Newsflash: Volkswagen wordt een stukje minder Amerikaans


+++ The current generation AUDI Q5 received a facelift in 2021 but the bones reach back to 2017. It’s still sprightly on its tyres despite the age, at least when it comes to emergency manoeuvres anyway. The 2022 model (a Q5 Sportback 45 TFSI) didn’t merely pass the moose test, it earned some extra credit. The sleek SUV sailed easily past the 77 km/h benchmark speed. In fact, the Q5’s performance is so surprising that the initial test run at 75 km/h caught the driver off guard. We see the Audi dart left upon exiting the last emergency turn, a result of the driver reacting to non-existent oversteer. The Q5 was completely composed and controlled throughout the series of quick lane changes, and it remained that way to a maximum speed of 79 km/h. This was the fastest clean pass, but only a single cone was brushed at 80 km/h. Furthermore, the Q5 Sportback never exhibited any jarring behaviour. The prevailing characteristic at higher speeds is understeer, which isn’t exciting for enthusiastic driving but it’s preferred for stable, predictable motoring. The understeer scrubbed quite a bit of speed during the last half of the run, but the Audi still made the final turn without hitting cones. Its failing pass at 80 km/h saw the bumper clip the very first inside cone. Of course, different vehicle configurations can have different results. This particular Q5 Sportback had the optional air suspension, which was set to auto for the tests. It also rode on optional 20-inch wheels with 255/45-series Pirelli Scorpion tyres, driven by a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine with a mild hybrid system making 265 hp. In the Moose Test world, the Q5 Sportback is actually in some rare air. It completed the test faster than its RS3 sibling as well as the e-Tron GT; 2 vehicles designed with performance in mind. It also topped the Honda Civic’s 77 km/h run and handily beat the BMW i4’s 73 km/h Moose Test score. Curiously, it’s other SUVs and crossovers like the BMW X3 or Hyundai Ioniq 5 that hold higher speeds comparable to Audi times in the tricky test. +++

+++ The Volkswagen ID.Buzz was 1 of 11 cars to receive a 5-star EURO NCAP safety rating in December in the organisation’s final round of testing before new regulations come into effect next year. Volkswagen’s reborn version of the famous microbus achieved 92% for adult occupant protection, 87% for child occupants and 90% for safety assistance, with 60% for vulnerable road users. The ID.Buzz was matched overall by the Lucid Air, which also scored 5 stars. The US-built, high-powered electric saloon scored 90% for adult occupancy, 91% for child occupancy, 78% for vulnerable road users and 85% for its safety assist systems. The MG 4 bolstered its appeal with 5 stars, scoring 83% for adult occupancy, 80% child occupancy, 75% for vulnerable road users and 78% for safety assist. Away from electric cars, the Land Rover Discovery Sport achieved 84% for adult occupants, 89% for child occupants and 85% for safety assist. The SUV also scored 71% for vulnerable road users. The mechanically identical Volkswagen Amarok and Ford Ranger both scored 84% for adults, 90% for children, 74% for vulnerable road users and 84% for safety assistance. Other premium SUVs, such as the new Lexus RX and Mercedes GLC, were also deemed safe enough for the maximum 5-star score. The RX was one of the month’s highest across-the-board performers, with 90% adult occupancy, 87% for child occupancy, 89% for vulnerable road users and an impressive 91% for safety assist. It was another successful month of Euro NCAP test results for Chinese models, with the Chery Omoda 5 and Maxus MIFA 9 both scoring well across the board to achieve 5 stars. The 2 models, which will be sold in Europe, join the Nio ET7, Smart #1 and Wey Coffee 02, which scored 5 stars in the previous round of testing. The Ford Puma and Volkswagen Touran, meanwhile, scored 4 out of 5, losing out on a perfect score because of “challenges in adult occupant protection”, despite scoring 75% and 77% respectively. The Peugeot 408 and Citroën C4 X were also rated at 4 stars. NCAP’s regulations will be stiffened next year and the firm will place more pressure on car makers to consider other road users. Changes include autonomous emergency braking protocols for motorcycles and new scenarios in passive safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen said: “2022 has been one of Euro NCAP’s busiest ever years and we have seen a lot of new car makers and new technologies. It’s clear that European consumers still demand the highest levels of safety and that a good Euro NCAP rating is seen by car manufacturers as critical to success here. 25 years since it first started, Euro NCAP is still driving ever higher levels of safety and our protocols for 2023 will bring exciting, tough new challenges to the car industry”. +++

