Newsflash: BMW onttroont Mercedes


+++ BMW officially ended 2021 as the bestselling luxury car manufacturer in the United States but Tesla isn’t far behind. From January-December last year, BMW sold 336.644 vehicles across the United States. This was a 21 percent gain over the lackluster sales recorded in 2020 and in line with sales from 2019. However, BMW may not hold onto this crown for long. It is understood that Tesla delivered 313.400 vehicles in the United States last year. While there remains debate about whether Tesla is a luxury automaker, particularly since it is chasing mass-market sales with the Model 3 and Model Y, it is starting to trouble the German establishment. Importantly, sales figures for Tesla are only estimates, as it doesn’t provide a breakdown by region. As for BMW’s most traditional rivals, Lexus also topped the 300.000 mark, delivering a total of 304.475 vehicles, helped in part by the fact that sales of its hybrid models jumped by 25 percent. Mercedes-Benz’s recovery from a tumultuous 2020 wasn’t quite as fruitful as BMW’s. It delivered 276.102 vehicles last year, a tiny 0.4 percent increase from the year prior after being hit particularly hard by the semiconductor shortage. Audi ended 2021 with 196.038 deliveries in the United States. On a global level, BMW also took the crown as the world’s top-selling luxury brand after it outsold Mercedes-Benz for the first time in 5 years. BMW sold a record 2.2 million vehicles during the year while Mercedes fell by 5 per cent to 2.05 million units. +++

+++ Pure electric cars are making all the headlines, but their gasoline-electric HYBRID rivals quietly achieved record sales in the United States last year, industry data showed. While the likes of Tesla and Ford pushed for electric vehicle sales, Asian automakers boosted hybrid vehicle lineups, as many customers still shun EVs due to higher prices, limited driving range or lack of charging stations. U.S. sales of hybrid vehicle sales jumped 76 % to 801.550 vehicles last year, accounting for 5 % of U.S. light vehicle sales, according to data from analytics firm Wards Intelligence. Sales of EVs also jumped 83 % to 434.879, but represented a meager 3 % of the market. Toyota posted record hybrid car sales for the U.S. market, helping the Japanese automaker overtake General Motors as the topselling U.S. automaker. Toyota boosted sales of its hybrids, plug-ins and fuel cells by 73 % to 583.697, with most of them coming from hybrid. GM sold fewer than 25.000 electric vehicles, as it recalled Bolt EVs due to battery fire risks. “Hybrids offer a really intriguing mix of fuel economy performance without some of the huge drawbacks that electric vehicles present”, Brett Smith, technology director at Center for Automotive Research, said. Pure EVs run only on electricity and require charging infrastructure, while hybrid EVs combine a conventional combustion engine with an electric propulsion system. Honda, the No. 2 hybrid car seller in the United States, also boosted hybrid sales by 67 % compared with 2020 to a record 107.060 last year. “We hope to increase our hybrid sales of our core products, CR-V and Accord, substantially in the coming years as we prepare for battery electric vehicles”, Dave Gardner, executive vice president at Honda, told. Honda, which plans to launch its first EV for the U.S. market in 2024, expected the market to take off thanks to a slew of new model launches by automakers and policy support by the Biden administration. “It is just a matter of time, but I think consumer acceptance, it’s going to take a while to catch up to”, Gardner said. Hyundai sees hybrids and plug-in hybrids as “enablers” that will help accelerate sales of battery EVs, its global chief operating officer, Jose Munoz, said. “Some of our competitors, they jump directly into the battery EV only. … We still see many consumers that are hesitant when it comes to getting into battery EV only”, he said. +++

