Newsflash: waarom BMW achter loopt met elektrische auto’s

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+++ Despite being ahead of the game with the release of the i3 back in 2013, German carmaker BMW has since fallen behind many of its competitors when it comes to the electrification of its product lineup. No clearer could this been seen than at the recent IAA Mobility held in Munich, Germany. BMW came out with a strong presentation with regards to sustainability, but offered little in terms of a fully-electric range of models like many of its rivals already have. The 2 core models that were showcased at the IAA Mobility were the i4 and the iX, both of which were already shown at the Shanghai auto show way back in April. Both models are not made on a dedicated electric vehicle platform and are instead based on the shared architecture of the company’s gasoline range. So far, all BMW electric vehicles are produced on gasoline architectures, which critics say impairs EV performance and could be an impediment when progressing to the next generation of intelligent vehicles. Additionally, consumers are not willing to pay a premium for such “fuel-to-electric driven” cars. They instead prefer EVs produced on dedicated architectures aimed at creating new and upgraded experiences. The iX3, which BMW China launched last September, sold around 2.600 units in 2020. The car has been recalled 3 times for reasons including battery control problems. And it looks exactly the same inside and out, as well as being the same price as the gasoline X3, which shares same architecture. In contrast, Volkswagen, on the back of its Accelerate strategy, has already produced a range of electric models built on its dedicated electric MEB platform. Mercedes stressing its All-in Electric strategy, too has the EQE which is being produced on its dedicated EVA electric platform. General Motors also revealed its electric architecture Ultium early this year. While at the IAA, BMW did announce that it would finally start producing vehicles on a dedicated electric architecture, that won’t be until 2025, putting it years behind its competition. Mercedes, Volvo and General Motors and many others have gone even further pledging to stop making gasoline cars in the 2030s. BMW has not set a date for when it will stop making gasoline-powered cars. In March, BMW chairman Oliver Zipse addressed the company’s reputation for being behind on electrification, telling: “There is a perception that we took a break, but we actually didn’t take a break. We waited for the moment when electromobility is really getting into higher volumes”. The fact that it seems BMW has not gone all in on electric vehicles could have an impact in its biggest global market, China, where EV sales totaled 1.3 million last year, with a further 1.3 million selling in the first half of this year. EVs now account for a growing 12 % of the market in China. And it’s not like things are going to get any easier for the German marque, with many new tech companies and startups entering into the electric vehicle segment. But in China in particular, startups such as Nio, Xpeng and Li Auto are producing competitive models that are gaining in popularity. The EV market, in China especially, is set to become the most competitive market on the planet in the near future, and if BMW doesn’t speed up its electrification efforts, many electric vehicle customers may miss out on sheer driving pleasure. +++

