Newsflash: Audi RS6 Avant krijgt 646 pk sterke elektrische opvolger

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+++ In July 2019, AUDI presented the A1 Citycarver as an extension of the company’s Allroad family of adventure-friendly vehicles. It is a small hatchback with off-road optics and a slightly raised suspension. It seems that the Germans could add yet another high-riding model to its lineup. For now, we will simply call it the A3 Allroad, though that name is still unconfirmed. A lifted A3 Sportback with a camouflage covering the lower section of its body was recently seen being tested. It is expected to be positioned between the A3 Sportback and the Q3. Expect some sort of plastic cladding around the wheel arches. The protective covering will extend to the front bumper and there will also be wider side skirts. This prototype which was caught being tested was most likely powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain judging by the charging port on the front left fender. Also, it has roof rails which are not standard equipment on the regular A3. The A1 Citycarver has a suspension that is lifted by 35 mm compared to the A1 hatchback and the same treatment could be applied to the A3 as well. Model-specific wheels and potentially an all-wheel-drive system could also be part of the mix, though, again, nothing can be confirmed for now. I expect the lifted A3 to join the range at some point towards the second half of the year. This is an early prediction, though, and Audi’s plan could be different. +++

+++ AUDI has confirmed that starting from 2026 ,they will only be launching fully electric vehicles, gradually phasing out their ICE-powered models. This also applies to Audi Sport’s range, with the e-Tron S and the RS e-Tron GT already showing some potential. But what lies the future for the popular RS6 Avant? It is suggested that Audi Sport could be working on a future RS6 e-Tron for 2023, coming together with the production version of the A6 e-Tron concept that premiered last spring. Measuring 4.96 meter long, the concept is similarly sized to the current A6 sedan which is expected to indirectly replace in the future going against the likes of the upcoming BMW i5, and the Mercedes-Benz EQE. Audi bosses have all but confirmed that an estate version is on the way, making a case for an RS6 Avant. Sharing the PPE architecture with the Audi Q6 e-tron and the Porsche Macan, it is inevitable for the A6 e-Tron to get performance variants, effectively replacing the current S6 and RS6. The concept came fitted with a 100 kW battery, and a dual motor setup producing a combined 476 hp and 800 Nm. This level of performance brings it above the current S6 which produces up to 450 hp and 600 Nmfrom the twin-turbo 2.9-liter TSFI V6 engine. However, as quick as it is, the A6 e-Tron concept is no match for the current RS6 flagship which comes fitted with the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 producing 600 hp and 800 Nm. Those figures are surprisingly close to what the larger RS e-Tron GT is offering, with a combined output of 598 hp and 830 Nm, which goes up to 646 hp in overboost function. This electric powertrain sounds like a great fit for the upcoming RS6 e-Tron, giving it enough grunt to face rivals from BMW M and Mercedes-AMG. Unlike the current generation RS6 which features a redesigned body sharing only the front doors, roof, and tailgate with the A6/S6 range, the RS6 e-tron will likely look more similar to the base A6 e-tron. A similar strategy was followed by the e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT flagship sedans, and the result is rather sporty thanks to Audi’s latest design language. What is more important for RS6 buyers, the electric successor would offer plenty of practicality, since the packaging of the electric architecture will result in a more spacious cabin and possibly an increased cargo space. +++

+++ FORD of Europe’s car boss, Roelant de Waard, will retire at the end of this year after 30 years’ service to the company. His replacement hasn’t yet been announced. The Dutchman has overseen Ford’s recent European transformation after a turbulent few years, culminating in the company’s plans, announced earlier this year, to become fully electric by 2030. It has also promised that every model in its European line-up will be available as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or electric vehicle (EV) by the middle of 2026. The company also committed $1 billion to the renovation of its headquarters in Cologne, Germany, including the conversion of its existing Fiesta assembly plant to a state-of-the-art EV production line for its “first European-built, volume, all-electric passenger vehicle for European customers” in 2023. Ford of Europe president Stuart Rowley said: “Roelant has been an outstanding leader at Ford and that was never truer than over the past years, being responsible for defining the Passenger Vehicle strategy in a time when electrification represents the most transformative change of our industry in over 100 years”. De Waard joined Ford Netherlands in 1990 before moving to head office in Dearborn, Michigan, US, in 1996. He returned to Europe in 1999 and became managing director of Ford of Britain from 2006 to 2008. He has held the role of Passenger Vehicles general manager at Ford of Europe since 2019. +++

