Newsflash: ook volgende generatie Dacia Sandero krijgt een benzinemotor

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+++ DACIA boss Denis Le Vot has doubled down on a commitment to going all-electric at the last possible moment, revealing that the firm will continue to develop combustion engines and strongly hinting the next-generation Sandero will be petrol powered. Speaking to reporters before the Paris motor show, Le Vot said the company won’t pursue an all-electric line-up by 2030, in Europe or globally, because it would threaten the brand’s position as one of the most affordable on the market. He reiterated that Dacia will electrify as cheaply and efficiently as possible by “leveraging the assets” of the wider Renault Group, using technology and architecture developed by its parent company for its own electric cars, thereby saving significantly on development costs. But in the run-up to that, he said: “We’re going to be the champion of the low-carbon petrol cars”. He cited the Romanian company’s experience in using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a means of running conventional cars more efficiently and cleanly. “We’re going to continue working on low-carbon technology for the future”, he continued, clarifying that he was referring to Dacia’s own in-house engineers but offering no further details about how they will seek to achieve this. “The Sandero is going to have 2 generations before we hit 2035, which is the legal stop-off, if it happens, for cars with a combustion engine in general”, he said, suggesting that the next-generation could arrive in 2028 or 2029 with an petrol powertrain, to be sold alongside a similar powered Duster (the next generation will be launched in 2024) and the 2025 Bigster, which will last until 2032 and 2033 respectively. Dacia has access to hybrid powertrains from parent company Renault and at Paris is giving new details of the Jogger Hybrid that it will launch in early 2023. However, Le Vot also said that because his company’s cars are generally lighter than their rivals, they “can still afford to be petrol or LPG when the competition is already hybrid”, suggesting Dacia remains committed to its LPG offering, a rarity among mainstream manufacturers, which could have it continue to offer non-electrically assisted powertrains up to the end of the decade. Interestingly, sibling brand Alpine is at Paris with a radically styled racing car concept that showcases the potential for hydrogen-combustion technology, citing the aural and performance benefits of converting petrol engines to run on CO2-free LH2, but Dacia hasn’t offered any comment about whether its affinity for gas-combustion could lead it explore this area, too. Dacia has previously said it aims to move all products onto the Renault-engineered CMF-B architecture, as used by the current Sandero, so any successor is likely to follow suit and thus potentially use (initially, at least) the same turbocharged 3-cylinder 1.0-litre engine familiar from today’s car. But an electrified Sandero, using Renault’s E-Tech full hybrid system, is expected on sale in this generation, and the next generation will need this option to remain on sale in Europe after 2030. While stating his intention to buck the industry shift towards rapid all-out electrification, Le Vot did note that “Dacia is as electric as the market in Europe” at the moment, highlighting that the tiny Spring accounts for 12% of the company’s volumes, matching an industry-wide average for EV mix. Dacia has revealed a subtle styling overhaul for its entire range of cars, which it has called a “new beginning” for the brand. The new-look Sandero, Jogger and Duster, aget a number of changes, with the most notable being a fresh grille design, which is centred by the firm’s minimalistic new DC motif. Dacia has also added its full brand name to the rear and steering wheel of all models, with other changes including a matt-grey finish on the roof rails and skidplates where applicable. The first deliveries are due in the final quarter of 2022. The Romanian car maker says the fresh look is part of a “renewal” for itself, adding: “Dacia has changed everything but is still true to the essence of the brand. Beyond a simple shift in design, the new identity embodies commitments for the future and builds on the strongly held values that are behind the Dacia success story”. Dacia product performance director Lionel Jaillet said: “Dacia changes with the times, as too does its brand image. The fundamentals behind each product are also growing stronger in order to respond to the very real expectations of our clients. The new visual identity conveys these messages and makes the brand even more appealing. Today is a new beginning for Dacia”. These changes will be rolled out across the entire range, so also the Spring. The new look will also be carried over to the production version of the Bigster, a ruggedly styled SUV rival to the Toyota RAV4, in 2023 and the next-generation Duster, which is expected to follow around a year later. +++

