Newsflash: nieuwe Citroën C3 wordt ruiger

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+++ Chinese automotive company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group said on Friday it bought a 7.6% stake in British luxury carmaker ASTON MARTIN , but did not disclose the deal value. Based on Aston Martin’s closing share price, the stake is valued at $8.39 billion. It was bought by Li Shufu, founder and chairman of Zhejiang Geely, Aston Martin said in a regulatory filing, making the Chinese firm one of the top shareholders in the British carmaker, according to Refinitiv Eikon. “We look forward to exploring potential opportunities to engage and collaborate with Aston Martin as it continues to execute its strategy to achieve long term, sustainable growth and increased profitability”, Daniel Donghui Li, Zhejiang Geely’s chief executive officer said. Aston Martin also separately announced the completion of 654 million pounds capital raise. +++

+++ The next-generation CITROEN  C3 is set to go on sale by the middle of the decade, with styling and construction heavily influenced by the Ami quadricycle and Oli concept car. A new C3 EV was confirmed to be in the works by branding executive Laurent Barria, who said the car will focus on “accessibility to electric mobility”, leaning on design cues and sustainability credentials exhibited by the new Oli concept car. Barria added that it will be the first Citroën to wear the brand’s new logo, which means an official reveal is likely to take place within the next year. Design director Pierre Leclercq has previously explained that the Ami and Oli “have to influence [Citroën’s] production cars”; hinting that its next models will borrow key ideas from each to kick off the brand’s push for sustainability and affordability. He said “not one” idea from the Oli concept was being dismissed as a potential candidate for production cars: it is just a matter of timing. CEO Vincent Cobée added that it would take around five years for all the technology on the Oli to make it to market but some of it could be coming within months. As such, the new C3 is likely to use a relatively small battery (although not as small as the Oli’s 40kWh unit) targeting a range of around 400 km. However, Cobée also said he is “a dreamer but also a salesperson”, opening the door to larger batteries if demanded. The larger Citroën e-C4 currently on sale uses a 50 kWh battery, giving an official range of 350 km. Any electric C3 would no doubt use a variation of the CMP architecture that underpins electric versions of the newer Peugeot 208 and Opel Corsa, which are about to swap their 136 hp motors for 156 hp items and can crack a range of nearly 400 km. Rapid charging capabilities will also be critical because integrating the necessary hardware for that “doesn’t weigh anything compared with a battery”, according to Cobée. The new C3’s design is likely to borrow cues from the Ami and Oli such as their shared front and rear bumpers, albeit in the subtler fashion seen on the Oli. It’s also expected to carry forward the Oli’s utilitarian overall styling, with chunky tyres and an abundance of cladding to meet customer demands. It may be a raised crossover in the style of the current Citroën C3 Aircross, which is a similar size to the Oli. In July, product and strategy director Laurence Hansen emphasised the importance of Citroën’s cars straddling traditional segments (with design led by unique selling points and features) in an effort to future-proof them. The Citroën ë-C4 X and Citroën C5 X exhibit this philosophy; the former being a saloon-cum-SUV with rugged design cues and the latter a high-riding shooting brake, also featuring 4×4-esque cladding. The upcoming C3 will use more recycled materials than current models to push sustainability, although the increase is likely to be limited. “Nobody buys a car because it is sustainable”, said Cobée. Leclercq also confirmed that these materials are more expensive. Inside, greater control over the infotainment is expected to be handed to your mobile phone, given that it is “2 generations ahead” of the current cars’ infotainment computers. It is expected to be sold in parallel with the New C3, which is only available in developing markets such as India and South America, where the EV charging infrastructure is less sophisticated. On Citroën’s approach to electrification worldwide, Cobée said: “There’s no reason why Brazil would move substantially towards electric because they have their own solutions (high-ethanol fuels). We’re not here to decide which region does what. “So what will happen for car makers like us is basically we’ll have to regionalize our product offer and our industrial set-up”, The next-generation C3 is expected to undercut existing electric crossovers such as the Hyundai Kona Electric. However, it is unlikely to reach the €27.500 target set out by Hansen for the Oli, instead sitting around the €33.000 mark. +++

