Newsflash: Toyota punt de Corolla bij

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+++ J.D. Power’s U.S. Initial Quality Study measures an aggregate number of problems suffered by cars during the first 90 days of ownership. In the 2021 survey, the industry average was 162 per 100 vehicles over that first 90 days. Ram topped the charts with the best result, posting 128 problems per 100 vehicles in 90 days. Lexus ranked third, at 144. Out of the top 33 brands measured verifiably according to the methodology, Tesla came with an asterisk, ALFA ROMEO finished 29th. In Consumer Reports’ 2020 Brand Report Card, Lexus placed fifth out of 32 brands, Alfa Romeo 28th. The Italian carmaker’s CEO, Jean-Philippe Imparato, wants to get his brand closer to that Japanese brand. During the first European test drive of the new Tonale, he told: “My quality benchmark is Lexus”. There’s a long way to go, but Imperato believes he knows the route. Doing the same quick work in Italy that Carlos Tavares did with Opel, Imparato (who led Peugeot to being the second bestselling marque in Europe) has turned Alfa Romeo to profit before the release of the Tonale. He’s only been on the job 16 months. There are customer-facing approaches to improving confidence in the brand. The Tonale sits on the oldest platform in the Stellantis parts bin, the CUSW architecture that rolled out with the Giulietta in 2010, so it stands a better chance of having all of its bugs flushed out by now. The blockchain-enabled telematics recorder keeps what is intended to be a tamper-proof record of the vehicle’s use and maintenance, preventing skullduggery about accidents and mileage and sketchy service. Alfa Romeo has enough faith in it to offer what’s said to be a 5 year / 120.000 km unconditional warranty on the Tonale in Europe. We won’t know how the nitty gritty bits hold up until Tonales hit the road, but the goals are admirable. The reliability push is just one more step in Imparato’s re-establishing the market segments, perception, and touchpoints of the Alfa Romeo brand. He told at the same event: “before we reach for the stars, we must get the basics in order”, beginning with “the quality issues”, then improving resale values and then launching more affordable models. The Giulia and Stelvio have been dominated by the Germans they’re meant to challenge, and “they are too pricey for Alfisti who would like to trade up from a Giulietta, let alone the MiTo”. Some of the models in the already-approved product plan will correct that. “Not everybody is rich”, he said. “If you have a reasonable wage, you can buy a piece of beauty. We aren’t elitist; we’re for all”, because “Everybody deserves the beauty of an Alfa Romeo”. If Imparato can maintain the stability he stresses, the coming vehicles after the Tonale are an even smaller SUV in 2024 that won’t be called by its rumored name of Brennero, which is an Italian mountain pass. “Our third SUV, which is currently ghosting through the media, will certainly not be named as rumored after an Italian lake, mountain, city or region”, he said. This model will inaugurate the brand’s first battery-electric vehicle along with ICE versions, followed a year later by a pure electric model, which could be the electric hatchback. Assuming those vehicles pay their rent, we could see one or more of the “emphatically sporty and dynamic models” that can do the sprint to 100 kph in under 3 seconds. +++

+++ GENESIS will showcase its striking X Speedium Coupé EV concept at the Goodwood Festival of Speed next month, giving clues as to what future EVs from the premium Korean marque will look like. The Genesis X Speedium Coupé is described as a “freestyle” design exercise based on last year’s X Concept, led by chief creative officer Luc Donckerwolke, to show the evolution of the brand’s Athletic Elegance design language. It will be shown alongside the all-electric Genesis Electrified GV70 (a SUV), also making its European debut at the West Sussex event, ahead of a market launch in the coming months. With a maximum output of 482bhp and a range of more than 500 km, the Korean firm claims that the all-electric version of the GV70 will set “a new standard for luxury electric SUVs”. The Speedium concept takes its name from a Korean race track, which Genesis says reinforces its commitment to “the emotional value of driving” as it electrifies its line-up. The low-slung, long-wheelbase silhouette is retained, but it’s the details that mark this new concept out most obviously from both its predecessor and Genesis’s current production cars. At the front is a distinctive wraparound twin light bar that’s shaped to reference the large shield-shaped grille on the brand’s production cars – suggesting this will be dropped from Genesis’s future EV line-up, which will comprise 6 models by 2030. The sleek side profile is described as embodying an “anti-wedge” design ethos in line with a focus on “understated elegance”. While mostly minimalist, the design is broken up by a prominent crease that runs along the side, between the heavily flared wheel arches. The rear end bears a more familiar look, with slim twin light bars matching those used by the current GV60, GV70 and GV80. Donckerwolke said the redesign was about “giving each design element space to breathe”. He added: “It’s not about making the design elements compete with each other but about orchestrating the elements so that they complement and respect one another”. +++

