Newsflash: Porsche lanceert volgend jaar de 911 Safari


+++ Chinese carmaker Changan has unveiled a new electric car brand in collaboration with technology giant Huawei and battery maker CATL, thereby throwing its hat in the country’s increasingly competitive new energy vehicle ring. The new marque, AVATR , is the latest example that automobile manufacturers and technology companies are teaming up to meet fast-evolving demand from tech-savvy car buyers, analysts said. Avatr said it is integrating the strengths of the three companies, which specialize in vehicle manufacturing, smart solutions and battery making, respectively. Changan holds roughly 39 percent of the new marque, while CATL, China’s largest battery maker, owns about 24 percent as the second largest stakeholder. Huawei does not hold stakes in the joint venture but it is involved in the development of the brand’s vehicle architecture. This has made Avatr the third brand to feature Huawei’s operating system and autonomous driving solutions after Arcfox and Seres. Avatr said its first model, which will hit the market in 2022, will be a crossover. It will have a driving range of at least 700 kilometers on a single charge and be capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 4 seconds. “Average electric vehicles won’t sell now, and carmakers need to highlight eye-catching and cutting-edge features,” said Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consulting firm Automotive Foresight. Changan is not the first carmaker to partner with technology companies. Late last year, China’s largest carmaker SAIC established electric car brand IM with Alibaba. The IM joint venture with an investment of 10 billion yuan ($1.53 billion) said staff engaged in smart driving and big data account for 75 percent of its research and development team. IM’s first production model, featuring autonomous parking and wireless charging, will be shown at the Guangzhou International Auto Show. “Electric car buyers are losing interest in conventional carmakers, but association with such big names as Huawei and Alibaba will help carmakers attract attention”, said Roy Lu, an independent auto analyst. Lu said independent brands of traditional carmakers will find that partnerships with companies such as CATL will facilitate their financing in the future, as vehicle R&D as well as production is expensive. China is the world’s largest market for electric cars and plugin hybrids. Their sales rocketed 134.9 percent year-on-year in October to about 383,000 units, accounting for 16.4 percent of total vehicle deliveries in the month. Deliveries in the first 10 months totaled 2.54 million, 12 percent of total vehicle sales. The figure was 5.8 percent in 2020. Zhang Yongwei, a chief expert at Chinese auto think tank EV 100, said electric cars and plug-in hybrids will account for 30 percent of new vehicle sales in the country in 2025. Smart vehicles with connectivity functions will make up at least half of total deliveries in the same year, he said. China is the world’s largest market for electric cars and plug-in hybrids. Their sales rocketed 134.9 percent year-on-year in October to about 383.000 units, accounting for 16.4 percent of total vehicle deliveries in the month. Deliveries in the first 10 months this year totaled 2.54 million, making up 12 percent of total vehicle sales in the same period. The figure was 5.8 percent in 2020. Zhang Yongwei, a chief expert at Chinese auto think tank EV 100, said electric cars and plug-in hybrids would account for 30 percent of new vehicle sales in the country in 2025. The percentage of smart vehicles with connectivity functions will make up at least half of total deliveries in the same year, he said. +++

