Newsflash: onzekere toekomst Land Rover Discovery Sport


+++ Baidu’s electric vehicle (EV) firm JIDU AUTO will be one-generation ahead of Tesla in terms of autonomous driving technologies, Baidu chief executive Robin Li said in a statement on Monday. “Our understanding of smart vehicles is that being electric is the semi-final while being intelligent is the final”, Li added. Jidu aims to be to be able to deliver 800.000 of its “robot” cars in 2028, Jidu chief executive Joe Xia Yiping said in the statement. Jidu also plans to deliver its second model for mass production in 2024, Xia said. Jidu revealed its first ‘robot’ concept car, which has no door handles and can be fully controlled via voice recognition, in June, with the plan to mass produce the model in 2023. Besides equipping the car with autonomous driving software technology powered by Baidu, Jidu’s robot vehicles will have 2 lidars and 12 cameras. Lidars are detection systems, similar to radars, that use pulsed laser light rather than radio waves. Tesla doesn’t use lidar censors. Baidu’s EV-making plan comes as tech companies around the world race to develop smart cars after Tesla’s success in commercializing EVs. Smartphone maker Xiaomi and Didi Global are among other Chinese tech giants pursuing automaking ambitions. +++


+++ LADA resumed production of the Largus in June 2022 using a batch of spare parts it kept in storage. The state-owned carmaker has announced that the wagon, essentially a re-badged first-generation Dacia Logan MCV, is being turned into its first series-produced electric car. Lada published a photo of the model, which is called e-Largus, but it stopped short of releasing technical specifications. Development work is on-going and assigned to a team within the company’s factory in the city of Izhevsk. The image suggests that Lada took roughly the same approach to design as other companies that have electrified a gasoline-powered car: the e-Largus features a black panel instead of a grille and blue exterior trim to denote its eco-friendliness. Interestingly, the model shown is a 2-seater panel van. There’s no word on whether a passenger-carrying model will be added to the line-up sooner or later. Photos of the back end and the interior haven’t been released yet. Renault-owned Dacia introduced the original Logan in 2004 and marketed it as a replacement for its 12-based cars in its home country. Offered as a sedan, a wagon and a pickup, the Logan was sold in numerous global markets and sometimes badged as a Renault. Buyers had a wide range of gasoline- and diesel-powered four-cylinder engines to choose from, but an electric model was not part of the portfolio. Lada will announce additional details about the e-Largus project at a later date. It also plans to turn its Izhevsk site into what it refers to as an industrial park in order to circumvent international sanctions and create jobs, and to work with local authorities to improve the electric-car charging infrastructure. An unnamed company that will set up shop in the industrial park this month will notably build charging stations. In the meantime, Lada has resumed production of several models after putting its factories on hiatus earlier in 2022 due to numerous sanctions and shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Its range includes a stripped-down version of the Granta and an off-roader named Niva that was first launched in 1977. +++


+++ With LAND ROVER now offering 3-row seating for the Defender and Range Rover, some folks are beginning to question whether there’s still room in the portfolio for the Discovery. Thierry Bolloré, CEO of the Tata Motors-owned British marque, has told the Disco is here to stay, but the formula will be drastically changed to separate the SUV from its 2 cousins with 7- or 8-seats: “We are completely reinventing the Discovery. We believe there is a space for it, but we have to be creative.” The head honcho went on to admit the Defender has cannibalised sales of the Discovery but argues turning the latter into a “real family car for the most discerning families” will justify its existence in the line-up. Bolloré mentions there needs to be an authentic family car in the luxury segment, although he didn’t go into any specifics about what that actually means. It is believed the next-generation Discovery will be pushed upmarket, which frankly seems a bit odd since that’s the role of the Range Rover. The British publication goes as far as to say the 2 will ride on the same MLA platform, which has also underpinned the latest Range Rover Sport. Going down this road would allow the engineers to develop ICE, plug-in hybrid and EV versions of the revamped Disco. A zero-emissions variant has already been confirmed and will arrive by the end of the decade. While a new Discovery is certainly happening, the future doesn’t look so bright for the Discovery Sport. When asked whether the smaller SUV will live to see a new generation, Bolloré said: “We don’t know yet”. Confusingly, the report points out Land Rover could expand the Discovery line-up with a long-wheelbase derivative, which would step on the Range Rover’s toes. Overall, it looks as though there will be some degree of overlap. The next-generation Discovery is expected to break cover in 2025 and go on sale about a year later. As you may recall, Land Rover has scrapped plans for a Road Rover, which was supposed to be more wagon than SUV by riding lower to the ground. +++

