Newsflash: Fiat Ulysse maakt elektrische comeback

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+++ BMW ’s M-engineered future X SUV, dubbed G09 XM (not sure how Citroën will feel about that), is shaping up to be the M division’s test bed for hybridised performance models. The post says it will use the S58 twin-turbo straight-6 from the M3 and M4, but it will be paired with electric motors and batteries. It also said that it could have somewhere in the region of 660 bhp. The tentative production run will span from December 2022 to November 2027. Of course, it’s all speculations and rumours for now. The only way we’ll know these are fact is when BMW finally reveals these models. But either way, it will be interesting to see how the M division will move around in a time when many automakers are looking at electrification as the future norm. +++

+++ The BUGATTI Chiron has reached its final phase of production, with the firm planning to produce just 40 more examples of the Veyron successor. The final 40 examples, set to be a mix of Chiron Super Sport and Pur Sport models, will wrap up a run of 500 units for the French hypercar 5 years after it first went on sale. Orders for the standard Chiron are now no longer being taken. “With the Chiron Pur Sport and Super Sport, we’re offering customers the culmination of years of continual development of the Chiron platform”, said Bugatti sales director Hendrik Malinowski. “This spectrum of performance, whether it be hitting the apex on track or cruising on autobahns in total luxury, takes the Chiron to an entirely new level. Now with so few build slots remaining, the purity of the W16 recipe is being honored in style”. The Chiron was launched in 2016, commanding a price tag of €3 million and offering 1.500 hp and 1.500 Nm from a quad-turbocharged W16 engine that was comprehensively updated from the unit previously deployed in the Veyron. It was capable of 0-100 kph in 2.4 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 418 kph, and later variants have bumped those figures up. The dynamically focused Chiron Pur Sport arrived in 2020, promising improved agility and downforce courtesy of a new aerodynamics package, stiffer suspension and various weight-shedding measures. Its springs are also 65 % stiffer at the front and 33 % at the rear. The Chiron Super Sport brings an uprated engine with revised internals for €4 million. It borrows its mechanicals from the speed record-breaking Chiron Super Sport 300+, with a further emphasis on refinement. Like the Pur Sport, the Super Sport retains its quad-turbocharged 8.0-litre W16 petrol engine, but with output boosted to 1.600 hp for a top speed of 434 kph. +++

+++ FIAT has revealed a new van and a new MPV that revive names from the Italian brand’s not-too-distant past. The Ulysse MPV, sharing a name with the popular people carrier that was built in the same factory in Hordain, France from 1994 to 2002, will offer various combinations of seating to accommodate 6 or 7 or 9 passengers. The commercial version, called the Scudo in reference to another former Hordain-built Fiat, replaces the Talento. It will be available in single- and crew-cab guises with the option of a flat rear loadbed. Both vans will be built on parent company Stellantis’s EV-capable EMP2 platform, which is already used by the closely related Peugeot Expert and Traveller, Citroën Dispatch and Spacetourer and Opel Vivaro and Vivaro Life. Fiat has yet to confirm powertrain details, but the equivalent electric models from its sister brands use a single front-mounted motor producing 136 hp and 260 Nm, which gets them from 0-100 kph in around 13.1 seconds and to a top speed of 130 kph. Power is supplied by a 50 kWh battery offering 230 km of range and capable of 100 kW rapid-charging. Like those models, the Fiat will also be offered with a choice of conventional combustion engines and could eventually be the recipient of a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain offering a claimed 400 km range. These zero-emission options are part of Stellantis’s ongoing electrification strategy, with the group expecting 70 % of its sales in Europe and 40 % in America to be low-emissions vehicles by 2030. It plans to invest more than €30 billion in electrification and software development by 2025. +++

