Newsflash: Toyota gaat mogelijk Apple Car bouwen

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+++ The all-electric APPLE CAR is said to be inching towards reality and Apple is rumored to be having discussions with Toyota about it. Ever since Apple restarted its car project late last year, it has held discussions with a plethora of car manufacturers and automotive suppliers to try and bring it to the market. At the start of the year, it held discussions with Hyundai and also met with several Chinese suppliers earlier this year. However, these suppliers weren’t willing to allow Apple to build batteries in the United States. In recent weeks, Apple has had talks with the likes of Panasonic, LG, Samsung, and SK Innovation and according to DigiTimesAsia, the technology giant is said to be in Japan visiting Toyota. As Apple is new to the automotive industry, it is expected to rely on a manufacturing partner to build the vehicle, rather than handling production itself. It remains to be seen if it views Toyota as a potential production partner or if it could rely on Toyota as a supplier. Previous reports have indicated that Apple is working on its own unique battery design aimed at minimizing cost while also increasing range compared to a conventional EV. Sources claim that Apple’s battery could feature a ‘monocell’ design that won’t require pouches and modules to hold battery materials. This would allow for more active material in a smaller package. It is also said to be investigating the use of lithium iron phosphate that is less likely to overheat than traditional lithium-ion batteries. +++

+++ The RIVIAN R1T is one of the most eagerly-anticipated electric vehicles to launch in recent memory and the American press recently had the opportunity to test it out for the first time. The heart of the R1T is its innovative electric powertrain. Unlike most other EVs on the market, the R1T has 2 motors at each axle. The motors at the front combine to deliver 415 hp and 559 Nm while those at the rear produce 420 hp and 671 Nm. These impressive figures allow the R1T to hit 60 mph (96 km/h) in a claimed 3.0 seconds, although the press didn’t get the chance to verify that time. This 4-motor powertrain is one of the key reasons why they describe it as “the most remarkable pickup we’ve ever driven”. It delivers true torque vectoring and can adjust the amount of power and torque sent to each wheel completely independently. The system allows the R1T to handle like a sports sedan on the road while also being able to handle difficult off-road terrain just as well as a Jeep Gladiator. An electric powertrain has a number of advantages when it comes to off-roading, the press notes. For example, it allows for a completely flat undertray. In addition, the four electric motors mean there is no need for thinks like traditional differentials, anti-roll bars, or crawler gears. A regenerative braking system is also featured and acts as a hill-descent control feature while also topping up the battery. The main criticism that the press has for the R1T relates to its infotainment system. The publication notes that all of the important controls are housed in the touchscreen and says that there is quite a steep learning curve to the user interface. +++

+++ SMART has released new teaser images of the concept that will preview its upcoming electric SUV at the forthcoming Munich motor show. Dubbed the Concept #1, the new machine will be the first product from Smart since the brand became a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Chinese firm Geely. It will mark a step change in the brand’s design language and positioning in line with its “growing premium and high-tech aspirations”. As previously reported by Autointernationaal, the new 5-door model is known by the codename HX11 and will be built in China. The latest images give a glimpse of the Concept #1’s extravagant lighting features, with Smart planning to shift the brand’s focus to the ‘premium and high-tech’ sector. The ‘generously dimensioned’ interior is designed to appear to young families. Previsouly released teasers give little away, beyond confirming the SUV will have a panoramic roof and a gold contrasting windowline. However, earlier sketches outlined the design of the car, including its sharp headlights, wide wheels and prominent roof bars. The Smart logo appears on part of the rear bodywork, while concealed door handles, a large panoramic roof and illuminated elements also feature as part of the car’s design. “Our eSUV concept embodies all of the new DNA of Smart”, said Daimler Group design chief Gorden Wagener. “It’s a visionary approach that creates a new identity for the brand: more beautiful, sportier and, of course, much cooler than before”. The new 5-seater is expected to be Smart’s largest model to date, at around 4 metres in length. It will be built using Geely’s flexible SEA architecture, which will also underpin a range of future Volvo models. Voice control and a digital key will be standard with every vehicle. Chinese reports have suggested the car will be fitted with a rear-mounted electric motor with a maximum power of 272 hp, a lithium ion battery with a capacity of less than 70 kWh and a range on the Chinese NEDC test cycle of more than 500km. Smart has also suggested that the production version of the #Concept 1 will eventually pave the way for further models in the small- and compact-car segment. +++

+++ On August 30, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a recall of 802 examples of the 2021 modelyear SUBARU Impreza. In an announcement sent to dealers from Subaru that same day, the automaker warned that the affected vehicles should not be driven. The issue stems from a left front lower control arm with an improper weld near a connection joint between the lower control arm and the crossmember. Naturally, a weakened joint could be dangerous. In the event that the weld breaks, the car could collapse onto the wheel resulting in a loss of vehicle control and an increased risk of a crash, per NHTSA. An investigation found that the problem was caused by damaged equipment on the control arm assembly line that resulted in contact between the part ejector rod and the welding torch. The interference meant that the torch was unable to trace the proper welding path and the weld at the joint was incomplete. Per Subaru, the fault affects vehicles produced between February 25 and March 9, 2021, though not all of the vehicles produced between those dates are affected. Fortunately, it should be relatively simple to determine whether or not a given vehicle‘s control arm is affected, since the affected parts can be traced to vehicle production thanks to their LOT number. Subaru says that it will warn owners of affected vehicles that their Impreza should not be driven until it can be inspected by an authorized retailer. Fortunately, Subaru says it is not aware of any reports of accidents or injury related to the issue. Replacement parts and any associated work to affected vehicles will be carried out free of charge. It is not known if the Subaru XV suffers from the same problem. +++

