Newsflash: BMW komt met X6 M60i


+++ CATL is set to supply BMW with cylindrical battery cells from 2025 to power a host of electric vehicles. The Chinese battery manufacturer recently signed an agreement with BMW and while details on the deal are limited, it is understood that BMW will look to cut costs by using these round cells instead of prismatic ones. This change could reduce costs by 30 percent. Details about CATL’s cylindrical cells are limited as it traditionally supplies most of its car manufacturers with square cells. It is reported that the battery supplier could establish a new factory in the United States to supply various car manufacturers with its new cells, in addition to BMW. Production at this new site could start in 2026. It is possible that the cylindrical cells could be used by future BMW models using its upcoming Neue Klasse platform that will debut in 2025. This BEV-only platform is expected to initially launch under the skin of an EV model in the 3-Series segment. While this architecture is modular, it will be mainly focused on midsize vehicles, even though the car manufacturer had previously suggested that the Neue Klasse platform could underpin vehicles ranging from the 2-Series through to the X7. BMW is hoping to sell 2 million electric vehicles by 2025 and expects 50 per cent of its sales to be for EVs by 2030 or earlier. Production of the first model using this new architecture will start in 2025 at the automaker’s plant in Hungary. +++

+++ A moderately spicy version of the updated BMW X6 has been caught testing by our spies in Germany. Sitting under the full-fat X6 M, this high performance version is believed to adopt its designation from the X7 M60i (and the electric ix M60). Built around the upcoming X6 facelift, the test vehicle’s rear bumper sports quad exhaust outlets, just like those featured on its bigger X7 M60i sibling. The prototype was seen testing with big wheels and brakes, while the holes in the camouflage suggest it also has sizeable air intakes. Though, mercifully, the grille seems to be reasonably sized. The name M60i will be a reference to the S68 engine. Although it replaces the M50i, the recipe will be familiar. If it’s like the X7, it will get a mild-hybrid 4.4-liter V8 that churns out 530 hp and 750 Nm. It seems that for this update, the X6 will get a revised grille, slimmer headlights, and a new front bumper that has an updated central air intake with angular supports. At the back, meanwhile, I expect the production taillights to differ slightly from these and to sport new graphics. Elsewhere, the exterior design will continue on largely unchanged, which isn’t surprising for a mid-cycle update like this. Inside the cabin, changes are expected to be more substantial. Like much of the rest of BMW‘s lineup, the updated X6 will adopt the brand’s big new infotainment suite. That means a massive unit combining a 12.3 inch instrument cluster and a 14.9 inch touchscreen into a curved display. Elsewhere, we can expect minor trim and color updates. The refreshed X6 is expected to make its debut next year. +++

+++ FARADAY FUTURE may have come back from the brink of death on more than one occasion but that’s not to say it is thriving. In fact, recent financial reports reveal that it has secured just 401 preorders for the upcoming FF 91. It has been more than five years since the FF 91 was first unveiled but just a few months since it was showcased in production-intent guise. Those 401 preorders that have been secured for the electric crossover are fully refundable and non-binding that include the FF 91 Futuristic Alliance Edition requiring a $5,000 deposit and the ‘standard’ FF 91 Futurist model that necessitates a $1,500 deposit. Given that these preorders are fully refundable, there is no guarantee that they will all actually translate into firm sales. Final pricing details for the FF 91 haven’t been announced but it is expected to set U.S. buyers back over $200.000. Just a couple of months ago, Faraday admitted that it had inflated preorder numbers for the FF 91, acknowledging that it didn’t have 14.000 reservations as previously claimed but rather 14.000 unpaid “indications of interest”. On the financial side of things, Faraday Future reported an operating loss of approximately $149 million during the 3 months which ended on March 31; a significant rise from the $19 million operating loss for the same 3 months in the prior year. As of March 31, Faraday Future had total assets valued at $706 million, including $276 million in cash. It also reported total liabilities of $271 million as compared to the $340 million in total liabilities as of December 31, 2021. Faraday Future’s plan is for the road-going FF 91 to be underpinned by its Variable Platform Architecture sporting a 130 kWh battery pack that should offer the EV up to 608 km of range. The vehicle will also be equipped with a tri-motor all-wheel drive powertrain that pumps out a total of 1.050 hp, allowing the SUV to hit 100 km/h in 2,5  seconds. +++

