Newsflash: Volvo laat klant niet betalen voor stoelverwarming


+++ ALFA ROMEO is eager to improve customer satisfaction and the quality of vehicles it sells in the United States as it looks to grow its presence in the market. The Italian car manufacturer will ditch all of its combustion-powered models in the United States by 2027 and while it wants to boost sales, it is focusing on much more than that, vice president of product planning and transformation for Alfa in North America, Vincent Noirbent, told. Alfa Romeo wants to confirm its position as the global premium brand of Stellantis and its efforts are already proving successful. It recently topped the J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index and is eager to introduce the all-new Tonale plug-in hybrid in the second quarter of 2023. “Internally, we have our processes”, Noirbent said. “We work closely with our network, the factory, so we know where we’re going, we know where we’re headed, we see our key performance indicators increasing. Now you get that sort of reward. I mean, that was like the greatest reward you can have as a team. Now, when you’re No. 1, there’s only one way to go, so it is never-ending. We need to make sure that next year we repeat that. We need to make sure that we perfect our processes”. Speaking of the Tonale, Noirbent noted that the car manufacturer had originally intended on offering it in the U.S. with a conventional gasoline engine but has instead opted to only sell the plug-in hybrid version. Noirbent believes there is enough demand for this model alone and says Alfa Romeo will not play up the Tonale’s electrified powertrain in its marketing, instead aiming to simply sell it as a “true Alfa Romeo”. Alfa Romeo North America boss Larry Dominique also wants to raise the brand’s image, South Miami Alfa Romeo-Fiat dealer owner Greg Travaline told. Travaline said that Dominique “wants to make the cars right first, make the experience better and build the value of the brand, so somebody will pay an extra $100 a month. We have lagged on sales, but we hope eventually it’s going to turn full circle. We’ve got Tonale coming out. The future of Alfa — hopefully from there, it’s going to be bright”. +++

+++ Italian design house BERTONE celebrates its 110th birthday in 2022 and to celebrate, the company has revealed a new hypercar called GB110. The firm says the new car will be the first in a series of limited-edition models, with the GB110 itself restricted to just 33 examples. Jean-Franck Ricci, CEO of Bertone, says that the first deliveries of the GB110 can be expected in spring 2024. Bertone claims the GB110’s design takes inspiration from the Lancia Stratos Zero concept, with its huge ‘Apex Claw’ side air vent, as well as the Alfa Romeo Bat Series and the wedge-like Alfa Romeo Carabo. Few technical details have been released but we do know the GB110 pumps out 1.110 hp and 1.100 Nm of torque. Bertone says the mystery powertrain can run entirely on fuel made from recycled plastic. Those hefty power numbers mean the GB110 can accelerate from 0-100 kph in 2.8 seconds and reach 300 kph in 14 seconds. By comparison, the upcoming Mercedes-AMG One will sprint to 300 kph in 15.6 seconds and the Bugatti Chiron 13.1 seconds. Bertone claims the GB110 will go on to a top speed of 380 kph. Mated to the powerplant is a 7-speed gearbox, although Bertone hasn’t revealed if this is a manual or automatic transmission. Power is sent to all 4 wheels, which measure 21 inches at the front and 22 inches at the rear. Bertone claims “strong acceleration and low weight” are a priority for the GB110, so while there’s little information on the chassis so far, we’d expect extensive use of carbon fibre. We do know the car rides on independent double-wishbone suspension, front and rear, plus it features four-way adjustable dampers. Another high priority is ergonomics and comfort; indeed, Bertone claims the GB110 is designed to be used every day. Still, you’re unlikely to see one on your local high street, given the low production numbers and a price tag that’s likely to be comfortably into 7 figures. +++


