Newsflash: Mini Aceman krijgt vorm


+++ The unveiling of the new A110 R might be near, but ALPINE has given us one final teaser ahead of its launch. In a teaser, Alpine shows us A110 R’s acceleration and top speed figures. A claimed 0-100 kph time of 3.9 seconds makes the R the fastest A110 yet, beating the current range-topping S model by 0.3 seconds. The second video shows the 285 kph top speed, which is faster than the S. The torque figure is displayed on the driver display at 340 Nm. This is identical to the A110 S and GT. The display also shows a power output greater than 300 hp, but don’t expect much difference from the 300 hp which the 1.8-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder pumps out in the hotter A110 S and GT versions. This means the R’s improved performance won’t primarally come from extra power, but rather the amount of weight saving and potentially the calibration of the gearbox. Although I’ve also seen an ‘R’ badged A110 before in the shape of the R-GT rally car, I don’t expect the A110 R to feature a 6-speed sequential gearbox or a roll cage. Alpine says the A110 R will be “an extreme version. Lighter. Sharper. And even more inspired by motor racing”. The firm also says it has been designed for the racetrack but will remain road legal. We’ve already spotted a few revealing images showing that the new front bumper will feature a more aggressive lower splitter and there’ll be a swan-neck rear spoiler that should also produce extra downforce. A new side skirt fin appears alongside a fresh rear bumper and vented bonnet. To save weight, the roof is made from carbon fibre. The total weight saved from the A110 S with the aero kit is 34 kg. Inside, we can see six-point harness and bucket seats, although the latter are not quite as focused as the pair of Sabelt seats found in the R-GT rally car. The R will top the A110 range, ahead of the standard model, GT, A110 S and the ​’South Beach Colourway’ edition. The Suzuka Formula One Grand Prix will play host to the A110 R debut, but attendees of the 2022 Paris Motor Show will also be able to see Alpine’s latest creation in the metal from 17 October. +++


+++ AUDI will end production of the R8 supercar next year, in a significant step towards the wholesale transformation and, ultimately, electrification of the Audi Sport brand. The R8 and TT (also bowing out in 2023) have been pivotal in establishing Audi Sport as a bona fide competitor for the likes of BMW M and Mercedes-AMG, serving as low-volume but highly recognizable halo models of a line-up that includes some of the best-selling performance cars on sale today. Their withdrawal is especially significant because of the rarity of their engines. The R8 is 1 of only 2 cars on sale today with a V10 and the 5-cylinder turbo unit in the Audi TT RS is the last of its kind in series production. As electric power beckons for the cars’ successors, the R8 GT RWD and Audi TT RS Iconic Edition have been introduced as highly exclusive commemorative variants; each the final entry into its series. The former is the last outing for Audi’s venerable atmospheric V10 (the last of this configuration still in series production) and is at once the most powerful rear-driven Audi yet and the firm’s most expensive production car. It’s the final new variant of the mid-engined supercar as we know it, production of which will come to a close next year, and just 15 of the 333 examples will come to the UK, expected to be priced around 290.000 euro in the Netherlands. Output from the 5.2-litre unit (shared with the Lamborghini Huracán, which is also due to sign off next year) has been boosted from 570 hp in the standard R8 RWD up to 620 hp; 20kg of weight has been shaved off; and the gearbox has been tweaked for quicker shifts, taking the GT from 0-100 kph in just 3.4 seconds and on to 320 kph. Plus, there’s a new 7-stage rear traction control system that can be adjusted for the desired compromise between accuracy and flamboyance. The so-called ‘Torque Rear Drive’ mode’ appears for the first time on the new GT, allowing for a “little slippage” in setting one and “a lot of slippage” in position seven. It also distributes power automatically across the rear axle according to the road conditions and driving scenario, using data from sensors on the wheels, accelerator pedal, steering rack and ECU. Audi also highlights a weight reduction of roughly 20kg (to 1.570 kg at the kerb) courtesy of bespoke lightweight 20 inch wheels (optionally wrapped in hardcore Michelin Sport Cup 2 tyres), ceramic brake discs, a carbonfibre-reinforced plastic front anti-roll bar and aluminium coupling rods. As with the GT edition of the previous-generation R8, the new car is painted in matte Suzuka Grey as standard and is marked out from the standard model by black badging, carbon trim, red seatbelts, an Alcantara diamond headlining and a build plaque in the centre console. +++


