Newsflash: facelift voor Audi e-Tron


+++ ALFA ROMEO wants to double its production by the end of next year, its UK boss has told, by growing its brand among a more diverse audience. Damien Dally told that the Italian manufacturer wants to move from an “emotion brand down to a rational one” and expand its range into more “volume” segments. This vision starts with the Tonale, which will hit dealerships in September, followed by a new model every year up to 2030 under new owner Stellantis. A compact battery-electric SUV will come in 2024, ahead of Alfa Romeo ditching internal combustion engines entirely by 2027. Dally said this is part of a move to attract a new audience, with an eye on selling to more families and females. Currently, Alfa Romeo’s main buyers are middle-aged men. “This is the challenge for Alfa, as we’re seen as a sporty brand”, Dally said, adding that the brand is still coming up with ideas to make itself more appealing, such as the Tonale’s “more accessible” hybrid engine. Alfa Romeo has also introduced a 5-year warranty for its cars. “I think we need to spread the Alfa story to a wider audience while still being pure to what we do”, said Dally. Despite this new direction, Alfa’s current customers and what they want are key, according to Dally, and despite the rise of the SUV market, saloons like the Guilia are still part of Alfa Romeo’s future. “Saloon cars are part of what Alfa Romeo have always been about”, he said. “The market may be moving away from saloon cars, but we still believe in them. But we also want to enter the volume segments, firstly with the Tonale. Alfa Romeo is sportiness. It’s Italian design. And that’s what we need to be true to. Even if people carriers become popular again, I don’t see us moving into that market. It will never work for us”. Dally also didn’t rule out a return to sports cars in the future. Responding to when we could see a new 2-seater, he said: “Not immediately, as those are small segments, but those are cars which I’m sure everyone would love to see Alfa produce again. Let’s get a sustainable business model, let’s get into the volume segments, grow our business and then we can dream again”. He continued: “We’re a brand that can do incredible things. We’re a car brand that can sell €200.000 cars. I think we’re a car brand that could sell €750.000 cars if they were very limited models. “There are lots of amazing things to come, but let’s first get this amazing, emotional brand down to a rational level. Let’s get ourselves into some volume segments. Let’s wake some people up to the brand”. A new Mito could also be on the cards to join. Previously, Dally stopped short of confirming that a new supermini is coming but said: “The brand has a history of selling compact sporty cars, like the Alfasud, and it’s an interesting area of the market that’s high-volume and gives us a much wider offering”. +++

+++ Refreshed versions of the AUDI e-Tron and e-Tron Sportback are under development. The electric crossovers will get an updated exterior, in addition to rumoured powertrain changes. The standard e-Tron and Sportback appear to have the same front-end styling. The revised grille has an intersecting hexagonal mesh pattern, versus the current look with a mix of vertical elements and narrow slats. The lower fascia continues to have a trapezoidal opening in the middle. The openings in the corners will get smaller. The styling along the sides will be simplified in comparison to the current model. At the back, the e-Tron duo will get new taillights. There is now a stack of horizontal elements on the outer portion of each lamp, but in future, the lights no longer span the entire width of the tail. Like the revised side sills, the sculpting for the lower portion of the rear bumper will get smoother and simpler than the current design. The E-Tron models will get a revised infotainment screen that shares a bezel with the instruments, which is a current styling trend in the industry. A rumour from last year claims that the refreshed e-Tron and e-Tron Sportback will get a new battery that increases their range. They’ll allegedly be able to cover 600 kilometres on a charge in the WLTP standard. More powerful electric motors are also reportedly among the upgrades. The current models make 313 hp or 408 hp in Boost Mode. The more powerful S grade has 503 hp in Boost Mode. The updated e-Tron models reportedly debut sometime before the end of the year. They’ll be available as 2023 model year vehicles. +++

