Newsflash: Lexus maakt de betrouwbaarste auto’s


+++ The BMW GROUP is intensifying its efforts to transition to e-mobility and is poised for further growth with the introduction of its next generation of vehicles, the Neue Klasse. The company aims to reach 50 percent of its worldwide sales of fully-electric vehicles ahead of its target of 2030. To achieve this, BMW is investing in the expansion of its international production network, including the construction of a new assembly centre for high-voltage batteries in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. This investment of €800 million is expected to create around 1.000 new jobs. The BMW Neue Klasse vehicles will be produced in Debrecen, Hungary starting in 2025 and later in the main plant in Munich. The production in San Luis Potosí will start in 2027. BMW recently announced an investment of $1.7 billion in the expansion of its Spartanburg production site in the US, with a billion dollars designated for electric vehicle production and 700 million for a new battery assembly centre in Woodruff. The company aims to build at least 6 fully-electric models in the US by 2030. The new battery assembly centre in San Luis Potosi will span an area of 85.000 square meters and employ more than 500 workers, producing next-generation batteries for fully-electric vehicles. The plant, which went operational in 2019, already produces three models for 74 global markets, including the BMW 3 Series, 2 Series and M2. The San Luis Potosi facility is highly flexible, allowing for minor adjustments to incorporate the new vehicle architecture. It is equipped with a second shift starting in April, adding 500 new jobs to the plant’s workforce. BMW’s master plan for production, the BMW iFactory, emphasises flexibility and efficient processes. The Neue Klasse vehicles will be powered by new, round lithium-ion battery cells specifically developed for the 6th generation of BMW eDrive technology. These batteries will offer an increased energy density of over 20 percent and improved charging speed and range by up to 30 percent. The CO2 emissions from cell production will be reduced by up to 60 percent due to the use of renewable energy sources and secondary materials like lithium, cobalt, and nickel. +++

+++ J.D. Power conducts various surveys each year to calculate scores for vehicle quality and DEPENDABILITY . The organization recently announced the results of its 2023 Vehicle Dependability Study, and among other things, respondents reported a staggering number of issues with their vehicles’ technology features. J.D. Power rates vehicles based on an average of the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100). While the overall average score improved by 6 PP100 from 2022, the number of infotainment-related problems outnumbered the second-closest issues by almost 2-to-1. The infotainment category reached an average of 49.9 PP100: that’s half of all owners reporting significant challenges with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity and outdated navigation maps. Lexus was the best overall brand with a total score of 133 problems per 100 vehicles, followed in the premium segment by Genesis at 144 PP100, Cadillac at 173 PP100 and BMW with 184 PP100. On the mass-market side, Kia took the top spot with 152 PP100, and Buick was second with 159 PP100, followed by Chevrolet, Mitsubishi and Toyota. J.D. Power said that Ram, Volvo and Nissan were most improved from 2022’s survey, with respective decreases of 77, 41 and 35 PP100. Tesla was officially included in the study for the first time, despite not allowing J.D. Power full access to customer records in all states. The brand racked up a score of 242 PP100. Toyota and Lexus tied for the most dependable model in each of the 2 groupings, as the C-HR and RX each scored 111 PP100. The Lexus NX and Toyota Highlander were also singled out with model awards. BMW models that ranked well were the 4 Series, X2, X5 and Mini Hatch. General Motors earned praise for the Chevrolet Blazer, Chevrolet Silverado HD, Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Sierra. And the Kia Sportage was also singled out for dependability. A stunning 63 percent of vehicles required fewer replacement parts over the past year compared to 2022’s results. The organization looks at non-wear items for that data point, which exclude brakes, tires, oil, and lighting elements. The problem categories explored in the study were: Exterior, Driving Experience, Features/Controls/Displays, Driving Assistance, Infotainment, Seats, Climate, Interior and Powertrain. J.D. Power polled more than 30.000 original owners of 2020 model-year vehicles to calculate its scores. The 3-year ownership interval used in the survey gives insight into the initial ownership experience after the shine has worn off the new car, but typically before it’s out of warranty. +++


