Newsflash: opvolger Volvo XC90 komt eind dit jaar

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+++ KIA , South Korea’s second biggest carmaker, said its first quarter net profit fell 0.2 percent from a year earlier due to one-off costs amid global chip shortages. Net profit for the 3 months that ended in March fell to 1.032 trillion won ($825 million) from 1.035 trillion won during the same period of last year, the company said in a statement. Particularly high deferred corporate taxes were factored in the bottom line in the first quarter, a company spokesman said over the phone, without giving the value of the taxes. Vehicle production and sales also declined in the first quarter due to continued semiconductor chip shortages and disrupted supplies of other parts due to the Russia-Ukraine war, the statement said. In the first 3 months, Kia’s vehicle sales fell 0.6 percent to 685.739 vehicles, including 564.075 units overseas, it said. Operating profit jumped 49.2 percent to 1.606 trillion won in the first quarter from 1.076 trillion won a year ago. Sales were up 10.7 percent to 18.357 trillion won from 16.581 trillion won. Increased sales of high-end environment-friendly models, including the all-electric e-Niro and EV6, in the domestic and European markets propped up the quarterly operating income. In the January-February period, Kia ranked second just after U.S. electric carmaker Tesla in terms of EV sales in Western Europe, according to market analysis firm Jato Dynamics. Kia sold a total of 14.269 EVs to account for 8.7 percent of Western Europe’s EV market, following Tesla’s 10 percent, the Jato data showed. Kia expected continued chip shortages, disrupted parts supplies due to the lockdown in Shanghai, and higher raw materials prices amid the Russia-Ukraine war will remain concerns for carmakers in the second quarter. Once the chip supplies improve, the company said it will maximize the operation of its plants to meet pent-up demand and boost sales. +++

+++ MAZDA ’s museum, located in its Hiroshima headquarters, has undergone a full renovation and will reopen on May 23. The museum showcases historic vehicles and exhibits of the company’s history since its foundation. Its spatial design and displays have seen a complete makeover with the aim to provide customers and people in the community with a space in which they can grow closer to Mazda, as well as to strengthen the museum’s role as a base for communication of the Mazda brand. Additionally, an online Mazda Museum has been launched to allow many more visitors to browse through the museum’s displays. With a monotone color scheme coupled with warm lighting and wood surfaces, the new Mazda Museum’s interior and exterior were all designed in accordance with the latest Mazda brand design concept, providing an elegant yet cozy space for visitors. The museum has 10 different exhibit zones with decor and lighting that match each zone’s theme. The entire museum has been designed to provide visitors with a narrative experience of Mazda’s vision for the next century and the thoughts that have gone into all the vehicles that it has introduced to the world over the past 100 years. +++

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+++ In the 3 days after Elon MUSK engineered a deal to buy Twitter, he sold roughly $8.5 billion worth of shares in Tesla to help fund the purchase Musk reported the sale of 9.6 million shares in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday and Friday. The trades were made at prices ranging from $822.68 to $999.13. On Friday, shares of Tesla were going for around $904.50. The world’s richest man, who is the CEO of Tesla, tweeted Thursday night that he doesn’t plan any further sales of the company’s shares. Twitter announced Monday that it had agreed to be purchased by Musk for $54.20 a share, or about $44 billion. Analysts said the deal could make Tesla investors nervous that Musk will be distracted by Twitter and less engaged in running the electric car company, and have to sell a large number of Tesla shares to finance the acquisition. Musk is Tesla’s largest shareholder. On Tuesday, Tesla shares closed down 12%, the biggest single-day drop since September 8, 2020. The shares are up more than 3% Friday but still down 10% for the week. Twitter shares rose to $49.72, up 1.2% but still well below the deal price. Before Musk’s deal for Twitter is completed, shareholders will have to weigh in. So will regulators in the U.S. and in countries where Twitter does business. So far though, few hurdles are expected, despite objections from some of Twitter’s own employees and from users who worry about Musk’s stance on free speech and what it might mean for harassment and hate speech on the platform. +++

+++ Chinese electric carmaker NIO ’s 200,000th vehicle rolled off the production line on Tuesday in Hefei, capital of east China’s Anhui province, according to Qin Lihong, co-founder and president of the company. NIO manufactured its 100.000th vehicle in April 2021, a milestone event that took the company close to 3 years to accomplish. It took NIO about a year to complete the production of its second 100.000 smart electric vehicles. A total of over 900 battery swapping stations and over 7.000 charging piles have been built across China, greatly easing drivers’ range anxiety, NIO sources said. The Chinese car brand has also entered Norway, and will start to provide services in the markets of Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark this year, said Qin. Founded in November 2014, NIO is a pioneer in China’s premium electric vehicle market, with its global headquarters located in Shanghai and China headquarters in Hefei. +++

