Newsflash: nieuwe Volkswagen Tiguan komt in 2024

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+++ Chinese carmaker CHANGAN has launched a new tiny model as its latest effort to explore the booming mini-sized EV segment in the world’s largest vehicle market. Based on Changan’s electric car platform, the model, called Lumin, is available in 3 variants, with its mileage ranging from 155 kilometers to 301 km on 1 charge. It measures 3.270 mm in length, 1.700 mm in width and 1.545 mm in height, with a wheelbase of 1.980 mm. Lumin has Wuling’s Mini EV and Chery’s QQ Ice Cream as its direct rivals. Changan said it had received over 15.800 orders within 11 hours of the model hitting the market on Friday. Mini-sized EVs have the largest market share in China’s EV market. Wholesale sales in the segment totaled 106.000 units in May, accounting for 33 percent of the EV market, according to the China Passenger Car Association. Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the association, said the segment is expected to grow at around 60 percent year-on-year. Changan is speeding up its NEV (New Energy Vehicles) campaign this year, with up to 8 models scheduled to hit the market this year. The Chongqing-based carmaker sold 66.690 NEVs in first 5 months this year, still trailing some other traditional carmakers including BYD. The entry-level Lumin may help drive Changan’s NEV sales considering the popularity of such tiny models in the country, said analysts. +++

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+++ Li Shufu, founder of China’s largest private carmaker GEELY , is acquiring a 79.01 percent stake in domestic smartphone maker Meizu as vehicles he described 2 decades ago as “sofas on wheels” are becoming smart devices on roads. Now the entrepreneur likely sees vehicles more akin to both sofas and living rooms. Hubei Xingji Shidai Technology, established by Li in September, agreed to purchase stakes from 2 of Meizu’s shareholders, according to a document published by the State Administration for Market Regulation. The value of the deal remains unknown. Li owns an over 57.8 percent stake in the company, which has a registered capital of 715 million yuan ($106 million), said Tianyancha, a corporate information provider. Established in 2003, Meizu was once one of China’s best known smartphone brands but has in recent years lost ground to local rivals including Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo. “There is a close connection in technologies within intelligent vehicle cockpits and smartphone software technologies”, said Li in a statement speaking of his entry into the phone-making segment. He said smartphones and other mobile devices allow users to enjoy the fruits of innovation “in the quickest manner possible” and can also act as pathways to wider technological applications in vehicles. Beginning with United States-based Tesla, both electric and gasoline-powered automakers across the world have made big touch screens a must in their models. Via Bluetooth and 5G, the vehicles’ onboard operating systems now allow drivers and passengers to do on the dashboard displays whatever they can do on their smartphones, from watching videos and navigating to making phone calls and enjoying music. “The major trend in the coming future is to create user ecosystems across borders and provide users with a more convenient, smarter and seamlessly connected multiscreen experience”, Li said. Xingji Shidai, based in Wuhan, Hubei province, won two patents for smartphone design in April. It told National Business Daily that there is not yet a specific timetable for product development and launches. The company said it will increase investment in research and development and does not rule out the possibility of acquisitions and joint development. Geely said Xingji Shidai can make use of the carmaker’s experience in design, R&D, manufacturing, industrial chain integration, smart vehicles, software development and global infrastructure, including its planned low-orbit satellite network. Zhang Xiang, an auto analyst and researcher at the North China University of Technology, said as automakers offer similar large displays and functionality, the infotainment content available on such displays and user experiences are becoming key differentiators. “Smartphones and smart vehicles can be part of the same big mobile internet system, so it does make a difference for automakers to explore the smartphone segment”, Zhang said. Chinese electric car startup Nio is planning to make inroads into the smartphone sector as well. “The reason is simple. We simply want to offer our car owners the best smart phone-car user experience”, said William Li, founder and CEO of the New York-listed startup, in an interview earlier this year. +++

