Newsflash: toekomstplannen Jaguar zijn bekend

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+++ BMW will install and test a long-range battery developed by Michigan-based startup Our Next Energy (ONE) in the iX electric SUV, the companies said on Tuesday. ONE’s Gemini battery will incorporate 2 types of battery cells, including one with advanced chemistry that can store more energy and enable vehicle range of 965 km or more between charges, the battery maker said. The prototype vehicle is expected to be completed by year-end, ONE said. The Gemini battery aims to reduce the use of such traditional EV battery materials as cobalt, nickel, graphite and lithium, according to Mujeeb Ijaz, ONE founder and chief executive. Ijaz said ONE is testing different electrode chemistries in Gemini, while evaluating the potential tradeoffs in cost, energy and sustainability. ONE might offer a production version of the battery in three different sizes and prices, Ijaz said, including a low-end version that would cost the same as today’s conventional nickel- and cobalt- based batteries, “if not a little lower”. Ijaz said ONE is discussing similar prototype testing of its Gemini battery with other companies. In March, BMW’s corporate venture arm led a $65 million funding round in ONE. Other investors in that round included Coatue Management, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Assembly Ventures, Flex and Volta Energy Technologies. In December, ONE said an early prototype of the Gemini battery, retrofitted in a Tesla Model S, delivered more than 1.200 km of range, well in excess of the best production electric vehicles on the market. Since its founding in 2020, ONE has focused development on a long-range battery that uses safer and more sustainable materials, while packing more energy into a smaller, less expensive package. In a statement, BMW executive Juergen Hildinger said the automaker is exploring opportunities “to integrate ONE’s battery technologies into models of our future BEV (battery electric vehicle) product lineup”. +++

+++ FORD is issuing a recall for 48.924 Mustang Mach-E cars due to potential power loss. Additionally, Ford has told dealers to not deliver potentially affected Mustang Mach-Es. The vehicles involved in the recall were built between May 27, 2020 and May 24, 2022. It’s not clear how many of the Mach-Es built during this period will be a part of this vehicle, but the nearly-49.000-vehicle recall accounts for approximately half of total Mustang Mach-E production. I asked Ford for information regarding the recall and was provided with detailed notes. In short, it’s possible that the battery main contactors could overheat, causing the vehicle to lose power immediately. The company’s full statement is below: “On affected vehicles, Direct Current (“DC”) fast charging and repeated wide open pedal events can cause the high voltage battery main contactors to overheat. Overheating may lead to arcing and deformation of the electrical contact surfaces, which can result in a contactor that remains open or a contactor that welds closed. An overheated contactor that opens while driving can result in a loss of motive power, which can increase the risk of an accident”. The good news is that the “recall” will simply consist of a software update. A Ford spokesperson told me that the “Secondary On-Board Diagnostic Control Module and Battery Energy Control Module” will receive updated software to fix the issue. It can even be done remotely, so it sounds like owners may not even have to bring their vehicles in to the dealership if they don’t want to; the updated software is expected to be rolled out over-the-air sometime next month. That said, Ford also says that owners will have the option of having the software installed at the dealer if they so choose. +++

