Newsflash: Peugeot noemt nieuwe 408 geen bedreiging voor 508

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+++ BENTLEY ’s in-house personalisation service, Mulliner, has worked on a new Continental GT, featuring performance and chassis tweaks as well as the usual added luxury. The enhancements to the GT Mulliner take it above the GT Speed in the Continental’s model range. The GT Mulliner is available with the 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged W12 engine from the Speed, resulting in 659 hp and 900 Nm. Bentley claims a top speed of 335 kph and a 0-100 kph time of 3.6 seconds. A 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 option is also available with 550 hp and 770 Nm of torque, for a 0-100 kph time of 4 seconds and a 318 kph top speed. The GT Speed model receives plenty of performance upgrades, including electric all-wheel steering, ‘Bentley Dynamic Ride’ which features three-chamber active air suspension, carbon ceramic brakes and an electronic limited slip differential. The adaptive ride means the GT Mulliner can resist body roll using electric motors that can generate up to 1.300 Nm of counteracting force in 0.3 seconds. The system was introduced on the Bentayga has featured on other Continental GTs, but has now been revised for the Mulliner. The exterior tweaks are subtle, with a new 22 inch wheel design unique to the Mulliner, an exclusive range of paint finishes and a new Mulliner signature grille. There’s also the option to choose between silver and black for the front vents and wing mirrors. The outer door sills receive Mulliner text and the puddle lights have been swapped for ‘Mulliner Welcome Lamps’. As you’d expect the GT Mulliner is the most luxurious Continental GT yet with plenty of scope of customisation. Buyers can choose from a unique array of ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ interior colours as well as the full suite of materials and colours Bentley offers for the leather, veneers and stitching. As standard the GT Mulliner comes with diamond-quilted seats and there’s embroidered Mulliner logos in the headrests. The dash features a new diamond-milled finish with Grand Black walnut surfacing either side. Sitting in the middle is a unique Breitling clock and the passenger side fascia is finished with a silhouette of the car’s profile, coupled with a Mulliner logo. The LED instrument cluster also gets a new design. The GT Mulliner will be on show at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year alongside the new S variants of the Continental GT and Flying Spur. Pricing hasn’t been revealed yet, but expect it to start significantly higher than either the GT Speed or V8 models. +++

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+++ FORD is revamping its range, with the Fiesta and Focus receiving recent mid-life revisions, it’s now the turn of the Kuga. The third-generation Kuga has been with us since 2019 and will get a facelift soon. The new Kuga will adhere closely to the design language of the new Fiesta and Focus with a larger Ford badge in the middle of a similarly-shaped grille. The whole of the front bumper will be redesigned as well with new side air intakes underneath the headlights. The headlights themselves get a new shape and there will be an additional central light bar above the grille. The side of the facelifted Kuga will stay unchanged, apart from body-coloured sills and wing mirrors as well as blacked out window trim. The rear doesn’t get the kind of comprehensive update seen at the front end, the light clusters retain the same shape with a different internal design. There will also be a new tailgate handle. I expect the new Kuga to get an update inside too. The latest version of Ford SYNC4 infotainment should appear, ​​operated via a new 13.2-inch central touchscreen. The 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster will probably remain. The engine line up isn’t likely to change so powering the new Kuga will be a 150 hp 1.5-litre petrol, a 190 hp 2.5-litre petrol hybrid and a 225 hp 2.5-litre plug-in hybrid petrol. I don’t expect a full reveal of the facelifted Kuga until later this year. +++

+++ GERMANY ’s government will not agree to European Union plans to effectively ban the sale of new cars with combustion engines from 2035, Finance minister Christian Lindner said on Tuesday. In its bid to cut planet-warming emissions by 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels, the European Commission has proposed a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions from new cars by 2035. That means it would be impossible to sell combustion engine cars from then. European Parliament lawmakers backed the proposals this month, before negotiations with EU countries on the final law take place. Speaking at an event hosted by Germany’s BDI industry association, Lindner said there would continue to be niches for combustion engines so a ban was wrong and said the government would not agree to this European legislation. Lindner, a member of the pro-business Free Democrats, which shares power with the Social Democrats and Greens, said Germany would still be a leading market for electric vehicles. +++

+++ Stellantis is recalling more than 270.000 Dodge Durango and JEEP Grand Cherokee cars to address an issue with their antilock braking modules that can allow them to be started and shifted out of park without the brake being applied, leading to a potential roll-away risk. 2018-2019 models shipped with a potentially defective ABS module with a sensor that can return a false positive reading for brake-pedal pressure being applied to the system. Since this check also tells other onboard systems that the brake is being applied, the driver will be allowed to perform actions that would normally only be possible with the brake pedal depressed, including starting the vehicle and shifting out of park. “A vehicle that is able to start and shift out of park without depressing the brake pedal can result in unintended vehicle movement which can cause a vehicle crash without prior warning and/or injury to others outside the vehicle”, the company’s defect report said. Stellantis says there are no warning signs of this failure, however drivers may notice a fault illuminated on the dash or their brake lights remaining on after turning off the vehicle once the issue surfaces. No related accidents or injuries have been reported, Stellantis said. +++

