Newsflash: Mercedes-Maybach SL gaat strijd aan met Bentley Continental GTC

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+++ Renault Group boss Luca de Meo has called for a debate on whether EURO NCAP safety tests are still fit for purpose. Speaking at the Change Now conference in Paris, where the Renault Scenic Vision concept was revealed featuring several safety technologies not currently evaluated by Euro NCAP, he said: “We need to keep an eye on what is really bringing solutions to real-world cases without trying to make cars Christmas trees with technology on them that is absolutely useless. “We are getting to the limit of suppliers trying to impose their own ideas rather than doing what is good for customers”. His comments follow a spate of recent disappointing scores for some of the company’s vehicles in tests. These include a 0-star result for the Renault Zoé, 1-star results for the Dacia Jogger and Dacia Spring and 2-star result for the Dacia Sandero, all largely but not exclusively as a result of poor ratings for automatic electronic safety systems, which help prevent potential accidents but have come in for criticism for adding cost to cars. De Meo stressed that he wanted to work with the authorities on changing regulations, reiterating that every Renault Group vehicle meets or exceeds current safety requirements. “Of course I respect Euro NCAP. We have played the game for decades. We were first to get 5 stars with the Laguna”, he said. “They have helped us focus on the problem and improve but going forward we have to debate on what is the right approach, and what are the things that really make a difference. Sometimes I see things that defy logic. “I want a system of common sense; perhaps these days the rarest commodity of all. If they proposed a system to stop drink-drivers starting a car, I would install it tomorrow. If they wanted to use autonomous technology to restrict speeds to the limits, I’d agree. Let’s look at the problems (speed, distraction, physical condition issues) with solutions”. +++

+++ The Mercedes board must have been “drunk” when they agreed to the delayed and troublesome MERCEDES-AMG One, CEO Ola Källenius joked to investors. The company will reveal news about the Formula 1-engined hypercar “in a couple of weeks”, Källenius said, indicating that Mercedes is finally ready to reveal a car that has given it almost as many headaches as the similarly themed Aston Martin Valkyrie has given its creator. “The team at AMG and the AMG High Performance Powertrain Formula 1 arm came to us about 4 years ago and said ‘we have got a great idea, let’s put a Formula 1 engine into a road car’. I will have to go back to check the meeting minutes, but I’m sure we were drunk when we said yes”, Källenius said in Monaco in answer to a question about when the One would appear in its final form. The original 1.000 hp Project One concept was revealed in 2017, and the car’s development has since been beset by delays due to the complexities of adapting the F1 powertrain for the street. The 4-wheeldrive model, which uses a hybridised 1.6-litre V6 adapted from that of Mercedes-AMG’s championship-winning 2017 F1 car, was originally due in early 2019. The company has previously claimed a 350 kph top speed and 0-200 kph in 6.0 seconds. Engineering struggles reportedly included getting the complex powertrain to comply with WLTP emissions standards using a petrol particulate filter without compromising performance. Mercedes last year said that production of the 275 examples would start in 2022 and that each had already been sold for a price of €2.27 million. Källenius said the car will neatly link the company’s F1 activities with its road cars. “It demonstrates that our engagement with F1 has direct effect on the AMG brand”, he said. Mercedes will also post a “very honest documentary” about its progress on the project, said Bettina Fetzer, its head of marketing, at the same event. “Very honest” suggests Mercedes has realised that its struggles to get an incredibly difficult project off the ground could show the company in a good light as it worked around the problems, perhaps taking inspiration from F1’s warts-and-all Drive to Survive documentary series by Netflix. +++

