Newsflash: Volvo blijft XC90 naast Embla verkopen

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+++ The new, facelifted AUDI A6 has been spotted testing on public roads by our spy photographers. The images show a saloon variant of the popular executive car sporting a black and white livery at the front and rear to obscure the model’s revised lines, with the mid-section of the car left uncovered. The precise details of the model’s new look are not clearly visible, but the A6 will gain a subtle styling update over its predecessor. The front end features a newly designed, bulky front grille, sharp headlights and revised air intakes. At the rear, the lower bumper now appears to be lower to the ground and the rear lights have been reshaped. The current A6 has been on sale since 2018 in saloon and Avant estate bodystyles. Both of the prototypes photographed were saloon models. Audi has not yet detailed powertrain information for the new A6, but it’s expected that the model will retain its range of petrol and diesel engines. Audi previewed the potential future direction for the A6 in 2021 when it revealed the A6 e-Tron Concept, based on the firm’s PPE platform. The concept had Quattro all-wheel drive, with an electric motor on each wheel, 700 km of range and a total power output of 468 hp. +++

+++ FISKER has started to expand its model range as it chases after Tesla’s crown. The American electric car manufacturer has already launched the Ocean, which is set to arrive in the Netherlands next year with a starting price of about €48.000. Now, the company has announced its plans for a new, entry-level electric car called the Pear (which is an acronym standing for “Personal Electric Automotive Revolution”). Production is scheduled to start in 2024, and the car is already available to order in the United States. Prices for the EV are set to start from €40.000. Specifications are still thin on the ground, but Fisker has said that the Pear will be a “digitally connected, compact, 5-passenger urban EV”. Judging by that brief (and the rather aggressive price), it sounds like the brand is aiming for the same market as the Volkswagen ID.3, and undercutting the slightly more premium Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2. The car in Fisker’s teaser image looks like a compact crossover. Even though it’s an overhead shot, I can tell the EV will adopt some styling cues from its larger sibling, sharing the same rounded front fascia, short bonnet, flared haunches and flat tail. The reflections at the rear of the car also suggest it’ll have similarly wide rear lamps. Given the lower price-point, I expect the Pear will have a smaller battery pack and less powerful electric motors than the Ocean. The battery on the flagship model has a capacity of more than 80 kWh and range upwards of 550 km, so it’s feasible that this new entry-level EV’s battery pack will be closer to 60 kWh in size, with range dropping to around 320 km. Fisker says it teamed up with the Chinese electronics giant Foxconn to produce the Pear SUV. The Chinese company has long handled the production of the Apple iPhone, but it recently diversified into electric car manufacturing, launching a pair of electric vehicles based on its new Hon Hai Open platform. The smaller of the 2 passenger cars is called the Model C. It’s a compact SUV of a suspiciously similar size and shape to the Fisker Pear, that’s powered by a 58 kWh battery pack and a 1346 hp electric motor. So, it’s likely that Fisker will simply adopt Foxconn’s electric platform and powertrain rather than develop its own. Fisker hasn’t yet confirmed whether the Pear will be sold in Europe, but a spokesman for the brand suggested that it’s a definite possibility, given the amount of interest European customers have shown in the Ocean. Fisker is also anticipating an annual production volume of 250.000 units from launch, with plans to scale that figure up later in the EV’s life. The company’s CEO, Henrik Fisker, said: “Our customer wants to take a step into the future with us. We are opening up reservations for Pear following continued demand. PEAR will feature the very latest technology in a beautifully designed, affordable urban mobility device. It’s an exciting vehicle and an exciting time for the company as we expand our line-up”. +++

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+++ GENERAL MOTORS says it will start making the Chevrolet Bolt EV (Opel Ampera-e) and EUV again in early April after an 8-month pause due to a series of battery fire recalls. The automaker said that battery supplier LG Energy Solution is now making enough to supply replacement modules for the recalls as well as to resume production. The company will start making EV and EUV versions of the Bolt on April 4 at a factory north of Detroit. Those should start reaching dealers a few weeks later. Vehicles on dealer lots at the time of the recalls can be sold once battery modules are replaced. In August, GM expanded a previous recall to more than 140.000 Bolts sold worldwide since 2016 because battery manufacturing defects could cause the vehicles to catch fire. The company said at the time that in rare cases, batteries that have two manufacturing defects can cause fires even when parked. The recall follows reports of 13 battery fires, GM said, which can occur when both defects are present in the battery modules. In October LG agreed to reimburse GM $2 billion for the recall costs, and the company remains in a joint venture with the company to build batteries for its next generation of electric vehicles. The battery fires and recalls have been an embarrassing setback for GM, which has lofty goals of switching from internal combustion to battery powered vehicles. GM sold just under 25.000 Bolts in the U.S. before telling dealers to stop selling them due to the recall in August. To capture U.S. electric vehicle market share leadership, GM plans to spend $35 billion to roll out more than 30 new battery vehicles globally by 2025, including about 20 in North America. The company has said it aspires to make only electric passenger vehicles by 2035. GM has said it plans to overtake Tesla as the world’s leading seller of electric vehicles. Tesla sold just under 353.000 EVs in the U.S. last year, according to estimates from Motorintelligence.com. GM has started selling its Hummer large electric vehicles and plans to start making a Cadillac SUV next month. A Chevy Silverado electric pickup is to follow in 2024. By the end of the decade, GM expects $90 billion in additional annual revenue from electric vehicles. +++

