Newsflash: Hyundai Ioniq 6 debuteert 14 juli

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+++ Some things in life go hand in hand perfectly, like cheese and wine for example. Others, however, were never meant to be used in the same sentence, like FERRARI and autonomous driving. This is probably a good lesson for artificial intelligence experts to learn before approaching the Maranello-based automaker with ideas on how to make a Ferrari drive on itself. A group of AI specialists recently learned this the hard way. Ferrari hosted a couple of AI experts who wanted to convince the supercar manufacturer’s executives that Ferrari should embrace autonomous driving. The brand’s CEO Benedetto Vigna was not really interested and decided to give them a spin in a Ferrari car on the Fiorano race track, which the company owns and uses for development and testing purposes. And guess what: the discussion was over. “The AI guys had a ride with our test driver”, the CEO told reporters in Maranello earlier this week during a press conference, focused on the brand’s electrification strategy. “When they got out from a Ferrari they told me, ‘OK Benedetto, our presentation is useless’ ”. This whole thing doesn’t mean Ferrari will never use assistance systems in its cars, though. The plan from Maranello is to keep working on more advanced driver-supporting tech but never reach Level 5 autonomous driving. According to categorisation by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the most advanced self-driving systems will allow the driver to become a passenger and never take full control of the vehicle. Level 5 cars won’t even have steering wheels or acceleration and brake pedals. Obviously, that’s not something Vigna wants to see in a Ferrari car. “No customer is going to spend money for the computer in the car to enjoy the drive”, Vigna added. “The value of the man, of the human at the centre, is fundamental”. Last year, the chairman of Stellantis, John Elkann, also admitted during a conversation with Tesla CEO Elon Musk that Ferrari won’t be among the brands that will ever offer fully autonomous tech. +++

+++ The next big thing on the EV scene from HYUNDAI is called the Ioniq 6. The zero-emissions saloon was teased earlier this year and a new report indicates it will make its global debut on 14 July this year during the Busan Motor Show. The Ioniq 6 was supposed to debut in March or April but last-minute changes to some of its components forced Hyundai to delay the launch. Word on the street is Hyundai chairman Chung Eui-sun personally asked for the tweaks to be made before the electric saloon is ready to hit the market. The changes reportedly include modifications to the front and rear bumper for a more aerodynamically-optimised shape and extra range at a single charge. In the United States, the EV should be on sale for the 2023 model year. Internally known as the project CE, the Ioniq 6 will follow a design philosophy inspired by the Prophecy concept from 2020. The automaker describes it as an “Electrified Streamliner”, which corresponds with the way the concept looks. Needless to say, the design of the production model will be toned down compared to the prototype from 2020. Riding on the E-GMP platform shared with the Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, the Ioniq 6 will reportedly use a 77.4-kWh battery pack. A dual-motor variant is believed to be under development with an output of around 300 hp. It will be interesting to see whether Hyundai will also build an N performance version sharing its 586 hp electric powertrain with the EV6 GT. Joining Hyundai’s electric range after the Ioniq 6 will be the Ioniq 7. Judging by the concept previewing it, it will be a large zero-emissions SUV riding on the same E-GMP platform. Its market launch is scheduled for 2024. +++

+++ JAGUAR is in a stage of rapid change as it seeks to become a premier manufacturer of luxurious electric vehicles. This new paradigm shift for the Jaguar brand means that its entire lineup will require a serious overhaul. Jaguar is hard at work rapidly developing a bespoke electric vehicle architecture that will bring the brand into the future. This push for new tech is coinciding with a celebration of its beloved internal combustion cars like the F-Type which will receive a special trim later this year. Jaguar plans to celebrate its beloved internal combustion cars and plans to spend a great deal of time on the F-Type, which will be the last internal combustion Jaguar sports car. CEO Thierry Bolloré told: “As we move towards 2023, we’ll be celebrating 75 years of Jaguar sports cars, and the F-Type will be the last internal combustion engine Jaguar sports car. It’ll be a wonderful celebration of what has been”. He explained the future of the JLR brand. According to Bolloré, Jaguars will utilise a brand new EV platform that is currently under development with test mules hitting the road very soon. This new platform will lead the Jaguar brand into its EV-based future where it plans to sell high-end EVs in the €135.000 price bracket. Before this news, the Jaguar brand and its plans for the future have been very quiet and seemed almost non-existent. Bolloré explains that JLR was quietly working on the new Jaguar EV platform while also working to promote its new Land Rover Defender 130 three-row SUV. As Jaguar continues to move toward this new future, only the electric i-Pace SUV will remain in the current lineup and bridge the gap for the brand. All of the current internal combustion Jaguars will evolve into EVs or fade into memory. +++

