Newsflash: Suzuki belt bij Toyota aan voor elektrische auto’s


+++ This year marks ASTON MARTIN ’s 110th anniversary as a car maker and the British firm is set to enter a new era of cutting-edge electrified supercars and GTs by the middle of the decade. Before then, however, Aston will bring production of its mighty DBS Superleggera flagship to a close. But it won’t be leaving quietly. Meet the DBS 770 Ultimate, the final iteration of the V12-engined brute and the most powerful Aston Martin production car in history. The special edition is limited to just 300 coupe and 199 convertible ‘Volante’ models globally, and all 499 cars have already been sold. To create the 770 Ultimate, Aston Martin has extracted extra grunt from the car’s 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged V12 engine so it now produces 770 hp. This is thanks to increased boost pressure and tweaked air and ignition pathways, the firm says. The DBS’s 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox was already at its torque limit with the standard car’s 900 Nm output, so this remains unchanged. Even so, the transmission has been recalibrated for quicker shifts and power is fed to the rear wheels alone through a mechanical limited-slip differential. The 770 Ultimate reaches the same 338 kph top speed as the standard car and uses the same carbon ceramic brake set-up, but Aston’s engineers have optimised its chassis to produce what they claim is the most accomplished DBS yet. Riding on new 21-inch Valkyrie-inspired wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero tyres, the 770 Ultimate’s adaptive dampers have been recalibrated for tighter responses without impacting ride quality, while a strengthened front cross member and rear undertray improve torsional stiffness by 3 percent. For improved steering response, lateral stiffness has increased by 25 percent at the front end, and a new solid-mounted steering column aims to provide uncorrupted feedback to the driver’s hands. To distinguish the run-out model, the 770 Ultimate features a more aggressive design, with the new treatment including a new front splitter and outer cooling vents, along with carbon fibre trims and louvres. More carbon fibre features in the form of sill extensions, while a revised rear diffuser maintains the car’s front-to-rear aero balance. Finally, a deep horseshoe cut-out in the bonnet pulls air through the radiators to cool the V12. To coincide with the racier exterior, the 770 Ultimate’s cabin has also been uplifted by carbon fibre bucket seats trimmed in leather and alcantara, as well as a carbon fibre steering wheel and shift paddles. Contrasting leather trim features throughout, while a laser-etched DBS 770 Ultimate logo on the armrest and bespoke sill plates mark out the swansong model. As ever, further customization is available via Aston Martin’s Q division, which offers unique graphics packs, wheel colors, tinted carbon fibre and leather trim. In time for the brand’s anniversary celebrations, the first DBS 770 Ultimate editions will hit the road later in 2023 alongside another as-yet-unnamed limited-run celebratory model. +++


+++ Supply chain constraints continue to hamper car production across the global market, but in the face of these setbacks, DACIA has recorded significant sales growth in 2022. The brand sold its 8 millionth vehicle last year. In the midst of these successes, Dacia will be introducing further electrified models to sit alongside the Jogger Hybrid. In total, Dacia sold 573.800 cars in 2022; a 6.8 percent increase year-over year, despite Dacia’s market regions receding by 5.5 percent overall. The Sandero made up 229.500 of these units, while the rugged Duster achieved similar success with 197.100 hitting the road last year. For its first year in showrooms, the Jogger didn’t achieve the same significant volumes as its siblings with 56.800 units sold, although it was still the second-bestselling non-SUV model in the C-segment class. The introduction of the Jogger Hybrid towards the end of last year could see it perform better in 2023. Elsewhere in the range, the Spring (the company’s new-age electric city car) reached 48.900 sales, slotting in as one of Europe’s bestselling EVs. With a price tag of around €20.000, the Spring is one of the most affordable EVs available for European buyers, and a recently revealed Extreme trim level (bringing extra performance and design tweaks) aims to strengthen its foothold this year. Later in 2023, the brand will introduce Extreme models across the entire lineup, and further electrified models are expected to join the fray. Speaking on the firm’s latest sales figures, Dacia marketing and sales boss Xavier Martinet said: “Dacia’s European sales volume and market share figures rose in 2022, confirming the relevance of our strategy based on redefining the essentials and tailoring our products to customer needs. In 2023, we are going to build on this momentum by extending our range of electrified vehicles, while staying true to Dacia’s positioning of offering our customers simplicity and the best value for money”. +++

