Newsflash: eerste details nieuwe Renault Scénic zijn bekend

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+++ AUDI has announced that some of its V6 diesel engines have been approved for use with renewable fuels, as part of a drive to reduce the carbon emissions of its internal combustion engined vehicles. The renewable fuel approved for use is called Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO). This is created by collected waste and residue oil that undergoes hydrogenation to make its properties suitable for use in diesel engines. In addition to being more environmentally friendly, this fuel is claimed to be a cleaner and more efficient fuel that enhances engine performance, especially during cold starts. Biofuel corn-based Corn-based ethanol biofuel is less eco-friendly than petrol HVO can be added to diesel or used unmixed. All Audi vehicles eligible to use this fuel will have an XTL sticker in the fuel cap to indicate the car’s compatibility. XTL is used to indicate compatibility with different types of renewable fuels, the acronym encompasses different ways these fuels can be made. The company has said V6 diesel engines with power up to 286 hp in A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Q7 and Q8 models manufactured from mid-February 2022 are approved to run on HVO fuel. Audi claims the use of HVO reduces CO2 emissions by 70 to 95 percent compared to diesel. This announcement is part of an ongoing plan to use more synthetic fuels and reduce carbon emissions. At the start of March new Q5s and A6 Allroads will be included in the HVO lineup and some Volkswagen Touareg models will be able to use this fuel too. Since June 2021 the 4-cylinder diesel engines in Audi A3, Q2 and Q3 have been compatible with this fuel. Sweden, Denmark and Italy have been the countries with the greatest demand for engines that can use HVO. +++

+++ In EUROPE , new car registrations fell 2.4% year on year in January in what was the month’s worst performance since 1991, new data from Jato Dynamics has shown. Registrations across 26 European markets dropped 2.4% down to a total of 811,332, despite government-imposed lockdowns having impacted January 2021. The figure is also 28% lower than that recorded in pre-pandemic January 2020. Jato said the drop in sales is a result of low consumer confidence, which has been affected by economic conditions and the global semiconductor shortage. “Last month, consumer confidence remained low, due to the economic fallout of the pandemic, and production continued to be hit by the ongoing semiconductor shortage”, said Jato global analyist Felipe Munoz. SUVs meanwhile achieved a record market share: 402.900 were registered, forming 49.7 % of the overall market. Volume of SUVs increased by 11 % from January 2021, although this figure was still down by 10 % compared with January 2020. Electrified cars also grew in popularity, totalling 149.000 units in January, up 36 % from January 2021 and 105% from January 2020. Battery-electric vehicles achieved 73 % growth, while plug-in hybrids grew by 9 %. “These segments have been a lifeline for Europe’s manufacturers and the only option for consumers looking for a fast delivery”, said Munoz. The Dacia Sandero finished the month as the bestselling model, with 17.558 units sold, representing 10% growth year on year. It was followed by the Peugeot 208 with 16.190 and the larger Peugeot 2008 with 14.563. The rest of the top-10 cars are: Volkswagen Golf: 14.483, Volkswagen T-Roc: 13.668, Skoda Octavia: 13.395, Renault Clio: 12.856, Toyota Yaris Cross: 12.456, Ford Puma: 12.159 and Toyota Corolla: 11.990. +++

+++ FARADAY FUTURE ’s path to becoming an automaker has been long and peppered with setbacks, but the company has reached a significant milestone. It unveiled the first production-intent example of the FF91, an electric crossover set to be manufactured in Hanford, California. Getting to the pre-production stage represents the 4th of 7 goals laid out by the company in October 2021. The first 3 milestones were related to the factory (manufacturing equipment notably needed to be installed), while the last 3 also focus on the facility; Faraday Future needs to start all mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems in the plant, for example, and finish installing equipment in the areas that will build the series-produced FF91. The 7th and final milestone is launching regular production. Until then, the company will make additional pre-production cars and test them all around the world. While specifications haven’t been released yet, previous prototypes were powered by a trio of 350 hp electric motors that draw electricity from a massive 130 kWh lithium-ion battery pack to zap the 4 wheels with 1.050 hp. Less powerful variants should be offered as well. Visually, it doesn’t look like the FF91 has changed significantly since we drove an early prototype in Las Vegas in 2020. It’s still characterized by an out-of-this-world design whose proportions blur the line between a crossover and a big hatchback. It’s the same story inside, where the dashboard remains dominated by screens and touch-sensitive surfaces. The 2 rear passengers sit on business class-like seats. Faraday Future expects that the FF91 will enter series production in the third quarter of 2022, so additional details should emerge in the next few months. As I reported in 2020, the company plans to expand its range with smaller models called FF81 and FF71, respectively. +++