+++ CITROEN is expected to launch an all-electric version of its C3 within the next year or so. Laurent Barria, a Citroën branding executive, confirmed an electric C3 is in development. He stated that the upcoming C3 will have a strong emphasis on “accessibility to electric mobility” and will feature plenty of sustainable materials exhibited on the Oli concept car. The next-generation C3 will be the first Citroën to wear the brand’s new logo and will most likely be available in mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid guise as well. Given Citroën is part of the PSA Group, the electric C3 could have the same CMP architecture as the Opel Corsa-e and Peugeot e-208. Both the Corsa-e and e-208 have 50 kWh battery packs and ranges of around 400 km. The current C3 has been on sale since 2016 and received a minor facelift in 2020. A popular choice in Europe, the C3 is affordable and offers plenty of practicality. As mentioned above, the C3 will take inspiration from the recently revealed Oli Concept. The Oli features a 40 kWh battery pack, has a 110 kph top speed, and can go for a theoretical 415 km on a single charge. Although the C3 should be significantly more powerful than the Oli and use a larger battery pack, it should carry over several design cues from the concept car. +++

+++ August brings some positive news from EUROPE , as the European passenger car market expanded by 3,4% year-over-year, which is the first year-over-year growth since June 2021. Nonetheless, the situation remains difficult and even plug-in electric cars are scrambling to see some growth. According to data, 159.720 new passenger plug-in cars were registered in Europe in August, which is 2% more than a year ago. The market share amounted to 21%. It’s noteworthy that battery-electric cars were up 12% (and had 13% market share), which means that the main issue is still falling sales of plug-in hybrids (down 10% in August and had 8% market share). So far this year, 1.442.876 new passenger plug-in electric cars were registered in Europe. That’s about 20% of the total volume. Battery-electric cars sales were 0.87 million and had 12% market share. PHEVs registered at 0.58 million and 8% share. In August, the Tesla Model Y returned to the top of monthly registrations with 7.011 units, which allowed it to strengthen as #1 for the year. Strong results were set also by the Volkswagen ID.4 (5.796 – best result so far this year) and its cousin, the Skoda Enyaq iV (4.669). The Fiat 500 electric this time was off the podium, but 4.032 units is another solid result, which enables it to get a bit closer to the Tesla Model 3 in the year-to-date standings. Next came the Dacia Spring (3.784 sales), Volkswagen ID.3 (3.694), the Ford Kuga PHEV (3.504), the Tesla Model 3 (2.938), the Cupra Born (2.851) and the Audi Q4 e-Tron (2.839). The top 3 for the year are the Tesla Model Y with 53.997 sales, the Tesla Model 3 (43.575) and the Fiat 500 electric (42.225). The rest of the top-10 consists of the Volkswagen ID.4 (34.467), the Skoda Enyaq iV (31.578), the Peugeot e-208 (29.401), the Ford Kuga PHEV (27.629), the Dacia Spring (26.659), the Hyundai Kona Electric (26.378) and the Kia Niro EV (e-Niro; 25.899). The top plug-in brands (market share year-to-date) are BMW at 9.1%, Mercedes-Benz (8.2%), Volkswagen (7.4%), Tesla (6.7%), Kia (6.3%), Audi (5.8%) and Peugeot (5.6%). The top plug-in automotive groups (market share year-to-date) were the Volkswagen Group (20.0%), Stellantis (16.3%), the Hyundai Motor Group (11.6 %), the BMW Group (11.1%), the Mercedes Group (9.2%), the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance (8.7%) and Tesla (6.7%). +++