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER ’s Reimagine plan in February 2021 outlined a bold, brave new future for Jaguar as an all-electric luxury car brand. Shortly after that, CEO Thierry Bolloré exclusively revealed to Auto Express that luxury meant Dutch prices in the region of €150.000, while news of new Jaguar models also crept out. Since then, the silence on the intentions for Jaguar (still one of Britain’s best-loved car brands) has been deafening. Now, though, Autointernationaal can reveal details of the plans to transform Jaguar and how it will transition to its luxury future, starting with the current line-up. In an exclusive interview, Nick Collins, JLR board member and Executive Director of Vehicle Programmes, told me how the current Jaguar range will move upmarket, that new Jaguars will sit on a bespoke architecture and that development mules will be on the road in weeks. First, though, I asked him why there had been such silence from Jaguar since February 2021. “We recognise that we’ve been quiet, we’ve been secret, deliberately so”, said Collins. “The core Jaguar words are ‘a copy of nothing’. Think of that in every element of the business; there may be some traditional ways of doing things and untraditional ways of doing things: we’re using that in all our thinking around Jaguar. “We will now start to curate the journey from here until 2024 (exactly how that manifests itself, we’re reconsidering how we do that, too”. It’s not as though JLR hasn’t had a busy 12 months, though, as Collins explains. “If you think of us as a total business, over the past year we’ve just gone through this massive activity with Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Defender 130; from a public perspective we wanted those cars to have their moment. That doesn’t mean we’ve not been working intensively on the Jaguar plan and the execution of that”. According to Collins, Jaguar has been working at a pace never before seen at JLR, with plans in place and a clear definition of what the brand will be. “We are on track and in a considerably faster timeline than we’ve ever operated to before”, he said. “That’s something we’re doing across the business, not just at Jaguar”. “We’re reimagining the development process, not just in engineering but as cross-functioning teams. We’re operating in a fundamentally different way through our development process that is allowing us to go considerably faster. “Where we sit right now is that we’ve defined what the new Jaguar will represent”, he said. “It’ll be a brand that’s respectful of its rich past, but not bound to it. We’ve used that formula in the past with the Defender. We are engineering a bespoke architecture for Jaguar. That’s the only way we’re going to ensure we meet our design vision for the brand that Gerry McGovern (Chief Creative Officer of JLR) and his team have created, which will be a copy of nothing”. Collins wouldn’t be drawn on whether a concept car might give us any hints at Jaguar’s new design language, but he did confirm that the new models had been signed off and that they had been tested, but not in traditional customer clinics. We’ve tested in certain circumstances; we’ve tested elements, but not using the traditional methods, again, it’s the copy of nothing approach. We’re deliberately doing things quite differently”. Collins revealed how Jaguar staff were working in unique ways to come up with a new interpretation of modern luxury, too. “We have a very diverse team working on the future of the brand and we’ve deliberately locked them away in a different part of the building here in Gaydon”, he told. “They act, behave, think and live differently. This is about clean sheet of paper thinking. We’ve put them in a different environment to allow that diversity to come to the fore to make sure we don’t constrain them by any traditional thinking; of the business or the industry”. With designs signed off, technical work is very much under way. “We’re going to have some of the earliest prototype mules running within 2 months from now”, said Collins. “You’re going to see the first of the new Jaguars before the end of 2024, and those cars will be with customers in 2025. These new Jaguars will sit firmly in the luxury sector and we’ll establish new benchmarks in standards for client relationships and transform the brand journey with multiple touch points during the life of their cars”. One of the biggest challenges Jaguar has is the transition from the current range to the new, all-electric line-up in less than 3 years. Thierry Bolloré had previously told us that the recently refreshed all-electric I-Pace would be the only model that would overlap the 2 generations of Jaguars, so what about the rest of the range? “If you think about the words ‘firmly in luxury’ you can then think about where we’re going with the current portfolio”, said Collins. “You saw the F-Pace 1988 Edition that we recently announced: it’s cementing F-Pace into a really bespoke positioning; exquisite in detail and limited in numbers. That’s the start of a journey that we’re going on with the current portfolio. We’re going to position each of the current cars within the Jaguar portfolio in a very curated way as we go towards the end of today’s Jaguars and the start of the new ones; curated towards a more luxurious positioning”. That starts with a special version of the F-Type, as Collins revealed: “The first nameplate you’re going to see that on is the F-Type later this year. 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”. Arguably furthest away from Jaguar’s future positioning as a luxury brand are the XE and XF models, neither of which are currently in production as JLR focuses scarce components on the cars that will make it the most cash. Will we see the XE and XF return before 2025? “You will”, said Collins. “Like everyone else in the industry we’ve been struggling with Covid and then microchip-related supply issues. They’re great cars and we’re working tirelessly to stabilise supply. As soon as we’ve done that, we will restart those cars. We’ve an order bank for them and customers we’ll fulfil those orders for”. There’s also a word of reassurance for existing owners from Collins that they won’t be forgotten. “We want to change the customer experience”, he said, “But we’ve got a responsibility to the customers who’ve been loyal to the brand for many years: we’re not going to abandon them”. So how would Collins sum up the coming couple of years as we head towards a very different Jaguar? “We recognise the responsibility we’ve got here to absolutely nail this and we’re completely determined to do it”, he said. “Everyone’s asking whether the plan is on track. Yes, it is on track and it’s going like a train”. +++

+++ In a surprise on a somewhat obscure Mercedes owner website, the German brand revealed the MERCEDES-AMG G 63 4×4². It’s the successor to the past 4×4² and the AMG 6×6, and Mercedes is billing it as the “last of its kind”. It still looks as outrageous as past models, and it’s the most powerful example yet. Mercedes hasn’t revealed the full details of the SUV, but it has shared some of the highlights. It has the familiar twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, and in this case it makes 585 horsepower. That’s 163 more than the old G 500 4×4². It also has substantially upgraded suspension, plus the addition of portal axles. It does retain the independent front suspension introduced on this new generation of G-Class. Ground clearance measures 35 cm, and fording depth is 90 cm. Both of those are a few centimeters less than what its predecessor had. Finally, the new 4×4² features full-time four-wheel drive. Though nothing was mentioned, we assume that the truck still has a full complement of lockers and a low-range. The visual changes are what you would expect of the 4×4². It has massively extended fender flares finished in carbon fiber. They cover up huge 22-inch wheels with tires to match. The carbon fiber continues on the off-road light housing on the roof as well as the spare tire carrier, which has a matching full-size spare. Available as options are a roof rack and a rear ladder, along with carbon trimmed rub strips. The interior is also extremely luxurious with additional ambient lighting in the vents and Nappa leather. Buyers can option the beast with all kinds of colored stitching and high-end materials. Mercedes even suggests adding wood floors in the cargo area. Mercedes will only be taking orders for the new G 63 4×4² for a limited time. And the fact it’s advertising this as the “last of its kind” suggests this may be the final all-out gas-powered G-Class. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but expect it to be extravagant considering the likely rarity and history. +++

