Newsflash: Hyundai komt met elektrische SUV voor 7 personen

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+++ Human drivers don’t necessarily see the road ahead as well when it rains, and it turns out that DRIVER ASSISTANCE TECHNOLOGY doesn’t either. The systems used to help your car automatically brake and stay within its lane is significantly impaired by rain, according to a study by AAA. American Automobile Association researchers found that automatic emergency braking, in several instances during testing conducted in simulated moderate-to-heavy rainfall, failed to detect stopped vehicles ahead, resulting in crashes. Lane-keeping technology also faired badly. AAA cautioned drivers, who should always be vigilant of these systems even in ideal conditions, not to rely on them in the rain. “Vehicle safety systems rely on sensors and cameras to see road markings, other cars, pedestrians and roadway obstacles. So naturally, they are more vulnerable to environmental factors like rain”, said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations. “The reality is people aren’t always driving around in perfect, sunny weather so we must expand testing and take into consideration things people actually contend with in their day-to-day driving”. Advanced driver-assistance systems, or ADAS, are common in newer vehicles. They do not perform autonomous driving, but they can automate some limited driving tasks such as adaptive cruise control and staying centered in one’s lane. Auto emergency braking has been shown to significantly reduce rear-end crashes in tests by insurance groups. For its tests, AAA employed a Buick Enclave Avenir, a Hyundai Santa Fe, a Toyota RAV4 and a Volkswagen Tiguan. No test car crashed into a stopped vehicle under dry, ideal conditions. But then researchers turned on the simulated rainfall and 17 % of the test runs resulted in crashes at speeds of 40 km/h. At 60 km/u, the instances of crashes increased to 33 %. You can extrapolate from there as to the dangers at highway speeds. Researchers simulated rainfall in the vehicles’ field of vision by using a device involving a spray nozzle that obscured the sensors in the windshield. That way, they were able to keep the roadway dry. AAA noted that wet roads in real driving conditions could result in even higher crash rates. As for lane-keeping technology, vehicles crossed lane markers 37 % of the time during ideal conditions in the AAA test, and that rate jumped to 69% once rain was added. This is not the first AAA study to note shortcomings in driver-assistance systems. On the bright side, this study noted that merely having a dirty or bug-spattered windshield had little effect on the systems’ sensors. AAA emphasizes that while these systems have potential, they are no match for an attentive driver. +++

+++ Henrik FISKER has revealed that his namesake EV manufacturer could start production of its forthcoming PEAR vehicle at the same factory as the Lordstown Endurance. The PEAR, which stands for Personal Electric Automotive Revolution, will be built by Taiwanese technology company Foxconn. That is the same company that recently announced it will purchase GM’s former factory in Lordstown, Ohio from Lordstown Motors for the sum of $230 million. It will also handle the production of the electric Lordstown Endurance pickup truck as part of the deal. Henrik Fisker revealed that if the PEAR is built in the same factory as the Endurance, it will need a dedicated production line. “If Foxconn ends up acquiring Lordstown and if the deal closes, it’s our intent to make the PEAR with Foxconn in Lordstown”, he said. “We would need to build our own general assembly and probably our own assembly line and also because it’s much higher volume, I don’t know what theirs is, but I think it’s less than 100,000. If you’re building 250,000-300,000 vehicles of the PEAR, it’s going to run full-speed”. Fisker didn’t say just how much the carmaker and Foxconn may need to spend to retool the facility to handle production of the PEAR. He did note that the 2 companies will share investments and profits. Lordstown and Fisker could also share certain areas of the factory, such as inbound logistics and a paint booth. The EV startup had originally planned to build the PEAR at a new factory with Foxconn with an initial target of 150.000 to 250.000 vehicles annually. However, the Lordstown site already has the ability to produce 400.000 vehicles a year and with Lordstown Motors currently using just 30 % of the site, there’s plenty of room for Fisker to be housed under the same roof. +++

+++ Taiwan’s FOXCONN has previewed a handful of electric vehicles it will launch through its Foxtron automotive brand. It will build a sleek sedan with  advanced led headlights and led taillights. The interior of this Model E includes a large curved display housing both the gauge cluster and the infotainment screen. Foxconn also is working on an electric bus, as well as a C-segment SUV dubbed the Model C. It has a striking design with very short front and rear overhangs and a complex led light array at the front. It is also depicted with a black and white 2-tone paint scheme and the rear features an led light bar and it also sports door handles that sit flush with the bodywork. All of these vehicles to come from the Foxtron brand will be showcased during the company’s Hon Hai Technology Day (HHTD21). It is understood that the 3 vehicles will be fully functional when they are presented to the public, suggesting that they might not be too far away from hitting the production line. Foxconn has been expanding its footprint in the automotive space over the last few years. At the 2020 iteration of the Hon Hai Technology Day, it presented a flexible EV platform. More recently, the company entered an agreement with Lordstown Motors to purchase its Ohio factory for $230 million. +++

