Newsflash: Lamborghini vindt het nog te vroeg voor een elektrische supersportwagen


+++ The AUDI Q8 family currently represents the flagship SUV range from Ingolstadt, which includes conventional, electrified and fully electric models. The e-Tron electric SUV joined that lineup last year when it was comprehensively refreshed, and now it’s time for the combustion and hybrid models to get a mid-cycle facelift. There are new photos showing different members of the Q8 portfolio spied hiding some visual and mechanical revisions. These include new bumpers front and back, a new radiator grille, tweaked led lights and new side skirts. The highlight of the new design touches has to be the new grille pattern with larger holes featuring a slightly different shape than before. The cabin will undergo some revisions, too. These will likely include an upgraded infotainment system, as well as new trim and upholstery. It’d be nice if we see similar interior touches as the Q8 e-Tron. For the electric SUV, Audi went for matte, brushed and demure; giving the SQ8 a far less fussy feeling than what the competitors have. Engine-wise, we don’t expect huge changes under the bonnet. The SQ8 and RS Q8 range-toppers will likely carry over without significant modifications to their powertrains. The standard visions of the SUV, meanwhile, will bet on electrification with a big emphasis on the plug-in hybrid variants. There will be no fully electric trim, however, since this position is already taken by the Q8 e-Tron. The Q8 was originally launched back in 2018 and the facelift is probably going to arrive later this year as a 2024 model. It will be interesting to see how long this SUV will be in production since there are already rumours for a brand new generation Q8 planned for 2026. As a final note, the combustion-powered versions of the Q8 are assembled in Bratislava, Slovakia, while the all-electric E-Tron model is built in Brussels, Belgium. +++

+++ Don’t expect to see a pickup from BMW anytime soon. The automaker’s design boss Adrian van Hooydonk is clear about a truck not being on the horizon. “It’s not an obvious fit for the BMW brand. We don’t have to go after every trend that is happening”, van Hooydonk told. “If we go into a segment then we want to go in there for the long haul. Also, we don’t have to go after every trend that is happening. What I do see and find interesting is that during Covid, we saw a trend for people who want to spend time outdoors”. Van Hooydonk had nice things to say about pickups, in general. He described them as “becoming more sophisticated” and getting “more refined”. While not a mass-produced offering, BMW made a one-off pickup based on the X7. A group of vocational trainees worked with the Concept Vehicle Construction and Model Technology divisions to create the truck. The cargo bed featured polished wood and there was a BMW F 850 GS motorcycle back there. The rig debuted during the BMW Motorrad Days in 2019. Also, the M division created unique pickups using the E92 and E30 generations of the M3. The crew used them as shop vehicles for moving stuff around. Mercedes-Benz, one of BMW’s primary competitors, dabbled in the pickup market with the X-Class. The truck debuted in 2017 and production ended in 2020. It shared underpinnings with the Nissan Navara, and production happened at that automaker’s plant in Barcelona, Spain. The X-Class was pricey compared to competitors. In Germany, it was €16.000 more than a base Navara and about €4.000 more than the Renault Alaskan, which was also on the same platform. The Audi Activesphere concept recently showed the Four Rings’ idea for creating a luxury vehicle with a truck bed. Rather than looking like a traditional pickup, the vehicle had a sleek, arching roofline. A power-operated glass panel at the back could slide away to make room for larger cargo. The designers even made spots specifically for carrying e-bikes. +++

