Newsflash: Tesla zou tóch werken aan een goedkoper model

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+++ BMW is testing a stripped-back, hardcore version of its upcoming second-generation M2 Coupé. The new model is expected to be badged either CS or CSL (the latter name has just been revived on the limited-run M4 CSL) and will follow the G87 M2, to be revealed next month, as a more potent, track-focused version of Munich’s baby performance car. It will be similarly positioned to the previous-generation top-wrung M2 CS, which was the most hardcore version of the F87 M2 and a firmed-up variant of the celebrated M2 Competition. This new car, pictured in the very early development stages at BMW’s Munich headquarters, was spotted with a more aggressive and lower front end complete with a splitter, plus an integrated rollover bar and a rear spoiler. The track-focused variant is expected to get an uprated version of BMW’s turbocharged 6-cylinder S58 engine that makes 480 hp, matching the current M4. This would give it a 30 hp advantage over the standard M2, which itself will produce 450 hp from the S58 powerplant; the same output as the F87 M2 CS. Power will be sent to the rear wheels through BMW’s paddle-shift 8-speed automatic gearbox. The car will be the same size as the standard M2, which is around 50 mm bigger than the previous generation. This is due to the Cluster Architecture platform that the G87 M2 shares with other BMW models including the 8 Series and the X7. The new M2 CS is also expected to weigh less than the standard M2 (with like-for-like transmissions). By way of comparison, the current M2 CS weighed 25 kg less than the last-generation M2 (1.575 kg). Weight for the standard M2 hasn’t yet been disclosed, but expect it to be heavier than the F87 M2, due to the new underpinnings, but not as heavy as the current M4 Coupé, which weighs 1.725 kg. The standard M2 will hit showrooms in April, with this hotter variant arriving at a later date. The new M2 is tipped to cost around €100.000, while a hotter variant is likely to be priced above the outgoing M2 CS, which costs €125.000. +++

+++ No matter how much FERRARI protests, the new Purosangue is an SUV. “It’s a sports car opening a new segment”, CEO Benedetto Vigna insisted when the cover was pulled off the car for the first time. As you might expect, many Ferrari customers also own and use SUVs, with the Range Rover particularly popular. Even Ferrari vice-chairman Piero Ferrari, son of founder Enzo Ferrari, apparently has a Range Rover to tool around in. Unsurprisingly, he’s been a real driving force behind the new Purosangue. But as much as I’m sure the Purosangue will be a brilliant Ferrari (and we’ve seen nothing but brilliance from the most famous of Italian brands of late) I don’t think the Purosangue is going to tick all the boxes its buyers will want. In short, I don’t think it’s going to be good enough at doing the things SUVs do so well. People love SUVs at all ends of the market because they make life easy and project an image many like. The Purosangue scores on the latter point, but having spent some time crawling over the car, I think it’s closer to a Ferrari saloon car than an SUV; it lacks the practicality that makes Ferrari owners also buy Range Rovers. The boot, at 473 litres, is smaller than a Nissan Qashqai’s. A Range Rover gives you 725 litres. The Ferrari will resolutely only seat 4 people. Then there are rear-hinged doors: a pain to use on the Opel Meriva and just as awkward on the Purosangue. And is the driving position, deliberately set low, going to give owners the same great view out they love in a Range Rover? I don’t think so. I asked design boss Flavio Manzoni if the brand had used clinics to gauge reaction to the car. His reaction was a dismissive “no”. Ferrari obviously knows best. I’ve no doubt Ferraristi will race to get Purosangues, as they do every other new Ferrari. But I reckon they’ll hold on to their Range Rovers, as may many buyers considering a Purosangue as their very first Ferrari. +++

