Newsflash: Aston Martin komt met 8 nieuwe sportwagens


+++ ASTON MARTIN is poised to launch 8 new front-engined sports cars over the next 2 years, starting with a replacement for the DB11. That model, likely to be called Aston Martin DB12, will kick-start the new model blitz that’s been 3 years in making, company chairman Lawrence Stroll today told. “It feels like watching paint dry or grass grow, but after 3 years we’ve got our next generation of sports cars and will launch 8 in the next 24 months”, he said. “We will bring in new technology, have performance from our F1 team integrated into the business and continue the great luxury of cars today”. The new Aston line-up sports car line up will include replacements for today’s Aston Martin DB11, Aston Martin Vantage and Aston Martin DBS models, and the quoted number of 8 models includes different variants of this trio. Stroll hinted that the new range would include a new model “above GT” that stood alone in the market. “We’ve created a new sector above GT”, he said. “A true high level of luxury with a high level of performance. Something new”. Stroll promised much improved technology in the cars but Aston Martin would “bring technology in in a way our customer wants it to be delivered”, a reference to ensuring technology isn’t simply introduced for the sake of it. Aston Martin also remains on track for launching its first electric car in 2025 and Stroll said more details would be given at its capital markets day on 27 June. “The software components have been decided and it will be done mostly in house. We’ve hired several hundred people and brought lots of competency in house. It still has to be an Aston Martin experience with EV”.The firm will continue to grow its mid-engined line-up beyond the Aston Martin Valkyrie, too, starting with the hybrid Valhalla. Stroll expects around 1.200-1.500 Valhallas (and variants thereof) to be made each year, and the model is being developed using expertise and wind tunnel resources at Aston’s Silverstone-based F1 team. “There will be a mid-engined sports car legitimately using F1 technology,” said Stroll. The software and manufacturing issues with the Valkyrie were now behind Aston, said Stroll, and more than 100 had been delivered. He didn’t rule out a future Aston Martin wearing the Valkyrie’s €4.5 million Dutch price in the future as part of the firm’s plan to continue to offer limited-run special models once or twice per year. +++

+++ FISKER is facing delays on delivering its debut electric SUV to customers because of problems integrating software into the vehicles, according to people familiar with the matter. The EV startup, which commenced production in November at contract manufacturer Magna International’s plant in Austria, needs more testing and troubleshooting of software, said 2 people who asked not to be named because the information hasn’t been publicly disclosed. The software is currently prone to glitches, the people said, estimating the issues could take months to iron out. As a result, some vehicles are only using a more basic software that limits the vehicles’ speed. Fisker declined to comment. A representative for Magna declined to comment and directed all questions to Fisker. The first of Fisker’s Ocean SUVs was delivered last week to a customer in Denmark. But the vehicle is already on its way back to Magna’s plant in Austria, according to one of the people, who said the software problems rendered it inoperable. In February, the Los Angeles-based company maintained production guidance of 42.400 for the vehicle this year, though it pushed back the completion date of testing needed for US certification of the EV to March from February. The Ocean received European certification in late April and it’s still pending in the US. The company, which went public through a reverse merger in 2020, reports its latest financial results and production figures on Tuesday. Last year, Fisker said Magna could make as many as 50.000 Oceans in 2023, while reservations for the car have hovered around 65.000. Struggles to make the jump from presenting a slick prototype to production are common in the industry, even for established companies. Tesla famously went through “production hell” to ramp up output of the Model 3. German auto giant Volkswagen has encountered problems with the software on its ID.3 as well, and on Monday tapped a new leader to oversee that division. +++


