Newsflash: Porsche schetst elektrische 911 wordt concreet

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+++ The Geely Technology Group, a subsidiary of Geely, aims to have 5.000 BATTERY SWAPPING STATIONS across China by 2025. The company showcased the technology behind the E-Energee battery swapping service at the 2021 Wuzhen Internet Conference, with the whole process taking less than a minute. The battery swapping program was announced by Geely back in 2017, with more than 1.000 people on the R&D team. The first E-Energee battery-swapping station was built in Chongqing in September 2020, followed by more stations in 10 Chinese provinces in the following year. The goal is to build 5.000 battery-swapping stations across China by 2025, making the service available to more people. What is interesting is that the whole battery-swapping process is completed within 59 seconds, which is an improvement compared to the 90 seconds initially announced. This means that an empty battery can be replaced by a fully charged one in less than a minute, which is significantly faster compared to any charger and even refueling ICE-powered vehicles. Furthermore, thanks to the automatic registration payment service, the driver doesn’t even need to step out of their vehicle. Currently, the service is predominantly used by mobility fleets, providing less downtime for their electric vehicles. The technology sounds quite appealing to EV owners but in order to use it, they would need a compatible vehicle with a specially designed platform. Besides Geely, Chinese automaker NIO is also operating battery-swapping stations and could bring the technology to Europe. Those ones are slower though, completing the battery swap in around 3 minutes. +++

+++ Porsche design chief Michael Mauer has hinted that he has already conceived how the design of a future ELECTRIC 911 could work, but insisted such a model is unlikely to appear before 2030. The Stuttgart firm has long played down talk of an electric version of the classic 2+2, insisting it would be the last Porsche model to go electric due to the emotions attached to its petrol engine and the extra weight of a battery-electric model. When asked about the challenges of producing an electric version similar to the rear-engined 911, Mauer said: “The silhouette of today’s 911 is so iconic, and that has to stay. We’ve proved over the years that the new 911 is always a 911, but it’s a new one. Listening to the engineers now when we talk about combustion engines with the limitations such as exhaust systems, I would have been more worried how I should package this in 10 or 15 years, because it’s most likely the rear overhang would be almost 2 metres. So I’m less worried because this electric technology gives us more freedom. We will see. Maybe with the next generation we still can do a combustion-engine 911. I don’t know. As a designer, we will find solutions”. Asked about Porsche executives saying they could never imagine an electric 911, Mauer said “differing opinions” were part of Porsche’s culture and lead to the best solutions. “I’m part of the group that went from aircooling to watercooling and now we have turbocharged engines”, said Mauer. “Maybe an electric 911 is another story, but purely from a design standpoint, an electric 911 is even easier in the future. I used to say that a 911, as a whole, is 100% emotion. And the flat-6 engine sound is not 100 % of the emotion. It’s the styling, it’s the handling, how it goes around the corner. Electric engines regarding torque and performance offer that: yes, it’s missing the sound, but if you look at young kids today, do they need it? I don’t know”. Although a pure-electric version of the 911 is some years away, a prototype spotted recently at the Nurbürgring suggests the long-promised hybrid model is nearing the end of its development cycle. The current, 992-generation car was engineered from the start to accommodate both mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, with more space built into the rear end to allow for fitment of a small gearbox-integrated electric motor. The capabilities of a plug-in hybrid set-up are not yet known, but it is understood that the company is aiming to achieve approximate performance parity with the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. That car makes a combined 700 hp, can crack the 0-100 kph sprint in 3.2 seconds and delivers a claimed electric range of 50 km. +++

+++ FORD is demonstrating the ability of an electric pickup truck to win over new buyers. In its Q3 earnings report, the automaker revealed that 75 % of reservations for the upcoming F-150 Lightning came from new-to-the-brand customers. That means that at least 112.500 of the F-150 Lightning‘s more than 150.000 reservation holders are new customers for Ford. That could explain why the automaker is spending $850 million to double production. The F-Series trucks continue to do well, in general. Although truck sales are down 22.6 % in September 2021 as compared to September 2020, the F-series has expanded its lead over the competition. Ford reports that the F-Series trucks are more than 100.000 sales ahead of the competition so far this year. That’s 23.487 more than where it was last year. Ford’s overall sales are also down year-to-year in September. A total of 156.614 sales for the month, that meant a decrease of 17.7 % compared to September 2020. The automaker is showing signs of bouncing back, though, following the hardest days of the semiconductor chip shortage. Its sales increased more than 34 % in September 2021, as compared to August 2021. As a result, Ford calls itself the bestselling automaker in America in September. Its strong showing was undoubtedly helped by the fact that it finally had vehicles to sell, as 31 % of its retail sales came from filling orders that had already been made. Signs are also improving for its problem child, the Bronco, as Ford reports that it sent out 200 % more vehicles in September than it did in August when it was still working on a solution for the Bronco’s hardtop roof. Quality issues have apparently been solved for that, so Ford should be ready to send out more and more of them as time goes on. +++

