Newsflash: Volkswagen doopt ID.2 om tot ID.Golf


+++ The world didn’t end when FERRARI introduced the Purosangue SUV last year and I am fairly certain an apocalypse won’t destroy Earth in 2025 when Maranello will unveil its first electric car. Following the LaFerrari hybrid and the SF90 Stradale/Spider and 296 GTB/GTS plug-in hybrids, the Prancing Horse is preparing to get rid of the combustion engine for an EV. The company’s CEO told deliveries to customers will commence in 2026. When asked about how the zero-emission Ferrari will be different than the current crop of EVs, Benedetto Vigna said it’ll be an emotional car capable of providing a “unique driving experience”. The 53-year-old executive argued functional cars such as Teslas are simply for driving from point A to point B. He went on to say owners of such vehicles don’t care about the brand and are only interested in travelling from one point to another. The Ferrari of EVs will be just as exciting as an ICE model, according to the Italian brand’s CEO: “Driving thrills is a combination of factors: longitudinal acceleration, lateral acceleration, sound, gear-changing, and braking. This doesn’t change if the powertrain is electric”. Although he sees Teslas as being nothing more than functional cars, Ferrari’s chief executive officer believes Elon Musk’s company helped push automakers to accelerate the development of EVs. Before Tesla, “things used to happen too slowly” in regard to electrification, but the “wake-up call” shook things up in the automotive industry and kick-started the electric revolution. Speaking of rocking down to the electric avenue, Ferrari has previously said 55 percent of models will be hybrids by 2026 while five percent will eschew the ICE. Consequently, it means only 40 percent are going to retain the pure ICE setup in 3 years from now. By the end of the decade, petrol-only models will represent just 20 percent, with 40 percent hybrids and 40 percent electric cars. At the heart of the hybrids and EVs will be electric motors developed and built in-house. Meanwhile, Ferrari is keeping busy with the Purosangue. Benedetto Vigna is happy to report the house of Maranello filled the order book 4 times quicker than expected. Nevertheless, the company is sticking to its original plan by keeping the high-riding V12 model limited to 20 percent of the firm’s annual production. Even though it’s only February 2023, the company has already received orders that won’t be delivered until later in 2024. 2022 was already a record year in terms of sales for Ferrari with 13.221 cars, and with Purosangue deliveries about to start, 2023 is looking even better. This year, no fewer than 4 new models will be unveiled, with 2 of them likely being a Roma convertible and the 812 successor. +++

+++ Once again, the Japanese new car market was dominated by the KEI-CARS . These micro cars are exclusively designed, built and sold for the consumer in Japan, and despite the rise in popularity of other body types such as SUVs, they are simply too popular to die. According to the latest data, the kei-cars sold 1.17 million units in Japan last year. Even if the volume fell by 4% compared to 2021, these iconic vehicles gained market share within the passenger car market in Japan. Their share jumped from 33.4% in 2021 to 34.1% in 2022. In other words, more than 1 in 3 of the new passenger cars sold in Japan are kei-cars. Why are they so popular? Simply, they are affordable to buy and to maintain. The Kei-cars are an essential player of the Japanese automotive industry. They keep the local factories alive in addition to the strong presence of products that are built for the export markets. The Japanese government created a dedicated legislation that aims to boost the local production and sales of these tiny cars. Their goal is to make better use of the reduced space on the streets of this already crowded country. Without big car parks and high energy costs (Japan is a bit dependent on energy imports), the drivers in Japan need small and efficient cars to commute within the cities. To be classified as a kei-car, the vehicle needs to be no longer than 3.4 metres, no wider than 1.48 metres and no taller than 2 metres. In addition, the vehicle must be powered by an engine that is no bigger than 0.66 litres. This specific legislation has forced the local brands to create specific cars for the Japanese market that have zero potential outside Japan. Consequently, everything that kei-cars offer is composed by Japanese brands and none from abroad. The 8 most important car brands from Japan are the only ones to sell these cars. And guess what? Toyota is the second smallest of them in terms of sales volume. In 2022, Toyota’s sister brand Daihatsu, led the kei-car market with almost 349.000 units (excluding the light commercial kei-cars). This is almost 30% market share. It was followed by Suzuki, globally known for its small cars. This brand sold 336.200 units, down by 6% vs 2021. And in the third position there was Honda with 263.200 units, up by 1%. The “small” players are Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Toyota and Subaru. The most popular kei-car in 2022 was the Honda N-Box. The latest update allowed this car to increase its sales by 7% to 202.200 units. This is almost twice the volume sold by the second in the ranking: the Daihatsu Tanto. The Daihatsu was able to outsell the Suzuki Spacia, the second most popular in 2021 and third in 2022’s ranking. But the big surprise in terms of volume and news was the Nissan Sakura. It was launched last year as the first fully-electric kei-car in Japan. The brand sold almost 21,900 units of this cute EV, which means it was still far away from the leaders. Still, as it is happening with the big trucks in USA, and the big MPVs in China, the Sakura is just the beginning of a new era for the iconic tiny Japanese cars that you won’t likely see on the roads of your city. +++


