Newsflash: Lancia Delta keert in elektrische vorm terug

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+++ My spy photographers have caught a lightly camouflaged prototype of the AUDI e-Tron Sportback hiding subtle design changes under the camouflage wrap and probably bringing more important upgrades under the skin. I can notice a slightly different Singleframe grille with a more rounded shape and a different mesh pattern. The camo seems to hide a black portion of the bumper connecting the matrix led headlights with the grille, in a similar manner to the e-Tron GT. Audi designers have also tweaked the front bumper intakes while I also expect small changes in the rear bumper and the full led taillights. The profile looks identical, keeping the mirror-replacing cameras and the coupe-style roofline. Like in most facelifts, Audi could offer new wheel designs and additional color options. The e-Tron and the e-Tron Sportback first unveiled in 2018 and in 2020 respectively, are Audi’s flagship electric SUV offerings. However, their limited electric range makes them feel outdated compared to more recent rivals, bringing an imminent early facelift. While I don’t expect major changes inside the cabin, it is possible that Audi will bring the e-tron’s dashboard layout up to date with the rest of the range, including the smaller Q4 e-Tron which has a high-mounted infotainment touchscreen. The facelifted e-Tron and e-Tron Sportback will still ride on the MLB platform, which is shared with ICE-powered models, but they are expected to inherit a new battery pack. This will reportedly allow for a significantly increased range of more than 600 km; up from the current models’ 400 km, bringing them closer to the competition. The updated range will probably include the performance-oriented S variants which in their current form offer a combined 502 hp. I am not sure if the new battery pack will also allow changes in the power/torque figures but it is possible. The facelifted Audi e-Tron and e-Tron Sportback models are expected for a mid 2022 launch as 2023 MY cars. +++

+++ CADILLAC has updated its corporate logo and the logo that will be featured on all of its electric vehicles moving forward. The updated badge will be first introduced by the all-electric Lyriq and is a black and white version of the automaker’s familiar crest. This logo also lights up on the Lyriq. Cadillac’s website and social media pages have also been updated with the black and white crest. A spokesman from Cadillac confirmed that the existing colored version of the crest will continue to be used by the brand’s internal combustion engine vehicles before being slowly phased out as Cadillac becomes an all-electric brand in 2030. “The new crest along with our new tagline ‘Be Iconic’ represent Cadillac’s desire to champion each of us to dream big and become the most aspirational version of ourselves”, the spokesman said. Cadillac most recently updated its logo in 2014, making the crest wider and removing the laurel wreath that used to be positioned around it. By updating its badge, Cadillac joins a growing number of automakers updating their logos in the past couple of years, including Lotus, Volvo, Volkswagen, BMW, Nissan, Renault and Kia. As for the Cadillac Lyriq, the first models to reach the hands of customers will be flagship Debut Edition variants. This model recently sold out within 10 minutes of going on sale and features a 100.4 kWh battery pack driving an electric motor at the rear wheels with 340 hp and 440 Nm. +++