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+++ The battery-electric MICROLINO microcar (technically a quadricycle for legal classification purposes) is finally a thing. 6 years after a debut at the Geneva Motor Show, a lawsuit over a copycat maker, a complete redesign, and the transport industry thrown into years of turmoil, the Microlino 2.0 Pioneer Series has entered production at a dedicated facility in Turin and will begin reaching customers in Switzerland later this summer. This individually numbered series of 999 cars comes in 2 exclusive colors, either Atlantis Blue with white wheels or Torino Aluminum Matte with black wheels. The most expensive trim in the range for now at 20.999 Swiss Francs (CHF), it fits a midsized battery and is loaded with options like infinity light bars front and back, a sunroof, heated front and rear glass, and extra storage inside among the cross-stitched Dinamica and vegan leather interior. There’s also another exclusive, a Micro kick scooter integrated into the cargo area. Below the Pioneer comes the Competitzione for 18.590 CHF , the Dolce for 16.390 CHF and the entry-level Urban for 14.990 CHF. Prices have risen some, unsurprisingly, but the quadricycle comes in well under a mainstream option like the Volkswagen e-Up for those focused on price and just getting around the city. For a glimpse into the issues getting this to market and faced by the industry in general, despite Micro sourcing 90% of the Microlino’s components in Europe, the company said, “Now, even commodity parts like simple connectors for the wiring harness have become scarce and have lead times of up to 50 weeks”. All trims are powered by a rear-mounted e-motor with a continuous 17 hp and peak 25 hp, working with 87 Nm of torque. Top speed is 85 kph, while getting from standstill to about 50 kph takes 5 seconds. The company said before that any trim can be purchased with 1 of 3 battery packs, but the configurator shows the Urban only available with the smallest battery for now, the Competizione and Dolce optionable with all 3 packs. The smallest 10.5 kWh pack is good for a 100 km range, the middle 12 kWh can go 175 km, the top 14 kWh pack gets 250 km. Charging to 80% capacity takes 4 hours for 2 smaller units and 3 hours for largest unit when plugged into standard European 220 Volt household socket. For now, the production target after getting ramped up is 10.000 units per year. Claiming the Turin plant will be able to produce a car every 20 minutes, that would mean 2 shifts running 5 days per week to make the target, and we could see a third shift being added considering the company says it has 30.000 reservations. Assembly lines will work at a sedate pace of 1.500 units per year to start, co-founder Oliver Ouboter saying, “The demand that we see is huge, and we are considering increasing our capacity even further in the future. For this year, we focus on quality, not quantity”. Shoppers in Switzerland can reserve a model with a 500 CHF deposit. Those in other Western European countries can configure a vehicle and reserve without making the deposit. Once Micro expands deliveries outside Switzerland, hand-raisers will be given the option to place a down payment to confirm their choice. The next markets are planned to be Germany and Italy, with the remainder of the EU opening up in 2023. +++

