Newsflash: Ford stopt met de Fiesta


+++ The FORD Fiesta could be discontinued as early as next year because it won’t get an electric successor, a report has claimed. The supermini has fallen out of favour with the British public in recent years, with buyers flocking to the rival Vauxhall Corsa (the UK’s bestselling car in 2021) and the Ford Puma. The Puma is the third bestselling model in the UK so far this year, trailing only the Nissan Qashqai and the Corsa. Meanwhile, the Fiesta doesn’t feature in the top 10 best-sellers to date, despite a recent facelift. It was speculated earlier this year that Ford earns more from Lego licensing deals than from the hatchback. This trend is mirrored in Europe: according to data from Jato Dynamics, Fiesta sales by the end of August were down 45% compared with 2021 levels, at 38.911 units. Meanwhile, Puma sales were down 14% compared with the same point in 2021, at 90.893 units. In August alone, the Puma placed 12th for European sales, with 9.891 examples leaving showrooms. The Fiesta failed to place in the top 50, at just 2.735 units. The Fiesta could be axed as early as 2023, likely to make way for the Puma EV launching in 2024. This would bring to an end a 46-year history spanning eight generations. understands that an official announcement regarding the Fiesta’s future is imminent. Ford said in a statement: “We are accelerating our efforts to go all-in on electrification and therefore review our vehicle portfolio in line with our business strategy. We do not comment on speculation and will share more information in the coming months”. This follows June’s news that production of the larger Focus will come to an end in 2025, without a direct successor tipped for production. It’s instead expected to be replaced by an electric crossover (1 of 4 new EVs due by 2024) to sit between the Puma EV and the existing Ford Mustang Mach-E. Arriving in 2023, this model may be based on the Volkswagen ID.4 and be built at Ford’s new state-of-the-art EV manufacturing centre in Cologne, Germany. A similar model, expected to be a coupé-bodied sports SUV based on the Volkswagen ID.5, will follow the year after. Ford of Europe boss Stuart Rowley said in March: “Let me assure you these products will absolutely look like Fords, drive like Fords and the experiences that we provide will give customers unique purchase and ownership experiences”. The company expects to sell some 600.000 EVs annually by 2026 under its Ford Model E division, which operates separately from its ICE car and commercial vehicle divisions (Ford Blue and Ford Pro, respectively). Ford previously stated that it will sell only EVs in Europe from 2030. +++

+++ GENERAL MOTORS beat Wall Street’s consensus third-quarter profit estimate on record revenue and affirmed its guidance for the year thanks to strong sales of its luxury Cadillac SUVs and largest pick-ups; an indicator that rising interest rates have not yet hit its business. GM reported adjusted profit of $2.25 a share on Tuesday, surpassing analysts’ projection for $1.89 a share. It also maintained guidance for full-year profit of $6.50 to $7.50 a share. The quarterly results show that auto profits are resilient even as the economy weakens and inflation remains high. Improved availability of semiconductors and other components helped boost sales of its highest margin vehicles in the US, especially large pickups and SUVs. GM also saw higher profits in China. “We’re delivering on our commitments and affirming our full-year guidance despite a challenging environment because demand continues to be strong for GM products and we are actively managing the headwinds we face”, GM chief executive officer Mary Barra said in a letter to shareholders. The Detroit automaker posted revenue of $41.9 billion thanks to a 24% jump in US vehicles sales for the 3 months ending September 30. Analysts expected GM to bring in $42 billion in revenue for the quarter. Electric-vehicle market leader Tesla last week said its revenue came in at $21.5 billion. Traditional, rival Ford reports its earnings on Wednesday. The automaker’s results beat profits of $1.53 a share a year ago and $1.14 per share in the second quarter, easing concerns about vehicle affordability and a possible recession. Shares of the carmaker rose 5.1% in premarket trading to $37.55 as of 7:35 a.m. in New York. The stock is down about 39% this year. The company sees 2022 adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of $13 billion to $15 billion, unchanged from its previous projections. GM also showed an improvement in its business in China, the world’s largest auto market. The company said it made $330 million from its Chinese operations, up 22% from the same period a year ago even though shutdowns related to the Covid-19 pandemic have weighed on the local economy. The carmaker’s Cruise self-driving vehicle unit lost $497 million in the most recent quarter and has lost a total of $1.4 billion so far this year as GM continues to develop autonomous technology and prepares to expand robotaxi service in Phoenix and Austin. +++

