Newsflash: nieuw studiemodel van Audi


+++ The year 2022 is now behind us. It was a difficult year characterised by inflationary pressures around the world, the war in Ukraine and its effects on energy costs in Europe, and many other geopolitical tensions. Against this backdrop, the automotive industry recorded mixed results during the year. The situation in China, the world’s largest car market, was quite good considering the global challenges. The volume increased by 2% to 26.86 million units compared to 2021. The volume was even better than in 2019 when the pandemic had not arrived yet. It is the first time that this market almost doubles the size of the US. A big part of the growth was driven by EVs, strongly boosted by the central government. According to the preliminary data these vehicles represented 20% of total sales with the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV hitting the overall top 3 by models. The second largest market was more exposed to inflation pressures and higher interest rates. Sales of vehicles totalled 13.83 million units, down by 8% compared to 2021 and the lowest level since 2012. The volume was 19% lower than 2019. Despite the bad results consumers continued to shift from saloons and MPVs to SUVs and pick-ups, and Tesla continued to gain traction putting 2 of its models in the top of the EV ranking. Still, electric cars still make a small piece of the total. Meanwhile, in Europe the situation is not different from the American case. Data for the top 5 markets (Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain), which account for around 75% of the whole region, indicates that the drop did not stop. In 2022, sales totalled 9.05 million units, which is down by 6% compared to 2021. The volume was down by 7% compared to the pandemic year (2020) and by 29% vs 2019. In 4 years the market lost more than 3.7 million units. The situation is pretty much the same across the 5 countries. France and Italy posted the highest drops compared to 2021 while German figures remained stable. However, they all posted double-digit drops between 2019 and 2022. The lack of new cars at dealers, and the increasing cost of living partly due to the energy crisis, explain the critical situation. Interestingly, while the overall model ranking continued to be dominated by traditional models, EV rankings had a clear winner: the Tesla Model Y impressed by leading the EV markets in Germany and the United Kingdom; the 2 largest markets for these cars in Europe. In contrast to America and Europe the situation in Australia, India, Indonesia, and Turkey was quite good. The volume did not only increase between 2021 and 2022, but it was higher than 2 and 3 years earlier. For instance, in India there was an all-time record of 4.37 million units that put it as the world’s third largest vehicle market ahead of Japan. This is the first time that India outsells Japan. In Indonesia the industry is firmly heading to the 1 million units/year volume that happened between 2013 and 2018. The volume increased by 17% vs 2021 and by 95% vs 2020. Interestingly, the consumers reacted quite positively to the introduction of the locally made electric Wuling Air. The bestselling cars in each country in 2022 were: Argentina : Fiat Cronos (38.769), Australia : Toyota Hilux (64.391). Brazil : Fiat Strada (112.456), China : BYD Song Plus (459.424), France : Peugeot 208 (88.812), Germany : Volkswagen Golf (84.282), India : Maruti Suzuki Wagon R (217.317), Indonesia : Daihatsu Gran Max (65.062), Italy : Fiat Panda (105.384), United Kingdom: Nissan Qashqai (42.704), Russia : Lada Granta (99.356), Spain : Hyundai Tucson (21.985), United States : Ford F-Series (653.957) and Turkey : Fiat Egea (68.779). +++


+++ AUDI has released a revealing new teaser of the Activesphere concept ahead of its debut on January 26th. Set to become the automaker’s 4th sphere concept, the Activesphere is being billed as an active lifestyle vehicle reinterpreted. The company went on to say the model will combine “exceptional elegance with impressive performance and immersive, pioneering functionality”. That’s not much to go on, but the latest teaser image reveals the profile and shows the model will blur the line between sedans and crossover coupes. Details are hard to make out, but we can see recessed headlights and a short hood. The concept also sports a rakish windscreen that flows into a sloping roof. Other notable highlights include slender taillights, curvaceous bodywork, and generous ground clearance. Audi hasn’t said much about the concept at this point, but the teaser campaign kicked off last August when the company said the Activesphere was designed to be electric and capable of automated driving. The automaker followed up in December saying the concept will provide “ultimate freedom and is the perfect companion for ambitious outdoor adventures” ranging from skiing to water sports. We’ll learn full details shortly, but the concept follows the Skysphere, Grandsphere and Urbansphere concepts. The Skysphere was a stylish roadster, while the Grandsphere was a striking sedan with suicide rear doors. The Urbansphere, on the other hand, was an electric MPV that could function as either a “rolling lounge or mobile office”. +++