+++ In CHINA , carmakers and auto parts suppliers showcased their NEV models and products at the IAA Mobility held from September 7 in Munich, Germany, as they revved up efforts to explore the European market. The IAA Mobility, also called the Munich auto show, was the first major physical auto event in Europe since 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Chinese companies, including Great Wall Motors and Huawei, presented their latest products, and electric car startups Xpeng and Leapmotor attended the event online. Europe is becoming an important market for electric cars and plug-in hybrids thanks to government stimuli and the increasing number of NEV models being made available. In Germany, 70 % of respondents said they would like to change mobility behavior to cut their carbon footprint, according to the Digital Auto Report 2021 by consulting firm Strategy&. It came only second to China, where the figure was 97 %. In the United States, it was 52 %. Great Wall Motors, China’s largest SUV and pickup maker, showcased models under its Wey and Ora marques. Wey is to deliver its first model in Europe, which is a plug-in hybrid SUV called Coffee 01, in early 2022. It will start to take orders later this year on the model. Wey has sold more than 30.000 Coffee 01 cars in China since its launch in May. The model has a driving range of 150 kilometers on pure electric mode. It has a number of advanced driving-assist functions as well as a smart cabin that features facial recognition and an augmented reality heads-up display. “As the vanguard of Great Wall Motors’ overseas strategy, Wey will start first in Germany and then go to other parts of Europe”, said Sun Bing, a senior executive in charge of the marque’s operations in the European Union. Wey said it is to open its first European experience center in Munich in 2022 and more than 60 service stations are to be set up that year. Ora announced its European campaign as well, with the first model to be delivered in 2022. The marque said it will offer 5 electric models in 2 years for customers in Europe, and more than 10 models will be available on the continent in 10 years. “Their arrivals show that Chinese carmakers now have the courage and ability to take European brands head-on”, said Great Wall Motors in a statement. Herbert Diess, chairman of Volkswagen, said he is happy that Chinese competitors are coming to Europe. “We like competition. I think that’s good for the customers, because they get more offerings and it’s good for us, because competition always is something positive”, said Diess. China’s technology giant Huawei unveiled its smart automotive solutions at the show. “Currently, the automotive industry is at a critical point in its transformation toward connected, autonomous, shared, electric mobility”, said Tang Ming, vice-president of Huawei’s Intelligent Automotive Solutions business unit in Europe. He said information and communications technologies are “slated to play an increasingly important role in this process and are embraced by the industry”. Shanghai Refire Technology, a provider of hydrogen fuel cell technologies, presented its latest hydrogen fuel cell system, Prisma 12+, for heavy-duty trucks at the event. The system is designed to operate for at least 30.000 hours with less than a 10 % degradation in performance; a figure to put it on par with heavy-duty internal combustion engines, said the company. The European debut of the Prisma 12+ is supported by Germany’s eCap Mobility, Refire’s partner for the European market. The 2 have been cooperating since late 2019 to develop rapidly deployable and sustainable hydrogen mobility. +++

+++ Global demand for ELECTRIC vehicles is expected to grow elevenfold over the next 15 years through 2035 in a rapid shift to zero-emission mobility, eclipsing that of hybrids as soon as next year to become the largest segment among battery-powered automobiles, according to a market research firm. The market for vehicles fully powered by electricity is estimated to total 24.18 million autos worldwide by 2035, compared with 13.59 million gasoline-electric hybrids and 11.42 million plug-in hybrids projected for that year, Fuji Keizai said in its recent forecast. “EV is expected to become the mainstay electrified vehicle in the long term, as prices are falling and more (charging) infrastructure will be available”, the research firm said, adding that EV demand is expected to top that of hybrids as early as 2022. The auto industry faces a strategic turning point in response to a major change in exhaust regulations in key markets to address global warming. The European Union is seeking an effective ban on sales of new vehicles with internal combustion engines including hybrids from 2035. Japan, China and other major markets are taking similar measures around that year. Among new business plans recently outlined, Toyota said Tuesday it will spend ¥1.5 trillion ($14 billion) by 2030 to speed up the development of batteries for electric and hybrid cars and ramp up battery production. Growth in EV sales is expected to be driven by the European and Chinese markets, which are forecast to account for a combined 74 % of the worldwide EV market in 2035. Sales in China are projected to jump over 9-fold to 9.36 million electric vehicles in the 15-year period from 2020, with affordable models expected to reach the mass market. In Europe, sales of all-electric vehicles will total 8.51 million in 2035, an over-tenfold increase from 2020, as local automakers aim to broaden their offerings. Sweden-based Volvo Cars Group has said it is only going to sell electric vehicles by 2030. Jaguar Land Rover plans to make its Jaguar luxury brand all-electric from 2025. +++