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+++ The upcoming POLESTAR 5 will make its full debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and new pictures show a prototype in action. The 5 is an evolution of 2020’s imposing Precept concept. As such, it will arrive in dealerships with familiar coupé-esque proportions and a lengthy wheelbase that line it up as a rival to the Mercedes-Benz EQS. Only the concept’s most outlandish features (its heavily accentuated side creases, ultra-slim digital wing mirrors, reverse-opening rear doors and oversized alloy wheels) look to have been casualties of the homologation process. The Sino-Swedish firm will also be unveiling at Goodwood the Polestar 2 BST Edition 270: the new high-performance, limited-edition version of the popular 2 electric fastback. Speaking about the launch, Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said: “Goodwood is our favourite place to show our cars in an enthusiast environment. This year, we’re thrilled to showcase the Polestar 5 going up the hill. Our R&D team is doing an amazing job developing the car, and we’re proud to be able to highlight their hard work at this early stage”. A full production-spec unveiling of the 5 isn’t anticipated until late next year, but Polestar has already confirmed its saloon flagship will get “supercar levels” of body stiffness from an all-new platform being developed at a new engineering base in Warwickshire. The 5 is the first Polestar car to be developed in the United Kingdom, as well as the first “developed by Polestar for Polestar”, rather than derived from a Volvo base, according to vehicle engineering director Steve Swift. The 5’s body is constructed chiefly from bonded aluminium, with other sections made from hot-formed, cold-formed, die-cast and extruded aluminium. It’s this bonded aluminium construction that affords the car “supercar levels of torsional stiffness, which is fundamental to class-leading ride and handling dynamics”, said Polestar UK chief engineer Dave Kane. R&D boss Pete Allen added that a goal for the 5 is to “deliver best-in-class levels of dynamics, and that starts with the structure”. To that end, the 5’s body offers “carbonfibre levels of torsional stiffness, like a two-door sports model”. Discussions are under way to establish exactly how to tune the 5’s stiff underpinnings to give it its dynamic character. “It’s still to be confirmed where it sits”, said Swift. “We’re looking for sophistication, rather than to take a Volvo and make it handle like a Polestar. If you have a vehicle that rides well and is relatively isolated from road noise and then you get the handling right, you will appeal to those who love driving and also those who just like driving the car without articulating it”. The Porsche Taycan is an obvious rival to the 5, and Polestar is understood to have one at its MIRA facility for benchmarking purposes. However, the Chinese-Swedish manufacturer wants to create a car with more everyday compliance and a rounded edge, rather than chasing truly sports car-like handling. “It needs to be engaging but also comfortable”, said Swift. “We can push the car in a dynamic direction or a comfort direction without totally sacrificing one or the other”. Further developments include motorsport-derived underbody aerodynamics and a slippery body shape. Polestar isn’t yet discussing the powertrain and battery details of the 5 (prototype testing of which is already under way in the Arctic Circle) but performance levels are expected to be prodigious given its range-topping position in the Polestar line-up. However, Swift disclosed that there’s some “interesting intellectual property” in the battery technology. Polestar engineers have managed to maintain the look of the Precept concept car through to production. Allen said they look “pretty much identical”, adding: “We use our ability to deliver cars as close as we possibly can to Polestar CEO and designer Thomas Ingenlath’s designs inside and out”. To that end, the large panoramic roof remains, as do the long wheelbase and low roof height. “It’s extremely low for an electric car”, said Allen. “Not as low as an internal combustion engine car but close, and they don’t have batteries underneath. That has been a particular challenge”. There’s “a lot of scalability” in the new platform, said Swift. “You start with a car first, then look at the products in other spaces, then how many of those spaces we can play in while designing it once. It’s part of the future, definitely”. +++

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+++ I got a first glimpse at the TOYOTA Compact Cruiser concept in December 2021 when Toyota and Lexus jointly announced plans to release 30 fully-electric vehicles by 2030. in Tokyo. It was tucked way in the back of a 16-vehicle showcase but was, in my minds, one of the most intriguing designs in the bunch. Apparently I wasn’t alone, because the off-road EV has won a 2022 Car Design Award, held at the ADI Design Museum in Milan, Italy, during the city’s Design Week. Toyota nabbed the award in the Concept category, prompting them to release several more photos and sketches for the first time. Toyota was also nominated in the Production and overall Brand Design categories, but those went to the Ferrari 296 GTB and the Polestar lineups, respectively. Toyota says the Compact Cruiser was inspired by a “first-generation” Land Cruiser in a press release, but we think they actually meant the iconic FJ40 introduced in 1960, not the utilitarian 20-series or earlier BJ/FJ models of the 1950s that were designed at the behest of the U.S. military for use in the Korean War. While Toyota only mentions the Compact Cruiser’s “off-road silhouette and simple, strong body sections” as throwbacks to the FJ40, we see a number of other details as well. There’s the white roof, for one, which was used on the FJ40 to reflect the sun since many did not come equipped with air conditioning. The hood scoop appears to reference the mail slot opening on the FJ40, but the treatment is closer to the FJ Cruiser, itself an homage to the FJ40. Even the turn signals look like they could have been raised to mimic the fender-mounted units on the original 40. The Compact Cruiser also makes excellent use of black plastic cladding over the wheel wells, a much derided feature of modern SUVs. Here, they’re sculpted to resemble the squared-off fenders of the FJ40. Even its slotted wheels call back to the FJ40’s steelies. However, designers are allergic to the term “retro” because they’ve been conditioned to think ahead. There, the Compact Cruiser breaks new ground with roof rails that extend over the rear and appear to serve double duty as hinges for the hatch. The left side rail also connects to a small side ladder that may prove helpful in securing rooftop loads. Of course, like many of the concepts shown by Toyota at the EV extravaganza, the Compact Cruiser is likely just a design model without a full interior. Still, with rumors of a sub-Tacoma compact pickup under consideration and SUVs like the Suzuki Jimny receiving lots of good press, we wouldn’t write this one off. The design award may just help nudge it into the yes column. +++

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