+++ The LAND ROVER DEFENDER is once again available in 3 bodystyles, as the 4×4’s line-up has been crowned with the longer, 8-seat ‘130’ variant. Land Rover bosses promised right from the start that (despite its more overtly upmarket focus than the utilitarian original) the second-generation Defender would be given a similar flexibility of purpose, courtesy of the same three-pronged model line-up: 90, 110 and 130. The largest of the 3 is now official, with 340 mm of extra length added behind the rear axle, rather than between the wheels as was the case for its predecessor. As a result, it is identical to the mid-sized 110 ahead of the C-pillar. Measuring 5.358 mm long overall, it is primed to take on the largest luxury SUVs on sale and is actually slightly longer than the BMW X7 and Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The extra length makes for a huge, 2.516 litre load space with the 2 rows of back seats folded. That’s 953 litres more than offered by the 110 in the same configuration. But more significant than that, it accommodates a new 2-3-3 seating layout as an option, which makes the Defender the only mainstream SUV in Europe capable of carrying more than 7 occupants. The 3 rows in the 8-seat car are arranged in a ‘stadium’ format (whereby the middle and rearmost are slightly elevated) to enhance forward visibility. Land Rover says access to the rear seats is “effortless”, courtesy of a sliding and folding middle row, and 3 adults can travel in comfort back there with “generous head room”, heated seats, padded armrests, storage cubbies and USB-C ports. There is a second panoramic sunroof at the back of the car, too, so the interior is “light and airy for everyone”, and 4-zone air conditioning can be equipped as an option. Land Rover points out that because it has crafted a “subtle boat-tail uplift” of the lower body behind the rear wheels to make room for the extra space, the 130 has a departure angle of 28.5 degrees; lower than the 110’s 40 degrees but still competitive against its luxury off-roading rivals. As with the range-topping V8 versions of the 90 and 110, the 130 comes as standard with the largest, 11.4 inch curved touchscreen in Land Rover’s portfolio, running the latest generation of the firm’s Pivi Pro software. The 130 can be had with a choice of new interior trim options, including chrome air vents and seat switches, oak veneer and tan leather seats. It is available in a choice of 5 trims from launch: SE, HSE, X-Dynamic, X and limited-run First Edition; the last of which is offered in three “carefully curated” bespoke colour combinations and comes with the bulk of the option boxes ticked. All variants are equipped with adaptive air suspension, giving up to 430 mm of articulation and, in its highest setting, a wading depth of 900 mm. +++




+++ LEXUS is developing an electric supercar to serve as a spiritual successor to the LFA, due for launch by 2030, and will show off the concept version in public for the first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Originally shown as part of the shock unveiling of 15 new Toyota and Lexus EV concepts, the supercar will be one of the EVs launched by Lexus as it ramps up to phasing out combustion. It will make its public debut in Sussex from 23-26 June alongside the all-new RZ 450e electric SUV and the updated version of the UX 300e. Lexus will offer an EV in all segments by 2030, by which point it will sell only electric cars in China, Europe and North America, and in 2035 it will end ICE car sales altogether. The concept is described as “a battery-EV sports car which inherits the driving taste, or the ‘secret sauce’, of the performance cultivated via the development of the LFA”. Experience gained from developing this car will extend to other future Lexus EVs as part of a drive to emphasise the Japanese brand’s dynamic focus. “The endless pursuit of the Lexus driving signature will move to the next stage through development of the new sports battery EV”, said Lexus’s chief branding officer, Koji Sato. It will be a model, he said, that “symbolises the future of the brand”. Lexus is targeting a 0-100 kph time in “the low 2 seconds range” and a range of more than 700 km. The supercar concept has been earmarked as a possible early recipient of solid-state batteries, which parent company Toyota recently revealed plans to install in production EVs from the middle of the decade. Before that, however, the firm will deploy solid-state batteries in hybrid cars, which will allow it to “test and evaluate the technology” before rolling it out to pure-electric equivalents. The concept bears minimal resemblance to any Lexus model currently on sale, with a long bonnet (despite its lack of an engine) lending itself to a distinctive cab-rear silhouette. It’s clearly a hardcore proposition, with low-profile tyres, a prominent aerodynamics package, gaping air intakes and even a red tow strap at the front, hinting at its intended track-use billing. +++