+++ GENERAL MOTORS (GM) has appointed a leading company executive to front its ventures into the European market, leveraging its global strategy in the areas of mobility, autonomy and electric vehicles. Mahmoud Samara, currently the vice-president of sales, service and marketing for Cadillac North America, will become the president and managing director of GM Europe from 1 December. GM hasn’t had a significant presence in Europe since Opel-Vauxhall was sold to the PSA Group in February 2017. “Mahmoud comes to this role with a really impressive track record in delivering a world-class customer experience, as well as growing sales in the North America Cadillac business”, said GM senior vice-president Steve Kiefer. “His mission is to transform our current operations into a non-traditional mobility start-up in the region, identifying entrepreneurial opportunities to commercialise our global growth strategy investments in Europe. We will make very deliberate decisions about where and how we compete in Europe”. Samara has held a position at GM since 2004 and has headed the sale of some 200.000 Cadillac vehicles in North America. “We will transform our current operations in Europe into an agile mobility start-up which will focus on leveraging GM’s global investment in the areas of EVs, autonomous vehicles, mobility, software-enabled services and many more”, Samara said. “Our business will span the major markets of Europe”. “We have big aspirations in Europe, as it’s the second-largest and fastest-growing EV market. I’m confident that the investments we are making today in GM’s global growth strategy will enable us to compete and win in Europe”. GM will look to invest $35 billion globally into electric and autonomous vehicles by 2025, with plans to contribute to Europe-specific environmental objectives. “We will be a non-traditional player and will be very deliverabte about where and how we compete, playing to our strengths, offering unique mobility products to and services to customers in Europe”, Samara said. +++

+++ MERCEDES is readying an update to its range-topping GLS 7-seat SUV. The facelift will bring styling tweaks and an infotainment upgrade to keep the GLS competitive with its rivals. On the design front the changes will be minimal. The front end of the car looks unchanged, and the Maybach’s smattering of chrome trim remains. The front bumper body protection is finished in chrome, as is the mesh for the lower grille and the grille surrounds. The enormous, Maybach-specific radiator grille is retained, too, with a set of thin vertical bars in place of the standard car’s horizontal ones. The grille is flanked by a pair of Multibeam LED headlights of the same design as the current car. This pre-production example is fitted with 22 inch alloy wheels, along with chrome trim on the sills and side windows. The Maybach D-pillar badge is missing from this test model, but will likely be applied to finished production models. The only meaningful design change will be at the rear and the car we spied wears heavy camouflage over its rear lights and tailgate, suggesting that the facelifted car could receive a new set of tail-lights. Elsewhere, there’s a gloss black lower bumper with chrome body protection and a thin chrome trim accent, all of which are shared with the outgoing Maybach. Inside, the GLS line-up will be brought into line with Mercedes’s latest models, featuring a new steering wheel with a double spoke design similar to that used in the S-Class luxury saloon. The infotainment system will also be upgraded to Mercedes’ latest MBUX set-up. It’s unlikely that the new portrait-orientated touchscreen that debuted on the S-Class will make its way to the SUV, but the new GLS could receive the latest ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice assistant tech and upgraded computing hardware. A new stereoscopic 3D instrument panel, as used in the S-Class, may be on the cards however. Under the skin, the new Maybach GLS is likely to be fitted with the same 4.0-litre AMG-built twin-turbocharged V8 engine, with 48 volt mild-hybrid assistance. Currently, this produces 557 hp and a healthy 730Nm, but with plenty of headroom in the output of the engine in this specification, the facelifted Maybach GLS might receive a power increase for more effortless cruising and improved performance. +++

