Newsflash: Hyundai Groep start Europees modellenoffensief

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+++ BMW said it will take the lead in realizing closed-loop recycling of China-made electric vehicles’ power batteries after the German automaker announced its partnership with Huayou, a tech company specializing in battery recycling based in Zhejiang province. According to the bilateral agreement, BMW and Huayou will cooperate in power battery recycling and reuse in an echelon network, which is expected to be conducive to ecological conservation and the improvement of resource utilization rates. Reuse in an echelon network, along with disassembling and recycling, are among the prominent methods for recycling obsolete power batteries. The retired batteries with high residual capacity can be used in the fields of energy storage and low-speed electric vehicles (EV). For discarded batteries that do not meet standards for reuse, they can be disassembled to recycle core materials such as nickel, cobalt and lithium that can then be used in the production of new power batteries. Power batteries contain a variety of heavy metal elements that if not properly treated will cause environmental pollution. They can also contribute to a large waste of precious raw material resources when not properly treated. Under the agreement, BMW and Huayou will cooperate to disassemble discarded power batteries and extract core raw materials through Huayou’s advanced green metallurgy technology. The recycled materials, including nickel, cobalt and lithium, will be provided to BMW’s battery suppliers to produce new power batteries and achieve a closed-loop management of power battery raw materials. This move will help reduce carbon emissions from mineral resource extraction by 70 percent and substantially reduce the life cycle carbon footprint of power batteries, according to BMW. Jochen Goller, president and CEO of BMW Group Region China, said that increasing the use of recycled materials and reducing dependence on rare raw materials can help cut the cost of raw material procurement and maximize the ecological and economic benefits. With the rapid development of China’s EV market since 2015, the automobile power battery industry has ushered in rapid growth. Based on the average service life of an automobile power battery, EVs sold during the past few years will enter the retirement. Statistics from the China Automotive Technology and Research Center show that discarded power batteries in China will reach 780.000 metric tons by 2025. In face of the surging price of power battery raw materials since 2021, the recycling and utilization of large quantities of waste power batteries are expected to help relieve the supply bottleneck and suppress the price of raw materials. By last year, 173 enterprises had set up a total of 10.127 recycling service outlets in 31 provinces and municipalities, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. However, experts said the recycling channels of power batteries mainly include small recycling companies and government recycling centers. As the recycling standard is not unified, the market is scattered and a large number of illegal enterprises take a market share. BMW Brilliance and Huayou’s exploration in the field of power battery recycling will not only help BMW further reduce the average carbon emissions of the entire life cycle of an automobile, but also help improve the business model of power battery recycling and reuse together with its suppliers, which is conducive to the sustainable development of the domestic power battery industry, said Franz Decker, president and CEO of BMW Brilliance Automotive. +++

+++ CHINA ’s finance and taxation authorities announced last week to halve the purchase tax of eligible vehicles, which has in turn spurred many automakers to increase their incentives in a bid to attract customers. As a result, 2 million more vehicles are expected to be sold this year than the previous estimate, an expert said. Last Tuesday, the Ministry of Finance and the State Taxation Administration issued a notice on reducing the purchase tax of some passenger vehicles. The aim is to promote automobile consumption and support development of the automobile industry. According to the notice, the vehicle purchase tax is halved for passenger cars with an engine displacement within 2 liters that are purchased between June 1 and December 31 and whose single vehicle price, excluding value-added tax, does not exceed 300.000 yuan ($45.000). Taking a 2-liter vehicle priced at 300.000 yuan as an example, after halving the purchase tax, a customer can save about 13.000 yuan. If the purchase tax is halved for a 200.000 yuan vehicle, then 8.850 yuan is saved. The notice also specified the term “passenger cars”; a vehicle designed to carry passengers and their baggage with a maximum of nine seats, including the driver’s. Differing from earlier preferential policies on vehicle purchase tax covering new energy vehicles and passenger cars with an engine displacement within 1.6 liters, the latest move is considered a great incentive by insiders. “Through the implementation of many new policies, such as purchase tax incentives, and through the efforts of (the following) 7 months of promotion, the annual domestic retail sales will reach 21 million units in 2022, which is expected to increase by about 2 million units compared to that without policies”, said Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association. Due to Covid-19 outbreaks, the CPCA estimated in mid-May that auto retail sales would stand at 19 million this year, down 5 percent year-on-year. After the notice was released, an array of auto companies quickly responded and increased preferential policies on purchase tax reduction. They include Changan, Dongfeng, Chery and Volvo. Changan announced that many of its bestselling models such as the CS SUV, Eado sedan and Uni SUV can enjoy the national policies. On that basis, Changan launched a “duty-free car purchase festival”. From June 1 to July 30, customers who buy models of the Eado Plus, CS75 and Uni series will enjoy a purchase tax subsidy of up to 120 percent. At the same time, customers can receive a purchase tax reduction voucher of up to 10.000 yuan and participate in lotteries to get a car shopping voucher worth up to 6.000 yuan. Chery’s Jetour said that the purchase tax of all its models will be exempt, and another 5.000 yuan of subsidies will be granted for vehicles sold in the countryside. Dongfeng Nissan announced that all its models will be exempt from purchase tax and will receive full insurance for a limited time. Volvo said that many of its models will enjoy the 50 percent purchase tax subsidy and some other preferential policies. As for its popular model, the XC90, lifelong free maintenance will be offered. +++