+++ BRAND LOYALTY is very important in any business, especially in a highly competitive sector like the car industry. Essentially, brand loyalty is measured by what percentage of customers choose the same brand when trading in or buying their next vehicle. As you can imagine, some brands do better than others, and a recent study in this field points out some very interesting developments have taken place during the past 2 years. A webinar hosted by Tom Libby, associate director and loyalty principal at S&P Global Mobility, examined trends of brand loyalty data amid industrywide inventory shortages, covering the period running from January 2020 through April 2022. Titled “Baker’s Dozen: 13 Takeaways From Today’s New Vehicle Loyalty Landscape”, the webinar revealed that Tesla remains a major force in luxury brand loyalty and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. While automotive brand loyalty fell for both mainstream and luxury marques since the beginning of inventory shortages in March 2021, Tesla was an exception to the rule. In the luxury segment, loyalty rates declined by 4.7 percentage points in the 14 months after the shortages began (March 2021 through April 2022) to an average of 46.3 percent. Porsche and Land Rover were the worst-hit luxury brands, with losses of 8.5 and 9.2 percentage points, respectively. Meanwhile, Tesla was one of only three luxury brands that didn’t see a decline in loyalty over the same period; quite the contrary, the EV maker’s brand loyalty increased by around 4 percentage points. Tesla’s growth rate was only exceeded by Maserati and Genesis, which are much smaller brands. According to Libby, Tesla didn’t achieve that by stealing customers from other brands. The company’s conquest/defection ratio, which shows how many customers are defecting to Tesla divided by how many are leaving the brand, was low compared with both luxury and mainstream competitors. Instead of poaching from other brands, Tesla is relying on internal loyalty to drive its growth. For example, the brand’s most popular nameplate, the Model 3, saw its loyalty rate jump by over 7.5 percentage points to an average of 62.2 percent. In plain English, that means about 62 percent of Model 3 customers from March 2021 through April 2022 already owned a Tesla vehicle. Tesla’s year-over-year loyalty rate was even better, reaching 73.1 percent in March 2022 compared to 49.1 percent in March 2021. “The story here is that Tesla owners are coming back to market in increasing numbers. But just as important, if not more important: they love the brand, and they’re getting another one. So this is an ominous, frankly, ominous trend for the rest of the industry, something that has to be faced, and it has to be acknowledged”. According to Libby, Tesla owes a big part of its brand loyalty success to CEO Elon Musk, whom he describes as “an extraordinarily talented marketer”. Tesla’s diverse lineup is also listed as an important factor. +++

+++ The Alfa Romeo Tonale and Cupra Born were among 5 new cars to achieve top safety ratings after rigorous testing by EURO NCAP . The Italian car maker’s compact SUV met “all requirements for a 5-star rating”, the European New Car Assessment Programme’s report read, achieving an 83% score for adult occupant protection, as well as a 85% score for child occupant safety. The lowest mark the Alfa Romeo received was a 67% score for vulnerable road users’ protection, with the report stating that the car had “areas of weak or poor protection” around the “stiff windscreen pillars”. The new Cupra Born also achieved 5 stars and outshone the Tonale in a number of areas, receiving a 93% adult occupant protection score, with the report noting “good protection” for those inside. It was awarded an 89% child occupant protection score and a 73% vulnerable road users’ protection mark. The new Kia Sportage was another to get full marks. Euro NCAP’s report noted that because it shares much of its platform with the Hyundai Tucson, only “necessary” tests have been carried out, with much of its score coming from its sibling. The report cited an 87% adult occupant protection score. Other cars to receive a 5-star rating were the Mercedes-Benz T-Class and Mercedes-Benz Citan Tourer MPVs. Their reports noted that, despite sharing the same platform as the Renault Kangoo, they are better equipped across the board, with a new centre airbag for additional far-side impact protection and high-performing active safety features. Euro NCAP also tested the Toyota Aygo X and the BMW i4, which both received 4-star ratings. The Toyota “does well overall”, the report said, but was let down by a lack of some “more advanced” safety systems. The BMW “shows that luxury does not always mean better safety performance”, the report noted, and was awarded a 4-star rating because it missed out on some critical crash avoidance points. +++

