Newsflash: BMW stopt met de X4


+++ BMW insiders gave details on the next-generation X4 and said that there might not be one. A long time insider reports the same news on social media: the model codenamed G46 “may have been cancelled”. “Production of the U.S.-made model could end in late 2025 with no replacement planned”, according to AutoForecast Solutions”. Supposedly, the original plan was for the clamshell crossover to mimic the split headed to the 3 Series line-up, with an ICE-powered 3 Series range on an evolution of BMW’s Cluster Architecture (CLAR), and pure-electric variants of the 3’er on the coming Neue Klasse architecture developed just for EVs. For the 3 Series, the electric sedan could resurrect the i3 name, the electric crossover would be the iX3. The iX4 remains on track. The automaker’s accountants couldn’t justify the spend on a new version of the petrol-or diesel powered X4, though. The raw sales data we see isn’t sufficient to make judgements. X4 sales have been climbing in the states, reaching 10.620 units in the U.S. last year, and 33% more than that in Europe. The X3 sold about 156.000 units in the U.S. and Europe last year compared to the X4’s roughly 26,000. At the beginning of this year, I heard that BMW could eliminate the 2-door versions of the 4-Series and 8-Series for a reborn 6-Series line-up. So in addition to the massive expense of electrification forcing ruthless decisions, there are clearly other, larger ideas in play. The first Neue Klasse model is due in 2025, presumed to be the new i3 and iX3. The iX4 is anticipated the following year. They will take advantage of BMW’s Gen6 batteries with cylindrical cells that are less expensive to produce and create fewer carbon emissions in production, increase vehicle range by 30% compared to BMW’s current prismatic cells, weigh up to 20% less, and raise charging speeds to 270 kW. If the supplier source who spoke on social media can be believed, we won’t need to wait for 2025 for more big X4 news. The supplier said it would be providing parts for 2 new electric crossovers with quad-motor setups. One would be an iX3, the other an iX4, the supplier adding that “other code designations” suggest these could be proper M versions of standard electric crossovers. +++

+++ CHRYSLER is sending off the 300 with a limited-edition model powered by the mighty 6.4 liter Hemi V8. Earlier rumours claimed that the 300C could get the supercharged, 6.2 liter Hellcat V8, but a new report suggests there aren’t enough engines to go around. Quoting unnamed inside sources, The Drive wrote that the available supply of Hellcat engines is already spoken for. Sister company Dodge uses the 8-cylinder in several models, including the Challenger, the Charger and the Durango, and Ram needs it for the 1500 TRX. Enthusiasts can also buy the V8 as a crate engine. Hellcat production is coming to an end with no successor in sight so demand is high. Another issue brought up by the publication is that stuffing the Hellcat between the 300C’s fenders didn’t necessarily make sense from a business point of view. The big sedan shares its basic platform with the Charger, which is offered with Hellcat power, but engineers would have needed to make at least a handful of modifications to install the engine. On the other hand, Chrysler sold the 300 with the 6.4 liter Hemi V8 until the 2014 model year so the engineering work has already been completed; put simply, this is the simpler and cheaper solution. Muscle car fans hoping for a 700-plus horsepower Chrysler sedan will need to build it themselves; like I mentioned, the Hellcat is offered as a crate engine. Buyers who score one of the 2.000 units of the 300C earmarked for our market likely won’t be disappointed by its performance, however. The V8 sends 485 horsepower (up from 470 in the 300 SRT) and 630 Nm of torque to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Chrysler quotes a 0-96 kph time of 4.3 seconds. +++


