Newsflash: nieuwe Audi S8 e-Tron wordt 710 pk sterk

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+++ The 2021 German International Motor Show is living proof that large exhibitions can exist in a pandemic-infused era. The Munich show (IAA Mobility 2021) replaces Frankfurt as Europe’s leading event, emphasizing electrification and alternative mobility solutions. One standout was AUDI ’s Grandsphere concept, the latest in a trio of ‘Sphere‘ show cars previewing the automaker’s future design direction. Audi has strongly hinted that it will morph into an all-electric A8, so with that in mind, I’ve explored everything I know to date. Compared with rivals from Mercedes-Benz and BMW, the current A8, whilst handsomely restrained, could be considered a bit underwhelming in the aesthetics department. Audi aims to rectify this by including elements of the Grandsphere concept into a bold, practical package. The ‘singleframe’ grille will be completely reimagined with chrome highlights that spear towards the wheels. A low hood and slim headlamps will exude hints of the R8 supercar, whilst the scalloped doors and upper beltline will add to the svelte aesthetic. Whilst not as dramatic as the boat-tailed Grandsphere, the fastback rear end will get OLED tail lamps and a floating roofline with sculptured rear buttresses. Audi interiors are arguably some of the best in the business. Fortunately, the Ingolstadt automaker has reassured us that future models will retain physical controls for those who prefer a tactile-like experience. The next A8 will bestow improved occupant space, luxury, and sustainable materials. Expect features such as an augmented-reality heads-up display, digital services, a next-generation Audi Virtual Cockpit and dynamic ambient lighting. For the ultimate in relaxation, Level 3 and 4 autonomous self-driving systems could also appear in the latter part of the e-Tron’s model cycle. Underpinned by Volkswagen Group’s Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture, the A8 e-tron shares its modular foundations with the upcoming Porsche Macan-E and Audi A6 e-Tron. The 800 volt system utilizes a 120 kWh battery pack, which yields an approximate range of 750 kilometres between charges. DC fast charging up to 270 kW enables an additional 300 km within 10 minutes, while a 5 to 80 % charge will only take 25 minutes. Sticking to Audi’s Quattro all-wheeldrive philosophy, the A8 e-Tron will have electric motors on the front and rear axles for the ultimate in torque-vectoring grip. The Grandsphere concept has a total output of 710 hp and 960 Nm for a 0-100 km/h time of under 4 seconds. This configuration will likely be reserved for the range-topping S8 e-Tron, with lower-powered versions also available. Audi’s flagship EV will compete against the hyper-screened Mercedes-Benz EQS, the Tesla Model S, the Lucid Air and BMW’s upcoming i7. A variety of variants will likely be offered, including a Maybach-rivaling flagship possibly wearing the Horch name. An official reveal is not expected until late 2024 or 2025, as the current A8 will be with us for a couple of more years following a mild facelift that will be introduced in the coming months. +++

+++ DAIMLER will be split into 2 separate entities, one focusing on passenger vehicles under the newly formed Mercedes-Benz Group moniker from next February, and the other on commercial vehicles as Daimler Trucks. The decision to separate the commercial division was reached at an Extraordinary General Meeting today with the company to list Daimler Truck Holding AG on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange before the end of 2021. Shareholders are also being asked to approve the renaming of Daimler’s automotive holdings to “Mercedes-Benz Group AG”, which will be made up of Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach, and Mercedes-EQ. “Daimler is splitting into 2 strong and independent companies”, said Ola Källenius, chairman of the Boards of Management of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz. “By unlocking the full potential of both companies, we are establishing two undisputed innovation leaders who will set the pace in the transformation of their industries”. “Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans and Daimler Trucks & Buses are different businesses with specific customer groups, technology paths and capital needs”, he said. “Given this context, we believe they will be able to operate most effectively as independent entities, equipped with strong net liquidity and free from the constraints of a conglomerate structure”. Daimler’s truck holdings include Freightliner, Fuso, Western Star and others. Current shareholders will have a 65 % stake in the new Daimler Truck Holding AG, which will then be listed on the stock exchange as an independent company. As consideration for the spinoff, shareholders will receive one additional share in Daimler Truck Holding AG for every 2 shares they hold in the Daimler AG. Daimler, meanwhile, will hold a minority share of 35 % in the truck company and plans to transfer 5 % of that to its pension trust. “Our company is making the right decision at the right time to sustainably safeguard success”, said Bernd Pischetsrleder, chairman of the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG. “Daimler Truck and Mercedes-Benz will be able to master the transformation of the industry even more successfully with full entrepreneurial freedom and an independent management structure”. Daimler expects that Daimler Truck Holding AG will be included in the enlarged DAX share index with 40 members in the first quarter of 2022. The name Mercedes-Benz Group AG renaming, meanwhile, will take effect on February 1, 2022. +++