+++ FIAT is ready for a major renewal as part of the wider Stellantis Group and the company will make a decisive move in reinforcing its range when it brings a new family-sized Tipo to the market in 2025. The Italian brand is judged by many to be a sleeping giant, and over the past 15 years it has struggled to justify the investment required to keep its line-up of small cars up to date. That will change over the next 4 years, with models (including a reborn Punto and a pared-back Panda) already designed and locked into a product plan that extends far beyond the 500. Now Fiat boss Olivier François has confirmed that as part of the brand’s role within Stellantis (which also includes mainstream manufacturers like Opel, Citroen and Peugeot), it is planning to overhaul its Focus and Golf-rivalling Tipo. “What I love about Fiat is that we have only 2 missions: urban mobility and affordable family transportation”, François said. “The second of those means room, room, room – space for the money, ingenuity when it comes to little things that simplify your life while using the car for the whole family. This is the C-segment family hatchback and you will see it in 2025. We need to replace the Tipo. Don’t torture me about bodystyle, but it’s going to cross over the traditional segmentations, as everyone does now. So it’s a little bit SUV-ish, but in an innovative way”. The reinterpretation of the Tipo will incorporate cues from some more recent Fiats sold outside of Europe. That’s because the new model will need to be sold worldwide, appealing to customers everywhere from Turkey to Latin America, as well as in traditional family hatchback markets such as Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands. It will also have to replace 3 bodystyles: conventional hatchback, saloon and estate. “There is no way that Fiat can become regularly profitable (and it is profitable now, but our plan is for it to become increasingly so) if we don’t merge our European and South American line-ups”, François said. “The car we will launch in 2023 expected to be a 500Xe will still be European, because it is from before Stellantis. It takes time to converge. “But we will start in 2024, 2025 and 2026; this is my horizon for cars that are frozen in design and so forth, and we’re going to have one single line-up. It can be electric in one region and combustion engined in another, with only minor differentiation, which allows me to make huge volumes on the same base”. That twin-track approach on powertrains opens up a world of platform possibilities. An arrival date of 2025 puts the Tipo at the end of the lifespan of the CMP/e-CMP architecture (which underpins everything from the Peugeot 208 to the Citroen C4) but also at the starting point for the all-electric STLA Small platform that will effectively replace it. The 2 architectures will share numerous parts, potentially allowing both to be used, but the most likely scenario is that Fiat will stick with CMP for both Europe and Latin America. This will tap into a fully depreciated cost base that will still support a number of big-selling models into the second half of the decade. The company also has its own Latin America-focused platform, called MLA, but it’s unlikely to be used because it’s fundamentally based on much older mechanicals that were developed with General Motors, instead of Stellantis ones. François suggested that the majority of European customers could actually be offered the next Tipo as an EV only, although he hinted at flexibility on the matter; another area where CMP would score highly: “Our ambition (it’s not 100 per cent, but I hope we will deliver) is to launch every new model as electric only in Europe from 2024. We can do that thanks to Stellantis and the sharing of technology. We have to follow the market, listen to customers, and the cost of batteries is not going down as quickly as we wish. “We will be ready if the technology and infrastructure allow it, But the beauty is that since we will have the same cars in 2 regions, 1 of which is not going to be electric, we have time to pull the trigger. We have vision but can also have pragmatism”. The current Tipo was launched in 2015. Sales in Europe peaked at over 125.000 units in 2016, but have fallen to barely a quarter of that figure. It is currently made at the Bursa factory in Turkey, where there is now considerable spare capacity after Stellantis moved a number of commercial vehicles, including the Opel Combo and Fiat Doblò, to its plant in Vigo, Spain. +++

+++ The HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP (Hyundai, Kia, Genesis) said Wednesday their combined sales in Europe rose 4.2 percent in 2022 from a year earlier amid a global chip shortage and the Covid-19 pandemic. Hyundai and Kia sold a combined 1.060.989 vehicles in Europe last year, up from 1.018.636 units a year ago, the companies said, citing data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). The 2 Korean carmakers accounted for a record market share of 9.4 percent in Europe, up from 8.7 percent during the same period, the data showed. Hyundai and Kia ranked 4th in terms of market share in Europe, following Volkswagen Group with a share of 25 percent, Stellantis with 18 percent and Renault Group with 9.4 percent. Renault sold 1.061.560 autos last year in Europe, which is slightly higher than Hyundai and Kia’s sales. Hyundai’s vehicle sales rose 0.5 percent on-year to 518.566 units last year, while Kia’s climbed 7.9 percent to 542.423 units. Their solid sales results were helped by higher demand for such models as the Tucson, Kona, Sportage and Niro. The European vehicle market fell 4 percent to 11.29 million units last year amid the supply disruptions and the prolonged pandemic, according to the ACEA. +++

