Newsflash: Chevrolet tast respons op elektrische Corvette af

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+++ AUDI India is reported to have launched a study evaluating the feasibility of localizing electric car manufacture for the Indian market. However, the German automaker is planning to lobby the Indian government for temporary tax concessions beforehand. At the moment, imported cars are hit with a 60–110 percent import duty. By seeking some relief, Audi wishes to further drive and incentivize electrification, which will help better gauge demand for domestic EV production. Audi’s Indian head, Balbir Singh Dhillon, said: “We will be requesting the government if they could give us a window of 3–5 years of tax sops, which will allow us to create a decent scale and explore localization”. We’ve heard a similar line from Tesla earlier this year. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, said on Twitter that an Indian factory was “quite likely” if the company was successful in its lobbying efforts, and it’s understood that the government was considering such a move. Although India lacks the EV framework that has been pushed and adopted by other countries, the nation is keen to reduce pollution in major cities. However, any reductions in import tax are likely to be opposed by India’s domestic manufacturers, some of whom continue to sell unsafe vehicles to the Indian public. Many have already called for the proposed deadline of 2022 for stricter emissions and economy regulations to be extended. Despite shaky footing for electric cars in India, Audi’s launch of their e-Tron range appears to have been a success. The first and second batches of the electric vehicles, which includes the e-Tron, the e-Tron Sportback and the e-Tron GT, have already sold out, with the Indian arm only able to accept orders for a February 2022 delivery onward. +++

+++ The colossal twin nostril grille dominating the front of the super-SUV that BMW teased last week ahead of the LA Auto Show wasn’t the only controversial thing about it. Calling the standalone X8-based XM concept raised some eyebrows among folks who remember the wedgy 1990s Citroen of the same name. It’s not like anyone is likely to confuse a 700 hp SUV with a cultish French luxury saloon, but it’s still unusual for one carmaker to directly lift a name from another. Who remembers when Ford sued Ferrari over the use of its truck name on an F1 car? According to Citroën, the 2 carmakers have embarked on a mutual back-scratching exercise that allows each brand license to directly borrow badges, or use names that tread uncomfortably close to the other’s territory. Here’s what a Citroën source told: “BMW’s use of the XM name is the result of constructive dialogue between Citroën and BMW, so it’s been well discussed and considered. Effectively it’s the result of a ‘gentlemen agreement’ reflecting Citroën’s introduction of a new model combining an X and a number, namely C5 X (think BMW X5), and BMW’s desire to associate their X name with their Motorsport universe, bearing the famous M signature. Citroën keeps the right to use X in names such as CX, AX, ZX, Xantia, Xsara…and XM”. Which means that Citroen is allowing BMW to use the name, but also retains the ability to use it on one of its own cars, though given Citroen’s current naming strategy, that’s unlikely to happen. Technically, of course, to maintain continuity with cars like the M3, M4 and M5, BMW’s monster hybrid truck should be called MX, much like the M-lite X5M should really have been called the MX5. But while Citroen’s XM hasn’t been in production for over 20 years, Mazda, which has both an MX-5 and MX-30 in its current portfolio probably wouldn’t be quite so accommodating. +++

+++ CADILLAC ’s flagship electric sedan, the Celestiq, will be unveiled early in 2022. Although details are still sketchy, the new sedan promises to be extremely luxurious. The reveal of the Celestiq may take place at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Running from January 5-8 in Las Vegas, CES has quickly become a favorite among automakers hoping to position themselves as tech-forward “mobility” brands. As a highly luxurious and technologically advanced EV, the upcoming Celestiq would fit right in. Based on the Ultium Platform, the Celestiq is expected to show the full potential of the platform, which is capable of taking a vehicle up to 640 km per charge. So far, we’ve also seen a Mercedes-Hyperscreen-like infotainment screen, and a sunroof made of glass that can be made more or less opaque as the mood strikes you. Indeed, as a flagship model, it will bear a flagship price, and reports suggest that the vehicle may cost upwards of $200,000. Development of the Celestiq actually predates the Ultium platform, somewhat surprisingly. Long intended as proof of everything the Cadillac brand is capable of, the Celestiq was initially supposed to have an internal combustion engine. The automaker was always “aiming for the moon” with the Celestiq, though, and had always envisioned it as a “high-technology, high-priced, hand-built” flagship. As befits such a car, production is expected to be highly limited and the materials that make it up will be exquisite. +++