+++ Smart electric vehicle company JIDU AUTO, a joint venture established by Chinese tech giant Baidu and carmaker Geely, plans to launch its first mass-produced robocar model in the coming autumn and open the first self-owned store in the fourth quarter of this year. The mass-produced version, which will be 90 percent similar to its concept car, will possess level 4 autonomous driving capability that needs no human intervention, said Xia Yiping, CEO of Jidu. “We will build our own sales, delivery and after-sale service system”, Xia said while adding the EVs will be manufactured in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, where Geely has several plants. The company has unveiled its first concept robocar named Robo-01. The concept car features a futuristic design, including a U-shaped folding steering wheel, a 3D borderless 1-piece screen, 3D human-machine co-driving map, a full-scene voice inside and outside the car, millisecond voice response and offline intelligent voice assistant. Equipped with the autonomous driving software technology powered by Baidu and lidar sensors, the robocar owns high-level voice interaction abilities, and is capable of self-learning and self-improvement based on user behavior, Xia added. “The Jidu robocar aims to meet user needs for intelligent travel, in-car intelligent assistance and an intelligent cabin in the new era”, said Xia, adding “the ultimate goal is to realize a fully driverless transportation experience”. Xia said the company will also unveil the design of its second mass-produced model at this year’s Guangzhou Auto Show. The first model will target the family car market and will be priced above 200.000 yuan ($30.000), said Robin Li, co-founder and CEO of Baidu, during a conference call last month. The automaker will start receiving orders for the robocar from the second half of the year, with deliveries expected to begin in 2023, Li added. Founded in March last year, Jidu Auto completed a $400 million Series-A financing in January. With the completion of the financing, Jidu is set to continue accelerating progress in R&D and mass production. Baidu will leverage its advantage in software and artificial intelligence capabilities, while Geely will contribute its expertise in automobile design and manufacturing, Xia added. Zhang Xiang, a researcher at the Automobile Industry Innovation Research Center, which is part of North China University of Technology in Beijing, said Baidu has accumulated abundant data and experience in operating the autonomous driving vehicles in several cities across the nation, which could be applied into the mass-produced model of the robocar. Baidu’s move to venture into the burgeoning electric vehicle segment will help the company diversify its business and explore more revenue streams, Zhang said. “There are some highlights and innovations in the newly launched concept car, such as the highly autonomous driving system, intelligent cabin and retractable steering wheel, which is seldom seen in the country’s EV market”, he added. China is the world’s largest market for electric cars and plug-in hybrids, attracting startups and established carmakers to explore the lucrative segment. Industry experts said that controlling the manufacturing cost is an urgent problem to be dealt with, given the price hikes in lithium batteries and other upstream raw materials as well as the chip shortage. Last year, more than 3.5 million such vehicles were sold in China, up 157 percent year-on-year, accounting for 13.4 percent of total vehicle sales, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The association expects the figure to reach 5 million this year as demand continues to rise. According to the latest development plan for the NEV industry from 2021 to 2035 approved by the State Council, the nation’s NEV sales are expected to account for 20 percent of all new vehicle sales by 2025, and vehicles used in public transportation will be completely electrified by 2035. +++

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+++ TOYOTA said it will suspend operations at more production lines at its factories in Japan for up to 11 days between this month and July due to difficulty in procuring semiconductors and a Covid-19 outbreak at one of its suppliers in Shanghai. Toyota said the halt will take place on 11 lines at seven factories until July 8. According to the automaker, it now produce about 750.000 vehicles globally for June, down from its previous production target of 800.000. The move will result in a production cut of about 40.000 units at plants in prefectures including Aichi, Iwate and Miyagi. Toyota did not disclose its worldwide production plan for July. The automaker said, however, it will not change its global production target of around 9.7 million units for fiscal 2022. Toyota said on May 24 that its global production plan for June was around 850.000, already down by about 100.000 units from the figure it announced at the beginning of the year. 3 days later, Toyota reduced the target again to 800.000 units when Shanghai went into a 2-month-long lockdown, disrupting the supply chain for semiconductors. Shanghai has since lifted its lockdown. +++