+++ New cars launched in the EUROPEAN UNION must now have Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) tech fitted by law. Many cars in Europe already have speed limit assistance that relies on info from GPS mapping and road sign recognition, but systems currently have to be switched on by the driver. Under the new EU regulations ISA will be active by default, although drivers will, for now, be able to turn the systems off at the start of each journey. Under the new EU General Safety Rule, manufacturers are able to choose how their systems notify drivers of a speed limit breach. Options include acoustic and vibrating warnings, haptic feedback via the accelerator pedal, and actively slowing the car down; one or all of these must be incorporated. While speed merchants and careless drivers will not be automatically reined back by their cars just yet, the ISA systems could be a step towards implementation of fully automated speed controls. I recently reported on a speed limit ‘geofencing’ project being explored by Ford in Cologne, which prevents drivers from speeding in prescribed geographical areas, and speed control is also a key component of expected advances in autonomous or self-driving technology. For now, the ISA technology will only apply to all-new models launched from July 6. New cars already launched and in the showrooms will have until July 2024 to be ISA equipped. Why has the EU brought speed limiters in? In a word: safety. Chief proponent of ISA is the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) which says the move will reduce collisions by 30 percent and road deaths by 20 percent. The EU has a target of zero road deaths by 2050. ISA, along with other measures coming in at the same time such as standard autonomous emergency braking (AEB), could prevent 140.000 serious road traffic injuries by 2038, it is said. Crash test organisation EuroNCAP agrees: “Greater adherence to speed limits will avert accidents and mitigate the effects of those that occur”. How do ISA speed limiters work? Many new cars are already fitted out with the technology they need to restrict their speed autonomously. With a combination of speed-sign recognition cameras, sat-nav and clever software, a car can at any time know where it is, how fast it is going and what the speed limit is. It can then restrict engine power so it can’t exceed that speed limit. It’s a form of always-on intelligent adaptive cruise control. Can you turn ISA speed limiters off? At this stage in its development yes, the system can be turned off, but you have to deactivate it at the start of every journey. Otherwise it will kick in automatically each time you turn the car on and drive off. If you push hard enough on the accelerator you can override a system that limits your speed in real time as well, to complete an overtaking manoeuvre for example. The systems are likely to be accompanied by a range of haptic, visual and audio warning signals to tell you that you’ve exceeded the speed limit. The exact features of the systems will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The technology is not foolproof and cars that rely solely on sign-recognition cameras could get confused when there is no sign, for instance on slip roads between motorways. You wouldn’t want to be restricted to 50 kph when joining the highway. Some signs get damaged, are missing, are conditional on traffic or weather conditions, and others may be unreadable, for instance those at temporary road works. That’s why the ISA systems can be disabled. Don’t some cars have a similar system already? All new cars today come with a warning buzzer that the driver can set for any given speed. And some cars (all Volvos for example) come with a facility to restrict top speed (Volvo calls it a Care Key) for use with inexperienced drivers and valet parkers. There are also camera based systems that can physically restrict your speed according to information on road signs. The technology has been in development for some time. Ford tried a version of ISA in EU markets in 2015 and similar systems have been trialled by Honda, Jaguar Land Rover and Mercedes. Will ISA mean an end to speeding tickets? It will not. As already mentioned, you will still be able to override the system. The driver will still be responsible for adhering to limits, even if ISA malfunctions. “The driver is always responsible for adhering to the relevant traffic rules”, says the European Commission. What other mandatory safety aids are coming? As well as ISA and autonomous emergency braking, the new EU regulations for newly-launched cars require a ‘black box’ data logger, emergency stop signals, driver fatigue detection system, lane keep assist and built-in breathalyser. +++

+++ There have been several versions of the LAMBORGHINI Huracan since its public reveal in December 2014. The latest of which has yet to be revealed, with several sightings of mules being tested in various situation. We’re talking about the Huracan Sterrato: the rugged version of the V10-powered supercar. Revealed as a concept 3 years ago, the Huracan Sterrato is yet to be seen in production form until today. It will get a notable increase in ground clearance, a roof rack,  bulging wheel arch flares and a scoop that lets air into the engine behind the seats. The Sterrato shares the same output of the Huracan Evo. The off-road-capable Huracan is expected to debut soon, among the 4 new Lamborghinis to be revealed this year as hinted by CEO Stephan Winkelmann. How soon? There isn’t a timeline but it’s expected to happen in August. Production will be limited to around 500 to 1.000 units, according to early rumours. +++