+++ HONDA today announced the latest updates to its advanced driver assistance technologies that will be facilitated by new hardware installed on its upcoming vehicles. Honda Sensing 360 promises to bring improvements and additions to its vehicles’ active safety system. Those improvements are achieved thanks to a new sensor array that Honda promises will be able to “see” in every direction. Along with the camera currently used for Honda’s Sensing technology, the automaker is adding five millimeter-wave radar sensors to its vehicles. One will face forward and the others will be placed at the four corners of the vehicle to provide a 360 degree view. The technology will therefore make the brand’s “Collision Mitigation Braking System” better by expanding its view of the road. The driver aid seeks to prevent collisions with pedestrians at intersections. With more sensors, it can now sense in more directions. Similarly, Honda’s Front Cross Traffic Warning, which notifies the driver if it recognizes the risk of a collision when the vehicle is moving at low speeds or starting from a stop, will be improved. With more angles covered, there are more opportunities for the system to recognize danger. Lane change collision mitigation, meanwhile, will aid drivers if the vehicle senses an obstruction in its blindspot by notifying the driver or steering the vehicle back into its lane. Along with that, Honda Sensing 360 will allow vehicles using adaptive cruise control to automatically change lanes on the freeway by simply using the turn signal. Finally, the suite of sensors will also allow vehicles using adaptive cruise control to adjust their speed automatically when they reach a bend in the road. This will make turns smoother and more comfortable for all occupants. “Honda Sensing 360 represents the next major step in what has already been an industry-leading application of safety and driver-assistive technologies”, said Gary Robinson, assistant vice president of Product Planning at American Honda Motor. “Honda will continue to advance our technologies to improve safety for everyone sharing the road and play a leading role in realizing a collision-free society”. Honda Sensing 360 will debut in 2022 with automobiles introduced to the Chinese market. The automaker intends to expand its integration into all vehicles by 2030. +++

+++ Hot on the heels of the edgy Ioniq 5 and upcoming Ioniq 6 saloon, HYUNDAI is also preparing to expand its EV range with a large SUV. Likely to be named Ioniq 7, the 3-row flagship will spearhead the Korean automaker’s mission to become CO2-neutral by 2045. Virtually teased in conceptual form next to its siblings at last month’s 2021 Munich Motor Show (IAA 2021), the Ioniq 7’s shadowy outline left more questions than answers. What can we expect? While many automakers are constrained by corporate design identity, Hyundai has thrown away the rulebook with a refreshingly distinct model line-up. The Ioniq 7 pushes the boundaries again with a design ethos that trades fussy detailing for futuristic chic. Frontal styling sports a led light bar spanning the width of the bonnet in the same fashion as the Staria minivan. Lower down the main headlamp units feature parametric pixel light-emitting diodes and a contrasting front panel in place of a traditional grille. Further back, you’ll notice the swept-back greenhouse abruptly cuts away at the rear, and the sheet-metal surfacing is uniquely devoid of unnecessary contours. Squared-off fenders match the beltline profile, and flush door handles add to the avant-garde look. Whilst we’ve yet to set sights on the Ioniq 7’s interior, sources tell me it’ll be every bit as trendsetting as the Ioniq 5 in terms of style, equipment and practicality. If you thought the latter offered a copious amount of occupant space, then the 3-row Ioniq 7 will shift those perceptions again. Expect a plethora of technological goodies, including a digital instrument cluster and infotainment display, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, augmented-reality heads-up display and advanced voice recognition. Driver aids will likely include Level 2 autonomous driving (highway driving pilot), lane-keeping assist, blind-spot view monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and over-the-air updates. Like the Ioniq 5 and 6, the Ioniq 7 uses Hyundai Motor Group’s E-GMP platform shared with other Kia and Genesis EVs. It will feature a larger 100 kWh battery pack utilizing new battery chemistry with an estimated range of 483 km. The 800 volt system will allow DC fast-charging up to 350 kW, with a 10 to 80 percent recharge only taking 18 minutes. All-wheel-drive will be available, with the dual-motor setup reportedly generating 308 hp. Higher output options are likely to be offered too. Here, we could see performance figures eclipse the highly potent Kia EV6 GT and its stealthy 577 horsepower and 740 Nm. Rivals will include a Kia version with unique styling. A lot will depend on pricing and exact size, but there are many electric SUVs and crossovers either in the pipeline or already available, including Volkswagen ID.6, Tesla’s Model X, Rivian R1S, BMW iX, Cadillac Lyriq, Fisker Ocean, Audi Q6 e-tron, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll also see the Faraday Future FF91. The Ioniq 7 will likely be revealed in conceptual guise in the coming months, with the production-spec version arriving in early 2024. +++