+++ Passenger car registrations in EUROPE increased in October by 14% year-over-year. The third positive month indicates an end to the challenging period of decline (from June 2021 through July 2022). Interestingly, the plug-in electric car market expanded at a similar pace. According to EV Volumes data, shared by Jose Pontes, 210.966 new passenger plug-in cars were registered in Europe last month (up 14% year-over-year). Plug-in market share amounted to 23.2%, including 13.6% for all-electric cars. BEVs were up by 17% year-over-year to roughly 124.000, while PHEVs were up by 9.6% (first positive result since February) to 87.000 units. I am cautiously optimistic about the final 2 months of the year, which hopefully will bring a faster rate of growth. So far this year, about 1.908.860 new passenger plug-in electric cars were registered in Europe. That’s about 21% of the total volume. BEVs sold about 1.09 million times and had a 12% share. PHEVs did 0.82 million (9% share). For reference, in the 12 months of 2021, some 2.27 million plug-in cars were sold in Europe at an average market share of 19% (including 10% for BEVs). In November, the 2 most registered models were the Volkswagen ID.4 (6.158) and Volkswagen ID.3 (5.507), which does not happen often. It seems that Volkswagen solved most of its supply and production issues in Europe and achieved good results. Meanwhile, the 2 Tesla models were far behind in their usual off-peak first month of a quarter. The Fiat 500 Electric was third best with 5.204 units, maintaining a really good rate this year. Next came the Peugeot e-208 (4.887 sales), the Ford Kuga PHEV (4.683), Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric (4.665), Skoda Enyaq iV (4.486), Volvo XC40 Recharge (4.139), Polestar 2 (3.885) and Audi Q4 e-Tron (3.839). There are not many changes in year-to-date rank, as the differences between top models are too big. The Volkswagen ID.4 slightly approached the Fiat 500 Electric, but it’s not clear whether it can fight for the podium with just 2 months to go. The results year-to-date are: Tesla Model Y (86.869 sales), Tesla Model 3 (58.583), Fiat 500 Electric (52.538), Volkswagen ID.4 (47.343), Skoda Enyaq iV (40.936), Peugeot e-208 (38.376), Ford Kuga PHEV (36.189), Volkswagen ID.3 (34,779), Dacia Spring (33.719) and Hyundai Kona Electric (33.687). The top plug-in brands (share year-to-date) are: BMW – 8.9%, Mercedes-Benz – 8.5%, Volkswagen – 7.7%, Tesla – 7.6%, Kia – 6.0%, Audi – 5.6% and Peugeot – 5.4%. The top plug-in automotive groups (share year-to-date) are: Volkswagen Group – 20.0%, Stellantis – 15.6% share, Hyundai Motor Group – 11.1 %, BMW Group – 10.8%, Mercedes Group – 9.3%, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance – 8.7% share and Tesla – 7.6% share. +++

+++ The MAZDA MX-5 is among the few widely available, relatively affordable convertible sports cars on the market. A new generation is now on the horizon. A hybrid powertrain could be among the big changes that keep the model in the lineup for another iteration. The Euro 7 emissions regulations are a major consideration for Mazda when developing the new MX-5. “It should be also heavily triggered by the implementation of the new legislation that was recently announced (Euro 7) in Europe”, Yasuhiro Aoyama, Mazda’s director and senior managing executive officer, told. “So the contents of Euro 7 we are still investigating, but it will affect our MX-5 at the time”.  Aoyama sees a hybrid as a solution to meeting the stricter emissions regulations. “It will, at the time, be some kind of electrification so we need to investigate the most appropriate strategy for the future MX-5 which will not betray our passionate fans’ expectations”, he said. Aoyama’s statement isn’t the first time we are hearing about an electrified MX-5. In 2021, a Mazda spokesperson confirmed that the company intended to electrify the next-generation MX-5. “Mazda is seeking to electrify the MX-5 in an effort to have all models feature a form of electrification by 2030”, the source said. Akira Tamatani, Mazda’s head of design, also discussed the future MX-5. He ruled out using the brand’s new mild-hybrid inline-six in the sports car. “If you put that kind of engine in and it won’t be an MX-5 anymore”, he said. Tamatani indicates the new MX-5 wouldn’t be identical to the recent Vision Study Concept. Mazda debuted the swoopy design in November. There was lots of discussion about whether it imagined a future MX-5 or something else. “It’s a message. We have this passion to create that type of vehicle, that’s the message we want to say. But will we make production vehicles made from that? We still haven’t really decided”, Tamatani said. In September, spy shots caught Mazda testing a current generation MX-5 with a camouflaged nose. If you looked closely, the rear quarter panels were wider than the existing model. Wiring ran along this area, too. The vehicle was allegedly a test mule for the next-generation sports car. +++