+++ Say hello to the new FORD MUSTANG . Dodge may have just put the pin in its V8-powered muscle cars, but Ford is far from done selling its fire-breathing coupe as the Mustang enters its seventh generation. Rumors of hybrid powertrains flew for years leading up to this Mustang’s reveal, but in the end, Ford is sticking familiar engines under the hood of this new pony car. A revamped 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is the Mustang’s base engine, and an updated 5.0-liter Coyote V8 remains the engine for the GT. In typical Ford fashion, power figures for both are not being made available at the car’s initial reveal, though a ford engineer let slip during its debut that it should produce 480 hp. Officially, however, Ford is saying only that the 5.0 will produce more power than the current car’s 460 hp and 560 Nm. A 6-speed manual transmission now with rev-matching tech will be available for the GT, but the EcoBoost will be automatic-only starting in 2024: Ford tells me the manual take rate on the 4-cylinder was simply too low to justify offering it once more. The 10-speed automatic transmission on the previous Mustang carries over with some changes to the oily bits and new tuning for enhanced performance. The performance boost for the 5.0-liter V8 will come largely from a new dual throttle body design for more air intake, a new exhaust manifold for better airflow, a longer duration exhaust camshaft to handle the increased airflow and the addition of port injection alongside direct injection (the previous gen was direct injection only). As for the EcoBoost, Ford says it features a new twin-scroll turbocharger and a high-speed wastegate for better responsiveness, a new modular power cylinder architecture (we’ll see this across Ford’s turbocharged 4-cylinder lineup) and similar to the 5.0, now features both port and direct injection. And if that’s not enough for you, well, there’s the Dark Horse: a new performance-oriented model that will spawn track- and racing variants of the 7th generation pony car. OK, but how about that new design? I suspect it’s going to be polarizing, as it’s far edgier (literally) than before. The EcoBoost and GT feature differentiated front end designs. You’ll notice that the grille on the GT is bigger than the 4-cylinder’s, and it also features those odd-looking pods within. Functional hood vents are prominently placed on the GT but won’t be found on the EcoBoost. All Mustangs get the new tri-bar LED headlights, and Ford says it’s optimized the roofline to allow easier entry and exit with a racing helmet on. In the rear, we can’t help but notice how high the black plastic creeps up the bumper. It’s not as bad as the WRX’s plastic butt, though it does remind me of that look. Ford went full drama on the rear with its sharply angled shaping and pointy appearance. The tri-bar taillights carry over, but they’re made to be even more showy with the intense angularity. In similar fashion as the sixth-gen, all GTs get a quad-tipped exhaust, and EcoBoost models get a dual exhaust. The tips are framed by a new rear diffuser design that Ford claims improves the aerodynamic balance of the rear. In addition to the Coupe, Ford is revealing the Convertible today. There are no major changes in the soft top design or functionality with this new generation, as it continues to be electrically operated with the assistance of a single-handle center latching mechanism. When it comes to the design details, Ford says wheel sizes range from the base 17 inch wheels up to optional 20 inch wheels on the GT (standard with 19 inch). You can choose between 3 caliper colors (black, red or Grabber Blue) and 11 exterior paint colors. Many of the paint colors are carryover from the previous generation, but Vapor Blue and Yellow Splash are new. Ford tells us that Vapor Blue is meant to give a faint resemblance to the spectacular Mystichrome paint of yesteryear. If you want even more customization, Ford will be offering “Mustang Design Series” options, the first of which is a Bronze Design Series Appearance Package that adds bronze wheels and badging to the exterior. The chassis under all this new bodywork