+++ RENAULT recently outlined its electrification strategy aiming at electric vehicle to account for 90 % of its sales in Europe by 2030 across the entire group. Part of this offensive will be the already confirmed Renault 4ever, an electric compact crossover that has is rumored to debut in 2025. The 4ever will follow the production version of the 2023 Renault 5 and the larger 2022 Mégane E-Tech as part of the 10 new electric vehicles launched by Renault by 2025. It will share the CMF-BEV platform with the former, featuring increased ground clearance, larger exterior dimensions, a roomier cabin, and SUV-style plastic cladding around the bodywork. Renault has already shown us the front end of the 4ever plus the profile in a shadowy teaser during the official presentation of the electrification plan. As you can see from the exclusive rendering, the design has clear nods to the original Renault 4 (1961-1994) despite the significantly enlarged exterior dimensions and the modern features, following the retro hype created by the Mini Cooper SE, Fiat 500, and Honda e BEVs. In terms of design language, both the Renault 5 and the 4ever will differ from the rest of the range. As described by Laurence van den Acker, the decision to keep them unique is similar to the strategy used by Ford for the Mustang and Bronco nameplates, allowing designers to “tell stories from the past”. Renault has also confirmed an electric commercial vehicle that will likely share most of its components with the 4ever, inspired by the Renault 4 Fourgonette. The panel van has a redesigned rear end offering more cargo space, while sharing its underpinnings and its front end with the crossover. The CMF-BEV platform will be using a new type of battery pack featuring nickel, manganese, and cobalt (NMW) technology that will be produced in France through Renault Group’s partnerships. Those batteries will offer an increased range at a lower production cost compared to the electric cars of today, costing around $100 per kWh by 2025. In terms of powertrains, I don’t have any information other than the front-wheel-drive electric motors of the R5. The latter will also serve as a base for the Alpine-badged hot hatch, but I don’t know if a performance variant of the more practicality-oriented 4ever is currently on the cards. While we are years away from the unveiling of the 4ever, Renault is expected to show a concept ahead of the car’s launch. Like with the Renault 5 prototype, the design of the concept is expected to closely preview the forthcoming production model. +++

+++ China’s Evergrande is over €258 billion in debt and the company has missed interest payments, leading to fears they could default. In order to avoid this, Evergrande has been trying to offload assets and one of them is National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) which was formed out of the ashes of SAAB . While previous reports have suggested Evergrande was exploring the possibility of selling NEVS, the company’s president confirmed this today. Stefan Tilk said they’re talking to industrial partners as well as venture capital firms to find a buyer for the ill-fated automaker. NEVS’ situation isn’t reportedly critical as they have enough money to last “for a good while”, but Evergrande needs to raise capital and selling the automaker could reportedly bring in as much as €862 million. That seems like a pretty lofty valuation, but Tilk said several investors have already shown interest. The executive went on to say talks have mainly been held with firms in the United States and Europe. However, Evergrande is exploring financing as well as an outright sale so there is the possibility they may keep NEVs. There’s no word on when a decision could be make, but Saab has been something of a hot potato ever since General Motors decided to part with the brand. Koenigsegg originally attempted to acquire the Swedish automaker, but that effort failed and Saab was eventually purchased by Spyker. This proved disastrous and the company went bust roughly a year later. Saab eventually reemerged as NEVS and restarted 9-3 production, before going broke and eventually ending up with Evergrande. +++

+++ TOYOTA cuts its planned global output for November by as much as 15% due to ongoing chip shortages, but indicated it would ramp up production from December by sticking to its latest full-year production target. Japan’s leading carmaker said in a press release it would produce between 100.000 and 150.000 fewer vehicles in November than it had planned for a month that was meant to see a rebound in lost output. That reduction comes after cuts in September and October as supplies of components from factories in Malaysia and Vietnam slowed because of increased Covid-19 infections there, forcing Toyota to trim its production target for the year to March 31 by 300.000 vehicles to 9 million. The company stuck to that forecast, meaning it will have to ramp up production for the remainder of the business year, relying on a decline in Covid-19 infection rates in Southeast Asia to allow chip factories to raise output. “I can’t predict what is going to happen, but I think we are through the worst period of lower production risks”, Kazunari Kumakura, an executive at the world’s biggest carmaker, said during an online briefing. Toyota wants to restart curtailed production in December and is asking its component suppliers in Southeast Asia to boost supplies so it can claw back some lost production, three sources familiar with the carmaker’s plans told earlier. The total reduction in production from September through November will be as much as 910,000 vehicles, a Toyota spokesperson said. The Japanese carmaker, which had hardened its supply chain against disruptions after a major earthquake hit Japan’s northeast coast in 2011, was the last of the major global automakers to cut production because of parts shortages even as demand for cars rebounded. Car sales in China in September fell by a fifth from a year earlier because there were fewer vehicles for people to buy. In addition to forcing chip factories to close, the pandemic has spurred stay-at-home demand for tablets and other electronic devices that has made semiconductors shortages worse. Toyota is still seeing robust demand for its vehicles and therefore wants to raise production in December, Kumakura said. +++

