Newsflash: Lamborghini komt met Evo versie Urus


+++ ASTON MARTIN promised that the DBX range would start expanding in the third quarter of 2021 and we’ve spied the brand testing a variant or two already. This latest model, though, seems to be the high-performance variant. Sporting a few choice mods to aid its breathing, the camouflaged test car has a big grille with more air inlets to boot and a much more aggressive front splitter. That suggests that the new model will need a lot of air to cool its engine. Around the back, twin tailpipes at either side of the vehicle also suggest that Aston Martin is planning a throaty burble for the model.Just how much more power this high-performance DBX will make remains a mystery, but the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S, which shares its engine with the Aston Martin makes 612 hp and 850 Nm, so a meaningful increase is by no means impossible. The Aston Martin DBX is propelled by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that produces 550 hp and 700 Nm, so it’s not like the engine is underpowered. Any extra horses Aston Martin can squeeze out of it, though, will likely help it get to 100 kph in less than its current 4.3 seconds. Rumors have also suggested that a V12 version could be on its way. The brand’s 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 has been seen in the likes of the DBS Superleggera, where it makes 725 hp and 900 Nm. The DBX has already helped the company increase its sales by 200 % in 2020, so it’s no surprise that Aston Martin would be looking for ways to entice even more buyers into grabbing one for themselves. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a little longer to know exactly what’s going on here, but if Aston Martin’s investor presentation is anything to go on, we should start hearing about them soon. +++

+++ As automakers scramble to make electric vehicles with longer ranges and speedier charging times, the CHIP INDUSTRY has a message for them: You’re doing it wrong. Semiconductor companies are urging EV-makers to ditch traditional silicon chips and embrace materials that will make cars more efficient, helping ease consumers’ “range anxiety” and someday making recharges as quick as a gas-station fill-up. But there isn’t an agreement yet on which approach to use. Silicon carbide is the front-runner, with gallium nitride emerging as a key contender. What are these new materials? Well, silicon carbide (as the name suggests) is a combination of 2 elements, silicon and carbon. And it does a better job as a power converter, meaning chips using the material can move energy around with less of it getting lost along the way. The same is true of gallium nitride, which is made of gallium and nitrogen and — like silicon carbide — has a distinct edge over traditional silicon. Proponents say it could cut charging time in half. Choosing the right technology has especially high stakes as the auto industry undergoes its biggest transformation in more than a century. Manufacturers around the world are racing to ditch internal combustion engines, and even icons of the gasoline age like Ford’s Mustang and the GMC Hummer are getting versions with batteries. Along the way, chips have become ever more critical to how a vehicle works, spanning everything from the powertrain to the airbags. That’s become painfully apparent this year as carmakers have had to limit production and leave dealer lots empty because they can’t find enough silicon. But getting automakers on board with the newer technologies is critical to raising EVs to the next level. “It’s a big learning curve for the carmakers”, said Jean-Christophe Eloy, head of Yole Developpement, a semiconductor analysis firm in France. “A good battery, a good inverter and a good electric motor doesn’t give you a good electric car”. The good news, Eloy says, is that Tesla (a company that prodded the industry to embrace EVs in the first place) could help spur this transition as well. Tesla is one of the first major adopters of silicon-carbide chips, supplied by STMicroelectronics NV, Eloy said. And Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has touted the technology as a key advantage of his cars. With silicon carbide, watts of power can be crammed into the battery much more quickly, cutting charge times. And it provides for longer ranges because there’s less leakage (wasted power) as a car taps the energy needed to drive motors. Infineon Technologies, the biggest maker of automotive chips, expects silicon carbide to exceed more than 30 % of the market in electric-vehicle power chips by 2025. “Silicon carbide can bring a significant advantage, literally a 5 % to 10 % improvement in range”, according to Stephan Zizala, the head of Infineon’s automotive high-power solutions group. Some manufacturers are already sold on the concept. General Motors is using silicon-carbide devices in its Ultium EV battery platform, the basis of all of its future electric vehicles. Toyota, which pioneered hybrid vehicles with the Prius, uses silicon carbide in the hydrogen-powered Mirai, and its supplier Denso has built the chips into other vehicle lines. Stellantis, formed from the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and French rival PSA Group earlier this year, said recently that it may use silicon carbide in power inverters that will be key to mass manufacturing a new generation of electric vehicles globally. But some companies, such as GM, are hedging their bets. They’re also looking at gallium nitride, or GaN, for future use. Gallium nitride is a newer entrant, and it’s not yet clear what role it will play. Infineon expects it to complement other technologies. Others are positioning it as more of a rival to silicon carbide. BMW earlier this month signed a deal to secure $250 million of such chips from GaN Systems. Gallium-nitride chips can cut the time it typically takes to charge a car to 4.7 hours from 11.3 hours, saving 70 % on energy in the process. It also could boost the vehicle’s range by 5 % and use fewer batteries. That’s according to startup Navitas Semiconductor, which is telling investors that gallium-nitride chips will account for 16 % of the power semiconductor market by 2026, up from less than 1 % last year. Carmakers have taken years to warm up to the new technologies. When silicon carbide was first offered to auto manufacturers more than a decade ago, they shunned it as “horribly expensive”, said Michael Duhaime, vice president of JJE North America, a Chinese-owned maker of electric drivetrains in Troy, Michigan. The typical reaction at the time: “Why would I do that? It’s crazy”, he said. Now it’s making its way into premium vehicles, where cost is outweighed by the performance benefits. There are still some painful trade-offs, though. Traditional silicon-based chips are made in the billions each year, and the technology’s 50 years of dominance has created a massive global infrastructure to produce it. That’s brought costs down. Silicon-carbide wafers, the basic material on which the new chips are built, are produced by only a few companies, such as Cree, in a process that’s still difficult and expensive. One obstacle is the material itself, which has to be grown from seed crystals in a chemical process. There are relatively few crystals available that will produce the purity required. Any impurities can result in wafers and chips that are less efficient. In a sign of how scarce the materials are, Cree rival On Semiconductor agreed to pay $415 million last month for GT Advanced Technologies, acquiring its supplier of silicon carbide. That deal lets it secure access to the raw material. Silicon-carbide components could add an extra $200 to the cost of a vehicle, according to an estimate by Cree. But boosters of the new technology say the cost will quickly be recouped because cars won’t need as many batteries. And that speaks to the need for carmakers to put more thought into the chips they use, Eloy said. “If you want to save costs, if you want to increase range, if you want to do all of this optimization, you need to have your hands in the semiconductors”, he said. +++