+++ HYUNDAI ’s third-quarter earnings declined slightly due to production glitches caused by a semiconductor shortage. The automaker said that sales from July to September declined 4.8 percent from the previous quarter to W28.9 trillion, while operating profit plunged 14.8 percent to W1.61 trillion (US$1=W1,168). But the decline was from a record high in the second quarter and overall earnings still surpassed analysts’ expectations. Hyundai sold 898.906 cars around the world in the third quarter, down 9.9 percent on-year. “The chip supply shortage in the third quarter caused production to stop at our Asan and Ulsan plants”, a staffer said. But the sales proportion of high-margin SUVs and the Genesis premium brand increased by around 2 percentage points, so revenues rose 4.7 percent on-year. The automaker has slashed this year’s sales target from 4.16 million to 4 million cars and expects annual revenues to increase 17 to 18 percent on-year. +++

+++ Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Euisun vowed to cooperate with the government of INDONESIA in establishing an electric vehicle ecosystem there, during his visit to the Southeast Asian country. Attending a government briefing event, “Future EV Ecosystem for Indonesia”, Chung presented the future vision of his automotive group and plans to cooperate with the Indonesian government to expand its business there, according to Hyundai. “The Hyundai Motor Group will support vitalization of Indonesia’s electric vehicle ecosystem and also actively cooperate on development of charging infrastructures and battery recycling technology, so that related industries can lead growth in the future”, Chung said at the event, held at the Jakarta International Expo Convention Center in the north of the Indonesia capital. At the event, where the government presented the country’s electric vehicle implementation road map, Indonesian president Joko Widodo and Indonesian government officials were to be present, along with South Korean Ambassador to Indonesia Park Tae-sung. Chung arrived in Indonesia on a private jet the day before, after his visit to the United States where he checked on the company’s mobility businesses there. Indonesia has the largest car market in the Southeast Asian region, and the government is also actively pursuing electrification policies to foster the electric vehicle industry there. Hyundai has built a car manufacturing plant, and construction for a joint battery cell factory with LG Energy Solution is planned as well. “With unsparing support from the Indonesian government, we have completed the construction of a manufacturing plant in Indonesia and are set to start EV production next year, and we have also finished the preparation to break ground for our envisioned EV battery cell factory here”, Chung said. At the event, Chung vowed to carry out various cooperative programs in Indonesia to foster technologies and pursue growth with Indonesia, and also suggested the Indonesian government work together on fostering the hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle industry, according to Hyundai. Before the start of the main event, Chung and Widodo viewed Hyundai’s electric vehicles, including the Ioniq 5 and the electrified G80, and the automaker’s rapid-charging system E-Pit, which was displayed at the venue, Hyundai said. In cooperation with LG Energy Solution, Hyundai Motor Group has invested $1.1 billion to build a 10-gigawatt-hour battery cell manufacturing plant in Karawang New Industry City in Indonesia. The joint factory, being built on a site that totals 330.000 square meters, is set for completion in the first half of 2023. The 2 companies have set up a joint venture for the battery cell project, with each owning a 50 percent stake. The mass production of battery cells is expected to start in the first half of 2024. Hyundai has established its first finished car production facility in Southeast Asia, in Bekasi, just east of Jakarta. The automotive plant will start manufacturing Hyundai‘s internal combustion engine vehicles from January, and the company is also reviewing the production of electric vehicles there from March, the automaker said. In his trip to the US, Chung visited Hyundai’s US corporate sales headquarters in Los Angeles, and also inspected the Alabama production plant. +++

