Newsflash: nieuwe Kia Niro debuteert volgend jaar

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+++ The ASTON MARTIN DBX went into production last summer and just a year later, it’s already accounting for more than half of the brand’s global sales. The SUV is definitely the key to Aston’s success and future stability, and the automaker’s CEO Tobias Moers is well aware of that fact. In a recent interview, he admitted a number of additional DBX derivatives are coming in the next 3 years to keep the demand high. Moers confirmed the first new version will be released before the year’s end in the form of a mild-hybrid DBX. It will use an electrified 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-6 engine mated to a 9-speed automatic gearbox channelling power to all four wheels. Next year, the DBX family will be expanded with the addition of a performance-oriented model. It won’t be an AMR-branded vehicle, though, as “we’re not going to use AMR as a brand because there is no need for a sub-brand because Aston Martin is a performance brand”. The powertrain range will be complemented with a plug-in hybrid version in 2023 using a Mercedes-AMG-sourced V8 engine. But there won’t be just new powertrain options, as Moers admitted Aston Martin needs “different body styles, more bang-on performance, a more aggressive body style, things like that”. If we have to translate the cooperative language, Moers is probably referring to a potential “coupe” version of the DBX and other body styles. Most likely, we’ll see the new additions in 2023 and 2024. In total, Aston Martin will offer its customers five or six DBX versions by 2024. There are rumours for a 7-seat model, and Moers hinted about it by saying “you can think about being more luxurious, spacious, and you can think about being more sporty”. With more than 1.500 deliveries in about 12 months, and a slew of additional variants coming, the DBX will surely remain the brand’s most important model in terms of sales. +++

+++ CUPRA will preview its future electric city car with a new UrbanRebel concept that will be revealed next week before going on display at the Munich motor show. The new machine from Seat’s premium subbrand has been trailed in a series of teaser images. Cupra says the concept takes the form of a racing car that shows the “most radical interpretation” of its urban electric vehicle, which will be launched in 2025. That machine will be the first Seat – Cupra vehicle on the Volkswagen Group’s forthcoming MEB Entry platform and is set to be a compact crossover roughly the size of the Seat Arona. It will be twinned with the Volkswagen ID 2, which is also tipped to be revealed in concept form at the Munich show. The teaser image shows a compact machine with a large rear wing that features a built-in LED, showing the vehicle’s motorsport intentions. Cupra said it has chosen to preview the vehicle as a race car because “racing is a key part of Cupra’s DNA”. Notably, the teaser image is the first confirmation that the machine will be launched under the Cupra brand, rather than as a Seat. As with the ID 2, Cupra bosses are aiming for a target price of around €25.000 for the new machine. The Volkswagen Group intends to base production of all the MEB Entry models (which are likely to include Skoda and Audi versions as well) at Seat’s plant near Barcelona, if a deal can be reached with the Spanish government. The firm added that the concept “mixes pure electrification, sustainability and performance with the thrilling aesthetics of the virtual world”. Cupra’s first electric car, the Born hatch, is due to go into production shortly and is set to be followed by a production version of the Tavascan SUV concept. There is also talk that Cupra will get it’s own version of the Seat Tarraco. +++

