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+++ BYD has enjoyed a bumper year and could continue its success through 2023, ultimately exceeding Tesla in total EV sales. The Chinese car manufacturer shipped no less than 217.518 Plug-in and Electric cars in China through October thanks to the affordability of many of its models. It is now turning its attention to the premium end of the market where it will pit itself against Tesla and look to boost profits even further. 2 new brands will push BYD higher in the market. The first of these new brands, Yangwang, is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2023 and will target affluent professionals. BYD second new brand will be “grounded in highly professional and personalized identifies”, the company said, noting that it will cater to the “diversified demands” of customers. While little else is known about the brand, the head of operations at U.S. hedge fund Snow Bull Capital Bridget McCarthy expects BYD to soon launch a luxury SUV and a sports car. “The 2 segments BYD doesn’t have exposure to are the luxury SUV and sports car markets, which we expect BYD will expand into in 2023”, McCarthy told. “These are the 2 most profitable vehicle segments, so bottom-line growth in 2023 will excite investors”. After phasing out the sale of pure combustion-powered models earlier this year, BYD now exclusively offers plug-in hybrid and pure-electric vehicles. Production and deliveries reached new heights in November, exceeding 230.000 vehicles, a monumental increase from the less than 100.000 vehicles the automaker produced and delivered in November 2021. While sales of BYD’s hybrid models slightly exceed those of its electric offerings, there’s a chance the carmaker could eclipse Tesla in pure EV car sales by the first quarter of next year. It may be able to close the gap with more top-end vehicles. “BYD has now established itself unequivocally as the market leader in the race to electrification, and I believe it will parlay that into a multi-brand strategy”, founder and chief executive of Shanghai-based advisory firm Automobility, Bill Russo, told Bloomberg. “They’ll be a pioneer if they do”. +++

+++ A post surfaced today on the Mach-E Club forum claiming not only that the second-generation FORD Mustang Mach-E electric SUV is coming to market in 2026, but also that a Mustang Mach-E Coupe is coming around the same time. While the “news” hasn’t been officially confirmed or denied by Ford, the Mach-E Club forum writes that Ford will end production of the current first-generation Mach-E in June 2026. Production of a electric crossover model is expected to begin shortly thereafter, which all makes sense. There’s the specific mention of a “Mustang Mach-E Coupe” and it even has its own unique internal product code, so it’s not likely just a typo or miscommunication. The information also notes that production of the Mach-E Coupe will begin in July 2026. Obviously, when details like this hit the internet, while it causes excitement, it also makes for loads of questions. If there really is a Mustang Mach-E Coupe in the works, is it simply going to replace the upcoming 7th generation petrol-powered Mustang? Will it be an SUV Coupe like those of some luxury automakers? For readers who may be unaware, some luxury automakers, including BMW and Mercedes, offer some of their SUVs in a Coupe configuration that’s typically sportier. It’s also less practical due in part to its sloping roofline and reduced rear-seat space. Volvo just welcomed the all-new fully electric C40 to market, which is essentially the ‘SUV Coupe’ version of the more traditional XC40. +++

+++ To the surprise of no one, there are some strong opinions about GENERAL MOTORS ’s rumored plan to turn the Chevrolet Corvette into a sub-brand with an electric four-door and an electric SUV around 2025. But there is more: the Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac Escalade are supposedly being primed for the same treatment. The Camaro news isn’t the bombshell here. There have been rumors for years that 2024 will see the Camaro’s current incarnation into retirement, twinned with the rumor that GM was prepping something like an electric sedan to keep the name alive. GM sees a viable model-based brand as able to support 3 vehicles. In the Camaro’s case, I’m told that could be a “fully electric 2+2 seater coupe and convertible” plus a “sporty crossover” and a “mid-price flagship sports car loosely linked to the next generation Corvette in content but not appearance”. The first sounds like an electric version of today’s Camaro. The second sounds like a Camaro that does to the Blazer what the Blazer did to the Camaro. The third sounds like what a Pontiac would have been if Pontiac still existed, distinguishing itself from top-tier versions of the 2+2 coupe and convertible by having only 2 seats. The previous Camaro rumors have always posited a purely electric reboot. The Escalade is the unexpected one here, despite how long everyone has considered