+++ FORD ’s chief executive says he expects the cost of building electric vehicles to fall to the point that in coming years automakers will be battling each other for sales of EVs priced around $25,000. CEO Jim Farley told the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference this week that the $25.000 price tag will democratize EVs. Materials to build that vehicle will cost around $18.000, he said. “So I believe there will be our industry is definitely heading to a huge price war”, Farley said. It currently costs much more to build an EV than it does one powered by a gas engine, Farley noted. The company’s Mustang Mach-E, with a starting price around $44.000 but can run much higher, costs about $25.000 more than a comparable Ford Edge gas SUV, he said. The battery cost alone is $18.000, and the charger adds another $3.000. But big cost reductions are coming with new battery chemistries that use fewer expensive and scarce precious metals such as nickel and cobalt, he said. Plus, EVs will take less time and labor to build, saving more money, Farley said. Ford also plans to cut distribution costs, which amount to $2.000 per vehicle more than Tesla, the world’s electric vehicle sales leader, he said. That can be done largely by cutting the expense of keeping a large supply on dealer lots, and cutting advertising costs. Ford, like Tesla, may not have to buy advertising to sell EVs, which now amounts to $500 to $600 per vehicle, Farley said. Ford is designing the next generation of EVs for “radical simplification” of the labor it takes to put them together, Farley said. “Half the fixtures, half the work stations, half the welds, 20% less fasteners”, he told the conference. “We designed it, because it’s such a simple product, to radically change the manufacturability”. New EVs, he said, also will be designed for optimal aerodynamics so they can use the smallest possible battery to get more range. Redesigning the body of an electric full-size pickup for lower wind resistance can add 120 kilometers of range from the same size battery, Farley said. The additional range, he said, cuts another $3.000 from the battery cost, he said. “The re-engineering for the vehicle to minimize the size of the battery, since it’s so expensive, is going to be a game-changer for these second generation products”, Farley said. Ford has plans to differentiate itself and boost profits by selling software services, including driver-assist and autonomous features that could be rented for a time period or by the mile, Farley said. It all adds up to erasing the $25.000 cost difference and turning profits, even with raw material costs expected to rise, Farley said. A price war already is happening in China, where more than half the electric vehicles in the world are sold today, Farley said. The most popular one is a van made by Chinese manufacturer Wuling that costs about $8.000, he said. Farley conceded that getting to the lower price point will be challenging, with many things to work on at once. Michelle Krebs, executive analyst with Cox Automotive, said Ford has a long way to go to reach the cost reductions that Farley outlined. “It sounds like a lot of things have to fall into place to make this happen”, Krebs said. Ford in recent years has had quality control issues with several of its new vehicles, raising costs. But building a $25.000 electric vehicle will attract more buyers to EVs, which the administration of president Joe Biden is banking on to cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Research has shown that price is now is the biggest obstacle to people making the change from internal combustion engines, Krebs said. The first of the next-generation electric vehicles at Ford will be ready in 2026, Farley said, as Ford refits older factories to build EVs and builds three new battery plants and one new assembly plant in Kentucky and Tennessee, he said. By then, the company will have lined up the needed raw materials and have new battery chemistry, he said. “It’s going to take a little while, but I’m putting pressure on myself to get to making money on these vehicles”, Farley said. “It’s going to be a good investment”. In March, Ford said it would split its electric vehicle and internal combustion operations into two individual businesses to accelerate new technology. Ford plans a major restructuring with 2 distinct but strategically interdependent auto businesses: Ford Blue focusing on traditional combustion engines and Ford Model e, which will develop electric vehicles. Farley also confirmed Wednesday that Ford is working on an electric vehicle made specifically for ride-hailing services such as Uber, saying that product would fit well into Ford’s other commercial offerings. He gave no other details. +++

