Newsflash: Porsche investeert in 3 nieuwe modellen


+++ BMW increased its research and development spending by 5.2% year on year in 2022 as it made significant steps towards launching its next-generation electric line-up. The company’s R&D investment last year totalled €6.6 billion, with funds going to the Neue Klasse program. This will usher in the next era for BMW, bringing the electrification of the long-running 3 Series nameplate with a model previewed by the i Vision Dee concept car. The Neue Klasse models will major on technology as BMW aims to make connected vehicles a key pillar of its automotive business, controversially locking features installed into vehicles at the factory (such as heated seats) behind a subscription. +++


+++ Tesla cheerleaders will likely be skeptical, but others might put some added weight behind an analysis by high-profile investment firm Morgan Stanley that markedly reduces sales estimates of Tesla’s upcoming electric CYBERTRUCK . enormous hype has surrounded the truck, which was introduced in 2019. Unconfirmed reports have circulated that Tesla has to date received 1.6 million preorders and will sell hundreds of thousands Cybertrucks annually. But the Morgan Stanley report punctures that balloon, saying the pickup “will more likely be an enthusiast/cult car with far more limited volume”, around 50.000 units per year. Tesla has indicated that production will begin this summer in limited quantities, ramping up to mass production by next year, according to company chief Elon Musk. The EV was originally supposed to start at $39.900 in its single-motor configuration. the Morgan Stanley researcher writes: “We feel the Cybertruck carries more value in a cultural/zeitgeist sense than in a direct economic sense. At the same time, we encourage our readers to ask themselves: how many Cybertrucks can roll up to a parent-teacher conference or youth soccer match at the same time before losing some of that indescribable … something?” Tesla’s head of design, Franz von Holzhausen, recently shared a picture of a Cybertruck prototype that appears to show its ginormous, single windshield wiper leaves a lot to be desired. The lone windshield wiper on the electric pickup fails to clear a large swatch of the window. How much of that uncleared is actually helpful to seeing out of the vehicle? That’s debatable. During Tesla’s Investor Day last week, a pre-production prototype of the Cybertruck was on display. Since then, new images of the vehicle keep popping up on social media, highlighting its massive “frunk”, its steering contraption, and the massive windshield wiper was hard to miss. The singular windshield wiper is perhaps the largest Tesla has yet to put on the truck. Unlike most cars, which have wipers that tuck neatly against or below the hood of the vehicle, the Cybertruck’s lone windshield wiper appears to rest upright along the side of the windshield when its not in use. It’s kind of a like a bus in that regard. It’s unclear whether this windshield wiper will be included in the final product as the Cybertruck is still in development. In the past, Elon Musk has said there’s “no easy solution” to the vehicle’s massive windshield. “Deployable wiper that stows in front trunk would be ideal, but complex”, Musk said on Twitter in 2021. The initial 2019 design for the Cybertruck didn’t even include windshield wipers. Last year, the electric-car maker appeared to experiment with a smaller, switchblade-style windshield wiper that could extend and retract as it was used. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not have standards for the design of windshield wipers, but it does require the device to be able to clear debris from a designated portion of the window in front of the driver’s seat. The initial design also did not include side mirrors, an issue that Tesla was forced to remedy due to FMCSA regulations. Musk has pushed back the production timeline for the Cybertruck at least 3 times. Last year, Reuters reported that the delays were due to design changes, citing an individual with knowledge of the issue. Most recently, the billionaire said on Investor’s Day that the truck will be delivered this year; about 2 years later than he had first predicted. +++

