Newsflash: komt Toyota ook met de GR Camry?


+++ DELOREAN is officially back in the future with a new EV coupe called the Alpha5. Penned by renowned design company, Italdesign, the Alpha5 EV features hints of styling that are nods to the original DMC-12. But while the design connection between the new Alpha5 and the original DMC-12 is currently being debated by the world, one person has a strong opinion about the new DeLorean vehicle: Kat DeLorean Seymour, the daughter of the late John Z. DeLorean. In fact, DeLorean Seymour poured her frustration on Instagram, along with a rendering of a coupe that isn’t the DeLorean Alpha5 EV. “The DeLorean Motor Company is not John DeLorean’s Company. DMC is not 40 years old, and not associated with the DeLorean Family, or my father’s ongoing legacy. Please stop lying and stop speaking about John now, he despised you. The rendering that came with the Instagram post was from a website called DeLorean Legacy. It was “an effort of Angel Guerra and Allan Portilho to create a tribute design to honour the timeless and gorgeous Delorean car with what it might look like if designed and built today”. DeLorean Seymour is involved with the project to “spread the powerful positive impact her father and his cars have had on this world what she feels is the true Delorean Legacy”. The current Delorean Motor Company isn’t an official descendant of the company that John Z. DeLorean founded in the ’70s. It is, however, a continuation of DeLorean One, a mail-order parts and full-service facility dedicated to the DeLorean automobiles, created by Stephen Wynne created in 1985 after John Z. DeLorean filed for bankruptcy in 1982. The company was renamed DeLorean Motor Company in 1995. In the About Us section of Classic DMC website: In 1997, Wynne and his DeLorean Motor Company acquired what remained of the Columbus, Ohio DeLorean parts inventory and the exclusive distribution rights, as well as the tooling, engineering drawings and company records. Of note, a company from Columbus, Ohio acquired the “remaining inventory of parts, some tooling, a full set of engineering drawings, and other company documents” after the DeLorean factory in Northern Ireland was liquidated in 1983, according to the website. Clearly, there’s a dispute between John Z. DeLorean’s kin and the current DeLorean Motor Company. It remains to be seen where this issue is heading but one thing’s for sure: the company that made the new DeLorean Alpha5 is not connected to the DeLorean family. +++


+++ Stellantis, the massive merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Group, has put more than a dozen brands under one umbrella. One of them is DS , a luxury sub-brand from Citroën. In 2019, DS revealed the 3 Crossback, a compact crossover with a unique design. New spy photos reveal that DS is ready to give the model a mid-cycle refresh. The photos capture the crossover wearing a tight-fitting camouflage wrap that covers just the front fascia but makes it difficult to discern any styling changes. Customers shouldn’t expect any significant changes, though. The restyled crossover sports new headlight graphics that will likely sit above a redesigned grille and bumper. It’s difficult to see any changes DS made to the grille, but it looks like it may be a single continuous element, unlike the split design on the current crossover. The current 3 Crossback also sports an aggressive bumper design that connects the lower grille opening to the headlight, and it’s unclear if that motif will carry over to the redesigned version. However, I don’t expect anything subtle. The crossover isn’t wearing any camouflage over the rear end, though it doesn’t look like DS is changing anything with the design, at least not that. With this being a mid-cycle update, we also don’t expect DS to make any significant changes inside the vehicle. That also goes for the powertrain lineup. The crossover rides on the Common Modular Platform, and DS will likely continue offering the model with a variety of different powertrain types, including diesel and electric. I don’t expect DS to make any major changes to the engine lineup. While this is just a mid-cycle facelift for the model, I don’t expect to see the redesigned crossover debut until sometime in 2023. The current 3 Crossback is only three years old, so the company can take its time with the redesign, even if it doesn’t look like DS is changing a whole lot. The brand is likely working on those jointly developed cars with Alfa Romeo and Lancia that will launch in 2024. +++

