Newsflash: Hyundai zet Nexo opvolger in ijskast

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+++ Last May, FCA Heritage showed us the ABARTH 1000 SP (Sport Prototipo), a concept car inspired by the synonymous mid-engined racecar from 1966. While everyone thought that this project was just a one-off prototype that resurfaced from the brand’s drawers for show purposes, it seems that Abarth is planning on building 5 units of the roadster based on the underpinnings of the now-discontinued Alfa Romeo 4C. The news was confirmed by Roberto Giolito, Head of FCA Heritage and former Head of Centro Stile Fiat and Abarth. Despite being unveiled in 2021, the idea for the Abarth 1000 SP started back in 2009, which means that Giolito should have been heavily involved with the project as he was responsible for the design of both Fiat and Abarth products between 2011 and 2015. Naturally, the new 1000 SP is significantly larger than its source of inspiration, but it has strong vibes of the exterior design including similar vents on the bonnet, small round headlights on the bulged fenders, an open 2-seater cabin with a protective tubular frame, round taillights and a tiny rear overhang. As you can tell from the proportions, Abarth’s roadster prototype is based on the carbon fiber monocoque of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, with an aluminum front sub-frame, overlapping triangle suspension in the front, and MacPherson strut suspension in the rear. Just like in the Alfa Romeo, the mid-mounted turbocharged 1.742 cc 4-cylinder engine produces 240 hp, sending power to the rear wheels. The original press release stated that the Abarth 1000 SP would take part “in major events focused on vintage cars” during fall 2021, marking “precisely 55 years after the debut of its forerunner”. FCA Heritage referred to the prototype as the “only one model of which has been produced to date”, a statement that shows they were open-minded about a possible limited-production series. I guess that Stellantis has a few remaining 4C chassis and engines lying around in the Alfa Romeo factory, so a limited-production special would make great use for them. After all, Abarth desperately needs new products aside from the aging 595s and 695s in order to keep the Scorpion alive before electrification begins with the performance variant of the new Fiat 500 in 2024. +++

+++ CADILLAC has reportedly received more than 5.000 preorders for the all-electric Lyriq in China, just 5 weeks after presales started on November 17. Shoppers in China can preorder the Lyriq through Cadillac’s IQ app or via a WeChat mini-program with a 1,190 Chinese Yuan ($186) deposit. Those who preorder and purchase a Lyriq before the end of April 2022 will receive 10,000 km of free public charging, a choice of distinctive exterior colors, prioritized delivery starting in mid-2022, and a daily range-related gift if they log in to the Cadillac IQ app. Car News China notes that local prices start at 439.700 Yuan ($69,040). All Lyriq models heading to the Chinese market are based on GM’s Ultium platform and feature a 100 kWh battery pack that, under local testing standards, is good for 650 km of range. This battery powers an electric motor with 340 hp and 440 Nm of torque driving the rear wheels. Cadillac will build the Lyriq in China for the local market, announcing earlier this year that it will be manufactured at the Jinqiao Cadillac plant in Shanghai. The EV will also be built at GM’s Spring Hill, Tennessee plant and in the U.S., will initially be sold in flagship Debut Edition guise. The car manufacturer confirmed in late November that development of the Lyriq was progressing well and was entering its final stages. A number of other electric Cadillac models are in the works, including the Celestiq sedan that should launch as a 2023 or 2024 model. +++

+++ CHINA will allow full overseas ownership of passenger car manufacturing sites from January 1, 2022. The move was announced in a document released by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission. Since 1994, foreign companies involved in the car industry have been required to enter the Chinese market as 50:50 joint venture partners with a local company. In 2018, the Chinese government loosened the maximum ownership rate to 70 percent, prompting BMW to increase its stake in its Brilliance joint venture partner. Tesla also operates a wholly-owned factory in China. As noted by Forbes, the decision will allow legacy car manufacturers like Volkswagen, Ford, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz to take over their joint ventures while also making it easier for new car manufacturers, such as Rivian and Lucid, to enter the Chinese market. Joint-venture schemes like these were designed to allow domestic brands to keep more of their profits and technologies in the country. What’s more, the 5 biggest car manufacturers in China, SAIC, FAW, BAIC, Dongfeng and Shangan, are all state-owned. There are dozens of other industries where foreign companies must form joint venture partnerships. These include rare earths, tobacco products, and film production and distribution. This news comes shortly after Daimler and its long-term Chinese partner BYD signed an equity transfer agreement on their Denza joint venture that will see Daimler reduce its stake to 10 percent while BYD will own the remaining 90 percent. +++

