Newsflash: ingrijpende facelift voor Volkswagen ID.3

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+++ The AUDI A5 Cabriolet has been culled from the German firm’s line-up, and a replacement is unlikely as the brand consolidates its British model range. An Audi spokesman told that the removal of the A5 Cabriolet was part of a “consolidation” of its model range, given that the A5 Cabriolet is an older model at the end of its life cycle. However, it continues to be sold in other parts of Europe and the model recently received a Competition Pack. When asked if a new model (possibly electric) would replace the outgoing Audi A5 Cabriolet, Audi said it would not comment on future product plans, but that it is not likely to be replaced by a new model. The move also casts doubt over future Audi drop-tops. The Audi R8 and Audi TT, both of which have cabriolet variants, are coming to an end next year with two last-hurrah ultimate editions and no convertible variants of future models have been hinted at yet. British sales figures for the convertible A5 have been dropping since 2016. Just 224 were sold in the first half of 2022 (680 were sold in 2021) making it the slowest-selling variant of the A5. For comparison, the standard coupé sold nearly 10 times as many units, with 6.353 units. The A5 is one of the older models in Audi’s range, having been revealed in second-generation form in mid-2016. Its closest rival, the Mercedes C-Class coupé, is no longer on sale, with 2-door derivatives of the Mercedes C-Class and E-Class being replaced by the upcoming Mercedes CLE. Audi is primed to introduce 8 new models in the next 4 years, including an electric A6 e-Tron, which adopts a rakish roofline to essentially serve as an electric equivalent to today’s A5 Sportback. No upcoming cars are yet confirmed to have a convertible variant, but Audi has hinted at plans for a drop-top GT with the radical Skysphere concept, inspired by convertible cars of the 1930s. An electric TT is also on the way, bound for a 2024 launch, and may follow in its combustion predecessor’s footsteps with a drop-top model. +++

+++ 2022 is set to be BENTLEY ’s best year ever as the firm looks to break its profits record once again. The third quarter of 2022 saw the luxury brand’s profits double to £497 million for the year-to-date, an increase of 109 percent compared with the same 9 month period last year. Bentley’s previous-record breaking £326.41 million profit was set in 2021. The brand has revealed that while year-to-date sales are up only 3 percent, revenue increased from £1.687 billion in 2021 to £2.155 billion; a 28 percent growth rate. Expectedly, revenue per car is up, from £156,000 in 2021 to £190,000 in 2022. Bentley claims revenue per car is up due to increased levels of personalisation. “Significant increase in demand and capitalisation of our Mulliner personalisation programme has driven record return on sales, and continued global interest in the freshest model line in the luxury sector has resulted in record high revenues”, said CEO Adrian Hallmark. In terms of individual markets, The British market rose by 25 percent with 1.126 units sold. Bentley says the Americas is still its strongest region, with a 7 percent increase this year to 3.154 cars. The Asia Pacific region has also seen growth (17 percent up on last year) and in Europe, Bentley sales have grown 18 percent to 2.133 cars sold so far this year. The bestselling model remains the Bentayga, growing its share of total sales by 1 percent to 41. Hallmark also says the Bentyaga could become even more popular. “The launch of the new Bentayga Extended Wheelbase model is expected to further boost sales of Bentley’s luxury SUV”. As for the rest of the range, the Flying Spur retains its 27 percent share of sales and the Continental GT takes in 32 percent. Along with the Bentayga EWB, Bentley’s SUV has also gained Azure and S versions of its Hybrid model, plus a limited Odyssean Edition in recent months. The Flying Spur range has also been updated with a new Speed model and a driver-focused S version. Bentley says the new figures will help support its strategy to become a pure-electric brand. This includes a £2.5 million investment at its Pyms Lane factory in Crewe. +++