+++ BRITISH VOLT ’s demise is a sad story, but the event felt like an inevitable conclusion to a long-running saga. Fundamentally, it had no customers (although Aston Martin and Lotus showed interest). What good is a gigafactory building batteries if there are no volume segment cars being built on the same island to put them in? That absence of big customers is a reflection of where the UK is at the moment with its footprint of automotive manufacturing output: there are simply not enough factories making cars at volume. Britishvolt had nowhere left to turn, and the clock ran out on it. Jaguar Land Rover, Britain’s home car maker, has frequently been linked with sourcing batteries from a new gigafactory off the M5 motorway, and talk has emerged now from JLR owner Tata about building its own gigafactory “in Europe”. Not a customer for Britishvolt, in other words, and a partnership between the pair never even entered the rumour mill. That said, there’s some irony in Tata’s name now being linked with buying the Britishvolt site from the administrators. With the British-built Range Rover EV due within the next 2 years, it now seems certain that its batteries will come from abroad. Nissan’s vast Sunderland factory is located next to a gigafactory, Envision AESC’s; the one major bit of good gigafactory news thus far in the UK, so that’s Nissan crossed off the list of potential customers, despite it building EVs close to Britishvolt’s Blyth site. Toyota has yet to commit to its electric car manufacturing plans in the UK ( if there are to be any) but it’s hard to imagine the scenario where a company of Toyota’s global scale and procurement potential sources batteries for volume models from a British start-up in an increasingly isolated country for automotive manufacturing. Mini will not build next-generation electric cars in the UK before the facelifted Cooper in 2027/28, so too late anyway for Britishvolt’s planned ramp-up in the middle of the decade. Finally, it always felt an unlikely scenario for cost-obsessed Stellantis chief Carlos Tavares to put his trust in Britishvolt for Brit-built electric van batteries in this risky launch phase. Beyond having no customers, Britishvolt didn’t seem to have any killer technology or IP on batteries that it could call its own, at least that we knew of or companies were prepared to invest in. It was a few years behind another European start-up Northvolt, which is producing batteries already, and its customers include BMW and Volkswagen. It was too late to the party. All Britishvolt seemed to have was government backing, and a site widely regarded as the UK’s best for producing batteries, given its proximity to offshore renewable energy and a deep sea port. Yet even with the backing, the costs to ramp up were simply too enormous: wages are high relative to other UK countries, energy costs remain high too and a supply chain needed to be created. With no customers providing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it’s that word inevitable again. Britishvolt was due to provide the capacity for around a third of the capacity needed for making batteries in this country by 2030 with 30 GWh, while Envision would pump out slightly more at 38 GWh. A site in Coventry for the West Midlands Gigafactory project has planning permission and claims to have funding but as yet no government backing, without which its 60 GWh capacity, twice that of Britishvolt, will not get past the planning stage. It’s hard to see that gigafactory’s route to market. Even the sale of the Britishvolt site from administration doesn’t even mean it will go to another would-be gigafactory maker; the highest bidder could come from any industry. “If the government does not move to back our site, and others, the country will be left behind the rest of the world when I believe we could, and should, be world leading”, said councillor Jim O’Boyle cabinet member for jobs, regeneration and climate change at Coventry City Council. “It is essential to create the right conditions to attract battery manufacturers to invest and support the large-scale industrialisation for an electrified UK in the future”. The UK has legally binding targets around reducing CO2 emissions and developing a mass manufacturing industry for electric vehicles is key to this. The cold truth right now is that the UK is not the most attractive country to be making such investments in. Until that changes, the future of car manufacturing in this country is on the clock. A proper government strategy to stop that time running out is needed, and fast. +++