+++ Major automakers like General Motors, Ford and Volvo deepened ties with KEY TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS this week to gird for the fight against electric car challenger Tesla Inc and Apple Inc as it revs up to enter the market. 3 chip firms (Intel Corp’s Mobileye, Qualcomm and Nvidia) have emerged from a raft of announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as the leaders in locking down the brains of self-driving cars for the next decade. The deals involve consolidating scores of older, slower chips into more powerful centralized computers. But to win them, the chip firms have had to consent to letting automakers control key parts of the technology. Apple plans an electric car. The iPhone maker is aiming for full self-driving capabilities as early as 2025. For automakers facing Apple and Tesla, the stakes are high. In addition to electrifying their models, automakers are essentially designing computers with increasing self-driving capabilities. That means a big opportunity for automakers to make money off software and services in cars long after vehicles roll off a dealer’s lot, but only if they can keep the customer relationships and data for themselves, the way that Tesla and Apple do. Automakers “that haven’t been the pioneers are finally realizing they’re going to be left in the dust if they don’t change their approach”. said Danny Shapiro, vice president, automotive for Nvidia, a maker of high-powered chips. Nvidia this week announced deals to supply the electronic brains for future models from several Chinese electric vehicle startups, and is working with other automakers including Mercedes, Hyundai Volvo and Audi. Control of technology and data are areas of tension between automakers and technology companies, Shapiro said. “Control and customization, and who owns the data?” The answer is complex because of the staggering amount of technology required to make cars drive themselves. These include computer vision algorithms to help cameras recognize pedestrians, sprawling high-definition maps of the world’s roads, and “drive policy” software to make millisecond decisions about how the car should behave when confronted with the unexpected. For chipmakers, this means they need to have every aspect of the technology ready, but be willing to let customers pick and choose. Qualcomm Inc, for example, spent $4.5 billion last year to purchase Veoneer Inc to round out all the pieces of software needed to complement its self-driving car chips. But after winning its first major self-driving chip contract with GM this week, those software assets will not be included because GM has its own. “Our software stack is all internally developed. So we’re not taking their pieces”, said Jason Ditman, chief engineer for GM’s forthcoming “Ultra Cruise” hands-free driving product. But for other carmakers, Qualcomm needs to have all the pieces of a self-driving system ready, said Nakul Duggal, senior vice president and general manager of automotive at the chip firm. “Different automakers find themselves at different points of readiness”, he said. “What is critical for the automaker is that they have to be able to build a relationship with the customer that they’re trying to acquire”. A similar dynamic is at play in Mobileye’s relationship with Ford, which was deepened this week. Mobileye used to deliver its camera, chip and self-driving software as an all-in-one product. Now Mobileye will start separating out some of its system’s functions and allowing Ford to build its own technology on top of them. “We provide all the outputs to Ford and they’ll run their own algorithms on top of our outputs”, Mobileye Chief Executive Amnon Shashua told. The chip companies have little choice but to be more flexible as they face significant competitors of their own. Automakers had relied on 3 main suppliers for the simpler semiconductors that controlled combustion engines (Infineon, Renesas and NXP), said Phil Amsrud, a senior principal analyst with IHS Markit. But the market of chip firms supplying high-powered computing to vehicle makers is comparatively crowded, including Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and computer vision company Ambarella Inc moving into the auto sector. “We’re at a point where we might be getting too many suppliers”, Amsrud said. “If you look at automotive traditionally there’s never been more than a handful”. +++

+++ LOTUS sold 1.710 new cars worldwide in 2021, a 24 % year-on-year increase and its best performance in a decade. In the final year of production for its Elise, Exige and Evora models, Lotus boosted global sales by 332 units over 2020, recording substantial growth in all key markets. In its UK home market, for example, sales soared by 24 %, while it noted a 37 % increase in Belgium (its best performance in Europe) and a huge 111 % uptick in the US and Canada. Elsewhere, Japan (Lotus’s second-biggest market) had its best year since 2015 and Qatar reported its best sales figures since Lotus entered the market in 2016. The firm sold new cars in Bahrain, New Zealand and Thailand for the first time in more than 7 years. The Elise was the bestselling model, which Lotus attributes to fans wanting to “secure a piece of automotive history via the highly specced Sport 240 Final Edition and the Cup 250 Final Edition models”. Lotus was unable to provide with detailed figures for each model’s sales volumes. Managing director Matt Windle said: “In difficult circumstances, our retailers have delivered what was asked of them and more. It’s testament to their hard work and that of our manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution teams around the world. A huge thank you to everyone involved. What a way to move into the era of Emira”. The Emira (Lotus’s first all-new series-production model since the Evora and its final combustion car) is due in dealerships in a matter of months. The first examples use the same 3.5 litre Toyota V6 as the Evora, but a cheaper version with a Mercedes-AMG turbocharged 2.0 litre 4-cylinder engine is due in the autumn. Lotus is due to reveal its first series-production EV and first SUV, the Type 132, in the coming months. A rival to the Jaguar I-Pace, it will spearhead a family of China-built mass-market Lotus EVs. Electric sports car production will get under way in Norfolk in 2026 with the arrival of the Type 135. +++

