Newsflash: hybride techniek voor Nissan Juke


+++ The all-new BMW iX, in the entry-level xDrive40 version, equipped with Pirelli PZero Elect 255/50 R21 109/Y tyres, performed relatively well in the Moose Test. The car was able to successfully complete the test at a maximum initial speed of 74 kph. The regenerative braking was set at a normal / medium level. In general, with stronger regenerative braking the car starts to reduce the speed quicker (when removing foot from the accelerator), which makes it easier to complete the test, compared to a low regenerative braking setting. Various tries at higher speeds failed, but considering the weight (2.530 kg) and size of the BMW iX, it’s not a bad result. For reference, the 2016 Tesla Model X was able to achieve 71 kph. Some Audi models performed better: 2019 Audi e-tron at 77 kph and 2020 Audi e-tron Sportback at 76 kph. We assume that the BMW iX xDrive50 might achieve a slightly lower maximum initial speed due to a bigger and heavier battery: 111.5 kWh battery, compared to 76.6 kWh in the xDrive40. +++

+++ The CUPRA Born, an MEB-based cousin of the Volkswagen ID.3, has also been tested recently in the Moose Test. It was a rear-wheel-drive version with a 62 kWh battery and equipped with Bridgestone Turanza Eco Enliten 215/45 R20 95T tyres. According to the test, the car was able to successfully complete the test at a maximum initial speed of 47 75 kph. The result is slightly better than in the case of the Volkswagen ID.4 at 72 kph. Unfortunately, there is no test result for the ID.3. Nonetheless, the Cupra Born is significantly behind the Tesla Model 3/Model Y, which are the top models on the list at 83 kph. +++

+++ The next LEXUS RC will take cues from the Toyota GR GT3 Concept that we saw at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon. That’s according to Toyota Racing Development (TRD) president David Wilson, who hinted so in an interview. “It’s fairly safe to connect the dots and suggest that that could be a precursor to the next global GT3 car for Lexus”, Wilson told. As we know, the current RC F GT3 race car shares its body with the road car. Wilson also echoed what we know about the company’s direction on the development of the next-generation Lexus RC. In an interview with the TRD president, alongside Lexus general manager Andrew Gilleland, both confirmed that the next RC and RC F will be developed with motorsports in mind. That’s in contrast with the current Lexus RC and its race car counterpart. Wilson acknowledged that making it a GT3 car was an afterthought. This will not be the case with the next model. “Our Lexus RC F is a dynamite sports car, but I’ll be candid and say that it’s not a GT3 car”, Wilson said. “The current generation that we’re racing right now was an afterthought to make it a GT3 car. That’s not the way you bring a race car to market. Before you put the first line on paper, as an engineer, you determine that that’s going to race”. That said, expect a lighter Lexus RC and RC F in the next few years. A lighter coupe would mean better performance, which gave birth to the RC F Track Edition and Fuji Speedway Edition, both using carbon fibre for weight savings, therefore, improving overall performance. This brings us to the next question: when? +++