Escalade its own brand akin to the way everyone considers Range Rover its own brand. As Cadillac’s begins its pure-electric reinvention, it’s alleged GM saw the Escalade on its own as having the strength and legs to go global as a brand. It’s said the ‘Slade could branch into a smaller 7-seat crossover destined for the U.S. and China, a challenger to Porsche’s planned SUV above the Cayenne; a luxury minivan for the Chinese market that’s currently going gaga over fancy kid buses; and a “more carlike modern-luxury segment-fusing all-terrain Escalade”. Parsing every word of that last theoretical vehicle gets us to carlike luxury all-terrain crossover. Is that something between an Audi RS6 Avant and a BMW X6? Is it a luxxed-up Lyriq with a lift and mud terrains? Or is it GM’s version of Land Rover’s mythical Road Rover? There were no dates offered for product arrivals this time, so we’ll have to wait and see the splits of all these pieces of all these pies. As long as no one’s talking about an Escalade pickup, no need to ring alarms. Yet. +++

+++ The GLOBAL PASSENGER PLUG-IN CAR MARKET expands and October was the second-best month ever, right behind the September record. 932.191 new passenger plug-in electric cars were registered last month. That’s 55% more than a year ago and 16% of the total car market. It’s worth noting that while the majority of sales remain all-electric (641.000), the plug-in hybrid segment expands slightly faster (up 60% vs. 54% in the case of BEVs; marketshave now 11%) thanks to the Chinese market. Outside of China, PHEVs were up only 5% year-over-year to 291.000 units (up 60% year-over-year) and a 5% share. So far this year, 7.750.676 new passenger plug-in electric cars were registered globally (13% marketshare), which opens the way to exceed 10 million units in 2022 (for the very first time). BEVs sold about 5.6 million and had 9.4% marketshare. PHEVs did about 2.1 million (3.6% share). For reference, in the 12 months of 2021, some 6.5 million plug-in electric cars were sold. In October, the most registered EV was the BYD Song Plus (BEVs/PHEV duo counted together) with 56.921 units. The Tesla Model Y noted a pretty good first month of the quarter (46.025), which indicates that November and December might be strong too. The third most popular model last month was the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV (41.255), followed by 2 BYD models (Qin and Han; 32.201 and 31.554 sales). The Tesla Model 3 was 6th with 28.696 units and it’s now far behind the Model Y. Next came the BYD Yuan Plus (27.521), the BYD Dolphin (25.408), BYD Tang (17.323) and the Volkswagen ID.4 (15.429). After the first 10 months of 2022, the Tesla Model Y (568.965) and Model 3 (365.274) remain at the top, but the race between the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV and the BYD Song for third place is still on. I assume that the Tesla Model 3 will defend its second place with accelerated deliveries later this quarter. The Volkswagen ID.4 took 9th position with 130.623 sales, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 was 16th overal with 82.847 sales and the last 2 positions in the top 20 of bestselling plug-in hybrid & electric cars globally were the Kia EV6 (67.252) and the Ford Mustang Mach-E (62.406). In October, BYD sold 217.219 plug-in electric cars (including 103.157 BEVs), which is not only another monthly record but also a big advantage over Tesla. Tesla achieved a record number (80.221 units) in the first month of a quarter (usually the lowest). Probably the most significant finding is that BYD was #1 for straight 8 months and in October sold more BEVs than Tesla. The best of the rest happens to be the SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture (46.359 sales), followed by Volkswagen, which consistently is increasing its volume to 38.191 units. Next came Changan (34.145), BMW (31.256), GAC (30.079), Mercedes-Benz (26.898), Hyundai (19.539) and Dongfeng (19.069). The top-3 brands year-to-date are BYD, Tesla and the SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture. BYD now has a 403.000 unit advantage over Tesla in terms of plug-in car sales, although Tesla sold significantly more BEVs. +++


+++ The RENAULT is arguably the most important car in the French firm’s illustrious history. Its production spanned 4 decades, during which time Renault sold over 8 million units. Like the Renault 5, the 4 is now scheduled to return in pure-electric form in 2025. We’ve seen the new Renault 4 in concept guise thanks to the reveal of the 4Ever Trophy concept at the 2022 Paris Motor Show. There’s also been a series of patent images leaked which give us a good look at how the production Renault 4 will be styled when it reaches showrooms. The proposed Renault 4 design harks back to the original car, with a particularly retro-themed front end. Here we can see a rounded grille arrangement, although it will of course be blanked off given the electric powertrain. The headlights are positioned similarly to the original