+++ Nippon Steel, Japan’s largest steelmaker, has filed a lawsuit against TOYOTA and its supplier, China’s Baoshan Iron & Steel, for alleged patent infringement. The automaker called the suit “regrettable”. The steelmaker is seeking 20 billion yen ($176 million) in damages from the companies, alleging they have infringed on its patent for non-oriented magnetic steel sheets that are used in electric vehicles. The steel sheets are a critical part of electric motors that have a big impact on efficiency because of their magnetic properties that help limit energy loss. The suit is unusual because it is rare for a steel supplier to sue an automaker and Toyota is one of Nippon Steel’s key customers. Regardless, it has petitioned for an injunction preventing Toyota from manufacturing and selling vehicles that use the steel that allegedly violates its patents. The company says it has taken legal action after it was unable to reach a resolution through discussions with the companies, something Toyota seems to confirm in a statement it released on the matter. It claims that it did its due diligence to ensure that the steel did not infringe on any patents. “Concerning the electromagnetic steel sheets manufactured by Baoshan Iron & Steel (Baosteel) as well, we confirmed that there was no infringement of another company’s patent before concluding a contract”, Toyota wrote. “Because Nippon Steel mentioned to us its concerns, we confirmed again with Baosteel, which, in turn, expressed its view to us that there was no patent infringement”. +++

+++ VINFAST is looking to make a splash in the United States by staging the world debut of the VF e35 and VF e36 at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Little is known about the models at this point, but both will be electric crossovers. The company went on to say the VF e35 will be a D-segment vehicle, while the VF e36 will be a larger E-segment SUV. VinFast went on to say the vehicles will come equipped with a high-tech infotainment system that features a virtual assistant, voice recognition technology, and e-commerce services. We can also expect an assortment of driver assistance systems such as a collision warning system, lane assist and fully automated parking. The models will also have a Tesla-like summon feature as well as a driver monitoring system. The vehicles will go up for pre-order in the first half of 2022 and Vingroup Vice Chairwoman Le Thi Thu Thuy said, “We have made vigorous investments and conducted extensive market research to create premium EVs that will satisfy the desires of global customers. This is just the beginning. We hope to capture the hearts and imaginations of even the most demanding customers with VinFast’s dedicated service and smart, high-quality products”. While little is known about the models, they’ll follow in the footsteps of the VF e34 which features an electric motor that develops 150 hp and 242 Nm. It’s powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, which gives the crossover an NEDC range of 285 km. The Los Angeles Auto Show is slated to kick off on November 17th, but nothing is set in stone in the coronavirus era. That was made abundantly clear by the last minute cancelation of the New York Auto Show this summer and there’s been some skepticism about whether or not the Los Angeles Auto Show will actually take place. +++

+++ The VOLKSWAGEN GROUP managed to sell 122.100 electric vehicles around the world between July and September of this year. That’s more than twice as many as it managed to sell in the same period in 2020. “Our global electric offensive continues to run at full speed: we are clearly the number 1 for all-electric vehicles in Europe and the number 2 in the USA”, said Christian Dahlheim, head of group sales. “The strong demand for our global target for the year of one million electrified vehicles (BEVs+PHEVs) is definitely there”. In China, meanwhile, sales are picking up quickly. In the first half of this year, the brand managed to sell 18.300 EVs, while it delivered 28.900 in Q3 alone. With sales surpassing 47.000 in the country so far this year, China accounts for 24 % of all VW Group EV sales. “As planned, we significantly accelerated the BEV market ramp-up in China in the third quarter, and we are on track to meeting our target for the year of delivering 80,000 to 100,000 vehicles of the ID. model family,” said Dahlheim. In all, the group has sold a total of 293.100 electric vehicles worldwide by the end of September, 47.000 more than it sold plug-in hybrids. In the first 9 months of the year, EV sales are up 138 % compared to the same period in 2020. In terms of brands, Volkswagen leads the way with 57 % of sales. Audi made up 18 % of deliveries, while Skoda contributed 11 % and Porsche just a little less with 10 %. The VW Group’s top 5 vehicles, in terms of sales, so far this year are the Volkswagen ID.4 (72.700 units), the ID.3 (52.700), the Audi e-tron (Sportback) (36.100), the Porsche Taycan (28.600) and the Skoda Enyaq iV (28.200). In all, EVs made up six percent of all Volkswagen Group sales in the third quarter of this year. +++

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