+++ The all-new, all-electric MERCEDES-BENZ EQA saloon was spied testing and while it’s still early in its development phase, the prototype car reveals plenty of information on the next entry-level model in the brand’s EQ lineup. In terms of its electrified future, Mercedes has already shown most of its hand by declaring it will launch three new electric vehicle platforms by 2025 in the form of MB.EA, AMG.EA and VAN.EA. Mercedes also said in 2021 that it will have a pure-electric alternative for every model it made at the time. The EQ lineup is currently made up of the EQA, EQB, EQC, EQE SUV and its EQE saloon variant and the EQS and its GLS-rivalling EQS SUV and also the EQV van. The entry-level EQA was launched in 2021 on a tweaked version of the MFA2 platform shared with the internal-combustion engined GLA SUV. However, although this pure-electric saloon car will use the same EQA name, the underpinnings will be all-new. Earlier in 2022, Mercedes CEO Ola Källenius said: “The entry point to the Mercedes brand in the future will be a different one than today”. This was in reference to a new MMA architecture Mercedes plans to debut by 2024, when it’s likely to launch on the EQA saloon. The MMA platform will be able to underpin pure-EV and internal combustion engines, which could allow for another generation of A-Class. Holger Enzmann, Mercedes project manager for the EQE and EQS EVA2 platform, told: “we have talked about the A-Class and we’re looking at a replacement. It won’t feature on EVA2 as that is for larger vehicles but you can be sure we’ll see a vehicle in this segment”. This vehicle is almost certainly the EQA saloon we’ve spied, but as we’ll see with the upcoming CLE (which will replace 2-door versions of the C-Class and E-Class), Mercedes isn’t afraid of streamlining its range. With this in mind, the EQA saloon could sit as an all-electric alternative to the C-Class as well. Mercedes has claimed its new MB.OS infotainment operating system will roll out on models from 2024, so we’re likely to see this technology in the EQA saloon. +++

