Newsflash: eerste details elektrische Lamborghini zijn bekend

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+++ A new A7L rolled off the production line at SAIC Volkswagen’s plant in Shanghai on Sunday, marking AUDI ‘s latest effort to explore the Chinese market. The liftback, which is SAIC Volkswagen’s 24 millionth vehicle, is also Audi’s flagship model produced in China. SAIC, China’s largest carmaker by sales, is Audi’s second Chinese partner to produce vehicles in the country. The German company, which is the premium arm of Volkswagen, is also producing sedans and SUVs with China’s FAW Group. SAIC President Wang Xiaoqiu said SAIC Audi will leverage its strength in products as well as breakthrough innovations and cutting-edge technologies to redefine luxury vehicles for Chinese consumers. He said SAIC Audi will help cement the German marque’s leading position in China’s premium car market. “In the next 3 years, SAIC Audi will deliver another 4 flagship models to open the layout of high-end gas-powered vehicles and fully-electric products,” said Wang. Stephen Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China, said China is expected to become the world’s largest premium vehicle market in coming years. He estimates that premium vehicle sales will grow from 3.1 million units from now to over 4.5 million in the next 10 years. “As a strong brand with a strong portfolio, SAIC Audi will provide a differentiated and complementary product line-up, combined with innovative sales methods and a focus on customer experience”, said Wöllenstein. SAIC Audi is exploring a customer-centric e-commerce system. Among other things, the models have fixed prices across the country and customers can place orders online. SAIC Audi is planning to open 200 showrooms in 80 cities across the country. Audi has sold a total of more than 7 million vehicles in the Chinese market. Last year, it delivered 727.358 vehicles in the country. The figure hit 418.749 in the first half of 2021; up 38.6 % year-on-year. +++

+++ International carmakers are partnering with Chinese companies to tailor AUTONOMOUS DRIVING SOLUTIONS for their vehicles sold in the world’s largest vehicle market. Last week, the largest carmaker in the United States said it is investing $300 million in Chinese autonomous driving startup Momenta. The deal is expected to accelerate General Motors’ development of self-driving technologies for its vehicles in China, said Julian Blissett, executive vice-president of GM and president of GM China. “Customers in China are embracing electrification and advanced self-driving technology faster than anywhere else in the world”, Blissett said. China is the biggest market for GM. Last year, it sold around 3 million vehicles in the country. GM did not reveal details such as when the technologies co-developed with Momenta will be used in its vehicles. Founded in 2016, Momenta is one of the most promising Chinese startups in the autonomous driving industry. Prior to the deal with GM, it raised $700 million from investors including Daimler, SAIC Motor and Toyota. Unlike many startups, it has a “2-pronged” strategy, which focuses on mass-production-ready solutions as well as full autonomy. Besides its partnership with Momenta, GM is developing autonomous driving technologies through its subsidiary Cruise. Cruise’s autonomous driving system, called Super Cruise, is already used in GM’s Cadillac CT6 sold in China. The carmaker said the system will be introduced into more vehicle models available in the country. German carmaker Volkswagen said it will work with Chinese companies to offer local autonomous solutions. “The approach in China is somewhat different from what we see in Europe and the US”, said Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China, earlier this month. In the US and Europe, Volkswagen is working with US autonomous driving startup Argo. Wöllenstein said the carmaker will make the most of its global experience but will do it in a China-specific way in partnership with local companies. “We believe we need a strong Chinese partner or 2 on our side in order to comply with the forthcoming frame of autonomous driving in China”, he said. “We try to keep the global synergies but in a China-specific way. We cannot do it alone”. Wöllenstein did not reveal the names of possible Chinese candidates but he said they are in intense talks and Volkswagen is “coming to conclusion very soon who this partner will be”. Volkswagen is already working with Chinese drone maker DJI on advanced driving assist functions to be used in vehicles produced in China. Outside of China, Volkswagen and US startup Argo have unveiled the first version of the ID Buzz AD van in Munich, Germany. In 2025, Volkswagen’s subsidiary Moia will commercially launch the ID Buzz in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a self-driving ride-pool system. Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess said autonomous driving will entirely change the world, because it will change how the people will use vehicles. Diess expects the mobility market to double in size in 2030 because of autonomous driving. +++