+++ Reading about the stated range of an ELECTRIC VEHICLES is all well and good, but how does that translate to the real world? As with previous EV tests, a selection of the most interesting zero-emission vehicles currently available was gathered up to see just how far they actually go before running out of electrons. 10 cars were chosen from a variety of manufacturers for this range test. The vehicles picked are covering a wide range of genres, thus giving a broad platform on which to compare. The models in the test represent automakers from Germany, France, South Korea and China, covering a wide range of price points, body styles, and performance. To ensure a proper comparison, all vehicles were driven on the same public route at the same time of day and at the same speeds. The results all come down to the cars and not external factors. The location for this test is the Grande Raccordo Anulare (GRA), known officially as the A90 motorway near the city of Rome. In the test, the perimeter route covering 68.2 kilometres was travelled in a complete circle around the city. The GRA has a speed limit of 130 kph which becomes 110 on some stretches and in tunnels. However, heavy traffic is always a fact of life around Rome, which makes it difficult to maintain posted speed limits. The cars featured in the test all travelled with the airconditioning set to automatic mode, with the temperature set to 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit) and the windows closed. Drive modes were set to normal/default operation. Only the driver was present in each car. To limit the impact of rush hour traffic jams, the test started at 11:00 AM local time. For the most part, all cars travelled in a row when able until reaching a charge state of 5 percent. At that point, the driver left the highway for the nearest available charging station to recoup energy. For the duration of the test, all vehicles were digitally connected and monitored by LoJack satellite tracking. This allowed for real-time monitoring of speed, position, and other useful data on each car. The 10 cars chosen for this range/consumption test are recent arrivals for the European market, representing a broad spectrum of zero-emission motoring. They are: Aiways U5, BMW i7, Kia Niro EV, Mercedes EQE, MG 4, Polestar 2, Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric, Skoda Enyaq iV Coupe, Smart #1 and the Volkswagen ID.Buzz. The cars in the test achieved ranges from 289 to 436 km. The BMW i7 won for the furthest travelled before reaching 5 percent, equalling 6.4 “laps” of the GRA loop. It used 101.7 kWh of its 105.7 kWh battery pack. Obviously, as the size of the battery increases, so does the distance travelled. However, in relation to WLTP-stated ranges, deviations between 16 and 31 percent less were observed in real-world conditions. No vehicle managed to reach its published WLTP range estimate. The EV closest to its WLTP range was the MG 4, which used 61.7 kWh of real-world capacity to cover 357 km. That equates to 5.2 laps of GRA, but still falls well short of the 450 km WLTP range. In general, our observations settled on an average range that was around 25 percent lower compared to WLTP statistics. 1. BMW i7: 436 km, 6.4 GRA loops, 625 km, -27% difference from WLTP figure, 101.7 kWh being the actual battery capacity. 2. Mercedes EQE 423 km 6.2 639 km -30% 90.6 kWh, 3. Polestar 2 395 km 5.8 551 km -24% 75 kWh, 4. Skoda Enyaq iV Coupé RS 368 km 5.4 505 km -23% 77 kWh, 5. MG 4 357 km 5.2 450 km -16% 61.7 kWh, 6. Kia Niro EV 347 km 5.1 463 km -21% 64.8 kWh, 7. Smart #1 328 km 4.8 440 km -22% 64 kWh, 8. Volkswagen ID.Buzz 300 km 4.4 423 km -25% 77 kWh, 9. Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric 295 km 4.3 450 km -31% 55 kWh,10.  Aiways U5 289 km 4.2 410 km -26% 60 kWh. Generally speaking, range has been proportional to battery capacity, but what about efficiency? On this subject, it’s clear there are variables other than battery capacity to keep in mind. Power consumption certainly matters, and we must measure that to thoroughly evaluate these vehicles. Again, it was the MG 4 that led the way by using 16.4 kWh per 100 km. Credit the MG 4’s dimensions and contained mass for that win. Joining it on the podium was the Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric in second with 17.7 kWh/100, followed by the Kia Niro EV with 17.8 kWh/100 km. As one might imagine, the heaviest and bulkiest cars bring up the rear. The Mercedes EQE, BMW i7, and Volkswagen ID. Buzz did not exceed 24.4 kWh/100 km. Cars in the middle were very close together in terms of efficiency. The Polestar 2 was among the best with an average consumption of 18 kWh/100 km, just behind with Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric and the Kia Niro EV. The Smart #1, Aiways U5 and Skoda Enyaq iV Coupé RS were further back. 1. MG 4 Consumption (On GRA Loop) 16.4 kWh/100 km, Power 204 hp, Weight: 1.685 kg. 2. Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric 17.7 kWh/100 km 218 hp 1.636 kg, 3. Kia Niro EV 17.8 kWh/100 km 204 hp 1.682 kg, 4. Polestar 2 18 kWh/100 km 231 hp 1.994 kg, 5. Smart #1 18.5 kWh/100 km 272 hp 1.788 kg 64 kWh, 6. Aiways U5 19.7 kWh/100 km 204 hp 1.770 kg 60 kWh, 7. Skoda Enyaq iV Coupé RS 19.9 kWh/100 km 299 hp 2.178 kg, 8. Mercedes EQE 20.4 kWh/100 km,  292 hp, 2.310 kg, 9. BMW i7 22.2 kWh/100 km 544 hp 2.640 kg, 10. Volkswagen ID.Buzz 24.4 kWh/100 km 204 hp 2.402 kg.  Greater efficiency means lower costs for the same distance travelled. It should be no surprise that the MG 4 stands above the others as the most economical of the bunch. On the other end of the scale, we once again have the heavyweights and chunky vehicles. Conclusion: let’s start with a given. The MG 4 costs €30.785 euro whereas the BMW i7 has a pricetag of €141.810 euro; almost 5 times more. Why do we point out this huge difference in price? These are obviously 2 very different vehicles in different categories, but my goal is to offer precise figures for a variety of models that can be considered both in context to specific categories, and across the electric automotive spectrum. Also, a big price, big batteries, and big range don’t always translate to big efficiency in the electric world. This can come in handy when you find yourself evaluating the purchase of a new EV; understanding how weight, power, dimensions, and other characteristics (not just battery capacity) factor into range and efficiency. +++