+++ HYUNDAI expects its sales will continue to decline in the 4th quarter of this year and beyond, citing the continued shortage of automotive chips, Russia’s war in Ukraine and other unfavorable business conditions, company officials said, Monday. But global demand for its SUVs and eco-friendly vehicles will increase, offsetting falling sales of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars, they said. “The vehicle market has been stagnant lately due to several risk factors, such as supply issues for automotive semiconductors, rising raw material prices and reduced demand due to interest rate hikes in major countries”, a Hyundai Motor official said in a third-quarter earnings announcement conference call held, Monday. “The cost burden is expected to increase as the impact of the raw material price increases is expected to rise in the second half of the year. The recovery of global car sales is progressing more slowly than expected, while external uncertainties are increasing”. Accordingly, Hyundai plans to improve profitability by making continuous changes to its product structure, focusing on SUVs, the Genesis brand and eco-friendly vehicles. As of the end of the second quarter, most of Hyundai’s 640.000 unsold vehicles in Korea were high value-added vehicles such as SUVs and Genesis models, Hyundai Motor explained. In the European market, sales of eco-friendly vehicles also increased by 11 percent compared to the previous year amid a decline in industrial demand. It is analyzed that the expansion of sales of the Ioniq 5 and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) was effective. In the U.S. market, the proportion of SUV sales increased by 75 percent. Hyundai predicted that the recent surge in gasoline prices would positively affect the growth of eco-friendly vehicles. Hyundai plans to respond immediately to the growing demand for eco-friendly vehicles in the U.S., starting mass production of the Santa Fe HEV at its Alabama plant this month. “Following the Ioniq 5, we are promoting the sales of the Ioniq 6 in 2023 and the Ioniq 7 thereafter”, the official added. Hyundai recorded an operating profit of 1.5 trillion won in the third quarter even after reflecting over 1 trillion won in quality costs related to the Theta 2 GDI engine. This figure is a result of increased sales of high value-added products and an increase in the won-dollar exchange rate. Although Hyundai lowered its sales target for this year, it slightly raised its operating profit target. Hyundai announced Monday that it sold 1.025.000 cars in the third quarter of this year, recording 37.7 trillion won in sales and 1.55 trillion won in operating profit. Sales increased 30.6 percent from the same period last year, but operating profit decreased by 3.4 percent. In the third quarter of this year, overall sales increased mainly in high value-added models and the exchange rate helped profitability, but operating profit decreased as 1.36 trillion won was reflected in the quality cost related to the Theta 2 GDI engine. Net income decreased by 5.1 percent to 1.41 trillion won. Hyundai revised its global sales target to 4.01 million vehicles for the year from 4.32 million vehicles set earlier this year. +++

+++ KIA said Tuesday it third-quarter net profit plunged 60 percent from a year earlier on recall costs involving engine-related services. Net profit for the three months ended in September fell to 458.89 billion won ($319 million) from 1.13 trillion won during the same period of last year, the company said in a statement. Kia put aside 1.54 trillion won to cover recall costs for additional complaints involving the Theta II gasoline direct injection (GDi) engine and offer other customer services in the third quarter. It is the second time for the maker to reflect massive recall costs in its quarterly bottom line. In 2019, the Hyundai Motor Group reached a settlement with car owners over problems with the Theta II GDi engine, such as engine stalling and non-collision fires, in the United States. Kia reflected 1.3 trillion won in recall costs in the quarterly results of 2020, and its bigger affiliate Hyundai set aside 2.1 trillion won for the same purpose. In this past quarter, Hyundai reflected 1.36 trillion won in recall costs. Operating profit for the third quarter also fell 42 percent to 768.23 billion won from 1.33 trillion won a year ago. Sales rose 31 percent to 23.16 trillion won from 17.75 trillion won during the same period. From January to September, Kia’s net income fell 4 percent to 3.37 trillion won from 3.51 trillion won. Operating profit rose 19 percent to 4.61 trillion won on sales of 63.39 trillion won, up 20 percent from a year ago. +++

