Newsflash: Volkswagen verlaagt prijs ID.4


+++ The BYD ATTO 3 again became the bestselling electric vehicle in Israel in February. According to the Israeli Vehicle Importers Association, BYD sold 1.590 EVs in Israel in February, ranking first in the country’s EV market. In the ranking of all vehicles, including fuel vehicles, BYD ranks sixth, accounting for 5.5% of the market share. Currently, BYD has only a few competitors in the pure EV market in Israel, as more than 90% of the vehicles sold in the country are still fuel-powered cars. The main competitors for BYD are ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles from Japanese and South Korean automakers. All cars sold by BYD in Israel are ATTO 3, the primary export model of BYD. BYD exported 15.002 vehicles in February, 11 times more than in February the previous year, 13.333 of which were ATTO 3. In January, BYD sold 2.999 EVs in Israel, ranking first in the Israeli market. In January and February 2023, BYD exported 25.411 EVs, of which Israel accounted for 4.598, equivalent to 18% of BYD’s exports. Israel has become BYD’s most prominent EV sales place besides China. In February, the top-3 car brands in Israel were Hyundai, Kia and Toyota, with 4.519 / 3.352 / 2.906 vehicles sold respectively. Despite the tough competition, BYD secured a place in the top 10, ranking 6th. Other Chinese automakers, such as Chery and Geely, also made it to the top 10, with Chery ranking 7th and Geely ranking 9th. BYD and Chery only entered the Israeli market in 2022. +++


+++ New data by a global alliance of environmental and human rights watchdogs unveiled Tuesday, a list of the world’s top automakers ranked based on how CLEAN AND ETHICAL their production processes have proved. Mercedes-Benz topped the leaderboard. The rank was released by Lead the Charge, a new global campaign that encourages automakers around the world to operate more transparently in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and catering to workers’ rights. The highlight of the “leaderboard,” as the campaign dubbed the rank, is that it took into account not just how many electric cars or other eco-friendly rides they produce but, much more importantly, how environmentally clean their supply chains are throughout their entire manufacturing processes. The latest report by Lead the Charge said Hyundai-Kia, now the third-largest automaker in the world, has sold an increasing volume of EVs and claimed it uses sustainable materials but is “missing the bigger picture and opportunity”. It said the Korean firms outperformed the global EV leader Tesla in some areas but has a “host of supply chain issues bubbling up, including child labor at suppliers and a subsidiary in the United States and air pollution from steel manufacturing in Korea”. The report showed Tesla and Toyota, once known as leaders in fighting the climate crisis with the most outstanding fleet of eco-friendly cars in the global auto market, are behind some of their global competitors. Toyota’s efforts in reducing carbon emissions throughout its supply chains came particularly shorter than those of its rivals with five percent. In the case of Tesla, it was not so much its supply chain for batteries which deducted the points as its supply chains for other parts and its negligence to adhering to workers’ rights. +++

+++ In November, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety loaded an old Ford pickup with enough ballast to make the truck weigh 4.300 kilos, then ran the Ford through the IIHS crash test apparatus. The organization wanted to ensure its equipment could perform as needed as we enter an age of ubiquitous ELECTRIC VEHICLES . The equipment passed with no problem. But the organization’s been reflecting on issues outside the test area, with recent commentary by vice president Raul Arbelaez asking how we might mitigate the effects of really heavy cars exacerbating weight disparities in crashes with other cars, as well as the potential additional damage done to pedestrians and cyclists. At no point does the commentary take a stance against EVs. Arbelaez writes, “We don’t need to put the brakes on electrification, there are good reasons for it, and we’re not doomed to reverse all the safety gains of recent decades. But the development will require some new thinking about the kinds of vehicles we want on our roads”. His piece opens the discussion on the secondary features he believes automakers and government should be thinking about when millions of cars weigh as much as, or thousands of pounds more than, a Chevrolet Suburban; or, at the other end, when the Chevrolet Bolt (Opel Ampera-e) weighs as much as a Mercedes E-Class sedan depending on trim. “Today’s supersized EVs are a double whammy of weight and horsepower”, Arbelaez writes, and he doesn’t seem convinced that safety features like brakes or the spread of crash-avoidance systems have kept up. He wonders if additional crash structures could be integrated into EVs to protect passengers in other, lighter vehicles because the “increased protection in a heavier EV comes at the expense of people in other vehicles”. The easiest suggestion to get alarmed about is when he writes, “States and local governments should consider lowering speed limits, factoring in the increased danger from weight disparities and backing them up with increased enforcement”, That might not be necessary if he got his wish of limiting EV weight, perhaps through better battery technology or smaller batteries since “The ability to travel 400 miles on a charge is convenient but unnecessary for most commutes”. But until then, “We need to double down on existing solutions” in order to maintain decades of safety advances. +++