+++ HONDA is the latest automaker to report its production numbers for 2022. The company built 3.870.161 vehicles for the year, which was down 6.4 percent from 2021. The automaker reports this is the fourth consecutive year-over-year decrease. Honda built 643.973 vehicles in Japan, which was up 4.6 percent. It exported 76.704 of those products; a 15 percent increase. In the United States, it assembled 831.908 automobiles; a 2.9 percent drop. In terms of sales, Honda moved 983.507 vehicles in the United States in 2022. This was a 32.9 percent decrease from 2021 when it moved 1.466.630 autos in the country. The figures were split between 881.201 units of Honda-branded models and 102.306 from the Acura brand. Honda’s bestseller in the US was the CR-V. The company delivered 238.155 of them, which was down 34.1 percent from the previous year. Acura’s strongest-selling vehicle was the MDX. It moved 46.425 units, which was a 22.7 percent drop. Looking toward the future, Honda will introduce more electrified vehicles. A new Civic Hybrid is on the way to the US in sedan and hatchback body styles. The automaker isn’t yet providing powertrain details, but the e:HEV model in Europe has a 2.0-litre combustion engine and 2 electric motors with a total system output of 184 hp and 315 Nm of torque. The Prologue electric crossover is coming for the 2024 model year riding on General Motors’ Ultium platform. While it looks fairly compact in photos, the EV has a 3.094 millimetre wheelbase, which is even more than the 2.820 mm) Passport. Inside, there’s an 11 inch digital instrument cluster and a 11.3 inch infotainment display. Powertrain details aren’t available yet. Acura will get its own Ultium-based EV that will revive the ZDX moniker. Fewer details are available about it than the Prologue. +++

+++ LAMBORGHINI ’s announcement in November of 2022 that its first all-electric production vehicle was due in 2028 wasn’t exactly a surprise. Automakers across the globe are investing in the EV market and not even a hairy-chested, petrol-swilling legend like Lamborghini is immune to the trend. But the surprise that came with that announcement was that the new electric bull would represent a 4th model line, rather than a variant of the Huracan, Aventador replacement or Urus. Lamborghini’s chief technical officer, Rouven Mohr, said that adding a 4th product line simply came down to the current state of EV technology, which isn’t quite there for an ultra-high-performance vehicle. “On the super sports car, we believe that at the moment it is not the right time, and also probably the next 5, 6 years, it’ll be not the right time because the super sports cars, we want to avoid this additional weight”, Mohr said. “We want to avoid the performance depending strongly on the state of the charge of the battery and on the temperature”. Instead, it’ll be more practical cars that lead the electric charge at Lamborghini, which explains why the 2028 model year electric car is a higher-riding, 2+2 product. “User-oriented cars are a different story than supercars”, Mohr said. “We think there is already today a market for our interpretation of the electric car. But it has to be our effect, because the customers for a Lamborghini expect something outstanding and not something that they can find from other manufacturers”. As for the traditional supercars like the Huracan and the upcoming replacement for the Aventador, hybrid powertrains are the order of the day, Mohr confirmed. “We still believe that in the super sports segment or the sports car segment, the combustion engine and hybridisation is still the best choice”. +++

+++ Following the cancellation of the SLC, S-Class Coupe and S-Class Cabriolet, MERCEDES is apparently looking to further simplify its hugely complex lineup in the following years. It’s a known fact it’ll cut down on the number of compact cars from seven to just four but some of the larger vehicles are also in danger. Sources from within the automaker claim the three-pointed star plans to overhaul its portfolio. As previously reported, the C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet along with the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet will morph into a pair of CLE models. The CLS is not long for this world either as the German luxury brand apparently intends to discontinue the swoopy saloon next year. In addition, the AMG GT 4-door Coupe is not far behind. Mercedes will axe the BMW M8 Gran Coupe competitor by the middle of the decade. We’ve also heard rumors about the days of estates being numbered and it would seem there might be some truth in them. Nothing is official at this point, but the E-Class Estate launching in 2024 will shockingly be the last of its kind. Mercedes will allegedly stop selling wagons altogether around 2030, which would imply the C-Class Estate and CLA Shooting Brake are also living on borrowed time. The latter is believed to get a next-generation model later this decade and bow out without a successor at the end of its run. Mercedes intends to launch next-generation GLC Coupe and GLE Coupe derivatives but these are believed to be the last. In total, top managers at Mercedes say that of the 33 body styles currently available, only 14 will survive. It’s unclear what exactly “body styles” means in this context but it sure looks like a veritable automotive carnage. While some of these Benz models could be going the way of the dodo, enthusiasts can take comfort from knowing more AMGs are on the way. Mercedes also wants to bolster Maybach’s portfolio and might even do a posh V-Class MPV. New additions to the range could include a double-cab G-Class pickup, a revival of the iconic 300 SL Gullwing and an SL-based “racy speedster”. +++