+++ While everyone’s eyes are on the recently revealed Z06, CORVETTEcustomers report receiving a survey from General Motors that may hint to an all-electric variant sometime in the future. Customers received a survey tracking their interest in an “electric sport vehicle”, as well as their feelings about performance features that could be downloaded and over-the-air updates. Although no owner has published a full list of the questions asked by GM, they do report answering questions about features like a “manuever [sic] coach, the interactive track checklist, and the upgraded PDR integration” that could be offered as a service. Curiously, they also report answering a question about a “stealth mode one could control from their phone”. Although the owner who reported answering the question called it a great idea, they did find it a curious feature, since an EV doesn’t really make much noise in the first place. It is unclear, therefore, if the questions related to an electric Corvette, or just features the brand is planning for its performance cars in general. Some of the other forum users were less positive about the features, or the idea of an electric Corvette, at all. One user, in fact, said they would “go back to a horse before I bought any electric car!” That poster may soon have to start building their hay stores, though, since GM has committed to releasing 30 new electric vehicles globally and investing $35 billion in EVs by 2025. Moreover, some of its brands, like Cadillac, will be EV only by 2030. It is widely reported that Chevrolet already has plans to release a plug-in hybrid version of the C8 Corvette called the E-Ray. It’s expected to make around 650 hp and to be a grand touring-style hybrid sports car, not an all-electric model as is allegedly being proposed in the survey. +++

+++ The HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP said it would test its Level 4 autonomous driving system in downtown Seoul under its new mobility service “RoboRide”, using its fully electric compact Ioniq 5 as early as next year. The Korean auto giant said running RoboRide will be set the grounds for the company’s advancement of self-driving tech, in a step toward the commercialization of uncrewed mobility services. “We’ve been developing autonomous driving technology for all to move around based on our philosophy of general safety and selective convenience”, said Jang Woong-jun, head of Hyundai Motor Group’s autonomous driving center, during a press conference at Seoul Mobility Show 2021. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers International, of 5 levels of driving automation, Level 4 refers to a vehicle driving itself under limited conditions, while Level 5 is driving on its own in any conditions. Global carmakers have been racing to commercialize self-driving uncrewed vehicles, but only few of them such as GM have managed to get permission from the authorities and begin test driving. The Hyundai Motor Group is currently working with US autonomous vehicle company Motional and ride-hailing app Lyft to launch a Level 4 self-driving mobility service for the public in 2023. While details on RoboRide’s operation will be unveiled early next year, the automaker said the new mobility service will drive based on self-control for all road situations except some cases such as a sudden traffic jam. A simulation video unveiled by Hyundai Motor shows a vehicle reading traffic lights, changing lanes, making a U-turn, turning right or left and controlling the system after recognizing road obstacles such as through reducing the speed. Uniquely designed by the automaker to fit local road situations for self-driving, Ioniq 5 has “inherited the Pony’s bold design as a perfect partner to expand the realm of personal mobility to a self-driving sector”, according to Simon Loasby, head of Hyundai Style Group. +++

+++ China’s Dongfeng Motor has decided to end its tie-up with KIA established in 2002 to produce and sell cars in China. Dongfeng said that it is selling its 25-percent stake in the joint venture Dongfeng Yueda Kia. The Chinese automaker’s stake was worth W20.8 billion when the it launched the joint venture but is now valued at around W55.3 billion, increasing just 2.7 times over nearly 2 decades (US$1=W1,189). Chinese media reported that Kia is expected to buy Dongfeng out, but a Kia source said, “Nothing has been decided”. Dongfeng Yueda Kia sold 650.000 cars in 2016 to rank 11th in China, but sales plummeted amid a Chinese boycott of Korean goods and services the following year and never recovered, reaching just 130.000 in the first 10 months of this year. Cumulative losses total around W1.68 trillion. +++