+++ Volvo’s most recent design language has embraced the “less is more” approach and the same can be said about the company’s electric spin-off POLESTAR . You won’t find numerous vents, creases, and edges on cars launched by these 2 Geely-owned brands as they all have smooth surfaces without being overly aggressive. The subtle design approach has certainly worked wonders as both automakers have some of the nicest cars on sale today. Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath argues the company he is running is an exception in a sea of ultra-aggressive vehicles. The former Volkswagen Group designer believes today’s look-at-me cars have a “very arrogant attitude”. So much so that they “molest the people with these expressions” and look like they are all “shouting at you”. Walking by one makes him say: “come on, have a certain decency”. It’s not all negative though as Thomas Ingenlath did say he’s fond of how Land Rover has designed the new Defender and Range Rover while praising Renault and Lucid as well. He went on to tell that while design is important all over the world, Europeans and Americans tend to care more about how a car drives than people in Asia: “Design is a big thing that works worldwide, that’s for sure. The quality about how the car drives, that of course is a more European and US thing. In Asia it’s not necessarily that much of a topic that makes you a star there”. Interestingly, the former Skoda Roomster designer says supercars are not necessarily his cup of tea as his ideal garage consists of mainstream cars such as the Citroën GS, Volkswagen Beetle and Microbus, along with the Renault 4. The Microbus has been reinvented as the electric ID. Buzz while the R4 will return later this decade, also as an EV. +++

+++ The Cayenne is undoubtedly one of the most important models in the German automaker’s history. It’s PORSCHE ’s lifesaver, with a goal to bring life to the company that was on the brink of bankruptcy. Thankfully, the Cayenne was successful in achieving its goal, and 20 years since the first Porsche SUV’s launch in 2002, we’re now in the third-generation model of the nameplate. On that note, Porsche is celebrating 2 decades of Cayenne by letting us in on a little secret concerning its birth. Apparently, the automaker went to great lengths in keeping the Cayenne’s development behind closed doors. Known as Project Colorado, the Cayenne differed greatly from other Porsches at that time: it wasn’t developed in Weissach. Instead, Porsche used a former computer assembly plant in Hemmingen to develop the SUV under the helm of Klaus-Gerhard Wolpert, the Cayenne’s head of product line. The 3.800 m2 facility sat without any company sign, plus the ground was surrounded by a fence and the office windows were mirrored. Each visitor was registered through tight security and was met by their Porsche contact prior to entry. Everyone needed to be supervised when exploring the Hemmingen site. The 3-story building became home to 260 Porsche engineers and 40 from Volkswagen; all with the goal to develop the Cayenne under strict confidentiality. “The Cayenne product line was run like a company in its own right”, says Wolpert. “I had the entire budget and responsibility and my only boss at that time was Wendelin Wiedeking”. Wiedeking was Porsche’s former president and Chief Executive Officer from 1993 to 2009. Today, the Hemmingen site is home to around 700 employees working on another breakthrough for Porsche: the Macan-E product line that’s to become the company’s first all-electric SUV. +++

+++ Vehicles of various forms and sizes have gone through the moose test. The dreaded test, which measures a vehicle’s ability to evade sudden obstacles at speeds, has seen various car brands failing regardless of their price tags. Now, the safety test has tallied a new failure. The SKODA OCTAVIA Combi RS was the latest victim of the moose test. The estate version of the sporty compact car failed to complete the 77 kph benchmark. The Octavia Combi RS is available as a diesel, petrol and PHEV. The one tested was the more powerful front-wheel-driven PHEV, making 245 hp and 400 Nm. The wheels were wrapped in Bridgestone Turanza tyres and the car was equipped with the optional adaptive suspension. As mentioned, the long-roof Octavia failed to complete the course at 77 kph. The best attempt was at 70 kph, with the succeeding attempts failing by hitting 1 or 2 cones, particularly on the second lane. In comparison, the Mercedes E-Class Estate, a bigger estate, performed better than the Octavia by clocking a best attempt at 75 kph. Surprisingly, all the cars that wore Bridgestone Turanzas failed to hit the 77 kph benchmark. The best attempt recorded was at 75 kph. +++