+++ Auto brands must make innovations to their services in order to win over young consumers amid consumption upgrading. German luxury carmaker BMW obviously knows this well. It has been an enduring topic as to whether dealerships or independent repair shops should be selected for vehicle maintenance and repair. BMW has demonstrated its originality in this regard at its fourth annual Aftersales Service Experience Day recently. Instead of tedious introductions and hasty visits, BMW live-broadcast an innovative open debate by BMW owners in the media industry in the morning, with an immersive role-play experience in the afternoon, enabling the participants to act as “one-day dealer service staff”, marveling at the excellent quality-price ratio of BMW’s aftersales services after experiencing the whole service process. Adhering to the “customer-centric” concept, BMW has made efforts to explore the demands of customers and offered services earlier, as it aims to become a valuable, convenient and caring service provider. In the light of service innovation this year, Kang Bo, vice-president of customer support at BMW Brilliance, said in the interview: “We are trying to get involved in customers’ potential needs before they arise and actively offer care services through technological innovation, which will make us more competitive”. The carmaker plans to launch a project named Proactive Customer Care or PaCC soon, which asks the service provider to explore customers’ potential demands via backend data and provide related services one step ahead of customers. For example, when warning messages, also known as Check Control Messages, show in a vehicle, the backend will receive the warning message in real time. After the aggregation and categorization by the algorithms, the PaCC backend will distribute the information to dealers to follow up and provide services to the customers. By the end of this year, the carmaker will launch PaCC in iX, i4 and iX3. The system is expected to support more than 1 million BMWs by next April. Kang said: “The project will be a milestone leap in providing services moving from a ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive’ model, and also a new starting point for the BMW customer experience”. The customer support department also works with the R&D department to develop more predictive algorithms, as efforts to find out potential vehicle maintenance needs earlier and provide more preventive services to customers, according to Kang. BMW has around 5.6 million users and more than 600 authorized dealerships in China by now. The carmaker has made efforts to achieve a balance between increasing customer numbers and their service satisfaction. Digital tools help to enhance the services support a great deal, Kang said. One of the tools, My BMW App, develops more than 60 tailor-made functions for Chinese consumers, including online appointments, roadside assistance, vehicle pick-up and delivery. By now, the total number of users of My BMW App in China has reached 3 million. The E-workshop in the app allows customers to check real-time maintenance and repair progress. A total of 77 percent of the offline customers have been connected to the program within one year of its launch. BMW has also developed other digital platforms and apps to provide technical guidance for dealers and lessons to enhance their ability. Another highlight of the BMW aftersales service in digital innovation is the remote software upgrade, which enables customers to upgrade their vehicles remotely in just 20 minutes. BMW proposes the idea of “service on-demand” and “necessary maintenance”, offering both cost-worthy and timesaving services for customers. A Conditional Based Service system is the key to BMW’s “maintenance on-demand” service. The system evaluates the maintenance necessity and duration according to the driving mileage, climate change and loss of parts, providing a “tailor-made nanny-service” to each vehicle. With the Conditional Based Service, BMW owners are hugely relieved, saving costs and energy on their car maintenance. To meet with maintenance requirements on different vehicle ages and conditions, BMW offers a Service Repair Package that covers 10 repair items including engine system, air-conditioning system and the brake system. It also provides BMW Service Inclusive, Value Service, and Extended Warranty for old and new owners. With the premise of ensuring service quality, BMW rolls out the Service Efficiency Enhancement Plan, including 58-minute maintenance overtime free of charge, two-hour SRP (service repair package) and Eight hour B&P promises. By now, 434 dealers have joined the activity of “58-min maintenance overtime free of charge”. In addition, the B&P Excellence Authorization Project certified 12 BMW dealer stores in 2020, which are delivering the Eight Promises to customers, acting as role models for the service efficiency improvement throughout the BMW dealer network. “Sustainable development is the core strategy in BMW Group and BMW China, and the aftersales service is an important part of the whole value chain of sustainable development. We set goals in the latest customer support development strategy and the made plans for a lower proportion of carbon emissions by 2026”, Kang said. The carmaker has set up ReLife Point in Cangzhou, Hebei province and more than 60 percent of its dealers’ warranty old parts will be taken to the center for recycling processing. The group also resorts to the China-Europe Railway Express and electric trucks to deliver parts and automobiles, to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions in its logistics sector. All the projects and tools are available via BMW Network Transformation dealer stores, which have brand-new innovative concepts through design, service process upgrades and the integration of digitalized facilities. More than 220 BMW dealerships will finish their network transformation by the end of this year. Satisfying the customers and improving their brand experience is a never-ending journey. In the future, the BMW Customer Support Department will continue to enrich aftersales product lines and service models, make efforts to improve the aftersales services of electric vehicles and further promote sustainable development, the carmaker said. +++

+++ CADILLAC has started pre-sales of the Lyriq in China and the all-electric SUV has already proven to be very popular. The American automaker opened pre-sales for the Lyriq on the evening of November 17 and in just one hour, it had received more than 1.000 pre-orders. By noon the following day, GM claims that a further 1.000 pre-orders had been placed through Cadillac’s IQ app or the WeChat min-program with a 1.190 Chinese Yuan ($186) deposit. Individuals in China who pre-order and purchase a Lyriq by the end of April 2022 will receive 10.000 km of free public charging, a daily range-related gift for logging on to the Cadillac IQ app, a choice of special exterior colors, and prioritized delivery starting in mid-2022. “For more than a century, the innovative spirit of daring to go beyond has been part of Cadillac’s DNA”, SAIC-GM president Wang Yongqing said in a statement. “Cadillac is embracing change. Leveraging the brand’s proud heritage and industry-leading innovative technology, the LYRIQ is destined to set a new standard for luxury electric vehicles”. The Lyriq is being offered in China in a luxurious long-range variant starting from 439.700 Chinese Yuan, or just under $69.000 at current exchange rates. That makes it roughly $10.000 more than the entry-level Lyriq available to buyers in the U.S. All Lyriq models are based on GM’s Ultium platform and feature a 100 kWh battery pack that offers a range exceeding 480 km. However, in China, the range is quoted at over 650 km, presumably due to the different testing standards. This battery pack powers an electric motor with 340 hp and 440 Nm of torque that drives the rear wheels. +++

