Newsflash: Alfa Romeo sluit Tonale Quadrifoglio niet uit

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+++ ALFA ROMEO ’s Quadrifoglio performance models will make the transition to pure-electric, boss Jean-Philippe Imparato has promised, and there could yet be a place for the badge to feature on the newly launched Tonale. The most potent version of the Audi Q3 rival so far is the plug-in hybrid variant, which has a combined output of 275 hp. But Imparato believes that the car’s chassis could “cope easily with 300 hp or more”. And while a Tonale Quadrifoglio is not imminent, he says that customer demand could persuade Alfa Romeo to develop it. “Quadrifoglio is not the vocation of Tonale, for the moment”, Imparato told me. “For this car, I focused our energy on the transition to electrification so for the moment I’d say Tonale is a plug-in hybrid with 275 hp and a zero-emissions range of up to 80 km. “If we have a good response from the public, and expectations, then I will work on other possible development, but it is not a priority. I will put the energy on the development of Quadrifoglio on probably the other launches, except if I have tons of customers asking for something special on Tonale. If that happens, then we will see”. Imparato suggested that Quadrifoglio will play a role as he nudges Alfa Romeo upmarket, but as the brand switches to pure-electric, it will have to do so while still delivering authentic performance. “Quadrifoglio will stay with us”, he said, “and we will develop it on top of each and every product, provided that we can achieve the right level of performance. Quadrifoglio is the little baby you protect, because you cannot afford to betray the DNA. It’s a kind of umbrella on top of models, but with the highest level of performance; I mean 0-100 kph in 2 to 3 seconds, less than 20 minutes for a full charge, the right level of range, handling and so forth. It will be pricey, but I will have all of the power I need to feed this proposal coming from Stellantis”. For pure EVs, the largest of Stellantis’s 3 new architectures supports electric motors producing up to 450 hp, potentially enabling a 4-wheeldrive model with more than 800 hp. And the group has promised a 0-100 kph time of “as little as 2 seconds”. Imparato confirmed that Alfa Romeo will use Medium and Large versions of STLA, with the latter chosen for mid-sized vehicles because of the power and battery options it offers. +++

+++ This is a big year for BMW . The automaker is celebrating 50 years of its M division, and it’s got a lot to show for it. The automaker launched the first official M3 Touring earlier this week, and it won’t be the only new M car set to arrive in 2022. During the estate’s reveal at Goodwood, the BMW M bosses let slip that another special M car is coming later this year. BMW is likely talking about the M Hommage car we heard about last month. The new M model will allegedly be a hotter version of the M4 CSL, but with serious upgrades. The report alleged that BMW would give the car a bespoke body focused on aerodynamics. It would even include active aero bits. However, BMW won’t change any of the hard points underneath its new body. I expect BMW will give the new M car yellow Matrix headlights, lightweight wheels, and other adjustable bits such as the anti-roll bars and shock absorbers. The car should look exceptional like the others, but you shouldn’t expect wild wings or side-exit exhaust pipes. Rumours suggest that the new Hommage will deliver 600 hp and 700 Nm. BMW will route the power to the rear wheels through an 8-speed ZF gearbox. Don’t expect all-wheel drive because that will add weight. The Hommage will allegedly be able to hit 100 kph in 3.5 seconds. It won’t breach the 320 kph) mark; however, it will reach speeds above 300 kph as the company focuses on downforce and handling. With June almost over, each day brings us closer to the new M Hommage. The car will allegedly go on sale for €800.000 in the Netherlands, and you likely won’t be able to get one. BMW plans to produce just 50 examples. It’ll be a nice cap to a massive year for the brand. BMW M has been a benchmark many other automakers have tried to meet, and we’re excited to see where the brand goes over the next 50 years. +++

+++ China’s No. 1 electric car maker BYD plans to start selling passenger cars in South Korea. A BYD Korea staffer said: “We are in talks with headquarters to start selling EVs in Korea around next year”. BYD Korea has already conducted road tests and is hiring customer service, publicity and accounting staff. The Chinese EV maker also opened YouTube and Facebook pages in Korean last month. With more than W193 trillion in market capital, BYD is so far the only manufacturer in the world producing both EVs and rechargeable batteries (US$1=W1,292). Kim Pil-soo at Daelim University said BYD’s entry into the Korean market “shows it is confident about its cars in terms of both quality and price”. Industry watchers believe BYD will launch its flagship Han sedan in Korea first. The car is priced at around W52 million, which is cheaper than the Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3. +++