+++ From BMW’s i models to Volkswagen’s ID range, most carmakers now have an ELECTRIC ONLY sub-brand of cars that are cleaner and usually cooler than the old-fashioned ICE cars that take the lion’s share of an OEM’s sales. The electric sub-brands usually get specific, more interesting styling to set them apart from gas cars, presumably because carmakers have discovered that the kind of people who are willing to embrace a change in energy source before being forced to make that change are inclined to want less conservative designs. And to further separate the electric sub brands from the ordinary model lines, manufacturers are often (though not always) clear about there being no powertrain crossover. You can buy a hybrid BMW 3-Series and Volkswagen Golf, but you can’t buy either car with a fully electric powertrain. If you want one of those you’ll need to buy an i4 or (depending on the market) ID.3 or ID.4. And that’s fine at the moment when there is still strong demand for both ICE and electric cars. But that demand ratio is already changing, and it’s about to get a shot of virtual nitrous as we get closer to Europe’s 2035 ICE ban and the one in California (and soon other states; same year). And if everyone is going to be buying a BMW i or a Volkswagen ID model, what does that mean for a decades-old badges currently stuck on the combustion side of the divide? What’s going to happen to legends like the BMW 3-Series and Volkswagen Golf, two models that have a combined 95 years of sales success between them? Will BMW and Volkswagen really axe such storied nameplates to focus on their electric sub-brands, or will they relent and grant those models access to electric powertrains at the last minute? It’s worth noting that the new 7-Series comes in electric and gas forms, even if BMW badges them like different cars, and the same goes for the BMW X3 and iX3. The fact that both the Golf and 3-Series are available with hybrid engines and can travel for short distances on electric power will probably allow them to comply with zero emissions regulations, at least initially. And some countries, like Australia and most of the African and South American continents, haven’t yet committed to phasing out combustion power. But at some point carmakers are going to face some tricky decisions regarding the legacy models we’ve known and loved for decades. +++

+++ FORD just pulled back the curtain on the 7th generation Mustang last week, and we’re already learning about upcoming performance variants. The current Mustang Shelby GT500 will depart after 2022, only to return in 2025 as an all-new 2026 model. The 2022 GT500 sports a supercharged 5.2-liter V8 that delivers 760 horsepower. Ford said the 2024 Mustang GT would get the highest-horsepower 5.0-liter engine it’s ever offered for the car, so expectations for the new GT500 are high. Other upgrades will likely include revised suspension, new drivetrain tech, and loads of carbon fiber components. Ford seems to be taking the S650 Mustang as an opportunity to bring incremental improvements that keep the car relevant as its rivals are expected to go electric. Initial rumours pointed to a hybrid variant with electric motor-driven all-wheel drive, but that didn’t materialize in Ford’s reveal. What we did get is a refinement of the formula we’ve known for decades, with more power and a massively improved interior. The Blue Oval will also push the new pony car into motorsports venues it hasn’t seen before. Ford confirmed that it would send a crew of Mustang GT3 cars to Le Mans, and the upcoming Mustang Dark Horse will be available in track-only configurations. Multimatic will build GT3 and GT4 cars for Ford, and early details show a modified Coyote-based 5.4-liter V8 powers the GT3 variant. +++

+++ HYDROGEN fuel cell maker Loop Energy said on Sunday that its latest cell system can deliver better fuel economy than a diesel engine at current price levels. The Burnaby, British Columbia-based company said that (based on a pan-European diesel cost of $1.91 per liter on September 5 and $10 per kg of hydrogen) a truck could travel 180 km on $100 worth of fuel using its new S1200 hydrogen fuel cell system versus a little over 177 km for an equivalent diesel truck. As the auto industry makes the shift to zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs), big freight truck makers like Daimler Truck and Volvo are investing heavily in hydrogen fuel cells to haul freight long distances because batteries weigh too much to make electric trucks viable. Hydrogen fuel cells run hydrogen through a catalyst that produces energy and heat to power a small battery that drives the truck: the only emission from these cells is water. Hydrogen fuel cells have faced 2 challenges for broad adoption: they have so far been less efficient than diesel and fuelling infrastructure in Europe is virtually non-existent. Nyland said the new cell system essentially addresses the first of those challenges. “This brings the future forward”, Loop Energy Chief Executive Ben Nyland told. “This product delivers the economics that are needed for adoption today”. Nyland said that Loop Energy aims to provide the fuel cell system to startup truck makers and as part of hydrogen powertrains provided to big truck makers by major suppliers. The company’s biggest shareholder is U.S. engine maker Cummins, which holds a more than 20% stake in Loop Energy. +++