is a revised version of the sixth-generation car. Ford tells us it’s made a number of changes to increase structural stiffness, but didn’t go so far as throwing numbers at the wall. Some materials changes were made to various suspension parts with Ford opting for lighter aluminum this time around. A new steering rack with a quicker ratio and new mechanicals are meant to both quicken response and provide more feel. There’s enough to go on here to make us think the new Mustang will be a better handler, but the jury remains out as to how much better: Ford made the most important change last generation to an independent rear suspension design, allowing for the Mustang to transition into more of a sports car than a muscle car. There’s only one “Performance Pack” being offered at the start on the seventh-gen Mustang, but it’s a similar package as what saw on the previous car. Opt for the package on either the EcoBoost or GT, and you get a front tower brace, Torsen limited-slip differential, wider wheels and tires and larger Brembo brakes. Exclusive to the GT are brake ducts, enhanced engine cooling, and an auxiliary engine oil cooler. Thankfully, Ford is continuing to offer its MagneRide active suspension as an option on top of the Performance package. Additional options include Recaro seats and Ford’s active exhaust system. Engineers tell us it’s maxed out the allowable volume on the exhaust system for the GT this time around, so expect an even louder bellow for the seventh-gen GT. On the inside, this Mustang is drastically new and different. Ford threw out the playbook and decided to go all-in on screens. The base model has two free-standing screens: one digital instrument cluster and one touchscreen infotainment system. Step up to the Premium trim, and this becomes one giant monolith of screens kept apart by a glossy black separator: the central infotainment measures 13.2 inches in size, while the cluster is 12.4 inches. The vast majority of your car controls can be fiddled with inside these screens, as Ford has deleted most of the physical buttons for the radio and climate control found throughout the cabin of the previous model. Ford claims that this is what Millennials, Gen-Z and traditional Mustang buyers want, but you can just as easily interpret it as a cost-savings measure. The steering wheel gets a new flat-bottom design, and the base seats get better quality cloth than before. Ford will also offer Micro Suede vinyl seats and ActiveX-upholstered seats on the EcoBoost, while the GT will be available with real leather inserts. Tech is aplenty, with those new screens using Sync 4 software that feature wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. A wireless phone charger situated in the center console is available. An optional B&O audio system will provide better-sounding tunes, and the cabin is littered with customizable ambient lighting. Driver assistance tech in the form of Ford’s CoPilot360 will be standard, with notable equipment including adaptive cruise control, lane-centering, evasive steer assist and even rear auto-braking assist. If you get the Performance Package with the active dampers, you also get “Active Pothole Assist,” which is a feature designed to save your wheels and tires by adjusting the suspension damping to better react to potholes in real time via monitoring of the suspension, body, steering and braking inputs. Hopefully, it’ll save some bent wheels and blown out tires, all while smoothing the ride out. The cluster screen uses Unreal Engine 3D creation that you see in video games to display and animate designs and drive mode visuals. It even has some epic gauge settings. For example, there’s a Fox Body setting that mimics the gauge display of Mustangs from the Fox Body era. Now that’s rad. Other intriguing new performance tech includes a new “Performance Electronic Parking Brake” for drifting that we’ll explain in a separate post. Plus, a new “remote-rev” feature will come on automatic Mustangs that can be activated via the key fob. Ford says the 2024 Mustang will initially go on sale in summer 2023, and it will continue to be assembled at Ford’s Flat Rock plant. +++