+++ When tbe British startup MUNRO introduced a 385 hp, all-electric off-roader, my first reaction wasn’t so much excitement as it was confusion. While the idea of an all-electric off-roader tickled my fancy, the Munro MK_1 (first picture) looked, well, a bit too familiar: it reminds me of the Bollinger B1 (second picture). Now, in a suit filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Bollinger Motors is alleging that the resemblance is far from coincidence. The EV manufacturer, which cancelled the production plans for the B1 SUV and the similar B2 pick-up, is accusing Munro of patent infringement. Also named in the suit is former contracted Bollinger designer and current Munro head of design, Ross Compton, who’s accused of violating a non-disclosure agreement with the Michigan-based EV manufacturer. According to the suit, Bollinger accuses Munro of infringing on 2 of its patents, both of which cover “an original and unique vehicle design which features exposed hardware and hinges, extensive use of flat surfaces, aesthetic chamfered surfaces, flat and parallel body lines, and a distinctive wheel arch shape”. Bollinger goes on in the suit to list comparative images of the B1 and MK_1 and cites media coverage that points out the similarities between the designs. Bollinger also claims Compton “without permission or authorisation, retained Bollinger intellectual property and other materials … and disclosed such materials to Munro in violation of the Mutual Nondisclosure Agreement”. Compton signed the NDA on February 16, 2015. Bollinger also accuses Compton of taking screenshots of CAD models and sharing them on social media “for the purposes of self-promotion”. He has allegedly refused to comply with a cease-and-desist order. “It was a very personal exercise to bring my vision from paper to prototype”, Bollinger founder and CEO Robert Bollinger said in an emailed quote. “The team and I have taken great pride in our truck designs, and are thrilled that they have developed a devoted following due to their distinctive look and innovative features. We poured a great deal of passion into these trucks and are committed to defending and protecting them”. Per the suit, Bollinger is seeking monetary damages “in an amount to be determined at the time of trial” and a permanent injunction against both Compton and Munro. +++



+++ NISSAN announced its 2022 business results, and the automaker had a rough year. Global sales fell 20.7 percent to nearly 3.23 million vehicles versus 4.06 million in 2021. The numbers fell in every major region for the company. Sales in Japan were only down 0.5 percent. However, the figure fell 25.4 percent in the United States and 23.8 percent for North America as a whole. The numbers in Europe slipped by 23.1 percent, and China experienced a 22.1 percent decrease. In just the US, the Rogue (X-Trail in Europe) was Nissan’s bestseller for 2022. The company moved 186.480 of them for the year, which was down 34.7 percent from 285.602 examples in 2021. Nissan also built fewer vehicles worldwide in 2022. The company produced around 3.25 million automobiles, which was down 9.4 percent from 2021. The factories in Japan made 12.6 percent more products, but the ones elsewhere in the world had a 12.9 percent decline. Nissan will revise its pickup lineup in the United States soon. The fullsized Titan is going away, possibly before the end of the year, and there’s no replacement in the product strategy. In addition, the company is investigating whether to build a midsized electric truck. In 2022, the company took out a loan for the equivalent of about $1.44 billion to fund “zero emission mobility investments”. The Nissan Sustainable Finance Framework is handling how to disperse the money. The projects include clean manufacturing, battery development, autonomous driving tech, charging, new vehicles, and more. +++

