Newsflash: elektrische Volkswagen Passat komt in 2023

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+++ BMW is readying for a significant jump in sales of its electric vehicles and has boosted its orders of battery cells. During a recent interview, BMW chief executive Oliver Zipse revealed that the car manufacturer now has battery contracts totaling more than €20 billion; a significant increase from the €12 billion worth of contracts that it previously had. Zipse stated that these cells will be used by the i4, iX and other electric vehicles that BMW plans to introduce through 2024. “We’re following the market”, Zipse said. “The first half has shown that we’re growing and gaining market share. We’re right in the middle of electrification”. BMW’s new battery cell orders were placed through Contemporary Amperex Technology, EVE Energy, Samsung SDI and Northvolt. BMW’s move to secure battery supplies comes at a particularly crucial time for the car manufacturer as it continues to deal with the semiconductor shortages crippling the industry. Zipse believes the shortage will get worse in the second half of this year. “We said some weeks ago that the second half would be more difficult and that’s what we’re seeing now”, Zipse said. “It’s more difficult and the problem is here to stay for many months”. BMW’s EV range was most recently updated with the facelifted iX3, currently on display at the Munich Motor Show. It features a rear-mounted electric motor with 282 hp and 400 Nm, allowing the SUV to hit 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds and continue through to an electronically limited top speed of 180 km/h. +++

+++ FORD will stop manufacturing in India and take a hit of about $2 billion as it does not see a path to profitability in the country, becoming the latest automaker to leave a major growth market dominated by Asian rivals. The decision by Ford comes after it struggled for years to win over Indian consumers and turn a profit. The carmaker entered India 25 years ago but has less than a 2 % share of the passenger vehicles market. In its statement, Ford said it accumulated operating losses of more than $2 billion in 10 years in India and demand for its new vehicles had been weak. “Despite our efforts, we have not been able to find a sustainable path forward to long-term profitability”, Ford India head Anurag Mehrotra said in the statement. “The decision was reinforced by years of accumulated losses, persistent industry overcapacity and lack of expected growth in India’s car market”, he said. Ford follows General Motors, which has already left India, a market that had once promised exponential growth. The country is dominated by mainly low-cost cars made by Suzuki and Hyundai. As part of the plan, Ford India will wind down operations at its plant in Sanand in the western state of Gujarat by the 4th quarter of 2021 and vehicle and engine manufacturing in its southern Indian plant in Chennai by 2022. The U.S. automaker will continue to sell some of its cars in India through imports and it will also provide support to dealers to service existing customers, it said. Around 4.000 employees are expected to be affected by its departure. The decision to stop production in India comes after Ford and domestic carmaker Mahindra failed to finalize a joint venture partnership that would have allowed Ford to continue producing cars at a lower cost than currently but cease its independent operations. The company said the decision to cease production was made after considering several other options including partnerships, platform sharing, contract manufacturing and the possibility of selling its manufacturing plants, which is still under review. +++

+++ The 2021 IAA in Munich is dominated by new debuts from MERCEDES-BENZ and no fewer than 5 of them are all-electric, including the Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV and 2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS. You don’t have to be an automotive industry specialist or analyst to predict the future for the German automaker is strictly electric. But what does that direction mean for the design of the company? Well, if I ask Daimler’s design boss, Gorden Wagener, this whole process means we are about to see the end of the traditional saloon. And judging by the EQE and EQS electric vehicles, it seems that the new wave of high-tech EVs from Mercedes will be shaped as a mix between a saloon, a hatchback and possibly a coupe. “Electrification will kill the 3-box saloon for several reasons”, Gorden Wagener told during the Munich motor show. “Aero is one. Secondly, with a 6 inch battery pack, a 3-box saloon simply doesn’t look good. It looks shit. You have to do something that visually digests the height”. While the switch to electric powertrains generally gives designers more opportunities, there are some limitations. What Wagener talks about is the fact that the high-end EV saloons need large and thick battery packs and that ruins the sleek proportions of a traditional three-box saloon. The solution? “That’s why we came up with that bold design with the EQ models, because it looks stretched, it looks stylish. So that electrification will change the proportions of cars. We have to make sure they don’t all look alike, but that fear has existed for 30 years or so. We managed to make them look different, and I’m confident we can do that in the future”. +++

