Newsflash: elektrische Rolls-Royce wordt concreet

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+++ It started when Lethal Garage posted a video speculating on a 2023 modelyear CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1. That, I’m told, turned into a series of private messages giving a heads-up to a potential Camaro Final Edition or Heritage Edition that would mark the end of the 6th generation Camaro’s life, and the end of the Camaro nameplate for a while. In the follow-up vid, Lethal Garage host Matthew Everett could only recite the info he’d received as speculation, saying he heard tell of more carbon fiber accents, carbon brakes, a new low rear wing, and a potential output bump to a square 670 for horsepower and torque, celebrating the 1967 Camaro that broke open the Pony Car Wars. Muscle Cars & Trucks couldn’t let shots like that go unanswered. The outlet checked its sources and discovered there’s truth to the matter, hearing that product planners are working on a package that could be called “Collector’s Edition” for the end of the Camaro run. It will follow the footsteps of lightly modded special edition Camaros found throughout the coupe’s 54-year lifespan so far, like the 1984 Olympian Edition and the 2010 Transformers Edition. Rumor says there’ll be “unique badging, accents, bodywork, and some stripes”. I’m told the power upgrade (a rumored 20 hp and 20 Nm over the ZL1) could happen, but it’s not as easy as a one-day tune, and the Camaro team might not have the money to spend on it. Everett had said he hoped the rumored special treatment would be a package and not limited to the ZL1, MC&T’s insiders appear to have assented to that hope. The Collector’s Edition (or whatever it’s called) will supposedly be an option on the LT, SS, and ZL1 trims. The extra kit will be added to the final 2,000 Camaros to go down the production line at GM’s Grand River Lansing facility. I mentioned the Transformers Edition Camaro for a reason, though: MC&T says the Collector’s Edition will only come in yellow, a hue not offered on the current generation since 2018. Perhaps it’s a return of the Rally Yellow that celebrated Bumblebee’s antics 12 years ago, if it’s true. Or it could be a nod to history. Of the 15 factory paints available on the 1967 Camaro, 2 were yellow (vibrant Butternut Yellow and muted Capri Cream) and lemony colors didn’t take a break until 1982. Going out with a bang to the eyes still qualifies as a bang. +++

+++ This is the first look at the hard-edged, track-honed Z06 variant of the CHEVROLET CORVETTE , which the brand will reveal in October. I’ve previously spied the car testing at the Nurburgring in camouflaged, pre-production from, but Chevrolet has revealed a near-production ready version of the car on social media, head of a full debut next month. The Z06 adopts a new, more aggressive front bumper than the standard car which incorporates a pair of ‘fangs’ and three deep air vents into the bodywork. The headlights of the Z06 are unchanged, but interestingly, the front wheel arches bulge out with an additional sharp crease, suggesting a significant increase in track width. Created to battle it out with the Porsche 911 GT3, the Z06 also receives a new set of wheels, probably hosting wide-section high performance tyres. The C8’s distinctive side vents which cool the mid-mounted V8 have been opened up, too; extra airflow is necessary to feed larger radiators for an all-new V8, which will replace the standard car’s 495bhp 6.2-litre unit. The engine cover has also been revised for the track-ready model, with a new, deeply sculpted design that features additional heat ventilation. There’s also a larger rear lip spoiler for added downforce. Chevrolet’s teaser image show the rear wing in 2 different positions, suggesting the use of active aerodynamics, or the availability of an optional aero pack. The engine cover has also been revised for the track-ready model, with a new lightweight composite arrangement that features additional heat ventilation. There’s no official confirmation as yet, but it’s thought that lurking under that new engine cover is a 5.5-litre V8 that’s a development of the same engine used by the C8-R racer. If so, we expect it to feature a flat-plane crank that will trade refinement for outright power. Speaking of which, expect around 700 hp: that should provide for a sub-3.0-second 0-100 kph sprint and a top speed of around 320 kph. Adding credibility to the theory of a race-bred engine making its way into the Z06, a teaser released by Chevrolet earlier this year featured an official sound clip of the V8 in action. It revealed that, instead of the 6.2-litre’s deeper burble, the performance V8 would have a high-pitched sound reminiscent of a high-revving flat-plane crank V8. Helping the Z06 remain stable at high speed is the aforementioned new aero, which will also feature a large rear diffuser that repackages the four exhaust pipes within the centre to optimise air flow. Deploying all its power to the rear wheels will be an updated version of the C8 Corvette’s 8-speed dual-clutch automatic. A manual 6-speed will not be an option, and there’s no word if the most extreme version of the C8 Corvette is being developed for right-hand drive. The new Z06 will be available in 2022 (as a 2023 model year car in the USA). There’s no word on price yet, but expect a huge premium over the standard Corvette Stingray. +++