Bentley2022Q3

+++ With less camouflage than before, the next BMW 5 SERIES is undergoing its testing regime and it suggests a full reveal of BMW’s executive saloon car could be imminent. With the current 5 Series going on sale back in 2017, it’s due a revamp and the newcomer is expected to launch sometime in 2023. A new BMW 5 Series will arrive to continue the decades-long battle with the Mercedes E-Class (also due to be replaced next year) and the Audi A6, which will be facelifted in 2023. The upcoming 7th generation car, codenamed G60, will be one of the brand’s final new models before its Neue Klasse-generation vehicles begin to arrive in the middle of the decade, likely led by all-electric replacements for the 3 Series and the X5. Although the next 5 Series can be thought of as a swansong for the current-generation BMW line-up, it will still mark a huge departure from the current car and will introduce a nameplate that has been the subject of on-and-off speculation since the introduction of BMW’s ‘i’ model line-up. As part of BMW’s ‘Power of Choice’ strategy, the new 5 Series will offer multiple powertrain options, including the option of a fully electric version, which will take on the i5 name. A new M5 flagship will also be introduced, and for the first time it will be electrified. However, a core line-up of petrol and diesel models will still be the big sellers, making up the majority of the range. We’ve spied the new 5 Series testing multiple times, including the hot M5 variant. It looks like BMW will play it safe with the standard 5 Series, employing a more conventional design than on some of its other recent cars. Unlike the polarising grille found on the latest 7 Series and XM, the 5 Series will continue to offer a smaller design. The new 5 Series will also offer a single headlight cluster rather than the split arrangement found on the 7 Series and X7. The latest spies show the production headlight unit, with an LED signature made from two lights. Below we can see side air intakes and a wide lower grille for the radiator. To the rear, we can see a horizontal rear light cluster that is slimmer than the outgoing car’s. The rear lights also overlap onto the bootlid. The rear bumper is smoothed over, but expect a faux diffuser to appear with exhaust tips either side. The new generation will get larger headlights and more traditional trademark kidney grilles when compared with the 7 Series will crown a sportier-looking front end. After all, the 5 Series is the executive saloon that’s set the class benchmark for driving dynamics for decades – a 7 Series-based look would likely not cut it with the car’s usual customers. To create more space inside, the new 5 Series will grow slightly compared with its G30-generation predecessor, but its balance of proportions will remain similar. A Touring version is almost certain to return to the fold as well, and may even appear in M5 Touring guise. Inside, it’s highly likely that the new 5 Series’ cabin design will take inspiration from the latest models in the company’s line-up, with a clear advance when it comes to the technology on offer, too. Like the facelifted 3 Series, the new 5 Series will embrace a new-generation cabin architecture that will probably adopt inspiration from the 7 Series and the iX. A pair of gently curved screens will blend seamlessly into each other, spanning the area in front of the driver and the centre of the dashboard. And it’s likely that the new car’s switchgear and controls will appeal to newcomers and BMW traditionalists, combining the brand’s iDrive rotary dial with the new touch-sensitive BMW Interaction Bar introduced on the latest 7 Series flagship. Ultimately, the arrival of the all-electric i5 model will catch the headlines at launch; just as the brand pushed the i7 to the front of stage when it revealed the new 7 Series earlier this year, the firm’s Mercedes EQE rival will be the big draw. That’s not to say that the internal combustion-powered options will be a side show. In fact, it’s possible that the newcomer will arrive heralding a new generation of engines, mooted as being in development by executives earlier this year. Given this next-generation 5 Series will probably be the last pure-combustion-powered model sold, it will have to face stricter emissions legislation in the future, so big efficiency gains have been targeted for the new version. The line-up will rely on 4 and 6-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel engines making use of 48 volt mild-hybrid technology. Plug-in hybrid drivetrains have slowly taken over much of the brand’s 5 Series line-up, and an expansion of this tech will include a plug-in M Performance model for the first time, likely to be badged M60e xDrive and carrying over tech from the 7-series M60e petrol-electric model. This 6-cylinder PHEV set-up (packing up to 570 hp and 800 Nm) is all but certain to remove V8 power from the non-M 5 Series line-up, while an 18.1 kWh battery would provide an electric range of 80 km. +++

+++ The BUICK Electra was a sometimes-handsome fullsize car that sold for decades, but its time came to an end in the early 1990s as the automaker moved toward smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. That will soon change, as Buick and parent company General Motors recently filed for a series of trademarks for the name. GM filed trademark names ranging from Electra E1 to E9. Though Buick unveiled the Wildcat EV concept earlier this year, it is GM’s only brand without a publicly announced electric vehicle. It has said that an Electra EV would be coming to the U.S. but has not confirmed when it’ll arrive or what it will look like when it does. The automaker says its first EV will come in 2024 and notes that it will offer an all-electric lineup in the U.S. and Canada by 2030, though, so it’s only a matter of time. General Motors already trademarked the Electra GS name last month, which could indicate a high-performance variant in the model line. It’s unclear if Buick will stick to the Electra formula and make a sleek electric car or if it will use the name on a line of electric crossovers, following the rest of its vehicle catalog. An electric crossover was spotted testing in China in late October, which could be our first look at the automaker’s newest EV. The Electra will likely ride on GM’s Ultium platform, whatever the form. The architecture underpins the GMC Hummer EV and will carry the upcoming crop of electric SUVs and trucks from Chevrolet and GMC. +++

