Newsflash: BMW denkt dat M modellen zich prima lenen voor elektrificatie


+++ It’s Pebble Beach Concours week soon and you know what that means: high-end automakers showing new exotic machinery. Kicking things off is the ASTON MARTIN DBR22 . Aston calls it a concept, but that’s more of a stretch. The company has said it will build some. The exact number hasn’t been given, but don’t expect many. The company highlighted a couple of its previous special models such as the Vulcan and V600, each of which were made in numbers below 30 units. The car is more specifically from Aston’s Bespoke division, Q, and it’s a celebration of the division’s 10th anniversary. It takes its design inspiration from far longer ago, though. The DBR22’s dramatic curves, lack of a windshield and towering cowls are all based on the company’s 1950s race cars, particularly the DB3S and DBR1 (which already inspired another low-production Aston). The grille is even based on the latter’s. The entire exterior is unique to the DBR22, down to the headlights and full-width tail light bar. It’s all made of carbon fiber, too. The interior is also unique with leather wrapping most surfaces including the carbon seats. And being a product of the Q division, the handful of buyers will be able to customize pretty much every facet of the exterior and interior to their preferences. No matter how an individual’s DBR22 looks, they should be the same under the skin. Aston’s twin-turbo 5.2-liter V8 sits below the vented hood and makes 707 hp and 900 Nm. It sends power through an 8-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. Top speed is 317 kph and it will hit 100 kph in 3.6 seconds. No mention was made of what platform the DBR22 is built on, but it likely shares similarities with the DB11 and DBS. It boasts upgrades, though, such as shear panels front and rear for greater rigidity, plus unique tuning for the adaptive shocks. Most interesting is the rear subframe. It’s made of multiple 3D-printed aluminium parts that have been bonded together. It’s a preview of future Aston Martin production techniques and the company says it has allowed them to make a lighter subframe than normal with the same rigidity. It also lets the company more easily produce custom parts for low-production models. Aston Martin made no mention of when it will start building customer DBR22 models or when it will take orders. We wouldn’t be surprised if the company has already lined up buyers. And if not, well, potential buyers surely know whom to contact. For everyone else, the DBR22 will be on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this weekend. +++


+++ BENTLEY ’s Mulliner division is nearly ready to introduce the Batur, a limited-edition coupe designed to preview a new design language and to celebrate the W12 engine. The big coupe remains shrouded in darkness, but a new teaser image gives us a better look at its silhouette. Viewed from the side, the Batur (which is named after a crater lake in Bali, Indonesia) looks like it’s longer than the current-generation Continental GT. Its front end wears single-piece swept-back headlights rather than the twin oval units fitted to the Continental GT and its rear lights look thinner. I’m told that the coupe “showcases a new design language for Bentley”, one that puts a new spin on classic styling cues and relies “on contrast to provide definition”. This design language will permeate the EVs that Bentley will launch starting in 2025. While the Batur’s sheet metal previews a range of upcoming battery-powered cars, its drivetrain is very much rooted in the present. The model will benefit from an evolution of the familiar twin-turbocharged W12 that delivers more torque and horsepower than any variant of the engine to date. Bentley stresses that “advanced chassis systems” will ensure that the Batur is engaging to drive even on a twisty road. Bentley will introduce the Batur in Monterey on August 20. Full details will be released when the veil comes off, and I wouldn’t be surprised if every build slot is spoken for by the time of the unveiling: few-off models are in hot demand and the Bacalar unveiled in 2020 was sold-out before members of the public saw it in the metal. And, the odds of seeing 2 identical examples of the Batur are low regardless of how many Bentley chooses to build. The company notes that buyers will have the option of customizing the colour and finish of nearly every surface; 3D-printed 18K gold parts will even be offered. +++