+++ MAZDA recently launched an updated version of the CX-5, its bestselling car, and is primed to unveil the CX-60 as the first in a wave of hybrid models. As the brand embarks on a pivotal era of transformation and electrification, I caught up with managing director Jeremy Thomson to hear just how radically its positioning has evolved in recent years and how it could reach even loftier heights in the near future. Question: What are your priorities for Mazda? Answer: “Our aspirations are to become a credible alternative to the traditional mainstream premium and that means non-German. We’re not looking to mimic German premium because that’s very well catered for with the existing incumbents and probably impossible to beat them at their own game. But we do strongly feel that there is a place for a Japanese premium and that means defining what we mean by Japanese premium and that will take some time to deliver. At the moment, of course, Lexus operates in that area and is about a third the size of Mazda in sales terms. We’re trying to find a slightly different space from where they sit today”. Q: So do Lexus and Mazda share some positioning? A: “I’m not sure I could say why not. Lexus has really been the only premium Japanese brand. There is no one else in that space. “The rest of the Japanese brands operate in mainstream, though obviously all aspire to move towards the right-hand corner of the brand chart over time. “I think we’ve got some momentum now behind our journey and we have quite a unique approach to powertrains and the overall driving experience. The belief that the driver is at the heart of the car is more than just a brand cliché: it really is something that is designed in to Mazda products, going back to the fundamentals of MX-5”.  Q: How do you target a mainstream audience with more premium products? A: “It starts in quality, styling, technology and the features we offer the driver; many as standard. It’s the overall experience. I wouldn’t point at any one aspect. We have a different approach to design to some of our other Japanese manufacturer colleagues in that the ‘car as art’ is important to Mazda, to try to have simplicity and a beautiful product that customers aspire to, rather than clutter. We’ve all perhaps been victims and creators of that in the past”. Q: Is this approach resonating with buyers? A: “The sales stats suggest they are. What is a brand? It’s the premium someone’s willing to pay above and beyond the cost of the materials made to make something. The reason you’ll pay extra is that you have a desire to own that brand and it’s not always a tangible thing. You’re not buying something physical. Last year, the industry was up 1 % and we were up 14 %, and in private retail the industry was up 6 % and we were up 12 %. That’s in a crisis year. “People are still seeking out and wanting to own Mazda products, and as we go in 2022, we anticipate growing our volumes by around 25%, which is way ahead of the expected industry growth, and we’ll be doing that off the back of extraordinary customer demand at the moment”. Q: How is Mazda evolving its business model in Europe? A: “We’ve decided to stick with the traditional dealer relationship, which serves us and our customers very well. Different manufacturers have different reasons for going down the agency route, but we don’t think it’s for us. Our dealers in lockdown made great leaps forward in terms of online transactions and similarly we’ve supported them with updates to the way we approach it. We still believe it’s going to be mainly omni-channel. We don’t believe there will be much evidence, in the coming years, of a full end-to-end online purchase process. We believe the value to the customer is in the interpersonal engagement with well-trained and enthusiastic dealer staff”. Q: Will Mazda be ready to meet the 2035 EV deadline? A: “We have one BEV today, the MX-30. It hasn’t had a full year of sales but in 2021 it was approaching 10 % of our total volume. That’s a little behind the overall market at around 11 % BEV last year. The forecast us that BEVs will still be less than one-fifth of all car sales in 2023. By then, we will be well on the way to launching 5 HEVs, 5 PHEVs and 3 EVs globally, the majority of which I expect to see in Europe. We’ve made a full commitment that we’ll be electrified in time for the 2035 deadlines. What I think is interesting is the nuance within that, the cadence of it and the appropriateness of it to what people actually want to buy and what they’re capable of having. Our multi-platform strategy gives us many more options for people’s quite different approaches to this”. Q: “Will we be ready for these legislative lines in the sand? A: Absolutely, we’ve got a business to run. But it’s not going to be as binary as ’the internal combustion engine is dead and the electric car is the only way forward today’. We have a much more progressive and nuanced approach to it”. Q: Do a lot of Mazda customers still tie the brand into the legacy of the MX-5? A: “Yes, in a very helpful way to be honest. It provides a very positive anchor to the brand, a kind of focal point, and when you talk to customers about an MX-5, they know what it is so you don’t have to explain the principles of a lightweight, affordable roadster. “I’m truly hopeful there will be a place for that car line for many, many years to come”. +++

+++ By now, you should have heard of the evasive safety test called the Moose Test. The assessment aims to exhibit how easily (or challenging) it is for a subject car to evade a sudden obstacle on the road, like a moose crossing the street. The MERCEDES E-Class Estate is the latest subject of the dreaded moose test. It isn’t the first Mercedes to have undergone the assessment, and it did okay. The long-roof Mercedes E-Class here was a 300de 4Matic, which is a plug-in hybrid diesel that runs on all fours. It was wearing Pirelli Cinturato P7 245/45 R18 at the front and 275/40 R18 at the back. It’s quite heavy, though, tipping the scales at 2.215 kilograms. Although the E-Class Estate failed to avoid all cones at 77 kph, it was able to do so at 46 kph but failed to return to the lane. Finally, the Merc estate passed the test at 75 kph, avoiding all the cones and returning to the lane safely. The result here wasn’t impressive, as we’ve seen an Opel Insignia pass the same test at 83 kph, but at least it’s better than the Volkswagen Golf and Mercedes CLA, both performing under 70 kph. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class will be getting a new-generation model by the end of the year, reaching showrooms in 2023. In fact, the E-Class sedan is no longer available to order as all the production slots have been taken. Hopefully, the next generation will perform better in evasive manoeuvres. +++