+++ It was over a year ago when JAGUAR LAND ROVER accuses the Volkswagen Group of using its patented off-road technology. The Tata-owned company wanted a sales ban for the German group’s SUVs, which include the Porsche Cayenne, Lamborghini Urus, VW Touareg and several Audi models like the brand’s Q7. This week, JLR and VW came up with a settlement, though details of the settlement are yet to be made public at this point. The settlement apparently came just in time as JLR was about to begin a trial a week after. JLR can potentially earn up to $200 million a year in licensing because of the alleged patent infringement. To recall, JLR is accusing the VW Group of using the former’s patented Terrain Response system that adjusts several vehicle settings at a press of a button (or twist of a knob). The system allows drivers to select a drive mode (Sand, Rock, Crawl or Mud) that then optimises the braking, engine and gearbox parameters for that surface, boosting off-road performance. This system is, of course, equipped in several Land Rover models, as well as the Jaguar F-Pace. JLR wanted the VW Group to stop selling its cars equipped with something similar as this is “Land Rover’s feature and Land Rover’s only”. This isn’t the first time that JLR fires a patent row on the VW Group. Land Rover filed a lawsuit against Bentley in 2018 for a similar issue with its upscale Bentayga. Bentley hasn’t settled that case yet, so a trial is expected to happen in February. A spokesperson from the VW Group declined to comment about the settlement, while JLR’s spokesperson didn’t provide any immediate statement. +++

+++ MERCEDES-BENZ will soon start assembling S-Class models in India for the local market, significantly reducing the price of the luxury sedan. In India, an imported S-Class typically costs between 21.700.000 and 21.900.000 Indian Rupees ($292.000 – $295.000), which is very expensive when you consider that the S-Class starts at roughly $110.000 in the United States. By assembling the S-Class locally as a CKD (Completely Knocked Down) unit, the automaker is expected to reduce the car’s starting price to around 17.500.000 Indian Rupees, or around $235.000. That’s still a lot of money but it is significantly less than before. Details about Indian-built S-Class models remain a little murky but it should come with most of the same features as those exported from overseas markets. As such, things like the new car’s 12.8 inch portrait-oriented infotainment system, 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster, and ambient lighting will all be present. However, some of the more premium features like the S-Class’s 4D Burmester surround sound system and rear seat entertainment screens may not come standard on models built in India. No mechanical changes are expected. As such, the S-Class will continue to be sold in S 400d and S 450 4Matic guises. Both models use 6-cylinder engines with the S 400d pumping out 330 hp and 700 Nm, while the S 450 4Matic delivers 367 hp and 500 Nm. Mercedes-Benz is expected to announce pricing details and specifications for Indian-built S-Class models on October 7. +++

+++ PORSCHE North America has announced its delivery figures for the third quarter of 2021 and while they were down slightly from last year, the automaker is still enjoying a very fruitful year. In the third quarter, Porsche North America delivered a grand total of 15.289 vehicles. That was down 1.7 % from the same period last year, mainly due to the semiconductor shortage. Despite this, deliveries for the first nine months of the year remain at a record high with 51.615 vehicles delivered to customers, 29.9 % higher than the first 9 months of 2020 and higher than the same period in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic. The Macan was the bestselling model from the brand in Q3 with 5.090 units delivered to customers. The Cayenne wasn’t far behind with 4.874 units delivered over the same period. In third spot was the all-electric Taycan with 1.861 units, slightly ahead of the 1.621 units of the 911 that were sold from July-September. Deliveries of the Panamera equated to 1.090 vehicles while a total of 753 Cayman and Boxster models were sent to customers. “Demand is as strong as we’ve ever seen, helped by being able to provide the most complete and attractive experience ever, from the range of fresh, relevant and desirable cars, to the ownership experience and level of personalization we now offer, and to the commitment and expertise of our dealers”, president and chief executive of Porsche North America, Kjell Gruner, said. “We just saw this emotional connection confirmed by the latest J.D. Power APEAL Study of customer experience with a new car, which ranked Porsche as the number one premium brand for the third year in a row”. +++