+++ DAIMLER and Chinese partner BYD will restructure their Denza joint venture with the German conglomerate to now hold a 10 percent stake in the venture. Daimler and BYD have been partners in the Chinese market since 2010 when they signed a 50:50 research and technology joint venture, BYD Daimler New Technology Co, producing and marketing new energy vehicles under the Denza brand. The 2 companies have now signed an equity transfer agreement to realign the structural setup of the DENZA joint venture, with Daimler to hold a 10 percent equity stake while BYD will hold the remaining 90 percent stake. No reason has been given as to why the structure of the joint venture has been changed but Daimler and BYD say they both remain committed to their long-term partnership and aim to accelerate the development of Denza in China’s NEV market. Next year, Denza plans to introduce a host of new models. Separately, both Daimler and BYD have important electrification plans. The German car manufacturer plans to transition to all-electric power by the end of this decade where market conditions allow. It currently sells 4 electric Mercedes-EQ models in China, 3 of which are produced locally. Similarly, BYD has employed an important EV strategy and has sold its new energy vehicles in more than 300 cities across 50 countries and 6 continents. It confirmed in a statement that it will cooperate with Daimler and other partners to transform energy consumption in the mobility and transportation sectors with the aim of cooling the earth by 1 degrees Celsius. +++

+++ FORD has shown an interest in the names of several of its classic cars as evidenced by a selection of recent trademark applications. The company appears to be thinking of using the names Capri, Cortina, Granada, Orion and Escort once again. The names, inspired by classic Ford vehicles, have been filed with the trademark offices in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. All are for “land motor vehicles and parts and accessories therefor” and all were filed for on December 23 with the European patent and trademark office. The applications join the name Thunderbird, for which Ford filed legal dibs in the U.S. early this year. The company has also brought back the Lightning moniker for its electric version of its F-150 pickup. Moreover, Ford also chose to use a classic name for its first modern electric vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E. Indeed, Ford has expressed an explicit interest in using classic names with an established market appeal on modern vehicles. “There’s a lot of stuff coming from China which is very competitive, and the Koreans are already very competitive with beautiful designs and strong technology, so the question for manufacturers like Ford is ‘how do you position yourself?’”, said Murat Gueler, Ford’s European design chief, in September. “I think we have the unique asset of having nameplates from the past that we can tap into to emotionalize our product and to tell stories no other brand can tell”. Since the Mustang Mach-E did so well, the company may look to mine its familiar past to ease customers into its newfangled EVs. That said, the use of classic names appears not to be limited to electric vehicles at Ford. The company recently chose to use the name Raptor for its high-performance Bronco instead of Warthog because of its brand recognition. The Bronco name, too, is a revival, as is the name of the recently-introduced Maverick small pickup, which was previously used by Ford in the ’70s. Even if these names do get used, then, it’s not certain they’ll be electric. If they aren’t, though, they won’t have long on the market before they become electric because the automaker wants to be all-electric in Europe by 2030. +++

+++ Hydrogen technology has reportedly lost one of its biggest and most vocal proponents, at least for now. Citing a long list of hurdles, HYUNDAI has allegedly stopped developing the hydrogen-electric powertrain it planned to put in several of its cars (including Genesis models) in the coming years. Anonymous sources told that executives pulled the emergency brake after analyzing the results of a feasibility study. Nothing is official at this point, and the report stresses that the pause is temporary. However, the issues reportedly found are relatively serious: they include unspecified technical problems and a lack of marketability due in part to cost-related concerns. The news comes as a surprise because Hyundai has invested a tremendous amount of resources into making hydrogen a viable alternative to gasoline without many of the inconveniences associated with EVs, like long charging times and limited driving range. It’s one of the few carmakers in the world that sells a hydrogen-electric car (the Nexo) and it announced plans to build about 130.000 hydrogen-powered cars annually by 2025. And yet, the Nexo is a tough sell, even in hydrogen-friendly markets like South Korea; 8.206 units were sold there through November 2021. The 671-horsepower Vision FK concept unveiled earlier in 2021 will seemingly remain at the prototype stage. Interestingly, a separate unverified report claims that Hyundai has also shuttered its engine development division. If both are accurate, it means that the Hyundai Motor Group (which includes Kia and Genesis) will exclusively develop electric powertrains starting in the near future. Several car companies have tried to pelt hydrogen-powered cars into the mainstream over the past decade and most have failed. Some of the issues facing the technology include the lack of a charging infrastructure and governments with a single-minded focus on EVs. However, some firms still believe that hydrogen-electric drivetrains have a future. BMW and Toyota are notably working together to reap the rewards of economies of scale. BMW will begin building a handful of hydrogen-powered X5s in 2022, though it’s too early to tell if the model will be sold in the United States. Toyota is experimenting with a hydrogen-burning engine (rather than a system that relies on a fuel cell to convert hydrogen into electricity) and its Lexus division built an experimental hydrogen-powered luxury side-by-side in December. +++