+++ FORD ’s top quality executive is retiring as the company continues to struggle with high warranty claims and reliability issues. Stuart Rowley, chief transformation and quality officer, is leaving after 32 years with the company. He’ll be replaced by Jim Baumbick, who is now vice president of product development operations and internal combustion engine programs, the company said Wednesday. “Quality is our No. 1 priority as a company, and Jim Baumbick is the right leader to deliver world-class quality and reliability at Ford”, CEO Jim Farley said in a statement. Farley has complained about quality, warranty claims, recalls and problems with launching new vehicles since his appointment as chief executive 2 years ago. At the company’s annual shareholders meeting in May, Farley said the problems are affecting Ford’s financial performance, but also causing pain for customers. “We’ve made more progress on our launch quality and initial quality, you could see it in the surveys and our ramp-up of production”, Farley said at the meeting. “However, we are not satisfied at all with our quality performance, including our recalls and customer satisfaction efforts, which we need to quickly accelerate”. He said fixing the problems will require new talent, which the company has, as well as a culture shift and better processes for engineering, manufacturing and supply chain management. “It’s very frustrating for our customers, and so we’re doing everything we can to accommodate them with the right policies to support them when they do have a problem, and rest assured this management team is completely committed to fixing our gap to competition and return the company to being benchmark”, he said. Ford’s statement said Josh Halliburton, who was hired in January from survey and data analysis company J.D. Power to be executive director of quality, will report to Baumbick. The move, Ford said, will integrate quality improvement work in design, engineering, manufacturing and the supply chain. Rowley will retire in December after more than 3 decades with the automaker, where he held multiple positions including chief operating officer for North America, and president of Ford Europe. The change is among several management moves the company announced Wednesday. Joy Falotico, president of the Lincoln luxury brand, will retire after 33 years with the company. She’ll be replaced by Dianne Craig, now president of the International Markets Group. Steven Armstrong, vice president for the India and South America transformation, also will retire, after 35 years with Ford. The moves come at a time of profound change that Farley is leading at Ford, including separating the company into electric vehicle and internal combustion units. In August the company let go of 3.000 white collar workers to cut costs and help make the long transition from combustion vehicles to those powered by batteries. Governments across the globe are pushing to eliminate combustion automobiles to mitigate the impact of climate change. Companies like Ford are orchestrating the wind-down of their combustion businesses over multiple years, even though they are still generating the cash to fund electric vehicle development. +++

+++ With RUSSIA ’s domestic car industry smarting from the impact of Western sanctions, sales of used cars are leading a relative resurgence, with Japan accounting for more than 3 quarters of those imported. Sales of new cars produced in Russia have slumped since Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in late February, with sanctions limiting access to parts and several foreign producers suspending operations in the country. Their withdrawal, along with the stronger rouble has pushed up demand for used cars from Asia, with logistical challenges partially to blame for prices being about 10% higher in September than the start of the year, the central bank said late last month. Imports, which used to account for around a fifth of the market by volume and half by revenue, have not yet fully recovered. New car imports were well below February levels in August, data from Russian analytical agency Autostat showed, but those of used cars more than doubled to 23.117 from 11.055. The vast majority, 76%, of used cars were imported from Japan, with Belarus distant second with a 5.3% share, the data showed. Japanese automaker Nissan last month took a $687 million loss in handing over its business in Russia to a state-owned entity for €1, while rival Toyota has ended vehicle production in Russia. Almost 70% of the 10.257 new cars imported in August came from China, the data showed. Bilateral trade between Russia and China has surged this year. Customs officials in Russia’s Far Eastern port city of Vladivostok said individual buyers imported more than 100.000 cars via the city from January to August, an increase of almost 50%. Meanwhile, the makeup of buyers is changing. Individuals increased their share in new car imports to 23% August from 2% in February, Autostat said. “One dealership, due to a lack of deliveries of new cars, has pivoted to selling and leasing used cars”, the central bank said. After the Ukraine conflict began, the Association of European Businesses (AEB), which represents companies present in Russia, revised its 2022 new car sales forecast to a drop of around 50% from expected 3.3% growth. In January-September, new car sales were down almost 60% to 506.661 units. +++

