Newsflash: Hyundai slaat homerun met de Casper

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+++ FORD announced today that the F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck is officially in the pre-production stage of development. The first pre-production trucks are leaving the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center now, and fully-baked production trucks are currently scheduled to be delivered to customers next spring. In combination with this announcement, Ford is also announcing additional investment in three Michigan facilities to increase its production capacity of the F-150 Lightning. As of today, Ford says it has “over 150,000 reservations” for the Lightning. In total, Ford says it’s going to add 450 new jobs with a $250 million investment. The jobs will be at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center and Rawsonville Components Plant. Ford says this added firepower will allow it to produce 80.000 trucks per year. “We knew the F-150 Lightning was special, but the interest from the public has surpassed our highest expectations and changed the conversation around electric vehicles”, says Bill Ford, executive chair, Ford. “So we are doubling down, adding jobs and investment to increase production”. +++

+++ For a few years now, many smartphones will open simply with a scan of our thumb or even just by looking at our faces. GENESIS plans to bring those same simple-to-use biometric systems to its GV60 electric car. Yes, your key could just be you. The completely new part of the Genesis GV60’s biometric system is the facial recognition system. A near-infrared camera on the B-pillar will scan your face, and if it’s in the system, it will unlock the car for you. No need for a key, pin code (like on Ford products) or a separate wristband or fob (like on Jaguar Land Rover models). In particular, this could be handy for someone who wants to store things securely and not carry along a key, such as going swimming, running or some other outdoor activity. The system will store up to 2 faces and the information is encrypted when stored and can be deleted by the user as needed or desired. The facial recognition system is also tied to other settings in the car. This way, when the car scans your face, it can automatically set your seat, mirrors, infotainment and head-up display to your preferred choices. It would definitely be handy for a car shared by a couple of people who have very different preferences. In this case, though, Genesis isn’t the first to combine this technology. Subaru offers similar functionality, with in-car facial recognition rather than one on the outside for unlocking. Hypothetically, the GV60 could let you use your car completely free of any key, fob or even smartphone app. In addition to the facial recognition system, there’s a fingerprint reader that will allow you to start and operate the car, provided that your fingerprint matches what’s stored in the car. In some markets, Genesis already offers a fingerprint reader, and Hyundai has been playing with fingerprint scanner functionality since 2018 in the Chinese market. +++

+++ With just months to go until the Ineos GRENADIER 4×4 arrives in showrooms, fresh shots have emerged of a pick-up version being tested on public roads. The 4×4 model’s family will be expanded with a pick-up and a 7-seat passenger version, each using a longer (3.175 mm) wheelbase than the standard car. The prototype seen here goes without a conventional bed, suggesting the commercial version of the Grenadier could be offered with a range of devices and storage compartments to suit a variety of applications, as was the case with its spiritual forebear, the previous-generation Defender 130 pick-up. The Grenadier pick-up will no doubt be pitched as a rival to the Toyota Hilux and Volkswagen Amarok, both of which are set to be reinvented using the same underpinnings next year. Land Rover has yet to confirm an open-backed version of the current Defender but has previously hinted that such a model would be “technically possible” and would likely be a strong seller. Technically, the pick-up will almost certainly follow the SUV in being offered with a choice of 6-cylinder petrol and diesel engines from BMW, producing 286 hp and 252 hp respectively. Losing the rear seats and one-third of the bodywork will also result in a significant drop in kerb weight, too, compared with the 2.650 kg SUV variant, so subtle performance gains and improved off-road ability could be on the cards. A more utilitarian focus can be expected on the inside, in line with the often demanding workload of a 4×4 pick-up. The standard car goes big on durability, with drain holes in the floor and a raft of stain-resistant materials, but the pick-up could be offered at a lower price if it is furnished with less kit and fewer upmarket flourishes. Ineos has yet to confirm a specific launch date for the second Grenadier variant but has previously said it will come “soon after” the arrival of the SUV. +++

+++ On the first day since the cute HYUNDAI Casper went up for sale in South Korea, it has been confirmed that almost 19.000 reservations were placed. Local pricing for the Hyundai Casper starts at 13.850.000 won ($11.860) for the entry-level Smart variant. Prices rise to 15.9 million won ($13.612) for the mid-spec Modern and top out at 18.7 million won ($16.010) for the flagship Inspiration. No less than 18.940 orders were placed in the 24 hours after the crossover’s local launch, giving it the highest number of reservations for a non-electric model from Hyundai. The tiny Hyundai Casper measures just 3.595 mm long, 1.595 mm wide and 1.575 mm tall. It offers seating for 4 occupants and includes front seats that can fold completely flat. The rear seats can also fold flat, turning the cabin into a sleeping area. Among the key interior features of the Casper is an 8 inch infotainment screen with navigation, blue link and voice recognition, as well as a 4.2 inch digital instrument cluster and a 6 speaker audio system in the flagship model. The SUV also offers a handful of different driving modes. A host of safety features come standard, including 7 airbags, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, and Lane Keeping Assist while flagship models added navigation-based Smart Cruise Control and Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist. 2 engines are available. The first is a 1.0-liter naturally-aspirated 3-cylinder with 75 hp while the second is a turbocharged 1.0-liter T-GDI with 99 hp. Both are mated to the same 4-speed automatic transmission powering the front wheels. +++

