Newsflash: Nissan komt met 15 nieuwe elektrische auto’s


+++ Let’s start with what we know. Earlier this month,  trademark applications by CADILLAC were discovered, submitted to various agencies in the U.S. and Europe to reserve the names Vistiq, Lumistiq and Escalade IQL. Now, before the month is out, another pair of trademark applications are found that Cadillac has submitted to gain exclusive rights to the names Ascendiq and Escalade IQ. Sticking with what we know, the suffix -iq, as in Lyriq and Celestiq (pronounced “ik”, not “eek”), indicates Cadillac’s coming lineup of battery-electric vehicles. That starts with the Lyriq crossover early next year, then the Celestiq flagship sedan in 2023. The all-electric Escalade is due by 2025. I assume an Escalade IQ and a longer version called the Escalade IQL will be battery-electric twins for the current ICE-powered Escalade and Escalade ESV. They are 3 of the 6 electrified vehicles I’m expecting from Cadillac by the end of 2025. Moving on to what I suspect, 2 of the other 3 are crossovers, the last has only been referred to as a “low-roof” EV. In July 2020, GM applied to trademark the names Symboliq and Optiq. It had been thought that these would be the 2 coming crossovers, but a check with the United States Trademark and Patent Office showed both trademarks dead at the time of writing. GM does have an open brand mark application for “optiq”, but it’s not classified with motor vehicles, it’s for a downloadable software application. As I’ve written many times before, applications don’t mean we’ll ever see the name or product being applied for. With that out of the way, we do have 3 remaining mysterious Cadillac vehicles and 3 names: Vistiq, Lumistiq and Ascendiq. I also have a question: Will this be too much iq? Many of us have applauded brands abandoning alphanumerics on their cars for proper names because it could finally mean clear distinctions between one vehicle and another. If all the names are going to pull from the same or similar phonemes, this could end up being like meeting 5 siblings named Barry, Mary, Terry, Larry and Gary. And we know how jokey and cruel that can get. So stay tuned. +++

+++  DAIMLER is confident that it can continue to grow sales in China next year and believes it can also increase its EV sales. Mercedes-Benz’s sales in China jumped 12 percent throughout 2020 to a record 774.000 despite the pandemic. It has also registered sales growth of 8 percent this year and while speaking with members of the media, Daimler China boss Hubertus Troska said 2022 should be just as fruitful: “Everything speaks for the fact that China will be a super market next year as well”. Troska acknowledges that Mercedes-Benz’s sales of electric vehicles remain small in China, although this is partly because most Chinese automakers are selling EVs much cheaper than the German brand. However, with plans for Daimler to increase the number of EV models it sells locally from one to five next year, it will be able to better position itself in the premium EV segment. A key part of Daimler’s plans for the Chinese market are for it to introduce a new EV in 2024. It is understood that this model will be built exclusively in China and if it proves popular, it could be exported overseas. Daimler doesn’t plan on ditching internal combustion engines, however. According to Troska, combustion-powered vehicles will remain popular in large areas of the country beyond urban centers where there is less charging infrastructure. “It’s a huge country, so in my view there will still be internal combustion engine cars in China for some time”, he said. +++

+++ Following GENERAL MOTORS ’ attempt to reinstate a civil case, the collection of Stellantis brands formerly defined by the FCA conglomerate has accused its Detroit rival of corporate espionage. GM denies the claim. After FCA pleaded guilty to bribing UAW officials, GM launched a civil case claiming “billions” of dollars in damages for allegedly corrupting negotiations to harm it. The case was thrown out as the court felt GM couldn’t adequately show how the automaker was harmed. Recently, though, it requested that the court reconsider the case. In response, the former FCA brands accused of corporate espionage. “The only corporate espionage apparent on the face of GM’s Proposed Second Amended Complaint is that perpetrated by GM and its counsel in retaining private investigators to spoof the ’email addresses’ of former FCA employees in emails sent to ‘financial institutions’ around the globe”, FCA’s lawyer, Thomas Cranmer, wrote in the company’s response to GM’s request. FCA also says that its rival’s second legal action shows that its lawyers impersonated former FCA employees in emails to prove the existence of foreign bank accounts. That is known as “spoofing” or “pretexting”, which it says violates Michigan’s Rules of Professional Conduct. GM claims, though, that FCA is now trying to misrepresent its action. “FCA’s press release and latest court filing misstate the factual allegations set forth in GM’s amended complaint and misrepresent the lawful and proper actions undertaken in an effort to seek redress for the damage caused to it by Defendants’ years-long bribery scheme”, a GM spokesperson said in a statement. GM says it will continue to pursue all available legal avenues to “hold FCA accountable for the damage it caused GM”. +++

