Newsflash: nieuwe Bugatti wordt een stekker hybride

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+++ Croatia-based Rimac purchased a controlling stake in BUGATTI in July 2021. While some worried that the tie-up would lead to badge-engineering, the company has confirmed that the Chiron’s successor will not be merely an existing EV dressed in a swanky French suit. “The easiest thing for us would be to take the Nevera, slam a Bugatti logo on it, and call it a day, but I was against it. I’m an electric car guy, but a Bugatti should still have a combustion engine for some time”, company founder Mate Rimac explained. So badge-engineering is off the table, then; Bugatti fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Rimac added that future Bugatti models will be developed from scratch and in-house, and that his team will go to significant lengths to keep development costs in check in order to boost profitability. But while a Bugatti EV isn’t around the corner, it doesn’t sound like the model that takes the torch from the Chiron will keep the W16 alive. “The car will be heavily electrified, but we’ll have a very attractive combustion engine. When people see the next-generation Bugatti, I think they will be surprised that I was pushing for something like that because people associate me with electric cars. But, I have always been a performance guy and a car freak. Considering the brand and the customers and the technology available, I think that we are developing the best possible solution for Bugatti, which is not an electric car today. It will be one day, but not today”, Rimac continued. While he stopped short of providing technical details, “heavily electrified” and “a very attractive combustion engine” are statements that confirm the Chiron’s successor will land with a hybrid powertrain. And, as of writing, there’s no word yet on what the car will look like, both visually and mechanically. It could again take the form of a coupe with a mid-mounted engine, or it could adopt a different layout. We don’t know when Bugatti will unveil its next car, though it doesn’t sound like the company is in a rush: Its order book is full until 2025, according to Rimac. The final Chiron build slots have been spoken for, and the track-focused Bolide is sold-out as well. After a record-breaking 2021, Bugatti plans to build and deliver 80 cars in 2022, including the first examples of the EB110-inspired Centodieci. Meanwhile, the Croatian firm has launched production of the Nevera, its second model, after several delays linked to the ongoing chip shortage. “The first customer cars are on the line. We will deliver them in the next 2 months”, the company’s founder revealed. +++

+++ LUCID MOTOR slumped after lowering its production target for this year to between 12.000 and 14.000 cars, down from a previous goal of 20.000, citing “extraordinary” challenges with logistics and its supply chain. The maker of luxury electric vehicles also came up short on its goal for deliveries last year. Lucid delivered 125 of its Air sedans in the final quarter after planning to ship more than 500, it said in an earnings statement. Lucid also delayed the launch of its second vehicle, the Gravity SUV, from 2023 to the first half of 2024. “The delay will allow competitor offerings more time in the market in advance of Lucid”, Ali Faghri, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities, said. The postponement “could make taking incremental market share in a more competitive market challenging”. The firm noted “overwhelmingly positive” reviews on Lucid vehicles so far. Lucid tumbled 13 % to $25.35 before the start of regular trading Tuesday in New York. The stock had dropped 24 % this year through Monday. The company has produced more than 400 Air sedans and has delivered more than 300 to customers. It reported more than 25.000 reservations for the vehicle and booked $26.4 million in fourth-quarter revenue. Lucid is struggling more to secure supplies of parts such as window glass and interior carpeting than of computer chips, shortages of which have tripped up other automakers, chief executive officer Peter Rawlinson said on a conference call. The carmaker is navigating the procurement issues by offering to help key suppliers with logistical problems, switching contracts to new suppliers and bringing some processes in-house. What Bloomberg Intelligence Says “Heavy capital spending approaching $2 billion in 2022, combined with slashed production targets due to supply-chain constraints, may chew up more than half of Lucid’s $6.2 billion of cash this year, a bump in the road for its long-term aspirations. A capital raise is possible this year”. Joel Levington, BI credit analyst Rawlinson said in the statement that he expects the supply-chain issues to ease in the second half of this year and expressed confidence that Lucid is poised to capitalize on demand for its vehicles. A 2.85 million-square-foot expansion of its Casa Grande, Arizona, vehicle assembly facility is “on track,” according to the statement. Lucid also said it recently leased land in Saudi Arabia where it plans to build its second factory. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund owns more than 60 % of Lucid Motor. Lucid said that it expects to start construction on the Saudi Arabian factory this year. Chairman Andrew Liveris previously told that he expects the second plant to open by 2026. Lucid became 1 of 2 electric-vehicle producers to make their first deliveries late last year, along with Amazon.com backed Rivian Automotive. Newark, California-based Lucid is targeting a much higher-end buyer than Rivian; the initial version of Lucid’s Air sedan costs $169.000. The Air’s launch has had problems. Lucid last week issued a recall over a potential safety defect. The company also shipped some of the first sedans without a promised driver-assistance feature, which the company promised to add after delivery through an over-the-air software update. +++