+++ TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION under scrutiny from investors over a perceived sluggish embrace of battery electric vehicles, says it needs to offer a variety of choices to suit different environments and customers. At its annual general meeting on Wednesday, executives at the world’s largest automaker by sales tackled questions ranging from concerns about its electrification strategy to CEO succession plans and the ongoing chip shortage. Once a favorite with environmentalists for the hybrid Prius model it popularised more than 2 decades ago, Toyota has come under fire from some investors for not phasing out gasoline-powered cars and its lobbying on climate policy. “The goal is carbon neutrality”, Toyota’s Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda told the meeting, responding to questions submitted by Danish pension fund AkademikerPension, which also asked Toyota to refrain from lobbying to undermine the transition to BEVs. However, “customers need to choose”, Maeda said, in order to popularize electric cars that include hybrids. A variety of options should be available and the automaker should not narrow those down, he said. Toyota argues that hybrids still make sense in markets where infrastructure isn’t ready to support a faster move to battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and is exploring the viability of green fuels for internal combustion engine cars, including hydrogen. The company last year committed to spend 8 trillion yen by 2030 to electrify its cars, half of which is slated to develop full EVs. Still, it expects annual sales of such cars to reach only 3.5 million vehicles by the end of the decade, or around a third of current sales. Just last month, Toyota rolled out its first mass-produced BEVs domestically, albeit for lease only, and gasoline-electric hybrid models remain far more popular in Japan than BEVs. Asked about succession planning, Toyota chief executive Akio Toyoda, who has led the company for 13 years, said he was “thinking about timing and the selection of a successor”. There has been no indication from the company that Toyoda plans to step down. Toyoda, 66, a grandson of company founder Kiichiro Toyoda, steered the company through a dark phase when Toyota sales slumped after millions of recalls and the company reported billions of dollars in losses. “I’d pick someone who understands the company’s philosophy as my successor”, he added. Toyoda has sought to reform Toyota’s corporate culture, spending more time with younger executives and cutting back some senior positions. In 2020, he appointed company veterans Maeda and Kenta Kon to top roles. Both were 51 at the time. Toyota (which sold 10.5 million vehicles in 2021, far outstripping closest rival Volkswagen) has repeatedly cut production this year, plagued by a global chip crunch. It expects the chip shortage to continue, although there are signs of improvement, head of it purchasing group, Kazunari Kumakura, said on Wednesday. +++

+++ The current Tiguan has been on sale since 2015 and VOLKSWAGEN has now started testing its replacement. Spy shots show a test mule based on the current car’s body, but with a few key differences. Reports state the mule is running on electric power, although whether it’s a full BEV or in the pure-electric mode of a hybrid powertrain remains to be seen. Given Volkswagen’s investment into its ID range of electric cars and the existence of the similarly-sized ID.4, an electric Tiguan isn’t likely. The front of the new Tiguan will feature a revised grille with a closed-off upper section that could give the SUV a similar face to its ID siblings, while the lower grille has grown to counter the lack of cooling. The MQB Evo platform that underpins the Golf, Cupra Formentor, Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia is likely to be used for the next Tiguan, given it’s an evolution of the MQB A2 found on the outgoing car. This would allow the new Tiguan to use the same range of plug-in hybrid powertrains as the Golf. We can also expect a similar engine lineup to the Golf with a mix of TSI petrol and TDI diesel engines alongside the hybrid models. The larger, heavier Tiguan will forgo the Golf’s entry-level 1.0-litre unit, starting with the 130 hp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol 4-cylinder. Mild-hybrid eTSI versions (1.5 with 150 hp and 2.0 with 204 hp) will also feature. 150 hp and 200 hp diesel models could make their way over in mild hybrid form from the Golf and above that, I expect to see a plug-in hybrid model with 245 hp. A second 4Motion plug-in hybrid with 300 hp is also likely, but a hot Tiguan R with running gear lifted from the Golf R less so. I expect the inside of the new Tiguan to look similar to the Golf, rather than the minimalist cabins of the ID cars. The latest version of VW’s Digital Cockpit Pro should feature 2 screens, each measuring 10-inch. Practicality should be improved with the addition of the MQB Evo platform too, with boot space rising from the current car’s 520 litres. The Volkswagen Tiguan should be revealed by late 2023 with it potentially going on sale the following year. Given the model’s expected lifespan and the looming 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars, this could be the last Tiguan to feature internal combustion. +++

+++ VOYAH , the premium new energy vehicle (NEV) brand of Dongfeng Motor, opened up its first foreign showroom (‘Voyah Space’) in Klingenberggt, Norway, on June 11. The first production model, the Voyah Free, began to receive presale orders on the same day. The first batch of cars is expected to be delivered to Norwegian users in the fourth quarter of this year. Voyah will officially begin competing with other international high-end EV brands. Voyah Space fuses oriental aesthetics with advanced technologies. Its design was inspired by natural culture and lifestyle typical of Northern Europe, as well as its unique aurora. Meanwhile, Chinese cultural elements, such as tea art, stone carvings and pine trees, have also been applied to create a combined visual effect. The space gives customers an immersive car-purchasing experience, as if they were strolling leisurely through mountains. Free’s design is highly consistent with Norway’s climate, eco-friendly principles and auto market demand. The country not only boasts the world’s highest NEV penetration rate, but also has complete supporting infrastructure and potent policy support. Aleksander Gamme, a Norwegian pole region adventurer, Free’s brand ambassador in the country, is also among the car’s first users. After a series of assessments, North European expert panels praised Free’s avant–guard appearance and interior, as well as its high level of driving safety. +++

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