+++ GENERAL MOTORS launched its electric vehicle platform Ultium in China, stepping into a new era of all-electric mobility in the world’s largest EV market. The carmaker said the platform can accommodate different cells to optimize global sourcing and keep up with technological advances. GM plans to launch more than 30 EVs based on the Ultium platform worldwide by 2025, and over 20 of them will hit the Chinese market, the company said. Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of GM, said: “We believe the inflection point of putting everybody in an EV and transitioning to an all-electric future has arrived, and GM intends to take the lead. China is not only the largest vehicle market. It’s also a powerhouse of innovation and the frontier of electric intelligent connected vehicle development and deployment”. According to the carmaker, the cell and other core components of the platform have been completely supplied locally. The first Ultium-based model in China will be the Cadillac Lyriq SUV, which will be launched in 2022. Julian Blissett, GM’s executive vice-president and president of GM China, said: “The model is the latest proof of how we are delivering on our commitment to bring out the best technologies and products to fulfill the expectations of our customers in China”. During the early stages of the development of Ultium, GM took Chinese customers’ concerns of range, charging, price, safety and intelligent connected features into consideration, cooperating with Pan-Asia Technical Automotive Center and local suppliers. Adding to its built-in flexibility is an almost wireless battery management system being applied on production EVs for the first time. It draws on GM’s Vehicle Intelligence Platform to receive over-the-air updates, similar to a smartphone. “Thanks to Chinese consumers’ openness to new experiences, the demand for intelligent and connected technologies in China is stronger than in any other part of the world. We are accelerating the rollout of solutions enabled by the VIP digital architecture to meet that demand”, Blissett said. The enhanced version of the Super Cruise driver assistance system with the automatic lane change feature will soon arrive in China on the Cadillac CT5. The carmaker is also working on the introduction of door-to-door autonomous solutions tailored for the market. Yale Zhang, managing director of consulting company Automotive Foresight, said that EV sales in China this year are likely to be more than double that of last year, which will be more than the total EV sales in the rest of the world. A module platform like GM’s Ultium can ensure product quality and safety and reduce costs, so carmakers can invest more in developing smart features, which will be an important trend for the industry, Zhang said. +++

+++ GENESIS , the independent luxury brand of Hyundai, sold more than 100,000 sport utility vehicles (SUV) globally in just 1,5 year since its SUV market debut, thanks to brisk sales at home and in North America, data showed. Genesis’ SUV sales totaled 107.700 units from the launch of its first SUV, GV80, in January 2020 until the end of July this year, according to Hyundai’s investor relation data. Genesis rolled out its second and smaller SUV flagship GV70 in January this year. The GV80 sold 72.015 units and the GV70 35.685 units. Genesis’ performance was particularly buoyed by a robust jump in sales at home and North America. Of the total sales in 18 months, 74.514 units were sold in the domestic market and 33.186 units overseas. In the first 7 months of 2021, Genesis’ SUV overseas sales stood at 24.225 units, steeply higher than annual sales of 8.961 units in 2020. The increase was largely attributed to the strong performance in the North American market. Launched in 2015, the Genesis lineup comprises the GV80 and GV70 SUVS, as well as the G90, G80, electrified G80 and G70 sedans. Early this month, Genesis said it will complete its lineup with eight hydrogen and battery models by 2030, and aimed to sell 400.000 units a year in global markets. +++

+++ The HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP broke ground on a 10 gigawatt-hour battery cell production plant in Indonesia in cooperation with LG Energy Solution, joining the global race to secure battery cells for the future. The joint factory, set for completion in the first half of 2023, will be built on a 300.000-meter site in Karawang, near the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. The 2 South Korean firms have formed a $1.1 billion joint venture for the project, with each owning a 50 % stake. The new facility is to produce NCMA (nickel, cobalt, manganese and aluminum) lithium-ion batteries starting in the first half of 2024, enough to power more than 150.000 electric vehicles. Depending on future demand, the facility will consider expanding its capacity to as much as 30 gigawatt-hours per year. Battery cells produced in Karawang will be used in Hyundai and Kia’s EV models built upon Hyundai Motor Group’s dedicated EV platform, E-GMP. “Starting with this plant, an EV ecosystem will be successfully established in Indonesia with the development of various related industries. Furthermore, we expect Indonesia to play a key role in the ASEAN EV market”, Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Euisun said. The groundbreaking ceremony was held at the project site and attended by Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia and Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. Joining from Seoul via virtual link were Hyundai Motor chief Chung, LG Energy Solution CEO Kim Jong-hyun and Hyundai Mobis CEO Cho Sung-hwan. The Hyundai Motor-LGES tie-up comes as global carmakers rush to set up joint ventures with battery makers to secure a stable supply of battery cells, without which no EV models can run. LGES, the world’s largest supplier of EV batteries, has formed a similar partnership with General Motors in the US, while its hometown rival SK Innovation has teamed up with Ford on joint battery cell production. The Indonesian government has pledged to provide various incentives and rewards for building the plant there, including waiving corporate taxes and tariffs on related parts and equipment. +++