+++ BMW ’s M performance division is preparing to launch its final pure combustion sports car in its 50th year, before embarking on a rapid-fire electrification programme that will bring the most powerful M5 yet, a Lamborghini Urus-baiting SUV and, ultimately, an electric successor to the M3. It has been a busy year so far for BMW’s performance arm, which has already revealed the stripped-back M4 CSL, the M3 Touring and its first endurance racer in 23 years, the V8 Hybrid LMDh. But still to come is the production version of the 750 hp XM eDrive and long-awaited second-generation M2 Coupé. The upcoming M2 Coupé will be the final ‘full-fat’ M car to go without electric assistance, driven instead by a detuned version of the B58 3.0-litre straight-6 that powers its M3 and M4 siblings. Meanwhile, the XM, arriving at roughly the same time, will be the first M hybrid and a spearhead for the landmark transition of one of the world’s most successful performance brands to electric power. Next up will be the new-generation M5 (set to use a variation of the XM’s electrified V8) and beyond that, the prospect of electric reinventions for traditional M cars beckons. BMW aims for 50% of its global sales to be electric by 2030, and in certain markets (including the UK and most likely the EU), it will be unable to sell any cars with a combustion engine beyond 2035. That means even its fan-favourite M cars will eventually switch to pure-EV power. Now, BMW M boss Frank van Meel has given the first clues as to the brand’s priorities as it prepares to future-proof its performance cars and suggested that even the legendary M3 will remain true to its long-established formula in the post-petrol era. “The story of the M3 is everlasting”, said van Meel. “Every time we change the story of the engine, from 4-cylinder to 6-cylinder to 8-cylinder to 6-cylinder and a turbocharger and the story continues. Maybe it will go electric, but if it does, it will always be an M3. Whatever the powertrain, you should always be able to drive our cars and know they are M cars. We have stood the test of time for 50 years and will continue to do so”. Intriguingly, he added: “I would love to see electrified Ms in the future, hybrid and pure-electric, but if we bring them, they will be so ground breaking that you will say: ‘This is crazy, I didn’t see that coming’ ”. His comments suggest BMW bosses are not concerned about the appeal of its high-performance products waning as they go electric, Neither, it seems, are its customers. “We’ve just been talking to customers and the feedback is that 90-95% don’t care what direction we take on powertrain. They just want an M car. Yes, some say that if we don’t do V8s, they’re out but that’s okay: I respect that”, said van Meel. The current M3 was launched in 2020 as a highly bespoke and far more potent take on the G20-generation 3 Series, which has just been updated and is expected to remain on sale until around 2025. Whether the M3’s life cycle will follow that timeline has yet to be confirmed, but van Meel’s hint at an electrified future for the super-saloon raises the possibility of a hot version of the radical new ‘NK1’ saloon due to arrive in 2025. Known only by its codename so far, this pivotal new model (expected to essentially succeed today’s 3 Series) will be the first BMW to use the firm’s forthcoming Neue Klasse architecture, which will ultimately replace the FAAR and CLAR platforms used currently by its combustion and electric cars. Highlights will include new-generation powertrain hardware, upgraded battery packs and a customisable digital operating system. More importantly in the context of a full-bore M car, this new architecture is being designed to accommodate not just front- and four-wheel drive but also BMW’s long-favoured rear-drive format. That means a pure-electric M-car line-up could broadly mirror today’s combustion offering, with a choice of ‘standard’ rear-driven cars and xDrive twin-motor propositions. And while heady power, torque and 0-100 kph figures will be the starkest differentiators from the standard car on which it is based, any electric M3 is expected to stick with tradition in gaining a wide-reaching, track-themed design overhaul, as well as upgraded chassis components. BMW already offers M-fettled versions of its EVs (the i4 M50 and iX M60) but although the power outputs of these cars are on a par with today’s M4 and X5 M, for example, they are positioned more as the electric equivalents of M Sport cars like the M440i. A dedicated M EV would be a much more focused proposition. Van Meel suggested the priorities will be minimising weight (a common preoccupation of electric sports car engineers) and maintaining the dynamic flair for which M cars are known. “We just need to keep investing in lightweight technology. We already do a lot of carbon”, he said, on the subject of EVs being inherently heavier than combustion equivalents. “But electric cars do have some advantages. You can take some of the sound insulation out, for instance, and having the weight of the battery so low is interesting for engineers”. Some of these techniques are being refined on production cars already. “The body control of the XM is amazing because the centre of gravity is so low”, said van Meel. “That allows you to soften the springs and dampers and still have no roll”. Enticingly, he also spoke of the real-world applicability of technology developed through BMW’s newly expanded racing efforts. Like the XM and upcoming M5, the firm’s new LMDh racer features a hybridised V8 and while the powertrains are not identical, van Meel suggested development of the race car will inform future M road cars: “You can see that long-distance racing goes hand in hand with drivetrain technology”. He added: “On the LMDh prototype, there are a lot of lessons, from aerodynamics to cooling, as well as the V8 hybrid drivetrain being linked to the one we have in the XM”. On the opportunities afforded by electrification to an M car, van Meel said: “What the engineers really like is that once you get electrified components in your drivetrain, the control of your torque and horsepower is much better, faster and easier than a combustion engine, especially in racing”. +++