+++ DODGE will present 3 worldwide product reveals from August 15 through 17 on Woodward Avenue in metro Detroit. The debuts will chart the future of the brand. Dodge is only giving vague details about the premieres. The announcement on Monday, 15 August, will have something to do with its current muscle cars. The one on Tuesday, 16 August, will be a “gateway muscle announcement”, according to the company. Finally, Wednesday, 17 August, will bring news of a future muscle machine. “All I can say is the future of our brand will be on display during Dodge Speed Week, and we’re throwing open our garage doors so our fans can get a peek for themselves. It’s going to be an electric summer for Dodge”, said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge brand chief executive officer. Referring to an “electric summer” is probably a hint about at least one of the vehicles debuting that week. In May, there was a report that Dodge planned to premiere the concept for its future muscle car EV before the Woodward Dream Cruise on 20 August. Kuniskis wanted to unveil the vehicle even earlier, but he said there was a factor outside the industry holding things back. The concept for the electric muscle car is reportedly very similar to the production version that’s coming in 2024. The goal for the vehicle is allegedly to offer a machine that can outperform a Tesla Model S Plaid. This could mean a model capable of accelerating to 100 kph in under 2 seconds is on the way. Dodge’s teaser for the electric muscle car showed a vehicle that appeared to combine elements from the late 1960s and early ’70s Challenger and Charger. It also revived the old-school fratzog triangular emblem. The car in the clip did an all-wheel-drive burnout, suggesting at least a 2-motor setup for the car. Stellantis, Dodge’s parent company, CEO Carlos Tavares offered a few more details about the electric muscle car. He previously said it had a “sound that you cannot imagine” and is “something that is shocking”. +++

+++ The contest that FORD organized to find a name for the Mustang’s blackout appearance package ended on June 7, and a trademark application may have revealed the winner. The company asked European authorities to claim the “Mustang Dark Horse” moniker. Spotted by an enthusiast forum, the trademark application was filed on June 15 and is still marked as being “under examination”. It provides few details about what Ford plans to do with the name; it only says that Dark Horse could end up on a “4-wheeled land vehicle”. And, of course, a trademark application is never a guarantee that the name or logo detailed in it will find its way onto a production car. Ford hasn’t commented on the report, and it hasn’t announced the winner of the contest to name its black accent package yet. Several Twitter users suggested the name. Other suggestions floating around the Twittersphere include Shadow, Wild Horse, Nighthawk, Knightmare, Dark Knight, and, oddly, Larry. More details about the Ford Mustang’s appearance package should emerge in the coming weeks. As a reminder, the bundle (which is temporarily and literally called “Black Accent Package”) adds black exterior emblems and black-painted aluminum wheels, among other features. +++

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+++ HYUNDAI and KIA have hit a 3 million milestone in sales of eco-friendly cars, 14 years since their first hybrid models debuted back in 2009. Eco-friendly cars include hybrid electric, full-electric and fuel-cell electric vehicles. According to the Hyundai Motor Group, its 2 brands sold a total of 3.006.414 units of eco-friendly cars over the past 14 years. The figure makes up 3.2 percent of their total car sales during the same period. Their green car push started in 2009 when Hyundai and Kia launched their first hybrid cars Sonata Hybrid and K5 Hybrid, respectively. Until 2016, eco-friendly cars took up less than 1 percent of the total number of cars sold that year, but the figure has continued increasing, hitting the highest 11 percent last year. Even though their car sales were hit hard by chip shortages and the war in Ukraine, sales of eco-friendly models have continued to grow. From January to May this year, the 2 brands sold 393.509 units of eco-friendly cars; a 42.6 percent surge from the same period last year. During the same period, their overall sales fell by 5.9 percent to 2.6 million units. Sales of electric models soared 76 percent on-year, followed by 31 percent of hybrids and 26 percent of hybrid models. Over the past 14 years, the most popular type of eco-friendly car has been hybrids which made up 62.4 percent of sales, while EVs and plug-in hybrids took up 26.2 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively. In the meantime, fuel-cell EVs have yet to secure a footing here, possibly due to a lack of charging stations and lower awareness among consumers. The bestselling model was the Kia Niro Hybrid with 480.471 unit sales followed by the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid with 284.631 units and the Ioniq Hybrid with 240,876 units. With gas prices skyrocketing and raising calls for carbon neutrality, the Korean duo are expected to see record sales of eco-friendly cars this year. Their new EVs, including Ioniq 6 and Niro EV, are hitting the market in the latter half of this year. “The fact that we sold over 3 million eco-friendly cars is very encouraging for us as we are actively promoting the transition into electrification. We will continue to increase eco-friendly car sales with our high-quality eco-friendly car models”, said an official from the Hyundai Motor Group. +++

