Newsflash: Ferrari sluit orderboeken voor Purosangue

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+++ Concerns are being raised about the usable lifespan of EVs, with specialist companies reporting some cars reaching ‘end of life’ BATTERY capacity after just 8 years, and some hitting that point even sooner. Silver Power Systems (SPS), a specialist in battery performance analysis whose software tracks and monitors battery data and health, says it has observed wide variations in performance, especially within fleets. “Across even a single fleet, variations in battery health can be up to 10%,” said Pete Bishop, founder and chief technology officer at SPS. “Considering that in most commercial applications, 80% battery capacity is deemed to be end of life in operational terms, 10% degradation represents half a vehicle’s life”. However, the definition of what constitutes ‘end of life’ depends on how the vehicle is being used, as Liam Mifsud, programme manager at SPS, explained: “Someone operating a specialist vehicle will probably keep it for longer and not regard 80% as end of life. If they don’t drive far, a private vehicle owner may also be happy with that capacity. However, we’ve noticed that when a battery gets to 70%, it degrades more rapidly”. SPS’s findings echo those of Geotab, a telematics provider. It also measures vehicle batteries’ state of health but goes further by publishing its findings in its Electric Vehicle Battery Degradation online tool. Its data is based on 6.300 fleet and consumer EVs, represented across 24 makes and models. According to Geotab, average battery degradation over a 6,5 year timeframe is 13.5%. Among those recorded by the tool are 3 model years of BMW i3, with the oldest, from 2017, recording a battery degradation figure of 16% after a little less than 3 years. Meanwhile, 2014 examples of the Nissan Leaf show 23% degradation after almost 6 years. After 4,5 years, the batteries in 2015 Tesla Model S cars that Geotab sampled had degraded by 10%. When Geotab’s results are compared with the same models being advertised by private sellers. A 2012 Nissan Leaf with 160.000 km had, said its owner, only 8 bars of the 12 showing on its range display, meaning its battery had degraded by around 30%. As a consequence, he said, the car had a real-world driving range of 80 km. A 2015 BMW i3 with 50.000 km had degraded by 19%. Its owner claimed that on a full charge and in Eco Pro mode, the car had a driving range in summer of 135 km. A 2014 Tesla Model S with 110.000 km displayed a range of 430 km when fully charged, compared with 450 km when it was new. In contrast to these private sellers, dealers were less forthcoming about their cars’ battery capacities and ranges. Some dealers are sceptical about the reliability of battery readings. One EV specialist told that it’s important to know what condition the battery was in before it was analysed by a third-party, plug-in system. “A warm battery will give a good figure, so sellers run the car first then check it”, he said. “I’ve seen it happen when dealers are selling to the public as well as to each other. This way, they get a better price for the vehicle. The best thing is to go by the car’s range display. We’ve sold hundreds of EVs, and on this basis, we see 1-2% battery degradation each year”. “EV batteries are lasting far longer than anyone expected”, he said. “Although batteries degrade over time, for third owners and beyond, driving range is less of an issue. The car is probably a second or third vehicle for short trips, and in any case the car is much cheaper than a new one, so they make allowances. “I see EVs easily lasting as long as ICE cars; possibly longer because they’re simpler. It’s going to be 2045, long after sales of ICE vehicles have ceased, before we start seeing end-of-life EVs with seriously depleted batteries in large numbers”. +++