+++ More GENESIS , HYUNDAI and KIA models will be developed in Europe, for Europe, according to Tyrone Johnson, Europe R&D boss for the 3 brands. “We’ve been so successful in our European operation that we’ve been given more to develop on our own”, he said. Ultimately, the move means more bespoke models just for Europe, but also the team leading development of some global models, such as those under the Hyundai N performance sub-brand. Last year alone, Johnson’s team had 30 projects on the go, including the Kona N, i20 N and Elantra N, the last of which was developed in Europe but destined for the US. Since taking on the role in 2018, Johnson has consolidated a number of European test sites. Now, the main facility is the former Opel test track at Dudenhofen, Germany. The Hyundai group is also planning to double the size of its site at the Nürburgring, Johnson confirmed. He said the ‘Ring is used for extensive durability testing, with each vehicle driving 10.000 miles on the circuit. In terms of new models for Europe, only last year, Genesis launched its G70 Shooting Brake, a car created specifically for the European market. It’s been so well received, said Genesis Europe boss Dominique Boesch, that its home market in Korea is now considering selling the car, too. +++

+++ HONDA will develop artificial intelligence technology to detect abnormalities in a driver’s physical condition by analyzing how the vehicle is traveling and any subtle changes in the driver. The technology is expected to reduce accidents involving elderly drivers, which have become a social problem, and also to help detect dementia or glaucoma at an early stage. The automaker aims to put it to practical use around 2030. Working with the National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology, Honda uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and sensors to analyze a driver’s brain and eye movements. The technology is designed to identify the cause of errors that lead to accidents, using a camera to detect the driver’s line of sight and warn them about overlooking pedestrians crossing streets. By applying this technology, Honda will develop a function that signals a decline in cognitive function or spatial perception when its sensor detects the car veering or getting close to other vehicles. On top of this, Honda will combine AI with the sensor and camera to analyze the driver’s physical condition and any suspected illness. If a car detects a delay in a driver’s response to traffic lights, it will notify them that they may have narrow vision. Narrow vision is a common symptom of glaucoma, but the disease usually progresses slowly and is difficult to recognize. This function is aimed at notifying drivers of the risk of accidents and also serves as an opportunity for them to realize something is wrong before symptoms of the disease become obvious. As 1 in 4 driver’s license holders are over 65 years old, reducing the number of accidents caused by older drivers has become an issue. The development of this technology could make drivers aware of a decline in their abilities, which may lead them to stop driving or surrender their licenses. Automakers are storing and analyzing daily driving data to make use of it for safe driving, amid fierce competition to develop technologies. Toyota has equipped some of its models with an AI system that detects abnormalities by capturing a driver’s gaze, the direction of their face and how open their eyelids are. An alarm goes off or a seatbelt vibrates if the system detects the drivers looking away from the road or looking sleepy. Mazda has developed a system that uses a camera and sensor to detect drivers’ drowsiness and any sudden illness, and slow down or stop the vehicle if necessary. It aims to install the system in new models starting this year. Honda’s new technology aims to detect anomalies much earlier. “Various data is stored in cars, and we want to detect risks and make use of them for safety technology”, a Honda spokesperson said. +++

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+++ An updated LEXUS RX will be released in Japan around autumn, according to a recent Toyota announcement. It is the first time in about 7 years that the major Lexus model will be updated. The next-generation RX will also be launched in North America, Europe and China. Toyota will offer plug-in hybrid versions that can be charged at home, as well as gasoline models and conventional hybrids. With spacious interiors and improved handling, SUVs are becoming increasingly popular and several automakers have released new models. Subaru has completely revamped its Legacy Outback model for the first time in 7 years and Mazda will introduce the CX-60 model in Japan in autumn. Toyota, Nissan and leading overseas automakers have also unveiled electric SUVs in recent years amid the growing trend toward vehicle electrification. +++