+++ A month ago, FORD Mustang Mach-E lead engineer Donna Dickson swung by former Ford engineer Sandy Munro’s vlogging studio to chat about the electric pony. The most exciting news she shared for Mach-E owners was that Ford had “range-improvement actions coming in for ’22, we have more coming in for modelyear 2023, and more coming in for 2024”. The Mach-E Forum got hold of an order guide for the modelyear 2022 version which shows the usable battery capacity goes up slightly for the standard and extended-range packs. The guide indicates the standard battery’s current usable capacity rises from 68 kWh to 70 kWh, the extended range increases from 88 kWh to 91 kWh. Total battery capacity is thought to remain the same, at 75.7 kWh for the standard range battery and 98.8 kWh for the extended-range unit. Using more of that energy would be expected to translate into slightly more range for all models. While we wait for the EPA to weigh in on precise figures according to its EV cycle, forum members did some math on the possibilities, estimating range bumps from 10 miles to 16 km. There are a few more changes throughout the lineup. First Edition buyers will be disappointed to become just one of the many as Cyber Orange Metallic Tri-Coat and Grabber Blue Metallic will expand their availability to every Mach-E, except those optioned with the Ice White Appearance Package that Ford revealed in August. Also outside, the free colors Carbonized Gray and Iconic Silver go away next year, while Iced Blue Silver Metallic joins the paint menu. +++

+++ GENERAL MOTORS “has been the largest seller of vehicles in the U.S. every year since passing Ford in 1931”. With automakers having turned in light car and truck sales data for the first 3 quarters of 2021, GM’s 90-year-run might not reach 91. According to figures, Toyota was 80.401 vehicles ahead when the October workday started. Worse, GM is so far behind its historic pace that it might only sell enough light vehicles in the U.S. to match its numbers from 1958. Meanwhile, American media put a few more salient numbers to the pain GM and Toyota are enduring alongside the the rest of the industry. GM sold 33 % fewer cars in Q3 2021 than it did in Q3 2019 during the dark days of the pandemic: 446.997 units this year as opposed to 665.192 last year. GM’s Q3 2020 was only down 13 % on Q3 2019. Over at Toyota, the bottom line showed a 1 % gain in Q3 2021 compared to 2020, with 566.005 units moved off dealer lots. The finer numbers show 2 steps forward and one step back, though; Toyota’s September sales were down 22 % compared to last year. GM remains optimistic about what’s ahead, GM’s president of North American operations telling: “We look forward to a more stable operating environment through the fall”. I’d like to see that happen, but I don’t know how it happens. The chip shortage said to have been the inciting incident for the current woes isn’t over, and not only can no one agree when it will be over, the automakers, chip producers, and U.S. government still can’t get on the same page about who needs what and when. Looking away from that for a second shows articles about “No End In Sight” for supply chain disruptions in early September, before China had to start working through power supply constraints, global supply chain workers started warning of a “system collapse” and roughly 500.000 containers sat waiting to be unloaded at Southern California ports; a record number seemingly broken every week. And back to chips, I’m told just a few days ago the chip shortage is “worse than we thought”. For now, GM dealer inventory is down 40 % from June to roughly 129.000 vehicles and down 84 % from the days when dealers would cumulatively keep about 800.000 light vehicles in stock. However, GM just announced it would have almost all of its U.S. facilities back online next week, although some would run at partial capacity. Dealers will be glad to hear that, probably never more desperate for product to sell. There’s a 90-year record at stake, after all. +++