+++ October 31st was a spooky day for the automotive industry, but not just because of Halloween. That was the day that Stellantis announced that the GAC-FCA joint venture, responsible for building and selling Jeeps in CHINA , had filed for bankruptcy. The announcement came mere months after Stellantis increased its share in the joint venture, and not long after Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares boldly stated that no automaker could afford not to be in China. In the wake of the failure, though, analysts are starting to wonder if Jeep’s difficulties were indicative of a wider trend. “I do not expect Stellantis to be an isolated case”, Marco Santino, a partner at management consultants Oliver Wyman told. “Probably almost all of the western carmakers will have to review the industrial logic of their presence in China”. Although there are certainly elements of Jeep’s bankruptcy that are unique to it, some wider market forces may be causing Western automakers anxiety. One major factor is that most major foreign automakers’ plants have seen output shrink in the last 5 years. That includes brands like Mitsubishi, Ford, Volkswagen and General Motors, all of which produced between 30 and 50 percent fewer vehicles at their Chinese joint-venture plants in 2022 than they did in 2017. Some of that shortfall, though, can be explained away by the pandemic. China has implemented strict measures to slow the spread of Covid-19, affecting production for automakers and their suppliers. Not everything is that simple, though. Foreign automakers used to have an advantage in China because of the cachet of their names. Those automakers have been slow to adapt to customer preferences for tech-laden EVs, allowing domestic automakers to build a reputation for themselves as more modern and fresh. “The last 5 years, China’s market has decidedly changed from foreign companies having a right to win because of their foreign-ness to where there is a far more level playing field”, Bill Russo, the head of consultancy Automobility. “Chinese companies actually have an early mover advantage because they embraced electrification faster than the foreign companies were willing to”. That willingness to lead with electric vehicles may now be giving Chinese automakers an advantage elsewhere. Their EV knowhow and hightech features may help them appeal to European customers now that they are trying to expand outside their own continent. All of this points to the Chinese market becoming an increasingly challenging one for European, American, Japanese and Korean automakers, who previously had a relatively easy time. “Stellantis is a canary in the coal mine. Forever, the foreign brands were the favored sons in China”, said Michael Dunne, the CEO of ZoZo Go, a California-based consultancy. “No longer”. +++

+++ Raise your hand if you saw this coming: the FERRARI Purosangue is already a huge hit. The family-friendly Prancing Horse debuted in mid-September and it was only a couple of days later when commercial and marketing manager, Enrico Galliera, said the order books could be temporarily closed. Well, it has happened as the very same person told the company has stopped taking requests due to a large backlog of orders: “It’s no secret that we stopped taking orders. We had such an interest without delivering 1 single car. We made a decision that we thought was consistent with the positioning of Ferrari and the model”. Whilst rival models such as the Lamborghini Urus don’t have a production cap, Maranello said even before unveiling the Purosangue that it wants to keep it exclusive. The SUV will account for no more than 20 percent of the automaker’s annual vehicle output. In the 2,5 months that have passed since the reveal, the order books have gotten thick enough to keep Ferrari busy for a long time. Those who put their names on the dotted line right before the Italian company stopped taking requests will have to patiently wait for 2 years. The Purosangue is more expensive than virtually all its rivals and almost double the asking price of a Lamborghini Urus. Production is programmed to commence before the end of the year with first deliveries slated for 2023. The Purosangue will initially be a V12-only affair, although we do know its platform has been engineered to accommodate a hybrid powertrain as well. With demand being this strong, Ferrari is in no hurry to diversify the lineup early in the life cycle. +++

+++ GENERAL MOTORS president Mark Reuss’ Investor Day presentation has been a font of information. Most of it’s been pretty straightforward, like the info about GM service centers working on repairing and servicing Teslas. This one lives at the mysterious end of the foreshadowing pool. When discussing what’s in store for the Corvette, Reuss mentioned 2 vehicles. The first is a straight-up Corvette trim, “the next version of the C8”, the “next-step in performance for Chevrolet” supposedly so good “you won’t be able to imagine it from a performance standpoint”. Since Reuss’ was reportedly talking about new vehicles due in 2024, he wouldn’t have been referring to the hybrid, all-wheel drive Corvette coming in 2023. The AWD hybrid could have been the trim referred to as the Corvette Grand Sport in a potentially leaked GM document from 2020. The powertrain in that coupe will be the 6.2-liter LT2 V8 from the base Stingray combined with electric motors driving the front axle to make somewhere around a combined 600 hp and 680 Nm of torque. The images in Reuss’ presentation were obscured for media viewers, but I suspect he meant the ZR1. That supposed leaked doc said its due in 2024 with 850 hp and 1.100 Nm. Output will come from an LT7 engine that’s already on the testing bench if a recent clue found at the National Corvette Museum can be believed. What will follow that is a car Reuss called an “incredible performance car” that he expects to “put the world on notice” as to what GM is capable of and “set the standard of the world for performance for Chevrolet”. Based on the trim cadence we’ve been covering for years, this sounds like the Corvette rumored to be called the Zora, which would pair the twin-turbo LT7 V8 with electric motors for more than 1.000 hp. However, Reuss didn’t call this car a Corvette; he only said it would be based on the C8 architecture. Back to that 2020 GM document, it had the ZR1 coming in 2025. That’s a year later than this mystery offering, and I can’t imagine why Reuss wouldn’t call a Corvette a Corvette. In a LinkedIn post from April that provided video of next years AWD Corvette, Reuss wrote, “we will offer an electrified and a fully electric, Ultium-based Corvette in the future”. On that note, the only unaccounted for Corvette family vehicles we’re aware of in the rumor pipeline are the electric Corvette-inspired crossover as part of Project R, and the electric Corvette sedan said to be coming mid-decade. So stay tuned, big electric things are coming from Chevrolet. +++