+++ Hyundai’s IONIQ 5 ranked first in a recent electric vehicle evaluation in Germany. The feat is the latest in a series of honors the car has recently received. Hyundai said that a German automobile magazine gave the Ioniq 5 the highest score among electric cars. It beat BMW and Audi’s electric vehicle models in many categories including acceleration rate, brake performance and charging technology. The Ioniq 5 previously won Car of the Year 2021 at the British New Car Awards and was also named the best midsize company car, the best premium electric car and the best design. +++

+++ In the 1970s, Chrysler’s TV commercials played up its vehicles’ “rich Corinthian leather”. That meaningless phrase, dreamed up by marketers and cooed by actor Ricardo Montalban, became emblematic of what defined a luxury vehicle. 50 later, those words have been replaced by elements that are creating a new concept of automotive luxury: recycled PET bottles, coffee grounds and tree fiber. “The definition of a premium automobile is changing”, said Rudiger Recknagel, Audi’s chief environmental officer. “It’s now who’s using the best MATERIALS with the least environmental impact”. As companies around the world turn their attention to reducing the effect their products have on the environment, carmakers are turning away from traditional materials that are hard to recycle, such as leather and plastics, and looking to alternatives that continue to convey quality. In manufacturing as well, they have moved to recycled components in an effort to use fewer resources and cut down on emissions. Recycled materials make up 29 % of a BMW vehicle, said Patrick Hudde, BMW’s vice president for sustainability supply chain. The company obtains 20 % of its plastics from recycled materials, as well as 50 % of its aluminum and 25 % of its steel. At Audi, the Mission: Zero program hopes to achieve a 30 % reduction of vehicle-specific carbon dioxide emissions by 2025 compared with 2015, and to achieve carbon neutrality across its entire network by 2050; that includes suppliers, manufacturing, logistics and dealer operations. General Motors expects to have 50 % sustainable content by weight in its vehicles by 2030, said Jennifer Widrick, the company’s director of global color and trim. The company defines sustainable materials “as those that do not deplete nonrenewable resources or disrupt the environment or key natural resource systems”. And Volvo predicts that by 2025, 25 % of its plastics will be bio-based or from recycled materials. In addition, Volvo is looking to reduce its carbon footprint by 40 % in 4 years, compared with 2018, and to achieve climate-neutral manufacturing at that time. “We’ve had to switch suppliers when they can’t meet our recycling standards”, said Anders Karrberg, Volvo’s head of global sustainability. Ford expects that by 2035, half of its plastics will come from recycled or renewable materials, and that the company will be completely carbon-neutral by 2050. In addition to recycled metals and plastics, manufacturers are exploring the use of materials that were never before considered viable for vehicle parts. Ford, in partnership with HP, a printer manufacturer, uses spent powders from 3D printers to create injection-molded fuel line clips on F-250 trucks. It has identified 10 other parts that can be made from this material. Ford also has a partnership with Jose Cuervo, a tequila distiller, to use fiber from agave plants to reinforce window mechanisms. And at the end of last year, it introduced the use of headlamp housings made from coffee chaff, the unusable skin of roasted beans, that it buys from McDonald’s. The result: a housing