Newsflash: nieuwe Nissan Micra wordt een cross-over


+++ FORD has announced it will be investing heavily in its British Halewood factory, creating Ford’s first European electric car component production facility. The transition from manufacturing internal combustion engine transmissions to electric power units will create 500 new jobs in the area. Ford says the Halewood plant is integral to its European electrification plan, which will follow the EU’s target of manufacturers building only zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Halewood’s annual production figure of electric powertrains was expected to be around 250.000 units a year, but with investment rising from an initial £230 million to £380 million, Ford claims 420.000 units per year should be feasible by 2024. This means that 70 percent of the 600.000 EVs that Ford intends to sell in Europe per year by 2026 will be powered by Halewood-produced technology. Globally, the American giant plans on selling 2 million EVs by 2026. Tim Slatter, chairman of Ford United Kingdom (UK), spoke on the transition of the Halewood plant: “This is an all-important next step for Ford towards having 9 EVs on sale within 2 years. Our UK workforce is playing a major role in Ford’s all-electric future”. Of those 9 EVs, the E-Transit Custom will eventually feature Halewood-built powertrains as will the electric version of Ford’s bestselling car, the Puma. Halewood’s power units will be delivered to Ford production facilities in Romania and Turkey. Halewood isn’t the only Ford hub seeing investment. Ford’s £24 million E:PriME centre, at Ford’s Dunton product development HQ in Essex, builds prototypes of the electric power unit and will train Halewood employees in its assembly. The electric power unit essentially replaces the engine and transmission of an internal-combustion engine vehicle. Ford claims the Merseyside factory will target carbon-neutral energy supply for operations in 2024. Electricity and gas use in the factory are already sourced from renewables and an installation of solar panels will generate up to 1.782 MWh of power. +++

+++ HONDA just announced that it will be making a hydrogen-powered CR-V in 2024. Where the hydrogen CR-V is being produced, though, is arguably just as interesting as the vehicle’s presence. If you had Honda’s Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) on your bingo card, congrats! I’ve long wondered what Honda would move into the PMC now that NSX production is finished, but now the wait is over, and a hydrogen CR-V is the answer. No, I would never have guessed that either. “Our associates at the Performance Manufacturing Center have really enjoyed the opportunity to successfully introduce several specialty vehicles into the market”, said PMC plant leader Gail May. “This facility is perfect for production of a new Honda fuel cell electric vehicle, as our small-volume capability enables us to really leverage the skill and expertise of our team to produce quality zero-emission vehicles here in North America”. Honda didn’t reveal much about this upcoming fuel cell-powered CR-V, but there is one intriguing detail. In addition to being able to fill with hydrogen, you’ll be able to plug in (like an EV) to charge an onboard battery that Honda says will provide enough range for “driving around town”. It sounds a little like a PHEV, but instead of a gasoline engine as a supplemental power source, the CR-V continues on hydrogen power once the battery pack is depleted. As you’d expect, this hydrogen CR-V is based on the new generation of CR-V that will be released next year. We all want more details, but Honda says additional information will be available closer to the vehicle’s introduction in 2024. +++


+++ JAGUAR ’s efforts in the Formula E electric single-seater race series will have a heavy influence on its next-generation of road-going EVs, bosses have confirmed. The firm has just revealed its new 2023 Formula E contender, designed in accordance to the new Gen3 specification which brings a dramatic power increase and wide-reaching performance changes. While the bodywork, aerodynamic elements, tyres, brakes and battery pack are all spec items used by all teams, Jaguar says ongoing development of its EV racer (and its experiences on the track) will provide vital learnings as it ramps up to introducing its long-awaited new family of road cars from 2025. Jaguar Land Rover’s product engineering boss, ex-Audi man Thomas Müller, was keen to stress the developmental synergies that exist between the company’s road and race engineering teams in a range of areas including software architecture, battery management and, most pertinently, data. Asked how tangible Jaguar’s race-to-road ambition is in terms of productionising race-derived technology, Müller said: “It’s not about transferring hardware pieces, it’s about building a body of knowledge. Engineers lead our knowledge of how to solve problems. And the main area of focus that we co-operate on is the powertrain. Which for us, of course, is one of the most important ones moving to electric mobility – the second generation. So of course, trying to understand: what these guys doing that we can learn from them?” He stressed that the collaboration doesn’t comprise component sharing as such, but rather that Jaguar engineers can use experience and data taken from the track cars and apply it to the development of road car hardware – in addition to the data that it can collect from its existing over-the-air-compatible electrified road cars. The efficiency of the power inverter (and thus the power of the EV drivetrain as a whole) will be a particular beneficiary, Müller suggested, as will temperature management on the battery side for effective performance in all conditions and optimal charging behaviour. “This area is super interesting for us to co-operate on and learn from each other”, he said. “We’re in different regulation spaces and different use cases, but in the end, efficiency and how to solve engineering problems are where we work together. Working with the Formula E engineers simply accelerates our body of knowledge and is a way to do things right the first time”. Meanwhile, François Dossa, JLR’s strategy and sustainability boss, touted the brand-image benefits of racing EVs. “Formula E for us is very, very important. It shows that sustainability can be cool”, he said. “When you think of sustainability, a lot of people think ‘we’re going back to a time that’s not fun, the Middle Ages’, something like this, which isn’t the case at all, because sustainability is innovation. And we want to also show that it can be cool. And Formula E is the right example of that”. Asked if Jaguar’s Formula E efforts and the development of its next-generation Panthera platform are intrinsically linked, Dossa kept his cards close to his chest. He said: “The technology is very linked. So what are we learning here? Well, definitely you will see it on the cars. Of course, the design will be absolutely something that is the copy of nothing. So this is why we don’t want to tell a lot, because we want to be sure that everybody will be surprised with what we will show”. +++