+++ The GENEVA MOTOR SHOW (GIMS), historically Europe’s largest motoring event, will spawn a biennial event in Doha as part of a new tie-up between the show’s organisers and Qatar Tourism. The event will be held in Switzerland as normal on 19-27 February 2022, with a related show at the new Middle Eastern venue from either autumn 2022 or 2023. Show organisers have clarified that the Geneva event will continue on an annual basis. It will now be known as the Qatar Geneva International Motor Show, with the co-organising bodies hailing the new calendar addition as a “new world-renowned motor show for the Middle East”. The Geneva motor show has been held near-annually since its inception in 1905, although the 2022 running will be the first in three years, after the 2020 and 2021 shows were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Final dates for the first Qatari running of the show will be confirmed in the coming weeks, said show organisers, who intend to host the show biennially. A “full concept” for the show’s new format will be presented at Geneva in February. Akbar Al Baker, chairman of Qatar Tourism and CEO of the country’s flag-bearing airline, Qatar Airways, said: “In line with the national strategy, Qatar National Vision 2030, we are expanding our tourism proposition to position Qatar as a world-leading destination and ensure guests enjoy the very best of Qatar”. “In addition to extensive hotel and resort development, the refurbishment and creation of tourism assets and an expanding culinary scene, hosting internationally renowned events is an important pillar of our strategy. We’re pleased to partner with the highly distinguished Geneva International Motor Show and look forward to a collaborative relationship to bring this eminent event to our shores”. Meanwhile, Maurice Turrettini, president of the permanent committee of the Geneva International Motor Show, said: “We are very proud and honoured that Qatar Tourism has put their trust in us for the conception of the new motor show in Doha. Our partnership is the result of very trusting and constructive discussions from day one. The joint forces with Qatar Tourism empower us to focus on the upcoming 91st edition of GIMS in February 2022, where we will be able to gather ideas and learnings for the new motor show in Doha”. Shortly after cancelling the 2020 event as the pandemic took hold, the show’s organisers rejected an offer of a €16 million bailout package from the Canton of Geneva, deeming the terms “contradictory” to the show’s values. As a result, the 2021 running of the show was said to be “very uncertain”, even several months before it was officially axed due to the ongoing pandemic. While no financial figures relating to the Qatar deal have been published, it is highly likely show organisers saw Qatari investment as a means of securing the event’s future. +++

+++ HYUNDAI is set to unveil plans for a series of hydrogen-based products and technologies next month, and they include a new track-honed performance saloon. The Korean firm says its Hydrogen Wave online event on 7 September will showcase plans for a “future vision of a sustainable hydrogen society”. Hyundai also says: “State-of-the-art future fuel cell electric vehicles, as well as other innovative applications, will be unveiled during the forum”. One of the videos shows a camouflaged hydrogen-powered Hyundai saloon testing on a race circuit, with the caption “Hydrogen, it’s full on toward a clean future”. Although no details have been given, Hyundai has previously said its N performance brand will develop both hydrogen fuel cell and battery-electric vehicles in the future. The car seen in the teaser videos has similarities with the US-only Veloster N, although it appears shorter and has a different design around the rear windows. The other videos showcase new hydrogen products for freight and public transport usage. The teaser video about using hydrogen to power commercial vehicles teases vehicles that feature branding for HTWO, Hyundai’s recently established sub-brand that will develop its global fuel cell business. Along with Toyota, the Hyundai Motor Group has continued to invest heavily in the development of hydrogen technology, for both transport and other uses. Hyundai says it is working on “exciting plans and business strategies for new hydrogen mobility technology, next-generation fuel cell systems and applications to diverse industries beyond automotive.” Hyundai has a long history of hydrogen fuel cell technology, including the ix35, Ioniq FCEV and Nexo FCV vehicles. Various Hyundai affiliate companies will also showcase products developed using the firm’s hydrogen technology as part of the event. +++