+++ After much acclaim surrounding its conceptual debut back in March, the LEXUS LF-Z Electrified is shaping up to be one slick battery electric vehicle. The mid-sized crossover that is rumored to wear the RZ 450e moniker after Lexus trademarked the name in the U.S., Europe and Australia, spearheads a significant push to electrify the brand’s lineup with many new BEV’s, self-charging hybrids and plug-in hybrid models. The production LF-Z will also be the first Lexus to use a dedicated EV platform that promises better packaging efficiencies and a svelte new design direction. But what else can we expect? Let’s take a  presumption and explore everything else we know to date. Like the concept, the production variant will be a stunner, with futuristic styling that is luxurious, sleek and well-sculptured. The shark-nosed front end makes its best Gene Simmons impression with a body-colored, reverse spindle grille flanked by textured side inlays that cascade down from the LED headlamps. Viewing from the side reveals a low-slung, 5-door coupe profile with a 2-tone roof. A concave character line sweeps up from the front fenders into the rear doors, while pop-out ‘E-latch’ door handles cement the innovative aesthetic. Out back, the LF-Z wears a full-width LED tail light cluster and an integrated hatchback spoiler for a powerful stance. Lexus interiors are known for superb craftsmanship, and the LF-Z ups the ante with sublime detailing mixed with impressive levels of occupant space. While the concept’s yoke steering controls are unlikely to carry over into production, the strategically minimalist styling and human-centered approach to ergonomics will. The cabin will also be a tech-fest with a vast array of goodies. These include a wraparound digital instrument cluster, digital key, augmented reality heads-up display (HUD) and an infotainment display that incorporates AI-assisted voice commands. The latter can learn preferred routes and commonly frequented places although, understandably, some may want that feature switched off. The production version of the Lexus LF-Z Electrified Concept will ride on the same e-TNGA platform as the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, unlike the UX 300e that uses an existing hybrid platform. So the LF-Z will be the first Lexus underpinned by a dedicated EV architecture. Shared with Toyota’s bZ4X BEV and its Subaru Solterra twin, the new e-TNGA platform promises a dynamic driving experience due to the underfloor 90kWh lithium-ion battery and its lower center of gravity. Lexus markets the LF-Z’s powertrain and torque vectoring management under the ‘Direct4’ banner. This system features dual electric motors (one on each axle), feeding power to the front, rear, or all four wheels depending on the driving situation. It also has advanced steer-by-wire technology, which changes steering feel and stability at various driving speeds. While power figures remain a tight secret, the concept sported 536 hp, resulting in a blisteringly 0-100 km/h time of 3 seconds. While the production Toyota bZ4X is offered with a 204 hp single electric motor or a 218 hp twin electric motor setup, it’s safe to assume that Lexus will want to stand out with more powerful offerings and justify its premium pricing. WLTP range will exceed 600 km and it will offer DC fast-charging capabilities of up to 150 kW. Potential battery-electric competitors could include Tesla’s Model Y, Audi Q4 e-tron, Genesis GV60, BMW iX, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Jaguar I-Pace, Polestar 2 and Cadillac Lyriq. Lexus has confirmed that a production model reminiscent of the LF-Z will debut within the next few months and go on sale in the second half of 2022. +++