+++ Luxury electric car manufacturer LUCID MOTORS has been targeting a maximum range of more than 800 km for the Air sedan for a couple years now. Early testing and internal estimates showed it was possible, and now it has been confirmed by the EPA. The official range for the longest-range Lucid Air is 830 km on a single charge. That’s specifically for the Air Dream Range with 19 inch wheels. It’s 1 of 2 special edition models, the Dream Range and Dream Performance. Adding the optional 21 inch wheels drops the range down to 770 km. The other special edition, the Dream Performance, which gets 1.111 hp instead of 933, is understandably less efficient and can’t quite go as far as the Range. It’s rated with the standard 19 inch wheels at 750 km. Add 21 inch wheels and the range drops to 720 km. The greenest Lucid option so far is the Grand Touring model. It gets 830 km of range. It’s also the slowest model with ‘just’ 800 hp. Also interesting to note is that both the Lucid Air Dream Range and Grand Touring models have better combined efficiency numbers than any Tesla Model S variant. All rated versions are also way more efficient than Porsche Taycan models. And backing up the long ranges is 300 kW DC fast charging courtesy of Lucid’s 900 volt system. Of course, the Lucid models above aren’t cheap. The Grand Touring starts around $139,000 and the Dream models start around $169,000. There are a couple of Lucid Air models that haven’t been rated yet, though. The base 480 hp Air Pure and the 620 hp Air Touring haven’t received EPA numbers. Lucid expects to get a range of around 406 miles from each. Considering how close Lucid’s estimates were for the high-end versions, I expect those estimates to be accurate. +++

+++ Chinese EV maker NIO has confirmed its new ET7 saloon will arrive on the German market in late 2022, following the imminent arrival of the ES8 SUV, and has hinted at the potential for production in Europe. The ES8 is now on sale in Norway and will soon be available in Germany, where Nio has deemed EV demand sufficient to make a market launch viable, but the brand has yet to confirm a date for its Dutch launch, which it has previously suggested is highly likely. The ET7 is a Tesla Model S rival with a claimed maximum range of 1.000 km (on the Chinese NEDC cycle) from its largest, 150kWh battery and a twin-motor powertrain pumping out 650hp and 850 Nm for a 0-100 kph time of 3.9 seconds. It also features a raft of advanced driver assistance features that, the company says, enable autonomous driving. The car has already entered trial production at Nio’s Hefei plant ahead of Chinese deliveries starting in early 2022, but speaking to German media recently, chairman William Li said “very high” interest from German customers has prompted the firm to commit to a European roll-out next year. Not only that, but comments from Li in the same interview suggest the firm could cement its market position in Europe by building cars in the region. He said: “I believe if we have a lot of sales in the European market, we can also explore the other possibilities to work with other supply chain partners. I understand that in Europe, there is manufacturing capacity. We can also explore the possibility to work together with other OEMs and to discuss joint manufacturing with them”. The company has not named any potential production partners but this announcement, notably, follows Li’s recent investment into Lotus Technology. Lotus said its new partnership with Nio could pave the way for both companies to “explore opportunities for mutually beneficial industrial co-operation”. However, given Lotus’s European production operations are centred in Norfolk and Nio has yet to launch its cars in the UK, it remains unclear how Lotus could assist in this regard. +++

+++ New, even more cautionary guidance is being given to all Chevrolet Bolt ( OPEL AMPERA-E ) owners. In addition to the many other cautions General Motors provided, now owners are being told to park and store their vehicles at 15 meter away from other cars. This advice is being given to reduce the chance that a spontaneous fire could spread to other nearby vehicles. GM’s words of caution apply to buildings, too. Bolt / Ampera-e owners are encouraged to park on the top deck of parking structures, or on the top floor. The previous advice of not leaving the car unattended while charging still applies. Of course, much of this could prove troublesome or downright impossible for urban Bolt / Ampera-e owners that are limited in their parking options. GM in August widened its Bolt / Ampera-erecall to more than 140.000 vehicles (worldwide) to replace battery modules, at a cost now estimated at $1.8 billion after reports of 10 fires. The automaker said it would seek reimbursement from GM battery supplier LG. Just today, GM announced it would extend the Bolt / Ampera-e production shutdown through mid-October. GM’s previous Bolt EV production shutdown was scheduled to end September 24. GM will not resume Bolt production or sales until it is satisfied that the recall remedy will address the fire risk, it added. +++

+++ RENAULT said it would cut up to 2.000 engineering and support jobs in France as it shifts into electric cars and hires in different positions. The loss-making group, which has already announced around 4.600 job cuts in the country as part of a broad restructuring, said in a statement it was opening talks with unions about the latest plans. Overall it will create 500 net new jobs, it said, after hiring 2,500 people in other functions, and Renault said it aimed to build nine new car models in France. Like rivals, Renault is trying to bulk up its electric car offering, and it said the new hires would be in areas such as data sciences or chemistry specialists, as it looks to build its expertise in batteries for example. +++

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