+++ Vehicle sales in CHINA this year may exceed the volume of 2020, but they are likely to fall short of previous estimates because of power and chip shortages, said the country’s leading industry organization. A total of 2.33 million vehicles were sold in October, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. That was a 9.4 percent fall compared with the same month last year, but the decline, however, narrowed 10.2 percentage points from September, according to the CAAM. The association said sales in October were up 1.5 percent from the same month in 2019, while deliveries in August and September were lower than the pre-Covid level. “This shows chip supplies started to get better in October than in previous months”, said Chen Shihua, deputy secretary-general of the association. “But chip shortages will not disappear in the short term, and we will probably see steep falls in November and December as sales in these two months last year were pretty high”. In the first 10 months this year, 20.97 million vehicles were sold, up 6.4 percent year-on-year and up 1.4 percent from the same period in 2019. The association said sales in the year are likely to see growth from 2020 but will not reach the previously estimated level. Earlier this year, the association estimated that carmakers would deliver 26 million vehicles in 2021, up 4 percent from 2020. Despite the overall situation, the new energy vehicle sector is seeing fast growth. Their sales rocketed 134.9 percent year-on-year in October to about 383,000 units, accounting for 16.4 percent of total vehicle deliveries in the month. Sales of electric cars and plug-in hybrids totaled 2.54 million from January to October, up 180 percent year-on-year. Currently, volume brands are seizing the lion’s share of China’s new energy vehicle market, which tells of their growing acceptance among ordinary customers. There were 6 carmakers that saw their sales exceed 10.000 units in October, and Tesla was the only premium brand, according to statistics from the China Passenger Car Association. China’s leading new energy vehicle manufacturer BYD remained the most popular brand among buyers, with its car wholesales reaching 80.373 units last month. Tesla China sold 54.391 vehicles in October, and its exports reached 40.666 units. And the third-most popular brand was Wuling, known for its 2-seat mini vehicles, selling over 42.000 units. Startups are selling well too. New York-traded Xpeng sold over 10.000 units in October. Nio, which is listed in New York as well, delivered over 24.000 units from July to September. Its chairman William Li expects a similar volume in the last quarter this year. “So far this year, you can rarely see carmakers launch newly developed gasoline models. Almost all of the new launches are electric or plug-in hybrids ones”, Chen said. At this year’s Guangzhou auto show, which is expected to kick off on Friday, there will be 241 new energy models, 100 more than at the event last year, according to its organizers. +++

+++ FORD was an early supporter of Rivian, so it came as little surprise that Lincoln announced plans for a Rivian-based electric vehicle in January of 2020. The model was slated to become Lincoln’s first electric vehicle and it promised to combine “stunning” looks with “effortless performance”. However, a few months later, Lincoln and Rivian decided not to pursue the vehicle due to the coronavirus pandemic, which brought the world to a halt. Despite the death of the electric Lincoln, the companies said they would offer “an alternative vehicle based on Rivian’s skateboard platform”. Fast forward to today, and the third time isn’t the charm as the joint project has been abandoned altogether. In an interview, Ford CEO Jim Farley said “We want to invest in Rivian, we love their future as a company, but at this point we’re going to develop our own vehicles”. As he explained, a lot has changed since Ford made their investment in Rivian and they were originally unsure of their in-house capabilities. However, they now have “growing confidence in our ability to win in the electric space”. Besides Ford’s improved EV capabilities, it appears building a Rivian-based model would have been a bit of a headache. As Farley noted, it’s a daunting challenge to marry one company’s electric architecture to another company’s software. There were presumably other issues as well and, at the end of the day, the companies decided the difficulties weren’t worth it. While the project is dead, both automakers stressed their relationship remains on good terms. In Ford’s case, Farley described Rivian as “kind of like a brother or a sister” since they’re an investor and have gotten to know the company “really well.” He added working with Rivian resulted in some of the “best cooperation we’ve had with another company”. +++

