Newsflash: facelift voor Opel Corsa

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+++ Electric Vehicle startup DRAKO MOTORS has teased its upcoming Dragon ahead of an official launch on November 17. Drako first arrived on the automotive scene a few years ago with its Fisker Karma-based GTE. The Dragon will take the form of a coupe crossover and in the run-up to its unveiling, the automaker has made some audacious claims about it. But first, the design. This teaser doesn’t reveal much of what we didn’t already know about the vehicle. Among the key components that catch the eye include the sharp headlights with led daytime running lights, the bold front bumper and grille, and the fact that the Dragon has gullwing doors. Fortunately for us, an undisguised Dragon show car was snapped in the midst of filming a promotional video in Italy last month, allowing us to see it in full. The most intriguing aspect of the Dragon is the fact that while it appears to be a 4- or 5-seater, it only appears to have 2 gullwing doors. It seems Drako may have taken some design inspiration from the Koenigsegg Gemera in designing a luxurious 4-seater with 2 humongous doors. While it may not be very convenient for those sitting in the second-row, it does result in a very clean and fluid design. Beyond its design, Drako has said the Dragon will feature four electric motors that combine to churn out 2.000 hp. Driving these motors will be a battery module built in-house. Drako claims it will hit 96 km/h (60 mph) in 1.9 seconds and a 322 km/h top speed. It is unclear how many examples of the Dragon could reach the production line nor how much each of them could cost. Whatever the case may be, expect it to be quite expensive, given that the GTE costs $1.25 million. +++

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+++ DONKERVOORT published more details about the upcoming F22 limited-production model together with a set of teasers while confirming a December 10 reveal. The new model will replace the long-running D8 GTO bringing improvements in performance, safety, and practicality. A selection of sketches and a teaser shot of the rear end gives us a good idea of the F22’s styling which represents an evolution of its predecessor’s Lotus Seven-inspired silhouette, staying true to the 2-door 2-seater configuration. The front end looks more aggressive, retaining the long vented hood and the signature exposed wheels. The tail is modernized with slimmer LED taillights, wide rear fenders, and a larger diffuser. Donnkervoort mentions an “innovative roof design” which will likely be removable. More importantly, the new model will bring advancements in active/passive safety and interior practicality, potentially making it more livable as a daily driver. Despite being physically larger and having double the chassis rigidity of its predecessor, the Donkervoort F22 aims to be the “lightest road-legal supercar in the world” targeting to weigh “considerably less” than 800 kg. In comparison, the latest D8 GTO tipped the scales at 680 kg. The F22 will also have lower emissions and better fuel economy while being faster than the outgoing D8 GTO. The latter is fitted with an Audi RS3-sourced turbocharged 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine. The F22 will be equipped with a new manual gearbox with rev-matching and flat-shifting technologies. The upgraded chassis will boast an all-new active suspension system, with the sports car being capable of more than 2G of cornering forces. Speaking about the new model, Denis Donkervoort, managing director of the Dutch automaker said: “The F22 is first and foremost a road car, and we have prioritized driver engagement, progressive handling, and driving fun over an absolute obsession with lap times, and will still be capable of very fast lap times. The reason for all of this, and its low emissions and sustainability, is so simple. It’s weight”. The premiere of the F22 will be broadcasted online from Donkervoort’s Headquarters in Lelystad, The Netherlands, on December 10. +++