+++ The new MERCEDES-AMG brought back a lot of features that were available on its predecessors; it notably comes with a power-folding cloth soft top. It could also become the first SL to offer a four-cylinder engine since the early 1960s, according to a recent report. An entry-level model called SL 43 will join the line-up in March 2022. It will trade the twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V8 found in the SL 55 and SL 63 variants for a 2.0-liter 4 cylinder equipped with an electric turbocharger. The engine (which is called M254 internally) will reportedly develop 390 horsepower, though a mild-hybrid system will add 20 horses to the cavalry. It sounds like the 43 will come standard with rear-wheel-drive; in contrast, both V8-powered models are all-wheel-drive-only here. Subtle visual tweaks will set the SL 43 apart from the V8-powered models, including round exhaust outlets. Looking ahead, the M254 engine will also appear in the entry-level version of the next-generation GT coupe and in the mid-range C 43 evolution of the W206 C-Class. Mercedes-Benz hasn’t commented on the report, and it hasn’t announced plans to expand the SL range towards the bottom. If the report is accurate, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL 43 will make its debut in the coming weeks, and it will go on sale in some markets in March 2022. Rear-view mirror For decades, the SL has been associated with prestigious large-displacement engines; the past three generations were even available with a mighty V12, a configuration that we’re unlikely to see again. We need to travel to 1955 to find a 4-cylinder engine under an SL’s hood. Mercedes-Benz launched the nameplate in 1954 as a coupe with gullwing doors and a 3.0-liter straight-6 between its long fenders, and it added a two-seater roadster powered by a 1.9-liter 4 cylinder called 190SL to its catalog the following year. Fed by a pair of Solex carburetors, the M121 engine sent 105 horsepower and 140 Nm to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. Production ended in 1963, when the second-generation model made its debut, and every subsequent SL had 6 or more cylinders. +++

+++ RIVIAN is “making progress” in the increase of production for electric vehicles at its Illinois assembly plant and is aiming to take 10 % share in the EV market by 2030, chief executive officer R.J. Scaringe said. “We’re absolutely making progress”, he said during a conference of the push to increase vehicle production. “The plant is starting to ramp nicely”. Scaringe said Rivian, whose shares closed up 10.7 % at $63.71, idled the plant for the first 10 days of January to make changes on the production lines in a move to boost output. Scaringe, responding to a question about how big Rivian could become by 2030, said the company had the brand position “to build out a portfolio, to allow us to really work toward building a position of 10% market share within the EV space”. He called the global semiconductor chip shortage the “most painful” constraint in the push to build production. The California-based startup produced 1.015 vehicles last year, coming up short of its target of 1.200 due to supply-chain constraints. Scaringe said Rivian had replaced some chipsets in certain parts with other chipsets that are easier to get. He said the global shortage would be a factor through the rest of the year. Rivian’s stock slumped after it outlined during its first quarterly earnings report as a public company its struggles with the manufacturing of its R1T pickup and R1S SUV. It also has a contract to build 100.000 electric delivery vans by 2025 for Amazon.com, which has a 20 % stake in Rivian. Back in December, Scaringe pegged production challenges to global supply-chain constraints, the Covid-19 pandemic, a tight labor market and short-term issues around building electric battery modules. Scaringe said Thursday Rivian was building a pilot line for in-house production of battery cell production and also plans to co-invest with a supplier on production as well. Rivian’s cells are currently supplied by Samsung SDI. He also said automakers will need to work on securing critical battery materials like lithium and nickel. “It’s not a choice. It’s a requirement”, he said. +++

