+++ While the new car market in EUROPE did not have a good year in 2022, there were some interesting surprises in the overall model ranking. According to the data released from JATO, the top-selling new car in the region was the Peugeot 208 with 206.816 units in 30 European markets. The volume for the small French hatchback increased by 5% compared to 2021 allowing Peugeot to take the lead of this ranking once again since the year 2007. In fact, the 208 dethroned the long reign of the Volkswagen Golf, which led the European car market since 2008 uninterrupted. This big change was explained by the continuous sales drops of the German car all over Europe following issues with software, availability and more competition within the Volkswagen Group. The bad situation of the Golf put it at fifth position in the ranking, well behind the Dacia Sandero, the Volkswagen T-Roc, and the Fiat/Abarth 500.
Other big winners in the top 10 include the Fiat 500, which jumped from the 9th position in 2021 to 4th last year. The Volkswagen T-Roc jumped from the 6th position to 3rd, becoming the bestselling SUV in Europe and dethroning the Peugeot 2008. The latter was out of the top 10 as its volume dropped by 28% but was still Peugeot’s second topseller and Stellantis’ most popular SUV. The Citroen C3 fell from the 10th position in 2021 to the 11th in 2022. These 2 models were replaced in the top 10 by the Hyundai Tucson, at 8th, and the Dacia Duster at 9th position. They actually outsold another traditional hotseller, the Renault Clio, which dropped from the 4th position in 2021 to the 10th last year.
Further down the ranking the Tesla Model Y did really well with 138.128 units. It was able to outsell the Model 3 and become the topselling electric vehicle in Europe. However, the results of the Model Y could not exceed the 141.952 units registered by the Model 3 in 2021. Still, with 233.307 units registered, Tesla was the 18th bestselling brand in Europe ahead of other important brands like Seat, Mini, Mazda or Suzuki. The Toyota Yaris Cross posted a big increase too. Volume jumped 27.272 units in 2021 to 136.986 units last year. Although Toyota arrived late to the B-SUV, the Yaris Cross is proving to be the right bet: it was the 4th bestselling B-SUV. The Kia Sportage also posted an important increase thanks to the arrival of the latest generation; it was the second bestselling C-SUV only behind its cousin the Hyundai Tucson. These 2 SUVs were able to outsell big sellers such as the Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Kuga and Peugeot 3008. The Opel/Vauxhall Mokka at the 32nd position registered 97.547 units; up by 34%. Similarly, thanks to the new generation, the Peugeot 308 also recorded a big increase, up by 80% to 90.160 units but still far from the leaders, the Volkswagen Golf with more than 177.000 units and the Toyota Corolla with almost 130.000 units. Cupra did a great job with the Formentor, with 87.175 units, up by 68%, and outselling any single Seat. The Renault Arkana, Mercedes C-Class, Volkswagen Taigo, Dacia Jogger, Dacia Spring, MG ZS, BMW 4-Series, Hyundai Ioniq 5, MG HS, Cupra Born, Polestar 2, Kia EV6 and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, posted very good results too. +++
+++ It seems just about every automaker is gathering ideas for upcoming electric cars, even FERRARI . The Italian supercar maker applied for a patent for a “pulsejet” system to boost acceleration, which sounds much like Elon Musk’s next-gen Tesla Roadster rocket thrusters. Elon Musk has actually gone so far as to suggest that the upcoming Tesla Roadster may be able to “fly” a bit. Keep in mind that this is the same CEO who has said on a number of occasions that Tesla’s vehicles can function as boats for a short time. While they may float temporarily, and they’re not going to get “hydrolocked” since there’s no engine, driving any car into open water is a bad idea. Similarly, if the next generation Roadster really comes to market soon, it’s certainly not going to be a flying car, but it could have a compressed air system at the back that boosts performance. Hypothetically, one could perhaps boost performance in such a way as to try to ensure the Tesla supercar can sort of hover or “get more air” than a typical car when doing “jumps,” which would also prove quite unsafe. At any rate, back in 2019, Ferrari filed for a patent for a “High-Performance Car with Gas Pushers”. That patent was just added to the US Patent database recently. Ferrari’s patent describes a working concept that’s very similar to what Musk has described in the past for the next-generation Tesla Roadster’s SpaceX package. Musk aims to use some sort of cold gas or compressed air thrusters to speed up off-the-line acceleration and possibly even allow the car to hover somehow. According to recently published patent details, Ferrari’s pulsejet system may use compressed air thrusters for quicker acceleration. It would also be able to use the technology to aid in braking and handling. Ferrari would put compressed air tanks or liquid fuel technology at the front, rear and sides of the car to make this all possible. A portion of the official patent language reads as follows: “… at least one compressed air tank’ and at least one gas pusher, which is connected to the compressed air tank, is integral to the frame and has a plurality of nozzles, which face outwards, can be activated in order to generate respective air jets, are arranged parallel to and beside one another, have the same orientation and are sized so as to generate different pneumatic thrusts give the same pressure of the compressed air flowing in …”. The description goes on to say that the system will be able to refill the compressors via technology attached to the car’s brakes. +++