+++ FARADAY FUTURE appears to be alive and kicking again. The EV startup originally wanted to launch its first model, the FF91, back in 2018. However, the startup faced a wide array of financial setbacks and staff turnover issues. Founder Jia Yueting filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and stepped down as CEO, instead taking up a more reserved role as Chief Product and User Officer. In July 2021 the company was listed on the Nasdaq and plans were announced for additional FF81 and FF71 models. Still, many were doubtful about FF91 production and little progress was seemingly made in the months following Faraday Future’s listing. Clearly, the startup was still struggling financially and needed to raise more capital. Faraday Future reported an operating loss of $137 million in Q2 of this year and suggested that it would need to raise $325 million in order to continue running. Furthermore, the company’s largest shareholder, FF Top Holding, sued the startup stating that it’s “suffering from a crisis of leadership at the board level”. Hence FF Top Holding called for several board members to be removed, including director Brian Krolicki. Earlier this week it was revealed that Faraday Future had settled its dispute with FF Top Holding and several executives had been replaced with new members coming in. An additional $40 million in near-term funding from convertible notes has subsequently been raised, as well as a further $60 million from Senyun International. Whether or not this latest round of funding will be enough to see the FF91 reach production remains to be seen. After all, Faraday Future stated a few months ago that it needs in excess of $300 million in order to “continue operations”. +++


+++ HYUNDAI is getting ready to launch a hot N version of its family-friendly Ioniq 5 and the car’s pure-electric powertrain could give it supercar-rivalling performance. The Korean firm has revealed that the Ioniq 5 N will use technology lifted from the N Vision 74 and RN22e concept cars. Hyundai’s N division has grown rapidly in recent years thanks to the excellent i20 N and i30 N hot hatches. But while those 2 cars feature turbocharged, 4-cylinder engines, the new Ioniq 5 N will be the first pure-electric N model from the brand. Hyundai does have history in fast SUVs however, with the Kona N. Final details of the new Ioniq 5 N aren’t expected until next year, although Hyundai has confirmed that the car will be on sale in 2023 and that the RN22e concept is playing a role in the development of future electric N models. We’ve also caught a glimpse of several Ioniq 5 N mules testing over the past year. The latest spy shots indicate the N model will receive a revised exterior that’s lower and wider than the standard car. At the front we expect the same matrix LED headlight set up as the regular Ioniq 5, but underneath we can see a new bumper design with more intake areas. This will help with cooling; the battery pack is going to be working harder than usual in high-performance modes. It also looks like the bonnet might feature two strakes running across it to give the N model extra aggression. Around the sides you get larger brakes and new alloy wheels, while at the back there’s a beefier rear spoiler, new diffuser and pretty LEDs. Inside, the Ioniq 5’s interior is likely to get an N makeover with sportier, but still sustainable, materials used in the cabin, deep sports seats, a thicker steering wheel and revisions to the graphics on the digital instrument cluster. We would also expect some electronic trickery, with different chassis, power and control settings available to drivers. The powertrain used for the RN22e concept car gives a big hint to what could be on offer in the Ioniq 5 N. The concept uses the same E-GMP platform as the Ioniq 5 N and the same 77.4kWh battery and dual-motor set-up for four-wheel drive that’s also available on the standard 5. There is also the Kia EV6 GT which is built on the same platform and features the same 77.4 kWh battery with two electric motors. In the Kia this results in 585 hp and 740 Nm of torque. The Kia offers a 3.5-second 0-62mph time and 162mph top speed; you’d expect the Ioniq 5 N to get similar numbers. The RN22e includes a variety of other technology that could filter through to the Ioniq 5. A drift mode is available in the EV6 GT and it’s possible this could also feature on the Ioniq 5 N thanks to torque vectoring technology. There is a twin clutch torque vectoring system that is said by Hyundai to provide a ‘corner carving feel’. Weight is an important consideration in electric performance cars and while 3D-printed parts are likely to help shave it off, a set of four-piston monoblock brake calipers and 400mm brake discs should help keep it under control. The N Sound+ feature on the concept might also make its way to the Ioniq 5 N, it pumps artificial noise into the cabin in a similar way to the e-ASD tech introduced in the new Ioniq 6. Meanwhile, N e-shift, aims to replicate the vibration and feel of a ‘real’ gear change. Hyundai refers to the RN22e as a “glimpse to the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 5 N” and Thomas Schemera, Hyundai’s executive vice president told me that the “RN22e plays a big role in the development of our product line up, especially our electrified high-performance vehicles”. The Ioniq 5 N is due to go on sale in 2023 so I expect to see the production car in the near future. It will probably arrive as a hatchback but given the current trend for coupe-SUVs, a racier ‘sportback’ version of the Ioniq 5 bodystyle shouldn’t be ruled out. +++

