Newsflash: Renault positioneert 4Ever boven R5 Electric


+++ The BMW X2 is getting a special edition to celebrate the BMW M Division’s 50th anniversary. This pintsized SUV coupe is BMW’s smallest SUV coupe and represents many customer’s first BMW purchase. To entice buyers looking for a more unique and expressive SUV coupe, BMW is introducing a special styling package for the X2 M35i. The BMW X2 M35i M 50th Anniversary Edition will join a group of BMW products celebrating the history of the M Division. BMW X2 M35i M 50th Anniversary Edition expects a smattering of unique trim pieces to make this SUV stand out from its standard siblings. Expect styling cues derived from other BMW M products like gold accents from recent BMW CS models and the inclusion of possible carbon fibre bodywork. The BMW X2 M35i is like a hot hatchback on stilts. This SUV gives customers a fun playful driving experience while bearing the all-important SUV classification to bring in sales. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-4 that produces a respectable 306 hp and 450 Nm. This tried and true inline-4 is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that routes power to all 4 wheels via BMW’s xDrive all-wheeldrive system. To further differentiate the X2 M35i over its base model, BMW also included an M Sport differential that manages torque. There’s also an M Sport exhaust that gives the inline-4 a little character as well. The M Sport steering and suspension further refine the package to be more engaging to drive for customers looking for some excitement from their SUV. I look forward to seeing the other ways BMW celebrates 50 years of the M Division. It’s great to see the new X2 participate but we’re hoping that other models have far more than some small styling changes and a new name. +++

+++ The CITROEN C1 will be “nearly impossible” to replace as a result of tightening emissions regulations and market conditions, the firm’s CEO Vincent Cobee has revealed. Reports last year suggested the city car was facing the axe, along with the jointly developed Peugeot 108, with partner Toyota having separately confirmed it would continue with the Aygo alone for a further generation having been able to prove a business case for it. Cobee has now nigh-on confirmed that decision, saying: “That segment is being erased by the environmental pressure. It is nearly impossible to continue. The fact is that a Citroen C3 is almost the equivalent price when you factor in residual values and ownership costs. On a lease the price is almost the same”. In recent years costly development of engines and exhaust filtration systems to meet ever-tightening emissions laws have made city cars increasingly difficult to manufacturer to a cost that customers are willing to pay for them. Prior to forming Stellantis, PSA previously al sold its stake in its joint venture with Toyota, through which the C1 and 108 have been related to the Toyota Aygo and built alongside it in the Czech Republic since 2005. Citroën launched the Ami, an electric quadricycle that can be driven in some European countries by 16-year-olds without a driving licence, last year. It’s capable of just 45 kph and only 75 km of range but can be rented for as little as €19.99 per month and bought for only €7.000. +++

+++ DACIA will only turn towards full electrification when it absolutely has to, thus keeping the prices of its cars at an affordable level for its customers, according to the brand’s head of sales and marketing, Xavier Martinet. Dacia also extended this pledge to hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. “The question is not technical, we can put that technology on our cars, we have this hybrid technology on the Clio and the Captur, we can put them on the Jogger or Sandero tomorrow”. Both cars share the same CMF-B platform that accepts hybrid technology, but Martinet believes this is not the right solution for Dacia’s customers now, or in the short to medium-term, due to cost. “The question is economical”, he said. “Are customers ready to pay €3.000 – €4.000 more for a hybrid when they could actually just buy a gasoline version or an LPG version that cost only a few hundred euros more and does the trick in terms of CO2 emissions? “I don’t think our customers are actually asking for a specific technology; maybe it’s different to electric for part of the population, but otherwise, if you look at the masses, people aren’t really asking for a specific technology. They want a car that fills their needs and allows them to go wherever they want to go at the right price. The approach that Dacia has is quite interesting, and with the regulations that are coming (Euro 7 and ADAS) the cost of vehicles is going to go up, but the salaries of people aren’t going to increase at the same rate”. Martinet believes that it’s not Dacia customers that will enjoy that kind of technology and hopes that a broader chunk of customers will turn to the brand thanks to the value for money Dacia will offer. The sales and marketing boss added that Dacia will “go electrified when we have to and go electric when we have to. Why should we move towards a technical solution that customers might not be willing to buy? The extra cost is a lot more. We’ll have it in our cars when we need to for customers to enter a city centre and not have to pay a penalty, but it’s really a question of economics”. +++