+++ BMW isn’t yet ready to put a date on when it will end production of internal combustion engines. Almost every other week it seems that another car manufacturer announces plans to transition to selling only electric vehicles. Many of these automakers are announcing dates around 2030. BMW isn’t following suit and in a recent interview at the Munich Motor Show, BMW development chief Frank Weber explained why that’s the case. “For electric mobility, the question is not when the combustion engine is ending. The question is: When is the system ready to absorb all those battery-electric vehicles? It’s about charging infrastructure, renewable energy. Are people ready? Is the system ready? Is the charging infrastructure ready? All of that”, Weber said. “It has also to do with the fact that I have people working for me on combustion engines and I’m shifting them over time into electric. It makes no sense to make the transition overnight. I have to make sure that this transition works perfectly; for both social reasons and economic reasons. These are real big questions”. Weber went on to explain that BMW supports forthcoming Euro 7 emissions regulations and wants to get the best out of its combustion engines. However, he does have an issue with a proposal from the European Commission that says the strict emissions requirements should be met under all circumstances. “This means you can test compliance with a trailer, at minus 20 degrees centigrade going up the hill at 3.000 meters high”, Weber explained. “We as manufacturers have said this will not work. It would be like banning the combustion engine”. Weber added that complying with forthcoming emissions regulations will be the “last big investment in combustion engines”. “Then we will have an investment that takes us to the end of the decade”, he continued, “and nobody has to decide today whether they have an exit strategy for combustion engines for 2030. The last thing we want is that customers have to buy electric cars and there is no adequate charging infrastructure. That is in nobody’s interest”. +++

+++ Electric cars are gaining momentum in Asia and CHINA is expected to be the driving force in the foreseeable future, said Fitch Solutions in a recent report. The United States analytics firm estimated that EV sales in Asia will expand by 78.2 % this year, up from an estimated growth of 4.8 % in 2020. It forecast that total EV sales in the region will reach around 11 million units by the end of 2030. Meanwhile, those in China will hit just over 10 million units in that year. “China was the first major economic power to drive the adoption of EVs and we forecast that the Chinese EV market will remain the largest globally until the end of our 2021-30 forecast period”, according to the firm in its report. China has been the world’s largest market for battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids since 2015. A growing number of Asian countries are rolling out policies to stimulate growth of the sector. The majority of demand will be from China, Japan and South Korea, the 3 biggest economies in the region, according to Fitch Solutions. This year, it expects China to account for 90.75 % of the region’s EV sales, while South Korea will follow at 4.2 % and Japan, 2.8 %. It said China’s market share will drop steadily as more Asian countries offer purchase incentives and adopt carbon-neutral targets. By the end of the decade, China will account for around 88.7 % of the region’s EV sales. Meanwhile, South Korea will hold a market share of 6.3 %, said Fitch Solutions. But it added that if the Japanese government moves to offer incentives, Japan will likely claim second place in the Asian region when it comes to annual EV sales. China’s EV market will continue its growth as the price gap between gasoline cars and EVs shrinks. “Specifically, we note that the demand for small mini-EVs that are affordable will be among the most popular and will support EV sales to accelerate over 2021-30”, said Fitch Solutions. Small-sized models including SAIC-GM-Wuling’s Hongguang Mini EV and those from Great Wall Motors’ Ora marque are popular choices. The Hongguang Mini EV even beat Tesla’s Model 3 as the world’s most popular electric car in some months this year. Since its launch in 2020, more than 370.000 units have been delivered. Fitch Solutions said EV sales will grow in South Korea as the country rolls out incentives. It forecast sales this year will increase by 26.7 % year-on-year to reach just under 75.000 units. Between 2021-30, EV sales in South Korea will average an annual growth of 26.3 %. Sales in the year 2030 will hit 500.000 units, it said. The EV market is still nascent in Japan, but Fitch Solutions estimates that the country’s move to seek carbon neutrality by 2050 and the potential for an internal combustion engine ban in the mid-2030s will offer significant growth potential. In October 2020, Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga announced the country’s target for carbon neutrality by 2050. The government also stated that it will reveal an official plan to promote the adoption of EVs this year. Fitch Solutions said it estimates EV sales in Japan to grow 11.2 % year-on-year to reach around 25.000 units this year. Plug-in hybrids will reach only around 21.000 units over the same period. “We expect EV sales in Japan to pick up from 2022 onward as the local automakers such as Toyota, Suzuki and Honda all expand their EV offerings”, said Fitch Solutions. “We also note that EV purchasing incentives will likely be announced over 2021 and will kick in around 2022, which could supercharge EV sales”. +++

