Newsflash: Nissan Leaf krijgt een SUV als opvolger

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+++ Chip shortages are continuing to hurt car production in CHINA . As a result, the country’s leading industry association said total deliveries for 2021 may fall short of its estimate made earlier in the year. Manufacturers produced 2.08 million vehicles last month; down 17.9 percent from the same month last year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Sales saw a deeper decline at 19.6 percent year-on-year, with just 2.07 million vehicles sold in the country. Chen Shihua, deputy secretary-general of the association, said car chip supplies were higher in September than in previous months, but still fell short of demand. The shortages, coupled with a higher comparative base last year, resulted in production and sales slumps last month, he said. Chen said power shortages in some parts of the country are also affecting production. “Considering all these factors, sales figures for this year may be lower than expected”, he said. The association initially estimated that vehicle deliveries could exceed 26 million units; up 4 percent from 2020. In the first 3 quarters, sales totaled 18.62 million; up 8.7 percent from the same period last year. But Xu Haidong, deputy chief engineer of the association, said sales in the 4th quarter are very likely to fall year-on-year because the figure was high in the same period last year. Many carmakers are suffering from chip shortages. Honda, Nissan and Toyota saw their sales in China tumble during September. Honda sold 121.448 vehicles; down 28 percent from a year earlier due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a shortage of components. Nissan said it sold 104.443 cars; down 26 percent, due to “external headwinds including the ongoing pandemic, cross-industry material shortages, slowdowns, and increased competition”. Toyota said it sold 115,000 cars; down 36 %. General Motors did not disclose monthly figures, but its sales in China during the third-quarter stood at 623.500 vehicles; down 19.2 % from the same period in 2020. “Sales were impacted by the ongoing global semiconductor supply chain disruption”, according to GM, the largest carmaker in the United States. A breakdown of its sales show that 4 of the 5 brands available in China saw precipitous drops in their third quarter sales compared with the same quarter in 2020. China’s largest SUV and pickup maker Great Wall Motors sold 100.022 vehicles in September; down 15.4 % from the same month last year. The sweeping chip shortages have affected production, but the Baoding-based carmaker in Hebei province said it has been trying its best to acquire semiconductors. Geely, China’s largest private carmaker, delivered 103.936 vehicles last month; down 18 percent year-on-year. It cited Covid-19 and chip shortages as factors that curbed its production and deliveries. The carmaker has over 100.000 vehicles on its order book, according to company CEO Gan Jiayue. As in previous months, new energy vehicles, which include electric cars and plug-in hybrids, continued their momentum in September. Production and sales reached 353.000 and 357.000 units respectively, both logging a year-on-year growth of 150 percent, according to CAAM data. The association said their production and sales in September both set new monthly records. Without chip shortages, they could have been higher. NEV sales made up 17.3 percent of total vehicle deliveries last month. In the segment of passenger vehicles, their proportion was even higher, at 19.5 percent, the CAAM said. In the first 3 quarters, NEV sales totaled about 2.16 million units; up 190 % year-on-year. Xu, the CAAM’s deputy chief-engineer, expects sales to grow at a fast pace in the 4th quarter. “NEV sales could hit 3 million this year”, he said. China’s BYD, headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, delivered over 70.000 new energy vehicles in September, ranking as the most popular NEV producer. United States carmaker Tesla came in second last month. It produced about 56.000 electric vehicles at its Shanghai plant. Over 52.000 were sold in the country. Its sales in China during the first three quarters exceeded 200.000 units and the carmaker exported around 100.000 vehicles from its Shanghai plant. Other popular NEV makers include SAIC – GM -Wuling, producer of the popular two-seater Hong Guang MINI EV, and GAC Aion. Chinese startups Nio and Xpeng each saw their monthly sales exceed 10.000 units for the first time in September. Ma Lin, a Nio executive, said its sales in the 4th quarter would be better than in the third quarter as long as chip shortages do not happen similar to last month as orders flew in fast. Sales of Volkswagen’s electric cars in China also exceeded 10.000 units. The German carmaker, which rolled out its first electric model on its new platform earlier this year, expected sales this year to reach between 800.000 and 1 million units in the country. +++