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+++ HYUNDAI said Friday it will break ground this month on a $5.5 billion electric vehicle and battery plant in the United States. Hyundai plans to begin commercial production in the first half of 2025 with an annual capacity of 300.000 units. The October 25 groundbreaking for the Hyundai Group “metaplant” in Savannah, Georgia is part of the Hyundai Group’s “commitment of $10 billion by 2025 to foster future mobility in the U.S., including production of EVs”, the company said. The ground breaking comes amid anger from South Korea and the European Union over U.S. electric vehicle tax policy. The Inflation Reduction Act, signed by Biden in August, requires EVs to be assembled in North America to qualify for tax credits in the United States, but excluded Hyundai and its affiliate Kia from EV subsidies, as they do not yet make the vehicles there, along with major European automakers. The law made about 70% of EVs immediately ineligible for the tax credits of up to $7.500 per vehicle. Biden has expressed willingness to continue talks with South Korea over recent U.S. legislation that denies subsidies to most foreign makers of electric vehicles (EVs), South Korea said earlier this month. Biden has also repeatedly praised investments by major foreign automakers to build electric vehicles and battery plants in the United States, including an announcement on Tuesday by Honda and LG Energy that they would locate a $4.4 billion battery plant in Ohio. Biden gave the assurance in a letter to South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who had asked the U.S. president last month for help to allay Seoul’s concerns that the new U.S. rules would hurt South Korea’s automakers, Reuters reported. As a result of the August law, only about 20 EVs qualify for subsidies under the new rules, among them models from Ford and BMW. +++

+++ With the Grenadier, INEOS burst onto the scene with a single-minded SUV designed to tackle rough terrain and harsh conditions, and to follow up its initial offering, the firm will release a smaller EV model that adopts the same brief. The Grenadier draws clear inspiration from the previous Land Rover Defender with its squared-off, boxy design and heavy duty looks, and the new electric SUV will offer similar characteristics packed into a more compact footprint. Ineos sales and marketing boss Gary Pearson said: “As with the Grenadier, which is positioned as an uncompromising, rugged off-roader which is more of a tool than a toy, we’ll stick to that very much with anything we come out with”. Ineos will pitch the EV as a workhorse, rather than a road-biased vehicle that prioritises opulence and outright electric range. According to Pearson, it will be a “smaller vehicle with a shorter range that can be used during the day, particularly if it’s on an estate, managing some land, on a farm, on a Safari, where the range doesn’t have to be seven hundred kilometres. Even though it doesn’t go very far, where it goes is still challenging”. Despite this, the firm expects to steal sales from conventional crossovers on the basis of the car’s style and rugged character, as it has with the Grenadier. However, its engineers are unwilling to compromise on the electric model’s functional aspects to do so – specifically in terms of its design. The electric off-roader’s bluff proportions will be recognisable with links to the Grenadier, but while the 2-box shape will maximise cabin space and utility, its aerodynamic efficiency will be sub-optimal. To compensate, certain elements of the new car will be optimised to better suit an EV, without altering the general design. “One of things that counters wind noise is incredibly good seals on the vehicle, which are designed to keep dust and water out but also do a good job of keeping noise out”, said Pearson. “We probably would take a look at surfaces that could change to improve things, but only if the vehicle still meets the brief it needs to meet”. The electric SUV will be built at the same Hambach plant as the Grenadier, and while initial reports suggested that it could use a bespoke EV platform, a shortened version of the Grenadier’s ladder chassis may be feasible. This would provide the off-road performance and durability required for such a vehicle, and is “technically very, very possible”, according to Pearson. As with the BMW-engined Grenadier, Ineos will outsource the powertrain technology of the smaller off-roader, and one potential partner is Magna Steyr, the Austrian company that helped develop the Grenadier. Magna will also produce the new Fisker Ocean electric SUV, which could donate its battery and dual-motor technology to the Ineos EV. According to Pearson, the Ineos-Magna partnership is “as deep and strong as it’s ever been”, and the firm is “one of the many partners that can help and advise with what an electric vehicle looks like”. +++

+++ An all-electric, 7-seat SUV is being readied for production by Hyundai and it’ll be called the IONIQ 7 . It will also be the third EV under the Ioniq subbrand, following the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6. We’ve already seen the Ioniq 7 in concept form via the Ioniq Seven shown at last year’s Los Angeles Motor Show. The concept’s design looks to invoke stylistic elements already seen on the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6. If the Ioniq 7 stays true to its concept (which the Ioniq 5 and 6 certainly did), then we’ll see a boxy, high-riding SUV with a full-width LED headlight bar at the front, joined by 2 matrix-style lights lower down on the bluff front end. To the side, there should be some rather wide wheel arches draped over a bespoke set of alloy wheels for the Ioniq 7. The bonnet line should also be more curved to help with drag coefficient. An upswept window line towards the rear pillar is something we’ll see on its sister car, the upcoming EV9. This and the large glass rear hatch could still make it to production if the latest teaser images are to be believed. The final car isn’t going to feature such an extreme interior as seen on the concept, so rear-opening doors and the boldly minimalist design won’t be carried over. There will be plenty of impressive technology on board, however, with the Ioniq 7 potentially taking the dual 12-inch screen set up from the Ioniq 6, along with digital wing mirrors and extensive customisation for driving modes. We could yet see a new battery pack powering the Ioniq 7. A 77.4kWh unit is the largest battery you’ll find in the Ioniq 5 and 6, but with the size and aerodynamic inefficiency of the Ioniq 7, a larger battery may be used to make sure the range stays appropriately for this flagship EV. Hyundai recently announced its next-generation of EV platforms, eS and eM, will hit the road in 2026. This could mean the Ioniq 7 will be the most technologically advanced model to sit on the current E-GMP platform, which Hyundai has previously stated can offer a battery capacity over 100kWh. As for a hot N model, the only Hyundai EV that has an N variant is still the Ioniq 5 N, although the Ioniq 6 N could potentially be previewed by the RN22e concept. The Ioniq 7 probably won’t make for the ideal basis of a sporty N car with its size and weight. We still haven’t seen the Ioniq 7 testing so don’t expect to see the final production car revealed until closer to its on-sale date in 2023. +++