+++ If you’re any kind of vehicle enthusiast, the subject of EMISSIONS is probably not far from your mind. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear that word, though? If it’s exhaust emissions, you’re not alone. However, in May 2022, British independent research firm Emissions Analytics published a new study that claims tyre emissions pollute at a rate that’s 1.850 times worse than exhausts. Now, we should note here that this survey was conducted using cars and other light-duty four-wheeled passenger vehicles, not motorcycles. However, the same basic principles still matter for riders, even if the exact details differ. For example, there are, as you’d expect, several factors in play when considering the pollution generated by tyres. How aggressively you drive (or ride) plays a role, as does how new your tyres are (newer tyres shed more particulates). Vehicle weight is also a significant issue, which is concerning to battery-electric vehicle drivers in 2022, due in large part to the fact that they’re not particularly light on the scale. On top of everything else, tyre composition is also a huge factor. Every tyre manufacturer has proprietary formulas for its various tyre compounds, and this can affect what kind and how much particulate is released during all types of tyre use. Even taking all that into consideration, though, simply saying something is 1.850 times worse than something else certainly doesn’t look encouraging. “Quoting such ratios, however, needs careful interpretation”, Emissions Analytics cautions. “The fundamental trends that drive this ratio are: tailpipe particulate emissions are much lower on new cars, and tyre wear emissions increase with vehicle mass and aggressiveness of driving style. Tailpipe emissions are falling over time, as exhaust filters become more efficient and with the prospect of extending the measurement of particulates under the potential future Euro 7 regulation, while tyre wear emissions are rising as vehicles become heavier and added power and torque is placed at the driver’s disposal. On current trends, the ratio may well continue to increase”, the firm continues. EA goes into detail about how it came to its conclusions, including the what, how, where, when, and why of its methodology. For example, it scored 14 different tyre brands as driven on the same Mercedes C-class vehicle, tested from new. Furthermore, the firm says, it tested an additional small number of tyres throughout its lifespan to gather even more data. While this first test involved cars and car tyres, what kinds of conclusions could be drawn from using the same testing methods on motorcycle tyres? Motorcycles are much lighter weight than modern cars, even the very heavy ones. Rolling on a pair of tyres rather than four at once also seems like it would make a difference. Still, if you’re concerned about what kinds of things we’re putting out into the environment on a regular basis, it’s something to think about. +++

+++ When I spotted a new flavour of FERRARI SF90 testing back in May, I thought it was an updated version of the hybrid supercar. However, the latest spy shots indicate some interesting changes over the regular car, suggesting we could be looking at a SF90 Versione Speciale. The standard SF90 is codenamed F173 and Ferrari likes to denote the faster, more extreme versions of its road cars with ‘VS’ (short for Versione Speciale) throughout their prototype phase. The test car has a larger, raised air duct on the front bonnet in a similar style to the so-called S-Duct found on the Ferrari 488 Pista supercar. This is a Formula One-derived technique of generating downforce, which works by channelling air through intakes in the front of the car and directing it out of vents in the bonnet. Since the raised air duct is located almost directly above where the current car’s pair of front electric motors are located, it may suggest the SF90 test car boasts a new motor setup that requires more cooling to keep the temperatures under control. The change in aerodynamics at the front will probably mean the rear of this hotter SF90 will have to adapt. The active rear spoiler looks larger and more upright than before, which will also help generate more downforce. Elsewhere, the test car retains the same design of the SF90 and underneath the bodywork we’re likely to see the same turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine coupled to a battery and electric motor setup. We’ll have to wait and see if Ferrari has coaxed more out of it than the standard car’s 1.000 hp and 900 Nm. That said, there’s also the chance this Ferrari SF90 isn’t a development mule for a faster variant at all. Instead, there’s a chance this could instead be a testbed for updated electronics tech to be used on the SF90 or other hybrid Ferraris. This could also be in tandem with other tech upgrades, such as an improved lithium-ion battery pack and a fleshing out of the Ferrari’s active safety assists. Should this disguised development Ferrari SF90 be destined for production, at least a snippet of additional details could be revealed later in the year. Ferrari is set to host a Capital Markets Day meeting with investors on 16th June 2022, where it will disclose its long-term strategy and future product plans, which may also include a raft of updates for the SF90. +++