+++ GREAT BRITAIN and China have seen increasing cooperation in the electric vehicle (EV) sector over the past decade, as the 2 countries strive to pursue ambitious emission reduction targets, Mike Hawes, chief executive officer of a leading British automotive trade body, told in a recent interview. His remarks came just a few days after the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which concluded in Glasgow on Nov 13, with negotiators agreeing on a new global pact to tackle climate change. Noting that the development of EVs is “absolutely important” for the two major economies, Hawes, head of the British Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said “road transport is a major contributor of that transition” in the global ambition to achieve the net zero goal. “The UK government has set out its ambition that it wants the road transport to be 100 percent zero emission by 2035”, said Hawes. “I think if you look at in both investment and trade between China and the UK, that have been increasing over the last 10 years or so”. China has announced that it would strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. “In terms of investment into the UK, we’ve seen Chinese companies set up research and development centers”, said Hawes, listing a couple of Chinese firms which have invested in the country, including Geely, Changan, SAIC, BYD and so on. “We’ve seen most recently a real vote of confidence in the UK when Envision (a Chinese smart energy technology company) had announced a massive expansion of its battery production facility in Sunderland in the northeast of England to support Nissan”. In terms of the institutional communication with the Chinese counterpart, Hawes said the SMMT has a memorandum of understanding with China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) on cooperation. “Because whether you’re based in China, whether you’re based in the UK, the automotive industry faces similar challenges around decarbonization, connectivity, automation, and so forth”. As to the British auto industry, Hawes said now the country is not part of the European Union, so “we can pursue a trade policy that’s unique to the UK that will probably have a focus on the growing markets, and China, Asia Pacific markets are growing rapidly”. China certainly has been a big market for British exporters, especially for premium brands, such as Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, etc, Hawes said. “There’s also the challenge that needs to be met in terms of making sure your products match local tastes, local culture, local demands,” said Hawes. “To be really successful, you have to tailor those vehicles to an individual market”. Seeing the auto industry, particularly around the EV section, as “a global player”, Hawes said there would be “great, tremendous opportunities for new entrance as well as existing players, because you need to put the products on the market that attract people”. “Whether the individual companies can take advantage of those opportunities, it depends on their own strategies, it depends on their own technology, and depends on their attitude towards trade, their attitude towards overseas investment”, he added. “That is about performance, it’s about range and it’s about affordability”, said Hawes. “So whoever can meet those objectives will succeed in that transition”. +++

+++ Automakers around the world are rapidly transforming production lines to electric vehicles, but so far HYBRIDS cars are outselling the available Electric Vehicles. Many consumers are still hesitant to go electric due to the hassle of recharging and uncertainties about performance. China recently included hybrids among cars that qualify for eco subsidies and announced plans to boost their supply. Analysts expect hybrids to outsell EVs at least for the next 10 years. In the first 9 months of this year, the 48.720 electric cars sold in South Korea accounted for just 4.3 percent of total vehicle sales but hybrid cars accounted for 15.5 percent with 174.307. Hyundai and affiliate Kia rolled out hybrid versions of popular models like the Grandeur and Sonata sedans and Santa Fe and Sorento SUVs. Even in Europe, hybrids outsell EVs, accounting for 30 percent of total car sales in the region in the third quarter of this year, compared to 10 percent for EVs. Toyota is aggressively marketing hybrid cars in Europe and that has caused their proportion to rise sharply from around 10 percent last year. In the U.S., hybrid sales rose 149 percent in the first half of this year. Beijing announced plans last October to boost the supply of eco-friendly cars, providing subsidies and setting a goal of increasing their proportion in car sales to 50 percent by 2035, and hybrids play an important part in the plan. Park Jung-kyu at Hanyang University said, “China is a vast country where people have to drive long distances, while big cities like Shanghai have huge traffic jams that limit access to charging stations. Until EV battery technology improves drastically, there will be demand for hybrids”. Toyota rolled out the world’s first hybrid car, the Prius, in 1997, and still leads the global hybrid market. It has aggressively marketed hybrid cars not only in Japan but in China, Europe and Korea, selling 1.95 million of them last year, or 20 percent of its total global sales. It wants hybrids to account for 6 million out of the 8 million eco-friendly cars in its lineup by 2030. Hybrids are powered by both a gasoline engine and a battery-powered electric motor. They therefore consume less fuel than conventional cars and emit 30 percent less gas. But the assembly process is complicated and initially put many automakers off. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and other European automakers only recently started rolling out plug-in hybrids, which are powered chiefly by an electric motor while the gasoline engine only serves as a back-up and are more expensive to produce. But Europe plans to ban the sale of all combustion-engine cars including hybrids in 2035. In South Korea, Hyundai first came out with hybrid versions of the Avante compact car in 2009 and the Sonata mid-sized sedan in 2011. But their proportion of total sales stood at only 5 percent in the first 9 months of this year. Hyundai said it will sell only electric versions of the luxury Genesis brand from 2025, prompting analysts to wonder why it is giving up so quickly on hybrids. Bae Choong-sik at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology said, “EVs can’t replace all combustion-engine cars in the short term because of problems with recharging facilities and supplies of battery materials. Hybrids are more realistic alternatives and will continue to be in demand for the next 10 years and beyond”. +++