+++ NISSAN unveiled new autonomous driving technology designed to prevent accidents by detecting successive sudden moves by cars and pedestrians. Nissan will work to improve the technology further with the aim of installing it in new vehicles from the mid-2020s and in almost all vehicles by 2030. Using the LiDAR sensor system, a car with the technology can, for example, change lanes quickly to prevent a collision with a vehicle abruptly coming in front of the car and soon after that apply the brake to avoid hitting a pedestrian jumping into the road, according to Nissan. Current autonomous driving technologies can avoid accident risks one at a time, but cannot deal with successive risk situations, Nissan officials said. Nissan substantially improved the performance of the LiDAR system to enable it to figure out the shapes of objects near the vehicle and measure the distances to the items and their movements accurately and instantly. “We’ve made possible the automation of emergency avoidance maneuvers in a complex situation that can happen”, Nissan senior vice president Takao Asami said. For the practical use of the technology, Nissan will work to enable it to operate under any weather condition and cut costs significantly. +++

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+++ Chinese electric carmaker SKYWELL is stepping up efforts to expand its overseas footprint as it sees growing opportunities from a booming new energy vehicle market. The company aims to sell 30.000 vehicles this year, with 4.000 in overseas markets. In the longer term, it aims to expand its global sales to 250.000 vehicles in 2025, with overseas markets accounting for 32 percent, or 80.000 vehicles. Geopolitical headwinds have brought challenges for Chinese companies, including Skywell, “but we should not be too pessimistic”, said Huang Hongsheng, founder of Skywell and Chinese television maker Skyworth Group. Although the United States is seeking the decoupling of supply chains from China, economies have become intertwined and they will rely increasingly on each other, he said. “We will certainly move forward through difficulties, but there is still much space for us to grow”. Last year, Skywell bought Skyworth’s trademark for vehicles. It is taking advantage of Skyworth’s dealerships to showcase and deliver its vehicles. The company launched the HT-i on Wednesday. It claims the plug-in hybrid passenger car has an endurance mileage of over 1.200 kilometers. Wu Longba, co-founder of Skywell, said Chinese electric car makers have the potential to take the lead in the global sector, with their mature technologies and the country’s sound industry chain. Last year, Skywell delivered a total of 11.105 vehicles globally in a 9 month period. At present, major international markets of Skywell are Israel, Jordan, Mexico, Germany and other European countries. According to Canalys, 6.5 million electric vehicles were sold worldwide last year; up 109 percent from 2020. Electric vehicles represented 19 percent of new car sales in Europe, 15 percent in the Chinese mainland and 4 percent in the US. +++

+++ SMART , known for its microcars, is poised to charge into the booming electric vehicle market with a lineup of models of different sizes, said its top executive. “We are creating a family of electric vehicles as part of our renewal efforts”, said Tong Xiangbei, CEO of Smart Automobile, a joint venture between Mercedes and China’s Geely. He made the remarks on Tuesday, one day after the company launched its first model, a compact SUV called #1. With a wheelbase of 2.750 millimeters, it is the largest vehicle to wear the Smart badge. Compact models accounted for 22 percent of China’s new energy vehicle market in March, and most of them were from local Chinese carmakers, according to statistics from the China Passenger Car Association. The Smart #1, made in a plant in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, was developed based on Geely’s electric vehicle architecture and Mercedes was responsible for the styling. The company said it has received thousands of orders for the model. Deliveries in China are expected to start in the 4th quarter. Tong said the company has China and Europe at the core of its global strategy, as they have been the brand’s key market since it debuted in the 1990s. He said smart is working with Malaysian carmaker Proton to introduce the brand to Southeast Asia. But he was quick to add that “China and Europe will be the paramount markets in the beginning”. The company plans to have around 150 dealerships in more than 40 Chinese cities by the end of this year. In Europe, smart will remain in Mercedes’ showrooms. “As the first step, we will have 300 outlets in 14 European markets including the United Kingdom and Switzerland”, said Tong. Europe has risen as market for electric vehicles over the past 2 years. China has remained the world’s largest market for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids since 2015. Sales of such vehicles this year are expected to reach 5 million in China, up from 3.5 million in 2021, said the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. +++