+++ SUPERCAR makers and other niche automakers will have a few more years to meet European emissions regulations. Last week, the European Union agreed to extend its deadline from 2029 to the end of 2035 to switch to zero-emission powertrains, which is the same year the bloc will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles. This could be the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine in Europe. Italy is home to Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani, and the country began advocating for an extension last year along with four other European countries, arguing that these automakers would have difficulty meeting the new regulations, and it looks like the EU agreed. However, Italy had been advocating for an extension to 2040 that it did not get. The new agreement is a win for small automakers like McLaren, Aston Martin, Rimac, Koenigsegg, Lamborghini and others. Switching to hybrid and fully electric powertrains isn’t easy for these automakers, which have limited resources. These automakers also have to contend with technology that is still in the early phases of its implementation. Batteries are heavy, and that weight is a detriment to a car’s overall performance, which is quite important for supercar makers. These niche automakers are moving toward electrification but at their own pace. Ferrari announced last month that its first all-electric model would arrive in 2025 as part of its plan to unveil 15 cars between 2023 and 2026. Details about Ferrari’s first EV are still under wraps, but the company continues to file patents for electric and hybrid powertrain setups. Lamborghini announced last week that it would launch its first EV by the end of the decade. The EU’s sales ban does leave an opening for internal combustion engines that run on synthetic fuels. However, advocates only have until 2026 to prove their effectiveness, which is the same year Formula 1 will begin using sustainable fuel in its race cars. Automakers are also looking into hydrogen as a way to reduce emissions and meet the EU’s goals, but it seems like battery-electric vehicles are the prevailing route right now, and Ferrari, Lamborghini, and others have over a decade to figure out their future. +++

+++ Modern car buyers really seem to have moved on from 2-door vehicles. First coupes of all kinds disappeared, and now traditionally 2-door SUVs have sprouted extra pairs of doors (see Wrangler and Bronco). The latest to join the trend is the tiny SUZUKI JIMNY , which has been spotted in Europe with 4 doors. The more practical Jimny will also grow in length to accommodate its extra doors. Interestingly, the front pair are the same size as those on the 2-door model. The rear doors are a fair bit smaller. Still, access to the back should be easier than on the shorter model, and both leg and cargo room should be substantially improved. It also retains the very short overhangs, which is good for approach and departure angles, but the longer wheelbase will mean it can be high-centered more easily than its shorter counterpart. Jimnys in the past have been available with a small amount of body variety. For a long time, it was available as a convertible, and some long wheelbase variants were produced. Aftermarket companies have also made their own changes to the SUV’s shape. But 4 doors from the factory seems to be a new step for the Jimny. +++

+++ For a long time, TESLA was plagued by quality control issues. During its first few years of mass volume production at Fremont reports of panel gaps and paint problems were frequent. However, the firm seems to have turned a corner in the past 3 years or so. Particularly since the opening of Giga Shanghai, which is renowned for its production standards. That said, in the past few weeks there has been an abundance of videos and posts about serious Model Y build quality issues. A number of YouTubers, like Dylan Hong, recently bought 2022 Model Ys and made videos about the unexpected build quality issues they had experienced. One of the most popular videos was posted by Andy Slye, a well-known “Tesla YouTuber”. Andy’s wife recently took delivery of a 2022 Model Y. He had several complaints about the vehicle. Firstly, he was annoyed that Tesla doesn’t include the centre console tray in the 3 and Y anymore. Granted, this isn’t a build quality issue but he feels it’s unnecessary cost-cutting from Tesla, especially considering they keep raising prices. When he picked up the car, he noticed it wasn’t properly cleaned everywhere and there was some unknown gunk under the front windscreen. Also, some of the upholstery headliner came loose. The left plastic stopper in the boot fell off, clearly it wasn’t fitted properly. Furthermore, Andy noticed one of the windscreen wipers protrudes. He doesn’t know if this is normal or not but he feels it doesn’t look right. Equally, the steering wheel squeaks loudly when it’s adjusting. One of the seat folding buttons didn’t work and had to be fixed. The power wasn’t connected and it had to be wired up by a technician. Moreover, the rear motor is unusually loud above 65 kph. Andy noted that he finds it very irritating and wants to get it fixed ASAP. Andy stated that the paint colour between the rear bumper and main body of the car doesn’t match. The pearl white of the aluminium body doesn’t quite match with the off-white paint on the plastic rear bumper, why exactly he doesn’t know. In conclusion, Andy was disappointed by the number of build issues he found on his Model Y. He felt a €70.000+ car should simply be made better. He blamed a lot of the quality issues on the fact that his Y was produced at Tesla Fremont. Cars built at Fremont tend to have a reputation for being lower in standard than Teslas produced at other factories such as Giga Shanghai and Giga Berlin. He will be keeping an eager eye on how Giga Austin Model Ys turn out. +++

Reageren is niet mogelijk.