model, but they’re made of several strips instead of one round unit. The overall boxy shape of the Renault 4 will be retained and we’ll also see chunky wheel arch extensions and a faux-vented rear pillar. The rear will use two individual light clusters, unlike the full-width light bar seen on the Renault 5 concept. Renault’s patent images of the upcoming 4 aren’t the only glimpse of the car’s design. In 2021, Renault unveiled a new concept car called the ‘AIR4’ with assistance from mobility company TheArsenale. It was built to celebrate 60 years since the Renault 4 was launched. The body is a clear homage to the original Renault 4, but with LED headlights and a more rounded appearance. Like the original car it’ll offer a practical, spacious interior and have plenty of ground clearance – something that was core to the old car taking on its French rival, the Citroen 2CV. According to Laura Gregoire, product leader on the 4Ever project, the silver-coloured parts of the body are very close to the production-ready Renault 4’s look, with the black recycled plastic parts that give this 4Ever Trophy concept its rugged look likely not to make it for the road-going version. It’s thought there will be some cladding for the wheel arches and bumpers, but expect it to be toned down significantly, with the R4’s production body set to be narrower than this machine’s. Renault chose to launch this concept in ‘Trophy’ form to honour the original Renault 4 and the off-road-prepared models that competed in the 4L Trophy. It’s the 25th anniversary of the humanitarian rally this year, an event that sees entrants endure testing conditions and roads to bring aid and other much-needed supplies to less privileged parts of the world. There are very obvious design cues that reference the original, modernising the look for the 21st century. The gently rounded tops of the car’s front wings, clever step down in the roofline towards the C-pillars, the trapezoidal rear quarterlight windows (picked out with a contrasting outline for the concept), the lozenge-like rear tail-lights and the raked forward tailgate all pay homage to the new car’s ancestor, but Renault has modernised the design with matrix LED lights and an illuminated Renault logo on the blanked-off front grille panel. According to Renault’s vice president of design, Gilles Vidal, “To bring the 4Ever Trophy into the modern era, we have infused its streamlined shape with technological sophistication. All these ingredients have been carefully crafted, with a view for modernity and sophistication, so the design resonates with those who are already familiar with the 4L as it will with younger generations who may not know anything of the car’s illustrious history”.  Don’t expect the big bonnet spars, grab handles and vent to make it production however, and while this concept doesn’t have a functioning boot, a top-hinged hatch like the original Renault 4 (with shut lines flowing down from the roof to the tail-lights and around their outsides down to the bumper) will materialise as the concept morphs from motor show headline grabber to dealer forecourt reality. The 4Ever Trophy is based on the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s CMF-BEV platform for compact electric cars, sharing common parts with the regular CMF-B architecture for combustion-engined cars to help keep costs down. The concept is powered by a 42 kWh battery that feeds a 140 hp motor mounted on the front axle. Renault hasn’t released a weight figure or any performance data for this concept as the car doesn’t physically move yet, but the brand has outlined that the 4Ever Trophy is 4.060 mm long and features a 2.570 mm wheelbase. By comparison, the reborn Renault 5, which uses the same CMF-BEV platform, is 3.920mm long, giving some idea of how the production-spec 4 will morph into a fully fledged compact SUV. It was confirmed to that the CMF-BEV platform and therefore the future Renault 4 can’t accept the super-slim battery from its larger sibling, the Megane E-Tech Electric, which is based on the larger, pricier CMF-EV architecture. Despite cost-cutting measures to try and keep the eventual production-spec Renault 4 relatively affordable, retaining a spiritual link with its predecessor, the brand is remaining tight-lipped on a potential starting price. Given the launch date is still three years away and market uncertainty is still very much a prevalent phenomenon, the brand can’t yet say how much its new small SUV might cost. However, on the subject of price, Gregoire did tell us that Renault “wanted to keep the DNA and the social freedom of the original”. Looking at rivals such as the Peugeot e-2008, Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV and Opel Mokka-e, a potential starting price of between €35.000 and €40.000 seems reasonable. Question for Laura Gregoire: How do you reinvent a car like the 4 for the modern era without it becoming a total pastiche of the original? Answer: “We wanted to keep that iconic silhouette and the DNA of the original 