+++ LEXUS is back on top of Consumer Reports’ annual reliability rankings. Toyota’s luxury division dethrones last year’s winner, upstart Mazda, to second place, while the Toyota brand itself rounds out the podium in third place. In general, while Asian brands topped the list, Europeans ranked second, and domestics brought up the rear. Lexus’ high marks stem from the Land Cruiser Prado-based GX, a SUV which got a perfect score of 100. Mazda’s second place finish was the result of strong showings by the MX-5, CX-9, CX-5 and CX-30, but dragged down by the Mazda 3’s mid-pack score. Likewise, nearly all of Toyota’s lineup, from Prius to Avalon, all had very high marks, but the RAV4 and Corolla Hatchback brought down the class average. Like last year, the only American brand to break into the top-10 was Buick, which ranked 5th thanks to good scores for the Envision and Encore (though the Enclave ranked sub-par). 8 of the top 10 brands were Japanese, with Infiniti in 4th, and Honda, Subaru, Acura and Nissan following Buick in that order. Mini, in 10th place, was the only European brand in the top 10. The bottom spots went to Jeep, Tesla, and once again Lincoln in dead last. While all Lincolns received poor scores, the Aviator was notable for getting only 3 points out of 100. Similarly, last year’s lowest-scoring vehicle was the Ford Explorer, with which the Aviator shares a platform. It wasn’t all gloom from the domestics, however. The Chevrolet Trailblazer tied the Lexus GX with a perfect score, but overall the Chevrolet brand ranked 14th, pulled down by the Corvette, Silverado 1500 and Tahoe. The Tahoe tied with the GMC Yukon with the lowest scores this year, just 2 points each. Both the Silverado 2500HD and the nearly identical GMC Sierra 2500HD were among to top scoring American vehicles, along with the Ford Bronco Sport, Mustang Mach E, Ranger and Chrysler 300. Consumer Reports also points out that the oft-said line that electric vehicles are less prone to problems due to fewer moving parts isn’t necessarily true. The Audi e-Tron and Tesla Model X each got a score of 5, the lowest of their respective brands, due to more and more technology being crammed into these higher-priced EVs. +++

+++ LUCID MOTORS , an electric startup based in California, said it is planning to set up production facilities in overseas markets including China around 2025. “Mid-decade, we plan to have plants in the Middle East and China, as well”, CEO Peter Rawlinson said in an interview. Rawlinson did not give details. It now has a plant in Arizona, and the startup started deliveries of its first model, the Air sedan, in September. China is home to the world’s largest auto market, and electric vehicle pioneer Tesla opened a factory in the country in 2019, which has become its major export hub globally. NEVs are gaining in popularity in China. Sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids sales rocketed 134.9 percent year-on-year in October to about 383.000 units, accounting for 16.4 percent of total vehicle deliveries in the month. Deliveries in the first 10 months this year totaled 2.54 million, making up 12 percent of total vehicle sales in the same period. The figure was 5.8 percent in 2020. Zhang Yongwei, a chief expert at Chinese auto think tank EV 100, said electric cars and plug-in hybrids would account for 30 percent of new vehicle sales in the country in 2025. Lucid expects to produce 20,000 Air sedans next year, a target the company first laid out in July. Rawlinson said Lucid has “over 17.000” reservations for the model. “They’re refundable deposits, but this has grown over 30 percent just in the last six weeks since the end of Q3,” Rawlinson said. The outlook has boosted investors’ confidence and pushed its market capitalization to hit $89.86 billion, surpassing that of Ford. Rawlinson said the company is quadrupling the size of its plant in Arizona, which now has a designed annual capacity of 34.000 vehicles. Founded in 2007, Lucid was originally known as Atieva which made batteries for electric buses in China. It has raised more than $100 million from several Asian investors, including Faraday Future founder Jia Yueting and BAIC Motor, according to Yicai Global. +++