+++ KIA is readying a dramatically restyled, second-generation version of its popular Niro crossover for a launch in 2022, featuring heavy design influence from 2019’s outlandish HabaNiro concept. Destined for a reveal later this year, the Mk2 Niro will retain its hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric powertrains, but it will be set apart from today’s model by its more overtly SUV-inspired silhouette and overhauled interior. The new Niro will arrive soon after the EV6 electric flagship and Sportage SUV as the latest in a series of boldly designed models forging a new image for the South Korean brand. Whereas the EV6 uses the new E-GMP electrical architecture with 800 VOLT capacity and vehicle-to-load charging functionality, the electric variant of the Niro will have an updated version of the current car’s hardware. The latest platform is reserved for vehicles in Kia’s new family of EV-badged electric-only cars. This means the Peugeot e-2008 rival will be technically similar to the current car, which is available with either a 39 kWh battery or a 64 kWh unit, giving a maximum of 282 miles of range on the WLTP cycle. Efficiency-boosting upgrades for the second iteration are likely to take this official range clost to the 500 km mark, matching the recently updated Hyundai Kona Electric. The 4×4 HabaNiro concept hinted at the potential for a driven rear axle, at least on top-rung variants, but it is important to note that it sat atop a bespoke EV chassis. Giving an update on Kia’s position in Europe, managing director Paul Philpott revealed that the shorter-range version of the current e-Niro, which offers 290 km per charge and drops power from 204 hp to 136 hp, accounts for less than 5 % of the model’s sales here. That suggests its survival into the new generation is not a certainty, especially now that there’s a variant of the bigger-battery car that qualifies for the government’s revised plug-in car grant. The influence of the HabaNiro concept on its production-ready descendant is evident in elements such as the clamshell bonnet, steeper C-pillar and protruding lip across the bootlid. Camouflage obscured the key details of a recently spotted prototype, but it looks as though the Niro will also adopt boomerang-shaped vertical rear light clusters, similar to those of the smaller Bayon crossover from sibling brand Hyundai. Equally extensive changes have been made inside, where flush buttons and switches give a cleaner look to the centre console, and the climate controls appear to have been replaced by a touch-sensitive sliding panel. As with the EV6, the central infotainment screen and digital gauge cluster occupy a free-standing panel, while the same minimalist steering wheel, with one central spoke, has been carried over. +++

+++ A recent (and rather shocking) proposal made by the European Commission calls for the end of new ICE car sales as early as 2035. That has to be voted by the 27 members of the European Union in order for the ban to come into effect, but in the meantime, automakers will likely be forced to shave off their petrol and diesel offerings. Why? Euro 7 regulations are inbound. Expected to come into force in 2025, the more stringent CO2 emissions will put small cars powered by internal combustion engines in jeopardy. The reason being is that it will be tricky for automakers to still make a profit after tweaking the petrol and diesel engines to make them comply with regulations. The same holds true for high-performance cars with their typically petrol-guzzling engines. For these reasons, MERCEDES is thinking ahead and it’s planning to eliminate many engine variants. In an interview, the 3-pointed star’s chief operating officer Markus Schäfe admitted Mercedes will basically halve its engine variants later this decade: “We will reduce the number of engine variants, going through Euro 7, by about 50 %”. With the next-gen AMG C63 switching from a V8 to an electrified version of the AMG A45’s 4-cylinder engine, the transformation is about to start. How will Euro 7 change engines? According to proposals made by the European Commission’s Consortium for Ultra Low Vehicle Emissions (Clove), cars could be fitted with a multi-stage “supercatalyst”. Petrol-fuelled cars could get a heated electric catalyst, dual three-way catalysts, a particulate filter, and an ammonia slip catalyst. Not only that, but Euro 7-compliant cars might feature a diagnostics system built into the car’s computers to analyse the engine at all times and make sure it meets emissions for 240.000 km. It all sounds quite expensive to implement, which is why we’ll be hearing from other automakers about their plans to simplify the engine portfolio. It would seem the Euro 7 will be another nail in the internal combustion engine’s coffin, effectively forcing automakers to accelerate the switch to EVs. Several brands have already announced plans to transition to an all-electric lineup by the end of the decade, including Jaguar (2025), Opel (2028), Ford of Europe (2030), Volvo (2030), Bentley (2030), and others. As for Mercedes, it too wants to abandon the combustion engine by the end of the decade, but it will only happen “where market conditions allow.” It’s an ambitious target coming from a luxury brand that still sells what is the equivalent of a dinosaur in the automotive industry: a V12 engine. The twin-turbo 6.0-litre powerhouse is available only in the Maybach S-Class and the recently introduced armoured Mercedes S-Class Guard. +++

