Newsflash: Volvo kopieert productiemethode Tesla


+++ LAND ROVER will soon follow up the launch of the fifth-generation Range Rover with an all-new version of the Range Rover Sport. It’ll hit showrooms at the end of this year, featuring the similar design language and technology as its bigger sibling. Land Rover’s new car will compete with everything from the BMW X5 to the pure-electric Audi e-Tron. The British brand is targeting this breadth of ability by moving the Range Rover Sport onto its new Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA), which supports 48 volt mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric powertrains. These latest spy shots offer our clearest look yet at the next Range Rover Sport’s styling. It’s an evolution over the previous model, featuring the same rough silhouette as its predecessor with a few key design details inspired by the latest Range Rover, such as the flush-fit door handles and headlight cluster that extend round and onto the front wings. The front grille and bumper arrangement is more like the Velar’s, while the rear end also seems to borrow that car’s wrap-around tail lights.The length of the wheelbase appears similar to the old car’s, too, which would make it just under three metres long. However, the car’s front and rear overhangs are significantly shorter. This evolutionary approach to the Sport’s design may well be less challenging than the Range Rover. The Range Rover Sport is one of the brand’s bestselling models, with the previous version of the car outselling the full-size Range Rover almost 2:1. It was also Jaguar Land Rover’s joint-second bestseller in the group’s most recent financial results, trailing only the Evoque. Land Rover’s updates to the interior will be more extensive, though. The car will feature JLR’s recently introduced Pivi Pro system, with an 11.4 inch touchscreen, which we expect will be used across the group’s line-up of next generation MLA-based models. Buyers will still have a choice of combustion engines on the next Range Rover Sport, but the big news is that the SUV is also going to be available with a pure-electric powertrain. Jaguar Land Rover has previously confirmed that it will collaborate with BMW on the electric drive units for its next-generation vehicles. The electric Range Rover has already been scheduled for a launch in 2024 and I expect a pure-electric Range Rover Sport will follow closely behind, using the same EV technology as the upcoming BMW i5 and i7 saloons. There’s still hope for petrolheads, though, as Land Rover will continue to produce the Range Rover Sport SVR, as hinted by the aggressive-looking prototypes in our gallery. What’s more, we also expect this model will take an old-school approach to performance, featuring the same twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine found in the BMW X5 M Competition. The same engine is available in the full-sized Range Rover, producing 530 hp. However, given the Sport SVR’s racy brief, we anticipate it’ll get the full 625 hp that the engine is capable of producing, putting its performance on par with the fastest version of the X5. +++


+++ LOTUS has launched an in-house special operations division, Lotus Advanced Performance, to develop bespoke and limited-run projects. The new division will be headed by Simon Lane, previously head of the similarly positioned Q by Aston Martin outfit, who welcomed the “blank sheet of paper” opportunity to develop “the most exciting and exclusive Lotus cars, embracing our exciting electrified future while honouring our illustrious past”. Lane’s priority at Aston Martin was to create cars for customers “who don’t want anything on the menu and want to do something completely different”, he told in an interview. Though details of Lotus’s new division are yet to be fully outlined, it seems he will have a similar set of priorities. The brand remains tight-lipped on LAP’s first project, but a preview image hints at an open-wheel track car inspired by historic Formula 1. Whether this will draw power from a combustion engine or an Evija-derived electric powertrain remains to be seen, but a close look suggests a conventional radiator and exhaust system feature. Beyond outlandish halo projects such as this, LAP will also turn its hand to personalisation options for series-production cars (including bespoke colours, trims and materials) and “exclusive high-spec and highly desirable versions of Lotus cars”. The first production-based special edition is likely to be based on the Emira, which is due a market launch in the coming weeks, though LAP has not yet suggested whether its special editions will be modified mechanically or marked out chiefly by bespoke design cues. One of the division’s first priorities is the launch of a global support programme for buyers of the new Emira GT4 customer racer, and it will also offer Lotus Driving Academy track tuition at locations around the world, including Lotus’s own Hethel circuit. Lane said: “The LAP team and I have some fantastic and truly innovative ideas with very broad appeal, for Lotus fans young and old to those in search of unique experiences and collectible opportunities. Working in tandem with the hugely experienced Lotus Design team, and colleagues in our engineering teams around the world, we are going to build the most exciting and exclusive Lotus cars, embracing our exciting electrified future while also honouring our illustrious past”. +++