+++ HONDA provided a few more details relating to its next-generation hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle, which will be based on the CR-V. The as-yet-unnamed crossover will be part of the automaker’s push to eliminate carbon emissions from its lineup. In a meeting primarily focused on the automaker’s fuel cell business strategy for the future, Honda revealed the packaging of the small crossover, with a fuel cell stack and electric drive motor taking up residence under the bonnet and over the front wheels, similar to the internal combustion CR-V. A hydrogen tank will appear under the back seat, with another above and just forward of the rear axle; both good locations from a crash safety perspective. An “Intelligent Power Unit” shows up in place of the gas-powered CR-V’s driveshaft, bundling a battery, electric inverter, and powertrain controls together in one module. Honda didn’t specify how large the battery is, but it’ll be enough to provide plug-in electric capability, which the automaker confirmed a few months ago. Such a system will allow owners to recharge their SUVs overnight, allowing them to drive some distance before firing up the fuel cell and reducing their dependence on the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, one of the main problems faced by owners of the Toyota Mirai and bygone Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. The fuel cell vehicle will be built at Honda’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio, most famous for being the site where the now-discontinued NSX was produced. What’s more, Honda will export Japanese-market versions of the car from the Ohio facility. Sales in Japan and North America are expected to start sometime in 2024. Honda’s next-generation fuel cell, which will appear in the SUV, was developed in partnership with General Motors. The Japanese automaker claims it will cost two-thirds less than the fuel cell found in the Clarity, with double the durability thanks to more corrosion-resistant materials. The fuel cell also features faster startup times in very cold temperatures (minus 30 degrees Celsius). Representatives from the company also teased the fuel cell system that will follow by the end of the decade, offering half the cost and double the durability of next year’s unit. The automaker hopes that it will help speed the adoption of hydrogen fuel cells in heavy trucking, construction, shipping, and power generation. +++
+++ Of the approximately 214.000 orders Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has at the moment of writing, about a quarter are for the Defender. Available in 90, 110, and 130 body styles, the reputable off-roader is made at a factory in Slovakia. To reduce the backlog of orders, JLR has added a third shift at the plant in Nitra where it builds the go-anywhere SUV. The Mercedes G-Class competitor has been the company’s most popular vehicle in the last seven quarters. As it’s been the case with most automakers, supply bottlenecks have hampered JLR’s day-to-day operations. Much like high-end brands, it has prioritized vehicles with higher profit margins, hence why manufacturing at the Slovakian factory has not been affected. The Discovery is also built there but wholesale figures (sales to dealers) were at a record low in Q4 2022, at just 1.924 units. Although the Defender is doing better than ever, one would argue the lineup is not complete. A pickup truck has been on and off ever since the current generation was launched near the end of 2019. It’s still unclear whether it’ll happen, but Nick Collins, Jaguar Land Rover’s executive director of vehicle programs, told to “watch this space” about a Defender truck. However, that was 2 years ago. A recent rumor indicates Mercedes will launch a G-Class ute, but nothing is official at this point. According to JLR’s “Reimagine” plan, an electric Defender is in the works and will be out later this decade. The Discovery and Range Rover are also set to receive a new version that will do away with the combustion engine. No fewer than 6 EVs from LAND ROVER are planned to arrive this decade, with the first one scheduled for a 2024 release. Speaking of electric models, Jaguar intends to become an EV-only brand in 2025. +++
+++ Undoubtedly, a lot has changed at LOTUS in the last few years. When Chinese automotive giant Geely took over the struggling Norfolk brand in 2017, a change in vision was immediately implemented. Instead of focusing on lightweight gasoline sports cars, Geely wanted Lotus to instead future-proof itself by becoming a leader in the luxury EV space. Hence the all-electric Evija hypercar was developed as a halo model for the brand. Meanwhile, the traditionally powered Emira sports car was released in an effort to keep enthusiasts on board while also showing off Lotus’ next-generation design language. However, the upcoming Eletre will undoubtedly be the bread and butter of the brand. A luxury electric SUV with 373 miles of range, the Eletre’s €98.690 (Dutch priciing) base point should ensure it sells in relatively strong numbers. Earlier this week it emerged that Lotus will be going public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The deal will see Lotus valued at € 5.15 billion with existing shareholders (the largest being Geely) retaining 89.7% of equity. “Lotus Technology” will be listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker ‘LOT’. Lotus’ proposed €5,4 billion market cap is similar to that of Mazda, despite the latter selling significantly more vehicles on an annual basis. But after all, market caps rarely reflect the profit or output levels of manufacturers. Instead, much of it is to do with hype and brand recognition. For example, Ferrari currently has a similar valuation to Ford, with both automakers being worth in the region of €47.5 billion. Yet for every one Ferrari sold Ford sells roughly 150 cars. Lotus will undoubtedly be looking to cash in on its renowned name, even if it’s gradually moving further and further away from the “simplify, then add lightness” motto it used to abide by. +++