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+++ It almost feels wrong to proclaim oneself as a petrolhead these days, as the tide of EVs has well and truly turned. But if you were convinced that mainstream manufacturers were destined to mothball the much-loved internal combustion engine, then Renault’s latest deal will make you think again. The French automaker has teamed up with Chinese counterparts GEELY to sign a 50-50 partnership to form a new company focused on the development, production, and supply of hybrids and “highly efficient” internal combustion engines. And, according to Renault’s chief financial officer, Thierry Pieton, the company doesn’t foresee a world where gas and hybrid vehicles represent less than 40 percent of the market in 2040. Before we get carried away, this doesn’t mean that Renault will be reversing its plan to go EV-only in Europe by 2030, and policymakers show no signs of reversing their timelines either. Nor will Geely shift their focus. It will instead give both companies the headroom to focus on electrification while the new partnership continues to serve markets where electric infrastructure is underdeveloped. Analysts have also pointed out the business case for plumping for ICEs. Margins are still thin for electric vehicles, while ICE options continue to generate profits. Although the gap between the two is expected to narrow in the future, continuing to serve customers who appreciate the benefits of fossil-fuel vehicles can only be good news for shareholders. The new joint venture will consist of 17 powertrain facilities and 5 research and development centers. It’s also good news for the workforce, with around 19.000 employees in over 130 countries. There are, though, still some questions about the new deal, and unsurprisingly they lie with where the Alliance stands. With Mitsubishi seemingly cast off as an also ran for the foreseeable future, the agreement between Renault and Geely appears to concern those at Nissan. Like Renault, Nissan too believes that internal combustion engines have a future. However, Nissan’s desire to protect its own technology may have complicated the deal, with Renault failing to mention where its alliance partner fits in. +++

+++ LUCID MOTORS is unquestionably making progress regarding its production goals. At the same time, the backbone of its Air sedan is software and some owners are reporting serious problems with it. Some of them have cars that go in the wrong direction and others come out to their car to find that it’s more of a brick than a mode of transportation. Complaints made to the NHTSA by customers are available for all to see. Since September 2 of this year, 5 different complaints about the Lucid Air have come in and all of them have to do with software. Only 1 of those 5, a lightning-strike-related software issue that left the car inoperable, seems to have an external source as the root cause. 1 owner from California reports that their vehicle would go in the opposite direction of the gear chosen. “We could have easily hit a pedestrian”, the complaint says. It goes on to clarify that no warning light, messages, or other symptoms appeared in connection with the condition. Another owner in Illinois says that their vehicle’s drive system broke while they were driving down the highway at 110 kph. Evidently, the system immediately slowed down and gave the driver 30 seconds to get to the shoulder. That complaint came in on October 26 and there are many Lucid customers with software complaints that don’t make it to the NHTSA. 19 Lucid owners reported software or hardware issues. “If the car sits in the sun for the afternoon, DreamDrive won’t read speed-limit signs”, an owner in Arizona told. “I have displays that periodically crash. You ask Alexa to do something and 2 of your displays crash, and until you reset the car it stays that way”. On top of similar concerns, some owners contend with a seemingly random condition called “Turtle Mode” where the car essentially goes into “limp mode’. When in Turtle Mode, the Air is either undrivable entirely or can only reach a speed of about 50 km/h. For what it’s worth, Lucid has been rolling out updates with the newly released version of its software, simply named 2.0, being touted as “the most extensive to date, with significant advancements and improvements”. A representative told that “This latest software release incorporates numerous refinements, many based on owner feedback and ideas, which make Lucid Air even more enjoyable, convenient, and capable for our customers”. So it seems that the EV automaker is working on improvements rapidly. A developer at Lucid said: “Things are improving at a much faster rate now”, when compared to the state of Lucid software in the past. It’s vital that improvements continue since the Air’s base trim is now available for order. +++