+++ The CZINGER 21C may not have the most evocative name in the pantheon of ultra-exclusive, hardcore hypercars, but it certainly caused jaws to drop when it was unveiled back in February 2020, thanks to its dizzying performance stats, fighter jet-inspired seating arrangement and 3D-printed components. Or maybe it was because it looks like something not of this world. Since then, the Los Angeles-based start-up’s first car has broken lap records at the legendary Laguna Seca Raceway and the Circuit of The Americas. And even when it was on static display, the £1.5million speed machine left quite the impression on attendees at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed. But while the 21C is busy giving the likes of the Aston Martin Valkyrie and Mercedes-AMG One a run for their money, the technology used to create the radical hybrid hypercar has much wider applications, as the father-and- son team responsible for creating the car tell me. Kevin and Lukas Czinger’s car brand was established in 2019, with the 21C demonstrating the capabilities of the manufacturing system developed by the duo and their other firm, Divergent. But this wasn’t going to another scissor-doored diva for posing in, because the objectives for the 21C were to “beat every track record, and every speed, acceleration and braking record”, says Kevin. The heart of the 21C is a twin-turbocharged 2.88-litre V8 engine that was developed completely in house, has a redline of 11.000 rpm and alone generates 950 hp. Czinger has then paired the world’s most power-dense engine with 2 electric motors on the front axle that combined produce 300 hp, for a total of 1.250 hp. Plus all-wheel drive and torque vectoring, of course. However, the 21C isn’t just about brute force; thanks to an ultra-lightweight aluminium and carbon-fibre chassis, plus a good many AI-designed and 3D-printed components, the Czinger tips the scales at 1.250 kg, achieving an elusive 1:1 power-to-weight ratio. The result is a 0-100 kph time of just 1.9 seconds, with 0-300 kph taking 13.8 seconds, and if you keep your foot hard down you’ll hit 370 kph, according to Czinger, in the track-focused version that is, but more on that later. If the standard 1,250 hp isn’t enough for you, though, Czinger can boost the power output from both the V8 and electric motors for a total of 1.350 hp, which should trim down that 0-100 kh sprint a little further. Czinger also claims you can cover up to 20 km on battery power alone in the 21C, thanks to the American model’s regenerative braking and motor generator unit that are used to recharge the 2.8 kWh battery, while the more eco-conscious adrenaline junkies out there can run the monstrous V8 on green, carbon-neutral bio-methanol fuel. In person the 21C is a rather more subtle machine than you might think. It may be 12 mm wider than a Bugatti Chiron, but the Czinger’s curves and rounded edges mean there’s a genuine sense of sophistication to its styling. The notion of form following function is clear, compared with some of its hypercar rivals, whose looks are all about shock and awe. Naturally for a car that takes a new approach to everything, the 21C’s seating isn’t your usual side-by-side affair. While the McLaren Speedtail and Gordon Murray Automotive’s T.50 boast room for three people, the 21C has a 1+1 pillion layout. But it wasn’t used just because it’s “very bad ass”, as Lukas explains. “The first reason for it is function”, he says, “to reduce the frontal surface area of the windscreen, and use more of the fender area for downforce. “The second reason was to be able to take a passenger. You don’t just want to have a single-seater, so you have the 1+1 layout, where the rear seat of this car is actually very, very enjoyable. It’s an emotional experience, and you’re very tied into the driver as well so it’s a shared experience”. While the production car you see here looks very similar to the one revealed two years ago, the 21C has gone through significant changes since its debut; it was widened from 1.850 mm to 2.050 mm, and given brand-new front and rear frames and a new suspension system within 3 months. “The technology lends itself to making changes much more rapidly”, says Lukas. “To me, this car, for a normal OEM, using normal technology would have taken 7 to 10 years to create, but we created it in a fraction of that time because we were able to iterate so much more quickly. This car has essentially taken 7 to 10 iterations and done it all very quickly, thanks to our ability to capture track data, to simulate and to change the car and get fundamentally new parts onto it very quickly. It’s not like we got it perfect on our very first try, but compared with the time it would take an OEM, we probably cut that by 10 times”. That tech is called the Divergent Adaptive Production System (DAPS), which Kevin and Lukas created before stepping into the hypercar game. It combines AI-driven design software, 3D printing and automated assembly into one end-to-end manufacturing solution. Essentially, engineers and designers feed critical requirements for a specific component into a computer, which can design parts that use the minimal amount of material possible. Once the design is finalised, it’s sent to a laser metal 3D printer that can quickly produce the parts. Individual pieces are assembled into larger structures, such as subframes, by robotic arms in an automated assembly cell. Kevin says these cells take just five minutes to assemble a 12-piece rear subframe, while one 22m x 22m assembly cell could make up to 150,000 subframes annually. Another advantage is the ability to reprogramme these cells to produce another car very quickly, if demand for one particular model suddenly increases, for instance. The end results are stunning, skeletal components, which Kevin proudly shows us. “These things look like they’re biologic”, he explains. “When a system is adding and subtracting against a set of load cases to be maximally material and energy-efficient, it’s like nature. Nature through trial and error is brutally competing for material and energy efficiency, and we’re doing the same thing here”. Established brands are already recognising the benefits of this new manufacturing system, and the Aston Martin DBR22 speedster will use a 3D-printed aluminium rear subframe that’ll come already assembled from Divergent. The firm plans to eventually have printing and assembly centres all over the world, producing parts for millions of cars, not just expensive supercars. Lukas also envisions Divergent’s technology being used by start-ups, as well as by established brands, and potentially, companies outsourcing their entire body-in-white manufacturing to Divergent. If they pull it off, it could fundamentally change the way cars are built. But for now, back to the 21C. “Quite a few” of the 80 examples being produced have already been sold by the time we speak, all going to handpicked buyers. Lukas says: “Some of them are the largest collectors in America and Europe who already have an enormous array of hypercars and really want this one because it represents a new level of performance to them. But we’re also seeing individuals that are newer to the hypercar scene, and are taken with the technology. They know this car is a turning point in automotive history where we move to a new way of manufacturing, and the 21C captures that moment in time”. They predict that every example will be spoken for by the end of the year, with deliveries set to begin in late 2023. +++