+++ TESLA has recalled more than 14.600 cars in China over a software fault that could lead to safety risks, the country’s market regulator said Friday, the firm’s second callback in a month. The American brand is hugely popular in the world’s second-biggest economy but has faced complaints over quality and service. It recently had to halt work at its multibillion-dollar Shanghai “gigafactory” for more than 20 days due to a Covid outbreak in the city. On Friday, regulators said Tesla had filed a recall plan for 14.684 Model 3 vehicles, most of them made in China. The cars were manufactured between January 2019 and March this year, the announcement said. Vehicles being recalled display incomplete speed information when in “Track Mode”, said the notice by the State Administration for Market Regulation. The fault “may affect the driver’s correct understanding of vehicle speed and in extreme cases would raise the risk of a collision accident”, the notice added. Early this month Tesla also recalled nearly 128.000 domestic and imported Model 3 cars after a probe by Chinese regulators discovered a defect that could raise the risk of a collision. Tesla founder Elon Musk predicted last year that China would become the firm’s biggest market, and he has sought to increase its foothold in the country. +++

+++ TOYOTA said Wednesday its domestic output in fiscal 2021 fell 5.4 percent from the previous year to 2.760.843 vehicles; the lowest level in 45 years, due to supply chain disruptions amid the coronavirus pandemic. Global output expanded to 8.569.549 vehicles, a 4.7 percent increase, helped by a solid performance in North America and Asia. It was the first increase in output in 3 years. Domestic production was impacted by semiconductor shortages and parts factory shutdowns in Southeast Asia in the summer amid a surge of coronavirus infections. Toyota’s failure to reach its domestic production goal of 3 million cars for the second year in a row demonstrates how serious supply chain issues have been for the company. The company says it maintains that target to protect local jobs. The supply bottlenecks meant many customers had to wait for months for dealership deliveries, dampening vehicle sales in Japan, including for minivehicles. The Japanese automaker sold 9.511.558 cars globally, up 4.7 percent to the second-highest level on record. Its domestic sales slipped 9.3 percent to 1.395.920 vehicles, declining for the second straight year to the lowest level since fiscal 2008. Overseas sales rose 7.5 percent to a record 8.115.638 cars. By region, those in North America and Asia advanced 2.7 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively. Overseas output increased 10.3 percent to 5.808.706 units. Other than the parts supply crunch, Toyota was forced to slash production in Japan in March when one of its domestic suppliers suffered a cyberattack and a powerful earthquake rocked the country’s northeastern region, causing some assembly lines to halt. Separately, 7 other major Japanese automakers, including Honda and Mitsubishi, released their output data on Wednesday. Total domestic production by the 8 companies decreased for the third consecutive year. With only Mitsubishi able to build more cars than the year before, the 8 automakers produced 7.093.641 vehicles in fiscal 2021, down 6.8 percent, due to supply disruptions stemming from the coronavirus lockdowns overseas. Honda saw a 7.7 percent decline to 634.468 cars, with a company official saying output was the lowest in at least 20 years. Nissan logged the sharpest drop of 13.8 percent to 445.836 vehicles. Global production of the eight automakers inched down 0.6 percent to 23.216.774 vehicles, while sales sagged 0.5 percent to 24.309.462 units. +++

+++ The unconventionally shaped successor to the hugely popular VOLVO XC90 is due a reveal in the final quarter of 2022, Volvo bosses have confirmed. The Swedish marque’s financial report for the first quarter of 2022 revealed a dramatic dip in profits in light of the supply chain crisis, rising material costs and factory shutdowns, but it remains committed to rapidly ramping up its electrification plans on the way to selling 600.000 pure-electric cars annually from 2025. The new SUV flagship, as the marque’s first totally bespoke EV and the first atop a new platform, will play a fundamental role in this ramp-up, and asked if it was still on track to arrive in 2022, Volvo CEO Jim Rowan said: “We are very much on track. We’ve made commitments that we would be launching a certain amount of vehicles every year, and we’ll make the decision on when we release that, but the fourth quarter this year is when we will release more details on that product. It’s a very exciting time for us because it takes us into another sphere; it’s another building block towards the future. That model itself is an extremely important vehicle for us”. Following Volvo’s earlier confirmation that the new arrival will take a name, rather than an alphanumeric designation into production, a recent filing suggests it will be called the Embla. The manufacturer filed a trademark application for the name with the European Union Intellectual Property Office late last year. A Volvo spokesperson refused to confirm the brand’s intentions for the nameplate, but with the model’s reveal date approaching and given that ex-Volvo boss Håkan Samuelsson already confirmed its name will start with a vowel, it seems a likely outcome. Embla was the name of the first woman in Norse mythology, which could signal a naming strategy for future models centred around Volvo’s Scandinavian heritage. It has big boots to fill and talented rivals to face. Is it up to the task? +++

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