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER has joined Tesla’s manufacturer pool for European Union CO2 emissions, a move that’s likely designed to help the firm avoid paying fines for missing its targets. Under EU rules, car firms are required to achieve increasingly tough average CO2 emissions targets for their car fleets. Any that misses its target faces a heavy fine of €95 per vehicle per g/km. However, the EU does allow car firms to combine their fleets into pools, which it then counts as a single entity when determining average CO2 emissions. That has led to a number of deals with firms set to miss their fleet targets paying manufacturers with low emissions to join a pool. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has now joined Honda in a pool that was formed by Tesla, with the move confirmed on the European Commission website, having been initially reported by industry analyst Matthias Schmidt. With Tesla’s fleet entirely electric and therefore emissions-free, the move will likely help JLR to avoid potential fines for missing its targets. The financial terms of the deal are also unknown. JLR had previously said that it expected to hit its emissions targets this year, although it’s possible that the impact of the global semiconductor shortage on its production and sales mix could have impacted this. The firm currently offers a single fully electric vehicle, the Jaguar I-Pace, and has introduced plug-in hybrid versions of a number of its vehicles. A spokesperson for JLR said the firm was unable to comment ahead of the imminent publication of the firm’s latest quarterly financial results. JLR wouldn’t be the first firm to pay substantial sums of money to Tesla for help in hitting emissions targets. As well as Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was part of Tesla’s EU pool until earlier this year, while the EV firm has done similar deals with firms in the US. In 2018, Tesla made €190 million by selling such credits to rivals. Other car firms have also benefitted from similar deals. Ford had to forge a deal with Volvo last year to create a pool to avoid EU fines after delays in production of the Kuga plug-in hybrid, while the Volkswagen Group’s pool includes MG and its Chinese parent firm SAIC. +++

+++ KIA said its third-quarter net profit rose sharply due to a lack of one-off costs, but chip shortages remain a major concern for the carmaker. Net profit for the 3 months ended in September jumped more than 8-fold to 1.135 trillion won ($970 million) from a net profit of 133.68 billion won in the year-ago period. Operating profit jumped more than six times to 1.327 trillion won in the third quarter from 195.23 billion won a year ago. Sales rose 8.8 percent to 17.752 trillion won from 16.321 trillion won during the same period. Last year, the company put aside 1.013 trillion won in provisions for after-sales product quality maintenance and other services. Some of the provisions were factored in the third-quarter bottom line. But this year there were no such one-off expenses, a company official said. Kia expects the global chip shortage and increased volatility in exchange rates will continue to weigh on its fourth-quarter earnings. “At stake is how many vehicles Kia will be able to produce until the first half of 2022 despite disruptions in the global chip supply chain”, Kia chief financial officer Joo Woo-jeong said in the company’s earnings conference call. Reduced incentives for US buyers of Kia vehicles and increased sales of high-end SUVs helped boost the quarterly results, Kia said in a statement. From January to September, net profit soared to 3.513 trillion won from 525.96 billion won in the year-ago period. +++

+++ The LAMBORGHINI Aventador Ultimae has sold out, meaning that you can no longer order a non-electrified V12 Lamborghini.The 780 hp special edition, unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed back in July, will be the final variant of the decade-old supercar. With all 350 coupés and 250 roadsters spoken for, it’s no longer possible to order a new Aventador. The Ultimae will also be the final Lamborghini to use the 6.5-litre V12 without any electrical assistance. Although the engine is set to be used in the upcoming Aventador successor, it will work as part of a hybrid powertrain to help bridge the gap between the brand’s current offerings and future all-electric models. The announcement came as Lamborghini revealed its figures for the first 9 months of 2021, in which it delivered a record 6.902 cars to customers; 23 % more than it had managed in the first 3 quarters of 2020. Chairman and CEO Stephan Winklemann said: “The company not only weathered the difficult climate of the last 18 months but consistently maintained its volume growth, which is testament to the strength of our product portfolio, the marque’s continuing appeal worldwide and our business strategy and dealer network”. The limited-edition Countach LPI 800-4, which is inspired by the original Countach of 1974 and uses a hybrid powertrain alongside an upgraded version of the Aventador’s V12, has also sold out. Earlier this year, Lamborghini announced plans for its entire lineup to be hybridised by 2024, with an all-new electric model due before the end of the decade. Although there aren’t any hybrid cars in series production at the moment from the brand, a hybrid version of the Urus is set to be announced in December, and next year’s Huracan successor will also use the technology. +++