+++ As FORD prepares to reinvent the Mustang with a hybrid V8 and electrify its Puma ST, the manufacturer could soon bring back several other historic nameplates to its portfolio. Last year, Ford’s Europe design chief, Murat Gueler, told that reviving old monikers could be a shrewd marketing ploy for the firm. At the time, he refused to be drawn on which would make a comeback, but Ford recently filed to trademark a selection of names linked to some of its best-selling European models: Cortina, Granada, Escort, Capri and Orion. This could be a move purely to stop other companies using them and a spokesperson told that “the registration of intellectual property is not a signal for any future product plans”. But with a Europe-focused electric crossover on the way, sitting atop Volkswagen’s MEB platform and built at the same Cologne site that made the Capri, Granada and even Scorpio, Ford could look to spiritually link the newcomer with a successful ancestor. Gueler told last year: “The industry is in its craziest time ever since I joined 20 years ago, and I’ve never seen it so disruptive as it is now. There’s a lot of stuff coming onto the market and consumers are bombarded with all kinds of products and information”, he said. “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?’. I think we have the unique asset of having nameplates from the past that we can tap into to emotionalise our product and to tell stories no other brand can tell”. Reviving old nameplates could be “an opportunity for Ford to distinguish itself from the bombardment of electrification that’s coming”, he added. +++

+++ MERCEDES-BENZ Demand for range-topping Mercedes-Benz models soared by 30% in 2021, helping to drive a 9% year-on-year increase in revenues for the group as it ramps up investment in the next generation of electric vehicles. Mercedes-Benz Group (renamed from Daimler Group earlier this month) recorded revenues of €168 billion (£140bn) in 2021, up from €154bn (£129bn) in 2020, with its Mercedes-Maybach, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes G-Class sub-brands beating sales records across the board. That’s against a backdrop of restricted production, chiefly due to the semiconductor shortage, which resulted in an overall car and van production fall of 5% year on year to 2,330,169 units, the impact of which was abated by an uptick in demand for these higher-priced vehicles. RELATED ARTICLES British lithium mining company plans IPO listing in 2022 Stellantis beats financial targets in its first year Aston Martin boosts revenues and slashes losses in 2021 Volkswagen Group in advanced talks over Porsche flotation Lotus to float new EV division on stock market As an example, Maybach sales in China – the market that chalks up 35.5% of global Mercedes sales – ran at the rate of more than 1000 units per month (with the exception of October) and global sales of the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class soared by 40% to more than 87,000 units. The G-Class SUV also enjoyed a bumper year, selling 41,174 units, and demand for AMG performance models soared by 16.7% to 145,979 units – a record year but nearly 20,000 units fewer than BMW’s M division sold last year. Revenue per Mercedes model sold has increased by 26% to an average of €49,800 (£41,500) compared with pre-pandemic 2019 and fixed costs have been slashed by 16%. With focus shifting to these higher-margin models, Mercedes’ car and van division was able to double its pre-tax earnings to €13.9bn (£11.6bn) year on year. Looking ahead to 2022, the company says the semiconductor supply situation remains volatile and hard to predict, so it has taken “a cautious approach” to its forecasts. Nonetheless, it expects sales to climb slightly in 2022, with the output of top-end models projected to climb by more than 10%. It will raise net pricing, but not to the extent that it will fully compensate for the “raw material headwinds”, which are expected to increase in severity in 2022. The firm also says its research and development costs will be higher in 2022 as it prepares the new MMA and AMG.EA electric vehicle platforms for launch in the coming years. +++