+++ The teaser campaign for the redesigned MITSUBISHI Outlander PHEV continues as the company has released new details about the upcoming model. While the automaker didn’t go into many specifics, they confirmed the plug-in hybrid SUV will feature an evolved version of their Super-All Wheel Control system. It promises to “provide safe, secure and comfortable driving in various weather and road conditions”. Furthermore, the model will be equipped with a twin-motor four-wheel drive system that features front and rear electric motors. Mitsubishi said this setup will enable them to take advantage of their characteristic responsiveness, while also allowing for optimal power distribution between the front and rear wheels according to road and driving conditions. Mitsubishi went on to say the combination of systems will allow for improved maneuverability, better cornering and enhanced braking. Speaking of the latter, the company noted the evolved S-AWC system adds a unique braking control system for the rear wheels and this “reduces the load on the front wheels” while also making it “possible to extract the maximum performance from all four tires in a more balanced manner”. It also promises to deliver handling that is truer to the driver’s intent. Last but not least, Mitsubishi confirmed the Outlander PHEV will have 7 different driving modes including a handful of traditional ones such as Normal, Gravel and Snow. They’ll be joined by a Power mode focused on acceleration and an Eco mode, which is aimed at environmentally friendly driving. The company declined to say what the last 2 modes are, but we wouldn’t be surprised if one of them is an EV mode similar to the one found on the current model. The company is keeping additional details under wraps, but reiterated the SUV will be launched in Japan before the end of March 2022. In Europe, it may arrive in the second half of next year. +++

+++ Recent RENAULT related news has focused almost exclusively on electric cars like the retro-styled 5 supermini, the Megane E-Tech Electric crossover and sister brand Alpine’s plans to expand its model range while ditching ICE powertrains starting in 2024. But Renault isn’t about to abandon ICE technology, or its traditional ICE-powered models just yet. As SUVs and crossovers continue to dominate the sales charts, the all-new Kadjar due in mid-2022 will play a key role in Renault’s near-term future. Reports from France suggest the Kadjar will expand from one model to a family, eventually including 7-seat and coupe SUV variants. That would make it a replacement for both the current Kadjar and the larger Koleos, which is still available in France, but was dropped from the Dutch market in 2020 due to low sales. Originally launched in 2016 and sharing major components with sister company Nissan’s Qashqai, the Kadjar will again be paired with the Nissan for its second generation. But this time it’s based on the latest CMF-C/D platform found under the third iteration of the Qashqai released earlier this year. That means the Kadjar could be sold in Renault showrooms alongside a pure electric SUV based on the Megane E-Tech Electric’s CMF-EV platform that Renault will reveal at the 2022 Paris Motor Show and have in showrooms early in 2023. The Kadjar, which will arrive earlier in 2022, and may get a new name, might be leaving the role of EV to its sister car, but it won’t escape electrification altogether. Renault will offer mild hybrid engines as standard, and the option of full hybrid engines, as we’ll cover later in this story. The new Kadjar will adopt styling details from the Megane E-Tech Electric, including the twin arrow-shape motif in the lower bumper, plus the company’s latest slim headlights and swan-neck daytime running lights. The latest Qashqai grew 35 mm in length, 32 mm in width and 25 mm in height. The wheelbase climbed by 20 mm. However, if you’re expecting a simple rebadge of a Qashqai, Renault would have us believe this won’t be the case. Nissan and Renault have both shared their desire to maintain their brands’ unique identities. I initially expected the Kadjar to launch with the same engines as the Qashqai at launch. This could mean offerings such as a 1.3-liter mild-hybrid, with 140 and 158 hp, and a 1.5-liter e-Power hybrid with 190 hp. However, the 2022 Kadjar may set its own path in the powertrain department. As such, it could feature at least 2 electrified petrol units in the line-up, one being a conventional hybrid as well as a more powerful plug-in Hybrid PHEV model. The self-charging hybrid will incorporate a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine to be known as an E-Tech Hybrid. It is expected to produce a combined output of around 200 hp. Meanwhile, the plug-in hybrid model will feature close to 280 hp from a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder. This may be achieved via 2 electric motors, which would give the 2022 Kadjar an all-wheel-drive option. The plug-in hybrid drivetrain was initially thought to be shared with Mitsubishi’s Outlander. However, the report states that Outlander’s powertrain would not meet Euro 7 requirements, which makes sense as, at one point, it seemed that Mitsubishi was exiting Europe. While the sister brand of Renault now looks to stay, the Japanese company will be offering rebadged Renaults. It remains to be seen if a diesel model will be offered on the Kadjar. However, early reports indicate that Renault may be pulling the plug on the fuel soon, which is why Renault is working on a companion electric SUV to fill the gap. Nissan is ready to share more EV components with Renault, and the French manufacturer plans to offer ten EVs in total by 2025 as part of its “Renaulution” plan that maps the automaker’s future strategy. The 2022 Renault Kadjar is apparently set to take a more upmarket approach. It follows in the footsteps of many manufacturers making a push for higher-priced vehicles in a changing market. The new Kadjar features slimmer headlights, a more dynamic grille and a waistline reminiscent of that found on the Qashqai. In addition, there are hints in the shape of the lights and lower grille of the Renault Megane E-Tech Electric launched earlier this year, while the interior is expected to follow suit. Rumor is that the Kadjar may sprout 2 additional spin-off models. These would essentially be a 7-seater version, as well as a coupe-SUV body style. With early production prototypes still being spied on the roads, I expect a reveal in 2022 at the earliest, with an on-sale date likely in the second quarter. Pricing is yet to be announced, but expect it to be priced slightly higher than the outgoing model. +++