+++ GENESIS , the Hyundai Group’s premium spin-off brand, has announced that its pure-electric GV60 coupe-SUV will go on sale in Europe later this year. The company hasn’t yet given a timeline of when we’ll see it in the showrooms, but we expect it’ll be towards the end of 2022. Key rivals include the Audi Q4 e-tron, Tesla Model Y and Jaguar I-Pace. The Genesis GV60 is built on the same E-GMP underpinnings as the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5. It’s powered by a 77.4 kWh battery pack, which offers a maximum range of 450 km with the entry-level, single-motor, rear-wheel drive model. However, Genesis hasn’t clarified whether that figure was logged under WLTP conditions. The electric motor in the cheapest GV60 Premium produces 230 hp and 350 Nm of torque, but buyers will have a further 2 powertrains to choose from, both of which are dual-motor, all-wheel drive systems. Prices for all 3 models in the SUV’s line-up will be confirmed closer to the car’s European launch date. Sitting in the middle of the line-up is the Genesis GV60 Sport, which features a 218 hp motor on the rear axle and a 100 hp motor up front, for a combined output of 318 hp and 605 Nm of torque. The extra performance cuts the car’s maximum range down to 400 km, although Genesis has fitted a system that disengages the front motor when it’s not needed, maximising efficiency. At the top of the GV60 line-up, there’s an even faster Sport Plus variant. It shares the same dual-motor powertrain as the Kia EV6 GT, which means it produces 435 hp and 605 Nm of torque. Genesis says this model will sprint from 0–100 kph in 4 seconds flat, although range drops again to 370 km according to the Korean test cycle. Genesis has also fitted the GV60 with 2 features that are as-yet unseen on E-GMP-based vehicles from Hyundai and Kia, both of which are only available on the range-topping Sport Plus model. The first is called Boost Mode. It’s activated by a button on the steering wheel, and gives the EV an extra 55 hp and 95 Nm of torque to improve overtaking performance. The second is called Drift Mode, which sounds a little out of place on an electric SUV. Genesis hasn’t gone into too much detail about how the system works, but we know it alters the torque split of the all-wheel drive system to send more power to the rear motor. It also makes the most of the car’s electronic limited-slip differential. Active noise cancelling helps improve refinement, along with a system called Road Preview. This uses data from a camera feed and the navigation to adjust the suspension settings on the fly for extra comfort. With its 800 Volt electronic architecture allowing for a maximum rapid-charge capability of 350 kW, the GV60 can replenish its battery from 10 to 80 per cent in just 18 minutes, while the car’s maximum AC charging performance (for home charging, for example) has been increased from 7.2 kW to 11 kW, compared to its Hyundai and Kia-badged siblings. As per other E-GMP products, the GV60 also supports V2L Vehicle-to-Load functionality, which means users can charge other electronic devices at a faster rate or run equipment such as an outdoor projector. +++

