Newsflash: meer details bekend over elektrische opvolger Volkswagen Passat

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+++ AUDI is providing a glimpse of what electric car charging could look like in the future, by rolling out more of its bespoke charging hubs across Europe. If the concept is well received, there is potential for an international rollout of charging hubs. Designed to offer a “premium” charging experience with a variety of services provided at each unit, Audi’s charging hubs centre around compact, modular buildings that can be easily erected in urban areas, and use second-life EV batteries to charge any brand of electric car. The firm built its first hub in Neurenberg to test the concept, where 60 percent of users were found to be repeat customers. On average, the site charges 24 cars per day and features a lounge, catering and a grocery service that delivers directly to the hub. Audi hopes that its charging hubs will enable a more efficient use of a driver’s time while they top up, and the relative ease with which they can be installed could make them an attractive urban charging solution; particularly for those who are unable to plug in at home. Charging spaces can be reserved using the MyAudi app, and up to six are available depending on the size of each hub. The unit is powered by a combination of grid energy and second-life electric vehicle batteries, and the brand claims that a “green power contract” provides energy solely from sustainable sources. Roof mounted solar panels can provide an additional 30kW of energy, too. A charging hub can be assembled in just 1 month, and without the need for the foundations of a typical building structure; only a flat tarmac surface is needed. This makes it much easier to acquire planning permission for the urban areas where they will be installed. Given the positive reception to the initial charging hub, Audi will be opening another in Zurich this year, with more planned in Salzburg, Berlin and elsewhere in Germany by 2024. Depending on the success of these, Audi will make a decision on installing more in other countries. +++

+++ With AUDI announcing last year it’ll launch its final petrol and diesel models in 2026, it’s likely this upcoming generation of A4, and its sporty S4 and RS 4 variants, will be the last offered with an internal combustion powertrain. I’ve spied the forthcoming A4 Avant model during cold weather testing in Sweden, revealing cleaner, evolutionary styling over the current A4 and it looks like the hot S4 Avant will follow a similar design brief, giving a new range topping RS 4 room for a more aggressive look. At the front, the S4 Avant sports a narrower radiator grille, a sharper set of headlights and a neat lower grille arrangement. Some slim vertical intakes sit under the headlights, helping to funnel cooling air to the brakes. It also appears the S4 will lose the extra grille sitting just below the bonnet line of the outgoing car for a cleaner look. The surfacing along the side of the car is cleaner than before, doing without the razor-sharp creases of recent Audi models. The new Avant will feature a steeply raked rear window and the integrated roof spoiler looks unchanged from the regular A4. Expect the tail lights to be the full width light bar used on other Audi models. The latest version of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit will be used, which means a larger unshrouded driver’s display behind a flat bottomed steering wheel on the S4 version (a round wheel will probably feature in the less sporty models). Also, I’m expecting a new dashboard with even fewer physical controls. It looks like the centre console will be redesigned with new toggle gear selectors, as the next A4 will probably only be available with an automatic gearbox. The biggest changes will happen under the skin, though. The next A4 will stay on the same MLB underpinnings as the current model, but it’ll be powered by a line-up of new combustion engines which Audi’s head of technical development, Oliver Hoffman, describes as “the best the company has ever launched”. Most of the line-up will be based around an updated version of the Volkswagen Group’s omnipresent EA888 turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine. Improvements will include new variable-section turbochargers that claim to improve throttle response and a higher-pressure fuel injection system. Electrification will play a key role in the A4 range, too. The petrol engine will be offered with 48 volt mild-hybrid technology at the lower end of the line-up and full-blown plug-in hybrid technology towards the upper end of the range. The latter option will probably use the same 14.4 kWh battery pack and electric motor as other MLB models, such as the Q5. +++