4. However, it is easier to modernise a hatchback like the 5, which we showed at the start of the Renaulution; the 4’s shape and volumes are more difficult to reimagine with what we need for today, but with these cars we achieved it twice!” Question: Who will the new Renault 4 production car be aimed at? A: “We want the 4 to be more versatile. The 5 has been designed for mostly urban usage. The 4 is for families, holidays, everything you can throw at it. We want it to be the same as the original. Whether this means it will be bigger than the 5 in terms of sales volume, let’s wait and see”. Q: A hot Alpine version of the forthcoming Renault 5 EV has been confirmed, can we expect an Alpine-tuned Renault 4 model in the future? A: “It’s not in the plan, but we are always evaluating so let’s see – we’ll see if there’s demand”. Q: The original Renault 4 is a French icon, will this car represent the same in the modern era? A:” Sure, it will. We want ‘Made in France’ to be a big attribute of this car and it will be built at Renault’s ElectriCity plant. It’s a massive part of the strategy to reconnect the brand and its roots with the country”. +++


+++ SONO MOTORS bosses and co-founders Jona Christians and Laurin Hahn announced that they have failed to raise enough money to continue funding the Sion, a solar-powered electric vehicle. Now, they are turning to the public for support. In a video, bluntly titled “We failed”, the CEOs explain that their troubles raising money in the current capital markets has led to a financial shortfall mere months after revealing the production version of the vehicle. They say that without further funding, they will be forced to shutter the Sion project and lay off the majority of their employees. “They are telling us to not build the car, to restructure the company, and to lay off 70 percent of our people”, the company writes on its website. “To refund the Community and to disregard the Sion and our reservation holders. But, for us, this simply can’t be an option. Not without giving our Community the chance to make a move. That’s why we kicked-off this campaign”. Sono Motors is embarking on a 50-day reservation campaign, seeking 3.500 additional fully paid reservations for the Sion. Early participants, it says, will get a €3.000 discount on the vehicle, that has an expected retail price of €28.500. In addition, it is asking for donations, loans and any other form of financial support that individuals are willing to give it. If it can raise its funding goal, it says it can “trigger a positive domino effect”. The money, it believes, will be enough to get the electric car on the road. “Your down payment, which represents both your money and your trust in us, we believe will enable us to continue to find new investors as well as to pay the remaining machinery, tooling and production set-up to achieve the planned pre-series production in 2023 and make it to a high-volume start of production in 2024”, the company writes. The company believes that 3.500 additional reservations is an achievable target because, In September, it announced that it had received a total of 20.000 reservations for the Sion to date, each with an average down payment of around €2.000. The Sono Sion is powered by a 54 kWh LFP battery pack and features 456 solar half-cells that are integrated into its bodywork. The automaker says that these can add between 112-245 km of range per week, requiring its owners to charge less frequently than other EVs, and saving them money. It is powered by a single electric motor that makes 163 hp and 270 Nm of torque. What Happens If The Fundraiser Fails? If it does not achieve its fundraising goal, Sono says that all of the reservations made as part of this drive will be refunded. The company will then be forced to shut down the EV project and focus instead on its B2B solar panel business, which has driven significant profit for it and is less capital intensive. +++


+++ TESLA ends 2022 without delivering either its much-delayed Cybertruck or the new Roadster, but the company is already putting fresh focus on the development of a smaller, cheaper model that could play a bigger role in EV adoption. Rumours of a vehicle positioned beneath the current entry point, the Model 3, have been swirling for some time. As recently as the start of this year, Tesla boss Elon Musk denied that the company was working on such a model, saying: “We have enough on our plate right now, quite frankly”. However, 2022 has seen Tesla often topping sales charts in key regions, ramping up its production rate and putting its three millionth car down the line. And now Musk appears to have decided that the time is right to push for greater affordability. At a recent financial results briefing, he told analysts: “We’ve done the engineering for the Cybertruck pick-up and Semi lorry, so you can guess what we’re working on, which is the next-generation vehicle that will be about half the cost of the Model 3 and Y platform. It will be smaller, to be fair, but I think