+++ GENERAL MOTORS has announced its next-generation hands-free driver-assist technology. Dubbed Ultra Cruise, it will eventually make way for door-to-door hands-free driving across the U.S. and Canada. According to GM, it ultimately enables “hands-free driving in 95 percent of all driving scenarios”. When the system is launched in 2023, Ultra Cruise will support 2 million miles of roads, that will vary between city streets, country roads, and highways. It’s a significant upgrade on the 200.000 highway miles offered by Super Cruise. Ultra Cruise will use a combination of cameras and radar, similar to Super Cruise before it. But crucially, Ultra Cruise adds integrated Lidar behind the windshield. This is a key differentiation between the 2 systems: whereas Super-Cruise-equipped vehicles rely on pre-mapped Lidar routes, they don’t feature integrated Lidar for real-time mapping of their surroundings. With on-board Lidar in the mix, Ultra Cruise-equipped vehicles will be able to cover 2 million miles of paved roads at launch, which will expand to 3.4 million miles sometime after launch. Roads covered will include city streets, subdivision streets, and paved rural roads, in addition to highways. Ultra Cruise won’t be an outright replacement for the Super Cruise system that already features on a range of GM products. Instead, Ultra Cruise will be reserved for premium offerings, intending to supplement the American auto manufacturer’s arsenal of advanced driver tech. While there’s no word on what vehicles will feature which systems, Super Cruise will be extended to more mainstream products. “The combination of Ultra Cruise for premium offerings and Super Cruise for lower-cost products will enable us to offer driver-assist technology across price points and segments,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development. Ultra Cruise will build upon the interface developed for Super Cruise, which was launched in its first iteration back in 2017. Notably, the system remains “Level 2,” meaning that drivers will need to stay alert at all times. The Ultra Cruise Dynamic Display will remain in the driver’s line of sight, telling them when they need to take over. Ultra Cruise will use the same camera system GM includes in Super Cruise vehicles to monitor driver attentiveness. Like Super Cruise was in 2017, Ultra Cruise will first be offered on Cadillacs before being rolled out to other “select models” in GM’s range. +++

+++ LANCIA is getting ready for its 115th anniversary on November 27, and what a better way of celebrating it than confirming that it will revive the iconic Delta nameplate. Luca Napolitano, Lancia’s CEO, admitted that everyone wants the Delta back, stating that it couldn’t be missing from their future plans. Napolitano confirmed the return of the compact model saying: “It will return and it will be a true Delta: an exciting car, a manifesto of progress and technology and obviously it will be electric”. The fully electric compact hatchback will most likely be based on STLA Medium architecture, which will be shared among C- and D-Segment vehicles of the Stellantis Group. This could allow up to 700 km of range. It is also capable of FWD, RWD or AWD setups, with electric motors producing anywhere between 170-245 hp. As a reminder, Lancia has produced 3 generations of Delta, with the first one (1979-1994) being an iconic vehicle for the brand and one of the most successful nameplates in rallying. The less popular second generation was sold between 1993 and 1999, while the third and last generation was offered between 2008 and 2014. The aging Lancia Ypsilon has been in production in its current form since 2011. Today, it’s only sold in Italy. The electric return of the Delta was rumored since Lancia announced their new product plan that included a new-generation Ypsilon supermini in 2024, followed by a fully electric crossover in 2026 and a compact electric hatch the next year. Beyond the Delta, Napolitano also touched on the Ypsilon’s replacement. The brand’s boss said it is the second best-selling car in Italy behind the Panda and that women tend to prefer it. However, he added that “Now is the time to look to the future from a different perspective” stating that their new target group will be males with a higher average age describing them as “modern European clients”. The dealer network will be created in collaboration with Alfa Romeo and DS premium Stellantis brands, starting from the major European cities. Instead of having traditional one-brand dealerships, Lancia will be focusing on selling cars online. +++

+++ Over the last few years, it’s been difficult to pin down MAZDA ‘s plans for future products, including the Mazda6. Rumours that the saloon would switch to a rear-wheel-drive platform date back to at least 2017, though the car has yet to materialise. However, the rumours and speculation never died, and a new report says we’ll finally see the long-fabled model debut sometime in the first half of 2022. Unsurprisingly, the new report doesn’t deviate far from what we’ve heard already. Many rumours over the years have pointed to 2022 as being the year Mazda would roll out the RWD saloon. The Mazda6 rumours coincided with those that suggested the model would get new inline-6 engines, which were also rumoured to enter production next year. Mazda teased the new engine alongside other powertrains in late 2020. When the new Mazda6 does arrive, it will bring with it a completely new design. The car will take styling inspiration from Mazda’s 2017 Vision Coupe Concept, which was a 2-door car with a gratuitously long bonnet and sleek greenhouse shape. It’ll allegedly have a new grille design that’ll be the future styling trend for the brand, along with an H-shaped diffuser. However, unlike the concept, the Mazda6 should offer seating for 5. Mazda’s powertrain lineup will include a 3.0-litre inline-6 diesel engine paired to a 48 volt mild-hybrid system. The petrol inline-6 is also expected to be a hybrid. The Mazda6 will also get a plug-in hybrid and an all-electric variant later in the model’s lifecycle. It’s unclear if the new rear-wheel-drive Mazda6 will be available in the US as the automaker announced earlier this year that the saloon and the CX-3 would no longer be available in the US. However, the new Mazda6 could see the model’s triumphant return. +++