+++ 2 images purportedly showing the long-awaited successor to the LAMBORGHINI Aventador have surfaced online ahead of the car’s launch. The new mid-engined supercar from Lamborghini has been spied testing on many occasions in recent months and in that time, the amount of camouflage has slowly decreased, giving us a good indication of how the car will look. These images, if real, provide us with our first unimpeded view at the complete design.


The front of the new model is significantly different than the Aventador. The most striking design detail is the sideways Y-shaped led daytime running lights, first featured on the Lamborghini Terzo Milennio unveiled back in 2017. The new Lamborghini then features relatively small yet aggressive headlight units. Other highlights include the angular front air intakes and the bold hood, complete with plenty of sharp surfaces and creases. Making the car stand out even further are huge side air intakes with horizontal slats and on this particular model, a set of 5-spoke wheels.


The rear is also a dramatic departure from the Aventador. Mimicking the design of the front DRLs are the Y-shaped led taillights. The exhausts then exit out from in between the taillights, leaving Lamborghini with the space to engineer a pronounced diffuser. An engine cover that provides an unimpeded view of the V12 is also present. Technical features of the Aventador’s successor have not been confirmed. What I do know is that it will rock a naturally-aspirated V12 that works alongside a hybrid system. It should be good for a minimum of 850 hp, ensuring it can outgun the Ferrari 296 GTB and closely rival the Ferrari SF90 Stradale. +++

+++ LEXUS is reportedly planning to launch a new all-electric model by 2026 in a bid to cash in on demand for such vehicles. While recently speaking with members of the media, current Lexus chief and future Toyota president Koji Sato revealed that Lexus will lead the automaker’s battery-electric vehicle transformation. “We aim to develop a next-generation battery EV in the Lexus brand in which everything from batteries and platforms to the way the car is built will be optimized for BEVs”, Sato revealed. “To deliver appealing BEVs, we need to drastically change the way we do business, from manufacturing to sales and service, with a BEV-first mindset. Lexus will lead this transformation”. Little else is known about the next EV from Lexus. It will follow in the footsteps of the brand’s first EV, the RZ, which Sato played an instrumental role in making a reality. It seems likely that it will take the form of an SUV considering the ongoing demand for such vehicles. It will be important for Lexus to deliver a next-gen EV with a solid range. The current RZ is driven by a 71.4 kWh battery pack that powers a pair of electric motors, combining to deliver 313 hp. The entry-level variant can travel 354 km on a single charge while the more luxurious RZ 450e Luxury has its range limited to just 315 km. Lexus should try and increase this range figure to at least 480 km to better rival the EVs from its competitors. Koji Sato will take over as the chief executive and president of Toyota from April 1 after Akio Toyoda made the shock announcement that he was stepping down. +++