+++ ROLLS-ROYCE sold the most cars in its 117-year history in 2021, boosting volumes 49 % year on year and reporting record sales in most markets. The luxury marque sold 5.586 cars globally last year, 1.836 more than in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic had a near-universal impact on car manufacturers, and 461 more than the previous record set in pre-pandemic 2019. It is the highest volume recorded by the Goodwood firm since it was founded as Rolls-Royce Limited in 1906, which it attributes to “all-time record sales in most regions” and high demand for each of its 5 current models. Rolls-Royce said the sales volumes achieved in 2021 make it the “undisputed leader in the plus-350.000 euro segment”. Precise figures for each car have not been released, but Rolls-Royce says growth “has been driven principally” by the Ghost, its newest model, and bolstered by the launch of the more dynamically oriented Black Badge version in October. The firm also reports steady sales of the larger Phantom and its Cullinan sibling, and has orders running “well into” the third quarter of 2022. Its Goodwood factory is running at maximum capacity, on a 2-shift pattern, to fulfil these orders. Current lead times are put at around one year. Data reveals that the Cullinan was the most popular model in the United Kingdom, with 128 units sold, while the firm sold 88 Ghosts, 41 Wraiths, 33 Dawns and 23 Phantoms in its home market, for a total of 313 sales. Sales of pre-owned Rolls-Royce models under the Provenance banner also hit a high, while orders for bespoke commissions in the vein of the Phantom Oribe and Phantom Tempus “remain at record levels”. Rolls-Royce revealed the outlandish, £20 million Boat Tail in 2021 as a statement of intent for its dedicated Coachbuild division, which is expected to produce a highly exclusive and totally bespoke new model every 2 years. Also in 2021, Rolls-Royce gave the first details of its debut EV, the Spectre coupé, due towards the end of 2023. On-road development tests got under way recently, outing the overall final design of the all-electric coupé, and by the time of its reveal, the Spectre will have undergone more than 1.5 million miles of testing; the equivalent of 400 years of use, Rolls-Royce says. CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös called the 2021 sales figures “hugely encouraging as we prepare for the historic launch of Spectre”. He also hinted at expansions into completely new sectors for Rolls-Royce: “Building on this year’s success, we will continue to evolve as a true luxury brand, beyond the realms of automotive manufacturing”. Details of this evolution are expected in the coming months. Rolls-Royce’s record figures come just days after fellow British marque Bentley announced that 2021 was also its best year on record, and sports car manufacturer Lotus celebrated its best sales in a decade. +++

+++ From personal music players to games consoles, SONY Group has often gambled in order to be a pioneer, but a leap into electric cars could take the risks to a new level for the Japanese consumer tech giant. While investors were wowed when Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida this week told a Las Vegas tech fair the company was setting up Sony Mobility, its stock fell 7 % as they contemplated the challenge of actually delivering EVs packed with sensors, consumer electronics and entertainment offerings. The primary goal of Sony-branded cars, analysts say, is to create an autonomous connected vehicle for services such as car sharing and ride hailing, which could eventually outstrip automobile sales. Research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates that the “mobility as a service” market could balloon to $40 billion by 2030 from around $3 billion last year. But analysts point out that Sony would likely have to invest heavily in plant and equipment to bring its prototype Vision-S EV, first unveiled in Las Vegas 2 years ago, to market in sufficient numbers to compete effectively. “It’s going to be a tough business to succeed in”, Takaki Nakanishi, automotive analyst at the Nakanishi Research Institute in Tokyo, said of Kenichiro’s announcement. Industry leader Tesla, which delivered its first electric vehicle in 2008, has ploughed billions of dollars into revolutionising the automobile industry, relying on the backing of investors as it navigated years of losses. Now an accelerating shift to EVs, as countries try to cut carbon emissions by phasing out the use of gasoline and diesel-driven cars, is likely to help tech companies because they are simpler to build than internal combustion engine vehicles. Sony is joining a growing list of major technology firms exploring automotive opportunities, including iPhone maker Apple, South Korea’s LG Electronics and Taiwan’s Foxconn, Nakanishi added. But for their vehicles to be deemed road worthy they would also have to comply with much stricter safety regulations than those applied to consumer electronics. And components too would have to withstand the rigours of the road and the harsh outdoors. “Sony isn’t going to be able to do what Tesla did, the hurdle is too high”, said Nakanishi, adding that an easier road for the Japanese company to take would be to outsource vehicle manufacturing to the likes of Foxconn. Sony has yet to say if or how it would build a branded car, but it has already recruited an established carmaker to produce its prototype EV, partnering with a factory in Austria owned by Canadian autoparts maker Magna International, that builds cars for firms including BMW, Mercedes Benz and Toyota. Other members of its Europe-based project include German autoparts maker Bosch, French automotive technology company Valeo SE and Hungarian autonomous vehicle start-up AImotive. While the EV market is still small, sales growth is outstripping that of fossil-fuel cars and Tesla is benefiting most in terms of the value investors are putting on it. Tesla’s market capitalisation is now around 4 times that of Toyota, even though vehicle output by the U.S. firm is only 10 % of the world’s biggest car producer. Legacy carmakers such as Toyota, General Motors, Volkswagen and Chrysler-owner Stellantis are beginning to fight back with plans to invest hundreds of billions of dollars, which will add to the competition for tech firms such as Sony. For some technology companies, the lure of EVs has already been dropped, outweighed by the risks. Bagless vacuum cleaner inventor James Dyson scrapped his electric car plans in 2018 because of the complexity of putting a vehicle on the road. And Panasonic, Sony’s fellow Japanese consumer tech competitor, has also eschewed mass-market EVs, although automotive components, including batteries it makes for Tesla cars, are now a major sales driver. “Panasonic is not considering the production of Panasonic-branded EVs”, a spokesperson said. +++

