Newsflash: facelift voor Mercedes GLA


+++ To mark the launch of the Tonale, ALFA ROMEO ’s newest vehicle, the Italian automaker is also updating its brand identity with a new dealership design. The new style made its debut at its flagship location in Milan. Intended to set a precedent for the rest of its European dealerships, Alfa Romeo‘s new design will be marked by its rich use of materials and its restrained use of color. Together, they are intended to convey the automaker’s premium nature and modernity. Upon arrival, customers will be greeted by a lustrous red column outside of the dealership that literally reflects the customer back in Alfa Romeo red. On it, the brand’s name is written in its traditional cursive writing. Alfa red continues inside through LED lights and is played against multiple shades of gray, which the brand says “is capable of expressing the brand’s ‘premiumness’ ”. It also includes feature walls covered in unique, textural materials whose color is intended to evoke rust, which seems bold for an automaker. Nods to Alfa’s racing technology are also scattered throughout the space. With large posters featuring its current F1 car and coffee table books tracking its history on display, visitors have the opportunity to see the brand’s performance as well as its premiumness. Divided into themed spaces, in addition to viewing cars customers can also buy merchandise or simply relax in the cafe area of the dealership. It also features a “Join the Tribe” area, which is a digital portal through which visitors can look at the future models the brand is planning. “The inauguration here in Milan of the first flagship store in the world with the new Brand Identity is a crucial moment for us and an opportunity to inspire the world from Italy by staying true to our roots”, said Francesco Calcara, senior vice president of global marketing and communication at Alfa Romeo. “Alfa Romeo wants to offer its customers immersive, and even visceral, experiences everywhere they come into contact with the brand. This starts at our dealers, where customers will be able to explore the brand’s entire ecosystem while they are at the heart of a premium purchase experience”. +++


+++ There are several safety tests in place to make sure that the hulking machines we roll in will keep us alive in case things go south. One of them, and probably the most dreaded of them all, is called the moose test, named after the manoeuvre you have to do in case an obstacle, or in this case, a moose, suddenly appears in the middle of the highway. Recently, the facelifted BMW X3 was tested this way. The sample used on this moose test was a diesel-fed X3 with an all-wheel drivetrain. The car was equipped with several options, including the M package, which lowered its suspension. It was also wearing a bigger set of wheels; 20 inches, to be exact, which were bigger than the default 18 inches. The tyres were also wider, measuring 245 mm up front and 275 mm at the back. At 76 kph, the X3 almost aced the first attempt if not for the cone that was hit during the sharp left-hand maneuver. You could see the X3 bouncing and sliding during this attempt. The best attempt for the X3 was at 80 kph as it flawlessly evaded all cones without any difficulties. However, it’s interesting to note that the tester wasn’t able to replicate the spotless attempt at 88 kph. As for the slalom part of the tests, the driver noted that it wasn’t difficult to weave the X3 through the cones. The steering responded quickly but he couldn’t go quicker due to the weight of the vehicle. Nevertheless, the BMW X3 completed the slalom course in 24.5 seconds, matching the Mercedes-Benz EQS that was tested before. +++

+++ The FORD BRONCO is now in its second model year on the American market but it remains pretty much a US-only product, at least for now. This might change in the future as Ford is currently considering a potential launch of the off-roader in Europe, though nothing can be confirmed for the time being. This week, the Bronco also makes a show debut on the Old continent to further fuel the speculation about its market release in the region and I decided to dig deeper into this. A Bronco Big Bend with a 2.7-litre V6 EcoBoost engine is currently displayed at the Sofia Motor Show. To my knowledge, this is the model’s first public appearance on the continent. It is important to note, however, that the vehicle is not officially imported by Ford of Europe but by Moto-Pfohe, the local Bulgarian Ford dealer. The vehicle displayed in Sofia has no price sticker. I asked Ford’s PR representatives at the show whether the Bronco is coming to Europe anytime soon and we were told the vehicle in Sofia is “purely a show car, a showcase of an icon”. No firm commitment about a launch date was made, though Ford is apparently considering sending the Bronco in Europe. Or, simply put, the Bronco is most likely going on sale on the continent, but there’s no fixed launch date yet. In September last year, Ford CEO Jim Farley said he isn’t ruling out a sending the Bronco to the European market as a potential competitor for the Land Rover Defender. During the 2021 Goodwood Revival, he told British media he is “just waiting for these guys (Ford of Europe) to make up their mind” but the situation probably hasn’t changed that much since then. Another positive sign that the Bronco could be launched in Europe comes in the form of a trademark application from 2019 filed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office. The filing was registered even before the official debut of the Bronco in the United States. +++