+++ A  rugged concept version of the electric JEEP AVENGER has been unveiled the Paris motor show, with a bespoke design and upgraded off-roading capabilities. Debuted on stage by Jeep boss Christian Meunier, the Avenger 4×4 concept features a modified exterior with additional equipment to bolster its abilities on extreme terrains. The concept, which Jeep says will be added to the firm’s range of 4xe models in the future, features wider fenders and a wider track than the standard Avenger, along with towing hooks and larger, off-road tyres. At the front, it gains bulkier bodywork with thicker cladding. Its ground clearance has risen by 200mm, meaning its approach angle has also improved to 21 degrees, its departure angle to 34 degrees and its breakover angle to 20 degrees. It’s also equipped with an additional built-in floodlight and a new lightweight, scratchproof roof cargo system, fitted with a new belt system. Jeep said the concept also features an anti-reflective bonnet sticker and anti-scratch treatment. “The Avenger has been designed as a Jeep vehicle from the outset, and the all-electric 4×2 model already offers some of the best-in-class capabilities that identify the Jeep brand”, said Meunier. “But we couldn’t help but wonder, what would happen if we injected the Jeep brand’s four-wheel-drive electrified capabilities into a compact package while retaining the brand’s unique design language, capability and personality?” The Avenger is bound for the UK next year. Jeep hasn’t revealed what powertrain drives the 4×4 concept but did detail the Avenger’s official specifications in Paris. Powered by a 54 kWh battery, the new Hyundai Kona Electric rival is capable of 400 km of range (WLTP). “Here in Paris, we’ve shown that we have a full portfolio of new all-electric, 4×4-capable Jeep models just around the corner, with a clear goal in mind: to become the number one electrified SUV brand in the world as we continue our path towards achieving our mission of zero-emissions freedom”, said Meunier. +++