+++ The NISSAN Juke will gain a new hybrid powertrain this summer, promising more responsive performance and lower emissions. Nissan expects the model, which receives several internal and external design changes, to be a “key addition” to its range. It pairs a 92 hp 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 48 hp electric motor for a total of 140 hp. Nissan claims CO2 emissions are capped at 118 g/km. The hybrid powertrain is a result of Nissan’s alliance with Renault. The Japanese firm supplies the engine and motor, while Renault provides the gearbox, high-voltage 15kW starter-generator and 1.2 kWh water-cooled battery. It’s capable of fully electric start-up by default. The bodywork below the bumper has been made more aerodynamic, with improved airflow and reduced drag, while the rear spoiler has been “reprofiled”. Hybrid badges appear on the front doors and the tailgate, while the front grille features the new Nissan logo and black-gloss material, as seen on the larger Qashqai. The Juke Hybrid offers new two-tone 17 inch alloy wheels and a 19 inch design inspired by those fitted to the upcoming Ariya electric SUV. Inside, it gains a new set of dials behind the steering wheel, accommodating a power gauge, a needle to denote regenerative charge and an indicator for the battery charge level. Boot space is reduced by 68 litres from the 1.0-litre turbo petrol Juke, down to 354 litres to accommodate the 1.2 kWh battery pack. However, Nissan claims it’s still class-leading when the rear seats are folded down, at 1.237 litres. The Juke Hybrid also gains a driving-mode selection button that can be used to switch it into 100 % EV mode, and power usage can be displayed on the central 7.0 inch infotainment touchscreen. “We’re in the middle of an electrified product offensive that places equal emphasis on eco efficiency and driving pleasure”, said Arnaud Charpentier, regional vice-president for product strategy at Nissan. “Like all of our electrified products, the Juke Hybrid rewrites the rules in its segment, thanks to the bold innovation that delivers more performance and more efficiency”. The Juke Hybrid forms part of Nissan’s plans to electrify its entire model range by 2023. “Nissan’s electrified product strategy is gaining momentum and the Juke Hybrid will represent another milestone on our strategic ambition to have fully electrified range by 2023”, said Guillaume Cartier, Nissan’s chairman in Europe. +++


+++ SKODA is set to follow its Volkswagen and Cupra stablemates in offering a compact urban EV atop the Volkswagen Group’s MEB Entry architecture. The new model will essentially serve as a replacement for the axed Citigo-e iV. Asked when Skoda will show off a sibling to the Volkswagen ID 2 and Cupra Urban Rebel, Skoda CEO Thomas Schäfer said: “Our colleagues from Seat, Cupra and Volkswagen are pushing ahead a little stronger on that side. Within the group, we’re balancing this a bit. We’re coming shortly with an announcement on this one but rest assured it will be differentiated from our sister brands and a beautiful concept that really fits Skoda”. Volkswagen and Cupra unveiled radically different takes on the electric city car formula at last year’s Munich motor show, with the ID.Life taking the form of a chunky, T-Cross-size crossover and the Urban Rebel sitting closer to the ground and drawing obvious inspiration from hot hatchbacks. Both are due on sale in 2025, but given that Skoda has yet to show its interpretation of the formula, the brand is likely to enter the segment some time later. Skoda has historically pitched its models at a lower price point than their Volkswagen Group siblings, but whether it will be able to undercut the ID 2’s targeted €22.000 in the Netherlands remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it will be similar in its technical make-up, given the modularity of the MEB architecture. The ID.Life concept, which previews the ID.2, measures 4.091 mm long and 1.845 mm wide, figures that Skoda’s smallest EV is expected to broadly match. However, it’s unclear whether Skoda will seek to position it as an entry-level SUV or have it ride closer to the ground like a conventional city car. Notably, Volkswagen has previously hinted that the ID.2 will be twinned with a lower-slung but similarly sized model called the ID.1, which paves the way for Seat, Cupra and Skoda to each launch a pair of entry-level EVs. +++