+++ Remember back to November 2017? Between all the natural disasters, political upheaval, and an ongoing global pandemic, it seems like a lifetime ago. But on November 17, 2017, following the reveal of TESLA ‘s semi truck, Elon Musk surprised the world by debuting the next-generation Roadster. 2020 was its targeted production date but that obviously came and went. Elon Musk mentioned 2022 as a new target early this year, but it appears even Tesla isn’t immune to the Covi pandemic, semiconductor shortage, and all the havoc these situations are causing. In a fresh Twitter post, Musk eyes 2023 as when the new Roadster will ship. That is, provided “2022 is not mega drama”. In the tweet, Musk acknowledges that 2021 hasn’t been the best follow-up year to Covid-ravaged 2020. Every automaker has felt the wrath of the global semiconductor shortage, leading some companies such as General Motors to ship new vehicles without certain systems installed. Others like Ford simply have thousands of built vehicles sitting idle, waiting for microchips to complete the process. Through it all, Tesla seemed all but immune thanks to its tech-heavy operation that reacted to the shortages quicker than larger operations. Tesla production is actually up in 2021, whereas everyone else is down. With Musk’s latest tweet, it seems we’re getting a taste of what’s happening behind the scenes at Tesla. The hotly anticipated Cybertruck is also delayed and though the Roadster promises to be an exceptional performance machine, it’s also a very expensive, niche vehicle. Delaying its production won’t break the bank, but with a starting price of $39,900, the Cybertruck could be a tremendous money-maker for Tesla. In this new tweet, Musk seems to acknowledge that, even if everything is perfect under Tesla’s roof (which is debatable) the company is still at the mercy of a global supply chain that’s stressed beyond belief. 2023 will mark 6 years since the surprise Tesla Roadster debut. Even with Musk claiming the car can reach 60 mph in 1.1 seconds, it’s still not fast enough to outrun global calamities. +++

+++ Less than a year after acquiring the Holden Lang Lang test track, Vietnamese carmaker VINFAST is exiting stage left. It’s another blow for former employees of Holden, who have been yet again left in the lurch, as the proving grounds are left looking for a new suiter. In May, VinFast closed its Australian operations in Port Melbourne, citing the Covid-19 pandemic and the restricted movement between countries as reasons. Instead, it was decided that all vehicle development would take place within their home nation of Vietnam. Built in 1957, the Lang Lang test track stretches across 872 hectares and is one of the world’s oldest, yet most modern automobile test centers in existence, having been comprehensively upgraded in 2018. The facilities feature more than 44 kilometers of test roads, both paved and unpaved that provide the perfect arena for replicating all types of terrain. The facility also included a 100 meter diameter skid pan, a 4.7 kilometer banked high-speed circular track, as well as a state-of-the-art emissions laboratory. The sale announcement back in 2020 was a lifeline thrown to the facility and the staff who worked there. “This deal hits a sweet spot of a fair sale value, a ready-made facility for VinFast’s needs, ongoing employment for departing Holden employees and the preservation of amenity for the community,” said then-interim Holden chairman and managing director, Kristian Aquilina. It was also a significant investment for the relatively new Vietnamese car manufacturer, who splashed out a reported $26 million for the development site. But the kinds of generous severance packages offered to employees of Ford and GM are unlikely to be replicated with the latest exit. The test center is set to close by the end of September, while it’ll be maintained by a skeleton staff until new owners are found. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN has launched their electric city car, the ID.3, to the Chinese market at the Chengdu Motor Show. The ID.3, which is one of the best selling EVs in Europe, is the third EV from Wolfsburg to be offered in China, following the ID.4 and ID.6. The ID.3, which was once thought to be a European-only offering, has been introduced at a crucial point for VW in China, as the German company looks to capitalize on a surge in sales. Chinese ID. deliveries have doubled in the past 3 months from 1.500 units in May to some 3.000 in June and 5.800 in July. However, these figures are still some way behind Tesla, which sold 28.000 cars in China in June, and are expected to bounce back from a slow July showing. Meanwhile, GM and Wuling’s Hong Guang Mini EV sold over 29.143 cars in June, with production volumes held back thanks to chip shortages. Could the ID.3 be VW’s small-car ticket to boosting sales figures? The ID.3 comes as VW pushes forwards towards its electric offensive. As part of their Accelerate strategy, by 2030, Volkswagen intends to increase the share of its all-electric vehicle deliveries in Europe to over 70 percent. In North America and China, the brand is targeting an EV share of over 50 percent. “With the ID.4 and ID.6 we have successfully launched 2 strong model series in recent months. Feedback from our customers is promising, delivery figures meet our expectations”, said Volkswagen China CEO Stephan Wöllenstein. “With the ID.3, we are now offering our customers a product in the important compact segment and, in combination with the other ID. models, are able to cover a large share of the market”. +++

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