Newsflash: facelift voor Skoda Kamiq

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+++ If we take the Bronco Raptor as FORD ’s maximally rugged off-roader, its inverse would be the minimally rugged and short-lived Fiesta Active. There’s still quite the market for rugged SUV models though, and it could get another Blue Oval entry with the Kuga Active. The automaker filed paperwork in late June with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to reserve the Kuga Active name. This is the first I’ve heard of such a plan, but were it to come to retail fruition, it would give buyers an option between the vanilla regular Kuga and the rocky road Bronco. On the Focus Active, ‘Active’ means an inch of extra ride height, reworked front fascia with different treatments for the grille or side vents or fog lights, and hem of black cladding. A Kuga Active would likely do the same, possibly being introduced with the refreshed 2023 modelyear edition. The facelifted Kuga got caught outside uncovered recently, sporting a light bar connecting reshaped LED headlamps, a new grille and fog lamps, revised rear taillights, and a monochromatic paint job. Everything but the black glasshouse trim and front skidplate garnish is painted in the same colour as the bodywork. The Kuga is also expected to upgrade to Sync4. +++

+++ The HYUNDAI Ioniq 5 won the World Car of the Year award and soon it’ll be able to add blistering performance to its repertoire with a hot N variant. The reveal will take place on 15 July, ahead of a launch in 2023. Hyundai’s N models have quickly built up a solid reputation with enthusiasts thanks to input from renowned ex-BMW engineer Albert Biermann, resulting in the excellent i30 N and i20 N hot hatches and the Kona N. Now the Korean manufacturer will look to extend its sporty division into the all-electric segment, with an Ioniq 5 N. It should adopt a more aggressive chassis approach and borrow the same dual-motor configuration as Kia’s new EV6 GT, which has 585 hp and all-wheel drive. The reveal date (dubbed ‘N day’ by Hyundai) will also give us our best look yet at the Ioniq 6 N and a new concept car. Given the shared underpinnings of the Ioniq 6 and Ioniq 5, which are both based on Hyundai-Kia’s E-GMP platform, I expect both models to use the same powertrain. A senior source close to the project told that while the 2 vehicles may well share a powertrain, as well as the E-GMP platform, the aim is for them to be very different in character. “With the N you won’t see maybe so much change on the power side”, my insider said, “but the chassis will be very different. With the Ioniq 5 we’ve been working particularly hard on body control: rebound rates and so forth”. Hyundai’s N engineers are also said to be experimenting with more aggressive settings for the electronic limited-slip differential than those adopted on the Kia. This appears to suggest that the N division is working to overcome the Ioniq 5’s inherent EV mass and keep it in character with the original N models, the i20 N and i30 N, which have much tighter body control and greater agility than their conventional stablemates. Hyundai has been spotted testing the new Ioniq 5 on a number of occasions, usually near the Nurburgring in Germany, where the firm has an engineering base. Autointernationaal has known of the Hyundai N division’s plans to develop a high performance electric car based on a model from the new Ioniq subbrand for a while. I broke the news based on quotes from the Korean manufacturer’s head of technical development and Hyundai management’s suggestion that N’s focus will shift towards more sustainable, environmentally friendly models. Hyundai’s vice-president for product and strategy, Thomas Schemera, told me early in 2021: “We never stop thinking about expanding our product portfolio. Strategically we are moving full speed ahead with eco-friendly offerings. We have a crystal clear plan. One thing is for sure – eco-friendly vehicles are on our priority list, at the top”. When asked specifically if N would look to develop cars based on the Ioniq models, which use Hyundai’s e-GMP modular electric platform, Schemera said: “Everybody knows that Hyundai’s electric architecture has a lot of potential and shows a lot of flexibility. So this is an interesting question. I guess if you have a look at our strategy of the future, to offer more eco-friendly vehicles and moving ahead with our battery-electric concept and our fuel cell-electric concept, it seems to be realistic”. +++

+++ Hyundai and KIA announced in late June that additional models are being added to an already expansive recall of vehicles equipped with seatbelt pretensioners that can explode in a collision, sending shrapnel into the cabin much the way a defective airbag inflator would. Separate expansions from the 2 Korean brands are adding a total of just under 90.000 new vehicles to the recall population. The campaign also included the new Kia Sorento Hybrid and Plug-In models. Both are equipped with the same pretensioner design that has proven problematic elsewhere in Hyundai’s lineup. The total recall population is now more than 300,000 vehicles, the bulk of which (nearly 240.000) are Hyundai Elantras. Like airbags, pretensioners are activated by small explosive devices. Rather than producing gases that fill an airbag, however, the explosion drives a piston that rotates the spool holding the slack from the seatbelt. This forces it to retract quickly and hold the occupant in place during a collision, allowing the vehicle’s other safety systems (airbags, etc.) to perform more effectively. The defective pretensioners fail when the tube that channels gases toward that piston crack, allowing the gas (and parts of the device) to escape into the cabin instead of properly powering the seatbelt retractor. Notices are being disseminated to dealers and owners and should arrive in August. +++