+++ Buying a car has started feeling pretty bad. It’s hard to find what you want, and when you do, there’s a great chance it’s not selling for the price you thought it would be. The least stressful way of coping with the situation is not to buy a new car, but how can you know how long your current ride will last? A recent study from iSeeCars found that some vehicles are prone to deliver many more miles of usable driving than others. iSeeCars looked at more than 2 million cars. The mileage over which the top 1% of cars within each model obtained was calculated and used to rank models, and the study required that a vehicle be sold for at least 10 of the past 20 years to be included. Unsurprisingly, Toyota dominated the top-10 list, but most of the other models come from General Motors with one Honda thrown into the mix. Ranked by mileage, the top-10 LONGEST LASTING vehicles include: 1) Toyota Highlander Hybrid: 244.944 miles, 2) Toyota Avalon: 245.710 miles, 3) Honda Ridgeline: 248.669 miles 4) Chevrolet Tahoe: 250.338 miles 5) Toyota Prius: 250.601 miles, 6) GMC Yukon XL: 252.360 miles,
7) Toyota Tundra: 256.022 miles, 8) Chevrolet Suburban: 265.732 miles, 9) Toyota Land Cruiser: 280.236 miles, 10) Toyota Sequoia: 295.509 miles. The iSeeCars study found that SUVs and trucks occupy 75 percent of the top 20 vehicles with the potential to last the longest, and Toyota alone accounts for half of the top 20. Interestingly, the Prius and Highlander Hybrid made the list, suggesting that automakers are getting better at making batteries last a long time. “What we see is a list of highly-durable vehicles, capable of more than a quarter-million miles of use if properly maintained”, said iSeeCars executive analyst Karl Brauer. “And to be clear, this study isn’t reporting the maximum lifespan of these vehicles. This is simply a measure of current odometer readings. Most of these cars are still in use and going strong”. Of course, the longevity of a vehicle has a lot to do with how it’s treated and maintained over its lifetime. It’s easy to find stories of people nursing Toyota Tundras and other vehicles past a million miles, and there’s a 1960s Volvo with more than 3 million miles. Some vehicle types, particularly the largest SUVs, are often used as road-trip vehicles by large families, which means they tend to rack up big mileage. In most cases, buying and owning a higher-mileage car can be a risk, so it’s essential to get a pre-purchase inspection or regular maintenance if you already own one. +++