+++ Unveiled on September 1 last year in Prague, the Enyaq iV became the first SKODA model to utilise Volkswagen Group’s MEB electric vehicle platform. It shares many components and technologies with the Volkswagen ID.4, and we are a little surprised to see the Czech SUV perform the moose test worse than its German cousin. In June this year, we saw the ID.4 successfully going through the cones at a speed of 73 km/h in a test. The test pilot of the publication then said the electric SUV feels predictable but the stability control system doesn’t always behave adequately. It’s a similar story with the larger Enyaq iV, though the maximum speed reached is significantly lower. The best result the Czech electric SUV achieves without hitting the cones is 67 kph which is a particularly low result for an electric vehicle. Overall, the vehicle behaves very similarly to the ID.4 with the electronic stability control braking a rear wheel to get through the cones. From the second swerve onward, though, the car tends to oversteer. During attempts at a faster speed, the same behaviour becomes more noticeable and less predictable. When the car starts to oversteer, the ESC takes control to stabilise, though the test pilot explains the main problem is that the Enyaq iV suddenly loses control again towards the end of the moose test. The tested version of the electric SUV is one of the base models fitted with a 58 kWh battery, in which configuration the car has a weight of about 1.950 kilograms. For comparison, the Volkswagen ID.4 in a similar specification weighs about 1.891 kg, though that doesn’t seem like enough weight difference between the 2 to explain the performance gap. +++

+++ The semiconductor shortage has disrupted the automotive industry in more ways than one, forcing many carmakers to prioritise the manufacturing of more expensive models over more affordable ones for higher profit margins. STELLANTIS , the multinational conglomerate that reunites a total of 14 American, Italian and French brands under the same roof, makes no exception. Since there’s a limited number of semiconductors available at the moment, the group has decided to prioritise the manufacturing of electric vehicles in Europe over combustion-engine models. The main reason behind the decision is the fact that European customers seem to respond to measures local governments are taking to promote EV purchases, such as significant subsidies. However, one should not overlook the fact that EVs tend to be more expensive than their ICE counterparts, meaning that Stellantis stands to make more money from this. Here’s what the company’s head of e-mobility, Anne-Lise Richard, told on this topic in an interview: “We will continue to manage all powertrains together but EVs come first. We see more customers that are willing to buy EVs now”. Demand for EVs has accelerated throughout Europe as generous government incentives have made battery-powered cars attractive relative to traditional vehicles. Programmes vary from country to country, with buyers in Germany among the most favoured as they can slice €9,000 off the sticker price of a fully electric car. Formed from the merger of PSA Groupe and Fiat Chrysler in January this year, Stellantis is betting big on EVs, having pledged to spend €30 billion on electric vehicles and software. As part of this strategy, all Stellantis brands will launch full-electric vehicles, including Peugeot, Citroën, Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, and Ram, while Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Opel/Vauxhall, Lancia and DS Automobiles will switch to battery-only cars. At the moment, Stellantis offers no all-electric model in the United States, but has no fewer than 14 EVs in Europe, although none of them uses an EV-exclusive platform. Those include Peugeot’s e-208, e-2008, e-Rifter, and e-Traveller, Citroën’s Ami, Ë-C4, Ë-Berlingo, and Ë-Spacetourer, the DS3 Crossback E-Tense, Opel/Vauxhall’s Corsa-e, Combo-e, Zafira-e, and Vivaro-e and Fiat’s 500 Electric. During the first half of 2021, electrified models made up 14 % of Stellantis deliveries in Europe, and only 4 % in the US. By 2030, the carmaker expects the share to rise to 70 % and 40 %, respectively. +++