+++ HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP ’s EV platform, E-GMP, was rated at the highest safety level, receiving the top grades in all major global crash tests, the automaker said. According to the Hyundai Motor Group (HMG), the Ioniq 5, the Kia EV6 and the Genesis GV60 have obtained the highest grade of “Top Safety Pick Plus” (TSP+) in the crash evaluation by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). IIHS is renowned for conducting some of the world’s most demanding crash test evaluations. IIHS announced the results of the crash evaluations of three types of electric cars exclusively for Hyundai Motor Group this year. In the case of the Genesis G80, which received the TSP+ rating, it received the highest level of “good” in the categories of: driver’s seat small overlap, passenger seat small overlap, frontal collision, side collision, roof stiffness and head support. In addition, it was rated “advanced” or higher in the front collision avoidance system test, and “acceptable” or higher in the headlamp evaluation. HMG announced that a total of 15 models, including internal combustion engine vehicles, received the TSP+ rating. The models that have obtained the TSP+ rating include: thenHyundai Tucson, Santa Fe and Nexo; the Kia EV6 and Stinger; and the Genesis G90, G80, G70, GV80 and GV70. In addition, the group explained that HMG’s Ioniq 5 received the highest rating of 5 stars in the Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) last year, followed by the EV6 and GV60 in May and September, and the Ioniq 6 in November this year. “E-GMP is equipped with innovative features such as the world’s first multi-quick charging system and two-way V2L, and we have made every effort for safety, which is the basic technology of the automobile platform”, an official from Hyundai Motor Group said. “We will continue to focus our capabilities to develop the best products based on the philosophy of putting customer safety first”. +++

+++ The second generation HYUNDAI KONA was unveiled just a few days ago and already, a prototype has been spotted up close in South Korea. While Hyundai models of yesteryear could be regarded as boring and uninspired in their designs, current-day Hyundais are the exact opposite. From vehicles like the Tucson, the automaker’s designers are not afraid to make a statement. They have done just that with the new Kona. The example spotted was an N Line model. Like all other variants, it features a full-width led light bar while the main headlamps and high beams are located further down on the fascia. Hyundai has also equipped the new Kona with an overhauled bumper and blacked-out grille. It is not just the front fascia of the new Kona that makes it stand out from the outgoing model. The side profile has some elements inspired by the Tucson, most notable being the dramatic wheel arches and lines along the sides just like the Tucson and Elantra, fitting of the company’s ‘Parametric Dynamics’ design details and Sensuous Sportiness design philosophy. The rear of the second-generation is also all-new. There is a light bar stretching across the width while the taillights themselves, reflectors, and turn signals are housed within separate units on the bumper. With this being an N Line version, it is also rocking an eye-catching diffuser and twin tailpipes, which also benefit from a new design. Hyundai has not yet released full specifications about the 2024 Kona but has confirmed that it is 150 mm longer than the outgoing model. It is also 25 mm wider. +++


+++ Alfa Romeo introduced the facelifted Giulia and Stelvio earlier this year, and now the updated STELVIO QUADRIFOGLIO has been snapped. Caught wearing minimal disguise, the high-performance SUV will receive a minor refreshening that includes new headlights. They’ll be the new led Adaptive Matrix headlights that recently debuted on the standard model. They feature a new daytime running light signature as well as an adaptive front lighting system, glare-free high beams, and a “welcome and goodbye” function. The rest of the exterior largely carries over, but we can see lightly revised taillights. The body-color diffuser surround also seems more pronounced, although it’s hard to be certain at this point. While there’s no interior pictures, we can expect a handful of updates inside the cabin. In particular, the standard Stelvio has been equipped with a new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that features Evolved, Relax, and Heritage displays. The model may also come with an NFT as Alfa Romeo doesn’t seem to have noticed that fad has faded. We’ll likely learn more about the Stelvio Quadrifoglio in the coming weeks, but we shouldn’t expect any major changes. As a result, power will likely be provided by a familiar twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 engine. It currently produces 512 hp and 600 Nm of torque, and is connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission and a standard all-wheel drive system. This setup enables the SUV to rocket from 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds, before hitting a top speed of 283 km/h. +++

