Newsflash: Audi R8 maakt elektrische doorstart


+++ It’s been a while since we heard any significant updates about the AUDI R8. If anything, future prospects look grim for the sleek, mid-engined sportscar. Earlier this year, Audi’s global chief of sales and marketing, Hildegard Wortmann, confirmed a new R8 is apparently not in the cards for 2022. “The R8 is an icon of our brand. But icons of the past aren’t necessarily icons of the future. A successor to the R8 won’t just be an R8 with an electric motor. It needs to be an R8 but different”, said Wortmann in an interview with Top Gear. With that, one also has to wonder if the next R8 will still be called R8 in the first place. However, in a report from Germany there might be good news for R8 fans: we can expect an all-new R8 as early as 2023. It R8 will likely make use of the 4.0-litre V8 engine. If that’s the case, it spells the end of the R8’s naturally aspirated era. The 4.0-litre V8 packs a pair of turbochargers with power ranging from 460 hp to 650 hp. This engine is used in a wide variety of Volkswagen Auto Group models, from Audi RS models to the Lamborghini Urus. The 2023 R8 will have about 700 hp and have some form of hybrid assist. That said, we shouldn’t rule out an all-electric model. Besides, Audi dabbled in a battery-powered R8 several years ago. Dubbed the R8 e-Tron, it wasn’t exactly a smash hit with less than 100 units sold during its production run. With EVs now well in the mainstream, Audi could have another crack at an electric supercar down the line. For now, there is no official confirmation from Audi if they will continue the R8 bloodline. It seems that we’ll have to wait a few years to know if they will push through with it. +++

+++ With the Volkswagen Golf R and Audi S3 now out while Mercedes-AMG is putting the finishing touches on an updated A35, BMW is responding with several revisions for its own compact hot hatch. The 1 Series is sadly still not worthy of the full-fat M treatment, but the next best thing, the M135i xDrive, gets a series of mechanical tweaks after less than three years on the market. Bear in mind this isn’t a mid-cycle update, pompously called Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) in BMW’s vocabulary, but rather a subtle evolution of the range-topping 1er. Recalibrated springs and dampers improve roll behaviour while the feisty hatch is being pushed hard through the corners. The engineers have also fine-tuned the mounts for the trailing and control arms at the rear axle. The front axle boasts a new hydromount used to attach the front suspension wishbones, while the camber values have been increased to better absorb later forces during cornering. The M135i xDrive retains its mechanical limited-slip differential built into the eight-speed automatic transmission, and the same thing can be said about the turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. The 4-pot continues to deliver 306 hp and 450 Nm which is sent to all 4 wheels. Speaking of which, BMW’s smallest performance car rides as standard on 18-inch alloys, with the option for a larger 19-inch set. And now we get to the controversial part of the update. BMW has made changes to the artificial engine sound pumped through the speakers in the cabin. The Bavarians say the noise channelled inside has been “carefully amplified”, although most enthusiasts will probably agree this “feature” needs to be removed altogether. With BMW now offering Individual paints for the regular 1 Series, it makes sense for the M135i xDrive to also get a splash of fancy colour. Shown here is an example finished in the non-metallic Sao Paulo Yellow shade, but new shades such as Frozen Pure Grey and Frozen Orange are also available. +++