+++ MINI is primed to launch the Aceman, its first new model name in 10 years, as a small electric crossover to fill the gap between the Hatch and the Countryman. Due on sale in 2024, the Aceman is a clean-sheet design and the first in a series of EVs using Mini’s Spotlight platform, developed by BMW and Chinese partner Great Wall Motors. The electric version of the next Hatch will also use this platform. The Aceman will arrive after the third-generation Countryman, which will grow significantly to become the biggest Mini yet, creating a more obvious gap in the line-up. Precise dimensions for the Aceman haven’t yet been revealed, but the concept shown earlier this year sits 1.590 mm above the ground, is 4.050 mm long and is 1.990 mm wide. As it shares its architecture with the forthcoming Mini hatch, it’s a reasonable expectation that the Aceman will share its drivetrain options. The hatch will come in entry-level Cooper trim, with 184 hp and a 40 kWh battery, while the warmed-up Cooper S will get 225 hp and a 50 kWh battery for a range of around 400 km. New spy photos show the Aceman wearing its final production bodywork, showing not just how it has evolved from the radical concept, but also giving clues as to how Mini’s design language will change as it moves onto the next generation of cars, beginning with the new Countryman and hatch in 2023. Most noticeably, it’s clear how aerodynamic efficiency will play a more defining role in Mini’s design language as it moves to an all-electric line-up, with the production-spec Aceman adopting a rounded, clean front end and a less upright stance than the concept, although the silhouette has been broadly carried over. In its positioning as the smallest 5-door Mini model, the Aceman will in effect take over from today’s Clubman, which isn’t due to come back as an EV in Mini’s new-look product line-up, so expect similar levels of space front and rear, as well as comparable luggage capacity. Otherwise, camouflage obscures many of the key details, save for the distinctive large headlights shared with the new Mini hatchback. The firm’s two most recent concepts, the Aceman and minimalistic Strip, showcased just how far the brand will go in its pursuit of enhanced sustainability for its cars. The showroom-ready Aceman will follow suit, by and large shunning chrome and leather and adopting a clean, one-screen central display for control of most key functions. Representing a bold departure from the current crop of Mini’s, the Aceman’s interior is dominated by a large central screen and a set of five toggle switches. Aside from these, buttons are almost entirely absent from the sustainable textile or leatherette-clad dashboard fascia. +++


+++ Billionaire Elon MUSK on Monday asked Twitter users to weigh in on a plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine that drew immediate condemnation from Ukrainians, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who responded with his own poll. “Which @elonmusk do you like more?”, Zelenskyy tweeted, offering 2 responses: 1 who supports Ukraine, 1 who supports Russia. Musk, the world’s richest person, proposed U.N.-supervised elections in 4 occupied regions that Moscow last week moved to annex after what it called referendums. The votes were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive. “Russia leaves if that is will of the people”, Musk wrote, a seemingly unlikely scenario. The Tesla chief executive suggested that Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014, be formally recognized as Russia, that water supply to Crimea be assured and that Ukraine remain neutral, rather than join NATO. He asked Twitter users to vote “yes” or “no” on the plan. “Dear @elonmusk, when someone tries to steal the wheels of your Tesla, it doesn’t make them legal owner of the car or of the wheels. Even though they claim both voted in favor of it. Just saying”, Lithuania’s president Gitanas Nausėda tweeted in response. Musk, who is also chief executive of SpaceX, followed up his first tweet with another poll: “Let’s try this then: the will of the people who live in the Donbas & Crimea should decide whether they’re part of Russia or Ukraine”. He said he didn’t care if his proposal was unpopular, arguing that he did care “that millions of people may die needlessly for an essentially identical outcome”. “Russia has >3 times population of Ukraine, so victory for Ukraine is unlikely in total war. If you care about the people of Ukraine, seek peace”, he posted on Twitter. In February, when Ukraine’s internet was disrupted following Russia’s invasion, Musk responded to a tweet by a Ukrainian government official seeking help. Musk said SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service was available in Ukraine and that SpaceX was sending more terminals to the country. Ukraine’s outspoken outgoing ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, had a blunt reaction to Musk’s peace plan. Melnyk himself faced criticism in July for defending World War Two Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera. “F— off is my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk”, tweeted Melnyk. +++