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+++ LAMBORGHINI ’s path to an electrified lineup begins with plug-in hybrid versions of its Huracan, Aventador and Urus by the end of 2024. It’s first battery-electric vehicle is due before the end of the decade, reporting last year putting the launch in 2028. We expect there will be a few concepts and show cars presaging the first pure EV from Sant’Agata Bolognese, and a couple of trademark filings could tell us what a forerunner or the car itself will be called. Lamborghini filed the name Revuelto in Europe. The Spanish word has quite a few meanings, like mixed, untidy and nauseous. Then there are 2 meanings that could apply to a revolutionary electric product from a brand known for screaming V12s: Restless and turbulent. If we want to push the wordplay, there’s a third meaning we could apply: Scrambled, as in eggs, although that could also apply to expectations. The supercar maker wants to cover every base with the name, it seems. The applications with the European Union Intellectual Property Office specify 4 classes, an umbrella sheltering everything from electric cars and EV components specifically to car parts and accessories in general, as well as scooters, car-related games and toys, and clothes. We have no idea what kind of battery-powered go-fast is coming from that corner of Italy, except that it will be a 2+2 GT described as having “a bit more ground clearance”. Superficially, that sounds like an elevated version of the Asterion LPI 910-4 hybrid concept car, something I’d be totally OK with, but the target is “a 4-seater two-door like the GT cars of the Fifties and Sixties”. Designers and engineers are working on it now, still in the exploratory phases of how to deliver everything buyers want from a raging bull the minus the trademark V10 and V12 noises. Company boss Stephan Winkelmann noted 2 vital aspects in comments last year, the first being, “Yes, we have opportunities to be different in terms of body styles, but the cars will always be immediately recognizable as Lamborghinis”. After looks comes handling, Winkelmann adding that performance EVs have great straight-line acceleration, but not enough lateral capability to satisfy Lamborghini. “It’s about how you put all the handling capabilities inside the car, which today is missing in electric cars. We’re sure we can do so”. While having an EV is a necessity, the honcho is trying to keep internal combustion going for those not ready to make the transition. “For the 2 super sports cars (Aventador and Huracán) we want to stay hybrid for as long as possible”, he said, “and we want to see how much synthetic fuel can help us to keep this alive after 2030”. A last note on Revuelto: I expect the Aventador and Huracaán names to retire when their PHEV successors arrive. The Revuelto trademark filing included EVs, but there’s no reason the name couldn’t serve a series production car well before 2028. +++

+++ Croatia-based RIMAC (which owns a majority stake in Bugatti-Rimac) raised about €500 million to fund its expansion plans. Porsche is one of the companies that participated in the latest fundraising round. The investment was led by the SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and the Private Equity arm of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, though some of the Rimac Group’s existing shareholders, including Porsche and InvestIndustrial (whose portfolio also includes a majority stake in Morgan Motors), participated in it as well. The new round of funding raises the company’s value to over €2 billion. Some of the investment will be funneled into Rimac Technology, a division that’s separate from Rimac’s hypercar-building arm and whose task is to develop electric-car components for carmakers. It notably has partnerships with Hyundai, Koenigsegg, and Aston Martin. Looking ahead, Rimac Technology plans to gain the capacity to build a diverse selection of parts ranging from hybrid systems to rolling chassis. Porsche began investing in Rimac in 2018 and it contributed an eight-figure sum to the latest round of fundraising. However, its aim is not to take over the firm. It continues to hold approximately 20% of the Rimac Group, and founder Mate Rimac remains the largest shareholder. +++

+++ A fire broke out at RIVIAN ’s assembly plant in Normal, Illinois, last weekend due to a faulty battery pack. The town of Normal posted the news on its official government website. The fire was contained to a single faulty battery pack that was being tested in Rivian’s battery testing area of the plant. The battery was going through thermal runaway when firefighters arrived. Because of this, the firefighters kept applying cold water to the battery long after the initial flames were extinguished to keep it cool and prevent it from catching fire again. Firefighters from Bloomington, Illinois, were called in to assist the Normal firefighters at the large facility. After the fire was deemed fully out, they began ventilating the building to make it safe and operable once again. Rivian stated that the battery pack had already been deemed faulty prior to the fire. “No injuries occurred during the event, and production in the area has restarted”, the spokesperson told. “Every one of our batteries undergoes a rigorous and comprehensive testing regime before being certified for installation in our vehicles”. The incident was a rather long one. Normal firefighters say they arrived at 10:38 a.m., and the extinguished battery was finally turned back over to Rivian at 2 p.m. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and damage was limited to just the battery pack, battery pack carrier and test booth equipment. Rivian send this official statement on the fire: “We evacuated a portion of the Normal Plant on Saturday as standard practice during a thermal event affecting a single battery pack. The pack had already been identified as faulty and was undergoing additional testing when the event occurred. Our Environmental, Health, and Safety team is investigating the cause with our engineering team and the Normal Fire Department, which responded promptly”. +++