+++ A Seoul court approved a local consortium’s acquisition of SSANGYONG , paving the way for the financially troubled carmaker to get back on track. On the same day, the consortium led by electric carmaker Edison Motors signed a final deal with SsangYong to take over the SUV-focused carmaker, according to the 2 companies. SsangYong was placed in court receivership last April for the second time in a decade. Its Indian parent Mahindra failed to find an investor due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its worsening financial status. Under the final agreement, Edison has agreed to acquire SsangYong for 304.8 billion won ($254 million), and the money will be used to repay some of the carmaker’s debt to financial institutions, a company spokesman said over the phone. Edison has also agreed to lend 50 billion won in operating capital to SsangYong to help it stay afloat amid the extended pandemic and low demand for its models, he said. The electric bus and truck maker is required to submit its rehabilitation plans for SsangYong to the court by March 1. Edison has said it will set up a special purpose company to raise from 800 billion won to 1 trillion won starting this year to invest in a stake of SsangYong by issuing new shares to achieve a turnaround within 3 to 5 years. Edison said it aims to transform 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. SsangYong will remain under court receivership until the court approves Edison’s rehabilitation plans and SsangYong’s creditors accept the carmaker’s initial debt settlement plans, the spokesman said. SsangYong didn’t disclose the amount of overall debt. “When all the demands are met, the court will be able to allow SsangYong to graduate from the court-led debt-rescheduling process,” he said. China-based SAIC Motor acquired a 51 percent stake in SsangYong in 2004 but relinquished control of the carmaker in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis. In 2011, Mahindra acquired a 70 percent stake for 523 billion won and now holds a 74.65 percent stake in the carmaker. For the whole of 2021, its vehicle sales fell 22 percent to 84.106 units from 107,324 a year earlier amid the pandemic and chip shortages. SsangYong’s lineup consists of the Tivoli, Korando, Rexton and Rexton Sports SUVs. +++

