Newsflash: Porsche komt later deze maand met RS versie Cayman GT4

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+++ The EV boom can sometimes feel a little similar to the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s. We’re constantly being told about exciting new entrants to to the market, and investors seem happy to pile on on those companies before they’ve made so much as a single production-ready car. So who’s going to be Amazon.com and weather the storm, get its product to the street, and go on to enjoy a long and profitable career, and who’s going to be Pets.com, which swallowed up a ton of investor capital, went public on the Nasdaq and was dead 9 months later? The EV startups that look like they might actually make good on their tech-laden promises include Rivian and Lucid Motors. But others, like Lordstown Motors, have faced choppier waters on the path to production, with analysts claiming it faked order numbers and lacks the cash to finish the job. And only last week we reported how a Chinese court had begun bankruptcy proceedings against Byton. Where does FARADAY FUTURE sit in this landscape? A recent report investigated the prospects of a company that was launched to much fanfare in 2014, but looked at multiple points as if it was about to implode before being rescued by both investments, and the guidance of a German engineer and former BMW executive who headed up the i8 hybrid sports car program in a past life (and, ironically, co-founded Byton). Under the leadership of Carston Breitfeld, Faraday Future appeared to be back on track. A merger with a blank-check company resulted in it being listed on the stock market in July of this year and giving FF $1 billion to finally get its first car to production at its Hanford, California, plant. That was meant to happen in 2019, but Breitfeld claims the first finished cars now won’t be ready until summer 2022. The car in question is the FF 91, a luxury EV crossover with 3 electric motors, a crazy 1.050 hp output and a claimed 0-100 kph time of 2.5 seconds. Also pretty crazy is the estimated $180,000 price, which makes it more expensive than either a launch-edition Lucid Air sedan ($169,000) or a Tesla Model X Plaid ($120,000). The Lucid’s 2.8-second 0-100 kph time isn’t quite as hot, but its 832 km EPA rating makes the FF 91’s 480 km-mile estimate look way off the pace. And the Model X also betters the FF’s range while beating it from the lights, making you wonder whether, for all its slick interior screens, the FF 91 might not seem that special at all when it finally arrives in summer 2022. And that’s if it arrives. Only last month, J Capital Research called Faraday Future an “EV scam,” even going so far as to claim that in FF’s case, EV stood for “Embezzlement Vehicle.” In an astonishing diatribe, the report author suggested that Faraday was “nothing but a bucket to collect money from U.S. investors and pout it into the black hole of debt created by its founder, China’s best-known securities fraudster, Jia Yueting”. The author noted that the company lacks the staff numbers to start production and even claimed that Faraday had faked reservations, like Lordstown Motors. She concluded by asserting her belief that Faraday Future will never sell a car. Faraday, meanwhile, claims it is recruiting new workers, has recently appointed new senior executives, including a vice-president of manufacturing, and is working with Myoung Shin, a leading contract manufacturing partner in South Korea in preparation for future models which will include the more affordable FF 81. Earlier this year, Geely and Foxconn were reported to be in talks to provide contract manufacturing services to the electric automaker. +++

+++ HONDA has launched a new flagship trim-level for the Jazz e:HEV, called the Style. It features a few cosmetic tweaks and some more technology. Styling changes over the standard Jazz include model-specific 16 inch alloy wheels, a contrasting black roof and black replacements for the hatchback’s mirror caps, side body mouldings and rear spoiler. It also has a little more equipment, with a parking camera and a blindspot monitoring system as standard, in addition to Honda’s suite of “Sensing” safety equipment. Inside, Honda has made few changes. There’s the same nine-inch infotainment system as the Executive grade, but it now comes with an integrated sat-nav system. The Style model is only available with Honda’s e:HEV hybrid powertrain. It mixes a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine with 2 electric motors and a compact lithium/ion battery pack for a combined output of 109 hp and 253 Nm. The petrol engine is mated to an innovative fixed-gear transmission, which Honda says is smoother and more efficient than a CVT. The powertrain emits 102 g/km of CO2 on the WLTP combined cycle. +++