+++ Those who closely follow the EV segment have likely seen chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group Herbert Diess in the news of late. This is because he’s been pushing the automaker to see that ELECTRIC VEHICLES are the way of the future. Now he’s advocating for EVs on LinkedIn, though strangely, it seems his recent post may have been taken down. Diess went so far as to put executives in a panic over potential job losses across the automotive group, and he invited Tesla CEO Elon Musk to talk to Volkswagen executives. Some folks are suggesting that perhaps Tesla and VW will join hands in some way in the future, but that’s a different story for a different day. His post on LinkedIn basically spells out how much money a person could save by choosing an electric car over a petrol-powered car. To make it as straightforward as possible, Diess shared data that compares the petrol-powered Tiguan to the ID.4. He says driving a combustion engine car costs up to 50% more than an electric car. The post reads: “Driving a combustion engine car costs up to 50 % more compared to an e-car. The Autozeitung does the math, taking into account all the costs: Driving a VW Tiguan costs around 30% more per kilometer than an ID.4. One kilometer in an Audi Q5 costs around 40% more compared to a Q4 e-tron. And driving a Skoda Kodiaq is around 50% more expensive per kilometer compared to an Enyaq. It’s time to switch!” The fact that Diess is outwardly discouraging people from buying the petrol-powered Tiguan is a major step forward. As you probably remember, it wasn’t long ago when some automotive CEOs were publicly discouraging people from buying EVs. Many automakers that weren’t disparaging EVs on social media were still working behind the scenes to make sure electric cars weren’t widely available, and people were discouraged from buying them at dealerships. We’re starting to see this transition among other legacy brands as well, though not to such a degree. Ford’s CEO and communications team have been busy promoting EVs on social media, though they haven’t stopped promoting combustion vehicles. GM continues to up its commitment to electric vehicles as well, but its CEO hasn’t stepped forward and told people petrol cars are costing them too much money. We’ll have to wait and see how Volkwagen’s plans play out, and how much impact Diess’ words, the words of Musk, may have. We’re also interested in what may come of the potential for a future collaboration between VW and Tesla. For now, we’re just glad to see that Diess is putting the facts out there for all eyes to see. +++

+++ The motorsport and automotive event dates for 2022 have been announced. The most notable of the changes for next year is the return of the GOODWOOD Festival of Speed in June. For the past several years, the Festival has been held sometime in July. For 2022, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is scheduled to happen on 23-26 June 2022. Of note, the last time it was scheduled on these dates was back in 2016. The event was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Festival of Speed will return as the destination for innovation, technology, and future mobility. The usual favourites will still happen such as Formula 1, drift, contemporary teams, champion drivers and riders of past, present and future, and more than a century of motorsport history. Goodwood also announced that the events will revert to the original order, which means that the Goodwood Members’ Meeting will kick off next year’s calendar of events on 9-10 April 2022. It will remain the playground for Members and Fellows of the Goodwood Road Racing Club (GRRC), with a weekend of racing, high-speed demonstrations, off-track festivities and fireworks, and of course the unique school ‘house’ rivalry. Lastly, the Goodwood Revival will happen on 16-18 September 2022, hosting the world’s greatest weekend of historic racing, accompanied by fabulous vintage fashion and glamour, set within the iconic Goodwood Motor Circuit. Apart from the return to original order, the events will also run at full capacity, while popular aspects will return plus the addition of new celebrations, moments, car launches, and interactive customer experiences. +++

+++ LAMBORGHINI is sending off the Aventador with the commemorative Ultimae edition, but CEO Stephan Winkelmann hinted that the V10 powered Huracán’s eventual exit might be slightly quieter: “The V12 is so defining for Lamborghini that we received massive requests to do something special at the end of the Aventador’s life cycle. I think this is unique, for sure, and then we will see what we do for other cars”. A hybrid Huracán successor is due in 2024. +++