+++ NISSANperformance division Nismo is readying a new flagship model for Europe, expected to be a stand-alone sports car. Nissan Nismo CEO Takao Katagiri confirmed the unnamed model will be sold in Europe and the US, following its release in the car maker’s home country of Japan. He hinted it will arrive this decade. “There is a very, very important vision in Europe for Nissan. It’s around the heart of this new car”, said Katagiri, adding that Nissan’s Sunderland factory also makes the UK an “essential” market for the firm. “Th European region is very, very special for us, especially for performance cars. So one thing I can say is please wait. We are going to introduce a very exciting model to the European market under the Nismo brand”. It is likely to arrive as an indirect successor to the Nissan GT-R. Tight European emissions rules have also kept Nismo’s other tuned model, the Z sports coupé, out of the continent. This new car is likely to be powered by a hybrid powertrain and Katagiri confirmed a “combination” of hybrid and EV models will be launched. Company executives have previously told Autocar that any performance EVs will need to be powered by solid-state batteries, which Richard Moore, strategy boss of the West Midlands Gigafactory, has said are still 10 years away from making it into mainstream production cars. So if the new car is to be viable in Europe, a hybrid option will be the most likely starting point. However, a fully electric powertrain could be the next move for Nissan, with François Bailly, senior vice president and chief planning officer for the AMEIO region (Africa, Middle East, India, Europe and Oceania), previously telling: “I would love to have an EV sports car, but we need to organise. We’re not ready to announce the sequence, but it’s clearly on the table”. He added that more mainstream models will come first, though. Nissan’s timetable for solid-state batteries gives clues to when enthusiast-oriented EVs could arrive. Research is in a relatively advanced phase and a pilot factory is due to come online in 2024. The technology is expected to be ready by 2026 and the first production cars using it should be on the road by 2028. This new technology ought to markedly increase energy density and speed up price parity between electric and petrol and hybrid cars. Nissan estimates an initial cost of $75 per kWh, compared with the current cost of around $130 per kWh. At the other end of the spectrum, Nissan remains committed to smaller, more affordable cars. “It’s super-important”, said François Bailly. “In Europe, it’s a key segment, and having those younger customers going to EV, so you’re building the new generation, is essential”. The Micra replacement won’t be a traditional hatchback, though. Based on the CMF-BEV platform, it will be a compact electric crossover built alongside the revived Renault 5 in Douai. Bailly said: “The EV market is clearly moving towards crossovers, for good or bad reasons. You have the stance, the perceived safety, the cargo space. Crossover is a key strategic axis”. Q&A with Guillaume Cartier, Nissan AMEIO region chairman. Q: Why is Nissan only now launching its second EV? A: “Today, we have a vision until 2030 and that’s something which is new in Nissan. Until recently, we were more acting on MTP [Medium-Term Plans] , so a kind of 3 to 5 year cycle. Now we look 10 years ahead. The second point is that not only do we have vision but we have a clear view of electrification. Today, you have to decide: do I invest in EV or in EV and ICE? We will not invest in Euro 7 [for non-hybrid cars] ”. Q: What’s the plan for Nissan’s Sunderland operations? A: “Nissan is recognised as a Japanese company, of course, but the decision has been made that we invest and we manufacture in Europe. That’s a big statement, because the company has more than 40 plants. So why in the Sunderland plant? Because there is the knowhow and we have built the full ecosystem, which is of course to build cars there but also to be in a position to have the battery production, the gigafactory for 9MW, next to the plant”. Q: How will the Renault – Nissan – Mitsubishi alliance differentiate EVs on the same platforms? A: “Even if you look at some of the platforms that are used for cars in the same segment, the cars are really different, because the way we design cars is totally different. In the Alliance, there are many things that aren’t necessarily visible but really important. It’s better than it was. So we’re planning to increase car production dramatically, but this year, globally and in Europe, the demand isn’t yet at the level that we want. So little by little, we’re growing. But I’m optimistic. I think it will definitely be better in 2022 than it was in 2021″. +++

+++ The joint venture between Croatian electric carmaker RIMAC and Bugatti has been far more profitable than anticipated as the 2 brands work on developing vehicles together under one roof, Rimac’s top executive said on Wednesday. “It’s highly profitable and cash flow positive beyond anybody’s expectations”, Rimac boss Mate Rimac told in an interview at the UK offices of the carmaker’s Rimac Technology unit in Warwick. “It’s such a win-win situation for everybody”. Rimac added the joint venture has brought “lots of synergies going both ways”. The Rimac Group comprises the Bugatti-Rimac JV, producing the electric sportscar Nevera and the Bugatti Chiron (which is owned 45% by Porsche) and a technology unit which supplies battery systems and powertrain components to other carmakers. Earlier this year the group raised 500 million euro in a new funding round. Rimac’s CEO said the company has developed a “really close strategic relationship” with Porsche, which was listed by its parent Volkswagen in October. Porsche holds a 20% stake in the Rimac group. “We are really collaborating on many levels, developing and producing lots of key elements of their (Porsche’s) future hybridization and electrification”, he said. Rimac’s CEO said the group must become more like Ferrari with a predictable, stable and profitable business before it can contemplate an initial public offering. “They (Ferrari) make projections and they always achieve”, he said. “What I want to have is some kind of stability and certainty before we do an IPO because we don’t want to make promises we can’t keep”. An IPO could happen anytime from three years to a decade from now, and could involve going public as a group or spinning off a unit, he said, but is definitely coming because “we obviously have financial investors that at some point want to exit”. +++