+++ HYUNDAI and LG Energy Solution (LGES) are considering building 2 joint venture battery plants in the United States. Under the contemplated plan, the plants would be built in Georgia and each have an annual capacity of about 35 gigawatt hours (GWh), enough to power about 1 million electric vehicles (EVs). The new factories were likely to be located near Hyundai’s new EV plant in Georgia and would help the company meet U.S. EV subsidy rules. The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act will require from next year that at least 40% of the monetary value of critical minerals for batteries be from the United States or a U.S. free-trade partner to qualify for U.S. tax credits. That share will rise to 80% in 2027. A South Korean newspaper on Friday reported that Hyundai Motor and SK On, the battery unit of energy group SK Innovation, planned to invest about 2.5 trillion won ($1.87 billion) to build a new joint venture factory in Georgia. Last year, the Hyundai Motor Group and LG Energy Solution said they would set up a $1.1 billion EV battery joint venture in Indonesia. +++

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER is reducing output at factories in Solihull and Halewood until the spring, due to ongoing problems obtaining enough computer chips for new vehicles. The move, which is temporary, will see a reduction in the production of models such as the Jaguar F-Pace and Land Rover Discovery Sport. Jaguar Land Rover further stated that their focus will be on more profitable models such as the Range Rover. But supplies from East Asia have been heavily disrupted in the wake of the Covid pandemic, while carmakers have faced intense competition for available supplies from other industries. In a statement released, JLR said it would “continue to actively manage the operational patterns of our manufacturing plants whilst the industry experiences ongoing global semi-conductor supply chain disruption. We expect our performance to continue improving in the second half of the year, as new agreements with semiconductor partners take effect, enabling us to build and deliver more vehicles to our clients”. UK car production remains well below levels seen before the pandemic, despite an increase in October, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show. The industry built 69.524 cars in October, up 7.4% from a year earlier, but the SMMT said manufacturers were still suffering from “turbulent” supplies of components. “There’s been real shortages in the supply chain, most obviously in semiconductors, which is leading to really erratic levels of production”, the SMMT’s chief executive Mike Hawes told. “Massive investments are required and some governments in the world are putting up billions upon billions of pounds to attract investment and build new fabs (semiconductor fabrication plants). We should be building about a million cars a year, so when you have about 1,500 chips per car you can see just how incredible the volumes of these chips you need just to support the automotive industry, let alone things like personal electronics”, said Hawes. +++