+++ LEXUS is replacing its spindle grille with what the brand refers to as the “spindle body”. The new RX and RZ are the first models to wear the new face. “We want to maintain the spindle shape itself. But the spindle has always been based on functionality of what’s happening under the hood”, Lexus global design chief Koichi Suga told. The first production model to wear a version of the spindle grille was the CT. Later vehicles got sharper, more aggressive takes on the design, like the big version on the previous generation RX. Suga told that customers in the US largely haven’t liked the look of the spindle grille. “Many people mention it looks like Darth Vader”, he said. “The new spindle execution is based on this learning. We need the right balance”. The spindle body design incorporates the elements previously from the grille into the body panels. For example, the front end of the new RX has recessed sections along the upper portion of the nose, and their shape echoes the mesh in the front end. The Lexus RZ  has a different look. It’s an EV so a large grille opening isn’t necessary. Instead, there’s an inlet on the bottom, and the black bodywork echoes the shape of the spindle grille. In December 2021, Lexus presented a group of EV concepts, and several of them had a completely different version of the spindle grille. An electric sports car had a skinny opening in the middle and larger areas on the outer edges where the headlights fit. A proposed electric saloon had a similar front end. Toyota and Lexus will introduce a total of 30 electric vehicles worldwide by 2030. All of the premium division’s offerings in China, Europe, and the United States will be EVs by that year. By 2035, Lexus will be a purely electric brand globally. +++

+++ Having been around since 2010, the MITSUBISHI ASX is one of the oldest cars currently on sale. Thankfully, the subcompact crossover is due to receive a complete overhaul as the next-generation model will be arriving in Europe at the beginning of 2023. As per the original announcement made at the beginning of the year, the Captur’s sister model will be built by Renault at its Valladolid factory in Spain. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi has quietly announced powertrain specifications for the revamped ASX. To the surprise of no one, the numbers seem awfully familiar. That’s because we’ve already seen them on the second-generation Captur, which has been around since 2019. The entry point into the lineup will be a turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine producing 92 hp to mirror Renault and Dacia products that use the 1.0-litre TCe mill. It will work exclusively with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Up next is the 1.3-litre four-pot with 140 hp should you go for the 6-speed manual or 158 hp when the engine is hooked up to the 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic. Choosing the hybrid means a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine working together with an electric motor for a combined output of 145 hp. As it’s the case with the Captur, the most potent ASX of the lot will be the plug-in hybrid with 160 hp on tap by combining the 1.6-litre engine with a pair of electric motors. It’ll bump the non-PHEV’s small 1.3-kWh battery to a capacity of 10.5 kWh for increased range in pure electric mode. Mirroring its Renault equivalent, Mitsubishi won’t sell its B-segment crossover with a diesel engine. Aside from renewing the ASX, Mitsubishi will introduce the next-generation Colt in fall 2023 as a reskinned Clio also built by the company with the diamond logo. It’ll be interesting to see how these new-old models will be priced compared to their donor cars. As a fun fact, the Suzuki Swace, essentially a rebadged Toyota Corolla estate, costs more in the UK than the car upon which it’s based. In related news, Renault has confirmed the Clio Mk VI will be out in 2026 and is still going to have combustion engines since a complete switch to electric propulsion is deemed as being too premature. The French automaker is already working on similarly sized EVs as the Renault 5 will be out in 2025 and is going to be followed by a zero-emissions Renault 4. +++