+++ Opel and Citroen have adjusted the pricing of their electric MPV models to lessen the blow of removing more affordable combustion variants from order. The brands, part of the automotive group STELLANTIS , removed all combustion versions of its small van-based MPVs from sale in most of Europe in an effort to speed up the group’s move to all-electric power. Peugeot is also likely to adjust similarly, but the French firm is yet to confirm any official pricing changes for its MPV models. The decision to continue with only electric versions of these vehicles was announced in separate statements by Citroën, Peugeot and Opel, which sell the technically idential Berlingo, Partner and Combo MPVs respectively. The move is a significant development for the UK automotive industry, as Stellantis is investing £100 million in the old Vauxhall Astra factory at Ellesmere Port to produce the electric versions of these MPVs (as well as the van variants), creating 1.000 new jobs. Production is expected to get under way later this year. The group’s mid-sized MPVs (the Citroën SpaceTourer, Peugeot Rifter and Opel Vivaro Life) will also go all-electric in the designated markets. This has significant implications for the cost of these models. Citroën will alter its prices to help account for the disparity. The Berlingo’s Peugeot and Opel siblings are similarly affected. Business customers outside the EU and those in Switzerland and the Balkans will still be able to buy combustion-powered models, Stellantis said, and Fiat, which sells its own variants of the small and mid-sized MPVs, has not issued a statement on the matter. Citroën told that converter partners (who configure the Berlingo and SpaceTourer for disabled users) will still be able to order the combustion versions. “There is no alternative to electrification. In the future, Opel will gain even more traction with environmentally friendly innovations”. said Uwe Hochgeschurtz, CEO of Opel. “From 2024, we will offer an electrified version of every Opel model, without exception”, he said. “In other words, the successors to Crossland and Insignia will also be electrified. Our statement is clear: from 2028, we will exclusively sell battery-electric vehicles in Europe”. Citroën described the decision as a “bold move” for “the benefit of customers and the environment”. The Berlingo was the UK’s best-selling compact van in 2021, registering over 12.000 units. “This decision is the result of a responsible approach on the part of an activist brand that asserts its commitment to the energy transition and wishes to provide its customers with a solution for the future”, Citroën said. Peugeot is also pushing hard for the shift to electric models. All of its commercial vehicle line-up is offered with an electrified powertrain and 75% of its passenger car range is available as an EV. “In 2021, every sixth vehicle sold by Peugeot in Europe was electrified and in November this reached one electrified Peugeot vehicle out of every five sold”, said Linda Jackson, Peugeot CEO. “This shows that we at Peugeot have the right offer for our customers and that the demand for electrified vehicles is consistently fast-growing”, Jackson said. +++

+++ TESLA ‘s ability to design components in-house gave the automaker agility in making tweaks to parts and coping with supply chain issues that hit other automakers much harder, sources and experts said. Tesla boosted its deliveries by 87 % to a record high in 2021, pushing up its shares up over 13 % on Monday. Here are some of the ways Tesla navigated supply chain challenges. 1) Tesla told some customers they could take vehicle delivery with some missing parts, such as Bluetooth chips and USB ports. Tesla also removed some features such as radar sensors and lumbar support for front passenger seats, which made the car less complicated to build. Tesla also increased vehicle prices to address higher costs, including “expedite costs” for parts. American consumers have to wait for seven months if they order a Model Y version, whose prices went up 18 % last year. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said Tesla was also able to substitute alternative chips for some that were in short supply. Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said Tesla’s ability to rewrite software to support the new chips in 2-3 weeks was impressive. Tesla designs more hardware and writes more software than many rivals, who rely on auto suppliers’ efforts. Musk has called the company “absurdly vertically integrated compared to other auto companies”. “We design circuit boards by ourselves, which allow us to modify their design quickly to accommodate alternative chips like powerchips”, a Tesla insider said. In-house engineers design the bulk of the complex software that runs the Tesla vehicles, which Musk has described as a “computer on wheels”. Tesla also designs the chips used in its driver assistant systems and makes parts ranging from seats to battery cells in-house. It also owns its own direct sales, service and charging networks. “We’re designing and building so much more of the car than other OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) who will largely go to the traditional supply base and like I call it, catalog engineering. So it is not very adventurous”, Musk said. Ambrose Conroy, CEO of Seraph Consulting, said: “They control what’s going on in that vehicle at a level that no other automaker wants to do it. It is much more aligned to the integration that Henry Ford had originally with the Model T”. 2) In 2020, many automakers cut chip orders as the pandemic and lockdown measures hit demand. But Tesla never reduced its production forecast with suppliers, since it expected rapid growth, which helped it weather the chip shortage, Tesla chief financial officer Zach Kirkhorn has said. “They’ve just been smarter about it than other companies in terms of making sure there’s buffer stock”, a Tesla supplier executive said. Tesla’s direct ties with chip suppliers allowed it to move faster than traditional automakers, which rely on first-tier suppliers who have relationships with chipmakers, Kevin Anderson, Principal Consultant at Write-Tek, said. +++

