Newsflash: nieuwe Hyundai Kona is meer van hetzelfde

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+++ BMW ’s heaviest SUV and heaviest vehicle won’t arrive until next year with as the production version of the XM. BMW 7 Series project lead Christoph Fagschlunger spoke about BMWs developing the mass and gravitational pulls of small planets. The new battery-electric i7 weighs 2.650 kg. To be fair, that is just 60 kg more than the battery-electric Mercedes-AMG EQS and 30 kg more than a Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB. It is also 70 kg heavier than the mightiest trim of the X7, the M60i. Fagschlunger said the end of the embiggening is near, “I don’t think cars will get more heavy than they are now and there are many reasons for that”. While electrification is responsible for a sudden leap in vehicle weights, we have to remember that enthusiasts (like us) have been groaning about heavier cars for at least 15 years. The primary culprits have not been batteries, but luxury features, safety equipment, increasing adoption of all-wheel drive, and the popularity of crossovers and SUVs. “Cars were getting heavier even without electrification, with safety regulations and then NCAP and then luxury”, Fagschlunger said. He explained that a modern luxury seat is at least 40 kg heavier than it was 20 years ago, with that some seats exceed 100 kg. Those 22-way motors, massaging mechanisms, and climate control equipment are burdensome. This became a pointed issue in regard to safety, because heavier vehicles needed heavier structures to pass increasingly stringent crash tests. But the BMW engineer believes technology will be start shaving pounds from platforms thanks to advances like more energy-dense batteries and wider use of active noise cancellation (sound deadening is heavy). Suppliers are working on features like vehicle audio that uses the architecture as speakers, instead of loading a car up with woofers and tweeters (speakers are heavy, too). Let’s hope the diet begins before the industry hits the wall Fagschlunger warns is imminent: “Size of cars will have a natural ending someday, when you can’t fit in the garage or turn around on the street corner. That day is getting closer”. If you want to see how far the 7 Series has come: in 1977, the executive sedan weighed ‘just’ 1.500 kg. +++

+++ The DETROIT AUTO SHOW has had a couple of strange years. As a result of the pandemic, the show was cancelled in 2020, and it sort of came back last year as part of the outdoor Motor Bella event. It had some neat aspects, but was hampered by poor weather. But this year, the show is finally coming back to the convention center. It seems the show will mostly take the form that the event planners imagined after the final winter Detroit Show in 2019. It will feature indoor and outdoor exhibits stretching from the Huntington Place convention center (formerly TCF Center, formerly Cobo Hall) and down to the riverfront and Hart Plaza. It touts ride-along courses inside as well as test-drive areas along the new downtown IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix race course. That course will be used for the 2023 running of the race. The show will run from September 14 to 25. The show will be open to the public starting on September 17. +++

+++ DODGE chief Tim Kuniskis got online last night with Bill Goldberg to introduce North Carolina man Preston Patterson, the brand’s new Chief Donut Maker. During a Q&A with reporters, Kuniskis was asked about the coming electric and electrified vehicles. As part of one answer, he said, “I think we’ve actually even said when we get back into the small compact space this summer when we launch the Hornet, we will have a PHEV or variant of that”. In fact, this was news to everyone, confirmation that a Hornet plug-in hybrid is coming in a few months. There have been rumors for a while, heating up in 2020 when Fiat Chrysler America filed to trademark the name Dodge Hornet. The temperature rose again last August when Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares gave a presentation showing Dodge would launch a PHEV in 2022. The pot of rumors began to boil when an image supposedly taken in Stellantis’ Pomigliano d’Arco Assembly Plant in Naples, Italy claimed to show glimpses of the Hornet’s front fascia and cockpit. The location was key because the Hornet is nothing more and nothing less than the Alfa Romeo Tonale, and is predicted to be built in the same plant, Tonale assembly happening at that Naples facility. Last night, Kuniskis also said the Hornet’s production site is already out of the bag, unofficially. Dodge’s desired reveal timeline for the compact PHEV crossover is what the brand calls Speed Week in August in Detroit, between the Roadkill Nights street racing event on Woodward Avenue and the Woodward Dream Cruise. Roadkill Nights hasn’t been finalized yet, but the Cruise happens on Saturday, August 20, so sometime the week of August 15 is the Hornet’s planned window. However, with Kuniskis saying industry turmoil has turned all planning into Jell-O, the August date is tentative. As for the drivetrain, I’m expecting the Hornet to pack the Tonale’s 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that turns the front axle, paired with an electric motor on the rear axle. That system in the Tonale will bring 272 horsepower in the U.S., but it’s not clear how the Hornet will be tuned. The Dodge might trim the corral the same way Jeep did with Europe’s Compass 4xe in order to make the Alfa the clear luxury proposition, or it could get a few more ponies to stress Dodge’s muscle car philosophy. The latter take could fulfill the promise of the Dodge Hornet concept from 2006. As Sam Fiorani of Auto Forecast Solutions told: “If a crossover is under $30,000, it’s usually packaged and sold as transportation, lifestyle vehicles with price being key and fun-to-drive being secondary. The Hornet could potentially break open a market for Dodge, especially if they can keep the price low enough”. And speaking of Dodge muscle cars, Kuniskis said he wants to show the battery-electric snorter before the Hornet, but an issue “outside our industry” is preventing the ability to nail down a reveal. +++