+++ LYNK & CO , a joint venture between China’s Geely and Swedish carmaker Volvo, said it has started its Asia-Pacific campaign, with Kuwait as the first stop. It has partnered with local Kuwaiti company Al Zayani, and the first model available in the western Asian country is the 01, available in 2 variants. The carmaker said there are 495 cars per 1.000 people in Kuwait, and local people value premium vehicles that excel in safety and cutting-edge technology, so there is huge potential for brands like Lynk & Co. Lynk & Co said it will soon enter other countries in the region including the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Oman. The Asia-Pacific campaign is the latest effort of Lynk & Co’s globalization, following its entry into European countries late last year. Its first model to enter the European market was the 01 as well, with total deliveries exceeding 10.000 units so far. The carmaker said it has built 4 showrooms in Europe and plans to open another 3 in 202. Lynk & Co said it is also planning to export vehicles into such countries as Russia, Australia and New Zealand. Unveiled in Berlin, Germany, in 2016, Lynk & Co positions itself as an international brand. Its first model rolled off the assembly line in 2017 and it had since sold nearly 600,000 vehicles by the end of October 2021. +++

+++ While PORSCHE is already offering countless variants of the 992, there is a special one coming up in the following years. We are talking about the long-rumored 911 Safari which is set to revive the rally-prepped 911s of the past. Spy photographers caught the model during testing on public roads, with minimum camouflage hinting at a possible 2022 reveal. This is not the first time we see prototypes of the 911 Safari. The model made its spy debut at the Nurburgring in October 2020, followed by more appearances in January, February, April, and July of this year. Porsche engineers have been testing the model on the track, tarmac, and snow, in order to make all necessary adjustments for production. The prototype is fitted with a jacked-up suspension allowing for generous ground clearance, at least in sportscar terms. While a raised sportscar seems a bit odd, there is definitely a market for this kind of crossover-style variant, one that Porsche aims at capitalizing on. Besides the suspension that will probably feature active dampers, softer springs, and longer travel than in the rest of the 911 range, the model is fitted with chunkier tires looking significantly wider at the rear axle. The thicker sidewall will make it possible to drive on gravel/mud/snow with the help of additional off-road driving modes and an all-wheel-drive system. The front and rear tracks also seem to be wider than the regular 911, as proven by the fender add-ons. Design-wise the 911 Safari is expected to feature a model-specific bodykit, including cladding on the wheel arches, side sills, and front/rear bumpers, as well as skid plates. The end result will probably look similar to the Taycan Cross Turismo which is the first high-riding model from Porsche’s non-SUV range. Porsche has yet to officially confirm plans for the 911 Safari but given the numerous sightings of the model during the past year, we wouldn’t be surprised if its debut happened sometime in 2022 or 2023. Mind you that back in 2012, Porsche built a driveable 911 Vision Safari concept based on the previews 991 generation, however, for unknown reasons they kept it a well-kept secret until 2020. +++

+++ Sino-US joint venture SAIC GM WULING saw its 25 millionth vehicle rolling off the production line on Thursday, becoming the first carmaker in the country to reach the milestone. The company said the 25 millionth car was a Wuling Asta SUV model. Wuling is one of the most popular marques in the country, with its cumulative deliveries exceeding 19.5 million. Sales at Baojun, another brand of the joint venture, have reached nearly 5 million units since its launch in 2010. SAIC-GM-Wuling is now a leading electric carmaker as well, with its Hongguang Mini EV the most popular model in its segment. Its first electric model, the Baojun E100, could date back to 2017. The company’s electric vehicles sales have exceeded 650.000 units in total. In the first 10 months of this year, SAIC-GM-Wuling sold over 1.43 million vehicles; up 21.2 percent year-on-year, much faster than the average growth rate of China’s automotive market. The carmaker has been exploring overseas markets as well. In 2020, it sold 77.376 vehicles and knock-down kits in over 40 countries and regions, with the revenue hitting 3.46 billion yuan ($540 million). +++