+++ RENAULT ’s so-called ‘Renaulution’ is set to take another retro step forward with a reinvention of the legendary Scenic MPV, the company has confirmed. Launched in 1996 as a more family-friendly version of the Mégane, the Scenic will disappear from price lists this year, as family buyers turn towards SUVs. So it’s no surprise that the new Scenic is being reborn as an SUV. Renault concept car teaser Renault teases new concept car with hydrogen engine The new model will use the all-electric CMF-EV platform that made its debut in the new Mégane E-Tech Electric. Whereas that forthcoming vehicle is a competitor for Volkswagen’s ID.3, the Scenic will be a rival to the ID.4. Autointernationaal expects that the new Scenic E-Tech Electric will go on sale in 2024. It is rumoured that a concept teased as Renault revealed its 2021 results, and due to be fully revealed in May, will hint at the new production model. Renault boss Luca de Meo said: “This concept will announce a future product. When we do concepts, we want to turn them into real cars”. When asked directly if the reborn Scenic would retain an MPV bodystyle, de Meo replied: “No. We are not going to do another MPV; we’re going to make a more progressive model than that”. He added that the Scenic would need to offer “space and range” beyond that of the forthcoming Megane. The new Scenic will only be available as a 5-seater. When asked at last year’s Munich Motor Show if the CMF-EV platform could support 7 seats, Renault’s executive vice-president of engineering, Gilles Le Borgne, told me: “No, it’s not planned to do that. We can have 4-wheel drive, but not 3 rows”. That doesn’t rule out a new 7-seat Grand Scenic model on a revised CMF-EV platform at some stage. And Le Borgne’s comments did imply that a successor to the four-wheel-drive RX4 version of the original Scenic would be technically possible. The new Scenic is expected to follow the design of the Mégane, with a taller version of its sister car’s new crossover styling, but with a few tweaks to the styling details. Expect the front end to be bluffer than the Megane’s, and with an unusual light treatment featuring LED running lights running vertically up each front corner, along with slim LED headlights and an oversized version of the latest Renault diamond logo in the centre. The back should feature a tailgate that opens right down to bumper level with the now-familiar full-width light bar that’ll do its best to add a feeling of width to this tall EV. The CMF-EV platform should allow 2 different takes on the Scenic to be offered. A cheaper version with a 40 kWh battery and a range of around 320 km would target buyers in urban areas, while a 60 kWh battery is likely to appeal to those wanting to take their families on longer journeys. Rapid charging should enable a top-up from 15 to 80 per cent in around 30 minutes, while the latest electronic safety and driver-assistance technology should maintain the Scenic’s reputation for excellent crash-safety scores. Inside, the taller Scenic should go some way to answering criticisms over a shortage of space in the back seats of the Mégane; one of few drawbacks of the new model. The greater height will have huge benefits in the boot, too. And as with the original Scenic, expect some clever seat-folding engineering that will let the car switch simply from 5-seater to Van. Elsewhere, the Scenic is expected to make use of the Megane’s impressive interior technology, with a 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster that’s seamlessly linked to a 12 inch portrait-orientated infotainment screen, powered by Google. Expect eco-friendly sustainable materials to feature throughout the cabin, too. Even though large 20 inch wheels are likely to follow on to the Scenic from the Megane, Renault engineers will probably move the focus more towards comfort to suit more family-orientated buyers. However, unlike with the upcoming new Renault 5 EV, Renault performance arm Alpine has no plans to fettle either the Megane or the Scenic, concentrating on its own CMF-EV SUV model, the GT X-Over that’s set to arrive after the Scenic in 2025. +++

+++ TESLA plans to start work on a new plant in Shanghai as soon as next month as part of a plan to more than double production capacity in China to meet growing demand for its cars in the country and export markets, 2 people familiar with the matter told. Once the new plant is fully operational, Tesla will have the capacity to produce up to 2 million cars per year at its expanded Shanghai facility, the company’s main export hub, according to the people, who asked not to be identified in discussing still-private plans. The new plant will be located in the vicinity of its existing production base in Lingang, Pudong New Area. Tesla declined to comment. The expansion, if it goes ahead, would give Tesla EV-dedicated production capacity in the world’s largest auto market on a par with more established brands in China. In comparison, Toyota produced 1.6 million vehicles in China in 2021. General Motors produced 1.4 million with its major Chinese partner SAIC Motor. Volkswagen plans to have capacity to make 1 million EVs in China by 2023. The cost of the planned expansion and Tesla’s timetable for completion were not immediately known. Tesla started production at its Shanghai plant (also known as the Gigafactory 3) less than a year after breaking ground. The plant makes the Model 3 and the Model Y. Expansion plans for the existing plant aim to put Tesla on track to produce around 1 million vehicles this year, 2 sources familiar with the expansion plans told, though one said this also depended on the availability of parts. Tesla has projected to take its weekly production to about 22.000 vehicles at the plant in the coming months, one of the sources said. That production rate would amount to about 1.1 million vehicles over a year, more than double the plant’s original projected capacity. Reuters previously reported that Tesla could expand its capacity on the existing site. The Shanghai city government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Shanghai has been a supporter of Tesla’s establishment of a wholly-owned factory in China; the first foreign auto plant not required to form a joint venture with a Chinese partner. In a regulatory filing with Shanghai earlier this week, Tesla said it planned to expand parts production at its Shanghai factory, hiring additional workers and running its factory for longer in a day, to meet growing export demand. Tesla sales have surged in China and its Shanghai factory has become a crucial export hub to markets such as Germany and Japan. Last year, Tesla’s China-made cars accounted for around half of the 936.000 vehicles it delivered globally, based on calculations using China Passenger Car Association data. Earlier this month, Tesla said its China revenue more than doubled in 2021 to $13.8 billion from the previous year. Elon Musk also said in October that Shanghai had surpassed its Fremont, California factory (the company’s first plant) in output. Tesla has faced delays in opening a plant in Germany. Musk had originally aimed to open a Berlin plant in July last year. Approval for the plant has been complicated by a court case challenging a license granted to its water supplier. +++

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