+++ SKODA has brought forward the launch of its next 3 electric cars by 4 years, from 2030 to 2026. A spokesperson for the Czech brand confirmed that the trio will be on the market “as early as 2026, with more to follow”. The new cars are expected to be a crossover known for now as the Elroq (2024), a large SUV based on the Vision 7S concept (2026) and a compact urban SUV twinned with the Cupra Urban Rebel (2026). reported in August that electric alternatives to the Octavia and Fabia are also on the cards, but these are not set to appear before 2026, based on the latest timeline. Skoda CEO Klaus Zellmer told: “The biggest challenge at the moment is the cost of making battery-electric vehicles, especially when producing a car of the size of the Fabia. We will have to stay a little patient”. In a recent interview with Germany trade newspaper Handelsblatt, he said the company has upped its investment in electric cars from €3.1 billion to €5.6 billion by 2026. Skoda is aiming for 50% to 70% of its sales to be electric cars by the end of this decade. Currently, Skoda’s only EV on sale is the Enyaq iV, which is also available in rakish-roofed Coupé form. Its first EV, the tiny Citigo-e iV, was withdrawn from sale in 2020. The move comes as the wider Volkswagen Group rethinks its electrification plans under new CEO Oliver Blume. Volkswagen brand CEO (and former Skoda boss) Thomas Schäfer confirmed that 10 new EVs are in the works for 2026. These comprise a mix of model variants (such as a higher-riding, more rugged ID.3), facelifts and brand-new products. As with its current petrol cars (the VW Polo sharing its underpinnings with the Seat Ibiza and Skoda Fabia, for example) these are expected to form the backbone of the Czech brand’s strategy up to 2030. +++

+++ New electric vehicle models from multiple automakers are starting to chip away at TESLA ’s dominance of the U.S. EV market, according to national vehicle registration data. But numbers collected by S&P Global Mobility show that Tesla still controlled about 65% of the growing electric vehicle market during the first 9 months of this year. And the competitors made gains in the sticker price range below $50,000, where Tesla barely competes. From 2018 through 2020, Tesla had about 80% of the EV market. Its share dropped to 71% in 2021 and has continued to decline, said Stephanie Brinley, an S&P associate director. “Tesla’s position is changing as new, more affordable options arrive, offering equal or better technology and production build”, S&P Global Mobility said in a statement Tuesday. “Given that consumer choice and consumer interest in EVs is growing, Tesla’s ability to retain a dominant market share will be challenged going forward”. According to S&P, electric vehicles have picked up 2.4 percentage points of U.S. market share this year, growing to 5.2% of all light vehicle registrations. Of the 525.000 electric vehicles registered during the first 9 months of the year, about 65%, or 340.000, were Teslas, S&P said. Despite the smaller market share, Tesla will continue to see its sales grow as consumer interest increases, Brinley said. “The EV market in 2022 is a Tesla market, and it will continue to be so long as competitors are bound by production capacity”, she said. A shortage of computer chips and other parts has stopped many competitors such as Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen from running factories at full capacity to meet demand. Tesla also faces competition at the higher end of the market from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Polestar, Rivian, Lucid and others. S&P said there are 48 EV models on sale in the U.S. at present, and it expects that to grow to 159 by the end of 2025. Tesla plans to introduce its Cybertruck pickup next year, and a new Roadster at an undefined date, but otherwise its light-vehicle model lineup in 2025 will be the same as it is now, S&P said. The company has plans to deliver some electric Semi trucks to PepsiCo on Thursday. S&P also found that consumers who bought battery-electric vehicles so far this year largely had owned Honda and Toyota vehicles before switching. Both companies have fuel-efficient internal combustion and hybrid models, but have been slow to roll out EVs in the U.S. Toyota has only one model, while Honda won’t have any until 2024. Tesla’s Model Y and Model 3 were the top 2 SUVs, accounting for more than half of all electric vehicle registrations, Brinley said. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E was third, followed by 2 more Teslas, the Model S and X. Rounding out the top 10 EVs were the Chevrolet Bolt, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Kia EV6, the Volkswagen ID.4 and the Nissan Leaf. +++

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