+++ The DACIA Bigster is one of a trio of new cars coming from Dacia that will kick-start an ambitious push to expand its footprint in the crucial C-segment while reaffirming its commitment to accessibility. Expanding in this market (in which it currently sells only the Duster) will help the Romanian value brand to build on its rapid growth in Europe. This will allow Dacia to better compete with similarly positioned rivals (such as Skoda and Suzuki) that cater to wider target markets with more expansive model ranges. Devised as a rugged but road-focused rival to the likes of the Peugeot 5008 and Skoda Kodiaq, the Bigster will be the largest and most expensive model in the Dacia portfolio when it is launched in early 2025. But it will still embody the same value-for-money ethos as its Duster, Sandero and Jogger; a characteristic that Dacia bosses highlight as a key tenet of the brand’s appeal. The Bigster will be based on the same CMF platform as its similar-size Renault Group siblings, the Nissan X-Trail and Renault Austral, and is being engineered from the off with an outright focus on affordability. “We know that pricing for customers is key, so pricing can’t be just a consequence of the technological choices we make”, said the brand’s sales and marketing boss, Xavier Martinet. “It has to be an input in the product before asking our product planning and engineering colleagues”. Just as the Sandero and Duster are comfortably among the most affordable models in their market segments, so too will the Bigster look to capture a significant market share by undercutting established rivals. Dacia has previously suggested that the Bigster will be priced more in line with what consumers expect of the segment below, hinting at just a small premium over the Duster, which will enter its third generation next year. When asked how this would be possible, Dacia CEO Denis Le Vot said: “Our recipe is super-clear. We’re making the essential car. We design cars with zero superfluous content: no screen when we can put no screen, no electronics when we can put no electronics, no ADAS when we can put no ADAS”. This is a formula that Dacia has already applied to great success with its latest models. It posted a 6.8% global sales uptick in 2022, with 573.800 units, making it the third bestselling brand to private customers in Europe. While stripping back the amount of kit fitted to the Bigster will be instrumental in keeping its price low, it is the use of existing Renault Group hardware that really enables Dacia to minimise its development costs and thereby the final price. In keeping with the brand’s emphasis on simplicity, the Bigster will be available with only a small selection of trim levels, but it is expected to match its Nissan and Renault relations in offering a choice of either pure-combustion or electrified power. The latter will most likely be derived from Renault’s E-Tech full-hybrid system, as used by the Jogger Hybrid, Dacia’s first electrified car. Four-wheel drive will no doubt be an option as well. “We are taking the assets from the group, and we’re lucky that we don’t have to pre-invest, that we don’t have to be a front-runner”, explained Le Vot, before confirming that Dacia will “continue leveraging the asset by introducing 2 new models just after the Bigster”. He refused to confirm further details, though. A likely addition would be a Sandero-based wagon to serve as a successor to the retired Logan MCV and as a rival to the hugely popular Skoda Octavia Estate, while an entry-level car in the vein of the Nissan Juke would enhance Dacia’s coverage of the highly competitive compact crossover segment. +++


+++ MITSUBISHI plans for hybrid and battery electric vehicles to account for all new car sales by the middle of the next decade, beefing up its electrification strategy for staying competitive in key markets. Mitsubishi, which is also a junior partner in an alliance with Renault and Nissan, said it will roll out 16 new models over the next 5 years. The Japanese automaker stuck to a previous goal of having half of its new car sales electrified by fiscal 2030 and on Friday newly pledged to raise that further to 100% by fiscal 2035. Mitsubishi considers plug-in hybrids (PHEV), hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles (BEV) as electrified vehicles. Electrified vehicles accounted for about 7% of the company’s total new car sales in fiscal 2021. “Among our existing models, we’ll expand the geographical areas where our flagship PHEV Outlander is being offered and build out the sales of the Minicab-MiEV light commercial EV that was relaunched last year”, chief executive Takao Kato said. Among the 16 new models Mitsubishi plans to roll out, one will be a BEV Renault alliance model, while another will be a Nissan alliance model, Mitsubishi said in presentation materials that were part of its fiscal 2023-2025 business plan. Mitsubishi, an early mover in EVs in the early 2010s, currently has no BEVs in its line-up in Europe. Its new BEV for Europe would mark a comeback in a highly competitive market where new entrants such as Tesla have already rapidly won market share. The model could be a variant of the new Renault Scenic; an electric SUV made in France and expected in 2024, or a variant of the Renault electric city cars R5 or R4 expected respectively in 2024 and 2025 and also made in France, a source close to the matter said. Of the other 14 models Mitsubishi plans to launch, seven will be purely combustion engine-powered ones, five will be hybrids and the remaining two will be BEV, the company said. +++