+++ Following a recent over-the-air (OTA) software update, which seemed to struggle to initiate, a LUCID AIR owner received a warning message that the update had failed and the car may not be drivable. The warning message appeared to be on target, as the car was clearly dead. While getting warning messages in your new car can be very concerning, it’s not that uncommon for devices to encounter issues during software updates. Cars are fast becoming the next “screens” in our lives. They’re seemingly much more like smartphones or computers on wheels than they ever were in the past, and this is especially true of electric cars. Air owner Alex reported the issue on the Lucid Owners Forum. It pertained to software update version 1.2.6, which started rolling out on Friday, June 10. Alex’s Air electric saloon provided the following warning message after he started the update and then waited 3 or 4 hours. Alex notes that the situation caused the Lucid to go completely dead. He couldn’t unlock the doors, and sadly, the OTA update appears to have never been downloaded. The Air indicated that it was 0 percent complete. Moreover, the Lucid owner had to access the car through the boot in order to get inside and open the doors physically. Alex says he reached out to Lucid Customer Care, though they weren’t able to help right away, aside from alerting the Lucid team about what happened with the OTA update. Interestingly, the car sprung back to life about an hour after the call. The Air’s alarms came on and the key fob was successful in stopping the alarms and unlocking the doors. However, the error message was still present on the EV’s screen. The Air owner got into the car and checked out Drive and Reverse, which seemed to be working. Lucid called and explained that it was going to attempt another software update. However, it also failed, and Alex was told that a Lucid mobile technician would be contacting him and making an appointment to come and check out the car. The problem ended up fixing itself. Following the two unsuccessful OTA software update attempts, the car charged overnight and seemed back to normal in the morning. The above messages remained in the Air’s mobile app, but not on its in-car screen. Again, this type of issue is becoming increasingly common among newer cars. It’s certainly not something you want to see, and it could leave you stuck somewhere temporarily. However, being aware that there’s a chance it could happen will at least have you prepared. +++

+++ The new RENAULT 5 electric supermini will be its debut at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed this month as it gears up for a market launch in 2024. Priced from around €25.000, the EV concept will be on display all weekend (23 – 26 June) on the French firm’s stand. It was first shown at the Munich motor show last year. The revived model will be part of a major new plan to revive Renault’s fortunes and will sit on the Renault Group’s new CMF-BEV platform for small electric cars. Company boss Luca de Meo said the use of the new platform and revamped battery tech will enable the firm to sell the 5 for about 33% less than a current Zoé. The firm has also confirmed the new 5 will use new powertrain technology and nickel, manganese and cobalt-based (NCM) batteries that, it says, will dramatically reduce the cost per kWh to around €65 by 2030. Renault added that the 5 will have a range of around 400 km. The Renault 5 Prototype takes styling and design cues from the Clio’s predecessor that Renault produced from 1972 to 1996. It’s set to be one of 14 new models (including 7 fully electric vehicles) that the French brand will launch by 2025. It was shown at Munich alongside the new Mégane E-Tech, which uses the larger CMF-EV platform. It will also be joined by a new version of the Renault 4 supermini, called the 4ever. The French firm originally revealed the new 5 concept during the unveiling of the ‘Renaulution’ strategic plan devised by new boss Luca de Meo last year. The 5 Prototype city car will be a key part of Renault’s push for 30% of its sales to be of electric vehicles by 2025. De Meo, who during his time at Fiat was key in reviving the Fiat 500, said: “I know from experience that reinventing a cult products lights a fire under the whole brand. This is a cult vehicle at a price many can afford. And this is only the beginning for the whole Renault brand”. The Renault 5 Prototype is an electric-only model, with a design that features numerous references to various versions of the original 5, including the cult classic Supercinq and R5 Turbo versions, albeit given a modern EV twist. The front headlights are modelled on the original design, while there’s a front-mounted EV charging port located where the radiator grille was placed on the original. Renault design chief Gilles Vidal said: “The design of the Renault 5 Prototype is based on the R5, a cult model of our heritage. This prototype simply embodies modernity, a vehicle relevant to its time: urban, electric, attractive”. The showcase features wider rear wheel arches and a red stripe livery that nods to the R5 Turbo hot hatch, hinting at the prospect of a high-performance version of the new model. Indeed, recently, performance brand Alpine confirmed that it is working on its own version of the 5, which will arrive shortly after the standard car, using the same 215bhp powertrain as the Mégane E-Tech Electric. Described as a city car, the model will replace the hugely successful Zoe as the firm’s compact electric hatch. +++