+++ LAMBORGHINI is readying a radical super-hybrid to follow up the Lamborghini Aventador, and new spy shots give us a fresh look ahead of its anticipated reveal later this year. It will be Sant’Agata’s first plug-in hybrid, setting the tone for an electrification push which will see the Hurácan and Urus go down the same route in the years to follow, and an all-electric 2+2 introduced in the second half of the decade. The Aventador’s replacement has been spotted as Lamborghini prepares to end production of the V12-engined flagship, more than ten years since it launched. The brand stopped taking orders for the commemorative Ultimae Edition in October last year. Importantly, however, while its replacement will use an electrified drivetrain, it will take the bulk of its power from a large-capacity V12, in line with company boss Stephan Winkelmann’s commitment to the emotional value of its supercars. He told last year that there is “a lot of emotion attached” to the 12-cylinder engine, which he is particularly aware of, having been involved in the launch of the Aventador in his first stint as the boss of Lamborghini in 2011. He pledged that electrification will not have an adverse impact on the character or performance of Lamborghini’s flagship supercar: “In terms of CO2 emissions, it is an important change, but we are convinced that this is going to work. The plug-in hybrid car which will follow the Aventador will have a V12 engine, and so the sound and the history will stay alive”. Winkelmann also promised that engineers will work to reconfigure the steering, suspension, brakes and aerodynamics to mitigate the inevitable weight gain wrought by an electrified drivetrain. While the new supercar will still use a V12, Lamborghini has said it will be an all-new engine unrelated to that used by the Aventaor. It will be made compliant with the latest emissions regulations, Winkelmann said, a no doubt costly pledge but a worthwhile one given that the V12 is “part of the DNA of the halo car”. For context, the non-electrified Aventadar Ultimae tips the scales at 1.550 kg dry, compared to the closely related Sián hybrid’s 1.645 kg. Importantly, however, the electrified element of the Sián’s drivetrain takes the form of a low-output supercapacitor, which will no doubt be significantly lighter than the Aventador successor’s PHEV system. At this stage, heavy camouflage on this testing prototype obscures the defining styling cues and differences from the Aventador, but new quad-exit exhausts, light cluster designs and air intakes are visible. +++

+++ SKODA is working on a facelifted Kamiq and while I don’t expect too many mechanical changes, there will be plenty of design tweaks. Skoda’s smallest SUV was launched in 2019, so it’s due a mid-life update. It’ll retain the same MQB underpinnings as the Volkswagen T-Cross and Seat Arona. The lineup of engines is unlikely to change either with a 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder TSI petrol kicking off the range with 95 hp or 110 hp. Above that we’ll see the 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder TSI petrol with 150 hp. There will be no diesel option. In terms of design, we can expect several key differences for the facelifted Kamiq. The secondary lights at the front will be altered. There will also be a new grille, air intakes and lower grille at the front. The Kamiq’s bulging centre section of its bonnet remains. The Kamiq will be unchanged along the side until you reach the rear lights, which should take on the new C-Shape design seen on the new Fabia. The bumper and roof spoiler should also receive a subtle redesign. The overall design of the cabin won’t change too much in the facelifted Kamiq, with top-spec models getting a 9.2-inch central infotainment touchscreen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will come as standard and like last year’s facelifted Karoq, the Kamiq should be able to receive over-the-air updates. +++

+++ A global crunch in semiconductor supply could cost STELLANTIS up to 220.000 vehicles this year in terms of lost output in Italy, a labour union said, adding this would mark the fifth year in a row of declining production in the country. A spokesman said in its periodic report on the group’s production in Italy that Stellantis produced 351.890 vehicles in the first half of this year, almost 14% less than in the same period last year, with the key Melfi plant and the Sevel van-making facility being the most affected sites. Using data for the first half of the year and potential full-year production based on orders booked, the union estimates Stellantis could lose between 200.000-220,000 vehicles in 2022, said Ferdinando Uliano, the head of the labour union. “It’s as if one of the group’s large plants stopped for a year”, he said, adding the chip supply situation was not improving this year and would also affect production in 2023. Uliano said factors including the war in Ukraine and the disruption to Russian gas supplies to Europe would only worsen the part supply situation for the automotive industry. +++

+++ The UNITED KINGDOM has seen its weakest June for new car registrations since 1996, with a 24.3 percent year-on-year decline to 140.958 units in 2022. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the decrease was driven by the ongoing global shortage of semiconductors, which has been exacerbated by China’s implementation of severe Covid restrictions. Despite the challenges, there was a 14.6 per cent increase in the number of electric cars registered. Market share of EVs has also risen from 10.7 percent in June 2021 to 16.1 percent in June 2022. Last month saw a 27.6 percent fall in fleet registrations, while private registrations were down 21.7 percent. There was a 5.3 percent drop in the business sector of the market. The new car market is not recovering at the rate the industry had predicted. While the component shortage has played a role in this, the SMMT argues that the axing of the plug-in car grant has had an effect as well. Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “The semiconductor shortage is stifling the new car market even more than last year’s lockdown. Electric vehicle demand continues to be the one bright spot, as more electric cars than ever take to the road, but while this growth is welcome it is not yet enough to offset weak overall volumes, which has huge implications for fleet renewal and our ability to meet overall carbon reduction targets.With motorists facing rising fuel costs, however, the switch to an electric car makes ever more sense and the industry is working hard to improve supply and prioritise deliveries of these new technologies given the savings they can afford drivers”. Diesel cars declined the most, registrations nearly halving from 15.027 in June 2021 to 8.003 (-46.7 percent) this June. Plug-in hybrids took the next largest hit, with just 7.714 cars registered, down 36.5 percent (2021: 12.139). Petrol cars were again the most popular, with 62.005 registrations for a 44 percent market share. These too declined, however, with 24.406 fewer registered than in June 2021. The only segment to record growth was battery-electric cars, up 2.895 (+14.6 percent) to 22.737. Their market share grew to 16.1 percent. For the year so far, registrations have fallen by 11.9 percent (107.894) to 802.079. This, the SMMT notes, makes it the weakest first half year performance since 1992 bar 2020, when the world was in the midst of the Covid pandemic. +++

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