+++ Following the launch of the CX-60 last year in Europe and the recently unveiled CX-90 in the United States, MAZDA will double down on its rear-wheel-drive SUV offerings later in 2023. We’ve already learned the CX-70 will be unveiled in the following months as a 2-row version of the CX-90 in North America. In addition, the company’s boss in Europe has now told the CX-80 is on track for a release late this year. When asked whether the CX-80 is slated to premiere this year, Martijn ten Brink said: “Yes, we will see it by year-end”. He refrained from going into details about the model, but it’ll essentially be a larger, three-row version of the CX-60. In other words, expect something along the lines of a European version of the new CX-90 but with a narrower body. The newcomer won’t be sold exclusively on the Old Continent as Mazda intends to also launch the vehicle at home in Japan and other markets as well. The 7-seat CX-80 should stretch beyond the 4.740 mm length of the CX-60. To accommodate a third row, the wheelbase will be longer than 2.870 mm. It too will ride on Mazda’s new RWD-based platform with inline-six gasoline and diesel engines as well as a plug-in hybrid powertrain. In some markets, the CX-60 is also sold with 4-cylinder engines but it remains to be seen whether the bigger SUV will get 4-pot power. During the same interview, Ten Brink confirmed the CX-3 is being discontinued in Europe. You can’t order the subcompact crossover anymore, but limited stock remains available. The top brass for the European region expects the CX-5 to remain the bestselling model in 2023, helped by a new mild-hybrid gasoline version. Ten Brink didn’t rule out the possibility of installing the range-extending rotary engine in other models beyond the MX-30. He explained the 3 and CX-30 use the same platform and can therefore accommodate the unconventional plug-in hybrid setup. By the end of the decade, Mazda estimates 40 to 70 percent of annual sales will be represented by electric models. That’s an ambitious goal considering the MX-30 is currently its only EV. +++

+++ Buyers of the NISSAN-X TRAIL can opt for the hybrid, all-paw e-power e-4orce version. In this trim, the SUV recently featured during a moose test. First off, let’s review the details of this particular Nissan. It’s a X-Trail model, and as previously mentioned, e-Power e-4orce means it’s a hybrid with all-wheel drive. However, the 1.5-litre engine doesn’t drive the wheels directly: it’s all-electric with dual motors, one driving the front wheels and another for the rear. The engine serves as a range extender, though with a very small 1.8 kWh battery, it’s not so much a range extender here as it is a range supplier. Tyres are Michelin CrossClimate 2 all seasons known for exceptional grip in the snow without technically being a snow tyre. Measuring 255/40 on 20-inch wheels, the testers said the tyres have good dry grip considering the tread pattern, but better dry-weather results may have been possible with a different set of shoes. About those results, the overall takeaway is that the X-Trail is stable but has a rather aggressive electronic control system that steps in quickly. In the slalom test leading up to the moose test, the first run was attempted at a more aggressive speed but as momentum began to swing the X-Trail’s backside out, the stability systems noticeably slowed the SUV. As a result, a second run at a more moderate speed actually returned a faster slalom time. In other words, the X-Trail e-Power e-4orce is a vehicle that doesn’t want to be rushed. That comes through in the moose test, where the best speed achieved was 74 kph. Going faster led to not just cone clipping, but flat-out cone consuming as the front struggled to turn. In slow-motion, the front tires seem to endlessly push straight ahead. Because of that, the electronic stability system engaged Defcon 1, drastically reducing speed to just 19 kph on exit. The target speed for the test is 77 kph, but in this instance, the testteam offered a fair amount of praise for the X-Trail. It’s not meant to be a nimble machine, and under extreme circumstances, it remained safe and predictable while significantly slowing itself down to a speed better handled by the tyres. That raises another point from the test crew, suggesting results could be better with a set of tyres not as focused on winter traction. +++