+++ Ever since Peugeot SA and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles merged to form Stellantis, there have been rumours and reports about the future of LANCIA . The once legendary brand is currently selling just a single model in just a single market: the Ypsilon city car that is available only in Italy. That is about to change from 2024 though, and this time around this is not just pure speculation. Good news is coming from Lancia’s CEO Luca Napolitano, who confirmed to the marque will return to selling cars outside its home country in less than 3 years from now. Lancia will introduce 3 new models, including a next-generation Ypsilon with combustion and battery-powered versions, a crossover, and a hatchback. And yes, the Delta will return, as recently confirmed, though it won’t arrive before 2026. Exporting Lancia vehicles outside Italy will begin with Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Spain in 2024, with deliveries to the Netherlands planned for the next year or so. For now, there’s no word about the US market and it seems like a safe bet that Lancia won’t return to North America in the foreseeable future. The design of Lancia’s new models will be supervised by Jean-Pierre Ploue with Imparato promising “clean Italian elegance, with soft surfaces and great quality”. The brand’s new CEO wants to reposition Lancia as a near premium automaker aimed at customers with an average age of 55 with at least one child still at home. Also, Lancia will no longer sell models that are targeting mostly women. By 2026, Lancia wants to sell only purely electric vehicles and will target potential customers and owners of brands such as Tesla, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz’s EQ division. Napolitano believes people who want to drive the change and are interested in new technologies should be attracted by Lancia’s new generation of products. +++

+++ The new generation of the MARUTI SUZUKI Celerio has been revealed. The small A-segment hatchback claims to be India’s most fuel-efficient petrol car, with a mileage of 26.68 km/l. It will be offered in 4 trim levels, with a 5-speed manual transmission as standard, while an automated manual (AGS) can be optioned on the VXi, ZXi, and ZXi+. The second-generation Celerio is slightly larger than the outgoing model. It measures 3.695 mm in length, 1.655 mm in width, 1.555 mm in height and has a wheelbase of 2.435 mm. Moreover, the 313 liter boot is 40 percent larger than the outgoing model.Producing 65 hp and 89 Nm, the Celerio certainly won’t be setting any output records. The engine is a development of the commonly-used K10. Known as the K10C, it’s more often found in turbocharged orm in applications such as the Baleno, Vitara, and Swift. Fuel efficiency is the name of the game here, with Maruti Suzuki claiming that this is a “next-generation” engine. It features a segment-first start-stop function, while the 1.0-liter lump also features Dual VVT, a cooled EGR, and an integrated exhaust manifold. The result is a fuel efficiency figure rated at 26.68 km/l for the VXi AMT version, an improvement of 23 percent compared to the car it replaces. Other models score marginally less, with the Manual ZXi+ MT version the worst at 24.97 km/l. There will also be a compressed-natural-gas version of the Celerio that will be introduced further down the line. Adopting a “Dynamic 3D Organic Sculpting” design language, the new car looks friendlier than before, with rounded headlights and taillights, as well as a grinning front grille. There are even accentuated wheel arches, while the usual black plastic body cladding is absent. 6 exterior color options are available, namely Arctic White, Silky Silver, Glistening Grey, Solid Fire Red, Speedy Blue, and Caffeine Brown. The interior has been redesigned too. The Celerio now features a seven-inch touchscreen at the center, which will be offered on higher variants. Other features include keyless entry, push-button start, 60:40 split rear seats, steering-mounted audio controls, and a height-adjustable driver’s seat. Maruti Suzuki says that the new Celerio will focus on safety, with dual airbags and ABS with EBD as standard. There is also a new hill-hold assist with their AGS transmission, which will likely prove to be helpful for the automated manual gearbox’s tricky clutch engagement on hills. The company also claims that their new Celerio complies with all Indian safety regulations, including frontal-offset, side crash, and pedestrian protection. Moreover, the new car is built on Suzuki’s “HEARTECT” platform, which is said to offer “a smooth structure for effective absorption and dispersion of impact force” with high-tensile steel incorporated in the construction. However, Maruti Suzuki hasn’t had the best of track records when it comes to Global NCAP ratings. The last Celerio walked away with zero stars back in 2016, although that model lacked airbags completely. The last car based on the Heartect platform tested by NCAP was the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso, which also scored zero stars in adult occupant protection, while the Indian-made Baleno for Latin America also scored poorly. The new Maruti Suzuki Celerio will start at INR 499,000 ($6,700) for the base-spec LXi manual, rising to INR 694,000 ($9,320) for the top-of-the-line VXi+ with AGS. Competition will come in the form of the Hyundai Santro, Tata Tiago, and Datsun Go, as well as Maruti Suzuki’s own Wagon R. +++