+++ FERRARI and its parent company Exor N.V. announced today that they would be partnering with LoveFrom, a “collective of designers” on a multi-year collaboration that will include the brand’s first electric car. Former Apple design chief Jony Ive of and Marc Newson have been singled out as the LoveFrom designers with whom Ferrari will work. They worked together to develop the Apple Watch before leaving the silicon valley tech company. “As Ferrari owners and collectors, we could not be more excited about collaborating with this extraordinary company and in particular with the design team expertly led by Flavio Manzoni”, said Ive and Newson in a statement. “We see some uniquely exciting opportunities working together which we believe will yield important and valuable work”. The partners announced that they would bring together Ferrari‘s legendary performance and excellence with LoveFrom’s “unrivaled experience and creativity”. Beyond working together with Ferrari’s own design team on their future cars, including the brand’s very first all-electric car by 2025, the firm will also help the Italian company’s efforts in the fashion industry, as seen recently with their first runway show in Milan. “Soon after LoveFrom was founded we began to talk with Jony and Marc about opportunities to combine their world-renowned creativity with ours, in complementary and incremental ways”, said John Elkann, chairman and CEO of Exor and chairman of Ferrari. “Ferrari represents a first, exciting chance to do great things together as we build our future”. This isn’t the first time Ferrari has recently turned to the world of high technology. Following the surprise retirement of CEO Louis Camilleri, the automaker appointed Benedetto Vigna as its new chief executive. The new boss joined the company from STMicroelectronics where he helped develop the technology that allows smartphones to switch from landscape to portrait mode. LoveFrom’s work won’t be limited to Ferrari, though. In a press release, they announced that they would collaborate with Exor’s other companies to develop luxury goods. The company is a major shareholder in the Chinese luxury group Shang Xia, founded by Hermes and has a 24 % stake in Louboutin. “We have been friends with John Elkann for many years and are great admirers of his insight and vision”, said Ive and Newson. “We are thrilled to be embarking on such an important, long-term collaboration with Ferrari and more broadly Exor”. +++

+++ HYUNDAI ‘s new Casper, subcompact SUV, is on the track to become a mega hit as pre-orders have set a record in the first 10 days. Hyundai sold 18.940 units on the first day of pre-orders on September 14; a record for the carmaker’s combustion-engine cars and way more than this year’s entire production target of 12.000 cars for the SUV. Pre-orders has reached about 25.000 units. The Casper is made by Gwangju Global Motors, a joint venture between Hyundai and the city of Gwangju. 80 % of workers at GGM, which was launched in April, are in their 20s and 30s, and they are paid W35 million a year, which is half what their peers at Hyundai proper earn (US$1=W1,180). GGM has no labor union and workers agreed not to hold wage disputes until the automaker reaches a cumulative output of 350.000 cars. But the biggest difference is that its cars are sold exclusively online, bypassing expensive dealerships altogether. Whether the Casper alone can revive the subcompact market here remains to be seen. Since peaking at 200.000 vehicles in 2012, subcompact sales declined to 97.343 by 2020. Until the Casper came out, only 3 subcompacts had still been available in South Korea: Kia’s Picanto and Ray, and GM Korea’s Spark. In the first 8 months of this year they fell another 7 percent on-year to 60.664 cars. But the success of the Casper has raised hopes of a revival for the practical little city zippers. One industry insider said: “Sales of subcompacts plummeted almost 40 % last month after remaining at between 7.000 to 8.000 vehicles. The initial popularity of the Casper appears to stem from some of the demand for existing subcompacts shifting to the new model”. +++

+++ Car makers are having a hard time maintaining INVENTORY due to the global chip shortage, and the struggle to keep cars in stock is likely to continue. According to a SK Securities report based on research from MarkLines, Hyundai Motors in August had 47.000 cars in its inventory in the United States. That’s a 13 % on month drop from the stock of 54.000 cars in July. The inventory is expected to last the company 19 days, which is less than one-third of a healthy inventory. Companies should have enough cars on hand for 60 to 90 days. Kia had 58.000 cars in its inventory in the United States, which is expected to last the company 27 days. “Major car models are low in stock, such as the Tucson (9 days of supply) and the Palisade (11 days of supply)”, said Kwon Soon-woo, an analyst at SK Securities. “Stock of passenger cars (23 days of supply) are lower than those of SUVs, cross-overs and pickups, with 16 days of supply”. Kwon added that stock of the Kia Forte K3 and the K5 dropped from July, whereas those of SUVs such as the Telluride and Sportage rose slightly. Low inventory isn’t a problem exclusive to local automakers. It’s a worldwide phenomenon. There were 1.06 million cars in stock in the United States in July; down 59 % on year. The figure is down 5.36 % on month. Japanese car inventories are especially low. Subaru had 7 days of inventory and Mazda Motor had 13 days. Toyota had 18 days of supply and Nissan 19 days. General Motors has 22 days of inventory and Ford 41 days. “Automakers were profitable in the first half of the year due to selling their inventory, but the situation is different now”, said analyst Kwon. “Now there aren’t sufficient quantities in stock to be sold, and when and to how much extent production will resume will be the key to determine future performance”. Shortage of cars in stock is also a problem locally. People have to wait some 6 months to receive their cars when purchasing models such as Hyundai’s Tucson and Santa Fe and Kia’s Sorento and Sportage. “It was expected that the chip shortage will be somewhat solved in the third quarter, but the current situation means that supply wasn’t sufficient”, said HI Investment & Securities analyst Ko Tae-bong. “It’s important to decide how to allocate the chips, and it’s expected that most of the chips will be supplied to the more profitable local market”. Ko added that it will be a supplier’s market for the time being. The chip shortage disrupting car production could continue. Ford Europe chairman Gunnar Herrmann told at the IAA Mobility 2021 motor show in early September that “the chip shortage could continue through to 2024” and “it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when it will end”. Market tracker AutoForecast Solutions forecasts that automakers worldwide will produce 9.4 million fewer vehicles due to the chip shortage. +++