+++ The SUBARU Forester might have just received a facelift, the all-new next-generation model is already under development. The next iteration of Subaru’s SUV model will be allegedly fitted with hybrid technology from Toyota and is rumored to debut after 2023. Unlike the Toyota GR86 / Subaru BRZ sportscars and the Toyota BZ4X / Subaru Solterra electric SUVs that were co-developed as sister models, the next Subaru Forester is not expected to be a rebadged Toyota RAV4. Instead, it will be based on a revised version of the Subaru Global Platform that is currently underpinning Subaru’s entire range, and will most likely feature evolutionary styling. Taking advantage of Toyota’s parts bin, Subaru will allegedly equip the Forester with a full hybrid system. The report suggests that the hybrid powertrain will combine 2 electric motors and a gasoline engine based on the Atkinson cycle. In a typical fashion, the next Forester will be offered with permanent AWD, not forgetting its off-road credentials. At the same time, a larger battery and the improved efficiency of the hybrid powertrain will allow for significantly lower emissions and fuel consumption ratings compared to the current generation. The fifth generation Subaru Forester was unveiled in 2018 and received a facelift in 2021 benefiting from a redesigned face, new trim options, a more refined ride and better safety equipment. In Japan and in Europe, the SUV is offered with the mild-hybrid 2.0-liter e-Boxer engine producing 150 hp, but in the US customers get the more powerful but also more thirsty 2.5-liter boxer engine producing 184 hp. Japanese buyers also get the option of a turbocharged 1.8-liter motor producing 177 hp. +++

+++ You probably already know that TESLA broke delivery records yet again in Q3 2021, and by a huge margin. However, naysayers continue to insist that Tesla is lying about its numbers, and there’s no way it could have produced or delivered so many cars amid a global chip shortage, as well as many other supply chain issues, not to mention the seemingly everlasting impact of the global pandemic. Lead analyst at Morgan Stanley Adam Jonas put out a letter to investors entitled, “How Did Tesla Find Chips?” While the note was likely a way to assure investors that the false narratives are untrue, Teslarati points out that we already knew how Tesla was handling the chip shortage based on a discussion on the Q2 2021 Earnings Call. According to Tesla’s shareholder deck, it was working to curb any production stoppages by using a series of new, in-house chips. Tesla explained in the deck: “Our team has demonstrated an unparalleled ability to react quickly and mitigate disruptions to manufacturing caused by semiconductor shortages. Our electrical and firmware engineering teams remain hard at work designing, developing and validating 19 new variants of controllers in response to ongoing semiconductor shortages”. That said, Jonas went into more detail, breaking down the part shortage situation into a number of categories, including Vertical Integration, Sophistication, Negotiation and Scale. Tesla has been vertically integrating for years, and some would argue it’s much more of a software company than an automaker. The less Tesla has to rely on suppliers and other companies, the more control it has over its development and production processes. Jonas points out that Tesla’s in-house development allows it to produce vehicles that are much more sophisticated than those using run-of-the-mill chips and parts that are shared by most automakers. Added to this, Tesla’s inside expertise gives it an advantage when it comes to negotiating with suppliers. The suppliers know that if they can’t get Tesla what it needs when it needs it, the company can simply produce its own. As the industry transitions, suppliers likely don’t want to lose Tesla as a customer, so they have to work hard to satisfy the EV-maker’s demands. Finally, Jonas writes about scale. Tesla is smaller than the competition, but it’s growing exponentially. Its record-shattering quarter was reliant on just 2 factories. Meanwhile, 2 more factories are set to open in the very near future. Jonas says many suppliers are aware that Tesla is a “strategic customer”, so it’s wise to keep that relationship positive. It seems thus far, some suppliers are keeping Elon Musk happy and impressed. +++

 

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