+++ The first RIVIAN vehicle rolled off the production line earlier this month, and now, 3 weeks later, owners have finally received official delivery windows from the electric startup. The news comes from the Rivian Forums, which showed a letter to an owner confirming when their vehicle would be delivered. The letter explained that delivery window assignment was based on factors such as vehicle configuration, delivery location, and pre-order date. It also noted that pre-order holders that equipped their Adventure or Explore Package will receive a delivery window before the year’s end, assuming they haven’t already got one yet. A poll on the forum also broke down the distribution of delivery windows, and here’s what it showed. The majority of R1T owners (78.9 %) indicated that they were set to receive their truck sometime between March and June of 2022. From those, most were looking at 3 two-month windows, with the most popular one being March-April at 17.7 % of the total responses and 27.0 % of R1T responses. As for the R1S, there were fewer answers (202 compared to 385 for the R1T), but most owners (76.2 %) indicated that they would receive their SUV sometime between May and September of 2022. Unlike the R1T, though, this range was made up of 2 two-month windows and one 3-month window, the most popular of which was July-September at 11.7 % of the total responses and 33.2 % of R1S responses. It might have taken a while, but it’s refreshing to see Rivian actually delivering vehicles instead of going down in the books as yet another vaporware EV startup. +++

+++ SAIC GM WULING is selling its popular electric minicars in Indonesia from 2022, which will be the first overseas market for the Sino-US joint venture’s models built on its mini-EV platform. The first model to arrive in the Southeast Asian nation will be one built on its GSEV platform for global markets, said Wuling said. It did not offer details. The carmaker also declined to say whether it will export the vehicles from China to Indonesia or build them at its local plant in Cikarang, western Java. The plant, with an investment of $700 million, has a designed production capacity of 120.000 vehicles per year. Wuling rose to fame in the EV sector last year because of its two-seater Hongguang Mini EV, which once dethroned Tesla’s Model 3 as the world’s best-selling electric vehicle model. The model and other GSEV-based vehicles have been very successful in China, with total deliveries exceeding 650.000 units sold so far, according to company statistics. A representative at the company said over 200 dealers from 70 countries and regions have expressed interest in the Hongguang Mini EV model. Wuling showcased two GSEV-based models at Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show earlier this month, which many see as a prelude to its entry into the country in 2022. One of the two models was the popular Wuling Hongguang Mini EV and the other, the four-seat Baojun KiWi EV. “The GSEV’s introduction by Wuling at GIIAS 2021 represents our commitment to support the Indonesian government’s program to accelerate vehicle electrification”, said Han Dehong, vice-president of Wuling’s operations in Indonesia, in an interview with local media. Indonesia, as the largest vehicle market in Southeast Asia, is expecting companies to start EV production from 2022 and the share of EV output to reach 20 percent of total car production by 2025, according to a government plan. +++