+++ I spoke with GMC’s marketing director, Rich Latek, at the Detroit Auto Show, and he revealed that interest in the HUMMER EV is still extremely strong. Reservations keep climbing, with the total topping 90.000. Not only that, but people are following through on orders. The 90.000 reservation number is impressive in and of itself, but what’s also interesting is that the rate of reservations has been growing. Latek said that in the past few quarters, the number of reservations has been greater than each before it. And, for reference, the reservations are for both the pickup truck and SUV versions. Furthermore, people that are making Hummer reservations are following through on purchases. He said that just over 90% of reservation holders are converting their reservations to actual orders. He also mentioned that many of these orders are for higher trims. The Hummer EV is still in the middle of a drawn-out rollout. The SUV will finally go into production in the first quarter of next year. The EV3X trim of the pickup, the highest after the First Edition models, goes into production this fall. EV2X follows this coming spring, and then the base EV2 is coming in the spring of 2024. +++

+++ The automotive society is currently divided into 2 general categories of enthusiasts: lovers and haters of electric vehicles. We are not here to judge or give conclusions but our observations are that there’s still life left in combustion-powered vehicles, though zero-emission machines seem to be the future. HYUNDAI , one of the leaders in the industry’s transformation toward electric energy, seems to be sharing a very similar opinion. Hyundai’s executive technical advisor, Albert Biermann, spoke to media representatives during a recent N Vision 74 and RN22e prototype drive. Biermann was asked about the future of the combustion engine within the South Korean automaker and his answer was rather surprising to me: “We are continuing for next emission levels for internal combustion engines. We have no other choices. I mean, we are not giving up on combustion engines, right, we are global player. And there is no infrastructure available for EVs for quite some time in several regions”, Biermann told. This is a situation we’ve talked about many times: not every region in the world is prepared for the EV revolution and the adoption rate of electric vehicles varies vastly from country to country. If some states in the US and some countries in Europe and Asia are investing billions in EV infrastructure, there are other countries and entire regions which haven’t even started building charging stations. Until the battery-powered cars become more affordable and usable, Hyundai will indeed continue to work on combustion engines. All new or significantly updated engines? Biermann is not ready to tell yet: “We keep going with combustion engines but will we set up a whole new combustion engine family? Yeah, I mean, you have to follow the emission regulations and that requires sometimes intense development. Euro 7, for example, is quite challenging. So that’s on the agenda”. Alternative powertrains also seem like a possible solution. Hyundai has worked on different types of hybrids and electrified mills and one of its latest projects had a rather interesting powertrain. The Vision 74 (pictured above) has battery power with a hydrogen fuel cell, powering 2 electric motors at the back. With a peak power of 680 hp and 900 Nm or more, this sounds like one very exciting alternative to fossil fuel cars. +++

+++ The design of the new MASERATI GranTurismo has finally been revealed in a new suite of official images which show the twin-turbo V6 variant lapping Modena ahead of an imminent full debut. The latest images show Maserati’s long-awaited Mercedes-AMG SL rival completely unwrapped, giving us our clearest look yet at the acclaimed first-generation, V8-powered GranTurismo, which bowed out in 2019 after a successful 12-year production run. The V6 car shown here uses a variation of the raucous, twin-turbocharged ‘Nettuno’ unit first deployed in the mid-engined MC20 supercar and the Grecale. Like this SUV, the combustion-powered GranTurismo will be offered in Modena and range-topping Trofeo forms, the latter likely tuned to match the MC20’s 630 hp and rival similarly potent, bigger-engined rivals like the SL, Aston Martin Vantage and Ferrari Roma. The GranTurismo is also set to follow the Ghibli and Levante in adopting a hybrid option, but its positioning makes their mild-hybrid 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine an unlikely option, so it is a possibility that Maserati will hybridise the Nettuno motor. The new images have landed just days after a prototype of the nearly identical but all-electric Maserati GranTurismo Folgore was spotted without any camouflage, charging at the side of the road in California as Monterey Car Week got under way. Technical details remain unconfirmed, but the electric variant will no doubt be the quickest and most potent in the GranTurismo line-up. Maserati has already confirmed that the electric version of the Grecale will pack up to 800 Nm and a 105 kWh battery, which could be expected to make for a 0-100 kph time of around 4.5 seconds and a range of more than 550 km. The lower-slung and probably lighter GranTurismo will no doubt be slightly quicker and longer-legged, with the same underpinnings. The GranTurismo has underlying brilliance, marred by frustrating niggles. But it’s the first Maserati for an age that you don’t need excuses to buy. Maserati says that it’s working to ensure the EV’s powertrain has “a distinctive sound, already a unique attribute of all Maserati cars equipped with traditional combustion engines”. It’s not yet clear how this will be achieved, but it’s unlikely that the firm will artificially recreate the noise of its V6 or V8 engines. The electric GranTurismo and Grecale will launch in 2023, while a promised third EV due next year is likely to be the drop-top Maserati GranCabrio (technically identical to the Granturismo). Electric versions of the Quattroporte, Levante and MC20 will follow by 2025, in line with Modena’s plan to phase out combustion models over the next 3 years. +++