+++ The European Union wants to crack down on companies making FALSE GREEN CLAIMS for their products and will fine firms found to have lied. That’s according to a report that says a new draft law is being drawn up to help arm consumers with accurate information about the goods they’re being offered. It says the European Union wants to stamp out greenwashing, the practice of making unsubstantiated claims with the the aim of making the public believe their products are environmentally friendly. The European Commission claims almost half (40 percent) of the environmental claims made about products are “unsubstantiated”. “Companies making ‘green claims’ should substantiate these against a standard methodology to assess their impact on the environment”, the Commission writes. Verifying those claims will require EU member states to set up teams that can sniff out green lies and any companies found to have willfully misled consumers will be hit with penalties. Those penalties will take into account “the nature and gravity of the infringement” as well as the economic benefits the offending firm received from the fraud, and the environmental damage caused. Should any such law be passed, it won’t only be carmakers that are affected. Thousands of products on sale in Europe could be scrutinized, which sounds like a monumental task for a team of fact-checkers. But auto firms could definitely come under the microscope because cars are some of the biggest polluters and car companies routinely make claims about the environmental soundness of their latest vehicles knowing full well that an increasingly eco-conscious public might be swayed to buy one car over another based on the claims. The green claims directive was expected to be published last year but was delayed several times due to a failure to agree on how to verify environmental allegations. Manufacturers aren’t only feeling the heat from regulators but from environmental campaigners using their own methods to highlight eco claims they say are misleading. Those methods include producing spoof billboard ads featuring companies like Toyota and BMW. +++

+++ The electric pick-up wars might be entering a new phase as GENERAL MOTORS is reportedly considering a small electric pickup that could cost less than $30,000. A prototype model of the baby truck was seen at the company’s design studio in Michigan. It featured 2 doors as well as a “125 cm to 140 cm”. The pick-up that’s described as “futuristic and sporty” was said to have a low roofline as well as smaller dimensions than the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz. It remains unclear how serious the company is about the model, but Chevrolet’s Michael Pevovar told that GM is “creating these to get a reaction and then to try to modify it or move on. What does work? What doesn’t work? What’s expected?” Pevovar went on to say that they’re focused on affordability and noted feedback might be that the pick-up is simply too small. That wouldn’t be surprising as consumers have embraced crew cab pickups and models such as the Canyon, Colorado, Gladiator, Maverick and Santa Cruz are available exclusively in a 4-door configuration. It remains to be seen if consumers would embrace such a small vehicle, but Pevovar suggested it could potentially ride on a different architecture if consumers wanted a larger truck. That seems to indicate the model doesn’t ride on the Ultium platform, but could potentially do so. While there are more questions than answers, recent reports have suggested GM was benchmarking the Ford Maverick in the States. This implies the Detroit carmaker might be serious about entering the small truck segment in North America, but it sounds like the electric truck was created to gauge consumer interest. If that’s the case, it’s possible the truck could be shown sometime in the future. +++