+++ NISSAN is the latest automaker to develop vehicles that run on decarbonized fuels through its participation in racing. On Saturday, the company unveiled a car to compete in a 24-hour endurance race at Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka Prefecture. The new car, based on the latest model of the firm’s Fairlady Z sports vehicle, is designed to be fueled by used cooking oil and wood chips. Explaining the company’s motives for taking part in the race, Nissan chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta said the carmaker aimed to develop a competitive engine compatible with decarbonized fuels, and by subjecting the car to tough race conditions, it was hoped a wide range of knowledge could be gained. Decarbonized fuels, also known as carbon-neutral fuels, primarily comprise biofuels made from corn and algae, and synthetic fuel made from carbon dioxide and hydrogen. CO2 emitted when the car is running has already been “collected” during the manufacturing process for “net zero” emissions. Toyota and Subaru jointly developed the GR86 and BRZ for a race in March, and are now working on a new joint sports car that utilizes decarbonized fuels. Mazda has also raced a biodiesel-fueled car. Its fuel was supplied by Euglena Co., a producer of health food made from euglena microalgae. Overseas automakers are also keen to utilize biofuels. Carmakers are striving to develop electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles that run on hydrogen in a bid to decarbonize their fleets. The firms also see decarbonized fuels as “broadening their range of options”, according to a senior Subaru official. The basic structure of such vehicles, including the engine and tank, is the same as that of gasoline-powered vehicles, so extant parts and technologies can be used. This helps with maintenance at related facilities and boosts employment security. In response to Nissan’s announcement, Toyota president Akio Toyoda (who often drives in endurance races) said Saturday: “The firms’ rivalry has boosted the Japanese auto industry. It’s very encouraging”. Toyota is currently developing a hydrogen engine vehicle and hopes to test it in an upcoming race. Lowering the selling price will be the key to realizing the commercialization of biofuels. The euglena biofuel presently costs about ¥10,000 per liter, but Euglena hopes to reduce this price to between ¥200 and ¥250 through mass production. +++

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+++ Few seem to realize China is leading the world in RENEWABLE ENERGY generation and electric vehicles, Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO said via Twitter, adding, “Whatever you may think of China, this is simply a fact”. In the next several hours, he posted the same statement in Chinese on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media. Previously, Musk released a top 15 ranking of wind power installation worldwide, showing China crowned the list by a capacity of 328.973 megawatts, followed by the United States with 132.738. Tesla’s Gigafactory in Shanghai produced 484.000 automobiles in 2021, accounting for 51.7 percent of total deliveries last year. According to Tesla’s website on May 3, the output of Giga Shanghai was 20 percent higher than that of Fremont. Tesla said it plans to expand the factory in Shanghai to make it “the world’s largest auto export center” and to meet demand from Europe. Musk said Giga Shanghai has resumed its production capacity at a high level and is expected to produce 1.5 million autos this year, up at least 50 percent from 2021. Tesla’s 2022 environmental evaluation shows the carmaker plans to expand its workforce at Giga Shanghai by growing a “new model” line, bringing the total employees at the factory to around 19.000. +++

+++ TOYOTA said Monday its global sales in April dropped 11.1 percent from a year earlier to 763.708 vehicles, declining for the 8th straight month, hit by a worldwide semiconductor shortage and a Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai. Global production fell 9.1 percent to 692.259 vehicles in April, slipping below the level a year earlier for the first time in 3 months, as the world’s largest automaker by volume was forced to cut output due to supply constraints, it said. The global production figure for the month fell short of the automaker’s forecast of about 750.000 vehicles announced in March. Toyota and other automakers have been forced to curb production due to a shortage of semiconductors, which are used in a wide range of products such as automobiles, airconditioners and smartphones, as demand has increased on the back of accelerating digitalization. In Japan, its sales in April sank 16.8 percent from a year earlier to 103.143 units, including those of minivehicles, while its output fell 9.0 percent to 243.425 vehicles in the reporting month. Toyota’s overseas sales fell 10.2 percent to 660.565 vehicles, while output declined 9.1 percent to 448.834 units. By region, Toyota’s sales in China plunged 30.7 percent to 111.134 vehicles on weakening demand following a Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai. Output in the country dived 33.8 percent to 93.297 units, affected by a plant closure in Changchun. In North America, sales fell 19.7 percent to 218.837 vehicles in April from a year earlier, while production dropped 7.1 percent to 153.154 units, also impacted by the shortage of components. “Conditions remain unclear regarding trends for both Covid-19 and parts supplies, but we will continue to make every effort to minimize the impact”, Toyota said in a statement. +++

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