+++ A TESLA executive mentioned that the company still has work to do in lowering the cost of its vehicles. He added that the upcoming robotaxi program could serve as the gateway to a cheaper Tesla model. It’s hard to think whether there was news over the last few years that we were more excited about than the potential for Tesla to offer an EV that many more people could afford. To be clear, the thought of any company offering a compelling EV for €33.000 is super exciting. Talk of a €33.000 Tesla was all over the internet, and it seemed the company and CEO Elon Musk were on board and prioritising it. However, Musk made it clear later that it was not among Tesla’s most pressing plans. Tesla has raised its prices many times since the beginning of the year. We know the company is making a profit and doesn’t necessarily need to improve its margins, but we also know that it shifts prices and model offerings to impact demand. Hopefully, once all of Tesla’s factories are making EVs at speed, production can begin to catch up with demand. If that happens, one could argue that Tesla could lower its prices or offer cheaper versions of some models. Not too long ago, during Tesla’s second quarter earning conference call, Musk commented about Tesla’s prices. In fact, he said they’ve risen to embarrassing levels. Interestingly, Musk didn’t blame demand this time, but rather, inflation. However, the two go hand in hand. If Tesla is filling orders 9 months from now that people placed today, it has to account for the fact that material prices may rise between now and then, and inflation is difficult to forecast. Musk explained: “We’ve raised our prices quite a few times. They’re frankly at embarrassing levels. But we’ve also had a lot of supply chain and production shocks and we’ve got crazy inflation. I think inflation will decline towards the end of the year. I’m hopeful, and this is not a promise, but I’m hopeful at some point we can reduce prices a little bit”. Despite the talk of a potential $25,000 Tesla, the least expensive model in the States right now will cost you nearly double that. The Tesla Model Y isn’t even available in a true “base” configuration, so it’s pushing a whopping $70.000 out the door. Tesla fans had been eagerly waiting to hear more from Musk about a $25,000 Tesla. There was even news that Tesla China was looking for people to design the car. However, the next time the CEO talked at length about the company’s future plans, he made it clear that new models aren’t coming anytime soon. Musk confirmed that the Cybertruck was delayed yet again, and focused his speech on touting the Tesla Bot. Fast-forward to more recently, and Tesla has talked about building out its own robotaxi service. The automaker’s head of investor relations Martin Viecha spoke at a private Goldman Sachs event in San Francisco. The speech was a look at Tesla’s potential plans for the five years ahead. Based on reported information from the speech shared by Business Insider, Viecha noted that Tesla may be able to bring a cheaper vehicle to market prior to the official launch of the robotaxi service. He explained that Tesla hoped to bring a cheaper model to market, and it will need such a model to round out its offering and compete with legacy automakers that are now offering more affordable models to rival Tesla. Viecha went on to say that Tesla’s cost of building a car has dropped dramatically over the years. According to sources, he said it cost Tesla $84,000 to build an EV in 2017, and now it costs just $36,000. He added that he thinks Tesla can continue to improve that number. Moreover, Viecha shared that Tesla’s upcoming robotaxi service project may provide a new, next-generation platform that can serve as the foundation for a cheaper model. Sadly, the exec didn’t mention timing. +++

+++ TESLA was sued on Wednesday in a proposed class action accusing Elon Musk’s electric car company of misleading the public by falsely advertising its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features. The complaint accused Tesla and Musk of having since 2016 deceptively advertised the technology as fully functioning or “just around the corner” despite knowing that the technology did not work or was nonexistent and made vehicles unsafe. Briggs Matsko, the named plaintiff, said Tesla did this to “generate excitement” about its vehicles, attract investments, boost sales, avoid bankruptcy, drive up its stock price and become a “dominant player” in electric vehicles. “Tesla has yet to produce anything even remotely approaching a fully self-driving car”, Matsko said. The lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco seeks unspecified damages for people who since 2016 bought or leased Tesla vehicles with Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features. Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It disbanded its media relations department in 2020. The lawsuit followed complaints filed on July 28 by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles accusing Tesla of overstating how well its advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) worked. Remedies there could include suspending Tesla’s license in California, and requiring restitution to drivers. Tesla has said Autopilot enables vehicles to steer, accelerate and brake within their lanes, while Full Self-Driving lets vehicles obey traffic signals and change lanes. It has also said both technologies “require active driver supervision,” with a “fully attentive” driver whose hands are on the wheel, “and do not make the vehicle autonomous”. Matsko, of Rancho Murieta, California, said he paid a $5.000 premium for his 2018 Tesla Model X to obtain Enhanced Autopilot. He also said Tesla drivers who receive software updates “effectively act as untrained test engineers” and have found “myriad problems”, including that vehicles steer into oncoming traffic, run red lights, and fail to make routine turns. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has since 2016 opened 38 special investigations of Tesla crashes believed to involve ADAS. Nineteen deaths were reported in those crashes. +++

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