Newsflash: Tesla komt met budgetversie Model Y


+++ It’s hard to imagine now that APPLE CAR PLAY is in 98% of new vehicles, but when the feature was first introduced in 2014, automakers worried about the data Apple (and Google with Android Auto) would be able to access. German automakers in particular expressed alarm and Toyota held off adding CarPlay until the 2019 model year, and Android Auto in 2020. But because so many automakers’ own connected infotainment system failed miserably, CarPlay and Android Auto succeeded in making certain smartphone features available to drivers in a generally seamless way, and now there’s no putting the tech genie back in the bottle. With the latest version of CarPlay announced in early June, Apple extends its reach further into the dashboard, taking over every screen in a car and making an even larger data grab. And automakers are once again wringing their hands … which could be tied at this point. The updated version of CarPlay migrates Apple’s UI into digital instrument clusters and supplementary screens, and accesses vehicle data ranging from miles per hour to radio settings. An example Apple showed in a video revealed CarPlay transforming an instrument cluster to use the tech giant’s own virtual gauges, adding widgets such as calendar alerts and weather info and is customizable via various Apple-designed layouts. As with previous versions of CarPlay confined to the infotainment display, the system provides a consistent look and interface regardless of make or model if companies support the latest version. In the video Apple said it’s “excited to bring this new vision of CarPlay to customers” and displayed the logos of several auto brands, adding it would announce specific vehicle implementation “late next year”. Andrew Poliak, chief technical officer for tier-one supplier Panasonic Automotive Systems and a 20-plus-year veteran of the vehicle infotainment industry, believes Apple is concerned that its main tech and content rivals are making major inroads into cars. At CES this year both BMW and Stellantis revealed a relationship with Amazon to bring content into cars and Google announced partnerships with Volvo, GM and others. “Apple is trying to make their play into the hearts and minds of the vehicle dashboard”, he adds. Poliak also notes Apple arch rival Google has moved deeper into the dashboard with its Android Automotive Operating System (AAOS) that OEMs and tier-one can build (and is not to be confused with Android Auto). Poliak says that AAOS is “running infotainment and starting to be able to be part of a full solution in the instrument cluster”, although he adds that OEMs retain control of how data is collected and shared. AAOS is already in operation in Volvos, Polestars and some GM vehicles, including the Chevrolet Silverado. This doesn’t appear to be the case with Apple CarPlay, says Rob Passaro, an automotive tech and product management consultant who while at BMW led the co-development of iPod Out, the predecessor of CarPlay, with Apple in 2010. The new version of CarPlay seems to be a much deeper integration and accesses more car data than previous versions, he adds. “The UI shown in the video displays previously unavailable access to native car info like engine RPM, coolant temperature, HVAC controls, broadcast radio controls and so on”, Passaro says. “Based on using this newly gained access to car data, the version of CarPlay can theoretically replace all the native OEM’s GUIs on any of the screens in the car if the OEM allows it”. Poliak says Apple’s “biggest potential challenge is probably the willingness of OEMs to open up vehicle interfaces to something that’s transitory and presents possible risks that another company will control”. But Poliak says automakers are still the gatekeepers and Apple can only do more if they’re collaborating with OEMs. He adds that Apple likely won’t have the opportunity to do more than just the current version of CarPlay “without a direct and close collaboration with OEMs because OEMs need to understand what the phone can do and guarantee a certain experience to have the phone do more”. But OEMs could be caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Passaro says that Apple’s CarPlay is “an inevitable evolution of the continued dominance of smartphones and their capabilities in everyone’s life. The trick for OEMs will be how they maintain their own brand values while simultaneously giving users what they want, such as seamless integration of their digital lives”, he adds. Passaro predicts that the better native OEM infotainment systems will fare well against CarPlay’s further encroachment, whereas OEMs who have terrible UIs and UX “will basically just have to hand over this major touchpoint of their brand to the Apples and Googles of the world”, but adds that “Google’s AAOS is geared towards enabling OEMs to build great native UIs while maintaining a strong and unique brand identity, so it will be a lot of fun to see how it plays out”. It could also cause more handwringing among OEMs, especially since CarPlay is now so entrenched in vehicles, which gives Apple more leverage, says Poliak. “Apple has such large market adoption that it’s possible they could change their terms of service to require more content to certify that device for use in a car”, he adds. “I’m not saying Apple will do that”, he says. “That’s just another potential concern. OEMs are starting to give up so much real estate to the projection modes that it becomes very easy to change the terms of what is allowable as a certified Made for iPhone CarPlay device”. +++

