Newsflash: Volkswagen ID.2 ook als sportieve GTX


+++ Even as the AUDI Group, Volkswagen’s luxury division, is in the midst of a huge EV transformation, it still needs to perform where it counts: the bottom line. And so it is doing just that. On Thursday the Audi Group, which is dominated volume-wise by Audi, but also includes Bentley, Lamborghini and Ducati, posted record revenue and operating profit in 2022. That shouldn’t be a surprise given what the industry has been seeing at the highest end of the market: record performances despite macroeconomic jitters across the globe. But that it’s happening as the group is noteworthy. “We are on the verge of the biggest product initiative in our history”, Audi Group boss Markus Duesmann said at a news conference earlier on Thursday. “By 2025, we will have launched around 20 new models, more than 10 of which will be all-electric. We have set the course to go 100% electric. By 2027, we seek to offer an all-electric vehicle in each core segment”. This is all part of Audi Group’s “Vorsprung 2030” plan, which seeks to have all of the group’s new models be electric by 2026 and to end traditional gas-powered engine production by 2033. To that end, the group saw EV deliveries jump 44% (in 2022) compared to 2021 to over 118.000 vehicles, with the share of EVs rising to 7.2% from 4.8% in the prior year. Audi is also launching its first EV using the PPE (premium platform electric), which was developed together with Porsche. That EV, the Q6 e-Tron, will be unveiled later this year (past Audi EVs shared corporate parent VW’s electric platform). “With the Q6 e-Tron, e-mobility is coming from Ingolstadt (Audi HQ) for the first time”, Duesmann said in a statement. “To this end, we’re also building a dedicated battery assembly facility on site. This will enable us to retain important knowhow here in Germany and train our employees in future fields”. Audi’s German rivals of course are also leaning in hard on their EV transformations. That makes it all the more important that Audi get its EV strategy right … and launched in a timely manner. On Tuesday, BMW reported rising profit and earnings growth for 2022 and expects EV sales to reach 15% share in 2023 and be one of the automaker’s “main growth drivers”. As for Audi Group’s financials, the group reported revenue jumped 16.4% to a record $65.4 billion (61.8 billion euros) while operating profit rose nearly 40% to an also record $8.05 billion (€7.6 billion). Looking ahead, Audi Group expects deliveries to be between 1.8 million and 1.9 million cars in 2023 (from 1.64 million in 2021), while revenue is expected to jump in the range of $73 billion to $76.2 billion (€69 – €72 billion). Audi sees operating margin to be between 9 % and 11%, and net cash flow to be between $4.76 billion and $5.82 billion (€4.5 – €5.5 billion), along the same lines as the $5.08 billion (€4.8 billion) reported in 2022. +++

+++ BMW ’s Neue Klasse-based models will get a dashboard-wide head-up display. It’s called BMW Panoramic Vision. Unveiled at CES 2023, the BMW i Vision Dee concept is a mission statement created to illustrate the direction the German firm will take in the second half of the 2020s. We know its electric platform will reach production, and we’ll see its massive head-up display in showrooms as well. Called BMW Panoramic Vision, the technology illustrates one way the company plans to continue delivering the ultimate driving machine in an increasingly digital world. It was designed to minimize distractions and let the driver focus on the road ahead. Driving-related information, such as speed and lane markings, is presented right in front of the driver. The middle part of the display shows what you’d normally find in the infotainment system’s touchscreen, like entertainment options. Finally, additional information can be sent to the part of the display positioned right ahead of the front passenger. The driver can choose who sees what, or shut off some parts of the display entirely. “The windshield becomes a single large display, opening up completely new possibilities for the design of our vehicles. Whether the driver decides themselves which information they want to display in their own field of vision, or that all occupants can see the entire content”, explained Frank Weber, the BMW board member in charge of development, in a statement. Speaking on the sidelines of the iX5 launch, BMW boss Oliver Zipse explained why the company is investing in this technology: “Driving distraction, we think, is going to be the biggest problem in today’s architectures. To operate the car, you have to look away. This is a dangerous thing”, he said. “That all has to do with sheer driving pleasure: head-up display, hands on the wheel and eyes on the road”. BMW will release more details about the Neue Klasse (New Class) platform and the models it’s being developed to underpin at the 2023 Munich auto show opening on September 5. The first Neue Klasse-based cars are due out in 2025 with electric power, though BMW hasn’t ruled out building a hydrogen-powered model on the architecture by integrating the storage tanks into the space reserved for the battery. +++