+++ Norway is known for its cold weather, which makes it an odd place to be the leader in ELECTRIC VEHICLE adoption. To ensure that buyers in the chilly Scandinavian country are well-informed about how much their range will be affected by the winter, local experts run EVs through a winter range test and, this year, the Tesla Model S set a new record. The electric vehicle with the longest estimated range on the WLTP test cycle (634 km) that was run in this year’s trial, the Model S standard range, managed to drive a distance of 530 km in a test. Making it all the more impressive, due to a technical glitch, the team could only charge their Tesla to 98 percent to start the test. Despite that, temperatures of as low as -19 degrees Celsius reduced the Model S’s range by just 16 percent, as compared to the WLTP estimate. Although that was a strong performance for the American sedan, it wasn’t the best-performing vehicle in terms of how closely it kept to its estimated range. That honor went, instead, to the Maxus Euniq 6. Although it managed to travel just 317 km in the test, it was only rated for 354 km, which amounted to a drop of just 10 percent. On the other end of the spectrum, the Toyota BZ4X was the car whose performance dropped the most from its WLTP baseline. Despite having an estimated range of 503 km, the EV only went 323 km in the test, a stunning drop of 35 percent. That may not come as a surprise to attentive readers, because the BZ4X has made a habit of disappointing in real-world range tests. So worried was Toyota about this, that it wouldn’t provide the outlet with an AWD version of the car, and it had to instead test the 2-wheel drive version. The BZ4X was by no means the only EV whose range suffered in the cold, though. The Škoda Enyaq Coupe RS and the Mercedes EQE 300 both took similar hits to their range during the test, and drops of between 20 and 30 percent were common. The testcrew was most impressed with the Chinese cars in the test, such as the MG4, the BYD Atto and the JAX e-JS4, praising the wealth of vehicles available and their low prices, concluding that “many families will do just fine with” the cars. All vehicles were driven by experienced drivers on a loop that starts in Norway’s capital, Oslo. The drivers were required to adhere to the speed limit, to use regenerative braking intelligently, and drive in eco-mode without using driver aids, such as cruise control. +++



+++ Financial results are typically boring to read, but when you’re FERRARI , you do your best to spice up the press release. One bullet point that caught our attention is news about Maranello’s plans to introduce no fewer than four new models. Although customer deliveries of the Purosangue have yet to start, the high-performance SUV is not among those novelties since the practical Prancing Horse was introduced in 2022. With Ferrari being Ferrari, the Italian exotic marque is secretive about what we’ll see later this year. Based on what car paparazzi have been able to see in recent months, one of the four vehicles is likely going to be a convertible version of the Roma. It’ll be interesting to see whether the open-top gran tourer will replace the Portofino M, which is getting a bit long in the tooth. There would also be a risk of cannibalising sales, and yet some reports indicate the Roma Spider (name not confirmed) will slot below the Portofino without actually replacing it. Spy photographers have also caught test mules based on the Roma but packing V12 power. That should turn out to be an 812 Superfast replacement and we might see it before the end of 2023. A potentially hotter SF90 Stradale was seen last November hiding an elongated body, so get ready for a “Versione Speciale” or something to that effect. As for the 4th and final model, your guess is as good as mine. I wouldn’t rule out another ultra-exclusive model for the Icona series to follow up on the Monza SP1/SP2 and the Daytona SP3. Ferrari has been coming out with more limited-run cars and one-off projects, so perhaps something special is coming in 2023. For the 2023-2026 interval, Ferrari has pledged to launch a whopping 15 cars, including its first-ever EV and a hypercar. In the meantime, 2022 was a record-breaking year with 13,221 cars sold, prompting the house of Maranello to give employees bonuses of €14.000. +++

+++ With 365.135 units sold, the CX-5 was by far MAZDA ’s most popular product last year when total deliveries went down by 13.3 percent to 1.116.107 vehicles. Even though sales of the crossover declined by 4.4 percent year over year, the volume it generated was still more than double compared to the Mazda3, which came in second at 173.619 cars. Despite being the company’s bestselling product, it might not live to see a third-generation model. When asked about what the future has in tow for the CX-5, the model’s product manager Mitsuru Wakiie had a surprising answer: “I’m not sure whether we are going to introduce a CX-5 or not, so I can’t give you any details”. He declined to elaborate, but discontinuing the model after the current generation runs its course would be a surprise seeing as how it’s number one in sales by a significant margin. That being said, lest we forget the slightly larger and more spacious CX-50 joined the lineup at the beginning of last year. In addition, 2022 saw the unveiling of a CX-60 riding on a newly developed rear-wheel-drive platform with inline-six engines and support for plug-in hybrids. Not only that, but the CX-60 will spawn a CX-70 version for the United States later this year. The CX-5 received a nip and tuck for the 2022 model year, which implies it’s going to stick around for at least a couple of years. Your guess is as good as mine about what will happen after that, but Mazda could be concerned about an internal clash between 3 similarly sized SUVs that might cannibalize sales. Let’s keep in mind the Zoom-Zoom company already sells the CX-3 and CX-30 while a CX-80 will join the CX-8, so depending on the region, Mazda has more than a few SUVs available. Elsewhere, cars have been put on the back burner since the prospects of a next generation Mazda6 are not looking great. The Japanese marque has already ruled out the idea of using its RWD architecture with 6-cylinder engines for an all-new midsize saloon. Launched a decade ago, the current-gen model is still being sold in some markets in both saloon and estate flavours but its future doesn’t look bright. Speaking of cars that are getting a bit long in the tooth, the Mazda2 has been on sale in its third iteration since 2014 and was recently given a facelift. It means the supermini will remain on sale for a while in its current form and will be sold in some markets such as Europe alongside a rebadged Toyota Yaris Hybrid. +++