+++ 2 Chinese newcomers to the European market have secured 5-star safety ratings following “impressive” and “excellent” performances in EURO NCAP ’s safety testing programme. The Lynk&Co 01 registered a 96% score for its adult occupant protection, including a maximum score for side impact protection. Meanwhile, the electric Nio ES8 scored well through its automatic emergency braking system and a variety of other crash-avoidance features, leading to a 92 % Safety Assist rating. The ES8 went on sale in Norway in July and Nio is monitoring the UK market before committing to a launch on these shores. “A wave of China-made new energy vehicles in Europe is under way, with new models launched by BYD, Xpeng, DFSK, Seres etc.”, said Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen. “Unfortunately, many of these are still not so transparent to European consumers when it comes to safety. Lynk & Co and Nio, however, show that ‘made in China’ is not any longer a pejorative term when it comes to car safety. Here we have 2 new cars, both Chinese-developed, performing extremely well in our tests. It’s clear that all manufacturers know that Euro NCAP will hold them to high standards if they want to sell cars in Europe and gratifying that they’re prepared to make the investment to get the best safety ratings”. A number of other vehicles with a diverse range of powertrains have also earned maximum safety ratings from Euro NCAP. The hydrogen fuel cell-powered Toyota Mirai has been handed five stars, despite testers paying “extra attention to the crash and post-crash safety” of the high-pressure liquid hydrogen tank. This “had no effect” on the car’s inherent safety, the body reported. The electric Audi Q4 e-Tron and combustion-engined Subaru Outback also picked up 5-star ratings in the latest batch of tests, as did the Ford Kuga PHEV. “This round of tests highlights the direction in which car technology is moving”, said van Ratingen. “All but one of the cars are electrified in some way or another. These are moves driven by a need for greater protection of the environment. But the cars also have some of the very latest active safety technology, and this too is part of a trend that has been going on for some time and will continue to do so to save lives on Europe’s roads. The manufacturers of these cars don’t ask you to choose between saving the planet or saving your family, and nor should you be asked to”. +++

+++ Vehicles continue acquiring functions that operate more like remote controls for our daily lives. Those functions are still spread around the car, though, from driver profiles embedded in key fobs to garage door openers on a sun visor to smart device control via Alexa in a vehicle’s infotainment system. Mirror display maker Gentex wants to centralize a cluster of capabilities in the REAR VIEW MIRROR , made possible by a display with a biometric reader. If you’ve driven a car in the past few decades, you’ve interacted with Gentex. Among other products, they invented the auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, and ship about 40 million of those devices per year. “Since then”, says Craig Piersma, Gentex’s marketing chief, “we’ve put about 100 different features into the mirror, just because it’s the ideal location”, Those range from simple digital insets with the temperature or compass direction, to the company’s Homelink system that provides three buttons for opening garage doors. In 2007, a number of automakers began installing Gentex’s Rear Camera Display mirror. When the driver shifted into reverse, a small screen on the left side of the mirror displayed the image from the rear camera. In 2016, the Cadillac CT6 was the first car to use Gentex’s Full Display Mirror, which tuned the entire mirror face into a display upon request. It would go onto appear in other GM vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Traverse and most notably, the new Corvette. Last year in Japan, the Toyota Harrier debuted another Gentex OEM first: a rearview mirror with a DVR system that can record up to 2 hours of video depending on the size of the memory card. A user can press a button to capture an image; in an accident, the DVR automatically saves footage from 20 seconds before and after the incident. Teslas come with built-in dashcams that capture footage from all angles, viewable on the central infotainment screen. Cadillac introduced its Surround Vision Recorder on the 2018 CT6, but it can only record one angle, only captures 5 minutes of footage before overwriting, and must be viewed outside the vehicle. The Harrier has come to the United States as the resurrected Toyota Venza minus the DVR option, a situation that could change soon and come with more features. Piersma said, “The one sold today on the Harrier in Japan, there’s no playback. You have to pop the micro-SD card out, put it in a computer, and then you can watch everything. But the next version you’ll be able to play that back in the display mirror itself and we’re looking at creating some additional functionality to it to make it even more popular moving forward”. The biometric mirror Gentex has spent a couple of years developing could start with the above features and centralize others we’re already used to using elsewhere in the vehicle. A driver would set up a profile by looking at an infrared emitter in the housing, then the mirror would “store your iris as an encrypted digital template”, Piersma said. “Now, each time you get in that car subsequently, the car is going to recognize you”. The mirror will tell the car how to set up the vehicle, everything from seat and steering wheel position to satellite radio presets. For a family with teenaged drivers, the biometric mirror could activate the restricted driving settings. “Maybe the car adjusts itself so that it limits the speed, or it has a geofenced area”, Piersma said. At the moment, these kinds of functions are usually stored in key fobs, although GM’s Teen Driver Technology is controlled through the infotainment system, and Hyundai’s BlueLink through a cellphone. Most cars come with two fobs, so having such capability in a mirror allows for more driver profiles. Using an iris reader also makes the process automatic and more difficult to bypass. Potential lockdown measures could include only being able to start the vehicle with an approved iris profile. Gentex created the rearview mirror with an integrated toll payment module for any toll road in North America. That was introduced in the U.S. market in Audi vehicles in 2018. Payment accounts could be tied to a biometric profile, so the mirror “is going to know who’s behind the wheel and uses their tolling module”. Gentex says person-specific profiling opens up possibilities for additional cloud services such as online banking, social media account access, even health information. Anyone with security concerns should know that many vehicles contain this functionality already. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant connect to the Internet of Things right now, and Microsoft’s Connected Car is in development with Nissan and BMW. Outside of big tech, ATT wants car-based control for its Digital Life home security and automation products, and Samsung said at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show that it wants “most new cars” in the United States to be compatible with its SmartThings app. Gentex merely wishes to put the possibilities in one place, but the company has invested in keeping its software safe. “All of our products have some degree of software in them. Even our auto-dimming mirrors have algorithms to adjust the dimming curves, so we have a team of software engineers and a lot of that development is done in-house,” Piersma said. “We’re an automotive electronics company at heart”. And because Gentex’s Homelink system can already communicate with home automation systems (right down to individual devices like a thermostat and lights), the biometric mirror could be programmed to keep tabs on the house or prepare one’s home for arrival. The only question is what you’d rather issue your commands to: your phone, your infotainment-enabled assistant, or (like the queen in Snow White) to your image in the rearview mirror? +++