+++ The MERCEDES-AMG One hypercar is confirmed to finally enter production in mid-2022. The concept will have been 5 years old by the time production starts. AMG originally dipped its toes into the electrified performance segment back in 2013 with the low-volume SLS Electric Drive packing 4 e-motors and no combustion engine. A new wave of PHEV and EV sports cars is coming under the “E Performance” banner, kicking things off with the recently unveiled AMG GT 63 S E Performance. The next-generation C 63 will also be getting a charging port in the following months, but by far the most exciting of the lot will be the One hypercar. Shown as a concept in September 2017 at IAA in Frankfurt, the production-ready model has suffered multiple setbacks during the development phase, with AMG having to delay customer deliveries more than once. Thankfully, production will finally kick off around the middle of next year. No additional details have been provided, but we do know all 275 cars have long been sold to wealthy buyers eager to get the pinnacle of AMG engineering. Fitted with an adaptation of the 2017 championship-winning Mercedes F1 engine, the €2.27 million One will be an all-wheeldrive monster with 4 electric motors and a 1.6-litre turbo V6 generating a combined output of over 1.000 hp. Two e-motors will drive the front wheels, one will be built into the turbocharger, and the fourth will sit directly on the combustion engine with a link to the crankcase. When the Project One debuted 4 years ago, AMG promised a 0 to 200 km/h run in less than 6 seconds and a top speed in excess of 350 km/h. The mid-mounted V6 revs up to 11.000 rpm, down by 4.000 rpm compared to the F1-spec powertrain. It’s a known fact AMG had issues with reaching an idle speed of 1.200 rpm, admitting it was a “tremendous challenge” to get it down from the Formula 1 engine’s 5.000 rpm in order to meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations. Much like the concept before it, the production version is expected to have a pure electric mode, which in the case of the Project One, offered 25 kilometres of range from the lithium-ion battery pack. The showcar from Frankfurt was presented with an 8-speed automatic transmission linked to a combustion engine revamped to accept premium fuel instead of racing gas. Aside from running into issues with lowering the rpm levels of the 1.6-litre engine for the street-legal car, AMG also had problems with the V6’s noise as it was originally too loud for a production vehicle. You can imagine reliability has also been a major concern while adapting the F1-spec powertrain to the road version, which will require an engine rebuild once every 50.000 kilometres. That said, we can’t imagine many owners extensively driving the hypercar as most Ones will likely be locked up in a climate-controlled garage. When the One finally arrives in production form, it could grab the title for the fastest production car at the Nürburgring. In 2018, AMG went as far as to say it could establish the outright record, which would be downright remarkable considering the track-only Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo driven by Timo Bernhard set an amazing lap time of 5 minutes and 19.55 seconds in June 2018 with an average speed of 233.8 km/h. +++

+++ The all-new NISSAN Pathfinder and Frontier picked up a pair of Sobre Ruedas Awards on Saturday at the 2021 Miami International Auto Show. “We are delighted to bestow two important Sobre Ruedas Awards to 2 Nissan products this year. This is a testimony of the great quality of both the Pathfinder and the Frontier, but also of the preference they have conquered in the market, particularly among Hispanic consumers”, said Jaime Florez, director, Sobre Ruedas. For almost 2 decades, Sobre Ruedas has established a very sound criteria to choose the nominees in 12 categories. The vehicles have been (or are scheduled to be in the market) before the last day of the current year, must have proven standards of quality, high levels of popularity among Hispanics, and certainly provide good value for the money. A group of journalists, well known in the automotive industry and the Hispanic community, assisted the Editorial Board with the task of making the final decisions. Along with the all-new NPathfinder and Frontier, the revolutionary Nissan Z1 makes its U.S. auto show debut in Miami. Sobre Ruedas is the leading automotive radio show in Spanish in the United States, broadcast live for more than 15 years on ESPN Deportes Radio, and now on Unan1mo Deportes, a network of radio stations and on-line audio platforms. Every weekend, thousands of Hispanics all over the country tune their radios and devices on Unan1mo Sports, to listen to Jaime Florez and Niky Pauli and share with them their common passions: cars, engines, anything on wheels and the latest information on automotive sports. +++

+++ Don’t expect POLESTAR to introduce any model smaller than the 2; for now, at least. Company boss Thomas Ingenlath refused to categorically rule out a compact EV, “because that would be stupid”, but said that it’s an unlikely prospect. He hinted that he could change his mind, however: “Let’s face it: we still have decades to go with Polestar and there might be a point in time when such an object could be very interesting”. +++

+++ An electric ROLLS-ROYCE could be louder inside than one of the current V12 cars, because there will be no engine noise to drown out road and wind roar. But CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös believes “it’s probably not worth” trying to combat this. The Ghost, he said, is already so quiet on the move “that people felt a little disorientated and we needed to bring certain noise levels back in”. “I think we have super experience in understanding how to tackle that”, he added. +++