+++ NORWAY has adopted EVs like no other country and electric cars are now consistently outselling ICE vehicles. Norwegians like their premium EVs too, but it’s still remarkable that the Porsche Taycan outsold all ICE vehicles combined in January, with 181 units delivered to customers. According to the Norwegian Road Traffic Information Council (OFV), out of a total of 7.957 vehicles sold in the country last month, just 387 of them had either a diesel or a petrol engine, and of those just 175 units came with a petrol-burning mill. It is worth noting that the overall monthly sales figure is unusually low, even for a small country like Norway: it’s almost 2.400 vehicles less compared to January, 2021. Almost 84 percent of all new cars sold in Norway last month (6.659 units) were completely electric. And out of the 20 most popular vehicles, all but one was electric, the Toyota RAV4 (with 271 registrations). This is not only a new all-time record for the nation, but it also marks a 53 percent increase compared to the same month last year. The overall bestselling vehicle in Norway last month was the Audi Q4 e-Tron with 643 examples delivered. Next up was the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (477 units delivered), followed by the BMW iX (444 units delivered). Interestingly, the relatively affordable Volkswagen ID.3 only managed to sell 125 units, a very low number even compared to the ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq (each with the same 389 units delivered). This sharp increase in the number of EVs sold also probably came as a direct result of Norway’s lowering of incentives for hybrid vehicles; they accounted for 19 percent of sales in January 2021, falling to just 6.6 percent this year. +++

+++ SALES of new cars made a strong recovery in 2021, with seven of the world’s top 10 markets recording more sales than in pandemic-ravaged 2020. Given that the flow of cars from factories was interrupted by a global shortage of semiconductors, this is a welcome ray of light in an otherwise dark period for the car industry. “The global markets stabilised in 2021, which, considering that the pandemic and the chip shortage combined for a negative effect, is overall an okay result, although the difference with pre-pandemic levels is still around 10 million units fewer”, says Felipe Munoz, senior analyst at data firm Jato Dynamics. Toyota consolidated its spot as the number-one global car maker ahead of Volkswagen, while BMW overtook Mercedes-Benz to assume leadership of the premium segment for the first time in 6 years. Meanwhile, Tesla continued to shake up the established order; just four years after its launch, the Model 3 broke into the world’s top-5 bestselling cars, mixing it with names like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, which have a half-century each on the market. China comfortably remained the world’s biggest market for new cars in 2021, staying ahead of the US thanks to the popularity of EVs, while Japan retained the number-3 slot. The bulk of markets recovered slightly in 2021, despite the twin threats of Covid-19 and the global shortage of semiconductors, with standout growth in India and Canada. In fact, Canada’s significant 7% increase pushed it into the number-six spot, pushing the UK down one compared with 2020. For a country with about half the population of France and the UK, it’s punching well above its weight. “The chip shortage is having pretty much the same impact as the pandemic. While the industry was recovering from the lockdowns in early 2021, the semiconductor shortage arrived to offset the recovery from the pandemic. At the end. of 2021, the global sales total was pretty similar to that from 2020”. New car sales in Europe set an unenviable record last year (the worst for 36 years) as the market slumped to a level notseen since 1985. Overall volume dropped by 1.7 % from 2020, which was already a very bad year. Germany spearheaded the decline, down 10.1 %, largely due to the slump in production of key models by Volkswagen, which also slowed progress in the penetration of the EV market; one of the few sectors in which sales grew for other brands. Stellantis was a beneficiary of the growing EV market, meanwhile, as it gained traction in this important segment. The UK was negatively affected