+++ BUGATTI has teased a new model, expected to be a variant of the Chiron, ahead of its debut at Monterey Car Week. It shows the silhouetted front end of a car featuring styling radically different to the Chiron. The fascia features a 4-strip led headlight design integrated into a thin, sharp-edged wheel arch, reminiscent of the track-focused, Chiron-derived Divo. The front end appears to show an open grille area underneath the headlight. Meanwhile, the bonnet features a central pillar and a large duct which is presumably mirrored onto the unseen side of the car. The sides and posterior of the new Bugatti don’t feature in the teaser clip, but expect something similar to the Chiron on which it’s likely based. No performance figures have been released by the hyper sportscar maker, but expect something similar to the 1600 hp quad-turbocharged 8.0-litre W16 from the Chiron Super Sport 300+, if not the same engine. Pricing for the as-yet-unnamed new Bugatti is expected to match the Chiron Super Sport 300+’s figure of around £3.1 million. A similar limited run of 30 units would also keep exclusivity high. Bugatti (which merged with EV specialist Rimac Automobili in late 2021 to create Bugatti Rimac) will officially reveal the new model on 19 August at the Quail. +++


+++ DELOREAN ’s much-hyped revival is facing legal challenges. Karma Automotive, the Chinese-owned firm that purchased some of Fisker Automotive’s assets in a bankruptcy auction, sued the new iteration of DeLorean in a Houston court over claims of intellectual property theft. Karma explained in court documents that it had previously worked “on a potential joint venture” to electrify the original DMC-12. It added that 4 of the employees it assigned to the project created the rebooted DeLorean brand, which is legally called “DeLorean Motors Reimagined”, while they were still working on the joint venture. They later left Karma and allegedly took key design and engineering information with them. The employees in question are DeLorean CEO Joost de Vries, chief operating officer Alan Yuan, chief marketing officer Troy Beetz, and vice president of brand and creative Neilo Harris. They’re named as defendants in the lawsuit. There’s no word on precisely what Karma claims its former employees stole. However, court documents explain the disagreements began when the joint venture (which was formed with the DeLorean Motor Company) got side tracked. Karma accuses the 4 defendants of not being able to make the project detailed and viable, of leveraging its intellectual property to lure potential investors to DeLorean Motors Reimagined, and of sending proprietary information (like battery- and charging-related data) to their personal email addresses. DeLorean and its executives have denied the accusations. DeLorean showed renderings of its planned first car, a 4-seater EV will gullwing doors (pictured), in May. “This car has a very specific, unique DeLorean lineage that has no relation to Karma Automotive from a design, engineering, supply chain, or manufacturing perspective. We remain committed to the future of our company”, de Vries told. He added that “the potential Karma/DMC project died due to Karma’s inability to fund or produce deliverables necessary to even move forward talks with DMC”. +++


+++ Yes, you read that right, the current, gas-powered DODGE Challenger and Charger are reaching the end of the road. Production will wrap up at the Brampton, Ontario, plant in December 2023. The good news is that the Ontario factory will be building something else in the future. The bad news is that, well, we’re losing some charismatic cars. Dodge at least is sending the cars out in style, bringing back colours, adding special edition models and even working with a third party to offer Challenger convertible conversions. The latter is arguably the biggest news. Starting August 16, prospective Challenger buyers will be able to go into a Dodge dealer to order a convertible Challenger, something the automaker never did from the factory. Dodge itself still isn’t, but customer-ordered cars will be sent to Drop Top Customs, a company that’s been doing convertible conversions for 46 years, to be modified. The conversion adds chassis reinforcements and a power hydraulic roof. The soft-top is insulated and features a glass rear window. It’s available for 2022 and upcoming 2023 models. Available trims start with R/T and go all the way up from there. So you can have a droptop Hellcat if you want. Once the conversion is done, it’s sent back to the customer’s local Dodge dealer for pickup. It won’t be cheap, though. The conversion costs $25,999 plus the price of the car that’s being converted. By my calculations, a base R/T convertible will come in at just over $66,000. Next up is a series of special edition Charger and Challenger models. In total, there will be 7 of them, available on a variety of trims. They’re going to be revealed over the next couple of months, with the most unique model being shown at SEMA. All of them are inspired by past Dodge models, and they’ll be available at top-selling Dodge dealers around the country. Dodge will publish lists of where all these models are being allocated, along with the whole 2023 production to help buyers find examples. Finally, Challengers and Chargers are getting a few special visual treatments for 2023. All models are part of the “Last Call” as Dodge puts it, and they will have plaques under the hood displaying the model name and the phrases “Designed in Auburn Hills” and “Assembled in Brampton.” R/T models get “345” badging on the outside, denoting the size in cubic inches of the 5.7-liter V8 they come with. 4 popular colours are returning: B5 Blue, Plum Crazy, Sublime and Destroyer Grey. And, the Jailbreak special edition will be available on regular Hellcat models, rather than just Redeyes. +++