+++ The wheels didn’t exactly fall off TESLA ’s success wagon last year, but the combination of a sliding share price, a distracted boss, bad publicity from safety-related lawsuits and rivals that finally pulled their fingers out and started delivering EVs of their own, made some people wonder if Tesla’s golden period was on the wane. And then you look at the financial numbers and compare them with the numbers for those rivals, and you can see that Tesla is still looking anything but a spent force. Let’s start with profit: Tesla made more money than Ford and General Motors. Not Ford or GM, but nearly as much as Ford and GM put together. Tesla recorded a $12.6 billion profit in 2022, compared with $9.9 billion for GM and a $2 billion loss for the Blue Oval. That’s a pretty crazy achievement for a company that’s not even active in some major sectors of the car market. It doesn’t sell combustion or hybrid cars, has no subcompact or midsize sedans or SUVs, and though the Cybertruck is still apparently happening, for now it doesn’t offer pick-ups, either. And Tesla scored a bigger profit than GM or Ford while actually registering a far lower revenue figure. Tesla’s revenue for 2022 was $81.5 billion, while GM brought in $157 billion, and Ford, $158.1 billion. Which brings us onto another Tesla fiscal fact that’s arguably more amazing than it outranking Ford and GM for take-home pay. We’re talking about earnings per car. Tesla earned 5 times more per car than Toyota did last year. Between April and December Tesla earned an average of $9,618 per car, while Toyota could only cream off $1,832 per car. Part of the blame for that has been attributed to a rise in the cost of materials, which has affected all automakers, but has hit Toyota particularly hard. The company’s costs are reported to have increased by $8.36 billion and it is shouldering much of the rises in energy costs that have hit its suppliers to keep chains going. +++

+++ TESLA boss Elon Musk has said the firm will make a major announcement at its next Investor Day on 1 March, prompting feverish speculation that the EV brand will reveal more details about its planned cheaper model. The baby Tesla is designed to give the company a rival for cheaper EVs from Korean and Chinese manufacturers. Musk used his own social media platform Twitter to say, “Master plan 3, the path to a fully sustainable energy future for Earth will be presented on March 1”. The accompanying image was made up of huge numbers of bare car body shells, a potential hint that Tesla’s more efficient, more affordable small-car platform (which will incorporate learnings from the Model 3 and Y) will be a major part of the next phase of the firm’s self-proclaimed ‘Master plan’. Previously, Musk has told shareholders that the next stage of his plan would be “fundamentally about scaling”. This is likely to involve battery supply and production, but as we have already outlined, it is also likely to focus on construction techniques that reduce complexity and make it easier and cheaper for Tesla to build vehicles. This could extend to a fully structural battery pack, although this may yet be a step too far for a model that Tesla wants to sell for less than €35.000 in the Netherlands. Tesla ended 2022 without delivering either its much-delayed Cybertruck or the new Roadster, but the company is already putting fresh focus on the development of a smaller, cheaper model that could play a bigger role in EV adoption. Rumours of a vehicle positioned beneath the current entry point, the Model 3, had been swirling for some time. As recently as the start of 2022, Tesla boss Elon Musk denied that the company was working on such a model, saying: “We have enough on our plate right now, quite frankly”. However, 2022 saw Tesla topping sales charts in key regions, ramping up its production rate and putting its 3 millionth car down the line. And now Musk appears to have decided that the time is right to push for greater affordability. At a recent financial results briefing, he told analysts: “We’ve done the engineering for the Cybertruck and Semi (Tesla’s lorry), so you can guess what we’re working on, which is the next-generation vehicle that will be about half the cost of the Model 3 and Y platform. It will be smaller, to be fair, but I think it will shortly exceed production of all our other vehicles combined”. Cutting the cost of construction in half doesn’t necessarily mean the baby Tesla could slice the current list price of a Model 3 (from €46.000 in the Netherlands) in 2. But it’s safe to say that the sub-Model 3 vehicle could feasibly start at around €30.000. That would open Tesla’s potential market up considerably, giving the company a rival for European-made electric hatchbacks such as Volkswagen’s ID.3, and even Chinese models from the likes of MG and BYD. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN has gone back to the drawing board for its long-awaited ID.2 urban EV, providing its smallest electric car with a completely new exterior and interior that are set to be previewed on a new concept car in March. Scheduled to go on sale in 2025 at a targeted base price of €25.000 in the Netherlands, the compact 5-seater is being lined up to get the Golf name, according to Wolfsburg insiders. Sources have also confirmed that the ID.2 will be the first Volkswagen based on the MEB-Plus platform; an updated version of today’s widely used MEB electric car structure that features new LFP (lithium iron phosphate) prismatic battery cells and charging speeds of up to 200 kW, among other developments. Nothing is official at this stage, but has been told that a number of different naming combinations for the production version of the ID.2 have been proposed in internal meetings in recent months, including the ID Golf nomenclature first alluded to by Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schäfer in an interview in October 2022. At the time, Schäfer, who took control of Volkswagen in July after his predecessor, Ralf Brandstätter, was appointed to head up the company’s Chinese operations, said: “The Golf name has huge value. The recognition it receives at customer clinics. People absolutely understand what we are talking about. So to change the name to something completely different doesn’t make sense”. The initial suggestions were that the Golf name may be reserved for a facelifted version of the Volkswagen ID.3. However, this is denied by the sources, who say “the true value of the Volkswagen Golf lies in a car the size of the ID.2”. In place of the controversial crossover design previewed by the ID.Life concept at the 2020 Munich motor show, the heavily revised ID.2 is set to receive a more conventional hatchback shape developed by a team of designers under the guidance of Volkswagen’s new design boss, Andreas Mindt. The move comes after what has been described as a “less than lukewarm” reception to the original crossover design (developed by Mindt’s predecessor, Jozef Kaban) by Schäfer and Volkswagen’s new management team. After much internal debate over the original design of the upcoming price-leading EV, Kaban was asked to step aside. He had been Volkswagen’s design boss since 2020 and has now become the firm’s new creative art director. The decision to provide the new car with a hatchback shape comes after Cupra revealed that the ID 2’s sibling model, the Urban Rebel, will receive a similar styling treatment. The 2 models are due to be produced at Seat’s Martorell factory near Barcelona as indirect replacements for the Volkswagen Up and Seat Mii. A similarly conceived model from Skoda atop the same architecture is also planned to arrive at a later date. +++