+++ Transport ministers from GERMANY , the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia on Monday discussed their push to change proposed European Union vehicle emissions limits. The proposed Euro 7 law, which EU countries and lawmakers will start negotiating this year, would tighten limits on health-harming pollutants, including nitrogen oxides. The EU has said the health benefits would far outweigh the costs. But countries, including the Czech Republic, oppose the proposed rules which they say are burdensome for industry. Most have big car-making sectors. An EU official said the ministers had discussed the law’s “unrealistic” deadlines and issues with equipment to enforce it. “Our effort is, in the area of Euro 7, to make those conditions really realistic, to make them achievable”, Czech Transport minister Martin Kupka said in a telephone interview following the meeting in Strasbourg, which he convened. The Czech Republic said the countries had reservations on the short period for adoption of the norm, which under proposals should come into force in mid-2025 for cars. It has proposed a 4-year period for the norm to take effect, along with some technical changes, to give industry time to prepare and boost technological measures. “If we are really serious about trying to bring Europe to greater carbon neutrality, I think that really means bringing in technologically realistic measures”, Kupka said. The countries also discussed a separate row over the bloc’s 2035 deadline to phase out CO2 emitting cars, which would effectively make it impossible to sell new combustion engine cars after 2035. The CO2 law, the EU’s main tool to speed up Europe’s shift to electric vehicles, was put on hold this month after last-minute opposition from Germany. That surprised policymakers in Brussels and other member states, since EU countries and the European Parliament had already agreed a deal on the law last year. Germany, backed by countries including Italy and the Czech Republic, wants clearer assurances that new cars with internal combustion engines can still be sold after 2035, if they run on CO2-neutral fuels. Other countries have different reservations. Poland, for example, has said its opposition is “much more fundamental” than the types of fuels that can be used after 2035, and has said the proposal would make combustion engines more expensive for consumers. The EU says the 2035 date is crucial because the average lifespan of new cars is 15 years, so a later ban would stop the EU reaching net zero emissions by 2050, the global milestone scientists say would avert disastrous climate change. Transport accounts for around a quarter of EU emissions. Parts of Europe’s car industry are also lobbying to weaken the EU law. Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said on Monday in his view Berlin was “taking the appropriate steps” to ensure e-fuels can be used in new combustion engine cars after 2035. +++

+++ HYUNDAI said Monday it is in the process of acquiring General Motors’s car manufacturing facility in India. Hyundai has signed a term sheet with GM to take over the U.S. carmaker’s Talegaon plant in Maharashtra, the company said in a statement. A term sheet is a non-binding agreement on basic terms and conditions of an investment, and it is usually followed by more detailed, legally-binding documents. “Hyundai Motor India is in the process of acquiring General Motors India’s assets to supply a stable amount of vehicles in the rapidly growing Indian automobile market”, the statement said. The proposed acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals from the relevant government authorities, and the signing of the “definitive asset purchase agreement” and fulfillment of conditions of related parties, it said. GM stopped selling cars in India in 2017. The Talegaon plant, established in 2008, has an annual production capacity of 130.000 units and 160.000 engines, with the production of export models continued at the plant till late 2020. Hyundai has 2 plants in India with a combined output capacity of 760.000 units a year, and 150.000 units of them are being exported. The maker of ranked second after Maruti Suzuki in terms of market share in India in 2022. Its sales rose 9.4 percent on-year to over 550.000 units last year. +++

+++ Earlier in March 2023, LAMBORGHINI detailed the gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain that will power the Aventador’s successor. We still don’t know what the model (which is called LB744 internally) looks like, but the firm revealed one way it kept the hybrid system’s weight in check. Lamborghini built the LB744 around a new chassis called a “monofuselage” that consists of a carbon-fiber monocoque and a front structure made with Forged Composites, an innovative material the company has used since 2008. While the now-retired Aventador featured a carbon-fiber monocoque as well, its front structure was made with aluminum. Switching to a composite structure unlocks many advantages: It’s 20% lighter than the Aventador’s front structure and it helps make the overall monofuselage 10% lighter than the Aventador’s chassis. Out back, the structure that the engine, the transmission, and parts of the hybrid system are mounted on is built with high-strength aluminum alloys. It incorporates a pair of hollow castings that the rear suspension system’s shock towers and the powertrain’s suspension system are integrated into. Here again, this layout saves weight by reducing the number of parts that need to come together to assemble the car. Power for the LB744 comes from a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain that consists of a new, 6.5-liter V12 engine located directly behind the passenger compartment, an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission mounted transversally behind the engine, a small electric motor integrated into the transmission, 2 electric motors on the front axle (1 per wheel) and a 3.8 kWh lithium/ion battery pack housed in what was previously the transmission tunnel. The system’s total output checks in at 1.001 horsepower. This layout delivers through-the-road all-wheel-drive, meaning that there’s no mechanical connection between the front and rear axles. Lamborghini will unveil the LB744 in “a few weeks”. +++