+++ LUCID MOTORS recently announced that it was cutting its production target for 2022 again, after it had previously been reduced from 20.000 to 12.000 à 14,000 units. Now the fledgling manufacturer has said that it only expects to manufacture between 6.000 and 7.000 units of the Air sedan this year, prompting a strong ironic reaction from Elon Musk, a longtime critic of Lucid. But while in the past Musk’s words towards Lucid were harsh and direct, this time the Tesla CEO chose to make a joke about it when replying to a tweet about the production cut. He said he had more kids in Q2 than Lucid was able to produce cars, jokingly reminding everyone that he is a father of 9, most recently announcing that he is the father of previously unknown twins he had with a Neuralink exec from Canada. Lucid cited “extraordinary supply chain and logistic challenges” as the cause for the production plan change and not anything that the startup is in control of. The company delivered just 360 vehicles in the first quarter of 2022, 679 in Q2 and it reportedly assembled a total of 1.405 Airs in the first 6 months. In Q2, revenue was also quite low, under $100-million, which is below initial industry analyst projections. The manufacturer also says it has 37.000 reservations for the Air and it’s also working on its first ever SUV, the Gravity, which should provide an even better profit margin than the saloon. The Gravity may be shown by the end of this year, and if all goes according to plans, it should go into production sometime next year, making Lucid vehicles appear to a much wider spectrum of buyers. +++

+++ MG has teased the 7: a new, posh, large sportback style saloon on social media ahead of a full reveal on 17 August. This new internal-combustion powered model will sit above the 5 and 6 in the firm’s line-up, but we’re unlikely to see it on sale here in Europe, or indeed outside China. Advancing the design language of the new 4 all-electric hatchback, there’s more than a hint of Cupra Born to the sharp nose and lattice-like lower bumper, while the sweeping lines and teardrop tail are reminiscent of the Mustang Mach-E and the Audi e-Tron GT. Examine the back and you can feast your eyes on quad exhausts, a rear light bar and an active ducktail spoiler. Given its eye-catching design, it is perhaps unsurprising that the MG 7 will be used to promote the company’s new Black Label Series nameplate, which will be reserved for high-end models. In terms of dimensions, the 7 is a little bit longer than an Audi A5 Sportback to accommodate the Chinese market’s love of rear legroom. Expect those slinky lines to free up plenty of interior space for four passengers and a practical boot, retaining a saloon boot lid. MG has yet to reveal any pictures of the car’s interior, but it is likely to have an infotainment-heavy design with a large centre screen and another display behind the steering wheel. While the MG 7 has the streamlined lines of an EV, it’s petrol-powered. The 405 VTGI Trophy model is reported to get a 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 260 hp and 405 Nm through a 9-speed ZF gearbox. Below it, you’ll find the 300 VTGI with a 1.5-litre petrol engine producing 187 hp and 300 Nm. It comes with a 7-speed dual-clutch auto. MG is also said to be plotting high-performance plug-in hybrid models. The European market’s growing preference for SUVs and increasing electrification means that a local launch of the MG 7 would surprise me, but confirmation will take place when the car makes its full debut later this month. +++


+++ The TESLA Model Y has undoubtedly been a resounding success. By far the most dominant electric crossover from a sales perspective, the Model Y is now on track to become the world’s bestselling car. Speaking at Tesla’s annual shareholder’s meeting, CEO Elon Musk claimed the Model Y will be the world’s bestselling vehicle from a revenue perspective this year. Furthermore, he stated that the Y will be the world’s number one vehicle when it comes to overall sales volume in 2023. Currently, the Toyota Corolla is the world’s highest-selling vehicle of which approximately 1.150.000 units were sold last year. For comparison, Tesla as a whole sold 936.222 vehicles in 2021. However, the firm is rapidly increasing sales volume each year and is on track to sell over 1.3 million cars in 2022 – and that’s despite ongoing supply chain issues. When such problems are alleviated, and Giga Texas and Giga Austin are running at full capacity, it is quite plausible that the Model Y could become the world’s bestselling vehicle by overall volume. The Model Y’s continued sales success is even more remarkable when you consider how expensive it is. Never before has a $70.000 car sold roughly 150.000 units per quarter (Tesla only gives combined Model 3/Y sales figures, so precise Model Y sales are unknown). Moreover, Tesla’s decision to exclusively focus Giga Berlin production on the Model Y means European deliveries are being fulfilled at a much faster rate than before. +++