with improved heat deflection, said Deborah Mielewski, Ford’s technical fellow of sustainability. The company is looking at using orange and potato peels discarded by McDonald’s to make plastic parts more resilient, Mielewski said. And it’s exploring using nylon fishing nets, which are often employed in the sea for only a few weeks, to strengthen parts. “I hate plastic”, Mielewski said. “I’m always worried about its impact on the environment”. While much of the world devours, and then discards, single-use water bottles, carmakers have figured out innovative ways to use them in manufacturing. In markets outside the United States and Canada, available seat material in Audi’s new A3 compact sedan and its coming Q4 electric vehicle is made from recycled 1.5-liter bottles made of PET plastic, or polyethylene terephthalate, which doesn’t degrade in quality when recycled. For the A3 Limousine, 45 bottles are used, ground up to create a granulate that is turned into a polyester yarn, accounting for 89 % of the seat material. GM is also looking into using PET water bottles that can be made into fabrics, including carpet. It already converts recycled PET plastic for wheel well liners, and uses other recycled plastics for license plate and radio brackets. Even Ricardo Montalban’s quintessential definition of automotive luxury, leather seating, is getting scrutiny. Audi’s new high-end e-Tron GT electric vehicle will offer a black design package that uses Dinamica, a suede-like microfiber, for seats. GM’s new electric Hummer will use artificial fibers for carpet, seating and headliners. Polestar, the luxury electric subbrand from Volvo, uses a material it calls WeaveTech in lieu of leather. It’s derived from PVC and resembles the material in wetsuits. The company’s goal is to make all its interior materials from recycled PET bottles, said Fredrika Klarén, Polestar’s head of sustainability. Klaren thinks customers will deem WeaveTech as luxurious as leather. “If you make the material beautiful, you will make it acceptable to the buyer”, she said. Despite its high price, the electric “Hummer will be leather-free”, Widrick said. “We’ll use leatherette with a technical, repeatable, nonorganic grain”. And Ford is looking at a wide variety of leather substitutes, Mielewski said. Lenzing, an Austrian company, creates fiber from trees grown in sustainable forests and supplies it to Range Rover for seats in its Evoque. It’s also working on projects with Audi and Volvo, creating woven “sustainable luxury” material as a leather substitute, said Georg Spindler, the company’s manager for specialty applications. Yet using the proper materials is not the entire battle. When a vehicle reaches the end of its life, recycling sustainable products can still be a challenge. BMW is designing vehicles with a reduced number of larger components to make recycling easier. Polestar wants to ensure that foam, which would make recycling difficult, is not stuck to its textiles. And while not an immediate problem, carmakers are figuring out how to eventually recycle what will become millions of electrical vehicle batteries and their manufacturing scrap. This May, GM announced that it and LG Energy Solution will invest $2.3 billion to recycle battery materials, including cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum, with 95 % of the materials available for use in the production of new batteries. The process emits 30 % less greenhouse gas than standard methods. And Audi is working with a German-Indian company to use recycled batteries to supply green energy to rural Indian villages. “These things make sense to do, for humanity”, Mielewski said. +++