+++ The LAMBORGHINI Urus just got a new performance variant in the Performante, but now the standard Urus is going through a mid-cycle upgrade of sorts and being renamed the Urus S. So, for the time being there won’t be any Urus models beyond the S and Performante. The Urus S is being treated to the same power upgrade and powertrain calibration as the Performante. That means it’ll have the more potent 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 666 hp and 850 Nm of torque; that is 16 ponies more than the base Urus it’s replacing. The 0-100 kph time lags behind that of the Performante’s by a couple tenths at 3.5 seconds. However, that’s 0.1 second quicker than the old Urus. The S gets a re-tuned exhaust system that Lamborghini says is “more distinct” at startup and has a “sharper note” in each drive mode. And speaking of drive modes, you get seven in the Urus, including 4 on-road modes and 3 off-road modes for any possible scenario. What the Urus S doesn’t get from the Performante is that model’s fixed suspension. Instead, Lamborghini carries over its air suspension from the pre-refresh Urus that allows for a wider breadth of use cases than the singular-minded Performante. A number of minor design updates give the Urus S a fresh look. It gets a new front bumper and a new matte black-painted stainless steel front skid plate. The hood is now made of carbon fiber and has matte black-painted air vents, and a new optional carbon fiber roof brings even more sportiness to the table. Lamborghini says its new rear bumper design is meant to make the car look more “streamlined and elegant”. Plus, the updated exhaust system features a new twin-pipe exhaust exit design. Additional wheel options are available in 21-inch, 22-inch and 23-inch flavors. More customization options abound, too, as Lamborghini says it’s greatly expanded its options list of colours, trims, wheels, style packages and “special details”. The same can be said for interior customization, as the Urus S offers all new colours and trims. Dutch pricing wasn’t provided at reveal time. Expect it to arrive soon and be sold alongside the Performante model. +++

LamborghiniUrusS

+++ Commercial electric vehicle startup LORDSTOWN MOTORS says it has slowly started production of its first model, the Endurance pickup. The struggling company says it has built 2 production pickups, with a third to be finished shortly. It plans to ramp up depending on quality and parts availability, it said in a statement. Lordstown expects to deliver 50 trucks to customers this year, and up to 450 more in the first half of 2023, as long as it can raise enough capital. The trucks are being built in an old General Motors small-car assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, near Cleveland that was purchased last year by Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest electronics maker. Lordstown says it will look to Foxconn and other partnerships as sources of new capital. “We expect to increase the speed of production into November and December”, CEO Edward Hightower said in the statement. Earlier this year, Lordstown said it expected to produce 3.000 of its flagship Endurance electric trucks before the end of 2023. The company has struggled to raise money and get trucks out the factory door to customers. In its quarterly filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, its auditors raise doubts that the automaker will be in business in the coming year. Lordstown Motors said it expects to end the third quarter with about $195 million in cash and equivalents, including $27.1 million from equity sales during the quarter. The company says its cash outlook is $75 million better than its previous outlook as it explores options to raise more money. Shares of Lordstown Motors fell 6% amid broader market declines. +++

+++ The state of NEW YORK is following in California’s footsteps with a zero-emissions vehicle law that will require all new vehicles sold in the state to be zero emissions by 2035. Governor Kathy Hochul is implementing this rule via directive to the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The DEC will then regulate these rules into effect; the directive is similar in nature to California’s stepped approach. By model year 2026, New York would require 35% of sales to be zero-emissions vehicles. By 2030, that figure jumps up to 68% of sales. And then finally in 2035, it switches over to 100% of vehicle sales needing to be of zero-emissions vehicles. These rules will apply to “all new sales of passenger cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs”. Hochul’s directive also includes information regarding pollutant standards from 2026-2034 for passenger cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty vehicles with gasoline engines. It’s not precisely laid out what those new emissions standards would be, but it sounds like they’ll be stricter than they are today. That said, it’s also written that the regulations allow for some flexibility with manufacturers to meet those new standards; what this flexibility entails is still undefined. “New York is a national climate leader and an economic powerhouse, and we’re using our strength to help spur innovation and implementation of zero-emission vehicles on a grand scale”, Hochul said. “With sustained state and federal investments, our actions are incentivizing New Yorkers, local governments, and businesses to make the transition to electric vehicles. We’re driving New York’s transition to clean transportation forward, and today’s announcement will benefit our climate and the health of our communities for generations to come”. It’s difficult to compare California’s law with New York’s for the time being, since all Hochul did today was announce the big points. How New York defines a “zero-emissions vehicle” for this rule is yet to be determined. As of now, the DEC includes plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) on its list of light-duty zero-emissions vehicles, and by that logic, cars with internal combustion engines would still be available for sale past 2035. However, standard hybrids are not included in this list. Outside of PHEVs, battery electric vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles are included in the list of zero-emissions vehicles. The full proposed legislation will ultimately be posted to the DEC’s website, and once this is up, I’ll have a better idea of the exact restrictions and what Americans can expect to be allowable for sale in the state of New York come 2035. +++