+++ FORD on Wednesday reported a net loss of $3.1 billion for the first quarter of 2022 but maintained its profit forecast for the year, citing strong pricing for its vehicles. Ford attributed the loss primarily to a lower valuation of its stake in Rivian, which produces the R1T pickup with which Ford’s new all-electric F-150 Lightning will surely compete. Ford said it still expects $11.5 billion to $12.5 billion in operating earnings, despite the war in Ukraine, supply-chain disruptions, inflation and rising U.S. interest rates that have hit the industry. The company also said it expects strong pricing to remain in effect, improved availability of semiconductors in the second half of the year, and wholesale volume growth of 10% to 15%. Crosstown rival General Motors reported a nearly $3 billion Q1 profit Tuesday. Stellantis’ earnings call is scheduled for May 5, 2022. +++

+++ HYUNDAI is working on a second-generation Kona. The new edition will carry on with Hyundai’s current design language. The current Kona introduced the split headlight design to Hyundai’s SUV lineup back in 2017 and this is now seen on the new Bayon and Santa Fe. I expect to see a continuation of this feature on the new model. At the side, the Kona will keep its wheel arch extensions and around the heavily camouflaged rear there’s an exhaust pipe; suggesting this could also be a mild-hybrid or plug-in hybrid model. With the introduction of the smaller Bayon and the larger Tucson growing in size there’s room for the Kona to grow, too. The outgoing Kona sits on the same platform as the first-generation Niro, but the upcoming second-generation Niro uses the larger, latest iteration of the K platform and the Kona is likely to follow. The pure-electric Kona Electric will almost certainly return and it could get a larger battery to help beat its current 480 km range. The new Kona Electric isn’t expected to borrow the 77.4kWh battery from the Ioniq 5 as that car sits on a bespoke electric platform and the Kona will still need to fit hybrid powertrains. Instead, it could utilise the same 204 hp / 64.8kWh battery found in the new Kia e-Niro. Hyundai hasn’t revealed any information about the next-generation Kona but we should see a full reveal in 2023 with the car hitting dealerships soon after. Expect pricing to rise from the current car’s price tag. +++

+++ Electric carmaker LUCID Group on Tuesday said it has signed an agreement with the government of Saudi Arabia for the purchase of up to 100.000 of its vehicles over the next 10 years. Saudi Arabia commits to purchase 50.000 vehicles under the agreement, with an option to buy an additional 50.000 vehicles during the ten-year time frame, Lucid said in a statement. Lucid shares rose 5.4% in extended trading following the announcement. The deal marks the latest tie-up between the California-based EV company and Saudi Arabia, whose Public Investment Fund is Lucid’s largest shareholder, with about a 61% stake in the company. Lucid, which currently manufactures its vehicles at a plant in Arizona, also plans to build its first overseas production factory in Saudi Arabia later this year, where it expects to eventually manufacture up to 150,000 vehicles per year. The vehicles bought by the Saudi government are expected to come from both factories, Lucid said. Delivery of the vehicles is expected to start no later than 2023, with order numbers initially ranging from 1.000 to 2.000 annually, and increasing to between 4.000 and 7.000 starting in 2025. A Lucid spokeswoman said the company has not offered discounts for any vehicles under the agreement. Lucid in a regulatory filing said the Saudi government would pay either the U.S. or Saudi retail price, whichever is lower, in addition to import and other delivery costs. The automaker, which looks to compete with Tesla, in February cut its 2022 production forecast from 20.000 vehicles to 12.000 to 14.000 vehicles this year due to supply chain challenges. It began deliveries of its $169.000 Lucid Air premium sedan in the United States in October, and said it expects to deliver to Canadian customers beginning this spring. +++