+++ Global auto and truck makers have suspended some business in RUSSIA following that country’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces invaded Ukraine, marking the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II. Many firms have idled operations in Russia following Western sanctions against Russia. Here are the latest updates: Hyundai will suspend its car assembly plant in Russia’s St Petersburg due to supply chain interruptions, Interfax newsagency reported on Tuesday, citing a company official for the South Korean company in Russia. Mitsubishi said on Tuesday that it may suspend production and sale of its cars in Russia as economic sanctions imposed on Russia could trigger supply chain disruptions. Volvo said it would suspend car shipments to the Russian market until further notice, becoming the first international automaker to do so as sanctions over the invasion continue to bite. In a statement, the company said it had made the decision because of “potential risks associated with trading material with Russia, including the sanctions imposed by the EU and US. Volvo will not deliver any cars to the Russian market until further notice”, it said. A spokesman said the carmaker exports vehicles to Russia from plants in Sweden, China and the United States. This came as Russia warned Sweden and Finland not to join NATO or risk facing “serious military-political consequences”. Volvo sold around 9.000 cars in Russia in 2021, based on industry data. Volkswagen warned of production cuts at some of its plants including the one in Wolfsburg as Ukraine-based suppliers have been facing difficulties delivering after Russia’s invasion. The company said it would likely be unable to produce at its Wolfsburg plant in the week of March 14 as a result, adding the factory would already produce less from the week of March 6. The group also said it had temporarily halted production of Volkswagen brand electric vehicles at its Zwickau and Dresden plants this week and could not rule out further production adjustments. Earlier in the week, Volkswagen temporarily suspended deliveries of cars to dealers until further notice. “Deliveries are to resume as soon as the effects of the sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States have been clarified”, a VW spokesperson said. Volkswagen previously said it would halt production for a few days this week at 2 German factories after a delay in getting parts made in Ukraine. Czech carmaker Skoda, part of Volkswagen, will limit some production at its domestic plants due to supply shortages after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while it said its Russian operations were still running. “Due to the current situation in Ukraine, Skoda is facing critical supply shortages of parts from several local suppliers that have effect on some of our models”, it said. “This is the reason why we will limit production of the Enyaq iV from this week on”. Skoda said its supply chain consisted of a number of suppliers in western Ukraine. The Czech carmaker said production was still running at its 2 plants in Russia, which has been hit by Western sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine. Answering a question on any impact on production and operations in the event of further sanctions on Russia, Skoda said: “Impacts can certainly be expected, but the final decision and future direction will be determined by the Skoda board and in consultation with the Volkswagen Group”. Russia was Skoda’s second-largest market in 2021, with over 90.000 vehicles delivered. Ukraine has also been a stable market, it said. “The sales strategy in Russia and Ukraine is currently the subject of intensive discussions. Sales in both Ukraine and Russia can be expected to fall in view of recent developments”, Skoda said. Earlier, RIA news agency reported Volkswagen had temporarily suspended deliveries of cars already in Russia to local dealerships, citing a company statement. Ford, which has a 50 % stake in 3 Russian plants, previously said it was working to manage any impacts on its operations but its primary focus was the safety of its employees in the region. General Motors: GM said it would suspend all vehicle exports to Russia until further notice. The Detroit company does not have plants in Russia, only sells about 3.000 vehicles annually there and has limited supply-chain exposure. “Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine at this time”, GM said in a statement. “The loss of life is a tragedy and our overriding concern is for the safety of people in the region”. +++