+++ Despite its low-slung, liftback shape and lively performance with up to 368 horsepower, the KIA STINGER was never the brightest star in Kia’s firmament. After a string of rumors through the years hinted that the car was doomed, reports out of South Korea say now that the plug will be pulled on Stinger production next April. Weak demand is the reason cited for Stinger’s demise, the same reasoning that had been circulating about the car for about four years. No direct replacement is expected yet, although designer Karim Habib said last year that the EV6 GT electric crossover could serve a similar role in the lineup. In the U.S., sales of the once-promising sedan have been on a downward slope. Some 13.517 Stingers were sold in the U.S. last year, and so far in 2022 Kia has sold less than half that many. A refreshed Stinger arrived in spring 2021. The high-end GT arrived with a horsepower bump and some interior and exterior tweaks, but apparently that wasn’t enough newness to save the line. +++

+++ MASERATI is primed to bring back the Grancabrio name next year for a convertible version of the reborn Granturismo. The revitalised Maserati Grancabrio (which retains it fabric roof) will feature nearly identical technical specifications across the board, said Maserati. That means a choice of two V6 options (with 489 hp and 550 hp) and a Folgore-badged EV with 762 hp. When the Folgore variant lands, making the Grancabrio the first electric drop-top GT on the market, specifications will be incredible similar to the roofed Granturismo, which also pushes out more than 1.300 Nm of torque, helping it to sprint from 0-100 kph in just 2.7 seconds. The top-end naturally aspirated Trofeo version, which gets the same Nettuno 3.0-litre V6 as is found in the flagship Maserati MC20, will likely match the GT’s 3.5 seconds 0-100 kph. Maserati’s head of global products, Massimo Capaldi, told the new Grancabrio will offer something “very unique” in its positioning as a convertible GT with 4 seats and the option of electric power. As with the previous generation, which was retired in 2019 along with the Granturismo, the convertible is tipped to push beyond the coupé’s price and well into the €250.000 range, said Capaldi, lining it up as a rival for the Bentley Continental GTC. It’s expected to be launched just after the new Maserati Granturismo in the latter stages of 2023, alongside an electric version of the new Grecale, taking the total number of trident-badged EVs to three. The Italian firm will by 2025 introduce electric versions of the Levante, Quattroporte and MC20 and from 2030 stop selling ICE models. +++