+++ Peter Rawlinson, CEO of LUCID MOTORS and former chief engineer for the Tesla Model S, recently talked at the Automotive News Congress in Los Angeles. He reiterated that for electric cars, range and efficiency are the keys to lowering costs and increasing adoption. Lucid has already set EV range records, though the luxury electric automaker’s current offerings are quite pricey. Like Tesla and other automakers, Lucid has worked to prove what’s possible. Now it’s time to use that technology to make electric cars more affordable. Rawlinson shared: “Lucid’s mission is not just to do EVs and jump on this EV bandwagon. Our mission is to advance the state of the art of the possible of the EV”. While lithium and other battery materials are widely available, EV batteries are scarce. This is because even though the materials aren’t scarce, there’s currently not enough extracting and processing. Not to mention the fact that with most automakers now moving forward with EVs, the demand for the batteries is growing quickly. For this reason, Rawlinson says the goal is to get more kilometers out of an EV’s battery pack. If you can use fewer batteries to travel longer distances, you’re obviously winning in the space. This means you can build more cars, producing the cars will be cheaper, and you can sell them at a lower price. He explained: “I think it’s really important that I have this role to try and create a narrative as well, pushing toward efficiency. I want to go as far as possible with the smallest battery possible”. That said, it’s clear Rawlinson isn’t suggesting that automakers produce ultra-light 2-seaters with a top speed of 80 kph. EV makers still have to focus on making compelling and family-friendly options that people will want to buy, all while reducing prices. Lucid pairs electric car efficiency with large battery packs to make its current Air electric saloon the world leader when it comes to range. Rawlinson said: “We’ve done that with ultrahigh-voltage, 920-volt architecture; faster charging, 480 km in 21 minutes; the longest range (830 km); the most space in the interior for the exterior size; the largest frunk in the world for a sedan”. Going forward, he says Lucid’s aim needs to be to take that technology and use it to reduce costs for EV shoppers. And, honestly, this is what all car makers should arguably be aiming for in the future. While it’s appealing and brings attention to a brand when it can produce record-setting EVs, the tougher part is producing EVs that not only get people’s attention and create high demand, but are also easier on the wallet. Lucid isn’t yet producing a “cheap” EV, but it just recently announced an entry-level version of the Air sedan that will cost nearly half of what the saloon cost when it first came to market. The Air Pure model has 660 km of range and starts at around €115.000 in the Netherlands. When the Air first came to market, it started at €225.000. Lucid will eventually bring a smaller platform to market to offer EVs starting at €67.000. Since it’s a luxury automaker, the goal isn’t for Lucid to make cars that are cheaper than this. However, Rawlinson says it can license its tech to other companies that are hoping to produce cheaper EVs. The CEO said that some automakers have already asked about potential licensing. +++

+++ Love them or loathe them, subscriptions are here to stay in the automotive industry. They’re creating a new revenue stream by putting certain features behind a paywall. Usually, you can either pay a fee to have access to a certain function for a limited amount of time or purchase it outright. Having to pay extra for something your car already is equipped with (and has been deliberately blocked) is hard to swallow. MERCEDES was criticised in mid-July 2021 for charging the equivalent of €489 per year in Germany for the advanced rear-wheel steering system of the EQS. Standard in the United States, the tech allows the rear wheels to steer at up to 10 degrees instead of the usual 4.5 degrees. When the three-pointed star announced a new subscription plan to unlock more power for EQ models in the US, we figured it would only be a matter of time before owners of Euro-spec electric vehicles would be allowed to do the same. As it turns out, this type of subscription (which costs $1,200 annually for select EQE and EQS saloon and SUV models in the US) will not be available on the Old Continent, at least not for the time being. The reason: there are “legal matters” preventing the luxury brand from offering an over-the-air update that would derestrict the electric motors. The company official refrained from going into any other details, but it looks as though there are legal obstacles it needs to overcome to make it possible. It’s worth pointing out that the Polestar 2 received a Performance Software Upgrade at the end of last year. It bumped the electric motors from 408 to 476 hp and from 660 Nm to 680 Nm of torque. It also came bundled with a launch control function and revised pedal mapping for quicker response. However, that was not introduced as a monthly or yearly subscription, but rather as a one-time upgrade to permanently have the extra oomph. +++

+++ The NISSAN Ariya is now starting to arrive at dealers around the world. The Japanese electric SUV is surely a very interesting new product on the EV market but before you go to your local Nissan showroom and put in a deposit for one, you’d probably want to see how good it is in terms of safety. I won’t talk about electronic assist systems but will instead take a look at what’s the vehicle’s road behavior. The famous moose test is a good litmus regarding a vehicle’s weight balance and chassis stiffness, 2 of the main factors that define how good a car is on the road. A new video shows us the Ariya doing the moose test and a slalom test. I’ve seen plenty of videos with different models performing the same type of evaluation and it is now time for the newcomer in the EV sector to take on the challenge. The Ariya managed to register a top speed of 77 kilometres per hour around the cones. This is not a record pace but it is more than what many other electric vehicles can achieve. The SUV felt easy to control with neutral and safe reactions at higher speeds. The body roll was moderate and the steering, while not especially informative, did just enough to allow the driver to guide the vehicle in the right direction. The tested version of the Ariya had the optional 20-inch wheels with 255/45 Michelin Primacy tyres, which probably helped the SUV perform well in the moose test. The electric family hauler, however, was from the base model with the smaller 64 kWh battery pack and a single 218 hp electric motor on the front axle. This is the entry-level variant of the Ariya. The most expensive Ariya has a dual-motor powertrain. +++