+++ Ineos will use Hyundai’s fuel cell (FCEV) powertrain technology for a hydrogen-fuelled concept version of the GRENADIER 4×4, which is highly likely to evolve into a series-production car. As part of a wide-reaching plan to ramp up its investment in hydrogen technology, Ineos will build the prototype in partnership with United Kingdom based engineering firm AVL, ahead of on- and off-road testing beginning by the end of 2022. AVL recently worked with Ford on a similarly conceived, one-off FCEV version of the Transit van, which will be used in a long-running trial programme to determine the viability and capability of hydrogen-fuelled commercial vehicles. It is not yet confirmed exactly which powertrain the Grenadier FCEV will use. Hyundai currently sells the Nexo with a 95 kWh fuel cell and a 163 hp EV motor, but will usher in a heavily updated powertrain in 2023, which will be more compact but offer improved efficiency and durability. Ineos’s partnership with Hyundai, detailed in late 2020, has mutual benefits for both parties: Ineos gains access to one of the most mature hydrogen-fuelled powertrains on the market for use in its vehicles, while Hyundai can tap into the British chemical company’s experience in producing and distributing hydrogen itself. No date has been given for the retail roll-out of the Grenadier FCEV. The BMW-engined petrol and diesel variants will go on sale in the UK from July 2022. The announcement forms part of Ineos’s wide-reaching commitment to popularising hydrogen as an alternative fuel source. It has already pledged €2 billion to its efforts in this area and has today launched a ‘hydrogen advocacy’ campaign emphasising the benefits of the fuel source. Ineos claims to be “Europe’s largest existing operator of electrolysis” (a means of hydrogen production) and says the 400.000 tonnes of low-carbon hydrogen it produces each year is the equivalent of replacing “up to 2 billion litres of diesel”. Company boss Jim Ratcliffe said: “Electric cars are ideal for city centres and short journeys. But hydrogen is much better for longer journeys and heavier loads and that requires immediate investment in hydrogen distribution and hydrogen filling stations. “The issue is that industry can only do so much, and the UK government must start to invest in the development of our hydrogen infrastructure to allow the gas to be much more widely used. At the moment, we are massively lagging behind Europe and the gap is starting to grow”. As part of the company’s hydrogen campaign, it will also display prominent billboards across London and Glasgow, tour the country in a hydrogen-fuelled bus and display a hydrogen-fuelled car at the COP26 summit in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November. +++

+++ MITSUBISHI has revealed the design of the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model of the all-new Outlander. The all-new Outlander PHEV model will make its global debut on Oct 28, with the start of sales scheduled in Japan in mid-December. Based on the bold expressions of functionality with which Mitsubishi has designed its SUVs over the years, the company developed the all-new Outlander under its new design concept (Bold Stride) which expresses a bold, fixating presence with a solid stance and dependability for drivers to take a new step forward. On the front, Mitsubishi has evolved the Dynamic Shield, which projects both power and reassurance, for a new generation to create a front-end design with a sense of presence. The side view expresses bold proportions with thick horizontal accents extending from the front to the rear end, achieving a dignified styling comprised of rich surface carved with sharply defined character lines. Additionally, the large diameter 20 inch wheels along with the muscular front and rear fender flares that house them conjure an image of powerful and dependable road performance. The rear side of the all-new Outlander features tailgate design comprised of a hexagon motif with the look of a chiseled block, and the horizontally themed taillights that extend to both edges create a rear styling that accentuates wideness and stability. Body color can be selected from a total of 10 colors including the vivid, crystalline, high brightness Diamond Color series (Red Diamond, White Diamond, and the new Black Diamond). To project a high-quality feel, Mitsubishi has evolved the interior also. The horizontally-sculpted instrument panel makes it easy to understand the position of the car while driving, and expresses robustness and a feeling of spaciousness. The center console is designed to project a broad high-class presence. For the door panel, door trim is laid out over a wide area and covered with a quality soft padding that feels good to touch. Much of the padding has been stitched to achieve quality texture. The monitors and gauges are designed to be reassuringly easy to see, while the selectors, dials and switches are designed to provide a confident grip and operation, resulting in a quality feel that appeals to the senses. As the first vehicle for MMC, the gasoline model of the all-new Outlander has been named a Wards 10 Best Interiors Winner for 2021 by WardsAuto in the United States. Without any price cap, the Wards 10 Best Interiors recognizes outstanding achievement in aesthetics, comfort, ergonomics, materials usage, fit-and-finish and user-friendliness of displays and controls. +++