+++ SAIC Volkswagen Automotive is offering 3.7 billion yuan ($537 million) in cash subsidies for car purchases in CHINA , joining more than 40 brands in slashing prices ahead of a change in emissions rules in the world’s largest auto market. The joint venture between China’s SAIC Motor and Volkswagen is offering 15.000 yuan ($2.177) to 50.000 yuan ($7.258) in subsidies until April 30 for its full lineup, which includes the Teramont, Lavida and Phideon models, SAIC-VW said on its WeChat account late on Thursday. The Guangzhou Automobile Group, the Chinese partner of both Honda and Toyota, has also offered subsidies running from March 15 to March 31. Chinese passenger vehicle sales fell 20% in January-February, industry data showed, even as some manufacturers offered reduced prices to stimulate demand. Sales of new energy vehicles, which include all-battery and plug-in battery-petrol hybrid vehicles, grew faster than the overall market, accounting for over 30% in February. In the same month, Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD outsold Volkswagen-branded cars for the second month in four. Government plans for a stricter auto emissions standard effective July 1 has added pressure to automakers and dealers to clear inventories of vehicles that do not meet the standard, Fitch Ratings analysts said in a client note on Thursday. “There is no other way to describe what is happening other than a catastrophic decline in performance of multi-national ICE (internal combustion engine) brands”, said Shanghai-based Bill Russo of consultancy Automobility. The price war is likely to accelerate consolidation of the fragmented local auto industry which has over 130 passenger car manufacturers. But it could also hurt profitability and innovation and stall development of the overall sector, which is a pillar of the economy. Local governments have been supplementing incentives to revive demand for cars produced by local automakers. The central Hubei province and state-backed Dongfeng Motor Group have jointly offered subsidies of up to 90.000 yuan, or 40% of list prices for the entry-level Citroen C6 produced by its joint venture with Stellantis. +++

+++ The once-storied Italian marque LANCIA currently sells only one car, an underwhelming hatchback called the Ypsilon that was launched way back in 2011. However, there are signs of life at the Stellantis-owned brand. They’ve teased a new concept, and from what we can see it looks to be inspired by the legendary Lancia Stratos HF. So far all we have is a name, the Emozione Pu+Ra. However, the rendering that came with the announcement shows the back half of the concept with some unmistakable Stratos cues: dual round taillights, the flat and wide black spoiler, rear glass with striped shading that evokes the original’s rear window louvers. Some of those cues, like the suspended taillight rings, stem from the Pu+Ra concept unveiled at November’s Lancia Design Day conference. There, the company laid out its broad plans to restore the moribund brand to its former glory with, you guessed it, a full EV lineup. It unveiled the Pu+Ra Zero concept that was more sculpture than car, lacking what some would argue to be critical components such as doors, windows and wheels. Lancia said the Pu+Ra name was an abbreviation of “pure” and “radical” (not plutonium and radium), and the Zero is a callback to the 1970 Stratos Zero concept. That particular Marcello Gandini wedge made a splash at the Turin Motor Show and remains to this day the most extreme of the many doorstop-shaped cars from the era. So if the speed form is analogous to the Stratos Zero, then this next evolution in the teaser should be analogous to the Stratos HF production car. Built for Lancia’s rally efforts, the singular design won 3 consecutive World Rally Championships from 1974-76. Obviously the mid-engined layout of the Stratos HF is irrelevant to an EV, but Gandini’s brutal blade was as unprecedented as the Miura he had designed for Lamborghini. In other words, the Emozione Pu+Ra should be a distilled and purposeful looker. Lancia CEO Luca Napolitano calls the upcoming concept the company’s “brand manifesto for the next 10 years”. We shall see what that looks like when it’s unveiled on April 15. +++