+++ POLESTAR is on its way to bolstering its EV lineup. In fact, the Geely-owned automaker has already revealed its upcoming EV roadster model, previewed in prototype form earlier this year as the O2 concept. Arriving as the Polestar 6 for its production version, this convertible is bound to take on the Porsche 911 and Taycan; at least in vehicle dynamics. That’s according to Edward Trinh, Polestar Australia’s product planning manager, who spoke to the media during an event that highlights the O2 concept. “The 911, the Taycan: they’re the types of cars we’re looking at. We believe they’re the benchmarks in the industry for vehicle dynamics”, said Trinh. This comparison between Polestar and Porsche isn’t the first we’ve heard so far. Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath went on record last year saying that it’s competing with Porsche for the “best electrically powered premium sports car”. The Polestar 4, the company’s coupe SUV to slot above the Polestar 3, is pegged to take on the Macan EV. The Polestar 6 will sit atop the brand’s bespoke aluminium platform using an in-house developed 800 volt EV architecture. This platform will also underpin the Polestar 5 saloon. With a dual motor setup, this platform is said to have the capability to handle as much as 900 hp and 900 Nm of torque. For the Polestar 6, a sprint to 100 kilometres per hour is expected to be around 3.2 seconds. The top speed, on the other hand, should be around 250 km/h. The Polestar 6 will enter production in 2026. The first 500 numbered “LA Concept” edition models will feature the concept’s Sky blue exterior paint, light leather interior, and unique 21-inch wheels. +++

+++ The Volkswagen Group’s internal SOFTWARE development company, Cariad SE, has signed a deal with China’s Horizon Robotics, a leading developer of AI hardware and software. In addition to a $1 billion investment into Horizon directly, Cariad will invest an additional $1.26 billion to take a 60% stake in a new joint venture with Horizon. This joint venture plans full stack development of both advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving (AD) software that will integrate numerous vehicle functions onto one chip, a system-on-chip design (SoC). SoCs are cost savers. They require fewer semiconductors overall to drive the car yet increase operating system stability and reduce system energy consumption. Fulfilling Volkswagen’s ‘Made in China, For China’ initiative, the joint venture represents an increasing split in the industry: 1 where 2 teams develop the same technology or software in parallel but deliver the results separately: 1 for China and the other 1 for the rest of the world. This is true for Volkswagen, as Cariad is also collaborating with the Bosch Group in Germany to deliver the same ADAS/AD software and system architecture for use there. The joint venture with Horizon is designed to stop Volkswagen’s plunging EV sales in China. The ID.4 made its debut a year ago, with expectations of sales in excess of 150.000 units. Instead, Chinese buyers found the ID.4’s lack of over-the-air updates and minimal digital offerings wanting and they purchased domestic new-energy vehicles with the more established digital ecosystems that appeal to them. In September, Cariad’s failure to deliver a unified operating system for use across the group’s EVs cost former CEO Herbert Diess his job. Regaining market share is critical for Volkswagen, in China and the rest of the world. Hyundai is committed to spending $12.6 billion between now and 2030 to create its Global Software Centre (GSC). The new entity will be tasked with creating and implementing the operating system and over-the-air upgrade capabilities needed to allow Hyundai to build software-defined vehicles with the launch of two new EV platforms in 2025: eM and eS. “Creating visionary vehicles empowered with the ability to evolve through software will enable customers to keep their vehicles up to date with the latest features and technology long after they have left the factory”. That is the Global Software Division’s key mission, according to the president of Hyundai’s R&D division, Chung-Kook Park. All Hyundai Group vehicles, both EV and ICE, will be equipped with the internally developed Connected Car Operating System (ccOS), which will allow all Hyundai vehicles access to vehicle access to over-the-air upgrades, personalised services and up to Level 3 autonomy using the eM platform. The eS platform will be developed as a skateboard underpinning purpose-built vehicles for B2B applications, such as delivery, logistics and even car-hailing services. The group’s ccOS will be loaded onto the Nvidia Drive platform, designed for large-scale data processing needed by the lidar, cameras and radars for the Level 3 autonomy that will be deployed in future eM-based vehicles. The Global Software Centre will create software-defined mobility devices and solutions that extend beyond the vehicle, entering the larger mobility ecosystem. Hyundai’s Global Software Group is among the first legacy OEM software organisations to embrace and pursue this idea. Sony Honda Mobility is a joint venture with roots in both legacy OEM vehicle production, from Honda, and deep software development experience, from Sony. So it came as something of a surprise that in the press conference announcing the founding of Sony Honda Mobility, CEO Yasuhide Mizuno, the former automotive head at legacy automaker Honda, declared: “The mobility industry is reaching a time of transformation, with digital technology and software at the epicentre. Leading that transformation requires a completely different approach from the way that existing original equipment manufacturers do things”. Perhaps it should not have been such a surprise, after all. The Sony Honda Mobility focus on software-driven development has its foundations in Honda’s establishment of a computer science research centre in Silicon Valley in 2000. 5 years later, Honda’s research centre evolved to investing in start-ups that embraced open innovation in their software platforms. Meanwhile, Sony’s 2016 revival of Aibo, the robot dog, led the company to concentrate on EVs as a way to bring about company success with software-defined vehicles. With that mutual interest in software-defined vehicles, Sony Honda Mobility plans to build smart vehicles that rely on open innovation software development to supply users with digital products and services that complement their lives outside the car, while over-the-air updates enhance their experience inside the car. Open innovation software development allowed outside developers to create content for Sony’s PlayStation, succeeding with the gaming community far beyond anything that Sony could have accomplished by itself. The joint venture will begin taking reservations in early 2025 and deliver technologically sophisticated and engaging customer vehicles towards the end of that year. +++