+++ PORSCHE shares rallied on their Frankfurt market debut on Thursday as traders dumped holdings of its controlling companies to grab a slice in the newly listed supercar manufacturer. The listing of Porsche AG, under a trading code that includes the 911 number in a nod to its most famous model, defied turbulent markets to give the car brand a value north of 75 billion euros. Traders said some investors that bought Volkswagen and Porsche SE to play a potential IPO boom might be unwinding their positions and switching into Porsche AG, which was trading not too far from the offer price. “There seem to be shifts from Volkswagen into Porsche AG”, said Jochen Stanzl, analyst at online broker CMC Markets. “The sports car maker is seen by some as a luxury goods manufacturer and therefore valued higher than an industrial group”. Porsche AG shares traded at a premium of as much as 5.2% to their IPO price of 82.5 euros at one point. They were last at 84.88 euros. Shares in top shareholders Volkswagen and Porsche Automobil Holding SE were last down 5% and 8% respectively. “We are very positive about the first price. Of course we had a gut feeling: the feedback we got from investors was very positive”, Porsche AG chief executive Oliver Blume said, speaking next to a Taycan parked outside the Frankfurt stock exchange. Porsche AG’s solid market debut came despite broadly weaker stock markets following red-hot German inflation data. In an interview with Reuters, Blume brushed aside concerns about his dual CEO role as head of the newly independent sports car maker and the Volkswagen Group, saying it was not unusual to lead a brand and a company simultaneously. Some investors have said holding both jobs could create conflicts of interest. “We made this decision very consciously. There is no time horizon in which it will be re-evaluated”, he said. Though Porsche AG is targeting 80% electric vehicle production by 2030, Blume denied it was heading towards being a pure-play electric vehicle carmaker, a category that has traditionally done better on stock market lists. “We have a very flexible strategy, we offer combustion engine cars, hybrids and electric cars. This mix is what defines Porsche”, he said. Analyst have said that Porsche AG has the potential to join Germany’s large-cap DAX index, which could attract demand for its shares from passive funds that adjust their portfolios to reflect benchmark indices. Porsche AG was by far the most traded stock by volume on Thursday on Lang & Schwartz’s platform, indicating interest from individual investors, too. +++

+++ The SKODA Superb is on track to be heavily updated for a 4th generation, returning in 2024 to take the fight to the Peugeot 508 with a choice of ICE and hybrid powertrains in a practical Combi body. Skoda recently detailed a bold electrification plan under which it will introduce a new flagship electric SUV, an electric city car and an electric alternative to the Karoq crossover by 2026. However, it will maintain, and refresh, its ICE product offering in the run-up to the 2030 ban, when it estimates that such cars will still account for 30% of sales. A new-generation Superb with predominantly ICE propulsion will play a core role in maintaining that share. In 2021, the Superb accounted for more than 66.000 of Skoda’s 878.000 global sales. Given that the current Superb shares the bulk of its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Passat and is built alongside its sibling in Eden, Germany, it’s expected that the same will be true of the next-generation car. That means the next Superb will be based on the latest generation of the Volkswagen Group’s ICE car platform, MQB Evo, which in turn means it can offer a broadly comparable powertrain set-up to the current Superb. We therefore expect a choice of front and four-wheel drive configurations and a mix of pure-ICE and electrified powertrains, in line with Skoda’s ploy to cater to buyers at the lower end of the market while strengthening its showing in the premium executive segment. The Superb is currently available with a choice of1.5-litre and 2.0-litre turbo petrol engines, 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel engines and a plug-in hybrid that pairs a 1.4-litre turbo petrol lump with an electric motor and a 13 kWh battery for 218 hp and an electric-only range of 40-50 km. It remains to be seen which of these will be carried over or replaced for the next generation, but maintaining this variety would allow the next Superb to straddle a wide price bracket, as does the current car. What also remains to be seen is whether Skoda will bring back the liftback Superb. So far, I’ve seen only an Combi testing, and Volkswagen’s axing of the Passat saloon last year speaks to the weakening of the traditional executive saloon segment. The Ford Mondeo and Opel Insignia have also made high-profile exits recently. Certainly, Skoda looks to have pursued evolution over revolution for the next-generation Superb’s design language. The silhouette is all but indistinguishable from the current car’s, but visible beneath the camouflage are grille, lighting and trim details that bring the estate into line with newer and recently refreshed Skoda models like the Scala, Kodiaq and Octavia. Given that the Superb was facelifted 3 years ago, the new car is expected to be revealed next year ahead of a launch in 2024. Production is tipped to take place on a new line in Czechia, although this hasn’t yet been officially confirmed. +++

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