+++ MAZDA has been arguably late to the EV game and its MX-30 has less driving range than essentially all other electric cars available today. This may come as no surprise after you learn that the president and CEO of Mazda USA Jeffrey Guyton doesn’t believe longer-range EVs have a viable place in the future. Guyton, like many other smart folks in the auto industry, knows that most people aren’t going to use all of their EV’s range very often. He shared with Green Car Reports that people are hoping for electric cars with 300 miles of range, though he just doesn’t see that as sustainable in the future. The issue is, people are used to combustion cars, which they can take wherever they want whenever they want (within reason, of course) without having to worry about driving range or infrastructure. Once they get into an EV and charge it at home, they’ll quickly learn that they probably have more than enough range to get through the day, but perhaps not enough range to make easy work of road trips. If they own an EV with subpar range, they may also struggle to run loads of errands after their long commute, especially if it’s cold outside. Still, Guyton believes that once people own a few EVs, they’ll get it figured out. Range anxiety may be a major concern for first-time buyers, but it should fade once they become seasoned owners. Meanwhile, the public charging infrastructure will continue to develop and charging speeds stand to improve significantly. Mazda, like many automakers, has no plans to help build charging infrastructure, though it is patterned with ChargePoint. As more and more EVs are produced, batteries and related materials will become more scarce. Having a whole host of EVs travelling on city commutes while carrying a heavy, 560 km range battery pack may not seem so wise if you really think about it. That said, the fear is that automakers will resort to PHEVs with petrol-powered generators or range extenders, or revert back to traditional hybrids that don’t plug in at all. These vehicles still emit tailpipe emissions, so they’re not the solution in the eyes of many people. Mazda’s MX-30 electric crossover has only 100 miles of range. It’s also what many people in the EV space call a “compliance car.” Mazda is only making a small number of these EVs and only making them available in certain regions. Down the road, the Japanese automaker aims to create a purpose-built electric vehicle platform. It also has a CX-50 Hybrid and CX-90 PHEV in the pipeline. Guyton can only hope that in the future, public fast charging stations are available when and where needed. He claims we have the resources available to make it possible and urges that it must be a priority. He also says that the EV battery packs of the future will be smaller and lighter. While they may provide fewer miles of range, some of that will be offset by improvements in technology and the weight reduction of the EVs. Factor in the much quicker charging that’s coming, and perhaps we won’t need electric cars with massive battery packs in the future. +++
+++ TESLA ’s factory in Mexico is a topic that returns like a boomerang from time to time and another report just arrived. Reuters reports (via newspaper El Heraldo de Mexico) that Mexican presidential spokesman Jesus Ramirez said that Tesla is considering setting up an assembly plant (for electric vehicles, as we understand) near Mexico City’s new airport. The plant might be built in an industrial park in a development about 3 kilometres from the Felipe Angeles International Airport (AIFA). It was previously expected that Tesla is more interested in the northern state of Nuevo Leon bordering Texas (closer to its HQ and to its largest North American market). However, even more surprising is the info that Tesla would export its products by air: “Tesla is looking at investing in that area to take advantage of AIFA”, Ramirez told late on Monday, noting the site could serve as a base for the firm to export by air”. It’s hard to believe that electric vehicles would ever be shipped in volume using aircrafts, so it might be a bug in translation or maybe we are talking about a different product than electric vehicles, or some specific parts. We can’t say anything for sure, but considering that Tesla is a global company and that is expanding its business (related to cars, trucks, batteries, charging, software, and even autonomous robots), there is always a chance that one of its new plants will be built in Mexico. Ford and General Motors are also producing cars in Mexico. In the case of EVs, Ford is producing the Mustang Mach-E, while GM intends to produce in Mexico Ultium-based models. We must keep in mind that recently Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk hinted at multiple ideas/products that the company could introduce in the market. A new plant potentially could be for one of new, undisclosed products. +++
+++ VOLVO is one of the automakers that has pledged to go electric-only by the end of the decade. The Swedish company is investing big money into converting its product range and its production facilities, and it turns out a slew of new electric vehicles are currently under development. According to a new report, Volvo will launch at least 6 new battery-powered vehicles by 2026. The information comes from 2 people with knowledge of the plans. Volvo will reportedly convert its core models, including all its SUVs, sedans and wagons, into electric vehicles and launch a brand new luxury electric van for the Chinese market. In Australia, Volvo will switch to a purely electric lineup by 2026. Earlier this year, it was reported that Volvo is planning to release its own version of the Zeekr 009 MPV for the Asian markets. The brand has never produced a family van in the past and wants to play it safe by using an existing model as a base. According to the available information, the styling of the MPV will be tweaked to fit the Volvo design language. There could be changes under the hood, too. Interestingly, Volvo has moved the development work on its future sedans and the said three-row van to its research center in Shanghai. The XC90 and XC60 will be transformed into electric vehicles. The same is apparently also valid for the S60 and S90 and their respective V60 and V90 wagon versions. Volvo’s most recent new product is the EX90, which is a large, three-row electric SUV that made its debut in November last year. The vehicle has a massive 111 kWh battery pack, good for an estimated 480 km of range per single charge. The most powerful version features a dual-motor setup with a peak output of 496 bhp and 910 Nm of instant torque. The EX90 is now available for pre-order, though the prices have not been finalised yet. +++