+++ Electric vehicle (EV) maker LUCID reported first-quarter revenue well below Wall Street estimates on Monday and forecast 2023 production at the lower end of its previous guidance as a price war sparked by Tesla hurt sales. Shares in the maker of the Air luxury sedan dropped about 9% in extended trading. Tesla’s move to cut prices and increase volume, a strategy which CEO Elon Musk said is part of the EV maker’s recession playbook, as well as lower-priced electric models launched by traditional automakers have hurt startups such as Lucid and Rivian Automotive. Lucid, faced with mounting losses, has largely shied away from lowering prices apart from a discount of $7.500 on certain variants of its Air luxury sedan bought before March 31. Instead, it said late March it would lay off 18% of its workforce, about 1.300 employees, across the organization as part of a restructuring plan to rein in costs. The company reported quarterly revenue of $149.4 million, compared with analysts’ average estimate of $209.9 million, according to Refinitiv. It last month reported first-quarter production and delivery figures lower than in the preceding 3 months. “The revenue was actually the weakest that’s been since the second quarter of last year, so there’s a big miss on the top line”, said Garrett Nelson, analyst at CFRA Research. “This could be an indication that this pricing war is having a direct impact on their results”. Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson said in a statement on Monday the company was on track to produce over 10.000 vehicles in 2023, compared with an earlier forecast for 10.000 to 14.000 units this year. “It seems to be a subtle shift in the guidance”, Nelson said. The first quarter net loss widened to $779.5 million from $604.6 million a year earlier, while cash and cash equivalents fell to $900 million at the end of the first quarter from $1.74 billion in the fourth quarter. Chief financial officer Sherry House said the company had $4.1 billion in liquidity, enough to fund the luxury EV maker at least into the second quarter of next year. Lucid said in a separate regulatory filing on Monday that it may raise up to $7.4 billion through sales of stock, debt securities, warrants or other offerings from time to time. The EV maker is set to unveil its Gravity SUV later this year ahead of its launch in 2024. +++

+++ Unveiled in 2004 as a design icon, the MERCEDES CLS nameplate has reached the end of the line. The current, third-generation model will retire before the end of 2023, and nothing suggests that a 4th generation model is around the corner. “In consideration of the global growth potential, and as part of our strategic product portfolio planning, we have decided to end the lifecycle of the CLS on August 31, 2023, with the changeover of the E-Class to the 214 model series”, a company spokesperson told. The news hardly comes as a surprise. Mercedes-Benz began paring down its range of models in the early 2020s, and unverified rumors claimed that the CLS was one of the cars living on borrowed time; the 2-door S-Class was another, and it has since retired. The timing isn’t as random as it might seem: the CLS has historically been built on E-Class bones, and (as Mercedes-Benz pointed out) the current-generation model is on its way out. It wouldn’t make sense to keep the old E’s underpinnings in production to keep the CLS around. Many of the rivals that the CLS spawned remain available new, but buyers who want a Mercedes-Benz sedan with a fastback-like roof line (or, in marketing-speak, a 4-door coupe) shouldn’t rush to a competitor’s showroom yet. The spokesperson clarified that the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé “will continue to be part of the model range”, and the smaller, more affordable CLA remains in the lineup as well. Sending the CLS to the pantheon of automotive history shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign that Mercedes-Benz is giving up on the coupe segment. The brand told that “a new generation of coupes and convertibles will expand our model portfolio in the core segment”. While nothing is official, the upcoming 2-door models should replace the coupe and convertible variants of the C-Class and the E-Class. +++

+++ Elon MUSK dreams big and tackles daunting problems, meaning he sometimes achieves great things but also fails dismally on occasion, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger have said. The Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter CEO “takes on the impossible”, Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said during his company’s annual meeting on Saturday. “Warren and I are looking for the easy job”, Munger, Buffett’s business partner and Berkshire’s vice-chairman said. “We don’t want that much failure”. Buffett and Munger have both credited Musk for successfully scaling Tesla into a major automaker in the brutally competitive car industry. Musk, who dreams of colonizing Mars, has also pioneered reusable-rocket technology at SpaceX and experienced high-profile failures and spectacular explosions in the process. The Berkshire CEO said he wouldn’t enjoy taking the risks that Musk does, but the Tesla chief “wouldn’t enjoy being in my shoes either”. “It’s a dedication to solving the impossible, and every now and then he’ll do it”, Buffett added. Musk has distanced himself from Buffett in recent years, describing himself as a builder of businesses and products as opposed to an investor. He’s acknowledged Buffett’s expertise, but described the Berkshire chief’s job of studying companies and allocating capital as “super boring”. Even so, the tech billionaire recently said Buffett would be an ideal US Treasury Secretary, as the Berkshire chief could do the job in less than 1 hour a week. Musk has also chided Buffett and Munger for passing on the opportunity to invest in Tesla at a $200 million valuation in 2008. The automaker now commands a market capitalization north of $500 billion. +++