+++ If there is a healthy RIVALRY in the history of the automotive industry, it’s the one between Mercedes-Benz and BMW. You can’t talk about one without mentioning the other one. They are rivals like Renault is to Peugeot in France, Ferrari to Lamborghini in Italy, Ford to General Motors in the USA, or Toyota to (first Nissan and now) Honda in Japan. Their commitment to overtake its rival has allowed the industry to see big progress in terms of performance, safety, and design. Mercedes is probably the best thing for BMW, and the other way around. Without the strong competition from each other, they would have been in a more difficult situation and would not be the leaders in the premium car market. Competition is always a good thing. Today, they are the most popular premium car brands in the world. I could say that everybody knows or has heard about Mercedes and BMW. They are the goal for many drivers. Together, they sold almost more than 4.3 million vehicles in 2021, counting for 40% of the global sales of premium and luxury vehicles. Although they have been traditionally very similar when it’s about technology and innovation, there are new changes that started to emerge some months ago. For example, last year, BMW outsold Mercedes and became the world’s favourite premium car brand, following a 9% increase compared to 2020 volumes. In contrast, Mercedes-Benz Cars (excluding Smart and vans), recorded a decrease of 5%. BMW has benefited from an increasing demand at its most popular models, whereas the brand from Stuttgart suffered from an aged C-Class and E-Class. BMW increased its volume sales in China, Europe, USA and Japan-Korea, while Mercedes recorded decreases in those four markets. It is remarkable the difference in the sales variation in China-region and USA-Canada, of +8% versus -3%, and +21% versus -1%, respectively. Last year’s results are partly explained by different strategies taken by both companies. Over the last 10 years, Mercedes has focused all its efforts on reducing the average age of its customer base. The introduction of the A-Class, CLA, CLS, and the SUV lineup with the coupe-derived versions is the result of this change. And they have paid off, as today Mercedes is known not only for its luxury and elegant saloons, but also for its sporty and performance vehicles. BMW never had that “problem”. In contrast to the historical positioning of its rival, they have been more associated to performance premium cars. So very few changed in terms of strategy over the last years. Until now. Based on the latest presentations, it seems that BMW is now taking the disruptive approach while Mercedes is taking to the conservative path. Clear examples of this emerging difference: the iX, the second generation of the 4-Series, and the recently presented all-new 7-Series. They were all like atomic bombs in the social media. Everybody was talking about them, for good or for bad. On the other hand, we’ve seen how the latest Mercedes follow the same design feeling with more evolution than revolution. We still need to see if the change of their approach will pay off and what will happen to their global sales gap. It can be a key differentiator in the future, or just another cycle for each one of them. Time will tell. +++

+++ The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States is moving along in an investigation to look into consumer reports of phantom braking in 2021-2022 TESLAMODEL 3 and MODEL Y cars. As of last month, NHTSA says it’s received 758 reports from folks claiming “unexpected brake activation” in their Model 3 or Model Y. Just today, the NHTSA said it’s upgrading the investigation from “probe” status to an “engineering analysis”. An “engineering analysis” is the final stage of an investigation, and in most cases NHTSA decides within a year if there should be a recall or the probe should be closed. So, after this part of the investigation concludes, we’ll know if the Tesla vehicles being investigated will be forced into a recall or not. The claim of phantom braking isn’t a new one. What it generally refers to is the vehicle’s driver assistance systems responding to something that isn’t actually there by applying the brakes. Of course unintended and unexpected braking is not what you want your vehicle to be doing on the highway or on any other road. At this point in the investigation, the NHTSA has asked Tesla to send over answers to a number of questions and submit data for the government to review. If Tesla does not comply, it will face fines. Documents posted today by the agency raise some serious issues about Tesla’s Autopilot system. The agency found that it’s being used in areas where its capabilities are limited, and that many drivers aren’t taking action to avoid crashes despite warnings from the vehicle. The agency said it has reports of 16 crashes into emergency vehicles and trucks with warning signs, causing 15 injuries and one death. The probe now covers 830.000 vehicles, almost everything that Tesla has sold in the U.S. since the start of the 2014 model year. Investigators will evaluate additional data, vehicle performance and “explore the degree to which Autopilot and associated Tesla systems may exacerbate human factors or behavioral safety risks undermining the effectiveness of the driver’s supervision”, the agency said. +++