+++ The European Union is proposing an aggressive policy to ban the sale of petrol- and diesel-powered cars by 2035. The proposal, still far from being made law, would affect the world’s largest automakers, and not every member country is eager for such a policy. Italy is seeking leniency from the proposed ban for its supercar makers, and that position isn’t pleasing PORSCHE . Porsche boss Oliver Blume told that he thinks it’d be a mistake for the EU to offer such an exemption. His reasoning makes sense. According to Blume, electric vehicles will just be better, telling the publication that “electric in the next decade will be unbeatable”. EVs are proving, again and again, their performance superiority, which will only continue as automakers further develop the technology. Blume also said that “everybody has to contribute” as companies work to de-carbonise. The policy carve-out would help Ferrari, Lamborghini and others, such as Pagani. However, Ferrari and Lamborghini aren’t shying away from developing electric vehicles. Last month, Ferrari said it was fine with the proposed 2035 ban. There are even rumours that it could debut its first fully electric vehicle as early as 2025. Lamborghini is right behind its Italian companion, with hybrid variants for all its models arriving by 2024. Its first EV is expected sometime after 2025. EV technology will continue to improve as more automakers begin developing their own models. This will make the transition to EVs easier for smaller, more bespoke brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini. However, the more significant concern is for companies like Pagani, which are even smaller and more niche. Electric vehicles have the performance to leapfrog today’s supercars, and advancements will only make the tech cheaper and better. The proposed ban still needs to be approved, and even then, 2035 is more than a decade away. A lot can change before that year arrives. +++

+++ STELLANTIS will close one of the factories it operates in China alongside joint-venture partner GAC. The car manufacturer is restructuring operations in the country due to low sales. In fact, it managed to sell just 12.288 vehicles in the first 7 months of the year, all of which were Jeeps. This is despite the 2 factories it operates having the ability to produce 328.000 vehicles annually. In a statement, GAC said it will transfer its current production its Guangzhou site to its Changsha factory in a move to “increase the utilization rate of plants and lower cost”. This Changsha site has the capacity to make 164.000 vehicles a year. Stellantis chief executive Carlos Tavares says the company is studying a new strategy for the Chinese market. This will see the carmaker launch its Opel brand in the local market and plans to offer a number of fully electric vehicles through it. Tavares has confirmed the new strategy will be in place by the end of the year. In addition to its venture with GAC, Stellantis runs a joint venture with the Dongfeng Motor Group. This venture has previously closed 2 plants to tackle overcapacity and between January and July, it sold 47.788 vehicles. Stellantis is far from the only car manufacturer forced to make changes in the Chinese market. Mazda recently ended its joint venture with FAW while Hyundai and its joint venture partner BAIC recently sold a factory to electric vehicle start-up Li Auto. +++

+++ A regular production TESLA Model S Plaid has lapped the Nurburgring in a blistering 7:30.909, Elon Musk has revealed. Tesla first started testing the Model S Plaid at the famed German circuit 2 years ago and has now published official lap times for it. A picture shared by Musk to Twitter shows times of 7:30.909 and 7:35.579. It seems likely that the 7:30.909 lap was set on the 20.6 km configuration of the circuit while the 7:35.579 was set on the longer 20.832 km course that has been more commonly used since 2019. It is usual for lap times on the longer circuit to be 4-6 seconds slower. A time of 7:30.909 around the shorter Nurburgring course snatches away the EV sedan record from the Porsche Taycan Turbo that ran a 7:42.3 on the 20.6 km course in 2019. I wouldn’t be surprised if Porsche went back with the more powerful Taycan Turbo S to attempt to gain its crown. There are a handful of ICE sedans that have lapped the ‘Ring faster than the Tesla Model S Plaid, however, including the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S with a 7:23.009 around the 20.6 km course and the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 that ran a 7:18.361 around the shorter configuration. The Porsche Panamera Turbo also lapped the 20.8 km course in 7:29.81 last year. The 2 fastest EVs to ever lap the circuit are the Volkswagen ID.R with a time of 6:05.336 (20.8 km) course and the NIO EP9 with a 6:45.90 (20.8 km). According to Musk, the Model S Plaid used for the record run was completely unmodified and sourced directly from the factory. He added that a Model S Plaid modified with new “aero surfaces, carbon brakes & track tires” will soon set a lap time. Tesla has yet to release a video of the record run. +++