+++ While some expect RIDE HAILING fleets to have less impact on the environment as they replace privately-owned cars, new research suggests that this might not actually be the case. In a study into the emissions produced by ride-hailing fleets, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University simulated replacing private vehicle travel with ride-hailing services in 6 U.S. cities. They found that because ride-hailing vehicles are generally newer, they emit less pollution during cold starts and this could trigger a 50 to 60 % decline in emissions. However, ride-hailing vehicles also use about 20 % more fuel and thus emit more greenhouse gas emissions because of the miles they are driven without paying customers. There are other downsides to large fleets of ride-hailing vehicles. For example, researchers concluded that overall costs associated with traffic congestion, crashes and noise increase by 60 % with ride-hailing vehicles and these costs become even more significant when ride-hailing is used instead of public transport. These study findings mimic those from MIT and Harvard researchers who found that even fleets of all-electric robotaxis could in some cases actually increase pollution. Moreover, the impact of ride-hailing services on public transportation is particularly evident. A separate study from University of North Carolina and University of Michigan researchers states that ride-hailing fleets have “catalyzed a downward spiral in many public transportation systems”. The Covid-19 pandemic has furthered the negative impact on public transportation. Researchers say this is particularly concerning as it is the most vulnerable and disempowered in society that feel the brunt of these impacts. +++

+++ RIVIAN , the maker of electric pickups backed by Amazon.com, disclosed a net loss of almost $1 billion in the first half of the year in its initial public offering paperwork. The Irvine, California-based startup in a filing Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission listed the size of the offering as $100 million, a placeholder that will change when terms of the share sale are set. Rivian was seeking to be valued at about $80 billion in a listing, it was reported in August when the company announced that it had filed confidentially for an IPO. The company’s IPO plans come as electric vehicle makers are scaling up, angling for a bigger slice of the growing market. With $10.5 billion raised from backers including Amazon and Ford, an established factory in Illinois and thousands of reservation holders for its R1T truck and R1S sport utility vehicle, Rivian is among the most serious competitors lining up to take on electric-vehicle leader Tesla. The filing revealed new details about Rivian’s pact with Amazon, underscoring how the startup has tied its future to one of its biggest benefactors. The e-commerce giant will have exclusive rights to Rivian’s delivery vehicles for four years after receiving its first one, and it gets right of first refusal to buy the vans for two years after that. Amazon has ordered 100.000 last mile trucks by 2030, with the first 10.000 due this year. But the filing shows that Amazon’s logistics unit isn’t bound to buy any electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, and that it can still work with any other potential automotive partners. “While the EDV Agreement provides that we will be reimbursed for certain development costs, it does not include any minimum purchase requirements or otherwise restrict Logistics from developing vehicles or collaborating with, or purchasing similar vehicles from, third parties”, it said. Rivian also disclosed how many of its SUVs and trucks have been pre-ordered. Potential customers have put down a refundable $1.000 deposit for non-binding rights to buy 48.390 R1T and R1S models. Rivian had a net loss of $994 million in the first 6 months of 2021, compared with a $377 million deficit a year earlier, according to the filing. The company generates minimal revenue from the initial sales of its R1T, a commercial pick-up truck and does not generate any revenue from the sales of other products. It had about $3.7 billion in cash and cash equivalents on hand as of June 30 to fund its growth. The company’s other investors include T. Rowe Price Group, Global Oryx and Manheim Investments, the filing showed. “Rivian exists to create products and services that help our planet transition to carbon neutral energy and transportation”, founder and Chief Executive Officer Robert Scaringe wrote in a letter to prospective investors. “I hope you’ll join us in our journey to help drive the future of transportation”. The startup disclosed that as of this week, it operated six service centers in four states, including California, Illinois and New York, in addition to a 24/7 service support center in Michigan and 11 mobile service vehicles. Rivian had a network of 169 dedicated charging stations across the country, 24 of which are so-called fast charging sites. The offering is being led by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group and JPMorgan Chase & Co. More than 20 banks are listed on the cover page of its prospectus. The company plans to trade its shares on the Nasdaq under the symbol RIVN. Rivian employs about 8.000 people globally. It’s main factory in Normal, Illinois, is a former Mitsubishi Motors plant where production on the company’s debut consumer model just started. Separately, Rivian said Friday it had established a philanthropy called Forever to address climate change and committed to investing 1% of its equity into the non-profit . +++