+++ TESLA chief Executive Elon Musk has asked employees to return to office or leave the company, according to a memo sent to staff that has been circulating on social media. “Anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean minimum) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla”, the memo said. In response to the memo that was tweeted from an unverified account, the billionaire, who has proposed to take Twitter private in a $44 billion deal, said, “They should pretend to work somewhere else”. Musk would “review and approve” any cases where they could not meet the minimum, according to the memo. Tesla joins a wave of companies mandating a return to office for employees. While some big employers have embraced voluntary work-from-home policies permanently, others including Google are betting that it is best to push in-person interactions among colleagues. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted in March that Twitter offices would be reopening but employees could still work from home if they wanted to. “Wherever you feel most productive and creative is where you will work and that includes working from home full-time forever”, Agrawal said in a tweet dated March 3. +++

+++ TOYOTA has updated the Corolla, 3 years on from its launch, with a raft of specification, design and mechanical improvements; most notably ushering in the latest generation of its petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain. The Corolla has sold more than 50 million units worldwide since its 1966 introduction and is currently in its 12th generation. It is available in both hatchback, sedan and estate forms. A closely related SUV model, the new Corolla Cross, will join it in dealerships later this year. The Opel Astra rival’s design has been left largely untouched (tweaks are limited to a new mesh pattern for the front grille, reshaped foglights and new alloy wheel designs), but Toyota draws attention to the changes underneath the surface, which it says make it “equipped to strengthen its role as a core volume model for Toyota in Europe”. It continues to be available with a choice of 1.8 and 2.0 litre hybrid powertrains, but both are claimed to bring improved power, performance and drivability, alongside reduced emissions. The lithium ion EV battery, for example, now weighs 18 kg less and is more compact, and recalibrated EV motors give a more ‘intuitive’, rather than linear, throttle response. The 1.8-litre powertrain now produces a combined 140 hp and shaves 1.7 seconds of the 0-100 kph time, at 9.2 seconds. The 2.0-litre car brings 196 hp and covers the same sprint in 7.5 seconds. CO2 emissions are pegged at 102 gram/km and 107 gram/km, respectively; a slight reduction over the outgoing car’s figures. Inside, the latest Corolla plays host to a new infotainment system running through a larger, 10.5 inch central touchscreen, and from mid-rung trim upwards, the hatch comes equipped as standard with a 12.3 inch digital gauge cluster. Elsewhere, there is a choice of new exterior paint options and interior trim elements, while the performance-inspired Corolla GR Sport gets a new set of 18 inxh alloys, tweaked bumper designs and GR-embossed seats. Toyota will reveal pricing for the new-look line-up ahead of its market launch in the first quarter of 2023. +++

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+++ A 2-seat special edition of the upcoming TOYOTA GR COROLLA hot hatch has been unveiled, with an array of weight-saving measures and power upgrades. Promising “an untamed energy”, the new GR Corolla Morizo Edition will be limited to just 200 examples; none of which will be coming to the Netherlands, as with the standard GR Corolla. Toyota hasn’t held back with the US-only hot hatch, giving it a stiffer chassis, sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, forged wheels, front brake ducts and monotube shock absorbers in the name of cutting lap times. It has also removed the rear seats, which along with other mass reduction measures brings weight down by 30 kg to 1.440 kg. Like the similarly conceived Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA and Jaguar XE SV Project 8, though, the 2-seat GR Corolla keeps its back doors. It gets an engine upgrade too, with a slightly boosted version of the 1.6-litre three-pot engine found in the standard GR Corolla, taking torque up 30 Nm to 400 Nm for better acceleration at mid to high revs. Power remains at 300 hp. It drives both axles through a 6-speed manual gearbox, as in the GR Yaris. It also retains Toyota’s intelligent manual transmission (IMT) function, which rev-matches for smoother downshifts. The first, second and third gear ratios have also been brought closer together, which Toyota said has increased acceleration, improved performance and added “a pleasing sensation of gear engagement”. A triple-exit exhaust that reduces back pressure and improves exhaust flow comes from the standard GR Corolla. Toyota has yet to confirm performance figures, but expect the Morizo Edition to improve on the standard GR Corolla’s expected near 5.0 seconds 0-100 kph time.  Inside, a track-focused interior includes semi-bucket seats covered in black suede and finished with red stitching. Climate control and an 8.0 inch infotainment touchscreen with voice control are also included. The top-rung version of the new Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R rival will go on sale in the US this winter, with buyers to be determined via a lottery-style draw. +++

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