+++ RENAULT has signalled that the iconic 4L will be reborn, confirming that a new concept car taking the model into “the future” will be revealed on 26 November. The concept’s debut will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the original 4’s launch in 1961. That model sold more than 8 million units during its extraordinary production run, which lasted until 1992. The production version of the Air4 is touted to corner the same niche as its predecessor, as a small, cheap and utilitarian means of transport, but using electric power. It should also be more practical than Renault’s current EVs, sporting a large boot, a pared-back cabin and potential scope for a commercial van variant. Pictures of a proposed Renault 4 design have also been uncovered on a trademarking website, as well as a new version of the Renault logo featuring the number 4, adding further authority to the rumours that a production model is on the way. The new Renault 4 will join the reinvented Renault 5 in the brand’s retro-themed electric car line-up and, judging by this teaser video, it’ll retain plenty of the original car’s design cues, sharing the classic car’s boxy shape, round headlamps and upright front end. The concept also features a pair of led daytime running lights, which frames the space that was occupied by the original car’s radiator grille. However, it’s possible that the Air4 concept may not be a car with four wheels, but will be a flying car concept of some sorts, developed with the assistance of mobility company TheArsenale. The new Renault 4 is part of an aggressive push towards electrification; Renault is already gearing up to launch its all-new, pure-electric Mégane next year, and says it will introduce a total of 10 new EVs by 2025. 7 of them will be Renaults, and the other 3 are likely to be Alpines, as the sports car brand moves to full electrification from 2024. Renault believes it will have the greenest sales mix in Europe by the middle of this decade, when over 65 percent of its line-up will be fully electric or electrified. And it says up to 90 percent of its models will be pure-electric by 2030. The brand’s chief executive officer Luca De Meo recently confirmed that there would be more retro-inspired models in the future line-up after the well received launch of the Renault 5 Prototype. “There have been so many products that made history, so it would be a pity not to reconnect with that long history and tradition. “We’re not here to only look in the rear-view mirror, we’re here to reinvent things and I think the Renault 5 is a good example”, he told. “A lot of people say to me, ‘why are you doing retro design?’ This is not retro design, it’s just reinvention of a concept. In our library we have a lot of things that we can reinvent”. When the original R5 was launched, it borrowed its mechanicals from the R4. This time around, though, the roles are expected to be reversed. The upcoming Renault 4 is expected to use the same CMF-BEV platform as the hatchback to help keep costs down. Renault has hinted of a maximum range of 400 km for cars using its CMF-BEV platform, which has been designed specifically for cheap, small electric cars and comes with a standardised 136 hp electric motor. Traditionally the R4 was priced slightly below the R5, but with the cost of the technology and Renault hinting at a sub €30.000 price for the R5, I’d expect Renault to aim for similar prices for its retro twins. If the concept is well received, De Meo could give the project the green light to go on sale shortly after the new 5’s debut, meaning first deliveries in late 2023 or early 2024. What do Renault 4 fans think? I asked members of a Renault 4 forum what they thought of Renault’s plans to revive the nameplate. “It will be interesting to see what aspects of the original Renault 4 the new car will use”, said one. “The original was proper French out-of-the-box thinking. It was one of the first small hatchbacks, one of the first cars with a maintenance-free cooling system, it had folding rear seats and a fold-down front seat in the van”. “The original R4 was cheap to buy and run and was very practical”, commented another. “It had more boot space than the average estate, and there were some great practical touches. The car was cute and it became classless”. “A new Renault 4 would have to be practical, innovative and cute”, said one user. “It will need to find a way to appeal to everyone”. “Should the new car show clean-sheet French automotive thinking it’s going to be brilliant”, believed another. “If it’s somewhat derivative it won’t have the spirit of the original, but hopefully it will still be really cool”. +++

+++ It has only been a few days since RIVIAN became a publicly-traded company and at the time of writing, its market valuation had exceeded $130 billion, making it the world’s fifth most-valuable automaker behind Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and BYD. Prior to going public, Rivian raised billions of dollars through private investors, including Ford. However, while Ford currently owns roughly 12 per cent of Rivian, arch-rival General Motors was close to inking a deal with Rivian before the Blue Oval made its investment. A report reveals that Ford’s former president of global operations, Joe Hinrichs, met with Rivian founder and chief executive R.J. Scaringe in 2018. Ford was eager to invest in Rivian and wanted to use its skateboard platform for a future EV of its own. A few months later, Scaringe met with General Motors chief executive Mary Barra and president Mark Reuss. GM was also keen to invest in the startup. But Ford executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. met with Scaringe soon after the GM meeting. Scaringe admitted that Rivian was in late-stage talks with GM during a subsequent meeting with Hinrichs but Ford wasn’t willing to let its rival get first dibs on the budding automaker, prompting Hinrichs to state “just because you got engaged to someone doesn’t mean you need to marry them”. Rivian executives ultimately decided that the terms proposed by Ford were more flexible and in April 2019, Ford announced that it was investing $500 million in Rivian. It has gradually increased its investments and now holds a stake of around 12 per cent. The initial $500 million was a huge deal, particularly since Ford was under pressure from Wall Street after missing its earnings targets at the time. However, it has proven to be a very smart investment and at current market rates, Ford’s stake in Rivian is worth around $16 billion. +++

+++ As more and more EV startups emerge the term “ TESLA Killer ” is often thrown around, however the firm’s Head of Investor Relations, Martin Viecha, insists the real competition remains internal combustion engine vehicles. Viecha took to Twitter to state that over 90 % of vehicles sold this year will be traditionally powered and that this is Tesla’s main concern. For the past 5 years, I’ve been asked some version of “and what about all the competitors” pretty much daily. Well over 90% of cars sold *this year* will be ICEs. It’s the ICEs that lose share to *all* competitive EVs. It’s surprising that this is still not an established view. Tesla is clearly of the viewpoint that more electric competition is a good thing. After all, CEO Elon Musk has reiterated many times that he hopes Tesla will motivate the rest of the industry to transition to electric. More companies making more EVs ultimately means greater choice for the consumer, which is a good thing. And with the majority of the market still making petrol, diesel and mild hybrid vehicles there’s clearly plenty of opportunity for newcomers like NIO, Lucid and Rivian to emerge in the growing EV space. This view is shared as well. Lucid Motors CEO Peter Rawlinson (an ex-Tesla employee) has often spoken about how the Air saloon aims to compete with the Mercedes S-Class and not other EVs like the Tesla Model S. Now that the EQS is here that’s probably an Air competitor too, but the point still stands: Lucid is looking at directly targeting non-EVs. And with continued advances meaning EV range and pricing is getting closer and closer to that of ICE vehicles, they have good reason to do so. +++

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