+++ The new electric crossover model to be built at NISSAN ‘s Sunderland factory will be the replacement for the Leaf, the firm’s Europe boss, Guillaume Cartier, has confirmed. Plans to build a new crossover in Sunderland as part of a huge £1 billion investment in the plant to secure its future were announced back in July. That model was expected to be the Leaf’s replacement, something confirmed today by Cartier. The Leaf replacement will therefore switch from a hatchback to a crossover bodystyle and be based on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s CMF-EV platform in around 2025. By then, Nissan’s core future model line-up will include 5 models, all of them electrified crossovers: the Juke, Qashqai, Ariya and X-Trail, plus the Leaf replacement. The Japanese car maker will therefore not solely develop any more conventional models in Europe, such as saloons, hatchbacks and estates. However, it will turn to its Alliance partners, Mitsubishi and Renault, to source underpinnings for other segments, chiefly a small car to replace the Micra. “We will look to the Alliance for a full line-up and powertrains”, said Cartier. “One topic that is still open is the entry car (the Micra-sized replacement). Key point is how we offer something from the Alliance with the Nissan brand”. He added that making it profitaby was the main issue, and that the car “absolutely” would be an EV. The focus on electrification means that Nissan will not invest in internal combustion engine technology to make it EU7 emissions compliant, regulations due to come in Europe in the middle of the decade. “Strategically, we bet on electrification”, said Cartier. “If we invest in EU7, the ballpark cost is about half the profit margin per car, around €2.000 you would have to pass onto the customer. So we bet on EV, knowing it will decrease in cost”. Nissan expects 80 percent of its sales to be full EVs by 2030 and by 2025 will have electrified its entire range with either full EVs or its E-power hybrid option. Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida confirmed that the company will not be investing in hydrogen technology, instead choosing to focus on battery-electric vehicles. “Our competitors have many solutions for technology”, he said. “For us, we decided EVs. We used to have hydrogen technology at Nissan, and maybe in a different world, we still would. But so far, this (electric technology) is our asset, and what we want to be on”. Uchida also confirmed that the future of sports cars at Nissan in Europe is still uncertain due to the needs of electrification. However, he said the company remains a supporter of Formula E and will continue in the championship because it is a great way of promoting Nissan’s wider electric ambitions. He responded to suggestions that Nissan has been slow to capitalise on the impact it had in the world of EVs with the launch of the Leaf a decade ago by saying that he will be revealing plans for Nissan’s next era of electric cars and electrification later in the autumn. On the shortage of computer chips impacting production of cars, Uchida said that “step by step, it’s getting better” but that the crisis is far from over and it will rumble on for some time. The crisis has shown Nissan that it must “adapt to new ways of working with suppliers and make partnerships stronger”. +++

+++  Autointernationaal has learned further details about the forthcoming POLESTAR 3 from company CEO Thomas Ingenlath, after a previously released image of the SUV under a sheet gave strong clues about its size and positioning. Ingenlath confirmed that the new car will have 2 rows of seats rather than 3, despite the sales bonanza currently being enjoyed by three-row SUVs in the US, where it will be built. “I’ve got nothing against 3 rows per se”, he said, “but the second we did that, you guys would be asking what was the differentiation to the Volvo XC90”. The successor to today’s XC90, as previewed by the Concept Recharge earlier this year, will share its EV-only platform with its Polestar sibling, but it is expected to have a less overtly sporting focus. “Having 2 rows gives the opportunity to give the car that aerodynamic roofline, and it gives the chance to emphasise the space between the first and second rows, which really gives the second row a luxurious feeling”, said Ingenlath. The Polestar 3 will be made in the South Carolina plant that currently assembles the Volvo S60 and will also build the next-generation XC90, but European versions will be built at a separate facility in China. Ingenlath confirmed that, as with the Polestar 2, the company plans to offer both single-motor and dual-motor versions of the 3, although some markets may get only one powertrain. “I definitely see that as a good combination”, said Ingenlath. “At the end of the day, the twin-motor has a bit more power and acceleration, but there are plenty of people who don’t need that thrill. And there are lots of people who don’t need all-wheel drive. So in Norway or Austria, we will always sell more all-wheel drive, but in China or the US, lots of people are happy with the single motor”. He also hinted that the 3 will be more potent than its closely related XC90 successor and promised a “top power position that is unique to Polestar”. The production-ready 3 will appear next year, with European customer deliveries scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2023. +++