+++ A recent report draws attention to 8 automotive brands that are struggling to RETAIN CUSTOMERS . Car shoppers sometimes referred to as “nomads” tend to leave brands, such as Acura, Audi, Dodge, GMC, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Ram and Volkswagen after 1 purchase more often than other automakers. Meanwhile, Tesla is the taker of rivals’ customers, and it tends to keep them. The details in the article come from a study put together by S&P Global Mobility. It breaks automotive brands into different categories to show how their customers either remain loyal to or leave the brands. One primary goal of any automaker is to gain customers and keep them. Associate director of consulting for S&P Global Erin Gomez explains: “Brands that fail to transform nomads into loyalists not only lose out on the immediate sale to the nomad but also the future loyalty benefit they could have provided as loyalists”. This is the reason for conquest incentives, which offer a special deal to customers who buy or lease a vehicle from a new brand. Loyalty incentives are also at work, which provide promotions to people returning to buy or lease another vehicle from their current brand. Interestingly, in the industry as a whole, automotive brands are struggling more and more to keep their customers. A decade-high 58% of car shoppers left their automotive brand between August 2021 and July 2022. Of course, there were many factors at play here, including a global pandemic, price gouging, and a lack of inventory, but the trend is still worth mentioning. BMW, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Subaru and Tesla currently do the best job at turning nomads into loyal customers, though Tesla maker is ahead of the pack. In fact, according to S&P Global Mobility, Tesla has kept a whopping 83% of its first-time owners, and it has the lowest number of customers who buy once and then leave the brand for another. Tesla’s “one-and-done” rate is just 39%, while Dodge’s is at around 80 and Audi’s is at around 70. A detailed look at the chart below helps to put it all into perspective.


The third group of brands referenced in the article includes Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. While these automotive brands tend to have fewer first-time buyers than their rivals, they also have a lower rate of shoppers buying once and then leaving for a competitor. Check out the chart below, which outlines the best and worst brands at conquesting nomads. +++


+++ If we’re to talk about automotive industry leaders around the world, Akio TOYODA will definitely be listed as one of the most notable. Toyota’s outgoing CEO has been at the company’s helm for more than a decade, leading the Japanese automaker to become one of the world’s best these days. In a New Year’s ceremony in Japan led by Akio Toyoda himself, the incoming chairman of the board talked about the challenges the company faced in 2022 and expressed his gratitude to everyone who supported the company. Of note, Toyota retains its crown as the world’s best-selling automaker in 2022 despite the setbacks it faced last year. Approximately 500 employees gathered at the Toyota City headquarters in Aichi Prefecture on January 10. A message for domestic employees was delivered remotely to accommodate those who could not fit in the venue. There was also a question and answer portion, and one question from a 20-year-old Toyota employee was answered candidly by the renowned automotive executive. In the Q&A, the staff member asked Toyoda about his experience when he was his age. Toyoda admitted that he was a terrible person at the time, who only did sports and was cheeky, and inappropriate in word and action during games. However, there were people who helped him grow and he is grateful for that. Toyoda believes that young people should be given opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. He wants senior employees to help others, participate in building the future and inspire young people to do the same. Toyoda encourages the staff member to have a lot of experience now so that when he wants to help others, he’ll have the resources. Toyoda has been Toyota’s president and CEO for the last 13 years, but that’s about to end this year as he’s about to step down on April 1, 2023. He’ll be taking on the role of the company’s chairman of the board. Koji Sato, Toyota’s current chief branding officer, international president of Lexus, and the head of Gazoo Racing, will succeed Toyoda as the new CEO. +++