+++ Developing a road-legal version of an electrified race car is not a walk in the park: just ask Mercedes-AMG about the difficulties it’s having with getting the One ready to hit the streets. The concept debuted in September 2017 and won’t be ready for production until 2022 at the earliest. It’s a similar story at TOYOTA as its GR Super Sport concept from January 2018 won’t morph into a street car anytime soon. A report from August had stated about the possible demise of the road-legal car, with Racer magazine citing undisclosed Japanese sources about a prototype being engulfed in flames after crashing during a test conducted at Fuji Speedway. Because of the fiery incident, Toyota apparently axed the GR Super Sport road car while retaining the race car version. Another journalist got in touch with the company to confirm or deny the report, but the answer provided by Toyota Motorsports Communications representative Sam Mahoney was rather vague: “The GR Super Sport remains a concept at this time while Toyota studies the potential commercialization of this car”. What can we learn from this statement? It looks as though the hypercar for public roads has not been cancelled. However, it hasn’t been approved for production either, so its existence hangs in the balance. The fact Le Mans Hypercar rules don’t actually mandate a road car decreases the chances of production, especially since Peugeot has already ruled out a street version of the 9X8. As a refresher, Toyota Australia’s spokesman Orlando Rodriguez admitted back in August 2018 a potential production version would be at the level of hypercars in terms of performance and asking price. Earlier this year in March, the Japanese automaker set up an online questionnaire for potential GR Super Sport buyers, asking them (among others) about whether they own a 2000GT or a Lexus LFA. It’s still up and running by the way, which could be a sign Toyota hasn’t given up on the ambitious project. The most recent report regarding the hypercar’s technical specifications speculates it could have over 1.000 metric horsepower from a hybrid setup revolved around a V6 engine. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it’s still happening instead of being another GT-One of which just two were made in the late 1990s and never sold to the public. +++

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , new figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reveal that new car sales plummeted 34.4 % year on year in September; traditionally one of the busiest months for the industry. Just 214.312 new cars were registered last month; the lowest September total since the two-plate registration system was introduced in 1999. It is also 44.7 % down on the 10-year average for September. Even last September’s total (328.000 new cars registered) was a 22-year low, brought on by the pandemic-induced dealership and factory shutdowns that curtailed output last year. The setback has been attributed to the ongoing shortage of semiconductor ‘chips’ that has throttled car production globally, leaving many factories idle for months at a time and extending new car lead times by several months. However, the rise in popularity of alternatively fuelled cars continues, with some 32.721 battery-electric cars (BEVs) registered in September; just 5.850 fewer than were registered in the whole of 2019. It was the best month on record for BEV uptake, bringing the segment’s market share up to 15.2 %. It was a relatively strong month for plug-in hybrids, too, which now claim a 6.4 % market share; up 11.5 % over 2020’s share, meaning some 6.4 % of cars registered last month can be driven with the engine off. Demand from private car buyers dropped 25.3 %, with just 120.560 cars purchased by individuals, but it was a 43.1 % decline in fleet sales that had the biggest impact on September’s figures. SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes called the performance “desperately disappointing” but praised the efforts of manufacturers who are “taking every measure possible to maintain deliveries and customers can expect attractive offers on a range of new vehicles”. He added: “Despite these challenges, the rocketing uptake of plug-in vehicles, especially battery electric cars, demonstrates the increasing demand for these new technologies. However, to meet our collective decarbonisation ambitions, we need to ensure all drivers can make the switch – not just those with private driveways – requiring a massive investment in public recharging infrastructure. Charge-point roll-out must keep pace with the acceleration in plug-in vehicle registrations”. The figures come just days after the SMMT revealed the UK’s new car output dipped by 27 % in August, also a result of the chip shortage, and year to date is 32% behind pre-pandemic 2019. Hawes said last week that the situation is “extremely worrying both for the sector and its many thousands of workers nationwide”, and these latest registration figures will only exacerbate concerns. “While not the only factor at play”, he added, “the impact of the semiconductor shortage on manufacturing can’t be overstated. Car makers and their suppliers are battling to keep production lines rolling, with constraints expected to continue well into 2022 and possibly beyond”. After 9 month, the bestselling cars of 2021 in the United Kingdom are: 1. Vauxhall Corsa – 32.616 units, 2. Volkswagen Golf – 26.606, 3. Ford Fiesta – 26.360, 4. Ford Puma – 26.129, Mercedes-Benz A-Class – 24.944, 6. Volkswagen Polo – 24.422, 7. Kia Sportage – 24.400, 8. Toyota Yaris – 23.969, 9. BMW 3 Series – 23.253 and 10. Nissan Qashqai – 22.535. +++

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