by both the chip crisis and consumer uncertainty, although on the upside, it surpassed France to become the second-largest EV market in Europe. “In Europe, the chip shortage affected the availability of new cars, while manufacturers prioritised chips for the most profitable and incentivised cars: SUVs and EVs. But these cars aren’t the most affordable ones. As long as Europe doesn’t have genuinely affordable EVs, growth won’t be enough to offset big drops in diesel and petrol car sales”. A messy year for sports cars and coupés resulted in honours even among the top 20 models: half of them increased sales while the other half lost sales. The Ford Mustang remained the bestselling coupé, despite a 17 % plunge, including a weak performance in China; while a strong showing from the rejuvenated BMW 4 Series had it close the gap on America’s icon. It looks like the 4 Series stole some sales from the older 2 Series, however, as that suffered a 50 % drop. The new mid-engined Corvette enjoyed strong sales and eclipsed the 911, while its Chevrolet stablemate, the Camaro, fell further than its Mustang rival. BMW regained the premium-brand crown for the first time since 2015, selling 109.000 more cars than Mercedes-Benz. Bucking the general trend, BMW actually raised sales last year, while Mercedes, Audi, Lexus and Cadillac all fell back. Mercedes was especially affected by the semiconductor shortage and overall lost 210.000 sales compared with 2020. Hyundai’s Genesis marque arrived with a bang, selling 195.000 cars in its first year of going global, closing the gap on Porsche. Worryingly, sales of premium cars in the world’s biggest market for such things, China, fell back 10%. At least this was partly compensated by a 7 % increase in the US. “Our figures show that premium car demand fell by 3 %, while mainstream brands grew by 3 %. The chip shortage could have been more visible in top-end cars”. It may have its origin in the US, but the SUV segment was dominated by the Japanese last year. The Toyota RAV4 was the global number one, with 965.000 sales, followed by the Honda CR-V on 713.000. These cars appeal across continents, fulfilling a role as rugged(ish) family haulers. Despite stability for Jeep, which sold 1.22 million SUVs last year, it’s still beaten by Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Ford and Kia. “The Toyota RAV4 keeps leading thanks to its strong presence in the US and China and increasing popularity in Europe. In 2018 it was only the 33rd bestselling SUV and last year it had risen to only 14th”. The new Land Rover Defender makes a modest start to its career. “It was good but not excellent, with 45.700 sales, making it Land Rover’s third bestselling model”. Toyota consolidated its best-seller spot with an outstanding 7.3 million cars sold globally last year, widening the sales lead over Volkswagen to 2.78 million, up from 1.86 million. It might be significant that Toyota’s hybrid models are a more palatable global alternative than Volkswagen’s early-adopter big bet on battery-electric powertrains. Hyundai also performed spectacularly, jumping ahead of Nissan and Ford to become the global number four. Hyundai’s big push into EVs seems to be paying off in a way that it isn’t yet for Volkswagen. “Toyota has a stronger presence in North America, while Volkswagen doesn’t, and Volkswagen suffered more from the drop of the European market, where Toyota isn’t as big a seller”.Tesla had a splendid 2021, with 2 cars in the global EV top 10 and the enormous popularity of the Model 3 saloon pushing it into the overall top 10 for the first time. Given the Model 3’s price tag, it does exceptionally well to outsell low-cost China only EVs like the Hongguang Mini EV and is showing the way to higher-tech rivals like the Renault Zoe and the Volkswagen ID 3. It’s early days for the ID 3, but the Model 3 is outselling it by nearly 8 to 1. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E made its debut with a very solid 54.900 sales; not quite enough to break into the global EV top 10, but more affordable versions are due this year, which should lift sales. Consumers in China are adopting electric micro-mobility vehicles, so EVs really are for everybody there, which isn’t the case in the US or in Europe. Felipe Munoz, Senior Analyst at JATO Dynamics, was asked: Is Tesla still the top EV brand? He answered: “By far. It became the reference brand for EVs. When someone in Europe, the US or China thinks of an EV, Tesla most probably comes to mind”. Q: How did Volkswagen fare with ID.3 and ID.4? A: “They did a good job, but growth should have been bigger. Last year was the year when EVs finally took off, so all brands posted growth. However, not all increased as much as some would expect from such a dynamic situation. The ID.3 and ID.4 are there: they sell, because they’re Volkswagens, but they need more”. Q: Has the