+++ The current Octavia has won many awards but despite this, SKODA is working on a refreshed version for next year. It looks like the updated Octavia will retain much of the same styling as the pre-facelift model. We can expect a different lower grille with side air intakes in the same vein as the hot RS models. It looks like it will also have new rear lights, and a revised rear bumper and spoiler. Furthermore, expect a new front bumper and headlight design. Underpinning the new Octavia will be the same MQB Evo platform as the current car, so we can expect the same range of powertrains to feature. Kicking off will be the 110 hp, 1.0-litre petrol 3-cylinder engine, then the 1.0-litre mild-hybrid version of that unit which will come with a 7-speed DSG automatic transmission. Above those there’s the 1.5-litre TSI petrol with 150 hp, which is also available as a mild hybrid. Skoda is likely to retain the selection of 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel powertrains, made up of 115 hp, 150 hp and 200 hp versions. Then there’s the 2.0-litre petrol engine and the 1.4-litre petrol with plug-in hybrid technology ; both come with 245 hp. Four-wheel drive should again be available on some of the more powerful models. I expect the Octavia to retain its infotainment system, made up of a central 10-inch touchscreen set-up with sat-nav, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay and a 10-inch driver’s display screen. Boot space isn’t likely to change, with the non-plug-in hybrid Combi models offering a decent 640 litres with the rear seats up and 1.700 litres with them folded down. The facelifted Octavia should be fully revealed later this year, ahead of an expected launch in early 2023. +++

+++ TESLA has officially announced that the Giga Berlin-Brandenburg plant in Grünheide near Berlin produced 1.000 Model Y in a single week. It’s an important and expected milestone in the production ramp-up, as several days ago, it was reported that the plant is close to 1.000/week. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk congratulated the team: “Congratulations to Giga Berlin team on making over 1.000 cars in a week!” At 1.000 units per week, the annual production rate is at about 50.000, but of course, it’s still an early stage, as the plant is expected to produce more than 500.000 units annually. Production at the Giga Berlin-Brandenburg plant started later than originally planned (in March) due to long waits for permits. The ramp-up is also progressing slower than anticipated, as a level of 1.000 units per week should have been achieved in April. The rumoured main bottleneck was the paint shop’s output. Tesla currently produces in Germany only the Tesla Model Y Performance version, powered by 2170-type cylindrical battery cells, as far as we know shipped from China (LG Energy Solution). Other versions (Long Range) and with new features (including structural battery pack) are in preparation. During the first 3 months (March, April and May), the plant produced some 8,865 Model Y. That’s half of what the Tesla Giga Shanghai was able to do, when launching the Model 3 and Model Y. On the other hand, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Europe is experiencing some tough times and especially manufacturing has been hit hard by all kinds of shortages. Moving forward, European production plant will be a major strengthen of Tesla, both in terms of production volume, as well as logistic. Geographical diversification is an important thing on top of vertical integration, especially in difficult times. +++