+++ GLOBAL PASSENGER PLUG-IN ELECTRIC CAR sales increased in April, but the growth continues to slow down due to various factors, including parts supply constraints and Covid-19 lockdown in China. Nonetheless, we can’t really complain as the plug-in segment is the last one that still notes year-over-year growth, as the overall car sales, and non-rechargeable car sales are both in the red. Some 542.732 new passenger plug-in electric cars were registered in April, which is 38% more than a year ago. Market share amounted to about 10.2%, including 7% for all-electric cars (about 380,000 units; up 47% year-over-year, which leaves about 163,000 units for plug-in hybrid cars; up 22% year-over-year). So far this year, more than 2.5 million new passenger plug-in electric cars were registered globally, compared to almost 6.5 million in the 12 months of 2021. All-electric cars sold 1.92 million times and had a 8.3% marketshare (PHEVs: about 0.62 million and 2.7%). The top selling models in April were the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV (27.181), BYD Song PHEV (20.181) and Tesla Model Y (18.948), followed by the Tesla Model 3 (15.071) and several more BYD plug-ins. When analysing those results, we must remember that Tesla’s production in Shanghai was affected by a lockdown in China. Otherwise, we would probably see the Model Y as #2 for the month. Year-to-date, both Tesla models are still at the top, followed by the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV and … 5 cars from BYD. A refreshing thing is that there are also some other non-Chinese models: the Volkswagen ID.4 (#9) and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (#10). The Kia EV6 is #16, while the Ford Mustang Mach-E joined the #20. April was a massive win for BYD, which sold the highest number of plug-in cars among all brands (105.854; almost 20% of the total). Tesla was in second place (39.688), ahead of the SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture (30.294). BMW (23.051) and Kia (20.304) completed the top 5 for the month. The latest BYD surge caused a change at the top, as now BYD is ahead of Tesla in terms of plug-in car sales (still far behind if we exclude plug-in hybrids and count solely all-electric cars). Worth noting is also that Kia advanced by 3 places to #7, ahead of Hyundai (#8). The South Korean group is becoming a major power in the plug-in segment. +++



+++ The MERCEDES GLA is getting a facelift. This will mean a revised front and rear. Compared to the current GLA, experct new headlights with a rounder, less complex shape. The grille will have a more distinct trapezoidal outline with the portion on top being shorter than what’s on the bottom. In contrast, the existing design is more of an oval. The logo in the centre seems to double as a sensor for a driver-assistance system. The lower fascia on the facelifted GLA has a trapezoidal opening. Judging by the existing model, I expect that the actual design is more complex and makes space for the fog lights or styling elements in the corners. At the back, the GLA will get new taillights. It looks like they might get different graphics but have the same shape. The interior changes are a complete mystery. Judging by other Mercedes refreshes, infotainment system updates are possible. At this time, it’s too soon to know whether Mercedes intends to make any powertrain changes to coincide with this styling refresh. The existing version of the GLA only debuted in 2020, so it’s a bit surprising already to see the automaker developing the refreshed version. This suggests we might not see a debut too soon. My spies are predicting a 2023 unveiling. +++

+++ TESLA proposed a 3-for-1 split of its stock; a move that will make a single share of the electric car maker more accessible to investors but not affect the company’s overall market value. Tesla made the announcement in its annual proxy statement, which also said Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison will not be standing for re-election to the company’s board. The company said in late March that was planning to split its stock for the second time in 2 years. At that time the shares were trading at over $1.000 each. But Tesla’s stock has fallen about 39% since early April, shortly after its CEO Elon Musk started raising the idea of buying Twitter. Share splits are used by companies when their stock price gets too high for retail investors to buy individual shares, or when a company wants more shares to exist in the marketplace to make the stock more liquid to trade. In its statement, Tesla said it was trying to accomplish both of these goals: giving its employees greater quantities of shares as well as making the stock more accessible to retail investors. Musk is planning on using his Tesla shares as collateral for buying Twitter, as well as potentially selling down his stake in the company to help with financing. Tesla shareholders will vote on the share split at the company’s annual meeting on August 4. The company, meanwhile, said Ellison, a major Tesla investor and friend of Musk’s, will be stepping down from its board. Ellison was one of two independent members named to the board in late 2018 as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had demanded more oversight of Musk. +++

+++ Shares of TOYOTA opened down more than 2% on Monday after media reports citing criticism from European pension funds of the automaker for what they said were lobbying efforts that went against climate regulation for the industry. Toyota, the world’ top automaker, is holding its annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday. +++

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