+++ It is almost 2 years since Makoto Uchida became chief executive officer of NISSANin the wake of not only the high-profile criminal case against Carlos Ghosn, but also his predecessor’s failed expansion strategy that has resulted in a multi-billion-dollar loss for the company, its worst for 20 years. After implementing a huge reorganisation plan, Uchida should return Nissan to profitability this year. He is now preparing the firm for a big expansion of electrified models, including a new Leaf-replacing crossover that will come from the £1 billion investment in Nissan’s Sunderland factory. Journalists spoke with Uchida for the first time during his recent visit to the United Kingdom. Question: Is there any doubt over the future of the Renault – Nissan – Mitsubishi alliance? Answer: “The Alliance is something we have a lot of experience with. When I took the CEO job, we sat down to look at what went where. We have access to each other’s technology, and we look at how to maximise this for scale, for cost-effectiveness. For example, we have the same battery specification as Renault. We can then enjoy the cost-effectiveness and volume. Across 3 brands, that’s really something. So the Alliance is globally using each other’s assets to grow each company. There are no internal discussions at all on the Alliance’s future. I’d ask the same question from the outside, but inside never. I’m not lying; we’re really focused on how the Alliance can grow each brand”. Q: Solid-state batteries always seem to be a couple of years away. When will there finally be the long-promised breakthrough in battery technology? A: “Cobalt-less batteries are coming. Beyond that, it’s solid state. We will be very [cost] competitive, as without that we would not be able to survive”. Q: Can you make a business out of being a mobility company? A: “It’s different in different markets. Car sharing is dominant in China, but not in Japan or elsewhere. We’re experimenting in Japan with mobility services in one city, doing lots of experiments. We’ll be growing that in the future. Is it going to make a business? We’re still on the way. Not straight away. We’re looking at how we can contribute to society with these solutions. This is different to autonomous driving and our goal to improve safety to zero fatalities in a Nissan”. Q: How big will Nissan’s range of cars be in the future? Will it include small cars? A: “Do we have sufficient cars now? Worldwide, it’s too many. We need to maximise volume initially with electrification. The customer will decide if the cars are big or small”. Q: How is the development of autonomous cars progressing? “ProPilot 2, Nissan’s active safety technology,is something we have invested a lot in. You have to look at the regulations in each market. At some point, you have to admit that artificial intelligence technology has lots to do to reach the level of a human eye. Eyes are more advanced than AI. It depends then on what the transport is for what we offer for fully autonomous vehicles, on things like shuttles. Then we can deployfor each market. Day by day, the technology is improving”. Q: Are there signs of improvement in the semiconductor crisis? Toyota has hinted at a recovery. A: “It’s too early to say. It’s not only a supply issue, as the impact is still big from Covid. Our equipment and supply is not just from Japan but western Europe and all over; it’s just not been possible to travel and move parts around as freely with Covid. We anticipated this when we saw iPhone sales went up in September 2020, so we knew an impact was coming. It’s important to diagnose our own supply chain, which we need to restore and make sure this doesn’t happen again. Step by step, it’s getting better, but I’m not as optimistic as my friends at Toyota”. +++

+++ PORSCHE is getting ready to unveil the Cayman GT4 RS, which is scheduled for this month, but before that happens spy photographers caught a GT4 RS prototype testing on public roads free of any camouflage. This was the first time we get to see the GT4 RS fully uncovered since Porsche’s own prototype reveal had a few patches on the front fenders. The bodykit looks unsurprisingly more aggressive than any other Cayman, including the GT4. While the front bumper looks quite similar, the splitter is a lot more prominent, featuring larger side fins. The front fenders have integrated gills, the bonnet has two NACA-style intakes, and there is also a new wheel/tire combination: center-lock wheels with optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires. On the sides, there are extra cooling intakes where the rear quarter windows used to be, as well as new side intakes with a separation. The rear end is where the most fun things happen, with a significantly larger swan-neck rear wing benefiting from the lessons learned on the 911 GT3 RS. A mildly tweaked rear diffuser integrating the dual exhaust pipes is rounding up the changes. As a reminder, the Cayman GT4 RS has clocked an impressive 7:04.511 lap time at the Nürburgring (7:09.300 for the full 20.832 km), which is a whole 23.6 seconds faster than the already very capable GT4. The model will be fitted with an upgraded version of the mid-mounted naturally aspirated 4.0-liter boxer engine, featuring a “noticeable” power boost compared to the 420 hp of the Cayman GT4, without surpassing the 510 hp of the 911 GT3. Power will be sent to the rear wheels through a PDK gearbox for maximum speed on the track combined with a more aggressive chassis and suspension setup. We will learn all the details of the new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS in the official debut later this month. Besides Europe, the model is expected to be available in the US market, as noted by another prototype with yellow side markers. Both the Cayman and the Boxster are expected to get fully electric successors previewed from the Mission R concept. +++