+++ Cars have been more expensive than ever over the past year or two, with inventory shortages and in-demand models selling before they arrive on lots. Markups have become a fact of life in the United States, even for everyday vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler, leading many to OVERPAY for their new ride. Recently, a study of new car values was released which showed that new-car prices have climbed significantly and dealers are making the problem worse by charging even more on top. The Genesis GV70 “won” with an average price that was 27.5% more than its $44,299 official price. The Jeep Wrangler was second at 23.9%, followed by the Mercedes-Benz GLB at 22.9%. The full list also includes: Porsche Taycan: 22.7%, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited: 21.9%, Cadillac CT4-V: 21.1%, Genesis GV80: 21%, Porsche Macan: 20.6%,
Cadillac CT5: 20.3% and the Lexus RX 350h: 8.8%. There’s some good news in the: Several new cars are selling at, or even slightly below, the official price. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 sold at an average of 1.9% below, followed by the Volkswagen Arteon and the Cadillac Lyriq at 0.4% below. Hatchback and sedan pricing increased the most, likely driven by demand for smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles. Prices for minivans, wagons, SUVs, coupes, trucks, and convertibles fell. +++

+++ Many people buy SUV cars as their primary family haulers, leading automakers to pack them with tech and entertainment features for back-seat passengers. But it seems more investment in rear-passenger safety will need to come next. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “most midsize SUVs offer inadequate front crash protection for passengers seated in the rear”. This is based on a new test to evaluate rear-seat crash safety. Research showed that automakers’ safety innovations had focused too heavily on front-seat passengers. The IIHS noted that people in the back seat are 46% more likely to be killed in a crash than people in the front. This led to the organization’s development of a new test. Engineers place a child-sized dummy behind the driver’s seat and use sensors to determine if it has been subjected to forces that could cause injuries to various body parts. Testers add paint to the dummy’s head to determine if the vehicle’s head restraints protect from impact and to gauge how well the seatbelt holds passengers in place. The IIHS then ran each of the SUVs through the standard moderate overlap front crash and looked at the results. Of the 13 SUVs tested, only four earned a “Good” score: Ford Explorer and Mustang Mach-E, Subaru Ascent and Tesla Model Y. The Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited picked up “Poor” marks. The Wrangler’s rear lap belt moved upward during the crash, and the SUV lacks side curtain airbags in the rear, while seatbelt tension in the Grand Cherokee was too high. That’s the opposite of the front-seat scores for most of the SUVs, which were generally strong, though the Wrangler’s driver’s side airbag did not deploy in testing. The organization is just starting with this testing, so it’s not part of its current ratings, but will likely appear in the future. It also recently updated its side impact test with higher speeds, greatly reducing the number of Top Safety Pick awards for 2023. At the same time, the IIHS has voiced concerns about safety issues related to electric vehicles’ extreme weight and has had to update its testing equipment to effectively crash test the heavier vehicles. +++