+++ Anglo-Korean BATTERY MANUFACTURER Eurocell has chosen the Netherlands as the location for its first European production site, having previously also considered sites in the United Kingdom and Spain. The firm says it is now “in advanced discussions” with authorities in the Netherlands, and is progressing towards a goal of reaching full production capacity by 2025, but has yet to define the exact location for its plant. It says it will supply both the energy storage and electric mobility sectors across Europe. The factory will be built in 2 phases and Eurocell says the first battery cells will enter production in the first completed section ‘at scale’ by early next year which, it says, means it will be in operation “far faster than other gigafactories”. The second section, not yet confirmed to be on the same site, will apparently be capable of building upwards of 40 million cells annually by 2025. The firm has yet to confirm any supply partnerships it has formed in any of the sectors it will supply. Eurocell’s establishment of a facility in the Netherlands will come as a blow to UK industry, given that the firm says the announcement represents an investment of €800 million at this stage, which will climb to €2 billion by 2028. It will also create “hundreds of direct and indirect jobs” at the site and across the supply chain. Currently, two other battery start-ups are progressing with plans to set up sites in the UK: Britishvolt in Blyth, Northumberland and the West Midlands Gigafactory at Coventry Airport. Chinese firm Envision AESC, meanwhile, will more than triple the output of its Sunderland site from 2024, in line with the electrification plans of partner firm Nissan, based next door. Speaking of the decision to build in the Netherlands, Eurocell chief commercial officer Nick Clay said: “In its climate policy, the Netherlands outlines its ambition to lead Europe in the fight against global warming with a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions across industries. “With rapid expansion plans in Europe, Eurocell is encouraged by the positive engagement we have had with both the Dutch government and NOM investment and development agency for the northern Netherlands over the last few months. “As we enter the final stages of discussions, we are confident that we will be able to confirm the exact location of our first European gigafactory in the near future”. Eurocell says its batteries last “up to 10 times longer” than conventional lithium ion cells and claims they’re more sustainable, are not as susceptible to extreme temperatures and have “no end-of-life issues”. According to the company, its batteries will “outlive the majority of systems” they support, with a lifespan of more than 25 years. Recardo Bruins, Eurocell CEO, has previously said: “Eurocell in the UK is a new company, led by a highly experienced UK team and backed by our South Korean partner with decades of experience in electro-chemistry, making batteries at mass scale and building the gigafactories to produce them. Now we are planning to rapidly expand in Europe, supplying the energy storage and automotive industries with our market-leading technologies. These products can be on the market in months, not years”. +++

+++ If the CADILLAC Celestiq is really going to drive into the deep end of the super luxury pool, there’s no reason it shouldn’t copy some of the super luxury strokes. Cadillac has made 4 trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the battery-electric liftback: Celestiq Aurora, Celestiq Magnetic, Celestiq Mist, and Celestiq Vale. Naturally, we have no idea how these will be used. Many don’t think these are trims, though, but design themes. When colour and materials departments like Bentley Mulliner and Q by Aston Martin offer chromatic options so vast only mantis shrimp have the eyes to appreciate them, human clients might find analysis paralysis comes easier for deciding on paints and trims and colours. Bentley’s configurator starts with a page called “Bentley Suggests” before diving into options, and some of the fine-grained features come with the tab, “Recommended by Bentley”. Aston Martin’s configurator groups interior designs into three umbrellas, Accelerate, Create, and Inspire, with seven subdivisions. Ultimately, clients can choose any combination of colours that makes them happy. It’s possible these potential trademarks have are out to do the same for the Celestiq. We’re going to guess Aurora would represent a palette of red, Magnetic a range of gray, Mist would be blue and Vale would be green or some sort of comprehensive black treatment. Or the names could represent trims that differ in equipment and price. I hope to find out more when the Celestiq gets its full-featured that could come later this year. Sales are roughly 2 years away, the sedan expected sometime in 2024 as a 2025 model, loaded with tech like a 55-inch instrument panel display, a Smart Glass Roof that can darken in 4 quadrants to please specific occupants (we just hope it the roof opens!) and touchscreens on the rear headrests. +++