+++ STELLANTIS has announced a wide-ranging plan for the company through 2030 covering everything from product to financials. The product plans are what really caught our attention, particularly for the surprise reveal of the first electric Jeep, as well as new teasers of the electric Ram 1500. But the company also provided more broad details on what we’ll be seeing in the future including both electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. All of the plans are in service of the Stellantis goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2038. On that way, it plans for all European vehicle sales and half of all American sales to be electric by 2030. It will launch 75 new electric vehicles by that year, and at least 25 of them will be coming to the U.S. The first of those electric cars will be the aforementioned Jeep in 2023, but many Stellantis models will follow close behind. The electric Ram ProMaster will launch in 2023 as well. In 2024, we’ll see the electric Ram (and its plug-in hybrid counterpart), 2 more Jeeps (an off-road model and a family-oriented model) and the Dodge electric muscle car. We’ll get a preview of the Dodge with a concept this year. Then in 2025, Chrysler will launch its electric car, likely based on the Airflow concept. Stellantis has previously announced Chrysler will be fully electric by 2028, and it further announced that Alfa Romeo and Maserati will be fully electric by 2030. Stellantis is also working on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, mainly for commercial use. For the U.S., it plans on offering a large, ProMaster-size hydrogen van in 2025. That year or a little later, it also has plans for a hydrogen heavy-duty pickup truck, presumably Ram 2500 and 3500. Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares noted that among the benefits of hydrogen for large and commercial vehicles is being able to avoid compromising payload capacity, since hydrogen powertrains are lighter than giant batteries. Hydrogen filling times are quick relative to charging, too. The company will continue working on and offering advanced driver aids. This year it will offer hands-free cruise control like GM’s Super Cruise and Ford’s BlueCruise. In 2024, the company intends to introduce a system that is hands-free and won’t require the driver to be watching it the entire time. The technology is being developed alongside BMW. These are, of course, broad plans, and they could change as time goes on. Expect more details as we get closer to individual product releases. +++

+++ VOLVO recently hosted a gathering in Miami for North and South American retailers. A few attendees, perhaps proud of what Volvo had to say, shared some details on the proceedings with the media. Volvo’s pledge to become an all-EV brand by 2030 will commence with 5 new electric vehicles and 2 plug-in hybrids in the coming years. First up is a full-sized, 3-row crossover said to get its vibe from the Concept Recharge. I figure this will be the long-rumored and occasionally canceled XC100, but that’s only an educated guess. We’ve seen no spy shots of such a vehicle yet, but sales aspirations for the full-sizer are about 20.000 units for next year. If that’s the case, something should appear soon. Around two years after the potential XC100 comes an EV codenamed V546 that Autointernationaal reported on earlier this month. Said to slot in between the XC60 and XC90, this tweener could be about the length of the Ford Edge. The sources claim it will ride on a new electric platform, which could be the SPA2 bones that will support the coming electric XC90 and that the Concept Recharge electric crossover study sits on. This one goes into production in the U.S., at Volvos’ Ridgeville, South Carolina plant, and in China. The plan is to sell 100.000 units annually. At some point, the XC60 gets a battery-electric variant. The 4th EV will be a dinky silent runner that slides in under the XC40 Recharge. Referred to in the past as the XC10, XC20 and XC30, previous reportage claims this will ride on the Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) sourced from parent company Geely. The fifth EV was only mentioned as being a sedan, which is another mysterious entry. The S90 and XC90 are getting new PHEV generations, the crossover still expected to inaugurate proper names to the Swedish automaker’s lineup. Volvo’s planning a hiring spree for the South Carolina plant that only makes the S60 sedan at the moment. One of the new EV crossovers will start down lines there later this year, along with Polestar’s middleweight performance crossover, then the potential XC100 (or whatever its proper name is) begins assembly there in 2023. +++

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