+++ The Munich Regional Court in Germany arbitrated in favor of Audi in its trademark lawsuit against Chinese EV startup NIO. The court prohibited NIO from using and advertising the names ES8 and ES6. The judge declared that there is a risk of confusion with the Audi models S6 and S8. According to the judge’s explanation, the additional letter ‘E’ is not distinctive enough as it creates a sense of being a shortcut for ‘Electric’. Therefore buyers might assume that the ‘E’ indicates vehicle engine type; in other words, potential customers might think that ES8 is an electric version of the S8. The court’s decision is not final, and NIO’s spokesperson previously claimed that if the verdict is not in favor of the Chinese automaker, they will likely appeal in the first instance. NIO denies the trademark infringement and claims the confusion is unlikely as the 2 NIO cars are SUVs while S6 and S8 are sedans. The legal battle started in October 2021 when Audi sued NIO for damages on its trademark and protection of its S6 and S8 brands at the European Patent Office. Aside from China, Nio has sold ES6 and ES8 so far only in Norway. However, a refreshed 2023 version of ES8 underpinned by the new NT2 platform was launched recently in China, and the car will arrive in Europe in the middle of the year. While officially unconfirmed, the same will happen with ES6. People familiar with the matter inside NIO that the whole ES lineup would remain the same in China but in Europe will rename to EL. So the 2023 ES8 NT2 will come to Europe s EL8, and the 2023 ES6 NT2 will come as EL6. The new ES7 SUV has already entered Europe as EL7. NIO will not change the name of the old ES8 in Norway and will finish the sales with the current name, according to my information from inside NIO. NIO entered Germany in October 2022 along with 3 other EU countries: the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. For EU customers, NIO offers only the 3 newest models: the ET7 and ET5 sedans and the EL7 crossover. In December, Nio opened the first European NIO house in Berlin, Germany. William Li, the company CEO, previously confirmed NIO plans to enter the US market by 2025. NIO already operates an R&D center in California since 2016. NIO will have a very busy 2023 as it plans to launch its smartphone, prepares 2 new cheaper subbrands, Alps and Firefly, and want to launch a more extended version of ET5 (ET5 station wagon, or as Germans say: kombi) in Europe. Meanwhile, they keep refreshing their older lineup to the new NT2 platform, and ES6 is next in line for the update. Aside from it, NIO keeps working on its infrastructure projects and plans to add 400 new swap stations in 2023 to reach 1.700 units in China and to add 110 PSS in Europe to get 120 swap stations in total. +++

+++ NISSAN ’s independent directors have agreed to proceed with a deal to rebalance the carmaker’s 2-decade alliance with Renault, a person familiar with the situation said. Final negotiations are under way for Renault to reduce its stake in the carmaker, and for Nissan to invest in Renault’s planned electric-vehicle carve-out, code-named Ampere, with the goal of wrapping up talks this month before making a formal announcement, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t yet public. Renault is in the middle of a complex split of its business into 5 different units while negotiating with Nissan ways to rebalance an alliance with lopsided capital ties that has become a source of friction over the years. Renault sees potential for a roughly €10 billion valuation for Ampere and is planning an initial public offering for the second part of the year, depending on market conditions. Nissan now has to decide how much to invest in Renault’s EV business, and for how much, the person said, effectively leaving the valuation in the Japanese company’s hands. Nissan spokesman Shiro Nagai declined to comment. Forged 2 decades ago, when Renault saved Nissan with a cash injection and sent in Carlos Ghosn to turn the carmaker around, the alliance has come under strain in recent years with Ghosn’s 2018 arrest on alleged financial misconduct, as well as a lopsided ownership. The French auto manufacturer owns 43% of Nissan, which in turn holds just 15% of Renault without voting rights. The French government has reassured Nissan that it will support the rebalancing, with Renault selling down its stake over time so that they will have an equal 15% holding in each other, assuaging concerns by the carmaker’s board and executives, the person familiar with the situation said. As part of the proposals, Nissan has sought assurances that its technology won’t be shared with other parties by Renault’s legacy internal combustion engine business, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard and chief executive officer Luca de Meo are expected to attend the next alliance operating board meeting in person in Japan at the end of this month. That would be followed by a formal Nissan board meeting to approve the deal, before a public event to unveil the agreement, the person said. +++

