Newsflash: Lotus komt met Taycan concurrent


+++ ALPINE and Lotus have ended their collaboration on the development of a new electric sports car, widely understood to be the successor to the Alpine A110. The 2 firms signed a memorandum of understanding in January 2021, agreeing to conduct a “comprehensive feasibility study” for the car. In a statement issued today, Alpine said: “Lotus and Alpine have been collaborating on a future EV sports car vision for more than 2 years, during which time a strong relationship between the 2 companies has developed. “As with any collaboration following an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding), the outcome was not guaranteed. “We have decided not to progress with the joint development of a sports car for Alpine. This is a mutual decision reached amicably and we will continue to discuss other future opportunities”. The next-generation A110 is slated to be 1 of 3 models to arrive from Alpine’s ‘dream garage’ of EVs, following next year’s Renault 5-based A290 hot hatch and the GT X-Over crossover. Under the MoU, the A110 was planned to share a chassis and technologies with the Lotus Type 135 (itself a spiritual successor to the Lotus Elise), including having its battery cells stacked vertically behind the driver. This would allow the seats to be placed lower than if the car used a conventional skateboard style EV platform and would bring the weight to the centre of the chassis, like in a mid-engined sports car. Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi previously told: “Lotus and us share the same preoccupation, which is trying to make light, agile sports cars while obviously adding weight and electrifying. So it’s only normal that we think about those challenges together, at least upstream. We will see if we partner up, but obviously we share the same problems and the same opportunities”. Rossi also suggested that a final decision on the future of the partnership was to be undertaken by the end of 2022, but neither firm had made an official statement before now. It’s yet to be seen whether the end of the MoU for the new sports car will affect Alpine’s deliberations over using a Lotus platform for a pair of SUVs due in 2027 and 2028. The duo will be “in the segment of Porsche Macan and Porsche Cayenne, more or less”, Rossi confirmed as Alpine posted its earnings figures for 2022. Alpine will have to look beyond the Renault Group for a platform, Rossi said, adding that Lotus owner Geely was the “most natural” partner for the project. Lotus has said that it’s willing to work with partners that wish to reuse the platform from the new Lotus Eletre electric SUV, which is also set to spawn a Macan-sized model codenamed Type 134. +++

+++ Anglo-Moroccan start-up, the ATLAS E-Mobility Group has announced its plans to develop and launch a premium electric SUV by 2026. The as-yet-unnamed EV will be a “simple but also functional” car inspired by “Moroccan design and identity”, co-founder and CEO Mohammed Yehya El Bakkali told. He said it will “only use the technologies that actually the consumer needs and looks for”, adding: “Anything that’s unnecessary will be cut off”. Atlas will initially target the European, African and Middle Eastern markets, aiming to capture the attention of middle-class buyers. As such, its first car is expected to be pitched against the likes of the BMW iX1, Mercedes-Benz EQA and Tesla Model Y, priced at around the €50.000-€60.000 mark. Atlas also plans to launch its own EV charging infrastructure, à la Tesla, which will “come first, before having the actual product on the market”. The firm will use off-the-shelf parts from OEMs and manufacture the car in Morocco in a bid to cut costs and push to profitability in an increasingly challenging market. El Bakkali explained: “The first thing is technology development: R&D cost. In our case, our R&D expenditure will be as little as 5% of the total investment. We’re not developing everything ourselves, but we’re capitalizing on expertise, knowhow and technologies that have already been developed by other OEMs and other companies. “We make an assembly in the first stages of what’s already available and we try to go with the most cost-efficient approach. The second contributing cost of EV manufacturing is electricity. And electricity tends to be very expensive in certain markets, but around 50% of electricity in Morocco comes from renewable energy. So Morocco is already good in renewable energy, and the cost of electricity will be lower to run the factory and so on. Another perk is accessibility to raw materials in a very cost-efficient way, also the entire supply chain. So we want to use that as an advantage. The labour cost is also low. The labour cost in Morocco is 20% of the European labour; the minimum wage is about $300 a month compared to $1.000 or above in Europe”. An automotive supply chain already exists in Morocco, with major players including the Renault Group having established factories in the North African nation. It builds the Dacia Sandero in Tangier and Dacia Jogger production will move to the plant around mid-2024. El Bakkali said Atlas is discussing the prospect of platform sharing with a variety of manufacturers but that it’s too early to name any particular partners. Likewise, conversations concerning further investment are progressing but aren’t yet at an advanced stage. Asked why Atlas has chosen to enter the notoriously difficult car industry, El Bakkali, whose background is in the commercial sector, said: “The thing about cars is that they speak emotions; it’s something that’s very passionate. “We want to create something that makes African people proud. Not many people have done this before. We will be the first company to ​build and design an electric car in Africa. That brings a lot of pride and fulfilment to the people”. +++