+++ The next step in GENERAL MOTORS ’ software plan will hit the market in 2023. Named Utlifi, the software platform will give engineers access to almost every aspect of a vehicle and will allow them to continuously update them as a customer’s ownership experience unfolds. Building on the Vehicle Intelligence Platform (VIP), which is already in GM vehicles today, Ultifi will allow both electric and internal combustion vehicles to be updated over the air. That will mean things like new apps and software fixes, as well as the constant development of new vehicle functions. “Increased flexibility and faster software development are two major benefits of this new technology”, said Scott Miller, GM vice president Software-Defined Vehicle. “Our in-house developers are designing Ultifi to maximize software reuse, which frees up more time to create value-adding features and services for our customers”. GM’s software engineers could, for example, use the in-car cameras to start a vehicle with facial recognition. They could also develop services that could automatically turn child locks on if the cameras recognize a child in the back seat. Ultifi will also be used as a revenue stream and GM plans to find ways to offer software as a service. Although GM is being careful not to pull a BMW, it says it could offer things like Super Cruise as a one-time feature for people who are curious about it on their next road trip. Miller told media today that nearly every piece of hardware that is connected to a computer in one way or another could be modified. That could mean new performance settings for vehicles with adaptive chassis, though he was quick to add that GM would never make any enhancements to an engine that would affect its emissions certification. Ultifi will form a digital platform on which other services will be written by GM’s own (and authorized third-party) developers. That will mean that Android Auto services will still be available through Ultifi vehicles’ infotainment screens, but could mean that a tuner in theory might be allowed to modify a vehicle, too. Through the service, a performance tune could potentially be available completely over the air. A child seat manufacturer, meanwhile, could also potentially develop an app to go with its child seat and embed it straight into the vehicle to warn you if a latch hasn’t been properly clasped. “GM has decades of experience writing vehicle software, creating a solid foundation to build on”, said Mark Reuss, GM president. “Now with Ultifi, we will be able to improve our software continuously, and deliver new features and apps to customers in a fraction of the time”. The automaker plans to roll out Ultifi, which uses Linux software, through its entire lineup starting in 2023. Vehicles will be required to have a certain amount of hardware already to run it, though, so older vehicles will not be able to run the system. Miller added that GM would require its customers to sign a user agreement for the service since it will collect anonymized data and added that buyers who don’t want their vehicle to be updated constantly could opt out. GM says it will reveal more information about Ultifi in the coming days and weeks and is planning, specifically, to reveal more at CES, which runs from January 5-8, 2022. +++