+++ LAMBORGHINI introduced a V12 in 1963 for the 350 GT, but it wasn’t until 2011 that an all-new development debuted with the Aventador. The original 12 cylinder mill was initially engineered as a race car engine before being toned down for street use. It was used for early half a century, initially mounted at the front with a 3.5-litre displacement. With aluminium cylinder heads, crankcase and pistons, weight was kept down to 232 kg. The eternally gorgeous Miura (billed by many as the very first supercar) had a rear mid-engine layout with the V12 rotated 90 degrees to a transverse orientation. Lamborghini’s engineers rotated it another 90 degrees for the Countach to a longitudinal rear-mid position for improved weight distribution. It was also updated to accommodate an all-wheel-drive system for the 1993 Diablo VT. A 7.2-liter V12 used for offshore racing powerboats was adapted for a LM 002 off-roader with a massive 700 hp. Displacement for series production models eventually grew to 6.5 litres in the Murcielago. At that point, the house of Sant’Agata Bolognese knew it had to do something to cut weight. A new V12 was developed from scratch for the Aventador, originally making 700 hp. Subsequent versions bumped output to 790 hp for the Ultimae while the track-only Essenza had a colossal 840 hp. Lamborghini says it will unveil the Aventador successor in the first quarter of 2023, having already confirmed it’s going to be fitted with an all-new V12. The combustion engine will be part of a hybrid powertrain and the Italian exotic marque intends to also partially electrify the Urus and Huracan replacement by 2024. A pure EV is scheduled to arrive later this decade with a 2+2 layout, 2 doors and a raised suspension. +++


+++ All-electric car sales quickly increase around the world, against all odds, and the year 2022 once again brought new records. We will take a look at the sales results of the 3 LARGEST ELECTRIC VEHICLE (EV) MANUFACTURERS s (OEMs) globally: Tesla, BYD and Volkswagen Group (including Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Skoda and Seat brands). “The big 3” remains the same, just like in 2021, but interesting things are happening, including shuffling of positions between the German and Chinese group. Let’s start with the 4th quarter of 2022. As we can see below, all 3 OEMs improved its results to new record levels. Tesla delivered the highest number of electric cars (over 400.000), but BYD with over 329.000 electric cars (excluding plug-in hybrids) achieved the highest growth rate of 142 percent year-over-year. This allowed it to significantly reduce the distance to Tesla. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Group (over 205.000) was unable to match the volume of the 2 leaders. EV sales results in the 4th quarter of 2022: Tesla: 405.278 deliveries (up 31% year-over-year), BYD: 329.011 (up 142% year-over-year, or 81% of Tesla’s result – difference to Tesla: 76.267, or 56% down year-over-year) and the Volkswagen Group: 205.328 (up 29% year-over-year, or 51% of Tesla’s result – difference to Tesla: 199.950, or 34% up year-over-year). In the whole year 2022, Tesla delivered more than 1.3 million electric cars (an increase of 40 percent year-over-year). BYD surprised us with an unprecedented rate of growth, nearly tripling its BEV sales to over 0.9 million units. That’s over 400,000 units less than in the case of Tesla, but the difference was 35% lower than a year ago. It will be very interesting to see which company will be able to expand its electric car business faster in 2023. The Volkswagen Group noted over 570.000 electric car sales, but with the lowest result among the three and the lowest growth rate (26 percent). The company lost its second place and is now noticeably behind BYD, not even mentioning Tesla. EV sales results in 2022: Tesla: 1.313,851 (up 40% year-over-year), BYD: 911.141 (up 184% year-over-year, or 69% of Tesla’s result – difference to Tesla: 402.710, or 35 % down year-over-year), the Volkswagen Group: 570.737 (up 26% year-over-year, or 43% of Tesla’s result – difference to Tesla: 742.123, or 54% up year-over-year). Things might be better for the Volkswagen Group this year, but it’s not expected that the company will exceed 0.9-1 million units (a potential increase of 75 percent), which would be comparable to Tesla’s result in 2021 and BYD’s result in 2022. In other words, the German company can forget for quite some time about becoming the largest electric car player and overtake Tesla, about which we heard a few years ago. Nonetheless, the “race” continues, and all 3 manufacturers have the potential for further fast growth as electrification barely entered the mainstream and only in the wealthiest markets. We are pretty sure that the year 2023 might be spectacular for all 3 OEMs – and who knows, maybe some other automotive group will join the party. +++