+++ The Espace has been a staple member of the RENAULT lineup since the ’80s as a large MPV or minivan. However, it appears that the next version will go through a body transformation; that’s if the reports hold true. In a recent sighting, a larger version of the Austral was caught while the driver’s having lunch in Spain. The spotted prototype, which was wearing heavy concealment, had a bigger body to accommodate a third row, much like the relationship between the Peugeot 3008 and 5008. This is believed to be the next Espace. The end of the current Espace and the arrival of the Espace as a SUV aren’t confirmed at this point, though. Reports supporting the speculation date back to a few years ago, particularly with Reuters citing a source from within Renault. According to that report, the Espace and the Talisman are both living on their deathbed. The Talisman already ended its production earlier this year to give way to SUVs, so I won’t be surprised if the Espace will follow. If the Espace will indeed become a large SUV based on the Austral, I’m expecting the same setup as the more compact version. Of note, the Austral comes with mild-hybrid and full-hybrid petrol powertrains, with up to 200 hp and a choice between the 6-speed manual or X-Tronic automatic transmissions. With the supposed Espace already wearing its production body, we could be seeing the new model at the Paris Motor Show Otherwise, a debut early in 2023 should be plausible. +++

+++ TESLA is continuing to grow at a remarkable rate, and the automaker now has its sights set on becoming the world’s number one premium marque. That means dethroning BMW, and with the Bavarian firm selling 2.5 million cars last year that’s no easy task. However, Tesla’s two new Gigafactories, Giga Texas and Giga Berlin, should play a key role in its plans to overtake BMW and Mercedes in 2023. Tesla believes it will build 495.000 Model 3/Ys in Q4 2022. Meanwhile, in Q3 Tesla delivered 343.830 vehicles. Analysts expect Tesla to deliver around 1.4 million vehicles in total in 2022, with a drastic ramp-up towards the end of the year as Giga Berlin and Giga Texas come closer to full operating capacity. Numerous analysts believe Tesla will deliver 2 million vehicles next year, including Wedbush bull Dan Ives. At that point, Tesla would truly be knocking on the doors of both Mercedes and BMW, who sold 2.1 million and 2.5 million vehicles respectively last year. If Tesla could eclipse the latter, it would become the world’s largest premium automaker. That would be a seriously impressive feat, especially given that 90%+ of Tesla’s sales come from the Model 3 and Y alone. And given analysts have often underestimated Tesla’s production capabilities, reaching 2.5-3 million sales next year can’t be ruled out either. +++

+++ New vehicle sales in the UNITED STATES are expected to have fallen slightly in the third quarter, even though many automakers saw improvement in September. But there are warning signs that consumers’ appetite for expensive new cars, trucks and SUVs may be waning. Analysts expect sales to have fallen just under 1% in the period from July through September when the numbers from automakers are totaled up on Monday. Multiple companies reported sales declines for the quarter, with General Motors as a notable exception. However, many said sales rose in September as shortages of computer chips and other parts started to ease and auto factories were able to produce more, increasing vehicle supplies. But any monthly gain may be short lived due to high prices and rising interest rates. “With increasing interest rates, affordability is being tested”, Zack Krelle, an industry analyst. “We’re seeing consumers faced with the reality that to afford the same vehicle at the same monthly payment as last year, they are forced to increase their down payment, which is creating affordability challenges”. Last month, new auto prices averaged $45.622, the fourth-highest monthly price on record, according to J.D. Power. In addition, auto loan interest rates hit 5.7% between July and September, up from 4.3% a year ago, with terms stretched to average over 70 months. General Motors managed to lead the industry for the quarter, selling more than 555.000 vehicles, a 24% increase over last year. The company said it saw improved semiconductor supplies, more stable production and increased inventory on dealer lots during the quarter. GM said sales of its Bolt more than tripled to almost 15.000 combined, so it will increase production for global distribution to 44.000 this year. The company couldn’t sell Bolts much of last year due to a recall for battery fires. Hyundai also reported a sales increase for the quarter, 3.3%. Volkswagen was up 12%. Toyota sold 7.1% fewer vehicles than in last year’s third quarter. Honda was off nearly 36% from a year ago. Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, reported a 6% decline. Nissan was off nearly 23%. Subaru U.S. sales were up 8.6%. Porsche sales were up 8.5%. BMW brand sales were up 3.2%. Mini sales were up 11.4%. Ford is yet to release its figures. +++

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