+++ TOYOTA will inaugurate a service called Kinto Factory that will add modern features like electronic driving aids to select late-model cars. The program will launch in Japan in January 2022, and it aims to let motorists benefit from new technology without having to buy a new car. Kinto Factory will initially offer customers 2 basic services: upgrading and remodeling. Upgrading is defined as retrofitting safety and convenience functions, like emergency braking assist, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, and a hands-free tailgate or trunk lid. Remodeling involves replacing worn or damaged parts inside and out, such as the upholstery, the seat cushions, and the steering wheel. Personalization will join the list of services at a later date, partly because it involves gathering data on how drivers use their car. The list of cars eligible to receive a makeover from Kinto Factory include the Prius, the Lexus UX and the Lexus NX. Pricing information and availability will be announced closer to the program’s launch. Toyota notes that each upgrade will be available individually, so customers will be able to select precisely what’s added to their car, and that all of the parts will be backed by a warranty. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN became the UK’s best-selling car brand in 2021, marking the first time the German car maker has topped the sales charts in this country. That result means VW has taken the crown from last year’s top seller, Ford, which saw passenger car sales plunge by more than 23 percent amid the global chip shortage. VW has not been immune to the chip shortage either, with sales also falling slightly in 2021. The company registered a total of 147.826 new cars in the UK last year, down from 148.338 in 2020. That’s despite the market as a whole growing by around one percent compared with the coronavirus-ravaged 2020. Nevertheless, the company roared to first place in the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) new car registrations table, with sister brand Audi snatching second place after securing 117,953 registrations. BMW followed closely in third, registering 116.577 new passenger cars. But if VW was hit by the chip shortage, 4th-placed Ford had even bigger problems, being forced to prioritise the construction of more profitable and more economically important vehicles, including the Transit Custom. But that success meant resources were diverted away from cars such as the Focus and Fiesta, which were among the top sellers in 2020. In stark contrast, neither car made the top 10 in 2021. But Volkswagen managed to get both the Polo and Golf models into the 2021 top 10, with the two cars placing fifth and sixth respectively. More than 30,000 examples of both cars were registered, but the Polo pipped the Golf to fifth place by a mere 394 registrations. Another strong performer for the German company was the ID.3 electric hatchback; 1 of only 3 electric cars to break the 10.000-registration mark. With 11.032 registrations last year, it was the third bestselling electric car on the market, just over 1.200 units behind the Kia e-Niro, but far behind the market-leading Tesla Model 3, of which almost 35.000 examples were registered; enough to make it the UK’s second bestselling passenger car. “What a way to start the new year, as the UK’s biggest-selling car brand across 2021”, said Rod McLeod, the director of Volkswagen UK. “It’s a great achievement from all at Volkswagen UK, including from our fantastic network partners, as well as a clear reflection and ringing endorsement of the strength of our range offering. “With a growing family of award-winning ID. models bolstering an already impressive range of class-leading products, it is an incredibly exciting time to be part of the UK’s most popular car brand”. +++

+++ VOLVO has confirmed it will replace its long-standing ‘S’ saloon and ‘V’ estate models, despite SUVs now accounting for 75% of its total sales. The firm’s global bestseller, the XC60 SUV, sold more units (162.600) in the first 3 quarters of 2021 than the S60, V60, S90 and V90 combined. CEO Håkan Samuelsson said: “Yes, the S and V lines will be replaced with something even more attractive to consumers. We need lower cars with a more conventional body size but maybe a little less square than previously. These low cars will be in addition to our high-positioned SUVs. Stay tuned”. When asked if the shape of the Volvo C40 would lead to more coupé-inspired Volvos, Samuelsson said: “Yes and no. Cars will be less boxy in future, when we need to have lower air resistance. You could call it coupé-ish. We talk a lot about range in electric cars, but I think we will start looking at energy efficiency, and of course air resistance will be very central to that”. Last year, Samuelsson told that the Swedish maker will increase its line-up of SUVs while cutting back on traditional saloons and estates, so Volvo traditionalists will be glad to hear that the V and S lines will continue in some form. However, they are unlikely to carry the V and S designations, as Volvo confirmed in July that it will give future models names, rather than alphanumerics. Samuelsson is set to step down as Volvo SEO in March, to be replaced by ex-Dyson Group CEO Jim Rowan. He will also leave Volvo’s board of management but continue to serve as chairperson of EV performance brand Polestar. Volvo is also shifting its production priorities. It currently builds 15.000 EVs annually, but by autumn next year that capacity will increase to 150.000 EVs. On its aim to have 50% EV sales by 2025, Volvo’s chief financial officer, Björn Annwall, said: “You need customers who want EVs, and we’re fully confident ours do. You need great cars, which we have”. +++

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