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+++ Future PEUGEOT models will take the lead from the new 408 in “challenging conventional silhouettes”, according to the firm’s head designer, Matthias Hossann. Hossann highlighted the benefits of the Peugeot 408’s unconventional silhouette, namely that its raised ride height and spacious greenhouse boost practicality, while its rakish roofline promotes efficiency, and said future models will follow suit. “It shows the inventiveness of the brand, this new typology of product”, he said. “It’s not a hatchback any more, it’s not an SUV. It’s something else: a new species, a new breed of car, and I think when you see it physically, you can really appreciate these new proportions”. Asked why it is important to rethink traditional vehicle categorisations, Hossann said “every product we are designing needs to be a worldwide product”, highlighting that China, a key focus market for Peugeot, is no longer the saloon car stronghold it once was, such is the global trend towards SUVs. He said the current Peugeot 508, launched in 2018, was the first step on the path towards “the evolution of the traditional sedan car”, with its coupé-style silhouette and sporting focus. When it came to designing the 408, Peugeot’s designers found “there was white space between the traditional hatchback and the SUV, and in this white space we didn’t want to just do a hatchback crossover with some plastic parts on it, we really wanted to do something else”. The 408 is part of a move to cater to a target market that, claims Hossann, wants “a new experience” when they buy a car. “We don’t want to be stuck to traditional hatchbacks or SUVs any more”, he said. “We want to push for the future of Peugeot, so every time we design a new car, we want to challenge the conservative silhouettes that we are used to”. He stopped short of confirming whether each future model would straddle multiple segments as obviously as the 408, but emphasized the ‘non-traditional’ ethos behind the design of each current Peugeot, and said it will be emphasized in the next generation of cars. Peugeot will shortly give a glimpse of what to expect from its first generation of bespoke electric cars, with a concept car that dramatically rethinks its traditional exterior and interior design cues. Called the Inception, in reference to a number of features and technologies it will showcase for the first time, it will arrive just before Peugeot gets under way with what CEO Linda Jackson calls the firm’s “electric year” in 2023. By 2024, Peugeot will offer an electrified version of each of its models, with the final additions to line-up including 3008 and 5008 hybrids, using new-to-Stellantis electric hardware with improved efficiency. Next year, it will also launch the more powerful e-208 GT, roll out the e-308 and e-308 SW  and start selling the 408 with a choice of 2 plug-in hybrid powertrains. The Inception will give strong clues to what future electrified Peugeot models, more specifically those designed from the ground up to be pure-electric, will look like, beginning from 2025. It will, Jackson told reporters, be “more than just a symbolic gesture” and will embody Peugeot’s ambition to “reinvent the automotive experience for more pleasure”. Peugeot has the opportunity to reinvent three key strains of its customer experience as it gears up for all-out electrification, said Jackson: special organisation, driving gestures and the “experiences in and around the car”. The Inception will show how it plans to achieve this, most notably with a variation on its trademark i-Cockpit interior layout, which “evolves several steps” beyond that featured in the brand’s current cars. It remains unclear how different this will be, but company bosses are keen that future Peugeot models retain the “sensation of driving” and the “allure” that it says are core to its current models. The Inception won’t necessarily preview a production car but rather will explore a number of themes Peugeot will pursue on next-generation products, rather like Dacia’s off-road-focused Manifesto concept, making its debut in Paris. “It will project the values of the brand”, said Jackson, stopping short of confirming any further details, beyond that it will be based on Stellantis hardware; presumably the STLA Medium architecture for C-D segment passenger EVs. Hossann, told that Peugeot wants to “keep the feel of driving sensation” in its next-generation cars and will seek to maintain attractive proportions, while exploring new ways of defining segments. “This is the beginning of a new story for Peugeot and a great opportunity for us designers, because we’ve announced we will be full-electric by 2030, and that’s a great opportunity for a brand with such a legacy as Peugeot. This is just the beginning of the new story”, Hossann said. He wouldn’t be drawn on whether bespoke Peugeot EVs will look markedly different from the cars Peugeot sells today but drew attention to a number of defining features of Peugeot models, including the ‘fang’ running lights and i-Cockpit cabin, which will remain important characteristics for the brand. The Inception will be Peugeot’s first concept since the acclaimed E-Legend of 2018, which took its lead from the brand’s 1960s 504 Coupé in imagining a retro-styled electric coupé for the 2020s. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN will invest €2.4 billion to set up an autonomous driving joint venture with China’s Horizon Robotics to strengthen the automaker’s tech presence in its biggest market. The new unit will develop automated and assisted driving systems for China, integrating numerous functions on one chip to save costs and lower energy consumption, VW said. The technology will be built for the carmaker’s battery-only models sold in China to accelerate innovation in a market where consumers increasingly pick local EV brands. The joint venture “will enable us to tailor our products and services even faster and more consistently to the needs of our Chinese customers,” said Ralf Brandstätter, who runs VW’s China business. Teaming up with Horizon will help “drive the repositioning of our China business”. VW is under pressure to improve its offering in China, its biggest market with roughly 40% of deliveries. Sales last year slid, outpacing an overall drop as the company struggled to keep up with local consumer tastes, particularly on digital offerings with many VW models exasperating drivers with frozen screens and complex functionality. Cariad, the manufacturer’s software subsidiary will take a 60% stake in the joint venture, with the transaction due to be completed next year. Cariad is attempting to get back on track after software development hiccups delayed several models, including the important electric Porsche Macan. The disarray culminated in the departure of chief executive officer Herbert Diess with Oliver Blume now in charge at Europe biggest carmaker. Horizon, backed by investors including Intel, Hillhouse Capital and electric-vehicle maker BYD, has technology that can be installed in everything from cars to smart speakers, and already counts Volkswagen’s Audi among its partners, according to its website. As part of the deal, VW will take a stake in the company, gaining a board seat, and invest €1.3 billion to set up the joint venture. VW’s move to start making advanced chips in China for local models also comes at a time of deep upheaval for the global chip industry. The US on Friday outlined restrictions on doing business with China to hamper its ability to develop the most advanced chips and equip its military, prompting manufacturers to reel in servicing customers in the country. Having development capability “in China and for China” will help with offering an “independent solution here for the future”, Cariad CEO Dirk Hilgenberg said on a call with reporters. +++

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