+++ From rumors in 2020 to confirmation early last year, CADILLAC has been drip-feeding information about its flagship luxury EV, the Celestiq. That continues with the latest teaser photo shown here, and a barren, but boastful press release. How boastful? Take this little nugget: “From first approach, the striking silhouette of the Celestiq show car leaves a lasting impression, challenging the ultra-luxury space with the spirit of futurism and the avant-garde”. What little I can make of the photo certainly seems good. It is apparently of a Celestiq show car, but Cadillac has previously confirmed the car will make it to production starting next year. The left front fender is long and low, with a thin amount of metal between the top of the tire and the sheetmetal. It has me hoping for something along the lines of Cadillac’s many beautiful show cars of the past few decades. The bolt on the door hinge with the brand’s classic motto, “Standard of the World”, is another nice touch. Previous reports and images have suggested the Celestiq is some kind of sedan, or possibly a liftback. At the very least, it’s not another crossover or SUV. It will be the first model from GM to feature Ultra Cruise, which takes the hands-free functions of Super Cruise beyond highways. And it could cost more than €265.000 in the Netherlands. Cadillac will be releasing further teaser shots of the Celestiq this summer on the General Motors Design Instagram account. I expect the show car to be revealed late this year or early next year in anticipation of production sometime next year. +++

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+++ NISSAN has updated the Qashqai for the 2023 modelyear, with a stronger equipment list as standard and a handful of subtle styling changes. A dark grey rear bumper features on the tweaked model, along with new Nissan badges inside and out. Interior tech has seen a bump too, with a 12.3-inch infotainment display now fitted as standard on N-Connecta trim and above, which also gains an optional Glass Roof Pack and a 12.3-inch TFT instrument panel. Nissan also cites a range of improved Connect Services that are now available to Qashqai customers, such as a digital owner’s manual, an Alexa personal voice assistant and parking information. The updated Qashqai is on sale now from prices that have risen by about €1.700 over the initial launch price of the car. The Qashqai Visia is exclusively available with a 140 hp 1.3-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine and a manual gearbox, with the Acenta version available with the same powertrain, or a more powerful 158 hp 1.3-litre petrol and an automatic transmission. The higher-spec N-Connecta and Tekna models can also be specified with a four-wheel drive system, although this is only available with the 158 hp motor and an automatic gearbox. The range-topping Qashqai Tekna+ is now €2.500 more expensive than at launch, and isn’t available with the 140 hp petrol engine. Instead, the 158 hp option is offered with either front wheeldrive and a manual gearbox, or as a four-wheeldrive automatic. As part of the updates, this version is fitted with LED front fog lamps as standard. The Qashqai will also be available to order in e-power hybrid form this summer, powered by a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine that combines with an electric motor to produce 190 hp and 330 Nm. According to Nissan, this model will be able to achieve 119 g/km, and exact pricing for the Qashqai e-power will be revealed later this year. +++

+++ The SEAT brand could be given a lifeline by reduced EV development costs over the coming years, as bosses plot the Spanish firm’s future in light of the rapid electrification and growing popularity of sporting sub-brand Cupra. The firm has not launched an all-new product since the Leon hatchback in 2020, and although it was set to launch the El-Born as a Volkswagen ID 3-based electric hatchback, that car then became the Cupra Born, and Seat has since remained tight-lipped on future product plans while Cupra has revealed an onslaught of bespoke electrified models for launch by 2025. But now it has emerged that company bosses could set the Seat brand on the path to an electric future in the coming years, when component and engineering costs have come down. Asked about the future of Seat, R&D boss Werner Tietz said: “The Leon is a completely new car and we have just updated the Ibiza and Arona. Now it’s time for Cupra and also to electrify Cupra. For Seat, electrification is still a little bit expensive. We think we have to concentrate on electrifying Cupra, and when the prices for the components (including batteries) go down, then we can discuss and consider talking about Seat again”. His comments come as confirmation that future cars with the Seat badge remain a possibility, even as Cupra’s global growth rapidly accelerates. It is not clear whether one of these Seat cars could be a sibling for the new Cupra Urban Rebel compact EV (and its Skoda and Volkswagen siblings) but Seat has access to both standard and short-wheelbase versions of the VW Group’s MEB architecture and, come 2025, that platform’s SSP successor, opening up the possibility of a range of Seat EVs in different segments. Tietz went on to suggest that the Cupra brand could not replace Seat outright because the 2 are aimed at “a completely different kind of customer”. He added: “We have a very small overlap of 10-15% between Seat and Cupra customers. The rest are really new customers. Also in the Volkswagen Group, you have nearly no overlap with other brands. The Cupra customers are completely different”. Details of future Seat-badged products remain completely under wraps, but bosses will no doubt be looking to replace some of the oldest models in its portfolio. The Ateca for example, has been on sale since 2016, and the Ibiza and Arona siblings since 2017. +++