+++ It’s been a few years since the SAAB brand has made headlines, though real estate troubles in China have a way of rippling around the world and shaking things loose. One of those things is Saab, the defunct Swedish car brand that has had its assets passed around to various companies and wide-eyed ventures since General Motors sold it to Spyker Cars in 2010. It may have yet another new owner soon enough. The Chinese Evergrande Group, which owns Saab’s assets, is looking to US and European investors for new owners of National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) as it navigates potentially defaulting on more than $300 billion in debts. NEVS is one of the Group’s automobile divisions and the company that acquired Saab’s assets in 2012. NEVS discontinued using the Saab trademark in 2016. NEVS CEO Stefan Tilk told that the company has funds to last for a bit, though he did not elaborate on a timeline. NEVS is open to a sale or other financing, and it’s looking at US and European investors, which includes industrial partners and venture capitalists, who are expressing interest in the brand. However, the sale is far from set in stone as China Evergrande Group navigates its precarious financial situation. The company is hoping to find new investors while keeping control of the company’s assets. According to the report, Evergrande would want to keep a foothold in Europe, which NEVS provides through its automotive facilities. Sadly, neither a sale nor investment are likely to revive the Saab brand anytime soon. The brand lost much of its steam at the end of the early 2000s as the 2008 financial crisis shredded the world economy, hurtling two US automakers toward bankruptcy and the Saab’s sale. +++

+++ TOYOTA has begun selling a seat cushion that is intended to reduce car accidents caused by mistakenly pressing the accelerator instead of the brake. The cushion supports safe driving for elderly drivers by maintaining proper driving posture. It keeps the legs from opening too wide, which is said to be one of the causes of such errors. The product will be sold at Toyota dealers nationwide. The cushion is placed on the car seat and has raised sides to support the thighs. The design means that the foot naturally move toward the brakes. The cushions are compatible with 43 Toyota models. +++

+++ Tesla and Chinese automakers expanding into Europe have pushed the VOLKSWAGEN GROUP to accelerate plans to convert its main plant in Wolfsburg to make electric vehicles, the company admitted. Tesla in particular is a big worry for Germany’s largest carmaker as the US company will soon start producing EVs at its Giga Berlin plant near the German capital. “There is no question that we have to address the competitiveness of our plant in Wolfsburg in view of new market entrants. Tesla is setting new standards for productivity and scale in Grünheide”, VW spokesman Michael Manske said. The representative was referring to the fact that the Tesla factory under construction near Berlin will have a peak capacity of 5.000–10.000 cars a week; more that double the entirety of German battery-electric vehicle production in 2020. VW’s Wolfsburg plant, which has more than 50.000 employees, does not currently make EVs, but the carmaker plans to produce an electric saloon there from 2026 known as the “Project Trinity”. In light of the increased competition, the carmaker would now like to start making the flagship EV sooner. This illustrates how implementing decisions takes more time for legacy automakers than for pure-play EV makers. German automakers are also struggling to catch up with EV companies’ more efficient production platforms. For example, it takes VW around 30 hours to produce the ID.3 whereas Tesla needs just 10 to make a Model 3. There could be a silver lining to this, however, as VW Group CEO Herbert Diess previously said Tesla would fuel competition in Germany. Diess is said to have expressed concerns over VW’s future at the September 24 meeting, arguing that the company’s costs are not right. He said the main plant in Wolfsburg, which has been facing increased downtime lately amid chip shortages, should be converted to electric cars much sooner than 2026, suggesting that 30.000 jobs might be lost if the automaker transitions too slowly to a battery electric future. Faced with backlash from VW’s works council, whose spokesperson said that “a reduction of 30,000 jobs is absurd and baseless”. Volkswagen denied making specific calculations on how many jobs could be lost in the process. “A debate is now underway and there are already many good ideas. There are no concrete scenarios”, VW spokesman Michael Menske said. +++

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