+++ Buyers are in love with the new TOYOTA Land Cruiser, and the model is so popular that the automaker might take 4 years to fulfil the current demand for some trim levels. The chip shortage is only making the situation worse. Toyota amassed 20.000 orders for the Land Cruiser since starting to accept them on August 2. Around 90 % of buyers in Japan are selecting more expensive trims, and these are the grades taking the longest to deliver. Making matters worse, Toyota is not building the Land Cruiser for part of August and most of September because of the lack of parts. This is affecting the model’s availability worldwide, not just in Japan. For example, Australia is only getting demonstrator vehicles for dealers, and units for sale to customers aren’t going there until later. This isn’t the first report of Land Cruiser tallying lots of orders. In August, Toyota reported that demand was already high enough to fulfil the first 12 months of production. Even at that time, anyone buying the new Land Cruiser was going to wait at least a year to get the vehicle. The Land Cruiser won’t be coming to Europe or the United States, but America will get the more luxury-oriented Lexus LX that will ride on the same platform. A report suggested the chip shortage was also affecting this model, and the automaker was allegedly delaying its launch until 2022. The new Lexus LX will allegedly be available in a 750h grade that will use a hybrid-assisted twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 making 480 hp and 871 Nm. The base model will reportedly be the LX 600 using a non-hybrid version of the twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 with 409 hp and 650 Nm. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN plans to offer used-vehicle leases on its new family of ID electric vehicles as it looks to keep control of their battery packs. While speaking to members of the media during the Munich Motor Show, Volkswagen Group chief executive Herbert Diess revealed that secondary leases would allow the automaker to recycle the battery packs into new uses, such as home power centers and fast chargers. According to Diess, the value of a large battery pack will remain relatively stable while the rest of the car will depreciate over time. As such, the German automaker wants to make sure they use these battery packs as much as possible. “In Europe, we are trying to get a second lease and even a third lease, and keep the car in our hands”, Diess told. “Battery life, we think today is about 1.000 charging cycles and around 350.000 km, something like that. So, the battery would probably live longer than the car, and we want to get hold of the battery. We don’t want to give the battery away. There already is an indication that residuals for electric cars might be higher than for (internal combustion) cars because, even if the car is totally worthless, still there is a battery”. VW Group of America chief executive Scott Keogh added that preset residual values will keep the brand’s leased EVs in customers’ hands for up to eight years before they are returned, the batteries removed, and the rest of the vehicle recycled back into raw materials. “The task for our organization is to really try to keep hold of the batteries, and probably get into a second or third lease cycle for the car and then reuse the batteries”, Diess added. “In the regions, it has to be worked out, it has to be agreed with the dealers, but we would like to keep every one of the batteries forever”. +++

+++ Following the launch of the coupé-backed ID.5 SUV later this year, VOLKSWAGEN will turn its attention to developing a production version of the rakish ID Vizzion concept for launch in 2023. It will essentially serve as the electric equivalent to the combustion-engined Passat, giving Volkswagen a sorely needed rival to electric executive market leaders like the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2. The newcomer will be available first in saloon form, as seen here, before an estate-bodied version, based on the ID Space Vizzion concept, arrives. Although the exterior dimensions will largely match the combustion-engined Passat’s, the interior is expected to offer space on a par with the Phaeton flagship, which bowed out in 2016. A name has not yet been confirmed. It was originally thought to be called the ID.6, but that moniker has now been taken by Volkswagen’s large China-only electric SUV. It is being developed under the codename Aero-B. The new ID model will use Volkswagen’s full-sized MEB architecture and will follow the ID.4 in being offered with a choice of rear- or four-wheel-drive powertrains. A GTX performance model will follow later, as has been confirmed to be the case for most ID models. Last year, then head of R&D Frank Welsch told the GTX version will be capable of 0-100 kph in around 5.6 seconds. Equipped with the largest battery available (thought to be 84 kWh in capacity) the ID saloon should manage 700 km per charge, slightly more than the longest-range version of Mercedes-Benz’s new EQE. Smaller batteries taken from other ID models, ranging from 58 kWh to 77 kWh, will no doubt be available. +++

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