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER and Silicon Valley artificial intelligence company Nvidia said Wednesday they will collaborate to develop the computer brains and nervous systems for Jaguars and Land Rovers launching in 2025 and beyond. The companies did not disclose financial terms of their multiyear agreement. The collaboration is a high-profile win for Nvidia Corp’s effort to expand its reach in the auto industry, building on its base in gaming, artificial intelligence and high-powered chips and software used in servers. For Jaguar Land Rover Automotive, the partnership with Nvidia gives it a well-funded ally as it tries to catch up with Tesla and other luxury vehicle rivals in a digital technology arms race. “We can now accelerate our in-vehicle software”, Francois Dossa, JLR’s executive director for strategy, said during a conference call. Working with Nvidia engineers, Jaguar Land Rover plans to develop vehicles that can drive themselves under certain conditions, park autonomously and provide more information and software-powered features to drivers, the companies said. The new Jaguars will be upgradable, as Tesla vehicles are today. The automaker said it will use Nvidia technology to power simulations used to train autonomous vehicles. Jaguar Land Rover has a previous deal with Alphabet’s Waymo unit to deploy autonomous driving technology. Dossa said the Waymo collaboration was limited to the Jaguar I-Pace. The Nvidia alliance covers all Jaguar and Land Rover models to be launched from 2025. Nvidia technology will act as the brains and the nervous system of Jaguar Land Rover vehicles starting in 2025, said Nvidia’s vice president of automotive, Danny Shapiro. Nvidia last month announced deals with several Chinese electric vehicle brands. The company has said it has $8 billion in automotive business booked over the next six years. Shapiro said the company will update the figure during an investor day scheduled for March 22. Jaguar Land Rover, a subsidiary of India’s Tata Motors, has been struggling with rising costs and semiconductor shortages. Jaguar Land Rover reported a narrow pretax profit for the quarter ended Dec. 31, but Tata Motors reported a larger quarterly loss than expected. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN could decide on where it will build a new electric vehicle plant by the end of March, and plans to boost overall output in the second half of 2022 even though a chip shortage is expected to persist this year. The company had said last year it would build a new state-of-the-art car factory close to its headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, to raise its game as electric-vehicle rival Tesla builds a plant near Berlin. The factory is part of VW group’s Trinity project, under which the carmaker wants to build a flagship electric sedan in Wolfsburg from 2026, a move the VW works council (the company’s union) hopes will secure the site’s future as Volkswagen prepares to stop selling internal combustion engine cars in Europe from 2035. “We are fighting for Trinity production right here in Wolfsburg, which means either on the factory site or in the direct vicinity of the main plant”, works council head Daniela Cavallo said in a statement. Volkswagen’s share price tumbled in the last quarter of 2021 but has partially recovered in recent months, rising slightly on Wednesday’s news from 187.8 euros ($213.81) at the opening to 188.14 euros. The works council said Volkswagen produced 330.000 fewer vehicles than originally planned at the Wolfsburg plant last year due to a lack of semiconductors, with just under 400,000 vehicles rolling off the production line. The carmaker said in early February that night shifts at Wolfsburg would be cut on some production lines because of the lack of chips. Despite the chip supply challenges, chief executive Herbert Diess said in another statement on Wednesday he hoped to increase production in the second half, with top models of Volkswagen’s premium brands already sold out for all of 2022, and its truck businesses also seeing well-filled order books. “The coming months will be hard, but we will carry on being the leading plant for the whole Volkswagen Group here in Wolfsburg. This is where we set the direction for the company”, Cavallo said. +++

+++ VOLVO ’s next-generation XC90 sounds like it will be more of a revolution than a simple evolution. Even the name will change. The firm doesn’t want to alienate buyers, so it will sell the current-generation model alongside its replacement for at least a couple of years. Allegedly called Embla, the XC90’s successor will inaugurate an evolution of the existing SPA2 platform and a number of driver-assistance features. Some rumors claim that it will be offered exclusively with an electric powertrain. Keeping the second-generation model around is a way for Volvo to prevent buyers who don’t want an electric car and who don’t need the latest and greatest tech features from going to the competition. Making the two people-movers in separate factories will ensure that both can be built without creating logistical issues. “That is an advantage of building the new one in Charleston, South Carolina. Why should we close down the old one in Torslanda when you still have a market for hybrids, especially in America and in China?”, said outgoing company boss Håkan Samuelsson in an interview. He stopped short of saying precisely how long the current-generation XC90 will remain in production for, however. Far from worrying about internal competition, Volvo plans to give the XC90 at least one more update in order to help it fend off a growing list of rivals, especially in key markets like the United States. “We will even look into upgrading it so it looks a bit better,” he told the publication. As of writing, it’s the oldest member of the Volvo range: it spearheaded the brand’s revival when it made its debut for the 2016 model year. More information about the XC90’s replacement will emerge in the coming months, and we expect to see the model in late 2022. When it lands, it will be clearly positioned as Volvo’s flagship, a spot that the XC90 has occupied since the first-generation model arrived in 2002. As new cars become more advanced and correspondingly more expensive, keeping an older model around as a budget-oriented option is a strategy that’s slowly gaining ground. Porsche confirmed that the current- and next-generation versions of the Macan will coexist for a few years for reasons not unlike Volvo’s. +++

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