pay more. In recent weeks, Tesla has been repeatedly pushing back delivery dates for many facelifted Model S orders and in some cases, has even taken away the VIN for certain cars ordered.In an email sent to certain buyers, Tesla apologized for the delays, although it didn’t offer an explanation as to what has caused the delays. “You may see a delay with regards to your delivery timeline”, the email reads. “We understand this may be disappointing and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Please continue to check your Tesla Account for any changes to your timing, which should remain updated to represent our best estimate”. It is reported that many buyers have had their original delivery dates pushed back from August until October while at least one buyer claims their delivery date has been delayed until February 2022, even though they ordered the car in January 2021. What’s more, several Tesla Model S buyers who ordered their vehicles before the recent $10,000 price increase claim they have been told they can take delivery this month if they accept the higher price, Electrek states. It is also claimed that those who opt not to cough up an extra $10,000 are having their deliveries pushed back until Q4 or early next year, suggesting that the automaker is prioritizing new orders at this higher starting price in a bid to improve its financials. +++

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