+++ RENAULT is in advanced discussions to end its joint venture to build vans with China’s state-backed Brilliance, a source close to the matter said, as the French firm overhauls its struggling Chinese operations. The tie-up dates back to 2017, when Renault and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings set up manufacturing operations in Shenyang, the provincial capital of Liaoning, and set out to make a push into electric commercial vans in particular. The Chinese market has proved difficult for some foreign producers, however, with sales faltering right before the Covid-19 pandemic, which walloped the industry. Renault last year ditched its main passenger car business in China following poor sales at its loss-making venture with Dongfeng Motor Group. But it is making a fresh attempt to crack the market with Geely Holding Group, announcing in August a hybrid vehicle joint venture. Renault said in a statement its joint venture with Brilliance was still beset by challenges despite a transformation plan set out in June 2020, but declined to comment on its possible end. “We do not comment on market speculation”, it said. “The 2 shareholders have brought a lot of support to the venture and are in regular contact about the development of the group”. Brilliance had no immediate comment. Brilliance’s parent Huachen Group has defaulted on billions of yuan in debt obligations. Chinese regulators have launched an investigation into possible violations of disclosure laws by the company. France’s Les Echos newspaper, which reported the possible end of the tie-up, said the matter would be discussed at a board meeting of the joint venture this month. Brilliance had not promised future investments in the joint venture for new models, the source close to the matter said, adding to Renault’s doubts about the operation. +++

+++ The RENAULT 4EVER is set to launch in 2025 as a high-riding, compact crossover cousin to the new Renault 5 that is being readied for launch the year before, and as such will be priced at a premium, rather than as a budget, do-anything model in the vein of its forebear. The original Renault 4 was produced from 1961 until 1994, but the new model will sit on the same CMF-BEV small car platform as the similarly sized 5, and sell at a premium price above it. Renault executives have previously indicated they are working to launch the 5 hatchback from around €24.000, depending on material costs in 2024. Company boss Luca de Meo confirmed long-rumoured plans to resurrect the Renault 4, which was originally produced from 1961 until 1994, earlier this year when Renault revealed new details of how it plans to make up to 90 % of its European sales fully electric by 2030. As previously reported by Autointernationaal, whereas the 5 is conceived as a sporty hatch, the 4ever is likely to take the form of a compact crossover. As with the 5, it will feature what design boss Gilles Vidal refers to as “retro-modern” styling in a bid to give the car more appeal and drive greater margins. “We learned a lot by being the first to market in Europe with an electric car, but they were expensive lessons”, CEO Luca de Meo said at the Munich motor show this week. “These cars must make a profit for us”. The 4ever will be 1 of 10 new EVs Renault has pledged to launch by 2025, with Renault making much of its historic roots by calling it a timeless classic. Renault plans to make up to 90 % of its European sales fully electric by 2030, but is pushing back on EU plans to end the sale of combustion-engined hybrids in 2035. Both the 5 and 4ever are set to benefit from new battery and electric motor technology being developed by the Renault Group that, the firm says, will drive down the costs of small EVs. Renault claims this technology on the CMF-BEV platform will enable it to reduce the cost of the 5 by 33 % compared with the similarly sized Zoé. Meanwhile, the firm has confirmed that performance brand Alpine will launch its first EV in 2024, while the CMF-BEV platform will be used for a new Renault-badged electric van. While no details were revealed, an outline shown during the electropop presentation hinted that this would feature a design based on the classic Renault 4 Fourgonette panel van. During the presentation, de Meo confirmed the Zoe will go out of production when its lifecycle ends in 2024. There’s currently no direct successor, although the 4ever and 5 will sell in a similar space in the market. The Renault Group’s goal of making up to 90% of its sales electric by 2030 will require it to produce around one million EVs by that date, using both the CMF-BEV and larger CMF-EV platform that underpins the MeganeE and related Nissan Ariya. The Renault Group will centre its electric vehicle production on its new ‘ElectriCity’ hub, which encompasses three plants in northern France. Both the Renault and MeganE will be produced there, likely along with the 4ever. Renault has also agreed a partnership with Envision AESC to build a battery factory in Douai, which will open in 2024 with an annual output of 9 GWh and a plan to expand to 24 GWh by 2030. In addition, Renault will work with French start-up Verkor to develop a new high-performance battery for larger models, which will be built in a separate new plant that will open with 10 GWh capacity and have the potential to increase that to 20 GWh by 2030. The batteries used in Renault vehicles will be standardised around nickel, manganese and cobalt (NMW) chemistry, technology that, the firm claims, offers the most competitive cost per mile available and up to 20% more range than other elements. Renault believes the revamped battery technology will allow it to reach a cost of $100 per kWh by 2025, improving to $80 per kWh by 2030, when the firm is aiming to introduce solid-state batteries. +++