+++ Most car companies are focused on electrifying their line-ups by the end of this decade. But what of the cars we’re meant to drive between now and then? SKODA boss Thomas Schäfer issued a stark warning on this matter to us when we caught up with him last week. The European Commission is currently considering various proposals for its Euro 7 vehicle regulations, likely to become mandatory around 2025. And if they opt for the more extreme set of possible rules, Schäfer says, we’ll see the end of the sub-€20.000 new car as we know it. “If Euro 7 comes in, in the way everybody says it will, that will make the Fabia €5.000 more expensive, at least”, Schäfer told. “The impact on small cars would be proportionally much higher than it would be on the bigger models. It’s crazy”. Schäfer’s argument is that a tougher set of Euro 7 rules might actually hold back the push towards EVs, purely because brands will have to divert engineering budget to keep selling existing models in the second half of this decade. “We’re all going with big steps into electrification”, he said. “So to bring in Euro 7 on the way to total electrification at the end of the decade is ludicrous, because we have to spend a lot of money to get to that step, which we could be spending instead on electrification. It hurts the transition”. It could also hit thousands of buyers who either aren’t ready for an EV, or can’t afford bigger models. The EU might be well served by listening to the automotive manufacturers on this one. +++

+++ SUBARU will transform the next generation of the Levorg into what will essentially be an estate version of the WRX. Now the bad news: at the moment, this report potentially only applies to Australia, meaning folks elsewhere wouldn’t get this speedy, all-wheel-drive estate. “The Levorg has proven itself as a niche performance wagon, and will morph into something slightly different in its next generation”, a spokesperson from Subaru Australia told. To make this possibility of a revived WRX estate even more tantalising, this performance-focused, next-gen Levorg reportedly debuts in Australia in the fourth quarter of 2021. It allegedly uses the same 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that’s going into the new WRX. The mill makes around 300 hp. The latest Levorg already debuted in Japan. The estate is in its second-generation and sports a look that’s very reminiscent of what we’re expecting from the new WRX, just with an extended roof and hatchback. There, power comes from a 1.8-litre turbocharged boxer four-cylinder making 178 hp and 300 Nm. A CVT is the only gearbox choice. There is an STI Sport version of the new Levorg that gets ZF-sourced adaptive dampers and multiple drive modes. There’s also a slightly different grille, lower fascia, an STI-branded exhaust outlet and 18 inch wheels. Subaru last offered a WRX Plus for the 2007 model year. There was also the Saab 9-2X available in 2005 and 2006 that was essentially Impreza Plus with tweaked styling. The range-topping Aero trim shared an engine with the WRX. The latest generation of the WRX debuts on September 10, and Subaru already has a teaser campaign going for it. The automaker confirms that a 6-speed manual gearbox is available. While not yet official, all signs suggest the model uses a 2.4-litre turbocharged boxer 4-cylinder. There are estimates putting the power at around 300 hp. +++

+++ Car production in the UNITED KINGDOM plunged 37.6 % year-on-year in July 2021. Only 53.438 cars were built; the lowest July figure since 1956. The ongoing semiconductor shortage and a lack of staff due to the ‘pingdemic’ were to blame, with some factories even altering their summer shutdowns to help manage the situation. Production for the UK market was down 38.7 % to 8.233 units, while manufacturing for export fell 37.4 % to 45.205 cars. Exports accounted for 84.6 % of cars built, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Impressively, 26 % of cars built in the UK during the month were electric or hybrid models, with 126.757 of these alternatively fuelled vehicles having been produced here since the start of the year. Production for 2021 so far remains 18.3 % up on 2020 when Covid-19 wrought chaos on the industry. The 552.361 figure for cars built in the UK so far this year is still 28.7 % down on the same period in 2019, however, when 774.760 cars were made. Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said the figures “lay bare the extremely tough conditions” faced by the UK car industry, with the semiconductor shortage showing “little sign of abating”. Hawes called on the Government to assist by “continuing the supportive Covid measures currently in place and boosting our competitiveness with a reduction in energy levies and business rates”. +++

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