+++ SKODA wants to supplement its traditional passenger car line-up with a fleet of autonomous-capable vehicles that will be offered on a subscription basis. The vehicles will be the core of a new ‘function on demand’ model created by parent company Volkswagen Group and will future-proof the company, CEO Klaus Zellmer told, suggesting: “This business potential will be huge. We don’t want to miss that train”. As such, these cars are not likely to be marketed for individual sale, added Zellmer, as it would be too far removed from Skoda’s current entry-level price point: a base Skoda Fabia costing €20.9755 in the Netherlands, for example. “Those cars that will be able to offer additional value or additional usage (such as fully autonomous driving) will typically be in fleets”, said Zellmer. “This is because the typical price point of those cars for Skoda customers. That will be a challenge to market”. Instead, they will be part of (but most likely not exclusive to) a fleet operated under the Europcar brand, which is in the final stage of being bought by a consortium led by Skoda owner, the Volkswagen Group, for €2.5 billion. The cars in the fleet will be offered on a pay-as-you go basis for a few hours of use; for car sharing; for ride hailing, which is expected to be the main aim for Skoda’s autonomous cars; or on a monthly subscription basis. Previously, Christian Dahlheim, CEO of Volkswagen Financial Services, said: “Autonomous vehicles will be the next game-changer and lift the platform to an even higher level”. The first self-driving car to be part of the scheme, which is tipped by the VW Group to be launched in Europe in 2025, will be an autonomous Volkswagen ID.Buzz. Zellmer would not say when Skoda models would join or confirm in what form these would take, be it specialised autonomous models or adaptations in the same vein as the ID.Buzz. When they arrive, these autonomous Skodas will join new electric additions to the Czech brand’s line-up, which will include the Elroq city car, a Fabia-priced supermini and a production version of the Vision 7S MPV concept; all of which could also be adapted to be used as part of the wider VW Group scheme. “If you look into society, there is a clear trend that you go away from ownership to just using cars when you want to”, said Zellmer. “We don’t want to miss that train as this business potential will be huge; there is a huge profit pool for us in there”. Car sharing is also being seen potentially as a profitable business area. A similar scheme, called Mobilize, was recently announced by the Renault Group, which it expects to be responsible for around 30% of its total turnover by 2030. The scheme offers single- and two-seat electric city car rentals, as well as charging stations and servicing programmes. +++

+++ The SKODA ENYAQ iV RS will arrive in European showrooms in 2023, becoming the flagship model above the Coupé variant that went on sale earlier this year. Skoda’s answer to the Volkswagen ID.4 GTX, the new model is the Enyaq iV RS Coupé’s more practical sibling. It gains a more traditional rear end, with a boot capacity of 585 litres; 15 litres more than the Coupé. The second performance variant of the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car, the Enyaq iV RS is powered by the same 82 kWh battery as its Coupé sibling. It produces 299 hp and 450 Nm to complete the 0-100 kph sprint in 6.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of 180 kph. Range stands at 500 km and the maximum charging rate at 135 kW, which will get the battery from 10% to 80% in around 36 minutes when you use a fast charger. The SUV gains similar sporty exterior styling to the Coupé with gloss-black front aprons, window frames, door mirrors and rear diffuser. Skoda’s Crystal Face front grille, which features 131 LEDs, is included as standard. Body-coloured side skirts highlight the Enyaq’s lower-slung stance, which is 15mm lower at the front and 10mm lower at the rear than the standard Enayq. Skoda says this improves its drag coefficient by 0.265 Cd, with various bits of plastic trim around the car contributing to improved aerodynamics. Like the ID 4 GTX, the Enyaq iV vRS offers 5 standard driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Traction. Drivers can also customise their own driving profile. Inside, the Kia EV6 rival is finished with carbonfibre effect trim on the dashboard and door panels and faux leather on the dashboard. A 13in touchscreen infotainment system is the centrepiece of the cabin and the largest in any Skoda model. Behind the steering wheel sits a 5.3 inch digital cockpit, which displays driving data and sat-nav details. Standard equipment on the Enyaq iv vRS includes tri-zone climate control, wireless phone charging, LED ambient lighting, an electric tailgate and heated microfibre sports seats. Skoda hasn’t yet announced pricing for the SUV, but it will command a slight premium over the Coupé. The Enyaq iV has been a successful model for Skoda. The firm has sold 100.000 Enyaq iVs since the model’s launch in 2020, with 45.000 sold in 2021, despite then-CEO Thomas Schäfer describing the year as “one of the most challenging years in Skoda’s history”. +++