+++ FORD just announced it’s going to dump boatloads of money into Tennessee and Kentucky to create a couple of mega sites for electric vehicle production. In clearer terms, Ford and SK Innovation are investing $11.4 billion in a couple of massive projects in these states, all with EV production in mind. The first of the investments is a new $5.6 billion “mega campus” in Stanton. It’s going to be formally named “Blue Oval City” because it’s literally going to be as big as a city. The complex will comprise 3.600 acres. Ford plans on using it for vehicle assembly, battery production and a supplier park. It will be the home of approximately 6.000 new jobs and will serve as “a hive of technical innovation” to build next-gen electric F-Series trucks. Ford says it will be a vertically integrated system and feature numerous sustainability solutions and use renewable resources. The goal of the plant will be total carbon neutrality by the projected start of production in 2025. Another $5.8 billion is being spent by Ford in conjunction with SK Innovation to build something called the BlueOvalSK Battery Park in Glendale. This complex doesn’t get the same, snappy “city” moniker as the Tennessee complex does, but it’s still massive at 1.500 acres. The Battery Park will have 2 battery plants, both dedicated to supplying Ford’s assembly plants with locally produced battery packs. Ford isn’t getting too specific about what cars these battery packs will go into other than saying they’ll be for both Ford and Lincoln vehicles. In total, Ford predicts the plant will produce up to 86 GWh annually. The plant will be the home of 5.000 new jobs in Kentucky. “This is our moment, our biggest investment ever, to help build a better future for America”, says Jim Farley, Ford CEO. “We are moving now to deliver breakthrough electric vehicles for the many rather than the few. It’s about creating good jobs that support American families, an ultra-efficient, carbon-neutral manufacturing system, and a growing business that delivers value for communities, dealers and shareholders”. The overall investment between Ford and SK Innovation announced today is $11.4 billion, but note that Ford is responsible for $7 billion, while SK is handling the rest. +++

+++ The Chevrolet Bolt (Opel Ampera-e) recall has been so frustrating for GENERAL MOTORS that the automaker made an unexpected show of public hopelessness in saying it was “not confident” that LG (which produces the Bolt’s batteries) could produce batteries without defects. Even though the remark came before investigation teams founds the source of the Bolt battery issue, it was even more strange considering GM and LG are still in bed together, the 2 having invested more than $2.3 billion in a 2.8-million-square-foot plant to make GM’s Ultium batteries in Lordstown. Now that GM has even more motivation to keep its Ultium batteries free of scandal, GM has tapped Honeywell for that company’s Quality Control System at the Lordstown facility. The Honeywell QCS will monitor four of the production lines at the facility using “high-precision scanners and basis weight sensors”. One of the parameters measured will be electrode coat weight, a key stat in battery performance. Another measurement and control company wrote, “Improving the electrode coating process is a significant part of the equation to delivering better quality and better performing cells, and coating uniformity is seen more and more as a critical requirement”. Honeywell says it has more than 20 years of experience with lithium-ion technology, and the firm is already found throughout the green economy. A GM spokesman made sure to say that “the awarding of the Ultium contract to Honeywell has nothing to do with the Bolt recall”. Yet in the Honeywell press release, a company director spoke words that could have come straight from GM, with, “Given the opportunity at hand, battery manufacturers such as Ultium Cells must be able to bring new solutions to market with confidence”. The new Lordstown facility is scheduled to open in the first quarter of next year. It will employ more than 1.100 workers building the prime movers for coming EVs like the new Hummer and the Cadillaq Lyriq. Ideally, before then, GM will have found and fixed all of the Bolts with issues, and can begin its Ultium era under sunny skies. The automaker started accepting LG batteries again last week, the new batteries should begin reaching dealers around the same time Bolt production resumes on October 11. +++

+++ The global chip shortage is real and it’s affecting the auto industry’s production schedule. In fact, as early as the first few months of 2021, automakers have started to take the heat of the situation. Assembly plants have been taking holidays one by one, while Toyota, one of the world’s biggest automakers, has also felt the effect of the semiconductor shortage in August, idling factories in the US, Canada, Mexico, and other parts of the world. One of the latest automakers to bow down to the shortage is MERCEDES , which disclosed that customer waiting times could go as long as over a year. “Demand is huge at Mercedes-Benz and at the same time there are unfortunately severe limitations”, chief executive officer Ola Källenius told. “For some models the waiting times are longer than we would like, in some cases over a year”. Källenius also echoed what was previously reported about the issue in the interview. According to Mercedes and BMW, the global chip shortage may not go away until 2023 as an underlying effect of the coronavirus pandemic, though the impact on vehicle production should be less severe next year. Meanwhile, a report back in August stipulated that Mercedes is killing nearly all 2022 model year V8-powered cars in the US due to global supply chain issues. This, however, was contradicted by the automaker recently, saying that the V8 cancellation was due to quality issues and not supply. More importantly, despite the obvious push for electrification as seen in the recently-concluded IAA in Munich, Mercedes-AMG head honcho Philipp Scheimer said in another recent interview that Mercedes V8s will be around for another 10 years due to very high demand from their customers all over the world. +++