+++ STELLANTIS will aim to establish a new facility to manufacture batteries in North America in 2024 in partnership with South Korean electronics giant LG. The factory, which Stellantis hopes will have a production capacity of 40 gigawatt hours per year, will supply batteries to the firm’s assembly plants throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. The batteries will to be installed in “next-generation electric vehicles”, including plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles. “Today’s announcement is further proof that we are deploying our aggressive electrification road map and are following through on the commitments we made during our EV Day event in July”, said Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis. “With this, we have now determined the next ‘gigafactory’ coming to the Stellantis portfolio to help us achieve a total minimum of 260 gigawatt hours of capacity by 2030. I want to warmly thank each person involved in this strategic project. Together, we will lead the industry with benchmark efficiencies and deliver electrified vehicles that ignite passion”. The facility will form part of Stellantis’s €30 billion investment into electrification and software development through 2025. Stellantis first partnered with LG in 2014, when the electronics giant was chosen to supply a lithium ion battery pack system and controls for the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan. “Establishing a joint venture with Stellantis will be a monumental milestone in our long-standing partnership”, said Jong-Hyun Kim, president and CEO of LG Energy Solution. “LGES will position itself as a provider of battery solutions to our prospective customers in the region by utilising our collective, unique technical skills and mass-producing capabilities”. The factory’s exact location is yet to be determined, but construction is targeted to start by the first quarter of 2024, given that documentation, closing conditions and regulatory aspects are approved. +++

+++ TOYOTA unveiled plans on Monday to invest $3.4 billion in automotive batteries in the United States and build a factory in the country for their production. The 10-year investment is part of a project announced last month by the Japanese firm to pour 1.5 trillion yen ($13.1 billion) into the development and supply of batteries for electric vehicles as it pushes to make its production carbon-neutral. “Toyota’s commitment to electrification is about achieving long-term sustainability for the environment, American jobs and consumers”, said Ted Ogawa, chief executive officer at Toyota Motor North America. The company did not specify further details such as a site and production capacity but said it would establish a new company for the U.S. project. In June, Toyota said it aimed to make its production carbon-neutral by 2035, replacing the previous target date of 2050. Toyota is a pioneer of hybrid vehicles and autos using hydrogen fuel and is also stepping up its development of battery-powered electric cars. Last year Japan’s former prime minister Yoshihide Suga set a 2050 deadline for the world’s third-largest economy to become carbon neutral, significantly firming up the country’s climate-change commitments. The nation has struggled to cut carbon emissions after shutting down reactors following the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. +++

+++ A new app will allow VOLVO XC40 Recharge drivers to optimise their electric vehicle’s range more easily following an over-the-air update. The firm is introducing a Range Assistant app that will improve smart battery management and regeneration performance, which, it says, will lead to increased range. The assistant has been described as being “especially helpful on longer trips because it reduces the need for charging stops”. Other new features include safety system improvements, the addition of new information about how a cold climate impacts battery range, a real-time energy consumption display and and the ability to automatically adjust the climate system, which is said to extend the car’s range. “Through in-house development of software and over-the-air updates, we can constantly improve our cars”, said Sanela Ibrovic, Volvo’s head of connected experience. The Range Assistant app is a great example of how quick development and deployment of new features can improve the Volvo customer experience every day”. The update can be downloaded and installed through the Volvo Cars app and the vehicle’s current software version can be viewed on the central infotainment display. Volvo says the app will be rolled out immediately for XC40 Recharge drivers and the C40 Recharge will receive the update from the start of production. All models will gain the update by the end of October this year. +++

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