+++ NISSAN ’s new Ariya has been hampered by problems at its high-tech production line, 4 people familiar with the matter said, slowing delivery of a car designed to put the automaker on the road to a comeback. Unveiled in 2020 to strong reviews, the crossover was Nissan’s first all-new global car in 5 years and signaled an intent to turn the corner on the turmoil that followed the ouster of former head Carlos Ghosn. But production is running at least a third below plan, keeping the Ariya from shipping to new customers, according to production planning notes. All of the people declined to be identified because the matter is private. The shortfall represents a lost opportunity to capitalize on the Ariya’s buzz and test demand for the first of 19 new EVs Nissan plans to roll out by 2030. It also hinders the automaker’s plans for growth in the electric car market it helped pioneer before ceding dominance to Tesla. Ariya production has been slowed by problems with the highly automated “intelligent factory” manufacturing system it built for the model at its plant in Tochigi, north of Tokyo, 2 of the people said. Nissan designed a system that would allow it to produce cars with different powertrains (batteries, hybrids and internal combustion engines) on the same line. Implementation has proved “an extremely, extremely high challenge” and the advanced paint line has become a persistent headache, one of the people said. Nissan also faces shortages of plating for an electronic component for the Ariya after a fire at China-based supplier Wuxi Welnew Micro-Electronic in January, one of the people said. The supplier told it had shifted output to a second plant and was “working to recover production”. In a statement, Nissan said Ariya production had faced challenges including supply of semiconductors, disruptions in components shipments and the factory’s paint line. “Nissan is making a full and diligent effort to fully regain production capacity at the plant”, the company said. The production challenges come as Nissan and Renault in January agreed to overhaul their 2-decade-old alliance on more equal footing. Nissan also agreed to invest in Renault’s new EV business. The Japanese automaker rode a wave of early interest in EVs with the Leaf hatchback in 2010. But by 2020 that car was overtaken by Tesla’s Model 3 in terms of lifetime sales. EVs accounted for just 4.5% of Nissan’s global sales of 3.2 million vehicles in 2022. Nissan has targeted production of 400 Ariyas a day, according to 2 of the people, equivalent to almost 9.000 vehicles a month and more than 100.000 a year. Output over the next 2 months is expected to fall short of that, according to production planning notes from last month reviewed by Reuters. Output in March was forecast at under 6.900 vehicles and at around 5.200 in April and 5.400 in May, according to the planning notes. That has since been lowered, one of the people said. U.S. dealers stopped taking customer reservations last year, while Japanese dealers stopped taking orders in August. The Ariya was supposed to hit showrooms in 2021, but that was pushed back to 2022 because of a global chip shortage. “I think the Ariya will bring Nissan back”, an American dealer said, adding some customers had cancelled Tesla deposits for the Ariya. The car has won praise for a bold exterior and a sleek interior with lights inspired by Japanese lanterns. With a starting price of €50.790 in the Netherlands, the Ariya is an alternative to Tesla’s Model Y, which costs about €3.000 less after recent price cuts. The Ariya line was built with an initial investment of 33 billion yen ($243 million) as part of the “intelligent factory” initiative that Nissan says represents a completely new production system with robotics and a zero-emission pledge. The new paint line was designed to paint an entire car, including body and bumpers, together, to boost efficiency and be more environmentally friendly. Nissan has also invested in a new assembly technique that allows different powertrains to be lifted from underneath before robotic installation, saving time. The new system uses an automated pallet to mount a pre-assembled powertrain. +++

+++ Following years of rumors and speculation, PORSCHE has confirmed that a plug-in hybrid 911 is in the pipeline. The gasoline-electric sports car is one of several new models planned, including an electric SUV positioned above the Cayenne in terms of size and pricing. “We decided that there will be some hybrid version for the 911 as well. We were able to test it in detail last year and we are quite thrilled about the drivability and the handling on the car. We believe there’s a big future in store for it”, revealed Porsche boss Oliver Blume. There’s no word yet on when we’ll see the first series-produced hybrid 911 or where it will be positioned in the lineup, though an unverified rumor claims the next GT2 RS is one of the hybrids in store. The flat-6 engine is safe (for now) because an electric 911 isn’t currently planned. “The 911 will be offered as a car with an internal-combustion engine for as long as possible”, Blume stressed. Put another way, if the flat-6 dies and the 911 goes all-electric, the blame will fall on regulators around the world rather than on Porsche’s executive team. In the meantime, the German company remains on track to deliver the first examples of the electric, second-generation Macan in 2024. Its development is ongoing, we’ve seen camouflaged prototypes testing around the world, but the launch was delayed due to software issues. Looking further ahead, Porsche also confirmed that the Cayenne’s successor will run on batteries. Specific details about this models haven’t been released yet, but the firm clarified that it’s not going to let the current-generation Cayenne wither on the vine. The big SUV (which stands out as the bestselling Porsche globally) will receive “one of the most comprehensive upgrades in our history” in 2023, executives confirmed. The list of changes will include a new chassis and three plug-in hybrid powertrains engineered for more electric-only range. The Cayenne’s days as Porsche’s range-topping model are numbered. Called K1 internally, one of the new models that the company is working on will be positioned above the Cayenne and illustrate what’s referred to as a “new vehicle concept”. It will be built on a platform called SSP Sport, and it will deliver “strong performance, automated driving functions, and a completely new experience inside”. Unsurprisingly, the yet-unnamed K1 is being developed primarily for the American and Chinese markets. “We are observing growing profit pools in this segment”, Blume said, “in particular in China and the United States”. +++