+++ We already knew TESLA was planning to follow through with its $25,000 (€31.250) compact car, but there were few details. When is it coming? What will it be called? Will it have the latest and greatest Tesla technology, or be watered down for affordability? Some folks claim to have sources inside Tesla, and we can only imagine it’s true. Many of these Tesla fans and owners, as well as journalists and YouTube influencers, share leaked information that often proves true. In this particular case, Tesla fan and investor Sawyer Merritt took to Twitter to reveal that one of his sources was on an all-hands call with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and others. Merritt started a thread and shared all of the information as it was relayed to him. As it turns out, Musk told employees the upcoming car will not be called the Model 2. He also referred to it as the $25,000 electric car. The CEO went on to say that he’s planning on starting production of the car in 2023. Then, he reportedly asked employees if they want the car to come with a steering wheel and pedals. Keep in mind, Musk did previously say that Tesla was working on a fully autonomous $25,000 electric car. In addition, Musk is known to make such comments to motivate his employees to set difficult goals and remain optimistic about the future. Tesla plans to be able to pull off the $25,000 starting price thanks to its new, upcoming battery cells and streamlined battery manufacturing processes. However, it seems if Tesla follows suit with its current lineup, that Full Self-Driving capability (regardless of how advanced it is in 2023) won’t likely come standard. We can only guess that people will have to pay for it, either upfront or as a subscription. Musk has also said that the FSD package price will continue to rise as the tech improves, so the $25,000 car with FSD could easily cost well over $35,000 (€43.250). +++

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reports 68.033 new car registrations in the UK for the month of August. That’s 22 % less than a year ago and the weakest result since August 2013. According to Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, one of the key problems in the market right now is the global shortage of semiconductors: “While August is normally one of the quietest months for UK new car registrations these figures are still disappointing, albeit not wholly surprising. The global shortage of semiconductors has affected UK, and indeed global, car production volumes so new car registrations will inevitably be undermined. Government can help by continuing the supportive Covid measures in place currently, especially the furlough scheme which has proven invaluable to so many businesses. As we enter the important September plate-change month with an ever-increasing range of electrified models and attractive deals, buyers in the market for the new 71 plate can be reassured manufacturers are doing all they can to ensure prompt deliveries”. The plug-in electric car segment continues to expand. In August, 12.437 new plug-ins (up 46 % year-over-year) translated into a market share of 18.3 %. BEVs sold 7.388 times (up 32 % year-over-year), which meant a market share of 10.9 %. PHEVs had 5.049 registrations (up 72 % year-over-year), which meant a market share of 7.4 %. So far this year, 165.576 new passenger plug-in cars were registered in the UK, reaching an average market share of 15 %. BEVs did 92.420 (up 107% year-over-year; market share of 8.4 %) and PHEVs sold 73.156 times (up 144 % year-over-year; market share of 6.6 %). In August once again, no stand-alone plug-in model made it to the top 10. Unfortunately, the SMMT does not provide ranking for plug-ins. One thing that I know is that the Kia e-Niro was the second most popular all-electric car last month, with 513 units (7.124 YTD). The Vauxhall Corsa-e (in the rest of Europe known as Opel Corsa-e) continues to be the #1 small all-electric car in the UK, while the Vauxhall Corsa is the best-selling car year-to-date overall. Vauxhall reports also 1.623 electric Light Commercial Vehicle (e-LCV) sales (Vauxhall Vivaro-e), which is the highest result in the segment. Only time will tell what will be the position of the recently delivered Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Tesla Model Y. +++

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