+++ TESLA ’s stock has started the year with a breakaway rally that’s clawed back almost all the electric-vehicle maker’s losses from a hellish 2022. Shares are up 63.4% year-to-date, trading at just over $201 as of Wednesday’s closing bell. That gain means that Tesla is close to erasing the $700 billion wipeout it suffered last year, just six weeks into 2023. The stock slumped 65% in 2022 as rising interest rates dampened investors’ appetite for riskier bets and shareholders worried that Elon Musk’s chaotic $44 billion takeover of Twitter would drag on Tesla’s share price. But Tesla has staged a dramatic comeback in the early going of this year, thanks to investors’ growing faith that interest-rate cuts are coming and a strong fourth-quarter earnings report that beat Wall Street forecasts. The Federal Reserve has raised the cost of borrowing from near-zero to around 5% over the past year, in a bid to tame soaring prices. But a growing number of traders think the US central bank will start cutting rates later in 2023, given inflation has fallen 6 months in a row. Rate cuts would typically boost growth stocks like Tesla, as they juice up the future cash flows that make up a core part of their valuations. Expectations of rate cuts have boosted most equities in 2023, with the S&P 500 up 7% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbing 14% year to date. But Tesla has beaten those benchmarks, in part because of its most recent earnings report and an aggressive price-cut strategy that appears to be paying off as rival automakers scramble to match the move. The carmaker logged earnings-per-share of $1.19 for the 3 months up to December 31; way clear of Wall Street’s $1.05 forecast. Its 4th quarter revenue grew 37% year-on-year to $24.3 billion, narrowly beating analysts’ $24.1 billion target. The and could show shareholders that recent aggressive price cuts have helped to revive previously faltering demand. In January, Tesla slashed the U.S. prices of its Model 3 and Model Y by as much as 20%. While those cuts will dig into the company’s margins, Bank of America strategists believe they could boost sales. That means Tesla could rally 35% this year, as its recent price cuts have already been a success in China, Wedbush’s Dan Ives has said. Loup Ventures’ Gene Munster is also positive on the company, even though he believes the cuts will put pressure on earnings. +++

+++ VOLVO ’s forthcoming electric crossover, tipped to be called the EX30, will be designed around the subscription ownership model in a bid to help the firm win over a younger audience. Set to be revealed on 15 June before sales kick off in November, the EX30 will sit below the existing Volvo XC40 Recharge in the firm’s growing line-up of electric SUVs. The EX30 will champion the subscription ownership model to make it more affordable to ‘Generation Z’ buyers (people born between the late 1990s and early 2000s), Volvo CEO Jim Rowan said on a call with journalists. He added that subscriptions allow the brand to “talk to new customers”, having previously said Volvo “has never really spoken to that young demographic”. The company will ensure monthly payments will be set at a “reasonably low cost”. The new model, previewed at the launch of the larger EX90, will use a modified version of parent Geely’s SEA architecture. At the launch, Rowan hinted that the compact model will be aimed at “city driving for first-time buyers”. With the EX30 sitting firmly in one of the fastest-growing segments, it will be key to Volvo’s target of selling 1.2 million cars annually by the middle of the decade, with half of those fully electric models. Although the official preview image confirms the model will retain traditional Volvo cues, it will feature bolder styling elements to help win over a younger audience. Much like the EX90, it will take the form of a higher-riding crossover but with sleeker bodywork to maximise the aerodynamic efficiency. It is also possible the model could eventually spawn a coupé-SUV offshoot similar to the C40 Recharge. At the EX90 launch, Volvo design chief Robin Page said the firm will “start evolving” its design language with the EX30 and future models. He said: “You’ll still recognize it as a Volvo and there are elements of the EX90 we’ll bring into future products. But with a smaller car, you can play around more with different things. You’ve got a bit more of a spectrum to play with colour, materials and the general expression”. The SEA architecture is currently used by the Smart #1 and a number of electric models from Geely’s China-only Zeekr brand. It is offered in various forms for vehicles of different lengths and can accept rear-drive single-motor and all-wheel-drive twin-motor powertrains. At launch, the Smart #1 offers 272 hp in standard form and 427 hp for a twin-motor range-topper. The platform can accommodate a wide range of battery sizes, although the urban focus of the new model means it is likely to feature a relatively modest unit to keep the size, weight and cost down. The 68 kWh pack in the Smart #1 gives a range of 425 km, which is likely to be considered sufficient for the Volvo SUV’s intended buyers. The new crossover is expected to advance Volvo’s efforts to use more sustainable and recycled materials in its models, especially as sustainability is a priority for the younger, Gen Z audience. The SEA platform has a high level of connectivity built into it and offers over-the-air software updates. It is likely that Volvo will offer features on demand and other services through its app. +++

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