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+++ MINI is expanding its range with the introduction of the new electric Aceman crossover. Scheduled to go on sale in 2024, the Aceman will sit between the Hatchback and the Countryman, providing competition to the Smart #1 and the Jeep Avenger EV. It’s clear that the design will carry over plenty of inspiration from the original concept version. Up front it’ll use more angular headlights than traditionally seen on Minis and the blanked-off grille will be larger than the one on the Mini Electric. Just like on other Minis, we’ll see a lower window line wrap around the car combined with the classic two-tone roofline. The Aceman will be distinguished from the brand’s upcoming Golf-sized hatchback thanks to a higher ride height and chunky plastic cladding around the wheel arches. Both cars should receive Mini’s Union Jack rear light motif. Mini boss Stefanie Wurst revealed the new Aceman crossover will be a “gamified concept” and that “the go-kart feeling will always be of the utmost importance”. The Aceman will be built in China alongside the 3-door all-electric Cooper model. There will not be a 5-door all-electric Cooper, with the Aceman effectively taking care of 5-door ‘small Mini’ electric-car duties. However, with the wheels pushed out to the far corners of the bodywork, the Aceman should offer excellent interior space, while leaving room for the next-generation Countryman to move further up in size. With the next-generation Countryman growing in size to around 4.5 metres long, Autointernationaal.nl understands that the Aceman will have similar dimensions to the original Countryman, measuring a little over 4 metres long. Rumours suggest that there may be 2 battery sizes and2 power outputs available for the Aceman: an entry-level car with a 40 kWh battery, around 184 hp and a range of up to 320 km, and a bigger 50 kWh battery with a more powerful motor producing about 218 hp and a range of around 400 km. I’ve caught the Aceman testing previously and from the spy shots I can see the look of the crossover EV will be toned down slightly from the concept model shown earlier this year. However, we can already see plenty of stylistic elements taken from the concept and from Mini’s established design language. The production Aceman will use a similar shape of headlight to the concept, but don’t be fooled by the chrome rings around the lights: I expect a dark surround instead. Just like the concept, there’s a blanked off upper grille with a second grille opening below. The windscreen looks much more steeply angled than on the current Mini Hatch and the Countryman, possibly because the Aceman will only be offered with EV-power, making aerodynamic efficiency even more crucial. The wheel arches from the concept have been scaled down for the production model. At the rear, the Aceman looks fairly conventional: the rear bumper has a rather plain design and there’s only a small roof spoiler. Technical specifications for the Aceman have not been detailed, except for the car’s use of Mini’s new all-electric platform that will appear on the next Hatch coming in 2023. That means that the Aceman will be built in China. +++

+++ The OPELCORSA , last month the Netherlands best-selling car, will get a mid-life refresh in the second half of next year, with a fresh look and an array of technology and powertrain updates on the cards. The popular car will get a bold new face, adopting Opel’s new Vizor front end (seen on the Astra and Mokka) which includes slimline led headlights and a solid, blacked-out grille. Significantly, the electric Opel Corsa-e is in line for a bigger battery: likely the same 55 kWh item being introduced to the technically identical Peugeot e-208, which in the French car offers a 400 km range. The petrol car, meanwhile, will likely keep the same choice of 75, 100 and 130 hp 3-pots currently available. Later down the line, a firmed up, sportier Corsa GSe could also be on the cards to join Opel’s new electrified performance sub-brand, which would serve as a zero-emission successor for the previous-generation Corsa GSi. This would sit at the top of the Corsa range, in a similar vein to the Astra GSe and Mokka GSe, and get improvements in the form of sharper handling, a tweaked, lowered chassis and uprated performance. Expect a price of at least €38.500 in the Netherlands. The new Corsa will be revealed in the first few months of 2023, ahead of a market launch in the second half of the year. +++