+++ The former SAAB factory in Trollhättan, Sweden, has been put into a “hibernation plan” as owner National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) scrabbles to avoid bankruptcy. Of the plant’s 340 employees, 320 will be laid off. NEVS said it has begun negotiations with the appropriate labour unions to provide the impacted staff with support and legal advice. Interim CEO Nina Selander said: “With great sadness, today we inform you that NEVS will now go under hibernation mode, meaning we will be forced to reduce all costs and suffer from layoffs in all company areas. “Our decision comes after our owners Evergrande and our investor prospects were unable to finalise negotiations accordingly to our contract. +++

+++ ACC, a joint venture of STELLANTIS , Mercedes and TotalEnergies, said on Friday its planned Italian battery making plant was expected to start operations in 2026. The plan will involve an overall investment worth over €2 billion in Italy, including public funds, ACC said in a statement after meeting unions in Rome. Stellantis has plans to develop 3 factories in Europe to serve its increased production of battery electric vehicles. They will be built in France, Germany and Italy, through ACC, with a capacity of 40 gigawatt hours (GWh) each by 2030. The Italian project will be set up in the southern city of Termoli, through the conversion of an existing Stellantis engine and gearbox plant, currently employing around 2.000 workers. It should start operations at the beginning of 2026, while it should reach full capacity in 2030 with at least 1.800 employees, ACC said in the statement. +++