+++ German media reported that TESLA ’s German plant in Brunheide, near Berlin, started production of the Model Y with an LFP Blade battery from BYD. Tesla already produces EVs with CATL, LG batteries for China and Europe, and Panasonic packs for North America. The entry-level Model Y with RWD will feature BYD batteries, while the imported China-made Model 3 will feature an LFP battery from CATL. The CATL and BYD are the number 1 and number 2 battery producers globally. While CATL focuses on batteries only, BYD is a vertically integrated company that covers the whole EV supply chain, from owning lithium mines to making batteries and producing electric vehicles and software and ADAS for its vehicles. I say vehicles and not cars because BYD is also solid in the bus business. They expanded to the US with their school buses, so it’s already there for people wondering when BYD will come to America. However, it most likely won’t be anytime soon with passenger vehicles. BYD Seagull is a 73.800 yuan budget hatchback for China, most likely the next bestselling Chinese EV. In early 2022, reports emerged indicating that Tesla had placed an official order with FinDreams Battery, the battery manufacturing division of BYD, for blade batteries to be used in 204.000 vehicles annually. Later in June, BYD’s vice president, Lian Yubo, stated in an interview that BYD would be providing Tesla batteries soon. According to several sources familiar with the matter and cited by local outlet Sina Auto Tech in August last year, BYD has already started delivering blade battery supplies to Tesla’s factory in Berlin, Germany. This factory is the first Tesla Gigafactory to use BYD batteries. Since then, no news on BYD and Tesla’s cooperation emerged until March 2023, when rumors emerged that Tesla wouldn’t prolong the contract with BYD. Elon Musk himself swiftly commented on Twitter that BYD-Tesla relations are positive. Interestingly, there was never an official confirmation of the contract signing between BYD and Tesla, so by denying the contract termination rumor, Elon Musk hinted that something is going on between the 2 biggest electric vehicle makers. BYD reported that in 2022, the Shenzhen-based automaker sold 1.863.494 new energy vehicles, consisting of 946.239 plug-in hybrid passenger cars, 911.140 all-electric passenger cars and 6.115 commercial vehicles and buses. In April, BYD sold 104.346 BEVs, 82% up compared to the same month last year and 1.7% up compared to the previous month. It was also the third-best month in BYD history regarding BEV sales. BYD also sold 105.103 PHEVs, so in total, BYD sold 209.464 passenger vehicles in April, which is 98% up YoY. Their cumulative deliveries of NEV reached 4.1 million. In Q1, BYD outsold Volkswagen and became the number-1 brand in China. BYD ended the production of ICE vehicles a year ago in April. For BYD, this wouldn’t be the first cooperation with competition. Last month on April 16, Toyota launched a BZ3 all-electric sedan with lots of BYD tech inside, including the Blade battery with LFP chemistry, BYD drivetrain, and electric engine from Fudi motors; a wholly owned BYD subsidiary. Toyota’s second EV (yes, so behind Japanese car maker is) got 5.000 preorders on the first day of sales in China. +++

+++ VOLVO will expand its range towards the bottom when it presents an entry-level electric crossover called EX30 in June 2023. The company isn’t ready to show us the soft-roader’s full design yet, but it released a preview video that gives us a better idea of what to expect from it. “Something small is coming”, Volvo wrote in a statement. While that’s not a lot to go on, it suggests (but doesn’t confirm that the EX30 will slot below the XC40 in terms of size. We’ve seen it parked next to the EX90 and it looks considerably smaller; it rides on a much shorter wheelbase and features a relatively small rear overhang that creates a boxy silhouette characterized by an almost upright rear end. Many of the styling cues that define Volvo’s current design language seem to appear on the EX30. Its front end wears T-shaped LED daytime running lights (called Thor’s Hammer in the company jargon) inspired the EX90’s, while its rear end features a new interpretation of the upright lights that Volvo has fitted to many of its cars over the past few decades, including the C30, which was its last 30-branded car. Technical details haven’t been announced. All we know is that the EX30 will be all electric, all the time; it won’t be available with a gasoline-powered engine. An unverified report claims that the city-friendly model will share its Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) platform with the Smart #1, among other models, and Volvo boss Jim Rowan said the crossover will deliver a “decent range.” Using the SEA platform will allow Volvo to offer rear- and all-wheel drive as well as several battery options, though the lineup will vary from market to market. The Volvo EX30 will make its debut on June 7, 2023, at 1:30 p.m. European time. We’ll learn more about it in the coming weeks and sales will start on the day of the unveiling. If the report is accurate, the EX30 will be built in China. Volvo confirmed to that the model will be sold in the United States. +++


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