+++ Peter SCHREYER , the renowned car designer now leading Hyundai Motor Group’s design management, is featured in a new book “Roots and Wings”. The book explores Schreyer’s life and legacy as one of the most influential automotive designers, the Korean business group behind Hyundai Motor and Kia said. Schreyer, currently the president and head of Design Management of Hyundai Motor Group, joined the group in 2006, as its first foreign executive. He has since shaped designs of Hyundai and Kia cars and is credited for giving each brad a distinctive identity. Before moving to the South Korean conglomerate, he was the creative mind behind iconic models from some of the biggest automotive brands, such as the Volkswagen Golf IV, Volkswagen New Beetle and Audi TT. At Hyundai, he helped transform the image of both Hyundai Motor and Kia brands, and also contributed to the development of Genesis, the third automotive brand of the group, Hyundai officials added. “Peter Schreyer is not only an outstanding designer, but also someone capable of inspiring strong emotions”, Chung Euisun, the group chairman wrote in his endorsement for the book. “I believe his story, whose life transcends the barriers of the Eastern and Western worlds with his unwavering philosophy, will be a motivation to all”. The book, published by Gestalten, is divided in 3 parts spanning from his childhood and the beginning of his career in the automotive industry, to his experiences in designing the iconic vehicles from the global automakers. It also includes interviews of his acquaintances, and various visual content to expound on his design philosophy, Hyundai said. “Working in Korea has been a very rewarding experience for me. During my time here, I have learned a lot about myself, about my roots, about the people I was privileged to meet, and about the unique relationship between Korea and Germany. How things relate to each other and how they contrast always inspires me as a designer”, said Schreyer via a press release. “I have completed every project with a smile on my face, always striving to make our dreams come true. I am a car designer with all my heart and I always considered myself lucky for working in my dream job”. +++

+++ SSANGYONG said its third-quarter net losses narrowed from a year earlier due to self-help measures to 59.29 billion won ($50 million) for the 3 months ended in September from 102.44 billion won in the year-ago period, the company said in a statement. “An extended global chip shortage affected vehicle production and sales but employees’ acceptance of pay cuts and unpaid leave helped reduce the quarterly net loss”, it said. The SUV-focused carmaker’s operating losses narrowed to 60.07 billion won in the third quarter from 93.19 billion won a year ago. Sales fell 11 percent to 629.76 billion won from 705.7 billion won during the same period. From January to September, the company reported a reduced net loss of 239.83 billion won from a loss of 304.82 billion won in the same period of last year. A local consortium led by Edison Motors is in the process of acquiring the debt-laden carmaker after it was selected as the preferred bidder last month. The Edison consortium submitted the acquisition bid of 310 billion won for SsangYong and began 2 weeks of due diligence on the carmaker on November 10. It is estimated that up to 1 trillion won is needed to take over SsangYong and then pay its debts. Edison Motors has said it will set up a special purpose company to raise between 800 billion won and 1 trillion won to acquire SsangYong and increase capital starting next year by issuing new shares to achieve a turnaround within 3 to 5 years. The electric bus and truck maker said it aims to transform the SUV-focused SsangYong into an EV-focused carmaker in the next decade in line with changes in the automobile market. It plans to produce 10 new EV models, including the Smart S, by 2022, 20 by 2025 and 30 by 2030. In April, SsangYong was placed under court receivership for the second time after undergoing the same process a decade earlier. Its Indian parent Mahindra failed to attract an investor due to the pandemic and its worsening financial status. Court receivership is one step short of bankruptcy in Korea’s legal system. In receivership, the court will decide whether and how to revive the company. China-based SAIC Motor acquired a 51 percent stake in SsangYong in 2004 but relinquished its control of the carmaker in 2009 in the wake of the 2008-09 global financial crisis. In 2011, Mahindra acquired a 70 percent stake in SsangYong for 523 billion won and now holds a 74.65 percent stake in the carmaker. In the January-October period, sales fell 22 percent to 66.603 autos from 84,904 during the same period of last year. In self-help measures, SsangYong’s 4,700 employees began to take two-year unpaid leave in rotation on July 12 while accepting an extension of a cut in wages and suspended welfare benefits until June 2023. The company plans to sell its Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, plant in three to five years and build a new factory in the same city to focus on electric vehicles. +++

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