+++ TESLA ’s rollout of its autonomous driving technology will expand to 100.000 cars, company CEO Elon Musk has stated. Musk also said that the new update will “smooth out intersection control, especially long lefts, and start to handle roads with no map data at all”. Being able to function without road map data could mean Teslas will be able to drive autonomously in remote areas without signage or road markings. In covered or underground parking lots, and other areas where GPS signal isn’t available, Musk stated Tesla’s software will use “inertial measurement, wheel movement and vision” for navigation. Musk has said the firm will attempt to bring fully autonomous self-driving to Europe. The Californian company’s self-driving Beta has come under criticism however, with videos emerging of cars in ‘Autopilot’ mode steering into oncoming traffic and initiating functions like windscreen wipers unnecessarily. There have also been several crashes while the Autopilot mode has been engaged, some of which have been fatal. +++

+++ New car registrations in the UNITED KINGDOM have seen their second-weakest May since 1992, with 20.6 percent fewer cars being driven away from dealer forecourts. Only May 2020 was worse, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that just 124.394 cars were registered last month. Despite strong demand, the ongoing semiconductor shortage meant that manufacturers couldn’t deliver the number of cars they wanted to. The market is 32.3 percent below pre-pandemic levels, even though order books are full. Private consumer registrations fell 10.3 percent, but their market share increased year-on-year to 53.2 percent. Fleet and business registrations both saw more substantial decreases. EV registrations rose 17.7 percent, but plug-in hybrids declined 25.5 percent. Superminis were the most sought after segment of car, making up 32.7 percent of registrations. In the year-to-date for 2022, registrations are currently down 8.7 percent on 2021. This is 40.6 percent below the 5-year average for January to May. Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “In yet another challenging month for the new car market, the industry continues to battle ongoing global parts shortages, with growing battery electric vehicle uptake one of the few bright spots. To continue this momentum and drive a robust mass market for these vehicles, we need to ensure every buyer has the confidence to go electric. This requires an acceleration in the rollout of accessible charging infrastructure to match the increasing number of plug-in vehicles, as well as incentives for the purchase of new, cleaner and greener cars. Delivering on net zero means renewing the vehicles on our roads at pace but, with rising inflation and a squeeze on household incomes, this will be increasingly difficult unless businesses and private buyers have the confidence and encouragement to do so”. +++