+++ Earlier this year, LAMBORGHINI presented its Direzione Cor Tauri roadmap that calls for the automaker to electrify its entire lineup by the end of 2024 and add a 4th model in the second half of the decade. The latter will be a fully electric vehicle, but the company has been tight-lipped about it. However, a new report suggests it will be an electric GT with a 2+2 seating arrangement. Little is known about the car at this point, but the model is being developed in cooperation with Audi and Porsche. It’s rumored to ride on the new SSP platform and Lamborghini is reportedly targeting a launch between 2025 and 2027. That isn’t much to go on, but the Scalable Systems Platform will serve as the successor to the MQB, MSB, MLB, MEB and PPE architectures. Volkswagen has previously said the platform is slated to go into production in 2026 and will be “highly scalable” as more than 40 million vehicles will be built on the architecture over the course of its lifetime. When the platform was announced, Audi CEO Markus Duesmann said “Introducing the SSP means leveraging our strengths in platform management and building on our capabilities to maximize synergies across segments and brands. In the long run, our SSP will significantly reduce complexity in mechatronics” as well as “lower capital expenditures], R&D and unit costs compared to MEB and PPE, and … enable the Group to reach its financial targets”. While little else is known about the model at this point, there’s little doubt it will use some of the best electric motors and batteries available as Lamborghini is one of Volkswagen’s prestige brands. +++

+++ SSANGYONG and its lead manager said they will select a preferred bidder and a secondary preferred bidder for the financially troubled carmaker by mid-October. SsangYong , the Korean unit of Indian carmaker Mahindra, and the bankruptcy court-appointed lead manager EY Hanyoung accounting firm were originally planning to pick the preferred and secondary bidders by the end of this month. “We are planning to announce the selection of a preferred bidder for SsangYong around October 12 after thoroughly reviewing the 4 bidders’ funding plans to acquire SsangYong”, an EY Hanyoung official said over the phone. 3 bidders (the Edison Motors-led consortium, another local consortium led by EV firm Electrical Life Business and Technology (EL B&T), and Los Angeles-based EV maker Indi EV) joined the auction to acquire SsangYong. The Edison consortium said it will set up a special purpose company to raise 800 billion won to 1 trillion won ($684 million to $855 million) to acquire SsangYong and starting next year, increase capital by issuing new shares to achieve a turnaround within 3 to 5 years. The electric bus and truck maker said it aims to transform the SUV-focused SsangYong into an EV-focused carmaker in the next decade in line with changes in the automobile market. It plans to produce 10 new EV models, including the Smart S, by 2022, 20 by 2025 and 30 by 2030. Once the preferred bidder is selected, SsangYong and EY Hanyoung plan to conduct a 2-week due diligence on the bidders in October and sign a deal in November. It is estimated that up to 1 trillion won is needed to take over the debt-laden SsangYong. In April, SsangYong was placed under court receivership for the second time after undergoing the same process a decade earlier. Its Indian parent Mahindra failed to attract an investor due to the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic and its worsening financial status. Court receivership is one step short of bankruptcy in Korea’s legal system. In receivership, the court will decide whether and how to revive the company. China-based SAIC Motor acquired a 51 % stake in SsangYong in 2004 but relinquished its control of the carmaker in 2009 in the wake of the 2008-09 global financial crisis. In 2011, Mahindra acquired a 70 % stake in SsangYong for 523 billion won and now holds a 74.65 % stake in the SUV-focused carmaker. KPMG Samjong Accounting, the auditor of SsangYong, declined to give its opinion on the carmaker’s annual financial statements for the year 2020. SsangYong could be delisted if its accounting firm again refuses to offer an opinion on the company’s annual performance for the following year after the one-year period. In the January-August period, its sales fell 14 % to 55.904 vehicles from 64.873 units a year earlier. Its lineup consists of the Tivoli, Korando, Rexton and Rexton Sports SUVs. In self-help measures, SsangYong’s 4.700 employees began to take 2-year unpaid leave in rotation on July 12 while accepting an extension of a cut in wages and suspended welfare benefits until June 2023. The company also plans to sell its current Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi plant, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, in three to five years and build a new factory to focus on electric vehicles in the same city. +++

 

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