+++ MERCEDES-BENZ will rapidly expand its EV line-up in the coming years by ushering in electric options in crucial new segments and introducing a range of new platforms with unprecedented range and performance capabilities. The marque’s line-up of electric models already comprises a wide variety of cars of different shapes and segments, ranging from the EQA hatchback to the new EQS flagship, and it will be extended further with the launch of the mid-sized EQE SUV later this year and an electric version of the G-Class by 2024. The company’s commitment to offering a electric version of every model by 2025 is among the most ambitious electrification pledges of any mainstream manufacturer. This comes alongside a commitment to develop only bespoke EV architectures from 2024, when the all-new Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture (MMA) platform, conceived for small and midsized EVs, will be introduced. 1 of 4 new EV architectures being developed by engineers in Stuttgart as part of the wide-reaching electric offensive, the MMA will be instrumental in future-proofing some of Mercedes’ bestselling and most crucial models. The C-Class saloon, for example, launched in its current guise last year, is in line for an all-electric variant (or equivalent) using this platform, which will provide Mercedes-Benz with a long-awaited executive EV to rival the likes of the BMW i4, Volkswagen ID.Aero and indomitable Tesla Model 3. Last year, Mercedes chief operating officer Markus Schäfer told the MMA platform will be used for compact cars but “has the potential to reach into the midsize segment as well” and confirmed the potential for a dedicated EV offering in the midsized executive sector. The current C-Class is one of the few remaining legacy Mercedes models without a direct EV equivalent, but the plug-in hybrid C 300e has one of the longest electric ranges of any PHEV on sale, at an official 110 km, and the recently launched EQE saloon helps to fill the gap between the C-Class and the EQS electric limousine. Likewise, Mercedes’ existing bespoke EVs are among the longest-legged in their respective segments, but the new-generation EVs will take this further. They will combine power-dense battery packs with hyper-efficient motors, lightweight construction methods and super-slick bodywork to fully maximise efficiency, as demonstrated by the radical (and fully functioning) EQXX prototype, which gives the most concrete clues yet as to the electric future of the popular C-Class. Company bosses have already admitted the EQXX will not directly evolve into a production car, but in its conception, design and capability, it serves to preview Mercedes’ future line-up, and in its positioning, it is more closely related to the C-Class than any other model. So while the eventual production descendant of this concept will be larger (the EQXX is just 1.350 mm tall and a full 162 mm shorter than the EQE) and more conventionally styled, it will remain true to the core characteristics. The main aim of the EQXX project was to show how far an EV designed to these principles can travel on one charge, and the real-world range of the concept, as demonstrated on real roads, at normal speeds and in changeable conditions by Mercedes, nudges 1.100 km. That represents a marked improvement not just on the 700 km EQS but also every mainstream electric vehicle on sale today. Mercedes highlights radical new battery technology as a facilitator of this improvement, with boosted power density allowing for a greater range to be achieved while keeping weight low and maximising interior space. The firm remains tight-lipped about the technical specifics of the new-generation power packs it will begin rolling out to its line-up, but the EQXX’s circa 100kWh battery (supplied by CATL) is 35% lighter and about half the size of the 107.8 kWh unit used by the EQS. Such advances pave the way for future cars to sit lower and have more spacious cabins, as well as offering improved ranges. Another key component of the MMA platform will be the integration of a new-generation electric motor that dramatically boosts efficiency while, like the battery, freeing up space in the chassis and reducing weight. The lower kerb weight of the new electric C-Class saloon, relative to its larger sibling models, means it will offer comparable straightline performance to Mercedes’ existing EVs even when fitted with lower-powered and more efficient motors. Aerodynamic efficiency plays a fundamental role in eking out more miles per charge, so the electric C-Class will bear a much more rakish and low-slung silhouette than the current car, and it is likely to sit higher than the EQXX for easier ingress and egress. A coupé-esque sloping roofline will probably be the most obvious differentiator from the current 3-box saloon and the glasshouse will need to be substantially wider than the concept’s to allow for 3 seats across the back row and comparable storage space. Whether, like the current C-Class, the new executive EV will be offered in estate guise is less certain. Mercedes’ combustion-powered answer to the BMW 3 Series Touring has historically been a strong seller, particularly in Germany, but a marked rise in the popularity of SUVs threatens the viability of traditional estate models in the new electric era. They are “technically absolutely possible, that wouldn’t be a problem”, said Schäfer recently, but in keeping with a continuing rationalisation of the Mercedes-Benz line-up, these models could be indirectly replaced by a new range of more popular, equally capacious and barely less aerodynamic SUVs. While touting a 50% improvement in energy density from its next-generation batteries, Mercedes is already looking to the next step, with development under way on solid-state battery technology. The firm has partnered Taiwanese battery developer Prologium, which claims to have supplied nearly 8.000 solid-state battery samples to car manufacturers. The tie-up will usher in solid-state test vehicles in “the coming years” on the way to rolling out the hardware to production cars in the second half of the decade. Mercedes estimates that these future batteries can nearly double the range of today’s conventional lithium ion packs and the EVs equipped with these units can be lighter, more spacious and cheaper to produce. +++

+++ MERCEDES-MAYBACH is readying an ultra-luxurious version of the new SL roadster to rival the Bentley Continental GT Convertible as part of its greater focus on its highest-margin products. The first-ever Mercedes-Maybach SL will be distinguished by a fully chromed grille, Maybach emblems imprinted on the bonnet and a freestanding three-pointed star emblem. No other details have been revealed, but the luxury roadster is expected to be launched with the most potent option currently available in the Mercedes-AMG SL: a 585 hp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre petrol V8. However, the future plug-in hybrid SL (with even more power) could get the Maybach treatment, too. Wagener wrote: “A glimpse of the concept Mercedes-Maybach SL, revealing more about future opportunities of our company’s most exclusive brand. For customers who desire for a sophisticated luxury driving and design experience”. The SL will join the Maybach version of the new EQS SUV, which was previewed at last year’s Munich motor show and is set to arrive in dealerships in 2023. Mercedes has also confirmed that a new Maybach coupé is also on the way, likely to be based on the upcoming new AMG GT, itself closely related to the SL. Mercedes last week also revealed plans for another SL-based open-roof speedster to launch a new dedicated brand for “highly exclusive collectible cars” called Mythos. Mythos will produce low-volume special vehicles for “the most dedicated enthusiasts and collectors of Mercedes-Benz” and will in effect sit above Maybach in Mercedes’ brand portfolio. Mercedes bosses plan to turn the company into a pure luxury car maker by launching more highest-margin models and culling entry-level models. +++