+++ The next phase of VOLKSWAGEN ’s radical ‘New Auto’ electric vehicle strategy will bring to market a direct rival to the Tesla Model 3, insiders at the German car maker have revealed. The 5-door liftback, known internally as Project Trinity, is planned to take the ID.4 name in 2026, setting up a naming policy that will see future Volkswagen models grouped together under individual model lines dependent on size. The ID.4 will join a facelifted version of the current ID.4 SUV in an expanded mid-range line-up that has been conceived to provide competition to the Model 3 and its sister model, the Tesla Model Y. Volkswagen’s new electric saloon will offer the choice of either single-motor rear-wheel-drive or dual-motor four-wheel-drive options and, from the beginning of sales, standard 5G over-the-air software upgrades and level-two autonomous driving functionality. Volkswagen originally suggested the ID.4 liftback would feature level-four autonomous driving functionality. However, it now says it will be technically capable of supporting it, if and when it is made available to customers. Under the New Auto strategy announced last year, Volkswagen has switched its focus to the electrification of its model range, with the goal of increasing the electric model share of its global sales to 25% in 2025. In 2021, the figure was 6%. Further into the future, VW anticipates that electric models will take at least a 50% share of global sales by 2030 and an almost 100% share in all major markets by 2040. The ID.4 liftback is the first Volkswagen to be conceived under a new product development process that is aimed at significantly shortening the overall development time of its future models. “We’re reducing development time by 25 %”, said Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen’s head of research and development. “Projects will be completed in 40 months instead of the 54 months we have today”. While existing new model development at Volkswagen has centred on individual engineering teams responsible for specific components of each car (often in different locations with outside suppliers and, in certain cases, without direct consultation with each other) the new process aims to promote a far more integrated and agile structure, Ulbrich revealed. At the heart of the new development process, which is planned to be used for all upcoming ID models from 2026 onwards, is a new upgradable software architecture that goes under the name VW.OS. The new software, which is under development at the Volkswagen-owned Cariad software division, includes not only a proprietary operating system to be used by all Volkswagen models but also in-house-developed apps for various functions and services. Volkswagen says the proportion of in-house-developed software used in its new models is set to increase from under 10% today to more than 60% by 2025. Many of the new processes being touted for the ID.4 were originally initiated by Audi for its similarly conceived Artemis project, which is planned to spawn a similarly advanced but larger electric model slated for production in 2025. The basis for the upcoming ID.4 liftback is Volkswagen’s new Scalable Systems Platform (SSP), a skateboard-style architecture that Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess has said will replace the existing Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten (MEB) structure as well as both the J1 and Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architectures developed by the Volkswagen-owned Audi and Porsche brands. “The next generation of our hardware platforms will allow us to reduce complexity over time as we will consolidate our existing platform to one architecture for the entire e-product portfolio, from entry level to top of the range, from 115 hp to 1.140 hp”, he said. While the MEB platform used by all of Volkswagen’s existing ID-badged models uses a 400 Volt electric architecture, the SSP will be able to support systems at up to 800 Volt. This will enable the ID.4 liftback to be offered with a much higher charging capacity than the 135 kW of the recently upgraded ID.4 SUV, and with it significantly faster charge times than those achieved today, providing a high-powered DC charging system is used. Nothing is official, although insiders talk about a reduction in charging time by “factor 3”. As a point of reference, the new ID.5 is claimed to offer a 5-80% charge (enough for a claimed 400 km) in 29 minutes. Details of the battery technology to be adopted by the ID.4 liftback have yet to be revealed. Sources suggest it will use cobalt-free chemistry similar to the lithium iron phosphate (LFP) blade battery produced by Chinese car maker BYD. As with the existing ID models, the new Volkswagen is expected to be offered with batteries offering differing energy capacities and ranges. It is still early days, but Volkswagen says the most advanced ID model yet will offer a range of up to 700 km on the European WLTP test cycle; a more than 20% increase on its existing electric models. It also says the ID.4 liftback will be capable of accelerating from 0-100 kph in less than 5 seconds. The ID.4 liftback takes full advantage of the SSP platform’s ability to package its battery completely within a flat floor, with cab-forward proportions aimed at providing generous interior accommodation. With a length of around 4600mm, it is smaller than the upcoming production version of the ID.Vizzion, which is said to stretch to around 4.800 mm in length, but will still offer seating for 5 as well as a large rear luggage compartment. By comparison, the Tesla Model 3 runs to 4.694 mm in length. Production of the new Volkswagen is set to take place in a new 2 billion standalone factory in Wolfsburg. The plant will support a new modular construction process that will allow the ID.4 liftback to be assembled in less than 10 hours, according to Diess. +++

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