+++ According to several TESLA owners posting on social media, recent updates to Tesla’s Autopilot technology and Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta capability package seem to be policing drivers more closely. More specifically, it appears the technology is now aware of some devices or tricks that may be used to “cheat” the system, and it’s working to stop such behaviour. Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta systems have certain safety measures in place to help ensure that people don’t make bad choices that could lead to injury or death. This is in addition to the fact that the instructions related to the software make it abundantly clear that drivers must keep their hands on the steering wheel and be ready to take control at any time. While the safety systems don’t make Tesla’s advanced driver-assist systems foolproof, they aim to “punish” drivers who are breaking the rules. However, we’ve learned over the years that there are still ways to trick the driver-assistance software by way of certain methods and/or devices. At one point, while some people were actually providing online instruction or videos to help people learn to trick Tesla’s technology, Consumer Reports actually published a video showing that tricking Autopilot was possible, and the publication even showed folks how to do it. Needless to say, there are people out there who are tricking the technology so they don’t have to keep their hands on the wheel, and one way to get away with it seems to be to use a device that makes the car “think” you’re applying pressure to the steering wheel. A recent article about the topic was published by Electrek based on details from Teslascope, a social media account that keeps tabs on Tesla’s software updates. According to Teslascope, Tesla has now figured out a way to detect whether a driver is potentially using a device or trick to avoid holding the steering wheel. If the car detects that a cheat device is being used to apply torque to the steering wheel, it may issue “strikes” against the driver and even then from using Autopilot or Tesla’s FSD beta technology. This could come as a big help to Tesla as it is now making FSD beta available to all paying customers in the US and Canada. Digging further into the thread related to the tweet above reveals that some Tesla owners may be upset if they’re banned from using Autopilot or FSD beta. This is especially true of the latter since you have to pay a pretty penny for access. Tesla’s Full Self-Driving technology is still in beta form, and if people aren’t using it as Tesla specifies, they’re potentially causing a safety issue. For this reason, it makes sense that the automaker could take away access based on misuse. However, it appears all of that stands to change in the future. We’ll have to wait and see how it all progresses. Would Tesla have to refund an owner for the Full Self-Driving capability package if they were banned from using it? Since Autopilot comes standard on all Tesla’s EVs, perhaps it wouldn’t cause such an issue. We don’t yet have the answers, but it will certainly be interesting to see how it all plays out. +++

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