+++ Why allow the aftermarket scene to cash in on restomods when you can make a nice profit for yourself? That’s what Zuffenhausen had in mind when it decided to launch a modern infotainment system for older models a few years ago, complete with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. If you happen to have a car from the 2000s in dire need of a tech revamp, the new PORSCHE Classic Communication Management Plus is just what you need for modern amenities. PCCM Plus is compatible with the 6th generation 911 (the 997 sold during the 2005 to 2008 model years), the 987-generation Boxster and Cayman (2005 to 2008), and the first-gen Cayenne (2003-2008). For the first time, Porsche has also conceived bespoke devices for different regions. The new system replaces the original hardware and fits like a glove, without requiring any modifications. The Porsche-branded infotainment has been designed in such a way as to blend with the design of the buttons mounted on the center console to make it look as if it came like that straight from the factory. It integrates seamlessly into the surroundings and works with the original speakers, amplifier, and antenna. In addition, the navigation screen will continue to work on the instrument cluster. PCCM Plus has a 7 inch diagonal with DAB+ for digital radio stations in Europe while the North American version has support for SiriusXM satellite radio. Both 2D and 3D maps with points of interest are available, and Porsche even intends to roll out map updates in the future. There’s also a USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, and a trip computer displaying relevant driving data. Depending on the vehicle’s level of equipment, owners can store personal car settings, but only for Boxster, Cayman, and 911. There’s a memory function for climate control, lights, windscreen wipers, and locking. The PCCM Plus will set you back around €1.600 and you’ll have to pay extra for the navigation maps. +++


+++ 3 major Japanese automakers Wednesday reported lower vehicle sales in the UNITED STATES for 2022, hit by prolonged semiconductor shortages and elevated raw materials costs. Sales by Toyota fell 9.6 percent from the previous year to 2.108.458 units, with those of its RAV4 sliding 1.9 percent. In 2021, Toyota became the first non-U.S. automaker to be the U.S. market’s top seller, outstripping General Motors. The Detroit automaker returned to the top slot in 2022 with its sales growing 2.5 percent to some 2.27 million units. Among other Japanese makers, Honda saw its sales slump 32.9 percent to 983.507 units. Sales at Nissan dropped 25.4 percent to 729.350 units. Sales across the industry in 2022 are estimated at 13.9 million units, down 8 percent from the previous year. The figure is expected to recover to around 15 million units in 2023 thanks to supply chain improvements. An executive at Toyota said that there have been gradual inventory improvements with raw material prices beginning to ease. +++

+++ The VOLKSWAGEN brand will get a new design chief, following rumors that the brand’s new CEO is unimpressed with Jozef Kaban’s work. The designer will be replaced by Andreas Mindt, according to insiders, who will leave his position at Bentley to take the role. The change will take place on February 1, citing unnamed sources within VW’s corporate circles. Kaban apparently failed to impress VW brand CEO Thomas Schäfer and the board with his work on the ID.2 city car, which was previewed with the ID.Life concept, and it will reportedly be up to Mindt to revise the design. Kaban came to Volkswagen from BMW in 2020, though he worked at various Volkswagen Group brands between 2003 and 2017. The designer will become the third ex-BMW employee to leave his role, following the exits of former CEO Herbert Diess and Murat Aksel, who acted as purchasing director. Indeed, the Volkswagen brand is going through something of an upheaval in terms of designers. In December, Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume sacked Klaus Zyciora as head of design for the group, replacing him with Porsche’s Michael Maurer. Naturally, Kaban’s departure will have knockdown effects. With Mindt set to replace him, his role at Bentley will be filled by Tobias Sühlmann. Currently the head of exterior design in Crewe, the move should be a comfortable one for the man who has been with the British company since 2021, having previously worked at Bugatti. Kaban, though, will not be fired. Reports suggest that executives are not displeased enough with his work to part ways completely, but will instead give him a new task within the organization. What that role will be, though, is not yet clear. +++