+++ LAMBORGHINI is planning on electrifying its entire line-up by the end of the 2020s. One of the hybrid models in the pipeline is a supercar that will replace the popular Huracán. Its name hasn’t been revealed yet, but an unverified report allegedly outlines what it will be powered by. The Huracán’s successor will downsize from a naturally-aspirated V10 to a twin-turbocharged V8. That’s a big deal: Lamborghini has proudly eschewed forced induction for its line of supercars, and the only turbocharged member of its lineup is the Urus. The 8-cylinder will reportedly be related to the unit that powers the Urus, but the 2 engines won’t be identical. The turbos will be programmed to spool up between 7.000 and 10.000 rpm, which is high in the rev range. An electric motor installed between the V8 and the transmission will add a hybrid component to the drivetrain, though figures such as horsepower and torque haven’t been published. An earlier report pegs the total output at 850 horsepower, but it’s not official. I also don’t know if the car will be a standard hybrid or if it will get a plug-in system, and whether it will use mechanical or through-the-road all-wheel-drive. The model will be longer than the Huracán to accommodate the electrified parts of the powertrain, however, and I’m curious to find out how Lamborghini will offset the hybrid system’s mass. The battery pack and the motor will inevitably add weight. Lamborghini hasn’t commented on the rumour, and it hasn’t revealed what will power the Huracán’s successor. In fact, it’s not done with the Huracán: the final road-going version of the car is due out by the end of 2022 as a hot-rodded off-roader (I’m not kidding!) called Sterrato. +++

+++ TESLA is ramping up production at its factories in Texas and Shanghai to head off an upcoming ambush of new EVs from legacy automakers. On Monday, the world’s largest EV maker completed a long-delayed project to expand capacity at Gigafactory Shanghai, where it builds the Model Y SUVs and Model 3 for customers in Asia and Europe. On Saturday, the automaker announced in a tweet that its Gigafactory in Texas built its 10.000th Model Y since opening in April, an important milestone as it hikes up production of the compact electric crossover there. Tesla, which has long dominated the segment, has been ceding market share to newcomers and legacy car companies alike. EVs took center stage at the Detroit Auto Show’s media preview last week, with several brands jockeying for the top position. Ford began delivering its F-150 Lightning pickup truck to customers in June, while Hyundai, Jeep and others plan to launch several new EV models over the next couple of years. Tesla models comprise four of the 5 top-selling EVs in the U.S. and roughly two-thirds of new EV registrations, according to data from Experian. But the army of brands hoping to gain ground against Tesla could threaten the company’s dominance if it doesn’t boost capacity worldwide. In Shanghai, the company will test the new production lines through November. The $170 million investment is intended to help Tesla ramp up to produce around 2,200 units of Model 3 and Model Y cars per week. Operations there have been stymied by several government-mandated lockdowns during a Covid resurgence in the spring. Production at its Gigafactory in Austin, Texas, has been constrained by the availability of the more-efficient 4680 cells that comprise its new battery architecture. Panasonic plans to resolve the bottleneck in early 2024 when it starts producing the advanced cells at the $4 billion battery factory it’s building in Kansas. Once it achieves volume production in Texas, Tesla can focus on its long-anticipated Cybertruck, which CEO Elon Musk said will begin production next summer. +++

+++ It looks like it could be the end of the road for ICE-powered UBER rides as Dara Khosrowshahi, the company’s CEO, wants drivers to embrace EVs. The company’s shift to electric power has been on the cards for some time, but now Khosrowshahi has seemingly laid out a deadline of 2030 for those on the platform to get on board, or risk being left out in the cold. Khosrowshahi said that the company has a target of going all-electric by the end of the decade in the U.S., Canada and Europe. “If we’re doing our job we’re gonna be all-electric,” said the CEO when asked if ICE-powered vehicles would still be allowed on the platform. Later this week, the company will expand an option to allow riders to select a battery-powered car for their ride. Known as Uber’s Comfort Electric option, the program will be available in 25 different cities and states in North America. But with just 25.000 electric vehicles on the platform out of an estimated 1 million total drivers, the company has a lot to do to make the switch. Part of Khosrowshahi’s plan includes doubling the amount of EVs available by 2023, while allocating $800 million to help offset the higher initial purchase costs of an EV over an ICE vehicle. Uber pays EV drivers an extra dollar for every trip they make, while it also provides discounts on charging. In addition, Uber has partnered with Hertz to allow drivers to rent Tesla cars, either on a weekly or a monthly basis. At $344 per week from Hertz, the Tesla Model 3 hires aren’t cheap, but that figure also includes insurance, basic maintenance, and unlimited mileage. One driver who made the switch found that she had more than doubled her tips since switching from an ICE-powered Toyota Camry. +++

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