+++ Swedish electric-car maker POLESTAR said it will go public by merging with a blank-check firm backed by billionaire Alec Gores and investment bank Guggenheim Partners at a valuation of $20 billion including debt. Polestar’s listing plan comes as automakers shift their focus to environment friendly vehicles, amid rising pressure from lawmakers and investors concerned about climate change. The deal with Gores Guggenheim will include cash proceeds of around $800 million, assuming no share redemptions by public stockholders of the blank-check firm. The deal also includes a PIPE, or private investment in public equity, of $250 million from top-tier institutional investors. Shares of Gores Guggenheim were up 7.8% premarket. Polestar, backed by Volvo Car Group and affiliates of Geely Chairman Eric Li, also counts Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio among its investors. The premium EV maker’s offering includes 2 models: a hybrid performance car known as Polestar 1 and a fully electric Polestar 2 which are currently on roads across Europe, North America and Asia. The company, which delivered about 10.000 vehicles last year, said it expects to sell about 290.000 vehicles per year by 2025. Polestar said at the Beijing Motor Show last year that it has another model in development called the Precept, which is a larger liftback. Polestar raised $550 million in external funding in April and announced plans in June to build Polestar 3 electric sport utility vehicles at Volvo’s U.S. plant in South Carolina from next year. It’s also planning on introducing a production version of the Polestar Precept Concept. Current equity holders of Polestar, who will roll their entire interest in the combined company, will retain about 94% ownership, it said. Post merger, the combined company will be named Polestar Automotive Holding UK Ltd and will trade under the symbol “PSNY” on the Nasdaq. +++

+++ POLESTAR boss Thomas Ingenlath has confirmed the brand will launch three new electric cars within the next 3 years, detailing the names of the as yet unseen Polestar 4 electric SUV and the Polestar 5. The first of the trio will be the Polestar 3, a SUV which will make its debut next year as the Swedish brand’s answer to the Tesla Model X and Audi e-Tron. According to Ingenlath’s comments on an investor call, the Polestar 3 will be priced to compete with the Porsche Cayenne, which would give it a starting price of around €104.000. In 2023, we’ll see the new Polestar 4 and Ingenlath highlighted that this new EV will be a “sporty coupe-SUV” positioned below the Polestar 3. It’ll rival the likes of the next-generation Porsche Macan EV. The Polestar 5 will be unveiled in 2024, with the first examples set to hit the road in 2025. This low-slung saloon will rival the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan, with the production version evolving from the Polestar Precept saloon concept, which previews the car’s styling. Polestar’s CEO outlined that “We will see 1 car per year for the next 3 years, something not seen from other EV start-ups. These cars are designed and ready to go”. Ingenlath further outlined Polestar’s range pricing, highlighting that “the Polestar 1 defines the upper price point (€160.000) for the brand, with the Polestar 2 representing the entry point (€45.000)”. I expect the Polestar 4 coupe-SUV will be based on the same SPA2 underpinnings as the Polestar 3, as the platform has been designed to cater for both sister company Volvo and Polestar’s mid-size and flagship vehicles. To give an indication of the vehicle sizes the platform can accommodate, SPA2 will also be used to prop up both the next-generation versions of the Volvo S60 (which is the company’s BMW 3 Series rival) and the Volvo S90 (the firm’s 5 Series competitor). Like the Polestar 3, this new electric SUV will probably receive a dual-motor powertrain and a battery large enough to support a maximum range of around 500 km. Financing the new models will be driven by a new deal between Volvo and parent company Geely which will see the firm listed publicly on the Nasdaq stock exchange, with Volvo retaining 50 % ownership of the new traded company called Polestar Automotive Holding UK, valued at $20 billion. +++

+++ ROLLS-ROYCE appears to be gearing up to announce its long-awaited pure-electric vehicle, based on a cryptic release issued this morning. The luxury British brand has issued a statement saying it is “reflecting on the heritage of electric power ahead of a historic announcement”, and reiterating earlier promises from its CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos that Rolls-Royce will launch a pure EV during this decade. In today’s release, Torsten Muller-Otvos references “a new electric future at Rolls-Royce” and says, “In April 1900, our founding forefather, Charles Rolls, made a prescient prophecy about automotive electrification. Move forward over 120 years to when I made a public promise, on the record, that we would bring the first fully electric Rolls-Royce to market within the current decade. And right now, our company is embarking on an historic undertaking to create the first, super-luxury car of its type. This will happen, sooner than many thought possible, through the incredible skills, expertise, vision and dedication of our engineers, designers and specialists”. The statement also reinforces Rolls’s existing position on EVs: it will introduce an EV this decade, so before 2030, and it will be a pure-electric car, as the firm has chosen to bypass plug-in hybrid technology. The firm “invites media to reflect on its unique heritage in electric power”; a reference to Henry Royce’s early career as an electrical engineer, and Charles Rolls buying an early electric car and importing it from the United States to the UK in 1898. Rolls-Royce has experimented with full electrification on its own vehicles before; more than a decade ago, the firm launched an all-electric concept called 102EX at the Geneva Motor Show. It is said to have showcased the vehicle in a number of private clinics with regular customers, but Rolls has always claimed that the car was never intended for production. 5 years ago, Rolls-Royce revealed the 103EX, a radical all-electric model designed to showcase future trends in styling, autonomous technology and luxury materials. That car also went on a global tour, but returned to its Goodwood base in 2019. +++

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