+++ MAZDA will appoint 40-year company veteran Masahiro Moro as its new president and CEO, the Japanese automaker said on Friday, as it ramps up spending to electrify its vehicles and considers investing in battery production. Moro (62) currently a director and senior managing executive officer, had previously served as the head of the automaker’s North America operations. He will officially take over pending the approval of the shareholders and board in June, the company said. Current president and CEO Akira Marumoto, who took up his role in 2018, will step down from his posts at that time, Mazda added. Marumoto would continue to serve as an adviser. The leadership shake-up comes as the company, which is 5.1%-owned by automotive giant Toyota, laid out a 1.5 trillion yen ($11.28 billion) spending plan in November to increase electrification of vehicles. “Our business in the United States is currently growing very strongly”, Moro said during a news conference in Mazda’s home base of Hiroshima, as he pledged to work out the automaker’s mid-term strategy in detail. Moro said he hoped Mazda will expand its U.S. business by upgrading dealer stores, which number around 360, and have each of those stores sell 1.000 vehicles a year initially. “If that can be done, next would be to work to 1.200 units”, he said. Mazda also nominated Jeff Guyton, 56, senior managing executive officer and its current North America head, as chief financial officer and assistant to the president pending the June approval of the shareholders and board. The company has sought to strengthen its position in the U.S. market with Toyota’s help, making CX-50 crossovers at a plant it built in Huntsville, Alabama, with its much larger compatriot. Mazda, which saw global annual sales of 1.25 million vehicles in the financial year to end-March 2022, is facing growing competition in the U.S. and China, as well as fallout from the global chips shortage. The company forecast last month that it would sell 6% fewer cars in the United States and 48% fewer in China in the current financial year, setbacks that would be partly offset by higher expected sales in Japan. +++


+++ There’s a hotter version of the POLESTAR 2 on the way. Both the automaker and CEO Thomas Ingenlath headed to Twitter to tease what’s coming, the company posting a static image with the caption: “Buckle up. Something thrilling is about to be unleashed on March 21”. The CEO gives us a little more excitement, a brief video showing a couple of frames of the front fascia before homing in on a front wheel. He captioned his post, “Very soon: Next edition of our Polestar 2”. I was not told what’s coming, but the gloss black wheels, Pirelli P Zero tires, and gold Brembo caliper point to some sort of refresh for the Polestar 2 BST Edition 270. For any who missed it last year, the BST Edition 270 was a high performance version of the Polestar 2. Whereas Polestar began life as a Volvo tuning company that became Volvo’s performance division, now Polestar makes its own cars and needs its own performance trims; think of the BST as the Polestar 2 Black Series. Parsing the name, the BST stands for “beast”, the internal codename during development, the 270 represents the global production number, 55 of which came to the U.S. The 2023 model was basically a dual-motor 2 loaded with the Pilot, Plus and Performance Packs. Company engineers coaxed another 68 hp and 20 Nm for a final output of 476 hp and 680 Nm. The liftback sat an inch lower thanks to a unique set of Öhlins 2-way adjustable dampers slotted into 20% stiffer springs, united up front by an aluminum strut bar. The 4-piston Brembo brakes came from the Performance Pack, but the tires were swapped for 245/35 Pirelli P Zeros to fit the BST’s larger 21 inch wheels. After Polestar announced its 2024 model updates that took the Performance Pack option to 460 horsepower, it’s possible the company wants to throw a little more of that prized Swedish sunlight between the most powerful series production car and the special edition. We’ll find out in less than a week what’s coming, and whether the world will see more of them built this time than last. +++


+++ The wraps have come off Tesla’s newest stations for supercharging its electric cars. They’re big. The so-called SUPERCHARGERS V4 were unveiled this week in Harderwijk in the Netherlands, standing tall in black and white trim and featuring the power to allow higher charge rates as well as a potential for CCS charging of non-Tesla electric vehicles. The current V3 charging stalls have capabilities at up to 250 kilowatts. Tesla has not officially stated a maximum throughput for these V4 chargers. Some estimates suggest outputs of 500 to 1.000 kW or more for vehicles that can handle it. The 16 stations are currently open to Tesla products for testing. Regarding the physical setup of the V4 stalls, the charging cable is attached to the side of the stall and is much longer. This will accommodate some vehicles that have a charge port on the side of their vehicle and not on the front or back. Earlier this month, Tesla announced the launch of an option that would allow non-Tesla EVs in the U.S. access to its Supercharger stations. Essentially, the chargers are equipped with a “Magic Dock”: a built-in CCS Combo 1 adapter that allows charging non-Tesla cars with a CCS1 fast charging inlet. The Magic Docks are reportedly few and far between in the States at the moment, and some work and some don’t. +++