+++ GENESIS , the luxury brand of Hyundai, has unveiled the GV60, its first electric car built on a dedicated EV platform, ahead of its local launch later this year. The GV60 SUV is equipped with a 77.4 kWh battery and can travel up to 451 kilometers on a charge, Hyundai said in a statement. The GV60 has 3 available options: rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive and four-wheel performance version. It is priced at $55,000-$65,000. Hyundai didn’t provide the time frame for the GV60’s overseas salesstart. The GV60 is the Genesis brand’s second EV after the electrified G80 sedan. But unlike the G80, the GV60 is only available with the Hyundai Motor Group’s Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). It sits below the GV80 and GV70 SUVs in the lineup, which also includes the G70, G80 and G90 sedans. The new “athletic” model is a crossover with coupe-inspired styling and features an extension of Genesis’s “Two-Lines” design approach with 2 sets of light units front and rear. Front lights lie beneath a clamshell bonnet and sit above a lower and wider version of the brand’s crest grille, which helps enhance the dynamism of the car and cool its batteries. Rear lights are placed under a low-level tailgate spoiler and wrap around to the rear three-quarter panels. From the side, the GV60’s pop-out door handles and cameras in place of wing mirrors are meant to improve efficiency. Inside, the “crystal sphere” drive selector at the heart of the center console stands out. It helps the driver to intuitively select driving conditions. Early this month, Genesis said it will launch only hydrogen fuel cell or battery-powered vehicles starting in 2025 to compete with rival carmakers in the electrification push. The Genesis brand will complete its lineup with 8 hydrogen and battery models by 2030 and aims to sell 400.000 units a year in global markets, the group said in a statement. The Genesis lineup is currently composed of the GV80 and GV70 SUVS, as well as the G90, G80, electrified G80 and G70 sedans. The GV60 shares its platform with the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and its affiliate Kia’s EV6. The GV60 SUV can recognize the driver’s face through what’s called Face Connect, similar to what’s being offered on some smartphones. When someone touches the door handle, the face-connect function activates a camera located on the vehicle. If the system recognizes the driver’s face, it unlocks the doors and pops out the door handle. It is the first time for such a system to be introduced on Genesis models. A maximum of 2 people can register in their faces. The feature can be deactivated for those who are not happy having their biometrics stored in their vehicle. Drivers can also use an electronic key or their smartphone to open the door should face connect fail. The vehicle is able to collect data from the camera and analyze it through a deep learning system so that even if the driver is wearing sunglasses or a hat, they can be recognized. Once inside the vehicle, the driver can turn on the engine with a fingerprint recognition system. “With the GV60, the driver can open the door and turn on the engine using just biometric data and without having to carry the car key. This will offer a new level of vehicle experience to the driver”, Genesis said in a release. Genesis also expanded the scope of its over-the-air (OTA) software update system. Before, the OTA system was only able to update data on navigation, heads-up display and infotainment. The upgraded OTA system on the GV60 is able to update the domain control unit, which is like a brain for a vehicle, as well as the suspension, brakes, steering wheel and the advanced driving assistant system. Genesis emphasized the performance of the all-electric model. Styled as a coupe, the GV60 has a boost function that temporarily maximizes the car’s output. With a push of the “Boost” button placed next to the steering wheel, the car can generate output of 480 hp, and is able to reach 100 km/h from zero in 4 seconds. The boost function can be used repeatedly without breaks, according to Genesis. For those who enjoy a wilder ride, the GV60 has an e-Active Sound Design function that delivers a fake engine roaring sound through speakers. The GV60 will be made at Hyundai’s Ulsan factory. The company will start receiving orders for the GV60 on October 6. From January to August, Hyundai’s overall sales rose 18 % to 2.64 million vehicles from 2.24 million units in the year-ago period. Hyundai aims to sell 4.16 million vehicles this year; 11 % higher than the 3.74 million units it sold last year. +++

+++ LAMBORGHINI is hard at work developing a facelift for the 2022 modelyear Urus and has been spied putting one example to the test near its Italian headquarters. A number of small differences are visible between the camouflaged prototype that was spied and the bright red pre-facelift model that it was spotted doing the rounds with. Most notably, Lamborghini has tweaked the front fascia of the new Urus, removing some of the more intricate fins. However, that’s not to say the front is any more restrained as some new horizontal elements have been added. A number of alterations also appear to have been made to the rear of the Urus. The most obvious change is the fitment of a new bumper. There are no obvious indications from this prototype that Lamborghini has made any changes to the SUV’s headlights or taillights. Some sources suggest that the facelifted Urus will follow the lead of the facelifted Huracan and be dubbed the Urus Evo. Regardless of whether those reports prove to be accurate, the updated Urus is expected to introduce at least 2 new variants. One of these new variants will be a slightly more performance-focused version, akin to the Huracan Performante. It will probably weigh a little less than the standard model while also benefitting from some horsepower and torque gains. Lamborghini has also committed to selling the Urus with a hybrid powertrain. Details about this version haven’t been confirmed but it could pump out as much as 820 hp. +++