+++ Thierry Bolloré’s radical reinvention plans for Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) centre on the electrification of both brands. Under the plan the firm will launch 6 pure-electric variants over the next 5 years, starting with the Range Rover EV in 2024. All LAND ROVER models will offer a fully electric powertrain option by the end of the decade in line with the brand’s ambition to achieve a 60 % EV sales mix by that point. The electric Range Rover, which will serve as a rival to the BMW iX and Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV, remains under wraps (even camouflaged prototypes have yet to hit public roads), but visually it is unlikely to differ substantially from the ICE-powered car. The subtle evolution of the Range Rover’s design over the years suggests its recognisable silhouette is intrinsic to the nameplate, so it is likely to be maintained for all powertrain variants. Originally, it was planned that Land Rover’s debut electric car would share the MLA underpinnings with the long-promised Jaguar XJ EV, but that model has now been cancelled as it was deemed incompatible with Bolloré’s vision for the brand. It has also yet to be confirmed where else in the JLR line-up the MLA hardware will be deployed, with Jaguar set to usher in a completely bespoke architecture for its own all-electric cars from 2025, and smaller Land Rover SUVs to move across to the EV-biased EMA platform. The electric Range Rover could be one of the first production models to benefit from a new development partnership between JLR and BMW, which will see the German and British firms collaborate on electricdrive systems. Whether these systems will bear any relation to those used by BMW’s current EVs (or indeed Jaguar’s own I-Pace) is unclear, but it is almost certain that an electric Range Rover would feature two driven axles and have similar power figures to the most potent combustion car. Interestingly, Land Rover programme director Nick Miller told that the MLA architecture can also readily accommodate a hydrogen powertrain, which means a Range Rover FCEV could be on the cards as the company’s Project Zeus hydrogen development programme continues. It has already started testing a hydrogen fuelled Defender prototype and says hydrogen will be “complementary” to battery-electric technology across its line-up as it strives to achieve zero tailpipe emissions by 2036. A drivable fuel cell concept is due to be revealed at some point in the near future. The vehicle will give Land Rover an opportunity to show off how hydrogen could be a more appropriate alternative fuel than batteries for its models, which are typically larger and heavier and prioritise long-distance refinement. +++

+++ MCLAREN boss Mike Flewitt has stepped down from his position and will be leaving the company after almost a decade in charge. Flewitt joined McLaren as chief operating officer in 2012 before being appointed as CEO in July 2013, a position he has held since. A successor to Flewitt has not yet been announced, although a search has already begun for a new CEO. Flewitt’s departure comes just weeks after former Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby and former Porsche CEO Michael Macht were appointed as non-executive directors to the McLaren Group (which includes the Automotive, Racing and Technology businesses) board. Macht “will assume responsibility for all technical and operational functions” at McLaren Automotive while a new CEO is recruited. Sales, marketing and PR operations will be overseen by McLaren Group’s executive chairman, Paul Walsh. “I feel incredibly proud to have led McLaren Automotive through most of its first, highly successful decade and am privileged to have played a part in the incredible McLaren story”, Flewitt said. “This young company’s success is testament to the many passionate and talented people I have had the pleasure of working with and I look forward to seeing that success continue”. Flewitt became a high-level executive at quite an acrimonious time for McLaren, which had just launched its first model, the MP4-12C to mixed reviews. Antony Sheriff had spent almost a decade as managing director establishing the company but was placed on gardening leave at the start of 2013 and ended up suing the company for wrongful dismissal. Flewitt’s second role at McLaren was in the newly created CEO position and he soon oversaw the launch of the P1, 570S and the 12C’s morphing into the 650S, a car that built on the 12C’s undoubted strengths and addressed many of its flaws. He built a range of cars at McLaren that brought annual sales close to 5.000 cars in 2018 and 2019. The pandemic, though, hit not only the Automotive division but also the entire McLaren Group hard, with some 1.200 job losses in a restructuring last May. The company is now gearing up for the launch of its first series-production hybrid model, the Artura, which is the first in the next-generation of McLaren models using electrified technology. +++

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