gamble on EVs worked for Volkswagen? A: “We still need to wait to determine whether the bet has paid off. In terms of awareness, it’s clearly working, because now the Volkswagen Group has something to say in the EV world, as the third-largest EV seller. However, I’m afraid it still needs much more volume to break even”. Q: In which regions is the ID.3 selling well? A: “It’s good in Europe, although it hasn’t proven to be as successful as the Golf was some years ago. The market has changed and the Tesla Model 3 arrived first. And it’s not good in China, where hatchbacks have never been popular”. Q: How are the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoé faring? A: “They’re holding on but obviously lost ground due to more competition. This trend should continue in 2022, as they won’t get an all-new generation soon and they don’t have an SUV model”. Highlights for Stellantis (the huge conglomeration of FCA and PSA) in its first full year of operation were five of the top 10 best-selling models in Europe and increased popularity in EV markets. The renewal of some of its key models (like the Peugeot 208) paid off and it massively grew in South America while maintaining its significant position in the absolutely vital market of North America. 4 of the group’s top 5 models are US-focused: the Ram 1500 pick-up truck and 3 Jeep SUVs. However, other parts of the world proved challenging, most notably Asia, where Stellantis didn’t improve its presence, particularly in the growing Chinese and Indian markets, which isn’t ideal. “We still need to see the financial results, but it’s probably still a little too early this year to see whether the merger of FCA and PSA will have a positive impact on profitability”. China drove most of the growth of Tesla in 2021, as the popularity of the Model 3 was boosted by local production, while the launch of the Model Y added further impetus. Tesla set a new sales record in its home market, although its growth there wasn’t as strong as in China, as the number of EV early-adopters in the US is possibly starting to tail off. In fact, demand in China for Tesla’s Model Y was so strong that volumes there were equal to those in the US. Europe also contributed, but Tesla might ultimately be held back there, because Europeans prefer hatchbacks to saloons. “The Model 3 is a bestseller for several reasons. It’s the reference model and the brand has become trendy. Plus, more affordable versions hit the market and it was available in more markets. Significantly, availability wasn’t as affected by the chip shortage as it was for other cars”. These are the powerhouse car models that are household names across the globe and are mostly designed and built by Japanese firms namely Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Remarkably, 7 of the top 10 bestselling models globally are Japanese, topped by the Toyota Corolla, now in its 12th generation. Japanese manufacturers own the title to ‘world car’; a concept that they can claim to have perfected (and possibly invented). It’s a warning shot to European companies, as staples like the Volkswagen Golf don’t even make the top 10. There is competition on the horizon for the Japanese, though, in the shape of electric cars. The American Tesla Model 3, for example, has hopped into the number-5 slot in the space of only 4 years, while the cheap as-chips Wuling Hongguang Mini EV from China has joined the list. The growing demand for electric cars suggests that others will follow in future, especially as the Chinese look outward. +++

+++ TESLA decided to remove one of the two electronic control units from the steering racks of some made-in-China Model 3 and Model Y cars to meet fourth-quarter sales goals while coping with global chip shortage. The electric-car maker did not disclose the deletion, which affected tens of thousands of vehicles being shipped to customers in China, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany and other parts of Europe, according to 2 employees and internal correspondence. Tesla decided against notifying customers as the part is considered a redundant backup and was not needed for the level 2 driver-assistance features, the report said, nor adding it was not clear if Tesla would make similar changes to the cars built in or shipped to the United States. Other automakers such as Ford and GM have left components off their vehicles during the chip shortage, but have done so publicly. Removing the part means Tesla can’t turn all its existing cars into ‘Level 3’ driverless vehicles merely by pushing out software, as CEO Elon Musk as promised. An owner wishing for that functionality would have to have the missing part installed. Tesla made the decision while under pressure to hit 4th-quarter sales goals, according to the 2 employees and the internal correspondence. Tesla has fared better than most automakers in managing supply