+++ A handful of COMMERCIAL ELECTRIC VEHICLE START UPS are burning through cash fast, racing to bring vans or trucks to market before the funds run out or customers choose to buy from legacy automakers like Ford or General Motors . Boosted by investor hunger to create the next Tesla, a clutch of commercial EV makers on both sides of the Atlantic have gone public via reverse mergers with special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), raising hundreds of millions of dollars as they sought to emulate Elon Musk’s success. These include Arrival, Canoo, Lordstown Motors, Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS) and REE Automotive. But investors have soured on EV startups and their ability to compete with legacy carmakers, sending their shares to a fraction of their peak prices. This has raised the pressure to produce working vehicles fast if they want to raise fresh funds in an industry where launching a single vehicle can cost $1 billion. “It’s vitally important at this stage to get vehicles into customers’ hands”, said Daniel Barel, chief executive of Israeli electric chassis maker REE Automotive, which has run vehicle tests with customers near Detroit and will unveil a prototype Van this week. “Only then can they make a real decision to buy”. REE’s chassis use “corners” or standalone in-wheel electric motors, with brakes and steering housed in all or some of the wheels. This eliminates the needs for traditional axles or powertrains, freeing up more space inside a Van. To get to market faster, REE has tapped legacy suppliers like American Axle for electric motors and Italy’s Brembo for brakes. Companies like EAVX and Morgan Olson, units of commercial vehicle body maker JB Poindexter & Co, will provide standardized bodies for REE’s U.S. trucks. “We want to keep true to what we’re about and let others bring their expertise in for the rest”, said vice president for engineering Peter Dow at REE’s engineering centre in Nuneaton, England. The clock is ticking. REE’s shares are almost 90% below their July 2021 debut. The company had $239 million in cash at the end of March and expects to invest up to $120 million in 2022 to scale up for production in 2023. “We’re on track, we’re on budget, we’ve got everything we need to take it to the market”, CEO Barel said while demonstrating a test vehicle near Detroit, adding that REE has enough cash to last beyond the end of 2023. Others have already struggled, however. ELMS filed for bankruptcy liquidation in June, citing insufficient funding, while Lordstown Motors had to sell assets to Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn. In May, Canoo disclosed “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue as a going concern, but recently received a boost when Walmart ordered 4.500 vehicles. Obtaining more cash could be tough. “The market right now is not an ideal market to raise capital”, said Dakota Semler, CEO of Los Angeles-based Xos, which already has 200 electric trucks operating on U.S. roads for customers including Inc delivery contractors. Xos had $132.7 million in cash at the end of March and can raise $125 million more via a share purchase deal with a unit of U.S. investment firm Yorkville Advisors. Legacy automakers are turning up the heat. FedEx has 150 BrightDrop electric trucks running deliveries around Los Angeles. “It feels like you’re in the future now”, FedEx driver Nelson Granados, 28, told a reporter as he made deliveries during a ride-along in a BrightDrop. FedEx has ordered 2.500 BrightDrop trucks, spurred by a combination of the 18 month old company’s technology and GM’s manufacturing muscle, FedEx’s chief sustainability officer, Mitch Jackson, told potential new entrants have taken note. British EV startup Bedeo makes electric powertrains for Vans for Stellantis and said earlier this year it was talking to investors about building its own Vans. Despite its track record (vehicles with Bedeo powertrains have clocked over 50 million km) executives say investors are now wary of competing with the likes of Ford’s electric Transit. “A large-scale capital raise is tough at the moment”, said Andrew Whitehead, CEO of Bedeo unit Protean Electric. Bedeo CEO Osman Boyner said the company will instead start converting existing diesel vans later this year using Protean’s in-wheel electric motors so they can run in electric mode in cities with low-emission zones and diesel on longer journeys. Bedeo is also talking to legacy automakers about producing small, specialized production runs of 5,000 or so vans for them. “Big automakers don’t want to do that