+++ MERCEDES is determined to expand its range of high-end luxury models and naturally, one of the main priorities is Maybach. Besides the S-Class, the GLS, and the upcoming EQS, another model that will proudly wear the Maybach emblems is the new SL roadster. The new generation of the SL was introduced last year, featuring Mercedes-AMG branding as a performance-focused offering. The 2+2 roadster shares its rigid aluminum frame with the next-generation AMG GT, replacing both the previous SL and the discontinued AMG GT Roadster. Design-wise, the model is a big step up from its predecessor, looking a lot more aggressive and incorporating more exotic features. As hinted at by Gorden Wagener, chief designer at Mercedes-Benz, the transition from AMG to Maybach in the SL will not be what we call discreet. While most part of the bodywork will be carried over, new trim elements will make it easy to distinguish the Maybach SL from lesser variants. Starting with the front, the grille will retain the Panamericana outer shape and the triangular LED headlights. However, the inside of the grille will be totally different, featuring a heavy dose of chrome and the Maybach lettering as seen on the S-Class and the GLS. Extra chrome elements will be added to the bumper intakes, front fenders, mirror caps, side sills, and diffuser, replacing the dark-themed carbon fiber trim of the AMG derivative. After all, Maybach customers want to be seen and there is nothing shinier and more reflective than bright chromework. Unlike Rolls-Royce with its Black Badge and Bentley’s Mulliner Blackline, Maybach has yet to follow the blacked-out design trend that is slowly conquering the color and trim departments. Still, a highlight of the Maybach SL will be the black-painted bonnet with a chrome strip in the middle. It will feature a pretty unusual pattern with the Maybach logo scattered all over the place, reminiscent of some designers’ bags and clothing lines. The absence of a Mercedes badge on the grille will be substituted by the classic Mercedes ornament on the hood, a feature you will be able to see from the driver’s seat. Last but not least, the Maybach will come with a new set of alloy wheels, making the profile look more luxurious. Moving inside the cabin, Mercedes will most likely offer plenty of customization options to prospective buyers of the SL, following the example of its existing range. The finest quality Nappa leather combined with Alcantara, aluminum, and other precious materials will transform the cabin from sporty to luxurious. We could also see fancier options inspired by the fashion industry, similar to the Haute Voiture Concept. Lighter tones would go well with the character of the Maybach SL, since the interior will be often exposed when driving with the roof down. In terms of technology, there is already plenty of kit available in the SL, including a digital cockpit with a 12.3 inch LCD instrument cluster, an 11.9 inch infotainment touchscreen with the latest MBUX and a 3D head-up display. It will also tick all the boxes on the available ADAS, and likely feature a high-end audio system that is even better than the already great Burmester one on the AMG. Mercedes hasn’t given us any clue on what lies under the highly decorated bonnet of the Maybach SL but we can make speculations based on the current range and Maybach’s own heritage. The SL debuted with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, initially offered in 2 power guises for the SL 53 and the SL 63. A few months later, Mercedes expanded the range with the entry-level SL 43 which came fitted with a mild-hybrid turbocharged 2.0-liter 4 cylinder engine. Furthermore, in the near future, we expect two new plug-in hybrid variants – the SL 63e and the SL 63 E-Performance. The latter will be positioned at the top of the range in terms of power output, generating an impressive 842 hp from the electric motors and the V8 engine combined. Maybach is currently offering the S-Class and the GLS with either the entry-level 4.0-liter V8, or the proper 6.0-liter V12, both coming with twin turbochargers. The first option is an easy bet for the Maybach SL since it has already proven to be compatible with the roadster. However, a V12 option would be highly appreciated since it would mark the return of a twelve-cylinder SL, distance it from the AMG variants, and bring it closer to rivals in the ultra-luxury segment including the Bentley Continental GT Convertible that’s currently available with a V8 and a W12. We are not sure if the large powertrain can fit in the rather small footprint of the roadster, but we definitely hope it does. However, if we want to talk logic, then the most sensible choice for Maybach would be the plug-in hybrid powertrain combining effortless performance with a quiet and zero-emission EV driving mode. This would also make it the most powerful of the range, since no ICE V12 can match the combined output of Mercedes’ latest electrified setup. Mercedes hasn’t given us a debut date for the new model but we wouldn’t be surprised if it came out as early as 2023 since the basis is already there. Interestingly, the Mercedes-Maybach SL won’t be the most expensive SL money can buy. This role will be taken by the upcoming SL Speedster, a limited production 2-seater that will introduce us to the ultra-exclusive Mythos range. +++