+++ With the GLC becoming MERCEDES ’ best-selling car globally, the more fashionable but less practical coupe variant has also become a key model in the German giant’s portfolio. Perhaps then, it’s no surprise that so soon after the release of the new GLC, I’ve spied the second-generation GLC Coupe testing. The GLC Coupe is almost ready for its full debut, given how little camouflage is on the test cars. From the front we see a virtually identical design to the SUV model with a sleeker headlight unit that blends into the front grille. The grille is made up of dozens of Mercedes three-pointed star logos and there’s a revised lower bumper. Just like the old model, the roof slopes down to the rear to give the GLC Coupe a more sporting portrait. At the rear there’s a ducktail spoiler and I expect a slightly different rear light design to the SUV’s, judging by the outgoing car. I haven’t seen inside the new GLC Coupe yet, but it should look identical to the regular GLC, albeit with slightly less headroom. Switching to the new MRA2 platform seen on the latest C-Class, the GLC Coupe should be slightly larger than its predecessor, this should result in more cabin and boot space, although it’ll be significantly down on the GLC’s 600 litres of boot space. We’re also likely to see a central 11.9-inch portrait touchscreen and a12.3-inch digital instrument panel for the driver, which can be supported by an optional head-up display. The recently unveiled second-generation GLC will use electrification for all of its powertrains, ranging from 48 volt mild-hybrids to 3 different plug-in hybrids with an all-electric range of up to 100 km. A fully-electric variant isn’t in the offing however, with the similarly-sized EQC occupying that space. It’s almost certain the GLC Coupe will be offered with the same range of powertrains as the GLC. A GLC Coupe 200 4Matic will probably kick off the range with a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder with 48-volt assistance, developing 204 hp and 320 Nm. There should also be an option of the same engine with 258 hp and 400 Nm. Alongside them is a mild-hybrid diesel 220d 4Matic with 197 hp and 440 Nm. The plug-in hybrid tech featured in the new GLC should carry over to the Coupe model. Mercedes has 2 petrol-powered plug-in hybrids and a diesel option. They all use a 31 kWh battery coupled to an electric motor with 136 hp and 440 Nm. An all-electric range of over 100 km is claimed. The 2.0-litre petrol plug-in hybrid could be made available with 313 hp and 550 Nm, as well as a 382 hp / 650 Nm model. A diesel plug-in hybrid would produce around 245 hp and 750 Nm. I expect the GLC Coupe to be fully revealed in the coming months, with a price tag slightly higher than that of the regular GLC. +++

+++ The 408 is an entirely new model for PEUGEOT that adds an innovative fastback design to its compact car range, which currently comprises the more conventional 308 and3008. Unrelated to the Chinesemarket 408 saloon, the fastback is intended to marry the best of SUVs, hatchbacks and saloons by combining an aerodynamic, coupé-esque silhouette with ample space and good driving dynamics in a relatively compact package. Due at the start of 2023, the 408 sits on the same EMP2 modular platform as the 308. At 4.690 mm long and 1.480 mm tall, it is a significant 440 mm longer and almost 40 mm higher than the 308. The final product was seven years in the making, because it was considered quite radical at its inception and apparently took some convincing at board level. Design project manager Pierre-Paul Mattei revealed that giving the car “dynamism without hiding the fact that it’s roomy” was a hurdle. “A classical fastback, the Peugeot 508 for example, starts to drop the car’s top line at the B-pillar, but here it’s the back of the rear door, which makes rear access and space better”, explained Mattei. The front grille is reminiscent of the current Peugeot range but modernises it, introducing a vertical body-colour pattern in which the blocks of colour get bigger towards the edges. Mattei said this new grille plays to the next generation of electrified cars and is likely to be used again in future. The interior was developed alongside the 308. “Our job was to balance making it the 408 but with the best bits of the 308”, said Mattei. It features Peugeot’s latest i-Cockpit layout, including a digital dial display and a 10.0in infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and has extended storage space. 3 powertrains will be offered from launch: 2 plug-in hybrids, which should match the 308 PHEV’s electric-only range of around 60 km, and a 130 hp 1.2-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder petrol. All are mated to an automatic gearbox. The petrol engine will be replaced with a mild-hybrid unit by the end of 2023 and an electric e-408 will follow, although a date for that isn’t yet confirmed. Peugeot hopes the 408 will attract new customers to the brand, having positioned it price-wise between the 308 and 3008, despite it being closer in length to the 508. “Customers might be compact hatchback owners who want more roominess but the same driving experience”, said 408 product manager Aurélie Bresson, “or compact SUV owners looking for a more distinctive car and a more dynamic driving experience, or larger saloon owners looking for modern lines while maintaining a longer car. They have in common that they’re open-minded and don’t just buy a car for functionality”. Peugeot positions the 408 as a take on the traditional saloon, rather than an SUV (hence the 3-digit rather than 4-digit name), but it’s adamant that there’s still a place for the larger 508. “We have the 508 PSE performance PHEV, which is an interesting proposition in the marketplace, and the 508 SW, which fulfils a specific customer need too. “We’re very happy with what 508 does for us”. York suggested the 508 plays an important role in the fleet market and says an “animation in the life cycle” (or facelift) will freshen it up some time soon. +++