+++ TESLA ’s vehicles have been celebrated for their owner satisfaction ratings many times in the past. However, rather than relying on a single source, such as J.D. Power or Consumer Reports, this recent study pulls together vehicle owner ratings from multiple websites to determine which of today’s automotive brands are the most loved. I’ll say upfront that I receive information about “studies” like this on a regular basis, and they typically have to be taken with a grain of salt. It’s not hard to round up the correct data and frame it in such a way as to benefit one brand over others. However, I took a close look at where the numbers came from and decided that the information was worth sharing. Tesla topped the list when it came to the most satisfied car owners in the automotive industry in Europe and the US. In fact, based on the results from 4 websites that provide vehicle owner ratings, the Model 3 came out on top. Data was collected from Autotrader, Edmunds, HonestJohns and Parkers to compile The Global Happy Motorist Index. The Model 3 earned an average rating of 4.53 out of 5. “Tesla’s Model 3 takes the top spot for the highest-rated car on our list, scoring an average rating of 4.53 across the 4 publications. It’s clear then why the Model 3 is Tesla’s topselling car and one of the world’s best electric cars right now”. As far as brands are concerned, at least based on the data collected from the four publications, Tesla also holds the lead. In related news, according to J.D. Power’s most recent satisfaction survey, Tesla was found to have the most satisfied owners. The Model 3 received the highest score, 777 points (out of 1.000), followed by the Model Y with 770 points. Tesla also dominated Consumer Reports’ most satisfying cars report late last year. The Model 3 took the top position, with the Model S in third place and the Model Y in fourth place. The Model X rounded out the publication’s top 10 list. +++

+++ June is the month dedicated to celebrating Pride, with massive parades and other events taking place across the country. Last week TOYOTA joined other major brands in sponsoring LA Pride, one of the largest events in the nation. Just weeks prior, however, Toyota and several of its franchisees were identified as the largest corporate donor to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians by Data For Progress. The activist group’s Pride Corporate Accountability Project outlined a list of companies and their contributions to politicians that oppose or have opposed important legislation like the Equality Act, which would prevent discrimination against a person based on gender identity or sexual orientation nationwide. The data gets even more specific, delineating companies that also sponsor Pride events, and of that group, Toyota and its franchisees contributed nearly twice as much as any other with $601.500 in donations from 2019 to March of 2022. While the automaker’s participation in Pride events is a step worth applauding, the simultaneous donations (even at the franchise level) to those in power impeding human rights progress is a baffling juxtaposition. The bulk of the money comes from Toyota Gulf States , an independent distributor of Toyota vehicles, that gave $580.000 to Texas Governor Greg Abbott. The governor opposes the Equality Act and has taken extensive action against LGBTQ+ Texans during his time in office. Most recently, the governor officially directed state officials to investigate gender-affirming surgeries for trans youth as “child abuse”. The same Toyota franchisee group also gave $15.000 to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who came under criticism this year for equating Austin Pride to “human sexuality instruction” and alleging that the event violates Texas law. A Toyota Motor North America spokesperson provided the following statement when asked for comment. “Please be informed that the overwhelming vast majority of the political giving attributed to ‘Toyota’ is not related to our company (Toyota Motor North American or TMNA). All but $5.000 of the contributions referenced were made by other companies in which TMNA has no financial stake, influence, nor control in how they manage their political donations. We respectfully ask that the company referenced is clarified”. In response to this, Data For Progress Communications Director McKenzie Wilson stated that “campaign finance researchers typically lump franchises in the same bucket”. She continued, “Most corporations often use a complex network of state-specific PACs, subsidiaries, franchises, etc. to obfuscate their corporate giving and allow them to contribute more than they otherwise would where there are contribution or spending limits”. This is not an isolated occurrence within the automotive industry. General Motors (a company that signed the Human Rights Campaign business statement against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation) also donated to politicians that have voted in favour of such measures. Abbott was again the lead recipient in contributions that totalled $48.500 over the last 3 years. A GM representative acknowledged that the company signed the HRC statement and that its political contributions go to officials whose ideas most align with its goals, seemingly implying that could also mean someone like Greg Abbott. “The GM employee-funded PAC supports the election of U.S. federal and state candidates from both sides of the aisle who foster sound business policies, support American workers and understand the importance of a robust domestic auto industry as we pursue an all-electric vehicle future. GM is vocal about our commitment to the LGBTQ community in our company’s policies and we are a signatory of the Human Rights Campaign’s Business Statement Opposing Anti-LQBTQ State Legislation”. With complex business interests across the country, it’s not surprising that both Toyota and General Motors choose to put their money all over the political spectrum. But as we reflect on social progress made this Pride month, it’s important to consider that sometimes corporate sponsorship and support come at a cost. +++

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