chain issues by using less scarce chips and quickly re-writing software. It expects chip shortages to last through this year before easing next year. Chief executive Elon Musk told an earnings call last month the shortage was not a long-term issue, with factories increasing capacity and automakers guilty of panic buying of chips which slowed the supply chain. CNBC quoted HWA Analytics’ Richard Wallace on whether removing an electronic control unit from a power steering system could pose a safety risk. “If something like a chip or an ECU is not providing additional functionality, if it is truly redundant, you may be able to turn it off or leave it out. With chips and software, there’s a little bit of wiggle room. I can reassign stuff here and there”, he said. And IHS Markit Senior Principal Analyst Phil Amsrud said, “I cannot think of a case where an automaker would say ‘You know what? We’ll take a component out of that module, even though it was there for a good reason and we’ll hope nothing happens.’ Going from a dual chip to a single chip variant in a vehicle can make a system simpler and make it better in some cases. But they’d really need to do a lot of validation”. +++

+++ In the UNITED STATES , Tesla has taken the automotive industry by storm and it has forced important changes that OEMs probably would not have made on their own. But it looks like the changes they’ve made and will keep making in the near future are not enough to maintain their sales lead over Tesla and now analysts are predicting the likes of GM and Ford will have a lower market share within the next few years. The prediction comes from known Morgan Stanley analyst, Adam Jonas, who expects Tesla’s US market share to grow to 18 percent, compared to GM’s 12 percent and Ford’s 10 percent by the year 2030. Today, GM’s share is 14 percent, Ford has 12.5 percent and Tesla 3.5 percent, but Tesla’s share is continuing to grow, even in spite of the shrinking market, the pandemic and the ongoing chip shortage. Jonas also predicts that Tesla’s US market share will hit 10 percent by 2026 or 2027. GM’s share is expected to drop to 14 percent or less by then, before it will drop to 12 percent in 2030. Ford’s share is expected to dip even lower by 2030, to just over 10 percent. However, even though Tesla’s market share won’t surpass that of Ford or GM by 2027, Jonas predicts that the EV manufacturer’s revenue will be larger than their combined earnings and that this trend should become obvious in the next 2 years. Tesla recently surpassed BMW for total sales volume in the US, selling 16.000 more vehicles (regardless of power source) than the Bavarians (352.471 sales versus 336.644 sales). It also sold more vehicles than Lexus (304.476 cars in the US) and Mercedes-Benz (276.102 sales). +++

+++ VOLVO will invest 1 billion euro to upgrade its largest factory to prepare for its shift to all-electric vehicle production, introducing a battery assembly plant and new technology to create aluminium parts. The firm, which will go EV-only by 2030, will over the next few years upgrade its largest plant in Torslanda, Sweden, focusing on sustainable technologies and manufacturing processes. Volvo will introduce mega-casting as part of the factory revamp, a method of producing aluminium parts that the manufacturer says “creates a number of benefits” in terms of sustainability, cost and car performance. Mega-casting, a process also used by Tesla to build the Model Y, involves producing major components of the car as a single aluminium part, rather than several smaller ones. Volvo says the process will “improve energy efficiency” and allow its designers to make better use of space inside the cabin and luggage areas of the car. Other claimed benefits include cost savings and a reduced environmental footprint. “What we are looking into as a starting point is to cast the rear floor, where we replace 100 parts with one”, Mikael Fermér, Volvo’s vehicle platform architect, told. “That has some obvious benefits such as reduced manufacturing complexity. “What I think is really exciting is the design flexibility you get. It will allow for something completely new where you can optimise the product for every vehicle or every segment in a way that you cannot do with a traditional platform where you have predefined scaling”. Other changes to the factory will include the addition of a new battery assembly plant, which will be used to integrate battery cells and modules into the floor structure of Volvo’s cars. The company’s logistics area will also be refurbished and the paint shop upgraded with new machinery and processes expected to contribute to a reduction in energy consumption and emissions. “With these investments, we take an important step towards our all-electric future and prepare for even more advanced and better electric Volvos”, said Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson. “Torslanda