+++ TESLA chief executive officer Elon Musk said that he sees huge potential in China for fully autonomous vehicles, as Chinese customers want cars with better connected and more intelligent features. He made the remarks in a video speech at the 2021 World New Energy Vehicle Congress held in Haikou, capital of South China’s Hainan province. A J.D. Power survey shows that among consumers in China who intend to buy a new vehicle in the next six months, nearly one-fourth consider intelligent features as the most crucial factor. The survey is based on responses from 11.266 respondents in January and June 2021. In his video message, Musk said Chinese companies are the most competitive in the world, especially because some are very good at software, which is reshaping the auto industry from design and manufacturing to autonomous driving. Autonomous driving is gaining momentum in the country. Startups including Momenta and Pony.ai and carmakers including SAIC have been working on autonomous vehicles solutions. Nio expects its autonomous driving staff members to number around 800 by the end of this year from 500 in August. Baidu’s Apollo is offering pilot robotaxi services in cities including Beijing, Shanghai as well as Changsha in Huanan province. The Beijing-based technology company said it expects users of its robotaxi services to hit 3 million in 2 to 3 years across the country. Musk said data security will become even more important when vehicles are becoming smart and autonomous. “Data security is not only the responsibility of any single company but also the cornerstone of the whole industry development. “Tesla will work with national authorities in all countries to ensure data security of intelligent and connected vehicles”, he said. In an earlier statement Tesla said data about its vehicles sold in China as well as their local production, sales, after-service and charging information are stored locally in the country. +++

+++ TOYOTA shares posted their biggest drop in 3 weeks after the company slashed its fiscal year production outlook by about 300.000 cars as the spread of Covid-19 in Southeast Asia impacts its ability to procure chips and other essential parts. The world’s No.1 automaker said it would be adjusting output in September and October and expects to produce 9 million vehicles in the fiscal year through March; down from the 9.3 million it previously anticipated. However, the company didn’t change its ¥2.5 trillion ($22.8 billion) operating profit forecast for the year. Toyota shares fell as much as 2.5% during early trading in Tokyo on Monday; their biggest drop since August 20 on an intraday basis. The stock is up more than 20 % this year. Toyota warned last month of cuts as the coronavirus spread through its core Southeast Asia manufacturing region, shuttering its suppliers’ plants in countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam. The announcement took the market by surprise as Toyota had up until that point remained largely unscathed by the parts shortages that have hammered its peers. The latest production-cut announcement was also “a shock” given its magnitude and proximity to the first disclosure, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Tatsuo Yoshida. It shows that Covid-19 conditions are changing so fast that even Toyota, known for its supply chain savvy, isn’t able to predict the future, he said. The question remains how the Southeast Asia supply snarls will impact other Japanese manufacturers with similar production hubs in the region, such as Mitsubishi, Honda and Nissan. Toyota’s latest announcement was a “wake-up call”, Jefferies analyst Takaki Nakanishi wrote in a note. “This problem is not limited to Toyota and has spread to global OEMs”, he wrote. Jefferies is now expecting Japanese automakers to cut output by 1.3 million units in the July-September quarter, higher than the 760.000 units it projected last month. +++

+++ SAIC-GM-Wuling, known for its popular WULING HONGGUANG MINI EV , is planning to launch some of its electric models in overseas markets from 2022, said a company executive at the World New Energy Vehicle Congress. The Wuling Hongguang Mini EV is the best-selling electric model in China, the world’s largest new energy vehicle market. The model even beat Tesla’s Model 3 as the world’s popular electric car in some months earlier this year. Since its launch in 2020, over 370.000 Hongguang Mini EVs have been delivered. Shao Jie, a company executive, said car dealers in over 70 countries and regions have shown their interest in the model built based on the carmaker’s GSEV platform. “From 2022 on, we will launch some models built on the GSEV platform simultaneously in China and overseas markets”, said Shao in an interview with China Daily. Shao did not give the names of countries where such models will first arrive, but he said the carmaker is scheduled to start production of models on the GSEV platform at its Indonesian plant from late 2022. SAIC-GM-Wuling’s subsidiary in Indonesia is also helping draft local NEV industry standards and policies, as the Southeast Asian country is speeding up its shift towards electrification. “We will actively participate in drafting relevant NEV policies and industry standards. And we will share our experience in the segment with the Indonesian government to foster the segment’s local development”, said the carmaker in a statement earlier this year. Indonesia, as the largest vehicle market in Southeast Asia, is expecting companies to start EV production from 2022 and the share of EV output to reach 20 percent of total car production by 2025. +++

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