it will shortly exceed production of all our other vehicles combined”. Cutting the cost of construction in half doesn’t necessarily mean the baby Tesla could slice the current list price of a Model 3 in 2. But it’s safe to say that the sub-Model 3 vehicle could feasibly start at around €32.000 in the Netherlands. That would open Tesla’s potential market up considerably, giving the company a rival for European-made electric hatchbacks such as Volkswagen’s ID.3, and even Chinese models from the likes of MG and BYD. It should be positioned as a rival for conventional family hatchbacks, with a length of around 4.4 metres. That could be achieved through a more aggressive rear roofline, while still allowing a conventional bonnet with luggage space beneath it. Despite internet speculation referring to the car as the Model 2, this badge is by no means guaranteed to be used; not least because Model 3 was chosen as a reverse of Model E, which Ford originally warned Tesla off using. Musk admitted that the cheaper, smaller model is now the top target for Tesla’s engineers. “We don’t want to talk exact launch dates”, he said, “but this new model is the primary focus of our new-vehicle development team. We’re going to take everything we learned from our Models S, X, 3 and Y, the Cybertruck and the Semi into that platform. We’re trying to get to that 50 percent number again”.  That’s a reference to the Model Y, whose bare construction costs significantly less than the Model 3’s. Tesla used improved processes to cut huge amounts of complexity out of the Y; a fresh pair of larger stamped components in its bodyshell alone do the job of 171 separate parts in the Model 3, for example, saving more than 1.600 welds during manufacturing. Recent rumours suggest Tesla is now working on integrating these gains into a revised Model 3, in a project codenamed Highland. Tesla’s ability to make the new smaller car cheaply enough is all but certain to hinge on its choice of battery chemistry and how the cells are installed. The company has already used lithium-iron phosphate cells (LFP), which are cheaper to produce than nickel manganese cobalt (NMC). The manufacturer is currently using LFP in some of its vehicles, and this is likely to form a key part of the cheaper model’s technical make-up, along with a novel installation. The firm is said to be preparing to roll out ‘cell-to-chassis’ technology on German-built Model Ys, as part of a tie-up with China’s BYD. Lighter and more compact than conventional module-based construction, this technique saves yet more space that can be used for additional cells to help redress LFP’s lower energy density and deliver comparable range. Musk believes that Tesla can take its recently achieved 3 million cars milestone and expand it to a tally of more than 100 million vehicles on roads by the end of the decade. To achieve this, he says the firm will need “roughly a dozen factories” and while the original plant in California is “just running out of room”, most of the facilities would be capable of making up to 2 million cars per year. A smaller, more affordable model is almost certainly a key factor in this ambition, so even if a newcomer does arrive after the Roadster and the Cybertruck, we could see it on roads by 2025. +++

+++ In November, new passenger car registrations in the UNITED KINGDOM increased by 23% year-over-year to 142.889. This reduced the year-to-date sales gap to 3.4% compared to 2021. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reports 39.558 new passenger plug-in car registrations in November (up 22% year-over-year), which represents about 27.7% of the market (compared to 28.1% a year ago). The all-electric car sales outpaced the overall market with a 35% year-over-year increase and a strong result of 29.372 units. The market share of 20.6% means that 1 in 5 new cars was all-electric. Meanwhile, plug-in hybrids were down almost 6% to 10.186 units and had a market share of 7.1%. Non-rechargeable hybrids increased 67% year-over-year, so the results are pretty mixed in terms of powertrains. So far this year, 317.965 new passenger plug-in cars were registered in the UK (up 18%), reaching an average market share of 21,4%. BEVs sold 224.919 times (up 38% year-over-year) at a market share of 15.1% and PHEVs did 93,046 sales (down 12% year-over-year) at a market share of 6.3%. For reference, in the 12 months of 2021, some 305.281 plug-in electric cars were registered (up 74% year-over-year) at 18.5% market share. The Tesla Model Y once again made a splash in the UK, becoming the second most registered car with 4.229 units. This significant achievement allowed it to strengthen the Tesla’s position year-to-date, currently #9 with 24.887 units. The Model Y was also #2 in September, #2 in June and #1 in March. The brief stats provided by SMMT do not allow me to see individual registration results for electric cars. What I do now is that no other standalone BEV entered the top 10. +++


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