+++ The HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP is expanding its presence in the Indian market, which has evolved into the world’s third-largest car market after the U.S. and China. According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) Monday, the combined sales of Hyundai and Kia in India from January to April reached 295.359 vehicles, approaching the 300.000 mark and up 15.5 percent from the same period last year. Hyundai sold 197.408 vehicles, up 11.7 percent from the previous year, and Kia sold 97.951 vehicles, up 23.9 percent. Hyundai has increased its sales for 12 consecutive months since May last year, while Kia has seen sales growth for a total of 14 months from January last year through February this year. With sales usually higher in the second half of the year, both companies are expected to reach another all-time high and maintain Kia’s 4-year growth streak in India since its entry in 2019. The Indian car market has grown rapidly since 2021. According to the Korean Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA), the size of the Indian car market surpassed Japan’s (4.2 million vehicles) and ranked among the world’s top-3 car markets, growing by 26.7 percent from the previous year to 4.76 million vehicles. Hyundai and Kia’s market share in India rose from 21.1 percent last year to 21.7 percent as of April this year, despite the strong presence of local companies such as Maruti and Tata. “The company’s focus on developing and producing car models tailored to the Indian market, centered around an India-specific strategic model, has made them popular in the Indian automotive market”, a Hyundai Motor Group official said. As of April this year, Hyundai’s Verna (8.798 vehicles), Creta (53.670 vehicles) and Tucson (1.809 vehicles) each took the top spot in their respective car classes. The Creta, a local strategic model, has been the top-selling mid-sized SUV in India for 6 years since its launch in 2016. Hyundai’s Venue (41.101 vehicles) and Kia’s local strategic models, Seltos (32.249 vehicles) and Sonet (37.518 vehicles), are also ranked in the top-3 or top-4 in their respective car classes. The multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) Carnival (26.357 vehicles), which was selected for the Indian Car of the Year Award in January, also ranks second in its class. +++