+++ MERCEDES-BENZ has released a new teaser image of the all-electric Vision EQXX prototype and confirmed that it will be unveiled on January 3, 2022. The German automaker first teased the vehicle back in late 2020 and in July, released a second teaser image of it. Member of the board of management of Daimler AG Markus Schäfer has now taken to LinkedIn to share a third teaser of the car while also announcing some new details about it. According to Schäfer, the Vision EQXX is a compact-class vehicle that can drive 1.000 km on a single charge in real-world conditions. He added that it will also have an impressive single-digit consumption figure for kilowatt-hours used per 100 km at normal highway speeds. Mercedes-Benz has also focused on making the Vision EQXX as aerodynamically efficient as possible and suggests it will have a lower drag coefficient than the EQS. The German automaker is also working to increase the energy density at the cell level by a further 20 per cent compared to the EQS. From a visual standpoint, this teaser shows that the Vision EQXX will have LED headlights and an LED light bar across the front. It will also lack traditional wing mirrors, and will have a sculpted hood and LED taillights. The carmaker hasn’t confirmed if the Vision EQXX will spawn a production variant but even if it doesn’t, the technologies that it debuts will undoubtedly find their way into future electric vehicles from the Three-Pointed Star. +++

+++ NISSAN will accelerate its electrification plans and by fiscal year 2030, will launch 23 new electrified models including 15 EVs. It has also unveiled 4 intriguing concepts. The Japanese automaker confirmed the plans with the announcement of its Ambition 2030 long-term vision. This will also see the company become carbon neutral across the life cycle of its products by 2050. Over the next 5 years, Nissan will invest 2 trillion yen to accelerate the electrification of its lineup and rate of technological innovation. No less than 20 new EV and e-Power equipped models will be introduced in the next 5 years and by 2026, Nissan expects 75 percent of its sales in Europe to be for electrified models. In Japan, it is aiming for 55 percent of sales and in China, more than 40 percent of sales to be electrified. As for the U.S., Nissan is targeting 40 percent EV sales by 2030. “The role of companies to address societal needs is increasingly heightened”, Nissan chief executive Makoto Uchida said in a statement. “With Nissan Ambition 2030, we will drive the new age of electrification, advance technologies to reduce carbon footprint and pursue new business opportunities. We want to transform Nissan to become a sustainable company that is truly needed by customers and society”. To achieve its vision, Nissan will continue to improve its current lithium-ion battery technologies and introduce cobalt-free technology to bring battery costs down by 65 percent by 2028. It also plans to launch an EV with solid-state batteries by 2028 and will be ready with a pilot plant in Yokohama as early as 2024. The automaker expects to bring the cost of solid-state battery packs down to $75 per kWh by 2028 and aims to achieve cost parity between with a gasoline vehicle at $65 per kWh in the future. Nissan also intends on increasing its global battery production capacity to 52 GWh by 2026 and 130 GWh by 2030. Four electric concepts were unveiled by Nissan during its Ambition 2030 announcement. These consist of the Nissan Chill-Out, Nissan Max-Out, Nissan Surf-Out, and Nissan Hang-Out. The first takes the form of a sleek concept using Nissan’s CMF-EV platform and has a two-tone silver and black finish. The Nissan Max-Out is very different and is a convertible concept with two seats that’s been design to “deliver a new driving experience with its superlative stability and comfort”. Of particular interest is the Nissan Surf-Out Concept. It is an all-electric pickup truck that’s been designed to deliver good off-road performance. Last but not least is the Hang-Out Concept that’s been created as a mobile living space with a flat floor and theater-like seating. Nissan hasn’t said if any of these concept vehicles will spawn production models. +++