+++ After the ID.Vizzion and the ID.Aero concepts, Volkswagen previewed its global electric saloon in near-production guise earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The final version will break cover in the second quarter of the year when the nifty light-up digital camo will come off. To ease the wait, the Wolfsburg-based automaker is detailing the smart air vent technology debuting with the upcoming ID.7. The quick-reacting air conditioning premiering with the first MEB-based electric saloon from Volkswagen automatically starts once the key is detected, even before entering the car. It begins to blow cold air on a hot day and vice versa if the door is opened, distributing air “quickly over a large area by means of dynamic horizontal movements”. Once the passengers are seated, the airflow can be redirected to the body or to another area. The VOLKSWAGEN ID.7 will boast a new 15 inch infotainment with enough screen real estate to always have a shortcut to the climate control function. Those smart air vents are controlled digitally in the sense you’ll have to use the large display to adjust the direction and intensity of the airflow. Changing the temperature is done by using the illuminated touch sliders mounted below the screen. Alternatively, voice controls can be used to change the settings. For example, drivers will be able to say things like “Hello Volkswagen, my hands are cold”, after which warm air will be directed to the steering wheel for approximately 5 minutes. In addition, the heated steering wheel function will be activated. Should the ID.7 be driven by several people, individual user preferences are going to be available to eliminate the hassle of having to tweak the settings every time a different person hops inside the car. The ID.7 will mark another premiere for a VW as it’ll be the first model with an airconditioning system able to react to climatic surroundings. Courtesy of a sensor embedded into the windscreen, it can detect the incident angle of the sunlight in conditions with high outside temperatures and high solar intensity. If the sun shines strongly onto just one side of the vehicle, the AC will automatically begin to blow more cold air to the warmer zone. Europe and China will be the first markets to get the VW ID.7 later this year, with the United States to follow in 2024. The ID lineup expansion is far from being over as an Atlas-sized ID.8 SUV is planned, along with an entry-level, front-wheel-drive model likely badged as an ID.1 or ID.2. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN COMMERCIAL VERHICLES (VWCV), part of the Volkswagen Group, reports 328.700 vehicle sales in 2022 (globally), which is an 8.6 percent decrease year-over-year. However, the company has reasons for satisfaction as its all-new ID.Buzz model, based on the Volkswagen’s MEB platform, has become one of the stars of the market. The electric van was unveiled in March and between the launch of pre-sales in May and the first customer deliveries in Autumn, it attracted 21.000 orders (we reported on over 20.000 in late October). According to the company, customer demand exceeded forecasts. By the end of 2022, VWCV received 26.600 orders for the ID.Buzz Pro (passenger version) and the ID.Buzz Cargo (cargo van version). Meanwhile, production in Hannover, Germany amounted to 10.800 units. That’s really good news, especially since initially the ID.Buzz is offered only in Europe, only in one wheelbase version, and in only one battery capacity version (82 kWh). The introduction of the ID.Buzz completely changed the VWCV’s battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales. During the fourth quarter, the company sold 5.800 BEVs, which is more than 4 times more than a year earlier and 6.2 percent of the total volume. In 2022, the total BEV sales amounted to 7.500, which is 110 percent more than in 2021 (3.600) and 2.3 percent of the total volume. VWCV says that 6.000 units of the ID. Buzz were sold, which means that the remaining 1.500 units must be other low-volume models, like the Volkswagen e-Crafter (a large van, based on the EV tech from the Volkswagen e-Golf era). The difference between customer deliveries (6.000) and total production (10.800) of 4.800 units, as well as the 26.600 orders, indicates that the year 2023 will be very strong for the company. VWCV set a target to increase its BEV share out of the total sales to 55 percent by 2030. +++


Reageren is niet mogelijk.