+++ PAGANI has confirmed that its upcoming C10 hypercar, which is set to replace the decade-old Huayra, will be unveiled on 12 September. The firm also showed off a sketch of the car’s silhouette, revealing a swooping, teardrop-style design similar to that seen in an early leak of the C10. The darkened side profile image comes after a prototype was recently spotted testing on the road. The styling blends various elements of previous Pagani designs. The wide front grille and swooping bodywork hark back to the Huayra, while the teardrop cabin shape is reminiscent of the older Zonda. The angular front bonnet in particular evokes the styling of some of the earliest Pagani models, such as the C12 S. The 2 small rear wings revealed in the leaked rendering (also a homage to the early Pagani Zondas) appear to be covered over, with exit holes of the would-be wing cut into the rear camouflage and painted bodywork visible within. Pagani’s signature centrally mounted 4-exit exhaust (which has appeared on every model the firm has made) also features. This confirms our suspicions that the car will be powered by an internal combustion engine. This test mule appears to stray away from Pagani’s traditional vertically split headlights with Perspex covers; a style that the company has used before on unique Zondas, such as the JC and LM one-offs, but these are most likely simply camouflage features, because the leaked rendering shows the car with separated lights. Small winglets in the front grille ahead of the huge radiators look to be possible aerodynamic aids, while subtle yet sizeable air intakes on the roof and across the rear buttresses will draw air into the engine bay. The firm also seems to have dropped the Huayra’s gullwing doors. A barely visible shutline behind the window suggests that the C10’s doors will use regular hinges. The skylights depicted in the rendering can be seen on the roof through the camoflauge, albeit very faintly. +++

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+++ The POLESTAR 3 will be unveiled in October this year, before deliveries start in the first quarter of 2023. Polestar mentioned the reveal date as part of its first quarter of 2022 earnings report, in which it also announced that it had achieved record sales in the first 4 months of the year, despite ongoing supply-chain issues. The Chinese-Swedish EV maker sold 13.600 cars from January to April 2022, almost double its quarter one sales from 2021. Meanwhile, its order take reached 23.000, more than triple its figure from Q1 2021. Polestar revealed an official image of the 3 in December last year, showing more details of its third model and giving a much clearer indication of its overall size. It was the second official teaser shot that the firm had released of the premium 3, following a cloth-over-car picture released earlier this year. The 3 has now been presented with a pixelated camouflage livery. Elements of ‘Thor’s hammer’ headlights are on display, as are a large set of wheels and a black glass roof. The 3 will be Polestar’s first foray into the cross-over segment and will be produced at parent company Volvo’s Charleston plant in South Carolina, US, alongside the replacement for the XC90. “We will build in America for Americans”, said Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath. “The Polestar 3 is planned to be launched in 2022 as a premium electric performance cross-over that will define the look of cross-overs in the electric age. It will also be the first Polestar vehicle to be built in America”. Earlier this year, Ingenlath told that the 3 would have 2 rows of seats, not 3, and that both single and dual-motor versions would go on sale. In-depth technical specifications haven’t yet been revealed, but Polestar has said the 3 will be more potent than the closely related XC90 successor. The publication of the new 3 preview image follows news that Polestar would launch on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The company will launch a new model every year for the next three years and hopes to expand into 30 global markets by 2023. It also expects to grow “tenfold” from global sales of around 29.000 in 2021 to 290.000 by 2025. “We aren’t a virtual company waiting to build factories and sell cars; we’re an actual company already building and selling cars around the world”, said Ingenlath. “Our 2 award-winning cars are on the road in 14 markets globally, and we expect our global sales volume to reach around 29.000 vehicles this year”. +++

+++ Hydrogen-powered cars remain an unlikely short-term solution for zero-emissions travel, despite the firm revealing 2 concept vehicles and a production van powered by the fuel, RENAULT boss Luca de Meo has revealed. Talking following the unveiling of the Scenic Vision concept using a hydrogen fuel cell range extender, and months after the Alpine A4810 was unveiled, powered by combusted hydrogen, de Meo said: “Hydrogen has a role. We will have a commercial vehicle on sale using this technology this year, and work with business partners to introduce it. But on cars? Honestly, who knows. The challenge is making costs acceptable for customers and installing a charging network. There are still debates on making the electric charging network good enough, and in comparison to a hydrogen refuelling network that is simple”. Hydrogen-powered Renault Master vans will go on sale this summer, developed as part of a joint venture with Plug Power, under the name Hyvia. As well as selling vans it will work with fleet customers to provide hydrogen fuel stations and logistics support. “For some fleets battery electric is not a solution, just a barrier”. said de Meo. “They find they would need to buy 2 vans rather than 1: the first to be driven and the second one to be plugged in, charging. Hydrogen can answer that problem”. De Meo also revealed that the Group was planning to test combusting hydrogen directly in a racing engine as part of an extension of the philosophy explored by the Alpine A4810. Plug Power joined the Alpine Formula 1 team as a sponsor this year, with a specific brief to “explore different mobility solutions ”. +++

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