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+++ Volvo-controlled EV brand POLESTAR will go ahead with its stock listing in the US via the spac method this week, despite a sustained decline in share values for EV start-ups. The brand will merge with special purpose acquisition company (spac) Gores Guggenheim, which has already been already listed on the stock market in advance. It expects to begin trading under the PSNY ticker on Friday 24 June. The listing will hand Polestar $850 million from investors, giving it crucial development cash as it expands beyond its single model, the 2 saloon. Polestar will launch the 3 sports SUV in October, which it calls a Porsche Cayenne rival, and will follow that up with the Polestar 4, a coupé-styled SUV described as a competitor to the Porsche Macan, the company said in a May investor presentation. The Polestar 5 GT will follow in 2024 after being previewed by a prototype at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. In total, Polestar targets sales of 290.000 by 2025 with 4 models, up from 29.000 sales of one model in 2021. The company brands itself as the only other global “pure-play” EV brand after Tesla. The listing will float only 6% of Polestar’s stock, with the remainder being held by Volvo, Volvo parent company Geely Holding and Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio, an early investor. The listing allows Geely to sell more stock if it thinks the share prices are strong enough. Shares of EV start-ups that took off when listed 2020 and 2021 have since plummeted from their peak. Examples include Rivian, which has fallen 82% from its peak value of $127.3 billion, the British start-up Arrival, down 93%, and people-carrier hopeful Canoo, down 82%. Polestar is betting that investors will back it for being a company with established sales, revenue and production, the latter provided by Geely’s network of plants. Many spac EV companies have limited or no revenue and are now struggling for cash as investment streams have dried up. The spac method avoids the tougher scrutiny of the traditional initial public offering (IPO), although the US regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission has started to clamp down on the wilder claims of future growth made by companies that list as a spac. Gores Guggenheim pointed to the fact that only 25% of the original investors opted to redeem their cash when the 2 companies are combined. Redemptions from recent spac listings have been much higher. +++

+++ Elon Musk, the boss of TESLA , said a 10% cut in salaried staff at the electric car maker will happen over three months, as the world’s richest man predicted a U.S. recession was more likely than not. His remarks were his most detailed explanation of job cut plans and his first in-person appearance since it was reported at the start of this month that the company needed to cut staff by about 10% and was pausing hiring worldwide. Speaking at the Qatar Economic Forum, Musk said the cuts would apply only to salaried workers, meaning a 3.5% reduction in total headcount, changes he described as “not super material”. But he expressed concern about the prospect of a U.S. recession. “It’s not a certainty, but it appears more likely than not”, he said. Musk’s outlook echoes comments from executives, including JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs President John Waldron. A “hurricane is right out there down the road coming our way”, Dimon said early this month. Whether the United States will go into recession has been a growing concern for chief executives, the Federal Reserve and the Biden administration. U.S. president Joe Biden reiterated on Monday that he felt a U.S. recession was not inevitable, even as the world’s largest economy struggles to tackle soaring gasoline prices and inflation, which is at its highest in 40 years. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers told NBC News on Sunday he expected a recession. In an email on June 2, Musk told Tesla executives he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy and that the company needed to cut staff by about 10% and “pause all hiring worldwide”. He said on Tuesday that Tesla expects to increase the number of workers paid by the hour as opposed to on fixed salaries. He also said he was sticking with digital currency and intended to personally support dogecoin. Digital currency has been extremely volatile this year, but bitcoin surged following Tesla’s announcement in February last year that it had bought $1.5 billion of the currency and for a short time accepted it as payment for vehicles. Elon Musk also spoke about his bid to buy Twitter, which he had agreed to buy for $44 billion. Musk said there were unresolved issues, including the debt portion of the deal and the number of spam users. “We’re still awaiting resolution on that matter, and that is a very significant matter”, he said, reiterating doubts over Twitter’s claims that false or spam accounts represented fewer than 5% of its monetisable daily active users. “And then of course, there’s the question of, will the, the debt portion of the round come together? And then will the shareholders vote in favour?” Musk said he would like to get 80% of North America and half the world on Twitter. “My aspiration for Twitter is to be as inclusive as possible”, he said. The most important thing was to take the company in the right direction, as at his private rocket company SpaceX and Tesla, he said. “Whether I am CEO is much less important than my ability to drive the product in the right direction”, he said. +++

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