+++ TOYOTA is considering a reboot of its electric-car strategy to better compete in a booming market it has been slow to enter, and has halted some work on existing EV projects, 4 people with knowledge of the still-developing plans said. The proposals under review, if adopted, would amount to a dramatic shift for Toyota and rewrite the $38 billion EV rollout plan the Japanese automaker announced last year to better compete with the likes of Tesla. A working group within Toyota has been charged with outlining plans by early next year for improvements to its existing EV platform or for a new architecture, the 4 individuals said. In the meantime, Toyota has suspended work on some of the 30 EV projects announced in December, which include the Toyota Compact Cruiser crossover and the battery-electric Crown. Toyota said it was committed to carbon neutrality but declined to comment on specific initiatives. “In order to achieve carbon neutrality, Toyota’s own technology, as well as the work we are doing with a range of partners and suppliers, is essential”, the company said in response to questions. The 4 sources declined to be identified because the plans have not been made public. The revamp under consideration could slow the rollout of EVs already on the drawing board. But it would also give Toyota a chance to compete with a more efficient manufacturing process, as industry-wide EV sales run past Toyota’s earlier projections. In addition, it would address criticism by green investors and environmental groups who argue that Toyota, once a darling of environmentalists, has been too slow to embrace EVs. As part of the review, Toyota is considering a successor to its EV-underpinning technology called e-TNGA, unveiled in 2019. That would allow Toyota to bring down costs, the people said. The first EV based on e-TNGA, the BZ4X crossover, hit the market earlier this year although its launch was marred by a recall that forced Toyota to suspend production from June. Production resumed earlier this month. The review was triggered in part by the realization by some engineers and executives that Toyota was losing the factory cost war to Tesla on EVs, the sources said. Toyota’s planning had assumed demand for EVs would not take off for several decades, the 4 people said. Toyota designed e-TNGA so that EVs could be produced on the same assembly line with gasoline cars and hybrids. That made sense based on the assumption Toyota would need to sell about 3.5 million EVs a year (roughly one-third of its current global volume) by 2030 to stay competitive, the sources said. But sales of EVs are growing faster. Automakers globally now forecast plans for EVs to represent more than half of total vehicle production by 2030, part of a wave of industry-wide investment that now totals $1.2 trillion. The person leading Toyota’s EV review is Shigeki Terashi, former chief competitive officer, according to 6 people with knowledge of the work, including 2 people close to Toyota. Terashi did not respond to a request for comment. Terashi’s team has been designated a “BR” or “Business Revolution” group within Toyota, a term used for major changes including a revamp of its development and production processes 2 decades ago. “What’s driving Mr Terashi’s effort is the EV’s faster-than-anticipated takeoff and rapid-fire adoptions of cutting-edge innovations by Tesla and others”, one of the people said. All 6 people declined to be named because of the confidential nature of the plans. Terashi’s team is considering an option to prolong e-TNGA’s usefulness by coupling it with new technologies, 3 of the sources said. Terashi could also propose to retire e-TNGA more quickly and opt for an EV-dedicated platform engineered from the ground up. That could take roughly 5 years for new models, 2 of the sources said. “There is little time to waste”, said one. Toyota is working with suppliers and considering factory innovations to bring down costs like Tesla’s Giga Press, a massive casting machine that has streamlined work in Tesla plants. One area under review is a more comprehensive approach to an EV’s thermal management (combining, for example, passenger airconditioning and electric powertrain temperature control) that Tesla has already mobilized, the sources said. This could allow Toyota to reduce the size and weight of an EV battery pack and cut costs by thousands of dollars per vehicle, making it a “top priority” for Toyota suppliers Denso and Aisin, one of the sources familiar with the matter said. Denso and Aisin had no immediate comment. The recognition within Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, that Tesla has set a new benchmark for EV manufacturing costs marks a major reversal. A decade ago when Toyota took a stake in Tesla and the 2 companies collaborated to produce a battery-electric version of the RAV4, many Toyota engineers believed Tesla’s technology was no threat, 2 of the sources said. “They concluded back then there wasn’t much to learn”, one of the sources said. Toyota discontinued the electric RAV4 in 2014 and sold its stake in Tesla in 2017. By 2018, when Toyota finally set up a dedicated zero-emissions division and began building an e-platform, Tesla already had 3 models on the road. +++

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