+++ The newly minted MERCEDES-AMG has taken to the Goodwood Festival of Speed to show off some of its tricks. Making its first public showing, the Formula 1-inspired supercar took to the event’s 1.2-mile hillclimb to wow the crowd with its active aero shape-shifting. The AMG One is a showcase of the brand’s technology, derived from its 7-year F1 winning streak from 2014-2020 with Lewis Hamilton at the helm. It boasts a combined system horsepower of 1.063 from its 1.6-liter V6 and 4 electric motors. Even one of its dual turbochargers has its own electric motor. On the duke’s driveway, however, it’s clear that the One is only using a fraction of its abiliities. From the starting gate, it cruises along at a leisurely pace, emitting a UFO-like whine (Mercedes says it can go 18 km on its 8.4 kWh liquid-cooled battery alone). Unexpectedly, it comes to a dead stop in the middle of the track. The FoS has hosted its share of embarrassing mishaps, but this isn’t one of them. Instead, the AMG One drops over an inch in ride height, an adaptive suspension stiffening track-only setting called Race Plus that comprises one of six drive modes. Suddenly its bodywork splays out like that dinosaur that killed Newman in “Jurassic Park”. Not only does it deploy a rear wing, but each fender has four individual flaps that open to vent air from the wheel wells. The car then continues on at a brisker rate, but still far short of its 2.9-second 0-100 time or the V6’s 11.000 rpm capability (AMG declines to call it a redline, saying instead that the engine’s been designed to spin at that speed). Nevertheless, a high-pitched F1 note can be heard as the car continues up the hill. +++

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+++ I recently happened upon a tweet from vocal TESLA fan and investor Sawyer Merritt. It claimed not only that the Model 3 was the 8th bestselling car in the world for 2021, but also that Tesla’s entry-level electric saloon is expected to rise to the 5-spot later this year. Merritt’s tweet went on the say that the Model 3 may even outsell the Ford F-150 in 2022. Meanwhile, based on the data cited by Merritt, the Model Y was the 19th best-selling car in the world in 2021, though sales of the electric crossover are rising quickly. The tweet adds that the Model Y is expected to outsell the Model 3 by the end of 2022, which would put both cars in the top 5 for global sales. When I come across a tweet like this, no matter the source, we are sceptical, and that’s because I have to be. Merritt seems to be pretty on-point most of the time, and when he’s not, he admits it, corrects the issue, and apologises to his followers. However, oftentimes, it’s the original source that was incorrect in the first place. Merritt credited Car Industry Analysis in the tweet, since the original tweet came from the aforementioned Twitter account. However, he also added a second tweet with the actual source of the data, which appears to have been compiled by Car Industry Analysis for the website Fiat Group World. As you can see, at least based on the data, the Model 3 actually appears in the 9th position for 2021, up from the 21st position in 2020. If the figures are correct, Tesla sold over 500.000 Model 3 saloons in 2021, up 40 percent year over year. Meanwhile, Ford reportedly sold 562.000 F-150 pickups, down 8 percent. According to the data, the Model Y places at No. 19. In 2020, the crossover was reportedly in the 262nd position, though Tesla just started selling it in March 2020, right at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Keep in mind that Tesla doesn’t officially report sales broken down by model in all markets. However, since 2021 is now many months behind us, registration data should be available to check for accuracy. As far as the Model 3 and Model Y moving up the list and outselling global leaders like the Ford F-150, there’s no way to know for sure how it will all play out. It’s also important to note that there are often some discrepancies related to F-150 sales since some data covers sales of Ford’s entire F-Series lineup, while other data aims to include only the half-ton F-150. At any rate, the point here is that, regardless of any potential discrepancies in the data set as a whole, EVs are clearly catching on, and Tesla is the global leader by a sizeable margin. +++

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