is our largest plant and will play a crucial role in our ongoing transformation as we move towards becoming a pure electric car maker by 2030”. Mikael Fermér, vehicle platform architect at Volvo, was asked: Why is mega-casting such an exciting development for Volvo? “What we are looking into as a starting point is to cast the rear floor, where we replace 100 parts with one. That has some obvious benefits such as reduced manufacturing complexity. What I think is really exciting is the design flexibility you get. It will allow for something completely new where you can optimise the product for every vehicle or every segment in a way that you cannot do with a traditional platform where you have predefined scaling of how you should make it longer, higher and so on. It’s a huge flexibility and that’s especially important now as we’re going into electrification and we should expect some technological steps to take place. It’s good to have an architecture where you can adapt”. Q: How does this help to reduce Volvo’s environmental footprint? A: “That is super-important for us. Looking at the material, if we take a steel floor and compare that with a mega-cast aluminium floor, we see that we can reduce the CO2 emissions by roughly 35 %. There are some things you need to think about. First, we want to have as much secondary aluminium as possible. We are targeting 50 %. We are also looking into alloys with up to 100% recycled aluminium but they are still not up to the standards we are setting out. Secondary aluminium is important. We’re also only sourcing primary aluminium from suppliers that can provide low-CO2 aluminium and we have signed up to do that. Basically, that means aluminium with less than four kilos of CO2 per kilo of aluminium. Then when you come into the production facility, you also have almost 100 % material utilisation: the material you bring in will be transformed with parts without scrap and everything you cut off will be put back into the furnace. That’s very different from steel when you have around 45 % scrap that you have to remelt and so on. Finally, at the end of the vehicle’s life, this big chunk of aluminium is a great asset and something you can bring back again in another loop to reuse that material”. Q: When can we expect this process to begin? A: “Mega-casting will be introduced with our fully electric platform and it will be put into production in the middle of the decade”. How do these parts affect the performance and drive of a car? “I don’t think you would see much of a difference. It would reduce the weight a bit. When it comes to stiffness, we’re fulfilling the requirement we have so it would be the same if it was steel”. Q: How about the efficiency of your electric models? A: “In production you would get an increase in efficiency, but more importantly what we have seen is that when you cast a structure you can sculpt tighter around your wheels, suspension, powertrain and the seats compared with steel. By going tighter, you can, for instance, lower the seat by around 15mm. You can lower the roofline, and then you reduce the complete cross-section of the car. That has a big influence on the range and that is more significant than what you get from the weight reduction”. Q: What are the first models we can expect to be manufactured this way? A: “The model has not been presented externally yet. The only thing we can say is that it’s coming with this new electric platform around 2025”. Q: Does the battery plant support the construction of the batteries themselves? A: “This mega-casting has an interface with the battery. The rear part of the battery is attached to this floor, but otherwise there is no connection right now”. Q: Are there any significant monetary savings to be made using mega-casting? A: “I would say so, yes. The investment to start up this kind of production is a heavy investment, but the good thing is that when you have your second generation with a new floorline, that is totally taken away. Once you have the investment, it’s very cheap. You don’t have to wait until the next generation because if we have some major technology shifts early on, that would call for a rebuild of the floorline for a traditional platform. Now, you don’t even have to stop production. So you can update it in parallel, and when you’re ready, you just plug it in”. Q: Do you envision any manufacturing changes in the future? A: “We will see. The reason for this being possible now is the size of the machines available. The machines we need are 8000-tonne clamping force machines. They were not available this year or the year before. The machines will be bigger and bigger and I’m thinking about what we can do next. It’s basically your imagination which puts the limit on what you can do – your imagination, and the size of the machines”. +++

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