+++ If you own any electric car that isn’t a TESLA , you’ve probably gazed longingly at the brand’s sleek Supercharger stations, which are common and famously easy to use, but historically off-limits to outsiders. But that’s all changing. Tesla has decided to open up thousands of its roadside fast-charging plugs to all electric-vehicle owners by the end of 2024. The move brings Elon Musk’s firm a new revenue stream and allows it to access public funding for charging infrastructure. Some industry experts also think welcoming outsiders into Tesla’s walled garden could be a smart marketing move, particularly for a company that rejects traditional advertising. According to Loren McDonald, CEO of EV industry consultancy EVAdoption, the Supercharger network serves as Tesla’s single biggest marketing tactic. Light-years ahead of other charging providers in terms of reliability, convenience, and number of locations, the sprawling network helps relieve the anxieties of ditching gasoline and attracts buyers. Inviting owners of electric Fords and Porsches to plug in at some locations may be Musk’s crafty way of building the Tesla brand and showcasing its technology to potential customers, McDonald told Insider. “That additional brand exposure is probably a big part of the reasoning behind this”, he said. Sam Abuelsamid, an auto industry analyst at Guidehouse Insights, agrees that expanding Supercharger access could help Tesla sell more cars. Charging takes a while and is generally a more social activity than quickly grabbing gas, presenting an opportunity for Supercharger patrons to get familiar with Tesla’s vehicles, he told. “Because Tesla doesn’t have traditional dealerships, there are a lot fewer places where you can just stop and browse”, he said. After years of tremendous sales growth, Tesla has faced questions recently about how whether the voracious appetite for its cars will last. This year, it’s slashed prices across its lineup in a bid to move more vehicles. The charging plan is a gamble and could also have the opposite effect, experts said. Some Tesla drivers may realize they don’t need to buy from Musk to reap the benefits of Supercharger infrastructure. They may peek inside a Rivian R1T or schmooze with a Volkswagen ID.4 owner and realize a different vehicle better fits their needs. “When the Ford Mustang Mach-E driver plugs in next to the Tesla Model Y driver and they chat, who knows? It could go either way”. McDonald said. Analysts see another risk: A boom in demand for limited charging stalls could frustrate Tesla owners by crowding popular stations. Moving forward, Tesla will need to be careful not to degrade the experience too much for its existing customers, Abuelsamid said. “You don’t want to abandon the customer base that got you to where you are today”, he said. “But at the same time you ideally want to get some of those other potential advantages”. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN keeps adding ingredients to its electric vehicle pot, but we won’t know what fare the automaker’s going to serve us for a few more years. The Germans introduced the ID.2all concept this week, an entry-level addition to the ID range sized between the Polo and the Golf. Sitting on the new MEB Entry platform and due by 2026, not only will the ID.2all inaugurate a new EV design language, it will also bring the brand’s new infotainment interface. The frugal electric hatch will be joined by a hot hatch variant. A Volkswagen exec told a sporty version, also FWD, is in the works, and: “Whether it will be a GTI or GTX or whatever, we will see”. The standard ID.2all is expected to make 226 horsepower from a single motor on the front axle (there’ll be no AWD here, neither in plain nor spicy guise) and get from 0 to 100 kph in under 7.0 seconds. That’s already a little more output and quicker acceleration than the rear-driver, 204 hp ID.3 Pro Performance. The VW exec wouldn’t be drawn on specs for a production hot hatch ID.2all, telling those revelations would “be a surprise for the next time we see each other”. A bookmark comparison for now, though, would be the current VW GTI that sends its 245 hp to the front axle and gets from 0-100 in a claimed 6.4 seconds when fitted with the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. This encouragement to compare the ID2.all concept with the GTI, and the exec’s suggestion that the GTI name is at least a possibility, leads us to all sorts of questions about whether we’re looking at the next GTI. In league with recent news that the GTI and Golf R will go electric by the end of the decade, the spec chart begs for attention. The ID.2all and GTI performance numbers are already close, ID2.all dimensions putting it near enough to the GTI to provide similar interior room. This is pure speculation, but making the ID.2all a GTI successor could leave the ID.3 GTX to be a Golf R successor or the bones for such. The ID.3 is but an inch shorter than the Golf, and the ID2.all isn’t planned to get the hotter ID.3 and Golf R pack AWD drivetrains. We’ll know more when VW decides to dish on those surprises like horsepower and naming for the upgraded ID.2all. +++

Volkswagen ID. 2all concept car

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