+++ TOYOTA is serious about expanding its range of high-performance GR-badged cars. After splicing racing genes into the Corolla’s DNA, the Japanese company could inject a significant dose of excitement into the Camry in order to plant its stake in the sport sedan segment. Bob Carter, the executive vice president of sales at Toyota, answered “stay tuned” when Motor Trend asked him if a sport sedan is in the pipeline. That’s obviously not a confirmation, but it’s also not a denial. And, while he didn’t single out the Camry, there aren’t a lot of sedans left in Toyota’s American showrooms. There’s the Corolla, but that segment of the market is already covered by the 300 hp GR Corolla. There’s the Avalon, but it’s on its way out after the 2022 model year. There’s the Mirai, but that’s seriously unlikely. We’re left with the Camry, a perennially popular sedan that was once a byword for blandness. Toyota went to significant lengths to make the current generation more exciting than its predecessor, so the foundations have already been laid, and a GR-ified Camry would give buyers an alternative to the Kia K5 GT. It’s too early to tell precisely what changes the Japanese firm would make to the Camry. We’d expect a muscular-looking body kit, racing-inspired parts in the cabin, and an assortment of mechanical modifications. It’ll be interesting to see how much power gets dialed in, because the 3.5-liter V6-powered Camry already outguns the K5 GT with a 301 hp rating. All-wheel-drive could be part of the package as well, as it’s offered in the standard Camry, but we wouldn’t expect to see a 6-speed stick. It stands to reason that beefier brakes and a firmer suspension system will round out the GR updates, though this is all pure speculation. Looking ahead, Toyota is open to adding electrified models to its GR range. “Electrification coming to GR is something we’re talking about. In the long term, what is the best way to deliver what GR is and what does electrification have to do with that? The key is fun to drive, lightweight, track performance, so if we can deliver that with an EV, we might look into that”, said Cooper Ericksen, Toyota’s vice president of product planning and strategy, in the same interview. Toyota’s definition of “zero emissions” isn’t limited to electric cars, and it’s also testing high-performance hydrogen-powered cars. Unlike the system in the Mirai, the drivetrain that it’s experimenting with keeps the internal combustion engine but burns hydrogen instead of gasoline. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN is offering pay-offs to its employees at a car assembly plant in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, if they agree to quit voluntarily, the carmaker said on Thursday. The offer of financial compensation and medical insurance until the end of 2022 was available to the around 200 people working at the Nizhny Novgorod plant, a Volkswagen spokesperson said, confirming an earlier report by Kommersant paper. Volkswagen announced in March that production at its Kaluga and Nizhny Novgorod sites would be suspended until further notice because of Western sanctions, and vehicle exports to Russia would be stopped with immediate effect. While Volkswagen owns its Kaluga plant directly, employing around 4.200 workers there, it does not own the Nizhny Novgorod plant but has a contractual agreement with owner GAZ Group to assemble several of its models there, according to the Volkswagen Group’s Russia website. The U.S. treasury department in January shortened 2 licenses for GAZ Group, which has been sanctioned since 2018 but given licenses for certain transactions, due to Russia’s gathering of troops on the border with Ukraine. Kommersant cited union sources as saying that employees who agreed to the company’s offer before June 17 would receive six months’ salary. +++

+++ German specialist sports car firm WIESMANN is considering branching out beyond its trademark 2-seaters into more luxury-focused models, including SUVs. The prospect of a bold new era for the firm comes under fresh ownership and with access to advanced EV drivetrain technology. CEO Roheen Berry took charge of the car marque in 2015 when it was acquired by his family’s multinational technology firm, Contec Global. In an exclusive interview, he told that the new 680 hp Wiesmann Project Thunderball electric roadster will serve as a showpiece for a new-look lineup that will be expanded and electrified as the firm continues on the comeback trail. “The Thunderball is to show the world what we can do. It is already quite an incredible car compared to others that do what it does, at a fraction of the price”, he said, explaining that electrification will allow Wiesmann to ramp up its production volumes and diversify. “I won’t say electric cars are easier to make but they’re definitely faster, so we should be able to do more cars at a far quicker rate”. One model on the cards under this expansion is a luxurious electric SUV, positioned as a rival to upcoming EVs from Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin. It is likely to be aimed squarely at the US and Chinese markets, where the new Thunderball has received an “incredible” response from prospective buyers, according to Berry. He didn’t confirm that a Wiesmann SUV is imminent but did hint that it’s a strong possibility. “We will see how the SUV market goes”, said Berry. “We’ve spent so much money making this platform and software, and getting so much out of it. We’re not in any hurry, but if we have enough customers and there is a demand, it would not be a very difficult transition for us to do”. Wiesmann’s EV platform has been developed in partnership with German firm Roding, which also provided the technical basis for the radical Audi Quattro-inspired E-Legend EL1. The platform has been engineered with a focus on retaining the brand’s trademark dynamic agility while incorporating advanced functionality, such as variable regenerative brakes, which mimic a conventional gearbox, and 300 kW charging capability. An SUV on this architecture would have less of an obvious sporting focus than the Project Thunderball, but it would not signal the start of a targeted shift into the mainstream for Wiesmann. Berry said: “We always want to keep this as a very luxurious brand. We’re not trying to go out and make thousands of cars. We want to keep much more of a community feel. We want the brand to come first. It’s not about going and making massive profits. It’s about really reviving the brand and keeping it around forever”. But he added: “I think there are quite a few SUVs coming. We’ll see where the market is, if there’s a demand, and if we want to move into that space”. +++

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