+++ NISSAN ’s first big splash in the all-electric vehicle market since the Leaf is upon us and it’s popular enough that order bookd have now been closed. Deliveries of the new Ariya start later this year in the US but if you were thinking of ordering one yourself, that time has come and gone. Nissan isn’t the first to halt orders in this manner. Ford shut down the F-150 Lightning order process long before deliveries began. It did the same thing for the Mustang Mach-E and even Tesla and Volkswagen have been affected by long order books that outpace production. Ashwani Gupta, CEO of Nissan, told: “Every customer wants to have it and we don’t want customers to wait. The Ariya has been successfully accepted around the world, even in the United States, we had to request our customers to stop the orders”. A landing page on Nissan’s website confirmed that customers can no longer order through that portal. Of course, it should be noted that the Ariya doesn’t seem like it will sell in the large-scale numbers that some of the aforementioned vehicles have. Nissan hasn’t publicly announced how many units will come to America but many suspect that it’s less than 10.000 in total. For comparison’s sake, the F-150 Lightning only stopped reservations after taking 200.000. When that happened, Ford was quick to mention that order books would reopen in the future for the following model year. We have yet to receive any word from Nissan about when the next batch of order books will open up for the Ariya. The crossover is already being produced in Nissan’s Tochigi assembly plant just north of downtown Tokyo. In fact, the Japanese market has already benefited from some 1.500 units that are already in customers’ hands. Production issues stemming from the parts shortage have been blamed for the slow ramp-up. Nissan originally intended to release the Ariya here in the States by late last year. It said that travel restrictions related to Covid-19 also played a role in the production slowdown as supplier engineers were unable to visit Japan for installation and operational confirmation.  +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN has been summoned before a labor court in Brazil on June 14 and faces accusations of using “slavery-like practices” and “human trafficking” in the country between 1974 and 1986. The automaker was notified by the judiciary in Brasilia, Brazil, on May 19, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung. The German giant said it is taking these accusations very seriously. “We can assure you that we take the possible events at Fazenda Rio Cristalino, to which the investigation by the Brazilian investigating authorities refers, very seriously”, Volkswagen told. “Please understand that we are not commenting further due to possible legal proceedings in Brazil”. Volkswagen is accused of having been complicit in “systematic human rights violations” during a period of Brazilian history in which the country was run by a military dictatorship. According to documents made up of testimonies and police reports consulted by the German outlet, the automaker was working on a large agricultural site on the edge of the Amazon basin for the meat trade. Hundreds of day laborers were recruited for deforestation on 70.000 hectares of land via intermediaries but, the outlets report, likely with the consent of VW‘s management. The site’s workers were allegedly the victims of abuse and violence, which was carried out by armed guards and others. There are also claims that workers who tried to flee were mistreated or disappeared under mysterious circumstances. One woman claimed that her child died as a result of violent abuse. Another was reportedly sexually assaulted as punishment. Others, meanwhile, were allegedly subject to inhumane working conditions on the site with some dying of malaria and being buried on-site without having their families informed. “It was a form of modern slavery”, Rafael Garcia, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation told media. “VW had obviously not only accepted this form of slavery but also encouraged it, as it was cheap labor”. Former VW employees have been seeking compensation for years and, in 2020, the automaker signed a deal with federal prosecutors in Brazil to pay 36 million reais ($6.4 million USD at the time) in compensation for its part in the military dictatorship and its role in identifying leftist opponents and union leaders, who were then detained and tortured. +++


Reageren is niet mogelijk.