+++ In July, new passenger car registrations in the UNITED KINGDOM decreased by 9% year-over-year to 112.162 units. During the first 7 months of the year, car registrations decreased by 11.5% to 914.241. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) explains that there are still significant supply chain shortages. “Ongoing global supply chain issues, predominantly the lack of semiconductors, continued to frustrate order fulfilment, exacerbated by Covid lockdowns in key manufacturing and logistics centres in China, plus disruption from the war in Ukraine, all of which restricted production output and thus supply into the UK new car market”. The plug-in electric car segment is also affected by the supply issues, as the number of new registrations decreased almost 11% year-over-year to 18.776. Because of that, the market share decreased compared to the previous year by 16.7%. If we take a look at the numbers, it turns out that the plug-in hybrids are to blame, as they are down 34% year-over-year to 6.533 units (market share of 5.8%). All-electric cars are actually up by 9.9% to 12.243 (market share of 10.9%). And that’s the only segment that is still growing because conventional hybrids are down 6.7%. So far this year, 185.288 new passenger plug-in cars were registered in the UK (up 21% year-over-year), reaching an average market share of 20.3%. All-electric cars sold 127.492 (up 50% year-over-year) and have a market share of 13.9%. PHEVs did 57.796 units (down 15% year-over-year) and have a market share of 6.3%. For reference, in 2021, some 305.281 plug-in electric cars were registered (up 74% year-over-year) which meant 18.5% market share. In July, none of the standalone electric models were able to break into the top 10 for the month or year-to-date. In June, the Tesla Model Y was second best (and 10th YTD). +++


+++ VOLKSWAGEN ’s controlling shareholder families aim to keep Europe’s top carmaker on a shorter leash and want greater say over strategic matters in what marks a power play ahead of the planned listing of Porsche, people familiar with the matter say. The Porsche and Piech families, who control holding firm Porsche SE (which owns most of Volkswagen’s voting rights) are hoping to return the group to calmer waters after a turbulent period under outgoing CEO Herbert Diess, they added. “They want to keep a closer eye on the implementation of the strategic guidelines”, a person with knowledge of the families’ thinking told. Under Diess, Volkswagen made major steps towards electrification, but his forthright style provoked opposition within the company that sometimes eclipsed his achievements, testing the families’ patience, the sources said. As a result, they plan to run a tighter ship. “The families are actively involved; an ability they have long been believed incapable of”, a second source said. The greater influence has already been reflected in the appointment of Oliver Blume as Volkswagen’s next CEO, a move that has drawn fire from several investors because he will also stay boss of Porsche — even after a planned flotation. Touted as the “preferred candidate” of the Porsche and Piech clan, Blume is expected to push through the long-awaited initial public offering (IPO) of Porsche AG, the families’ namesake carmaker he has been leading since 2015, the people said. The IPO is critical to the families as they would become a direct shareholder of Porsche again after the maker of the iconic 911 was taken over by Volkswagen in 2009, following a botched attempt by Porsche to buy Volkswagen instead. “The structure of the IPO primarily fullfills the families’ interest in further tightening their grip on Porsche, and they will not be dissuaded from this plan”, said Hendrik Schmidt, corporate governance expert at DWS, which holds shares in both Volkswagen and Porsche SE. The agreed structure of the IPO, which has still to be confirmed, would give the Porsche and Piech families a blocking minority in the sports car brand that was founded by their ancestor Ferdinand Porsche in 1931. Manuel Theisen, retired professor for business administration at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and a specialist in corporate governance, said this was a way to claw back some of the families’ influence. “The primary reason is power”. +++

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