+++ Spanish authorities have selected local automotive group QEV Technologies as the lead candidate to take over NISSAN ‘s main plant in Barcelona after Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motor withdrew its interest, Nissan said. Catalonia-based engineers QEV Technologies plans to turn the facility into a hub for electric vehicles, including particiaption from Swedish producers Inzile and Volta. Spain is rushing to find a buyer for the plant, which Nissan will vacate at the end of the year. Great Wall had been slated to take over the facility, but pulled out at the last minute earlier in December. +++

+++ Following a tease earlier this year, POLESTAR has revealed new details about the upcoming 4 crossover. In an interview, Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said the model will arrive in 2023 and compete with the Porsche Macan. Ingenlath went on to say the crossover will be “slightly smaller” than the 3 and adopt a “more ground-hugging” design with a “coupe-type roofline”. The executive also revealed the crossover will be significantly cheaper than the €75,000 Polestar 3 as pricing will eventually start around €55,000. The 4 is expected to become Polestar’s best-selling vehicle and it’s slated to ride on the PMA platform, which is said to be a version of Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA). As a result, the Polestar 4 will be made at Geely’s Hangzhou Bay factory in China. While a number of questions remain, the model will be followed by the 5 in 2024. The company has billed the vehicle as an “electric performance four-door Grand Touring car” that draws inspiration from the Precept concept. Of course, in the near term, we’ll see the introduction of the 3 next year. The American-made “premium electric performance SUV” was teased earlier this month and promises to “define the look of SUVs in the electric age”. Polestar has been tight-lipped about specifics, but the 3 will be a two-row crossover that is slated to offer single and dual motor powertrains. The model also promises to be high-tech as it will “offer autonomous highway piloting powered by the best-in-class LiDAR sensor from Luminar and centralized NVIDIA computing power”. +++

+++ RIVIAN will delay deliveries of its electric pickup and SUV with big battery packs to 2023, Chief executive RJ Scaringe said in a message to customers. Scaringe said the majority of Rivian’s roughly 71.000 preorders for its R1T pickup and R1S SUV in the United States and Canada were for a version of the vehicles with a small battery pack option, which provides 500 km of range on one charge. “In order to serve the largest number of preorder holders, we will be prioritizing building the Adventure Package with Large pack battery during the next year”, Scaringe said in the mail. After the electric vehicle maker reported its first quarterly results as a listed firm earlier this month, Scaringe had outlined production challenges citing global supply-chain constraints, the Covid-19 pandemic, a tight labor market and short-term issues around building electric battery modules. Rivian has delivered 386 of the 652 vehicles it has built, including its pickup and SUV. The bigger battery pack, called the Max pack, is expected to give a mileage of 640 km on a single charge. Only 20% of the preorders were for the Max pack. Rivian said that in early 2022 it will introduce a feature for customers on their Rivian accounts that will display their current delivery timing estimate. +++

+++ TESLA launched its Software Version 11.0 on Christmas Eve, which brings a host of updates for the Model 3, Model Y, Model S and Model X. One of the most interesting features is the new Tesla Light Show. The features runs through the xLights open-source software on a computer and allows owners to create a light show to perform with any music that owners want. The light show can then be downloaded onto a USB flash drive and uploaded to the car. Elsewhere, Tesla has updated the user interface of all of its current models equipped with an Intel Atom processor. This new UI includes a customizable app launcher, simplified menu controls, and support for a dark mode appearance. Other updates have been made to the infotainment system. These include a new navigation system that allows customers to hide map details for a cleaner look. The system has also been updated with Sonic the Hedgehog and Sudoku, while a multiplayer mode is offered for The Battle of Polytopia. Tesla has also added TikTok to the system, as well as a Boombox Megaphone feature that allows owners to project their voice via the car’s external speaker. Tesla’s audio system has also been updated to provide an even better experience, now offering five levels of Immersive Audio. Owners can also adjust subwoofer output. Moreover, the Blind Spot Camera also now displays live images on the touchscreen. Rounding out the updates is a tweak to the suspension system that means the cars automatically adjust to their Comfort setting when Autopilot is enabled. New cold-weather features can also be activated through the Tesla app. +++

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