+++ The popularity of small SUVs in emerging markets has caused many automakers to enter the segment. SUZUKI is planning such an SUV variant of the next-generation Swift. What is even more interesting is that this new high-riding model will be allegedly based on the performance-focused Swift Sport. Earlier reports suggested that the new generation of the Swift will launch sometime in 2022, despite the fact that the current model received a facelift in 2020. The new Swift will reportedly be based on an improved version of Suzuki’s Heartect platform and have an evolutionary approach in terms of styling and proportions. The Swift Sport variant is expected to arrive in spring 2023, fitted with a powertrain similar to the current hot hatch which spots a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine and a 48 volt mild-hybrid system. It will likely have a sportier design communicating its hot hatch credentials and the stiffer suspension setup. The same platform and powertrain will reportedly serve as the base for the Swift Cross with a rumored debut in 2024. This would likely feature higher ground clearance and plastic cladding on the bodywork as well as skid plates for a more adventurous look. The possibly taller body would also bring more practicality inside the cabin which is a must for SUV buyers. The Swift Sport’s punchy turbocharged powertrain sounds like a better fit for a Swift Cross than the mild-hybrid and naturally aspirated 1.2-liter engine of the base model. While straight-line performance could be similar to the hot hatch, the SUV will likely offer a plushier ride since it is destined to be a less hardcore offering compatible with light offroading. In this context, Suzuki could offer it with the AllGrip AWD system, enhancing its capabilities off the beaten track but since it would add complexity and costs, it might be an option. The assumption that Suzuki is considering a Swift Cross sounds plausible since a model like that could bridge the gap between the 3.700 mm  long Suzuki Ignis and the larger Vitara which is measuring 4.175 mm. Another scenario that I could think of concerning the Swift Cross would be a rebadged version of the Toyota Yaris Cross with full-hybrid technology. The 2 companies are already doing that with the Suzuki Swace (Toyota Corolla Sport Tourer) and the Suzuki Across (Toyota RAV4), although this type of collaboration could be limited to larger vehicles. After all, Suzuki is well known for its expertise in small cars. In any case, nothing can be confirmed at this point since Suzuki has given no indication whatsoever that such a model could be on the cards. +++

+++ Workers at TESLA ’s plant near Berlin, Germany, will elect a works council to represent their interests, Germany’s IG Metall trade union said. The union said 7 employees have taken the first step towards setting up a works council and are planning to choose an election committee on November 29. The actual election of the works council will not take place particularly soon, though. The plant is expected to employ a total of 12.000 workers, but only about a sixth of that have so far been hired. “A works council ensures that the interests of the workforce have a voice and a weight. This is in line with the democratic work culture in Germany”, said Birgit Dietze, IG Metall’s district leader in Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony. IG Metall says that applicants have told it that Tesla is offering to pay 20 percent below the collectively bargained wages offered at other German automakers. The automaker is also bucking German trends by offering packages with stock options and bonuses rather than predetermined holiday pay. Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, have gained a reputation for their opposition to organized labor. The automaker’s American workers are not union-represented and in 2018, Musk threatened to take their stock options if they formed a union, in a tweet that he was later ordered to delete. Musk has also expressed his frustration with German laws, blaming red tape for delays at the factory that has been investigated for diverting wastewater to a nearby aquifer and underpaying construction workers at the plant. +++

+++ VOLVO announced that its venture capital arm, Volvo Cars Tech Fund, has invested in Spectralics, an optics and imaging technology startup. Volvo says its investment will give it early access to Spectralics’ multi-layered thin combiner (MLTC). This is a new type of thin optics film applicable to see-through surfaces that, when integrated, can overlay imagery on the glass. This means that when applied on a vehicle’s windshield, it can be used as a heads-up display (HUD) that spans from one side of the car to the other. This would open up new possibilities for augmented reality technology that could give drivers a sense of distance as virtual objects are superimposed onto the road. “Spectralics is an exciting company with technology that holds truly great promise”, said Henrik Green, chief product officer at Volvo Cars. “By supporting their development, we can bring forward the potential their products could have in future Volvo cars”. Beyond that, Volvo also proposes using the technology for in-cabin sensing, blind-proof front-looking cameras, and digital holographic projections. “This investment is another result of our successful collaboration with MobilityXlab and Drive, and it deepens our relationship with these innovation partners,” said Lee Ma, head of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund. “Spectralics is a good portfolio fit for us and we believe that their technology has the potential to set a standard for the next generation of displays and cameras”. Spectralics is an Israel-based company whose work has mainly been focused on aerospace. The company first came to Volvo’s attention at the MobilityXLab program in Gothenburg, Sweden, an accelerator for promising startups that Volvo has been a leading partner in since 2017. “We are proud to partner with a progressive technology leader like Volvo Cars”, said Ran Bar-Yosef, co-founder and chief executive officer of Spectralics. “We identify multiple touch-points with Volvo Cars’ vision in the ecosystem and recognize future Volvos as the right fit for new technologies”. +++

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