+++ New car registrations in the UNITED KINGDOM saw their third consecutive month of growth in October 2022, with big demand for hybrid and electric models driving the trend. Fleet registrations were up 47.4 per cent to 67.911 units, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), while demand from private buyers rose 7.4 per cent to 62.714 units. There was also a 108.6 percent increase in business registrations, but this is a much smaller segment of the market. Registrations of fully electric cars rose 23.4 percent to 19.993. Demand for plug-in hybrids, meanwhile, was up 6.2 percent to 8.899. There was also a 81.7 percent increase in registrations of conventional hybrids. Perhaps most interesting, though, was the fact the Ford Fiesta, recently announced as being axed from sale, topped the sales charts. In spite of positive news for the month, the SMMT says ongoing supply chain issues, rising inflation and the cost of living crisis have led it to revise its market outlook for 2022 downwards by 2.2 percent. A total of 1.566 million new car registrations are now anticipated for the full year, which would make 2022 the worst 12 months for the market since 1982. The silver lining is a predicted market share of 21.9 percent for plug-in vehicles (including full-electric models). Furthermore, the market is expected to recover in 2023, when it’s hoped 1.808 million new cars will be registered. Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “A strong October is hugely welcome, albeit in comparison with a weak 2021, but it is still not enough to offset the damage done by the pandemic and subsequent supply shortages. Next year’s outlook shows recovery is possible and EV growth looks set to continue, but to achieve our shared net zero goals, that growth must accelerate and consumers given every reason to invest. This means giving them the economic stability and confidence to make the switch, safe in the knowledge they will be able to charge (and charge affordably) when needed. The models are there, with more still to come; so must the public chargepoints”. The bestselling car of 2022 so far in the United Kingdom is the Nissan Qashqai, of which 33.562 units found an owner. It takes the top spot from the Vauxhall Corsa. The British-built crossover appeals to buyers because of its excellent practicality, and its appeal is no doubt bolstered by the addition of mild hybrid powertrains for this generation. The question is: can it stay at the top until the end of the year? After almost an entire year at the top, the Corsa finally drops having been toppled by the Qashqai. It’s narrowly in second place with 32.162 units sold. The Corsa had a successful 2021, finishing as the UK’s bestselling car. Its success is in part due to its PSA-developed underpinnings and mix of petrol, diesel and electric powertrains. +++

+++ New VOLKSWAGEN boss Thomas Schäfer has outlined his vision for the firm after his first 100 days in the job, with a focus on becoming “a love brand again”. The VW exec also revealed at an event in Berlin that the company will launch 10 new models by 2026, including an SUV version of its ID.3. “We’re working hard to develop an additional compact SUV based on the ID.3, so that we can also launch a VW product in this fast-growing vehicle segment”, he said. The new ID.3 SUV will share its interior and running gear with the hatchback, but offer a taller body inspired by the facelifted ID.3 that’s due to go on sale next year. “We’ve listened very carefully to the ID.3 community, and we’re bringing forward the facelift of our first MEB model to 2023”, said Schäfer. “The new ID.3 is taking a noticeable leap forward in terms of quality, materials and system stability. A car that delivers what the brand promises”. Although the new ID.3’s exterior isn’t expected to look radically different from the current car’s, the interior will receive a heavier makeover. The much-criticised infotainment system is likely to be updated with new software and a refreshed user interface, while the quality of plastics and other materials is also set for a major boost. Expect the same battery options under the skin of the new ID.3 SUV as seen in the hatch; a choice of 45, 58 and 77 kWh units will likely be available, offering a range of over 480 km for the priciest versions. A hot GTX variant is also a possibility, with GTX models likely to spread across the entire ID range, including the ID.Buzz. Schäfer also gave further hints about the smallest ID models, likely to be called ID.1 and ID.2. “Volkswagen will have the broadest e-portfolio in the automotive industry”, he said. “From the entry-level e-car with a target price of under 27.500 euro in the Netherlands to the ID.Buzz and the new flagship ID.Aero: we will have the right offer in every segment. By the way, we will bring the small e-car in 2 versions: as a hatchback and as a sporty crossover”. Schäfer also revealed that VW will trim its model line-up as it moves towards making only EVs in Europe by 2033 at the latest. “We want to make the Volkswagen brand shine again!” he told. In his short time in the job, Schäfer says he’s been working on three priorities: best brand, best team and best results, with a restructure of the board under way: “You can’t change the world in 100 days, but you can point the way forward for Volkswagen, for the Brand Group and for the teams”, he said. “Will there be setbacks on our way to becoming a ‘love brand’? Most certainly: we’re living in challenging times full of unpredictability. Will we get distracted from our goal? Absolutely not. We’re highly motivated, have an incredible amount of expertise in the company and we know what needs to be done”. +++

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