+++ The beta version of TESLA ‘s much-hyped “Full Self-Driving” technology will not be rolled out on October 1 as previously announced. Company co-founder and CEO Elon Musk explained that the launch has been delayed by a week to coincide with the release of new software. Posting on his personal Twitter feed, Musk explained he wants to wait until the next evolution of the “Full Self-Driving” software is ready before making it available to a wider group of users. Version 10.2 is expected to benefit from improvements made by analyzing the data generated by the users currently testing 10.1. These motorists are company employees and a small, hand-selected group of eligible owners. Only owners who paid for the “Full Self-Driving” option will be eligible to receive the update, but there’s a catch: they need to prove that they’re good drivers. Tesla will take into account what it calls a Driver Safety Score, which analyzes a number of factors including hard braking, aggressive turning, and unsafe following. Interestingly, the number of times the company’s current “Autopilot” advanced adaptive cruise control system disengages itself influences the score as well. Musk noted that, for the first few days, only drivers with a perfect score of 100 will be granted access to the software. The minimum safety rating will drop over time; “then 99, 98, etc”, the executive noted. Some drivers say scoring 100 on Tesla’s scale is tough. Regulators will undoubtedly keep a close eye on how Tesla rolls out “Full Self-Driving”, which in spite of its name still requires “active driver supervision and does not make a vehicle autonomous”. In September 2021, in the midst of an on-going federal investigation sparked by an alarming number of accidents with parked emergency vehicles, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) cautioned that Tesla needs to address basic safety issues before expanding its suite of semi-autonomous driving features to other city streets and other areas. She added that Tesla “has clearly misled numerous people to misuse and abuse technology”. +++

+++ The TOYOTA Yaris is a very popular supermini in Europe with its 4th generation being among the best sellers. The situation is quite different in India though, where Toyota decided to phase out the Yaris due to slow sales. As a reminder, the U.S. got a different kind of Yaris based on the Mazda2 that was also phased out last year. Toyota launched the Yaris in India in 2018 exclusively in sedan form. The 3-box model was a third-generation Yaris XP150, known as the Yaris Ativ or the Vios in most Asian markets, which was launched in 2013 and facelifted in 2016. The car was fitted with a 1.5-liter petrol engine sending power to the front wheels through a 5-speed manual gearbox or a CVT, and it offered plenty of safety equipment for the segment. In 3 years’ time, Toyota managed to sell only 19.784 units of the Yaris in India, including fleet sales. This number is not enough to justify the model’s presence in a segment that’s dominated by the likes of the Honda City, Hyundai Verna and Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, and is also shrinking as customers flee to SUVs. A Toyota spokesperson said: “Toyota Kirloskar Motor announces the discontinuation of Yaris in India with effect from 27th September. This move is a part of Toyota’s product strategy to continue to cater to the ever-evolving needs of the customer through enhanced technologies and product offerings”. Toyota assured owners that spare parts for the discontinued Yaris will be available for at least 10 years. Toyota will most likely launch a rebadged version of the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz as a Yaris replacement sometime in the coming months. It is not clear if this model will bear the Yaris nameplate or get a new name. Toyota also offers the similarly-sized Glanza hatchback, which is a rebadged Maruti Suzuki Baleno, and the Urban Cruiser SUV that’s based on the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza. On a similar note, Suzuki is selling rebadged Toyota models in Europe, including the the Swace and the Suzuki Across that are based on the Toyota Corolla Sport Tourer and RAV4 respectively. +++

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