+++ SUZUKI plans to learn from partner Toyota about applying EV technology to build small electric cars, its president Toshihiro Suzuki told reporters during India’s biennial car show on Wednesday. Suzuki said it is learning EV and other technologies from Toyota with a goal to use that to develop cars that are more in line with its own products. “So how to introduce this EV technology on small cars is something we need to work upon and share with Toyota”, he said, speaking on the sidelines of the car show. When asked if the company would look at launching EVs built on gasoline engine platforms, Suzuki said the company needs to develop a grounds-up EV. Electrification is seen as a challenge for Suzuki’s Indian unit Maruti that wants New Delhi to incentivize all cleaner technologies, including hybrid and ethanol, and not just EVs, which it expects to launch only in 2025. “When it comes to India, EV cannot be the only solution. Other car manufacturers in India have launched EVs ahead of Maruti. But the solution cannot be one”, said Suzuki, adding that alternate fuels such as ethanol and technologies like hybrid are also suited to the Indian market and customer needs. Suzuki has said it will spend more than 104 billion rupees ($1.3 billion) on its electrification push in India, including in a battery plant for EVs that will start in 2026, making it one of its biggest battery and electric vehicle investments globally. The company already has a joint venture with Japan’s Denso and Toshiba to build lithium-ion batteries for hybrid cars for use in India and exports. It showcased an electric concept SUV (the all-wheel drive eVX SUV) which it plans to bring to the market in 2025. India is pushing carmakers to build more electric cars by offering companies billions of dollars in incentives. Yet, electric cars make up less 1% of total car sales in India but the government wants to grow this to 30% by 2030. +++

+++ TESLA earns more money for every vehicle it sells than any of its global rivals. Now, chief executive Elon Musk is using that superior profitability as a weapon in the EV price war he started. Tesla, once one of the auto industry’s biggest money losers, has over the past year built a commanding lead over most major rivals in profit per vehicle, an analysis of industry data shows. Tesla earned $15.653 in gross profit per vehicle in the third quarter of 2022; more than twice as much as Volkswagen, 4 times the comparable figure at Toyota and 5 times more than Ford, according to the analysis. For most of this year, Tesla joined rivals in aggressively raising prices on its most popular vehicles, such as the Model Y. Shortages of semiconductors and other materials kept auto industry production down, allowing companies across the industry to focus on higher-margin models and book strong profits, even as sales volumes fell. Tesla’s decision to reverse course and spend its production-cost advantage on price cuts now challenges the profit-over-volume strategies established automakers such as GM have pursued since the 2008 financial crisis, and doubled down on during the pandemic. To control production costs, Tesla has invested heavily in new manufacturing technology, such as the use of large castings to replace small metal parts. Tesla brought battery manufacturing and other parts of its supply chain in-house, and standardized vehicle designs to improve economies of scale. Using production-cost advantages to fund price cuts has a long history in the auto industry. Henry Ford slashed prices on his Model T in the early 20th Century as his innovative mass-production system revved up. During the 1980s and 1990s, Toyota used the cost lead provided by its lean production system to offer features at prices Detroit automakers struggled to match. Now, Toyota is rebooting its strategy under pressure from Tesla. Growth in electric vehicle demand outpaced the overall market in the United States and globally during 2022. That emboldened automakers to push EV prices higher. Ford hiked prices for its electric F-150 pickup by 40% during 2022. But analysts are warning the global EV market could soon have more production capacity than demand. By 2026, North American EV demand will hit a level of about 2.8 million vehicles a year, said industry forecaster Warren Browne. But North American EV factories will be capable of assembling more than 4.5 million vehicles, putting overall capacity utilization at just under 60%, he said. In China, the end of central government subsidies is accelerating a market share war among rivals in the world’s largest EV market. “Tesla has taken the nuclear option to bully the weaker, thin margin players off the table” in China, said Bill Russo of Automobility, an industry consultancy in Shanghai. “Big pie, fewer slices, more to eat for those that remain”. Startups such as China’s Xpeng had benefited from Tesla’s price hikes. Now, Xpeng is cutting prices in China, but with less financial leeway than Tesla. Xpeng reported gross profit of $4.565 in the third quarter, and a net loss of $11.735 a vehicle, according to company data. “We hope more people can access smart vehicles after we make our cars increasingly affordable”, Xpeng said in a statement. Vietnamese EV startup Vinfast said Thursday it will use price promotions to fight back against Tesla. Chinese EV market leader BYD announced price increases effective January 1 after Beijing phased out EV subsidies. So far, BYD has not responded to Tesla’s latest price cuts in China. However, BYD’s gross margins of $5.456 per vehicle give it more headroom in a price war than Volkswagen, Toyota or General Motors. +++

Reageren is niet mogelijk.