+++ SUBARU ’s North American division has been hit hard with Covid and semiconductor supply issues, and getting back on track is taking longer than anticipated. That’s the news from Subaru CEO Tommi Nakamura, who says the company is likely to register fewer than 600.000 U.S. sales this year. That kind of volume would make 2021 even more of a disaster than 2020, when Subaru sold 611.842 vehicles, down almost 13 percent from 2019’s total. Though there are still a few weeks left in 2021 to bump up the numbers, including the potential to benefit from a Thanksgiving boost, it looks like Subaru is getting ready to post its first back-to-back sales decline since the mid 1990s. “We’ll have to consider orders after the Thanksgiving holiday, but we’re looking at a little more difficult situation than in previous months”, Nakamura told. Covid and chip supply problems have affected almost every manufacturer to some extent, of course. But Subaru seems to be suffering far more severely than some of its rivals. There are successful bouncebacks from Toyota, Mazda and Honda, which all posted double-digit percentage gains for the first 10 months of 2021, and references the stellar achievements of Hyundai-Kia, which watched sales climb 29 percent in the period through to October. Nakumura told he is convinced sales would recover in 2022 as the microchip shortage disappears, though it was unlikely to be a record breaking year. “There is still uncertainty surrounding the semiconductor situation”, he said. “So, we don’t really have a firm target at this point. But industry demand will be around 15.5 million or 16 million. Considering that, we are looking at a number in the region around 650.000 units”. While that kind of figure would be welcome, and brings some comfort to Subaru dealers who will be looking forward to getting their hands on new product, including WRX, BRZ and Solterrra EV, it would still be well down on the 700.117 units Subaru shifted in the U.S. in 2019 before the pandemic threw a spanner in the works. +++

+++ TOYOTA is the world’s largest manufacturer of electrified vehicles, but their eco-friendly image has taken a hit for their seeming resistance to electric vehicles. While the company has made some questionable moves in the past, the bZ4X is coming to silence the critics. It’s been in the works for years as Toyota originally laid out their commitment to EVs in 2017 and recently told us now is the right time to launch them. Speaking at an E-Volution event in California earlier this month, Toyota officials said they’re “pro BEV” and noted the bZ4X is just the beginning of a major electric vehicle push that will see the automaker introduce 15 dedicated BEVs by 2025, including seven wearing the bZ (Beyond Zero) moniker. The bZ4X is slightly larger than the RAV4 and will be offered in front- and all-wheel drive configurations. The former will have a range of up to 402 km, while the latter should be able to travel around 354 km, judging by the similar Subaru Solterra. Those numbers are middle of the pack, but officials said the model has the “right range for the market”. Some people might beg to differ, but various pre-pandemic studies have shown the average American only travels 64 km or less per day. While Toyota has high hopes for the bZ4X, they’re keeping their expectations in check as they don’t expect mass market adoption of electric vehicles to occur until they’re equipped with solid state batteries. They promise to be a game changer and this is when we’ll see an “EV in every driveway”. Since solid state batteries are a ways off, Toyota is already working on the next-generation of lithium-ion technology. These promise to be cheaper than current batteries, while also having a higher energy density and a longer service life. Despite the new focus on electric vehicles, Toyota doesn’t believe there is a single solution to the climate crisis. As a result, they’ll continue to offer hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and officials noted companies need to be agile as no one knows what the future will look like. This is clearly evident as few people could have imagined the rapid shift to electric vehicles a decade ago. +++

+++ Chinese electronics giant XIAOMI is venturing into the automotive world and will construct a factory that can produce up to 300.000 vehicles annually in Beijing. Authorities from China’s capital city have revealed that the plant will be constructed in 2 phases. Xiaomi will also establish the headquarters for its automotive division, as well as sales and research offices, in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone. It is unclear when construction at the site will commence, but Xiaomi chief executive Lei Jun says the site should be able to start mass production in 2024. It was only in September that the technology brand announced the formation of Xiaomi EV Company Limited, its automotive venture. The EV brand has a registered capital of 10 billion RMB ($1.5 billion) and was formed after Xiaomi spent five months conducting user research and industry chain inspections. As of September, the EV division had 300 employees. Xiaomi has not yet presented a roadmap detailing what its venture into the world of electric vehicles will entail, although the construction of a large factory suggests that it won’t partner with an existing automaker nor a contract manufacturer to bring its first vehicle to life. Xiaomi says it is willing to spend $10 billion on its EV venture in the coming 10 years. In August, Xiaomi’s EV push saw it purchase autonomous driving technology company Deepmotion Tech, suggesting that it is also looking to equip its production models with advanced driver-assistance systems. +++


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