+++ TWO STROKE ENGINES have become topical again after news emerged that Mazda has applied for a patent on a supercharged two-stroke engine design. Two-strokes differ from four-strokes (all current production car piston engines) in that each cylinder in a two-stroke engine produces power twice as often as a four-stroke for the same number of cycles. The most traditional two-strokes have no camshafts, poppet valves or any other kind of moving machinery in the top end of the engine, which makes them lighter, cheaper, simpler and able to generate more power per kilogramme. Because of that, they’ve been ideal for motorcycles, producing more bangs for the buck in a lighter package. Instead of valves letting air in and exhaust out, the most basic two-stroke designs have transfer ports in the cylinder barrels to pump air and fuel up into the combustion chamber via the crankcase using pressure below the piston. Not only does that prevent the storing of oil in the crankcase like the average four-stroke does, but it also rules out having a separate oil lubrication system at all. Oil must be mixed with the petrol instead, as anyone who owns two-stroke garden equipment will know. The emissions they produce mean the use of a petrol-oil mix in modern cars is out of the question. There have been attempts to get round the problem by using four-stroke mechanicals. Australian firm Orbital tried it in the 1990s and Ford ran prototypes fitted with it. A Chrysler experimental engine division also developed one with valves in the cylinder head and oil in the sump, like a four-stroke. The Mazda invention is also close in design to a four-stroke and takes advantage of the sophistication and speed of modern electronics to overcome the limitations of those previous designs. Like Mazda’s four-stroke Skyactiv-X engine, it can run in both lean-burn, spark-controlled compression ignition (SCCI) at low and medium power and as a conventional spark-ignition engine at high power, and it is equipped with direct petrol injection and a belt-driven roots blower to achieve the lean-burn operation. The idea is that the engine is super-frugal in SCCI mode at low to medium power, switching to spark ignition for high power. Variable valve timing (VVT) allows some incoming air to escape before it’s compressed on the compression stroke, effectively lowering the compression ratio. VVT also allows both valves to be opened to scavenge exhaust from the engine, with pressure from the blower forcing gases from the exhaust port and preventing them from entering the inlet tract at the same time. Combustion systems are always conceived and tested on single-cylinder engines to start with, but this design could work with as many cylinders as Mazda wanted. Mazda says there are no specific plans for using it and it’s hard to see where it could fit into its product line-up. But in theory, it could be applied to a range-extender generator, for example, as well as forming the basis for a lightweight powertrain in its own right. This is a job for superturbo Superturbo Technologies and Linamar in the US are collaborating to bring a new emissions-reducing technology to the market for large commercial engines. The Superturbo is able to control the speed of the turbo independently of the engine’s exhaust gas flow by adding or subtracting power to or from the turbocharger shaft. The Superturbo improves the efficiency of diesel, hydrogen and natural gas engines. +++

+++ VOLVO held a dealer conference in Miami and told some 800 attendees all about its plans for the near future that include seven new electrified vehicles of which 5 will be all-electric. They also detailed plans to scale up production and what kind of technology will find its way into these new vehicles. An unnamed source who said they were at the conference, laid out many of the brand’s aspirations and they center around the electrification of the entire lineup by 2030. The first all-electric product should resemble the Concept Recharge unveiled in 2021 and could actually go into production later this year for the 2023 model year. According to the source, Volvo told dealers that they hoped to sell 20.000 units annually of that upcoming SUV. That’s just the tip of the EV iceberg though as Volvo has another crossover internally known as V546 which they hope will sell some 100.000 units each year. Positioned between the XC60 and the XC90, it’s slated for production around 2025. It’s also notable because it will be built at the brand’s South Carolina production facility. Project V546 will actually be the third EV built at the plant by the time it arrives in 2025. Before that, the Polestar 3 and the aforementioned Concept Recharge-inspired EV will both see production in 2023. Volvo also revealed that an all-electric version of the XC60 and a brand new vehicle that will slot below the XC40 are in the works; moreover, it showed off redesigned versions of the S90 and XC90 plug-in hybrids. To tackle all of these new plans, Volvo will be employing an “ambitious hiring plan” which is needed because the South Carolina production facility currently operates well below its annual capacity. According to the same source, Volvo also highlighted its upcoming “Hands-free, eyes-off” Ride Pilot driving technology. The system uses more than 24 sensors including LiDAR and ultrasonic to help the AI understand the world around it. It goes into testing this year in California and we expect to see it as a subscription-based feature offered first on the upcoming flagship electric SUV. +++

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