+++ According to a report, TESLA boss Elon Musk has decided to promote the president of Tesla China, Tom Zhu Xiaotong, to the position of global CEO for the electric automaker. The information is said to come from “people familiar with the situation”. Zhu has been integral in leading Tesla to many successes in China, including an exponential increase in sales. He helped develop Giga Shanghai, which is now Tesla’s primary export hub. In addition, the Tesla China president worked to establish Service Centers in the country. When Zhu first joined Tesla in April 2014, he wasn’t the president of the automaker’s brand in China. Rather, he started as the director of Tesla’s Supercharger program in the country. That said, it wasn’t long before he was promoted to the role of Global Vice President and President of China for Tesla. As you may remember, some information came out in a recent trial revealing that Musk had made the Tesla board aware of a potential successor for the CEO position. Some media outlets assumed this meant Musk was considering stepping down, though he may have just alerted the board of the successor’s name in case a new CEO was ever needed. Musk has said many times over the years that he never really wanted the Tesla CEO role, but there was no one else to do it. Now that he’s also the CEO of Twitter, he has already made it clear that he hopes to find someone else to fill that position once he’s ready to hand over the reins. Musk shared during a court case related to Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity that the jobs he does at Tesla aren’t really CEO jobs. He has always referred to himself as an engineer. He said: “I tried not to be CEO of Tesla, but I had to or it would die. I rather hate being a boss. I’m an engineer”. At this point, we really have no idea if Musk plans to step down as CEO of Tesla, and if he is making plans, we have no idea when he might carry them out. Musk is now even busier than before since he acquired Twitter and is running the show at the social media company. He also has a full plate at SpaceX, where he’s CEO as well. While it may be unrelated, Tesla’s stock share price has taken a massive hit this year. There are many reasons the stock could be seeing a decline, but much of the downward movement began when Musk started selling large amounts of his personal shares, first to pay taxes, and later to buy Twitter. The CEO has said multiple times in the past that he was the first one in and will be the last one out. He also said a few times this year that he was done selling his Tesla shares, only to sell more at a later date. Some investors and analysts have voiced a lack of confidence in the brand due in part to Musk’s stock sales. This is a developing story. We’ll have to wait and see if we learn more about the potential for Tom Zhu Xiaotong to become Tesla’s upcoming global CEO. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN is working on an overhauled version of the ID.3. The company calls it the new ID.3 but it’s actually a facelift for the electric hatch with comprehensive hardware and software improvements. In order to secure the production of the refreshed ID.3 (and not only this car), Volkswagen has just announced a huge investment in its main plant in Wolfsburg. By the beginning of 2025, the German automaker will invest somewhere around €460 million in the Wolfsburg factory. The facelifted ID.3 will start rolling off the assembly lines in Wolfsburg from 2023 initially in what VW describes as partial production. Manufacturing at full pace is expected to kick off the next year and ramp-up is planned for completion by the middle of the decade. In its official press release for the media, Volkswagen also mentions a new electric SUV. It is also going to be produced at the company’s Wolfsburg plant and will be based on an updated version of the MEB platform called the MEB+. I don’t know much about it but from VW’s words, I believe it will be positioned in the compact segment. “That is the largest vehicle segment worldwide, it is home to our popular Tiguan. The new model would ideally complement our bestselling ID.4 and ID.5. This is how we intend to expand our market position further and give our customers the high-quality vehicles they expect from us,” Volkswagen brand CEO Thomas Schäfer says. The MEB+ architecture mentioned above, Volkswagen promises, will offer faster charging speeds and longer ranges at a single charge. The battery cells that are going to be used in the future e-SUV and in other models are going to be produced at the company’s Salzgitter factory. We will soon have a separate article detailing the new MEB+ platform that should have a range of up to 700 km. Back to the Wolfsburg investment, Volkswagen says it will also ensure the production of the Trinity vehicle, which will be based on the so-called Scalable Systems Platform (SSP). As a refresher, Volkswagen will delay the launch of that electric machine until the end of the decade due to software problems. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN GROUP ’s electrification efforts ride on its Modular Electric Drive System (MEB) architecture. It underpins several vehicles within the Group, and the automaker plans to improve the platform. In the coming years, MEB will become MEB+, offering more range and quicker charging. The automaker said it’s making substantial investments to develop the technology further and “leverage the full potential of this successful platform and ensure that it remains competitive”, The scalable architecture gives VW freedom in designing vehicles. Putting the batteries in the underbody between the axles creates more cabin space. The ID.3 offers the same room as the Passat but in the dimensions of a Golf. According to the company, the improved MEB+ platform will offer up to 700 kilometres of range and be capable of 175-200 kilowatt charging speeds. The architecture will achieve these figures using the company’s new-generation unit cell batteries. VW will also improve the platform’s “digital infrastructure”, which the company says could bring “significant leaps” to automated driving functions. The number of MEB-based vehicles will also increase in the coming years. The automaker plans to launch 10 new models by 2026. The company is planning cars for both the performance and premium segments, but one of the new cars will be an entry-level model with a €27.500 starting price in the Netherlands. Volkswagen does not mention the Scalable Systems Platform that was set to underpin its Trinity model. Last month, a report surfaced alleging that the automaker had delayed the project until 2030 due to software issues and that the SSP architecture wouldn’t debut in 2026 as initially planned. The MEB platform first launched in 2019 with the ID.3. Now, more than 670.000 vehicles use the architecture, with 500.000 of them being Volkswagen ID models. Audi, Cupra and Skoda also use the platform. The Volkswagen Group did not say when we should expect the new architecture to debut, so we’ll keep an eye out as the company launches new products over the next few years. +++


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