in-house”, Boyner said. “Those numbers are too small for them, but they’re big numbers for companies like us”. EV startups are cutting back. Rivian said earlier this year that its $16 billion in cash as of the end of March was enough to fund its second U.S. plant for $5 billion, targeted to open in 2025, but it announced in late July that it would cut its workforce by 6% to reduce costs. Amazon has ordered 100.000 vans from Rivian, whose stock has fallen more than 80% from a peak hit shortly after its November 2021 initial public offering. UK electric van and bus maker Arrival also plans to cut costs. Arrival had $500 million in cash in mid-July, almost 45% down from roughly $905 million at the end of 2021. Its stock is almost 93% below its March 2021 debut. Chief financial officer John Wozniak said in a statement that restructuring will fund Arrival’s operations until late 2023. The startup has begun phased trials with United Parcel Service Inc, which has ordered up to 10,000 Arrival vans. “We believe that we will continue to access funding from a number of different sources”, Wozniak said. “However, the terms may be less favourable and the amount and timing remains uncertain, which is why the company announced the measures it is taking to preserve cash”. Startups that avoided going public via SPAC mergers are now waiting for the market to improve. In February Stockholm-based Volta Trucks raised €230 million in funding to ramp up electric truck production. Spokesman Duncan Forrester said Volta has prototype trucks in customers’ hands and is on track for series production in early 2023. It has an order book of more than 6.500 trucks valued at around €1.4 billion. Later in 2023, Volta will look to raise funds, either through fresh fundraising or an initial public offering. “From an investor perspective, that will be a different conversation because we’ll be able to demonstrate a track record of bringing vehicles to market”, Forrester said. +++

+++ I’m getting a bit of déjà vu with the new DODGE Hornet. It’s a small car based on an Alfa Romeo (the Tonale) with Dodge styling and marketing. The Dodge Dart was also a small car based on an Alfa Romeo (the Giulietta) with Dodge styling and marketing. The Dart didn’t go over great. But I think the Hornet has a few advantages the Dart didn’t. It’s an SUV, which is still a popular and growing segment. It packs much more potent powertrains, unlike the Dart’s underpowered turbo engines. And while this is even closer to its Alfa donor, Dodge is pledging more support for owners to hop up their Hornets, which is a way to distinguish the model and help it fit the Dodge image. Design-wise, the Hornet is very much a Tonale with a Dodge facelift. The front clip has been updated with a fascia similar to those of the Charger and Durango. It even gets the signature hood with vents. Around at the back, the full-width taillight has been tweaked with different lighting elements and a light-up Dodge “Rhombi” logo. The Hornet also sports some admittedly very cool Hornet badges on the front fenders. The inside is also mostly carry-over from the Tonale save for some air vents, some screen graphics, upholstery colours (always black and red) and moving the start button to the dash. None of this is necessarily bad, as the Alfa was pretty nice to begin with, but it’s worth noting. Mechanically, the Hornet is still very much like the Tonale, though it does boast slightly higher power numbers for both variants. The base model is the GT, and it gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder making 270 hp and 400 Nm. It comes standard with all-wheel drive and a 9-speed automatic, and Dodge claims it will get to 100 kph in about 6.6 seconds. Above it is the R/T, which gets the plug-in hybrid turbocharged 1.3-liter 4-cylinder powertrain. At the front, it has the engine and an electric motor powering the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic. At the back is a 90 kW electric motor powering the rear wheels. Total output is rated at 290 hp and 500 Nm. Dodge touts the hybrid’s PowerShot launch control. It’s an overboost function that provides an extra 25 hp for 15 seconds (a 15 second cool down is required between uses). Dodge says the 0-100 time is 6.2 seconds. The R/T also picks up fixed 4-piston Brembo front calibers and Brembo rear calibers, dual exhaust and the lovely metal paddle shifters from the Alfa. The brakes and paddles are available on the GT, too. The R/T is also visually distinguished by black-painted cladding, dual-exhaust and unique badging. All Hornets come standard with Koni frequency selective-damping shocks, which can be upgraded to electronically adjustable units. The suspension setup is MacPherson struts up front, and a three-link independent strut rear suspension. They also get electronic limited-slip differential functions that can also provide some torque vectoring. Dodge intends to offer performance upgrades for both versions of the Hornet. The first to get upgrades will be the GT with the Direct Connection GLH (Goes Like Hell) package. It features lowered suspension (by a bit more than an inch), a cat-back exhaust, unique 20-inch wheels, black cladding and GLH exterior graphics. The company didn’t give power estimates except to say it would have a far better power-to-weight ratio than the Omni GLH that provided the name. The R/T will also get an upgrade kit, but it’s still in development and doesn’t have a name yet. We’d imagine GLH-S (reportedly Goes Like Hell S’more) would be a strong possibility. The Hornet comes with a strong list of standard features. On the safety front it has automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, automatic wipers and parking sensors. Convenience features include a 12.3-inch instrument display, 10.25-inch touchscreen, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and the ability to pair two phones to the infotainment simultaneously. Optional features include adaptive cruise control, lane-centering, driver attention alert, wireless phone charging, heated steering wheel and seats, hands-free power lift gate and a Harman Kardon sound system. With this high feature set comes an arguably high price tag. The destination charge hasn’t been announced yet, but pricing for the GT starts at $29,995. The R/T starts at $39,995. Note that the actual price will be slightly higher when a destination charge is factored in. The R/T will likely qualify for some level of tax credit because of its PHEV powertrain. Dodge will start accepting orders for GT models today, with deliveries starting in December. The R/T will start arriving this coming spring. +++


+++ The new, entry-level TESLA Model Y version, equipped with BYD batteries, has received a type approval from the European Union. After multiple rumours over the past months related to the Tesla – BYD partnership, earlier this week I heard that BYD already supplies Tesla with Balde Batteries for the Model Y, which is supposed to enter production in Germany in August or September. A new unofficial report reveals additional info. The new BYD powered Model Y reportedly received EU approval, granted by the Netherlands Vehicle Authority (RDW) on 1 July 2022. The car is referred to as “Type 005” (internally as the “Y7CR” variant), and has a 55 kWh battery for 440 km of range and energy consumption of 15.5 kWh/100 km in the combined test cycle (WLTP). Not only that, the battery pack in the new Tesla Model Y is a “structural pack”. At this point, I don’t know whether it’s all BYD tech (cells and pack), or BYD’s cells and Tesla’s battery pack. What we do know is that the Chinese manufacturer recently introduced the first model (BYD Seal) equipped with CTB (cell-to-body) structural battery system, so there is a potential for either way. The report says that the weight of the new Tesla Model Y is 2.087 kg, which is 66 kg less than the previously certified (in summer 2021) Model Y with a 60 kWh LFP battery. If this model enters production at the plant in Grünheide in Germany, it would be produced alongside Model Y Long Range AWD and Performance versions (currently equipped with LG Energy Solution’s 2170 type cylindrical battery cells). In the long term, Tesla would like to produce in Germany cars with 4680 type battery cells (at least the Long Range version). An interesting thing is that, according to the report, the Made-in-China CATL-powered Tesla Model 3 with a 60 kWh LFP battery has 455 km of range. Hopefully, soon we will see some official info regarding the possibility of LFP-powered Tesla Model Y in Europe and whether the rumours are right or wrong. +++

+++ TOYOTA is planning to release a coupe version of the Crown in 2025 or 2026, and possibly a convertible Crown a year or two after that. Toyota wants to fashion Crown into a sub brand that pushes Toyota above where the Avalon once sat but, obviously, not as high as Lexus. A potential Crown coupe would be a flagship for the Toyota range the same way the LC serves as a flagship for Lexus. This is news I couldn’t begin to predict the veracity of. If there’s any segment having trouble supporting its own weight, it’s the big coupe segment for anything below Bentley and Aston Martin. That’s a shame, because there are some magnificent 2-door heavy hitters out there that we recently beseeched rich people to buy more of. The BMW 8 Series still seems lost in the woods, the Audi R8 (emphasis more on “flagship” than “big coupe”) is on end-of-life care. The Lexus LC sold 2.782 units in the U.S. last year, the numbers this year already way down on that paltry sum. The S-Class coupe is dead, the Mercedes SL emerged from the woods as a different car (a convertible version of the AMG GT, which, by the way, sold 3.110 units of all 3 body styles last year in the U.S. (4-door, 2-door and convertible) ). As for taking Toyota upscale, the LC starts at about $95.000, leaving ample room beneath for a Crown coupe in the $50.000 range, hypothetically. Toyota’s and Lexus’ line-ups are going to diverge because of different powertrain paths: Lexus going electric in the mid-term, Toyota refraining from going all-EV for a while. +++


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