+++ TOYOTA said Monday that its global output for November rose 1.5% from a year earlier to 833.104 vehicles, hitting a record high for that month. Marking a 4th straight month of increases, Toyota said the supply-chain crunch for automobile parts caused by Covid-19 has now eased. Domestic output of new vehicles shrunk by 3.3% to 266.174 units because persistent semiconductor shortages dampened the production of new units. Overseas output rose 3.8% to 566.930, also a record figure for November, with North American production increasing by 5.9%. Production in China fell 11.1% due to parts shortages. Toyota’s global sales grew 2.9% to 796.484 vehicles, marking the 4th consecutive month where its year-on-year increases were higher than the same month the previous year. Overseas sales increased by 4.4% to 686.499 vehicles, with North American sales jumping by 11%. Sales in China fell 18.4%, with the country’s stringent “zero-Covid” policy constraining car dealerships’ businesses. Domestic sales, including minivehicles, decreased 5.5% to 109.985 units. Toyota stated in November it planned to cut its global output from 9.7 million units to 9.2 million units for fiscal 2022 ending in March, citing semiconductor shortages. The shortages had led it to suspend operations of 11 assembly lines in Japan across eight factories in November. It has also declared adjusting domestic production in December and January. +++

+++ BMW veered into a public-relations mess this year when it started charging car owners monthly subscription fees to warm their behinds. VOLVO won’t be making similar moves. “If you are to charge for software updates, it must be a step change in consumer benefit”, Volvo’s chief operating officer Björn Annwall said in an interview this month. “We will not ask people who have bought a car for 1 million kronor ($96,500) to pay another 10 kronor to get extra heat in the seat”. While BMW will no doubt have other manufacturers follow in its footsteps (Mercedes-Benz recently started asking buyers of its EQ electric vehicles to fork over $1.200 a year to unlock quicker acceleration, for example) the auto world has started to second-guess just how much money there is to be made from the rise of software within their hardware-intensive business. In a 91-page deep dive into the topic last month, analysts at UBS pegged the total addressable market at $700 billion by 2030. That’s no pittance, but pales in comparison to the $2 trillion opportunity they anticipated previously. Annwall sees Volvo generating little additional revenue from software until mid-decade. Only if major upgrades become available (a self-driving mode, for example) would Volvo charge extra. “You don’t have to hold the steering wheel: now that’s a step change in user benefit”. Annwall was speaking at the opening of Volvo’s new tech hub in Stockholm, where the manufacturer builds software for selling and marketing cars online. The company, which last month unveiled a battery-powered EX90 to succeed its gasoline-era flagship XC90, intends to cease making combustion cars by the end of the decade. It’s going to be an uphill push: EVs made up just under a fifth of the company’s shipments last month. Bloomberg spoke with Annwall about Volvo’s tech efforts, the software issues that have plagued some of its competitors and the ongoing supply-chain issues holding back the industry. Here are highlights from the conversation, which have been edited for length and clarity: Question: Large automakers including Volkswagen have had problems with their car software. Have you experienced similar obstacles? Answer: “I won’t hide the fact that we have had some problems with our software in the car as well. But we’ve been good at correcting them fairly quickly. It’s a huge change for an industry that has been very hardware-focused. All processes have focused on quality assurance of the hardware. Now a lot of the value is in the software, and we need to have processes in place to assure the software quality”. Q: Your target is making 50% of the software you need in-house. How’s that going? A: “It’s going well. 50% is more of an indication of where we want to go, that we should take much more control over this ourselves. We have done a pretty good job there, above all in terms of car architecture, defining which parts of the software stack we should have control over, and where we can bring in partners that have better and cheaper solutions. That journey continues. One area that is very important for us obviously is everything that has to do with safety, and that’s something we will develop in-house. But there’s no point for us to try to do better voice recognition than Google. We also currently don’t see a need to start developing semiconductors. It’s very complicated and requires a lot of scale”. Q: Chips have been in short supply for quite some time. Have you been hit harder than other carmakers by supply-chain issues? A: “During the early phase of the pandemic, we had better delivery capacity than our competitors, and as a result grabbed significant market share. But in the last 1 to 1.5 years, we had a relatively poor delivery capacity, and we lost market share. That has not been driven by demand, as our order books are swelling. We have had a fairly clear strategy that we use the same components across our cars and have a large commonality, which drives efficiency. But that also means that we are quite vulnerable if the supplier who manufactures that particular component is in a province in China where there are Covid restrictions, for example. Then we are hit pretty hard”. Q: What are you doing about that? A: There are no quick fixes, but we are working in a structured manner as we have always done. We produce cars where we sell them, and we will source where we produce. We are also working on establishing relationships on certain key components. It could be semiconductors, it could be certain raw materials for batteries. Establishing a direct contact with a source is very important work, but it’s not something that can be done in two months or solve every problem”. Q: Is the supply-chain situation starting to get worse again? A: “No, as we have said, we had quite a big hit during and after the summer. Over the last 3 months, we’ve seen a gradual and quite strong increase in production. It’s on the mend. But the danger is far from over. It will be a little messy next year as well”. +++

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