+++ In 2021, media reported: “INFINITI Q60 ends in 2022″. Turns out the report of the Q60’s death is true; the brand confirmed that the coupe ends production at the end of this year. A spokesperson told: “We are focusing on the most popular luxury automotive segments such as crossovers and SUVs, as well as the upcoming EV we recently announced that will be built here in the U.S”. The official justification didn’t address the fact that dealers sold 2.728 units of the Q60 in the U.S. last year, 64 units fewer than achieved in 2020, and 2.315 units fewer than dealers moved in 2019; the year Q60 sales fell off a cliff after selling more than 9.000 units in 2018. Consider this another step in the “3-phase company transformation” that chairman Peyman Kargar is in the second stage of working through. The first phase of recovery ended this March, the luxury automaker getting back to profit globally. The current second stage that will revamp, electrify, and expand the line-up is predicted to last for the next 4 years. The spearhead will be the new QX80 SUV, planned for late next year or early 2024 with ambitions to challenge the Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX and Range Rover. That luxury club barred Infiniti from entry awhile ago, so Kargar’s talking about profound turnaround. As for the Q60, the shame is that a car with sweet looks and even sweeter power never got the interior or driving dynamics to match. Perhaps the return of a much better Nissan Z can provide fodder for a proper Infiniti coupe once the luxury division has restored its momentum. The spokesperson told that Q60 inventory should last until well into 2023, so Americans looking for a 400 hp bargain with a 6-speed manual should mark their calendar for early next spring. +++

+++ MITSUBISHI says 76.508 units of the ASX from the 2019 to 2022 model years need to return to dealers for updated software, according to a recall notice from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some code released for the electronic control unit managing the continuously variable transmission can suffer a fault if the unit loses power temporarily. In such instances, when power is restored, the software can command the CVT to reset to the lowest ‘gear’ possible. If this occurs at high speeds, the engine over-revs, and a piston can come into contact with an exhaust valve which then causes the engine to stall. It also kiboshes the engine. This is a bad possibility anywhere, but especially on the highway. It took Mitsubishi engineers about 2 years to figure out the problem, during which the company has dealt with 50 reports and warranty claims, but says it knows of no injuries or accidents due to the problem. The ASX involved in the recall are those with a CVT that need a mechanical key to be started, built from July 31, 2018 to and May 11, 2022. Models with the manual gearbox or push-button start aren’t affected. For now, the 2011 to 2018 units of the ASX isn’t included, the software change said to coincide with the 2019 model year. Dealers will install new software that decides on the proper CVT target ratio after a transmission control unit reset. The automaker said it will begin notifying owners by mail on August 24. +++

+++ Plant closures and other challenges didn’t keep TESLA ’s Chinese factory from crossing a key milestone. Company chief Elon Musk has revealed that Gigafactory Shanghai recently produced its 1 millionth car. As mentioned earlier in August, Musk noted that Tesla has made a total of 3 million electric vehicles to date. The facility has quickly become a cornerstone of Tesla’s manufacturing strategy. It started production in late 2019, but ramped up to the point where it became the largest EV factory on the planet. Its annual production rate topped 800.000 by the end of 2021, making it crucial to Tesla’s record-setting year. Gigafactory Shanghai is now the company’s main export hub, delivering cars to Europe and other key markets in addition to China. The Shanghai factory is gradually becoming just one piece in a larger puzzle. The newly opened Gigafactories in Berlin and Texas will drive at least some near-term growth, and Tesla is exploring the potential for factories in places like Canada. For now, though, the Chinese plant will be vital to meeting ever-higher production goals and competing with international EV makers. +++

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