+++ TOYOTA is known mostly for its hybrid-powered vehicles, with the Prius first coming into mind, but with all the other manufacturers racing towards an EV-only future, the Japanese brand seems to be lagging in terms of a wider-scale adoption on the electric-only front. In fact, it’s reportedly one of the reasons why its CEO, Akio Toyoda, who’s the grandson of the firm’s founder, will be stepping down in April. But even as Toyota moves to develop its first dedicated EV platform, it still won’t make the shift to an all-electric lineup and now it’s using science to tell EV-only extremists that they’re wrong. With some solid facts and figures at hand, the carmaker’s chief scientist Gill Pratt says that the best approach for a sustainable future is a multipronged one, blending EVs with hybrids and other green technologies, and not a full-on commitment to battery-powered cars only. This pitch was first made at the World Economic Forum in Davos and more recently, Pratt repeated the message from Tokyo, in a bid to offer some context to Toyota’s long-term strategy. “Time will show that our point of view is actually the correct one”, Pratt said in Tokyo. “One way or the other, there will be a diversity of powertrains used throughout the world”. This statement comes as several car brands pledged to go full-electric at some point in the future, with Honda, Acura, Cadillac, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and more saying they’ll do the best they can to become carbon neutral in this century. By contrast, Toyota wants to sell around 5.5 million internal combustion-engined and plug-in hybrid cars per year from 2030, as well as 3.5 million EVs, including 1 million Lexus-branded cars. So Toyota isn’t anti-EV, but it believes in a diversified approach and it’s predicting a global shortage of lithium, which is the most important material used in today’s lithium-ion batteries found in pure EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids. Gill Pratt and his team concluded that to lower carbon emissions as much as possible, it makes more sense to spread the limited supply of lithium among as many cars as possible, electrifying as many cars as possible. He hypothesized a fleet of 100 internal combustion engine cars with average emissions of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer travelled. Now, assuming a limited supply of lithium, there’s only enough of it to make 100 kWh of batteries. Toyota’s chief scientist says that if it were used for a single, big battery, the average emissions of the whole fleet would drop by just 1.5 gram/km. But if the small amount of lithium were spread among smaller, 1.1-kWh batteries, it would be possible to make 90 hybrid cars, which would still leave 10 traditional combustion cars, but the average emissions of the theoretical fleet would drop to a much lower 205 g/km. It’s a counterintuitive idea, that a big fleet of hybrids would make a bigger positive impact on emissions than a smaller fleet of EVs, and Toyota says this nuance is lost in the talks about adopting EVs on a global scale. Pratt also criticised rival car companies’ ambitions, calling them “happy talk” and saying that their forward-looking statements usually have an asterisk that says “if conditions permit”. “What has to change is that we have to mature a little bit, and we have to stop doing wishful thinking”, he said. “A real discussion is that these are the constraints in the development of resources in the world, both material resources and charging infrastructure and renewable power. If that is true, how do we reduce the total amount of carbon dioxide that will accumulate? That is a mature discussion, not a kind of dream discussion”. Gill Pratt was inspired to dig deeper into the battery question by his own family’s experience with a Tesla Model X, which has over 500 km of range, but the car is typically driven less than 50 km a day, which means 90 percent of the battery is “dead weight”. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN will stay away from making hydrogen-powered passenger cars in the next decade and will focus its efforts on further developing EV technology. The statements come from the brand’s CEO, Thomas Schäfer, who spoke at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The German executive told that hydrogen has some big disadvantages compared to battery technology and that it’s not for Volkswagen, at least not in the next 10 years: “It’s not competitive, especially not for passenger cars, the tanks take up space in the cabin. Maybe for commercial vehicles, but not in the passenger car. So, I don’t see this happening in this decade. Not at Volkswagen”, Schafer told. Volkswagen seems to have a very loyal customer base, with more and more people wishing to switch from internal combustion-engined cars to electric vehicles, with global sales in 2022 going down by 7 percent, but with good numbers on the EV front. By contrast to the German brand CEO’s remarks, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and BMW are some of the more prominent names in the automotive industry that seem to think hydrogen has a future, with massive investments in the technology. Honda sold the Clarity Fuel Cell, Hyundai has the Nexo Fuel Cell, BMW has rolled out some prototype X5s with fuel cell technology and Toyota has the Mirai and is exploring the segment further after unveiling the Corolla Cross H2 Concept at the end of 2022. However, sales of hydrogen fuel cell cars (FCV or FCEV) have been struggling in the United States in the last decade, with just 2.707 units sold in 2022 and less than 15.000 FCVs getting into customers hands in the past 11 years. Compare that with VW’s sales of the ID.4 alone, which amounted to more than 20.000 units in the US last year, and the German executive’s remarks seem to make sense, at least from a sales perspective. +++

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