+++ Cox Automotive managed to get responses from 217 potential car shoppers about their feelings on the SUBSCRIPTION MODEL for vehicle features and services. Considering the 16 million or so new cars sold every year in the U.S., that’s a tiny sample size; however, the responses don’t veer from what we’d expect based on the volume of comments on the subject. According to Cox, 75% percent of respondents shut down the idea of paying an annual or monthly fee for almost any kind of in-car item. Remote start, heated seats, automatic emergency braking and lane-keep assist? At least 87% of the surveyed car-buying public believes all that equipment should all be part of the MSRP. There’s leeway with convenience features like in-car wi-fi and vehicle tracking. This is probably because almost everyone, regardless of vehicle ownership, is familiar with GPS trackers or subscribing to a cellphone service provider. So what about the one-quarter of respondents who are amenable to ongoing payments for features? Cox says there are three groups of features the 25% will incessantly shell out for, this group running counter to the 75% in more ways than one. The minority wouldn’t mind paying for safety features like automatic emergency braking and stolen vehicle tracking, but would mind subscribing for in-car wi-fi (even though there’s monthly fee for the service right now). This group also said they’d be willing to fork over for power upgrades and some OTA updates, but only a minority (of the minority) said they’d be willing to pay for more range for their electric vehicle. Despite the small sample, carmarkers could see this as a victory. We doubt Cox Automotive would have gotten anywhere close to a 25% approval rating for the subscription services in question 10 years ago. Remember, 20 years ago we still made road trips with paper maps and we bought entertainment on physical media that we owned. Now Audi, for instance, wants $85 per month or $850 per year for Navigation Plus with full-speed wi-fi. Carmakers only have to hang on. Eventually, subscriptions will become just the way things are done. But the part where automakers remind buyers when buyers don’t pay for a feature or subscribe to it, as one Redditor found Audi does with an HVAC function on his Q4 E-tron (pictured), well, that’s just, shall we say, unnecessary. +++

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+++ VOLKSWAGEN is planning several variants of the ID.Buzz, an electric van that channels the spirit of the original Bus. There is no indication that a pickup is in the pipeline, but that didn’t stop the firm’s head of design from imagining what the Buzz would look like with a cargo box. Klaus Zyciora, the Volkswagen Group’s design boss, posted a rendering of a Buzz with a bed on his Instagram account. He started with the ID.Buzz concept rather than with the production model, added a set of smaller rear doors, and chopped the cab right behind the rear seats. There is a relatively spacious cargo box out back, and Zyciora even integrated a step into the quarter panel to let users access their gear. The model, the name of which hasn’t been released, is presented as “an unseen variation” of the Buzz. It’s not unprecedented or far-fetched. All of the Buzz’s predecessors, ranging from the T1 released in 1949 to the T6 that’s currently in production, have spawned pickups, and the Tristar concept unveiled in 2014 explored Volkswagen’s van-based pickup heritage while celebrating the first Syncro concept’s 30th birthday. Zyciora asked his followers on Instagram if they think the Buzz-based pickup should be taken to the next level, but that’s not a confirmation (or even really a hint) that the concept will make the leap to production. As of writing, four Buzz flavors have been confirmed: the passenger- and cargo-hauling versions unveiled in March 2022, a long-wheelbase version of the former developed for the United States, and an enigmatic version referred to as ID.California that could take the form of a factory-built camper. Americans won’t get the panel van due to the Chicken Tax, but the long-wheelbase van will land in showrooms in 2024 as a 2025 model. As for the truck: well, keep your fingers crossed. +++

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