+++ RENAULT boss Luca de Meo, until 2020 in charge at Seat, has a big job on his hands: not only making the company profitable after a tumultuous few years but also cementing a smooth relationship in its notoriously tricky alliance with Nissan. I caught up with him at the recent Paris motor show to ask how things are going. Question: What has driven you down the nostalgia route with new cars like the Renault 4 and 5? Answer: “All big brands have classics, in any segment. Renault has classics like the 4, 5, 5 Turbo. We’re just doing the thing that everybody expects from us and to reconnect the brand with its roots. We’re not an electric start-up, we have 120 years of history, and you have to leverage this as an advantage. You can argue the 5 has some codes you can recognise from the cars of old, but they’re nothing to do with the original car. It’s trying to reinvent the brand. People know that Renault lost its soul for a while. You need to do that exercise of connecting back to the brand”. Q: Are there any other ideas beyond the 4, 5 and 5 Turbo that could help that reconnection? A: “We have ideas, but for the time being, I don’t think I have the money to do this. Even in the 5 Turbo, I need to find the money to bring it to production. We don’t have deep pockets. Maybe we’ll do a crowdfunding; I’m sure I’ll find people!” Q: When will you have enough money? What does success look like for Renault? A: “What Renault needs to have is 2 good cycles. The issue with Renault is that there has always been 1 cycle up, 1 cycle down. Normally, it was very much linked to the success of small cars like the Renault Clio or 5. The challenge is that the next cycle may be about other things than simply launching a successful model”. Q: What’s next? A: “We’re preparing Renault to be an organisation that, among the traditional car makers, is more adapted to a world that’s changing. We were attached to a classical value chain that we all know; now you have new mobility, EV value, chain software, circular economy. It’s like moving from playing soccer to the Olympic Games. Nobody is organised like this, and that’s what we’re trying to do. 2 years ago, we were almost bankrupt. We were very, very sick. You know what happens to people who are very sick? They tend to be very vital, they’re courageous, they have the right priorities, and that’s what we’re doing at Renault”. Q: How important will software be in the future? A: “Very important. We have decided, after a long internal battle, that we would centralise an electronic architecture starting from 2025 and deploy it throughout the decade up to 2030 to all the cars. It will have the same impact that the smartphone had on the telecommunications industry. You make the architecture more powerful, you connect it to the cloud and [then] you have room to put more data intelligence, because you have spare capacity”. Q: What will make the difference? A: “Firstly, the cars are upgradable, so they will always be state-of-the-art, a little bit like Tesla. Tesla has probably 70% residual value; my cars have 45 to 50%. Secondly, there will be a moment when this technology becomes cheaper. Thirdly, by having a connected car through the cloud in a simple way, for the first time in history you’re in contact with the product throughout its life cycle. You combine those things and you understand why we need to go for a centralised electronic architecture. I love the idea of an intelligent car. I believe in the connected car more than autonomous driving. With autonomous driving, I don’t actually see the business benefit as a car maker”. +++

+++ VOLVO will retain a “tight” and focused product range in its electric-only future, according to company boss Jim Rowan, but while there will be an early focus on SUVs, he hinted that the firm will eventually offer other bodystyles. The Swedish firm’s sales in recent years have been dominated by high-riding models and its first 3 electric cars: the Volvo XC40, Volvo C40 and new Volvo EX90 are all SUVs. They will be followed next year by a new small electric crossover model, the EX30. Asked if saloon and estate models would play a part in Volvo’s future, Rowan refused to be drawn on specifics, but said: “Suffice to say we play across all the spectrums and range, and we have customers who require different vehicles, and different uses for vehicles. We’ll try and make sure that we can capture as much of that as we possibly can”. But he added that having “40 different models is not out strategy”. He said: “Our strategy is that we will be tight. We’ll look after the demographic that we think makes sense. We’ve teased what’s coming next, and we’d already signalled we’d do a smaller SUV. Then different formats, saloons and estates or whatever: we’ll get to that when we get to that”. Rowan noted that electric vehicle design gave car firms more freedom to share technology between vehicles. He said: “The big secret for us is that we can use the generation of technology that we have in one view and transpose it into the other. Sometimes that will be the same platform. Sometimes that will be the same software and silicon. And we’ll put that in different models”. The EX90 is built on the new SPA2 platform, while the forthcoming small SUV is set to use the SEA architecture developed by Volvo and Geely. Rowan hinted that platform will be key to helping lower the cost of future electric models. “We have another platform that takes us into full core computing and takes us into lower cost”, he said. “You need to get to price parity between ICE and BEV. No industry can rely on subsidies for a long period of time. You’ve got to make sure that you can be comparative. “What’s going to happen in the future is that people making big purchase decisions about a car are going to think about what a residual value of an ICE car is going to be in three or four years’ time, and should I buy a BEV because it’s going to have a higher residual value? We need to make sure we are positioned in all those markets”. +++

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