+++ TESLA has overtaken Mercedes-Benz as the third best-selling luxury vehicle brand in the U.S. through the first 3 quarters of the year. Data from Experian reveals that there have been 230.855 total Tesla registrations across the U.S. this year through September, overtaking Mercedes-Benz with 213.708. BMW leads the way with 259.237 registrations and is followed behind by Lexus in second place with 245.864 registrations. Sales have been particularly strong for Tesla this year with registrations rising by 76 percent compared with the January-September period last year. By comparison, Lexus sales have jumped 33 percent over the same period while BMW sales have spiked 36 percent. “It might be a bit early to say Tesla is surpassing Mercedes in sales permanently, but the fact that it’s managed to do so with a much more limited product line is impressive”, executive director of insights at Edmunds, Jessica Caldwell told. “Given where we are with the chip shortage, it’s probably premature to make any sweeping long-term declarations as automakers are grappling with varying degrees of difficulty, but it does show the strength of Tesla”. Admittedly, it’s worth pointing out that there remains some debate where Tesla should even be considered a luxury brand in the same vein as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and Audi. Caldwell acknowledged that “Tesla will eventually lose some of its cachet” as “no brand can be the ‘it brand’ forever,” but she added that Tesla’s expanding portfolio with the upcoming Cybertruck will see it “gain in opportunities for volume growth and mainstream luxury players will be under siege for quite a while”. +++

+++ I’m a big fan of small cars. They’re large enough for the majority of use cases, they’re generally more economical and they’re often among the cheapest new cars you can get onto your driveway. Small wonder that manufacturers call them “access points” to their wider ranges. That’s not as true today as it was 5 years ago, mind. Ever-tightening emissions rules and the constant push for more safety kit have priced many brands out of the city car market altogether. Opell, Ford and Renault don’t sell cars smaller than superminis, for example; Citroen and Peugeot are about to go the same way. So it’s heartening to see TOYOTA trying something a bit different with its new Aygo X; not just by giving it a funky new look that makes it the first baby crossover of its type, but also through its decision to stick with conventional petrol power. What’s really being played out here (some brands axing their city cars, and others sticking with the genre) is a game of cat and mouse on fleet CO2 emissions, and the potential penalties for missing targets. It’s no coincidence that companies with strong, well established hybrid and/or pure-electric programmes are more ready to “take a hit” on cheaper models, which are tougher to make clean while still making a profit. Hyundai and Kia, both big EV players, can afford to sell city cars with regular power. Toyota, which has “self-charging” hybrids across much of its regular range, thinks it can do the same. How long that remains the case will probably be down to European Union rules on emissions, more than it will the tastes of consumers. For thousands of buyers, city cars are the best, maybe even the only, way into a new car. So for as long as they can still be bought for even a little less than superminis, we should celebrate the Aygo X and its rivals. And enjoy their shrink-wrapped mix of fun, style and petrol power. +++

+++ Chinese automaker WEIMAR MOTORS has just unveiled its fifth model, dubbed the M7. No, it isn’t the high-performance BMW 7-Series people have been pleading for over the years, but it is unique in its own right. The Weimar M7 was first unveiled as a concept at the Beijing Auto Show last year. The car’s design has been slightly softened in readying it for production but as sedans go, this is certainly one of the more striking you’re going to come across. Found at the front of the M7 are headlights that flow along the quarter panels and are joined by an LED light bar. As the M7 is electric, it lacks a traditional grille, although there is a lower grille section that aids with cooling. Viewed from the side, we can see the M7 ditches the rear suicide doors of the Maven concept that inspired it and instead has more traditional doors with hidden handles. The unique design continues at the rear with horizontal taillights and a light bar. Interior images of the car are hard to come by but from the photos we’ve found, you can see a large horizontal infotainment screen, a digital instrument cluster, and a relatively minimal dashboard and center console design. One intriguing aspect of the dashboard is the fact that it can be illuminated with text. Second-row passengers can enjoy headrest-mounted screens. The technology suite accompanying the intriguing design is also noteworthy. Weimar has equipped the M7 with 3 LiDARs, 5 millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic radars, 7 megapixel cameras, 4 surround-view cameras and 1 high-precision positioning module. All of these sensors are powered by 4 Nvidia DRIV Orin-X chips and Weimar says the M5 has all the hardware needed to achieve Level 5 autonomous driving. Powertrain details are limited, although the M7 will apparently be good for a range of over 700 km. +++

 

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