+++ NISSAN is on track to achieve the operating profit margin target it laid out in its turnaround plan despite recent parts shortages that have hammered Japan’s auto industry, chief executive officer Makoto Uchida has said in an interview. The carmaker will be able to achieve an operating profit margin of 2 % or more for the fiscal year ending March, thanks to efforts to cut fixed costs, according to Uchida. “We’re gaining traction”, he said at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama. Achieving the target set out last year in the “Nissan Next” midterm plan would be a positive sign that the carmaker is holding up despite the shortages plaguing the auto industry. Toyota adjusted its September and October output because the spread of Covid-19 in Southeast Asia has disrupted its access to semiconductors and other key parts. Honda said its production lines in Japan are operating at about 40 % of its initial plan for the August to September period. Nissan’s July forecast for revenue of ¥9.75 trillion ($87.7 billion) suggests an operating margin outlook of about 1.5 % for the current fiscal year. Analysts, on average, are forecasting 1.8 %. Given that Nissan’s midterm plan also includes operating profits from its China business, there’s a possibility that it may reflect a higher margin when complete figures are released. Nissan is more than a year into a turnaround plan that involves cutting fixed costs and work related to a dozen new vehicles it’s planning to bring to market. Citing strong vehicle sales, the automaker is forecasting a return to annual profit for the first time in 3 years. Like other automakers, Nissan is also being “greatly impacted” by the parts shortages and conditions remain unclear, Uchida said. “Amid all that, the momentum of what we’ve done with Nissan Next is steadily bringing results”, he said. +++

+++ A STELLANTIS manager has been arrested earlier in the week as part of a U.S. inquiry into diesel emissions rigging and could be extradited to the United States. Sergio Pasini was arrested on Monday in the northern Italian city of Ferrara. He was released after a hearing at the Court of Appeal in Bologna and ordered to attend a hearing in the city in 40 days. During this hearing, the court will rule on a request for Pasini to be extradited to the U.S. Pasini was indicted in the U.S. earlier this year on charges including conspiring to rig diesel-powered vehicles to cheat on government emissions tests while working as a manager at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. In a statement, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it will continue to fully cooperate with authorities regarding diesel emissions issues. The U.S. Justice Department alleges that Pasini conspired to calibrate software in diesel vehicles that would allow them to pollute more than the legal limits while driving on the roads. The car manufacturer has previously agreed to pay roughly $800 million to settle civil litigation brought by the Justice Department, customers, and state officials regarding the company’s diesel emissions. Despite this, FCA has previously denied that it intentionally tried to evade emissions requirements. The U.S. Justice Department also indicted 55-year-old Gianluca Sabbioni of Sala Bologenese, Italy and 42-year-old Emanuele Palma of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, back in April when it indicted Pasini. +++

+++ TOYOTA said Wednesday its global output dropped 16.2 % in August from a year earlier to 531.448 units, the first fall in a year, due to parts shortages amid the spread of Covid-19 in Southeast Asia and a semiconductor crunch. Toyota has already announced plans to curb production in September and October, clouding the outlook for an auto sector that has staged a strong recovery in sales in key markets including China and the United States. The world’s top-selling automaker has trimmed its output outlook for fiscal 2021 through next March to 9 million units; down 300.000 from its initial plan. Global sales in August rose 3.9 % to 748.893 units, marking the 12th straight monthly gain, Toyota said. Southeast Asia serves as a key manufacturing hub for automakers but factory shutdowns in countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam due to the pandemic have made it difficult to secure enough parts. It has caused an additional headache for automakers already scrambling to cope with global semiconductor shortages. Chips are used in everything from laptops and game consoles to electronic devices and cars and the pandemic has boosted demand for some of those products. In August, Toyota reported a 19.9 % fall in overseas output to 345.722 units while domestic production dropped 8.4 % to 185.726 units. By region, production in China tumbled 30.3 % from a year ago while Asia as a whole except Japan reported a 21.4 % drop. Output fell 14.6 % in North America. The automaker expects global output to roughly halve in September and decrease around 40 % in October from its original plans. The impact of recent production curbs on sales is expected to become apparent in the months ahead. In August, Toyota sold 637.324 units overseas; up 3.4 %. While the spread of Covid-19 prompted some dealerships in China to shut, sales in North America, where RAV4 compact crossover SUVs are popular, were more or less flat. Buoyed by strong demand for the Yaris and Roomy compacts, sales in Japan rose 6.7 % to 111.569 units. The figure in Japan includes sales of minicars with engines of up to 660 cc. +++

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