+++ Elon Musk’s plan to build another factory in Mexico will be key in TESLA ’s bid to provide the masses with a $25.000 car, according to automotive manufacturing expert Sandy Munro. . “The Mexican plant is a genius move”, Munro, a manufacturing expert known for his vehicle teardowns, said in a YouTube video posted Tuesday. “We’ve done studies that found in some places, and some situations, Mexico is cheaper than China”. An assembly plant in Mexico, where workers are typically paid less than in the US, makes the most sense for achieving a $25.000 Tesla, Munro said, something that’s long been a goal of Musk. “Why go to China if you can get to Mexico?” he said. Many car companies have increased their manufacturing presence in Mexico in the last 2 decades in pursuit of lower labor costs, as well as benefits of free trade agreements in North America, and lower shipping costs than overseas manufacturing operations. Some of the industry’s most profitable vehicles are built in Mexico, including some General Motors pickup trucks and heavy-duty Ram pickups. Musk first teased the idea of a sub-$30.000 Tesla in 2020. At the time, he said the affordable price point would be achieved through a 50% reduction in cost for battery and cell manufacturing. That car is supposed to come out this year if the company is on track with those original plans. Investors expected to see a preview of this new, affordable Tesla at the company’s March 1 Investor Day, but were disappointed when executives shared manufacturing cost-savings efforts but failed to unveil the new model that would benefit from these changes. Tesla’s lead designer and vice president of vehicle engineering shared a series of cost-saving manufacturing changes the electric-vehicle maker has in store for the year ahead at the company’s investor day. These plans include rethinking the assembly line in a way that allows more people and robots to work on a vehicle at the same time and reducing factory footprint by more than 40%. Overall, Tesla is targeting a 50% reduction in manufacturing costs. It’s all part of Musk and Tesla’s plan to sell more than 20 million cars by the end of the decade; a target that some have said is too lofty and hinges on major changes in battery tech. “Every time someone opens their mouth and says ’that can’t happen’, Elon shows up” to prove them wrong, he said. “If you want to be a naysayer, go ahead … At the end of the day you’re always going to lose especially if you’re betting against Elon Musk”. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN has slashed ID.4 prices in China by 19% to $25.000. FAW-VW announced a price cut of 40,000 yuan ($5.800) on its ID lineup. Another Volkswagen joint venture SAIC-VW followed with a 30.000 yuan price cut on all its electric models. The ID.4 Crozz can now be purchased for 174.900 yuan ($25.000). Volkswagen is the latest automaker to join the price war in China, which Tesla started when it slashed prices for all versions of its Model 3 and Model Y by 6.0% and 13.5%. Since then, it could be argued that the developments in the Chinese EV market have resembled a massacre. Only last week, the Ford Mustang Mach-E dropped by 5.700 USD and Toyota BZ4X base price dropped by $4.300 (starting now at $25.000). In February, BYD discounted some of its models up to $2.800. It was reported some dealers of the BMW i3 (Chinese model) offered discounts up to $14.000. So far, at least 30 auto brands have participated in this price war, with a maximum discount of more than 100.000 RMB (15.000 USD). Worth noticing that this is not a random discount from a local dealer but a VW official price cut that applies nationwide. For VW, China is its most important market. SAIC Volkswagen became China’s first automaker to sell 22 million cars last July. In 2022, Volkswagen Group sold 3.18 million vehicles in China; globally, they sold 8.3 million. Additionally, the ID series sales saw a significant increase, reaching 143.100 units, double the previous year’s sales. 44% of ID global deliveries happened in China. Historically, foreign automakers were not allowed to enter the Chinese car market independently and had to form a 50:50 joint venture with a Chinese automaker. VW has 2 primary JV with SAIC and FAW. To satisfy both of them, they launched the ID series EVs (ID.4 and ID.6) with each. To avoid confusion, they branded the SAIC-made cars by X (ID.4 X, ID.6 X) and FAW-made cars by BUZZ (ID.4 BUZZ, ID.6 BUZZ). The ID.3 was launched only with SAIC JV. SAIC-Volkswagen also announces that customers can avail themselves of additional benefits worth up to 10.000 yuan. FAW-VW, on the other hand, offers a free camping kit worth 4.900 yuan. FAW-VW sold 6,069 electric ID series in February 2023. SAIC-VW didn’t make it to top-15, so I don’t know the number, but it was less than 3.700 cars, which is the result of SAIC-GM JV in the 15th position. In January, Volkswagen CEO Oliver Blume claimed that VW was not going to participate in the price war and won’t react to other EV makers’ price cuts. “We want to become a global leader in EVs through profitable growth and not a price war with Tesla”, said Blume. Back in China, local VW dealers were always very creative when it came to selling ID cars. In late 2021, when VW was far behind its official delivery goal of 80.000 a 100.000 electric cars, their Shanghai dealers came up with the strategy of selling the ID.3 without battery as Nio did. That helped to slash the purchase price of ID.3 to 110.000 yuan ($16,000), with the battery being leased. There was only one problem: the  ID.3 has no swappable battery. VW’s battery leasing option was essentially a fixed-sum loan without any interest. The loan amount was 60.000 yuan ($8.800), and it came with a 60-month interest-free term, meaning customers needed to repay RMB 1.000 yuan ($146) each month. The price cut for the ID. series is not surprising; it’s surprising that it came so late. Since ID models were launched in China, there were reports that these EVs were struggling due to a lack of connectivity, SW & UX quality and ADAS features. Chinese used to love VW cars as synonyms for German quality, but it is slowly changing with a younger generation and local EVs startups taking over. In China, it currently doesn’t matter if you make money on a car or have a margin; the only question now is if you sit on enough cash to survive this bloodbath. +++

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