+++ It’s crunch time at TESLA , where Elon Musk is looking to crack the code for making better, cheaper batteries. The electric-vehicle maker is recruiting Chinese and Korean materials suppliers to help lower the cost and boost the energy of its newest battery cells, even as the company struggles with battery-related performance and production issues that have helped delay the launch of its futuristic Cybertruck, according to people familiar with the plans. Tesla has tapped China’s Ningbo Ronbay New Energy and Suzhou Dongshan Precision Manufacturing to help trim materials costs as it ramps up production of 4680 battery cells in the United States, according to the sources, who asked not to be named. The details of these arrangements have not previously been reported. If the Austin, Texas-based EV maker is able to work out the performance and process kinks and meet its ambitious production targets, the 4680 ultimately could be the linchpin (rather than choke point) in CEO Musk’s dream of building 20 million vehicles annually by 2030. As part of its efforts, Tesla also has signed a deal with Korea’s L&F Co to supply high-nickel cathodes that could increase the energy density of its 4680 cells, one of the sources said. The automaker aims to augment its own output with 4680 cells from Korea’s LG Energy Solution and Japan’s Panasonic; an insurance policy to secure future EV production, 2 of the sources said. LG and Panasonic are expected to supply cells for Cybertruck, 1 of the sources said. A shortage of batteries means “the factories stall,” Musk told investors in early March. The new battery is expected to play a key role in the launch late this year of the edgy, stainless-steel Cybertruck, the company’s first new model in more than 3 years. Tesla had considered 3 battery options to ensure that launch is not delayed again: smaller 2170 cells used widely in other Tesla models, 4680 cells and less-expensive lithium iron phosphate cells, but the EV maker favored waiting until the 4680 cells are ready, the sources said. Details about Tesla’s Cybertruck battery strategy, including use of 4680 cells and consideration of other options, have not been reported. In 2022, Musk said he did not expect 4680 batteries would be a “limiting factor for Cybertruck or anything else”. The Tesla-designed 4680 cell (so named for its external dimensions: 46 mm diameter, 80 mm length) is crucial to future production plans. Tesla intends to make versions at factories in Texas, California, Nevada and Berlin for use in vehicles from Model Y to Cybertruck, the sources said. But Tesla is still struggling to ramp up the first wave of production, Musk acknowledged at Tesla’s investor day on March 1. Despite the immediate problems, some analysts remain optimistic Tesla will resolve these issues. “While execution risk remains and many details are unknown, Tesla’s impact on the global battery industry may still be underestimated”, Morgan Stanley said after investor day. Musk first announced the new cell at Battery Day in September 2020. At that event, he promised a 50% reduction in cell cost through a series of innovations, from a larger cell size to a new “dry” electrode coating process that could dramatically reduce the size and cost of a battery factory while boosting cell performance. Repeated delays in moving the new cell from the initial prototype phase to full-scale production also have pushed back introduction of the long-awaited Cybertruck, which was designed to take advantage of the cell’s potential improvement in energy density and power; advances that have yet to materialize. But it will take time for suppliers to ramp up production. Panasonic is running a pilot 4680 production line at its Wakayama factory in Japan, and plans to start volume production later in the fiscal year that ends in March 2024. Shoichiro Watanabe, chief technology officer of Panasonic Energy, last month said the company’s new Kansas battery plant will focus initially on 2170 cells, but it will eventually shift 4680 production to North America. Last year, LG said it planned to open a new 4680 production line at its Ochang plant in Korea in the second half of 2023. Tesla’s first-generation 4680 cells, built at its Fremont, California, factory, failed to hit an energy density target, people involved say. The automaker so far has been able to dry-coat the anode (the negative electrode) but is still having issues with dry-coating the cathode, where the most significant gains are expected to be made, the sources said. Tesla’s attempt to ramp up production of the dry coating process has thus far resulted in enough batteries only for about 50.000 vehicles annually, Musk and company executives have said. In 2020, Musk said Tesla would have enough 4680 capacity in-house to supply 1.3 million Model Ys. While executives said it seems likely Tesla will be able to increase 4680 output 5-fold by year-end, the company is hedging. Musk is betting if Tesla ends up with too many batteries this year, that is a good problem to have. It can use those for the energy storage systems it sells to utilities and consumers. Tesla also has been installing first-generation 4680 cells with “wet” cathodes in so-called structural packs in Texas-built Model Ys. A majority of those vehicles use the older 2170 cells. Tesla plans to use a cathode with more than 90% nickel in the next generation of 4680 cells, 2 sources said. L&F is expected to be one of the suppliers of that high-nickel cathode, 1 other source said. +++

+++ Chinese consumer electronics company XIAOMI plans to begin production of its first electric car during the first half of 2024, according to its co-founder and CEO, Lei Jun. Speaking at China’s annual parliamentary gathering in Beijing, Lei said: “Xiaomi’s car manufacturing has progressed beyond expectation and prototypes have recently successfully completed winter testing”. Lei, who is a deputy of China’s National People’s Congress, also confirmed Xiaomi had invested more than 3 billion yuan (€410 million) in its electric car division, Xiaomi Automobile, in 2022. He added that staffing of its R&D department had risen to more than 2.300 people. Xiaomi, the world’s third-biggest smartphone manufacturer by sales volume behind Samsung and Apple, first announced plans to begin the development of electric cars in 2021. At the time, Lei said Xiaomi intended to invest up to 10 billion yuan (€1.35 billion) in its new electric car division over the following 10 years. Xiaomi’s first production model, a saloon codenamed MS11, was prematurely revealed in a series of photographs leaked to Chinese social media in January. It is expected to be unveiled in 2023 prior to the start of production, confirmed by Lei, in 2024. Details remain scarce, although Chinese media reports suggest the MS11 will be positioned in the mid- to high-end price bracket and be offered in two distinct versions: a base model with a lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery sourced from BYD, and a more luxurious model with a sodium-ion battery from CATL. The new 4-door model is also rumoured to receive autonomous driving technology with lidar sensors from Shanghai-based Hesai Technology. Lei previously hinted Xiaomi is developing up to 4 models, including an SUV planned for launch in 2025. Xiaomi Automobile is based in Beijing. Unlike rival Chinese smartphone company Huawei, which operates a Chinese-based joint venture with electric car start-up Seres under the name Aito, it plans to develop and manufacture its own electric cars. Construction of a factory for the manufacture of Xiaomi models started in Beijing in 2022. +++


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