+++ For decades, facelifts have been one of the most efficient methods for an automaker to boost a car’s sales halfway through the life cycle. With a few exceptions, we’ve noticed midlife revisions have become less and less significant in recent times as companies are redirecting more money to fund their EV agendas. The future won’t be all about getting rid of the combustion engine as the software will also play a key role in the electric era. So much so that VOLVO chief commercial officer and deputy CEO Bjorn Annwall has invented a new term: “brainlifts”. He believes they’ll become more important than the traditional styling facelift: “I think more of the consumer benefit will sit in the software rather than hardware”. To that end, the Swedish automaker is striving to “get the right core compute and the right kind of intelligence of the car”. The Geely-owned brand predicts software upgrades will prevail over design changes in the eyes of the consumer. It doesn’t necessarily mean Volvo will completely abandon styling revisions as “we’re still humans and you still have a different shirt now than 3 years ago”. However, improving in-car tech will become a priority in the not-too-distant future. In the interview, Annwall touched on subscriptions and how Volvo is looking to monetize them. The company has no intentions “to skin our customers $1 for a small feature”, especially since it’s a luxury brand that should therefore come generously equipped from the get-go. Instead, it’ll charge extra for a substantial upgrade, with an autonomous driving system being a relevant example. Electrification is going hand in hand with more advanced software and Volvo wants to capitalize on the growing importance of both. The Swedes were among the first in the industry to announce the demise of combustion engines, promising to offer an all-electric lineup by 2030. Subscriptions are planned not just for features, but also for the car itself as the EX30 debuting in June will be offered with a subscription plan for a minimum of 3 months. According to CEO Jim Rowan, the company’s baby EV will have a “decent range” and should help Volvo attract new and younger buyers looking for a more affordable electric luxury crossover positioned below the XC40 Recharge. +++

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