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR) owner Tata is set to choose to build an EV battery factory in the United Kingdom, rather than Spain. The firm has scheduled a meeting with prime minister Rishi Sunak for next week, with talks progressing to drafting an agreement for a plant. It last week said the firm would build a multi-billion pound battery factory at the Gravity business park near Bridgwater, Somerset, England. Other media reports indicated that chancellor Jeremy Hunt offered the full £500 million requested by Tata. The BBC now states that the incentives tabled to the Indian firm (including cash grants and energy subsidies) are valued at around £800 million. A JLR spokeperson told that all discussions, decisions and subsidies are a matter for Tata, and that JLR will only be a customer of the Tata plant. Chief Executive Officer Adrian Mardell confirmed in April that JLR itself would not build a gigafactory, categorically stating “that is not in our plans”. Tata Motors chief financial officer PB Balaji confirmed plans for a European battery plant at Auto Expo 2023 in Delhi, India. It will primarily supply JLR and India-based Tata Motors but will also sell batteries to the wider market. It will produce cells using 2 chemistries: lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and nickel manganese cobalt (NMC), with the latter earmarked for JLR, Balaji confirmed. “We are well covered on the production plans for batteries, but we will require some cell capacity coming into Europe”, said Balaji. The move could be a significant step towards ensuring JLR complies with European ‘rule of origin’ regulations for electric vehicles, which become stricter from 2024 due to Brexit agreements. The new rules will require that 45% of the value of an EV produced should come from the European Union or the UK to qualify for trade without tariffs, increasing to 65% in 2027. Stellantis, which builds Citroën, Fiat, Peugeot and Opel/Vauxhall vans in the UK, this week called on the government to renegotiate the Brexit deal to delay the tightening of the rules. It warned they would lead to factory closures, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs at Ellesmere Port and Luton; a sentiment that has since been echoed by Ford and JLR. Ford said the rules “would add pointless cost to customers wanting to go green”, while JLR called them “unrealistic and counter productive”. JLR is poised for a radical reinvention as it expands its line-up of electric cars. Jaguar plans to completely relaunch with a £100,000 electric grand tourer in 2025, a year after the first Range Rover EV arrives. JLR sustainability director François Dossa revealed that the firm had finalised plans for battery supply for its new-generation EVs, due from 2024. Asked for specifics on a supplier, Dossa refused to be drawn: “This is not ready to be shared yet. But we know exactly where the battery will come from. But the information is not public”. He added that JLR engineers “are already working with” the unnamed supplier to ensure the sustainability and viability of the battery packs, but offered no details on his own requirements in these areas. +++

+++ KIA is in talks to expand the production lines at its Mexico plant as part of efforts to bolster responsiveness to US subsidies for electric vehicles, according to company officials and local authorities. “We are not building a new plant but we are considering transferring some of the production lines for EVs”, a Kia official told. “The move is part of our response to the Inflation Reduction Act in the US. But the exact schedule has not yet been decided”. The comment comes after Samuel Garcia, governor of Nuevo Leon, the northern border state of Mexico, made a surprise announcement on his Twitter earlier in the day, saying “Nuevo Leon is being strengthened as a electro-mobility hub: Kia once again bets on Nuevo Leon with an investment to expand its plant and produce 2 Kia car models”. The governor visited Seoul this week to attend a business forum, during which he is believed to have held a meeting with Kia officials. He didn’t reveal the specific names of the new EV models to be produced in Mexico but posted several photos of Kia’s upcoming EV9 large-sized electric SUV along with his announcement. He noted the investment size for the Kia plant could reach $1 billion. The Kia official declined to confirm the amount. Kia currently operates a production plant on a 3.35 million square-meter site in Pesqueria, a town in Nuevo Leon. Completed in 2016, the plant has a production capacity of 400.000 vehicles per year. Currently, the plant produces Kia’s 2 compact sedans: K3 and Pride. Nuevo Leon, located on the US-Mexico border, is considered to be an industrial capital of Mexico. Some 2.600 companies, including 270 Korean firms, are located there, employing 600.000 workers. Companies have been increasingly investing in the state, hoping to take advantage of the IRA which offers hefty tax cuts for locally-produced EVs and their parts. In February, Tesla also announced a new $5 billion plan to build a new EV plant there. Mexico is a nascent but fast-growing EV market benefiting directly from free trade agreements with the US and other subsidiary programs. In the overall car market, Kia is 1 of the top-5 selling carmakers there with a market share of about 5 percent, while Hyundai is ranked at number 10. Hyundai is also beefing up efforts to produce EVs in North America, with plans to build its first EV-only plant in the US state of Georgia and make it operational by the end of 2024. +++

+++ LEXUS will reveal its next model, the LBX, on 5 June. The ‘X’ in the name suggests that it will be an crossover, in keeping with the UX, RX and NX. Teaser images showing the LBX’s high roofline also appear to confirm this. The LBX is unlikely to be offered with solely electric power, given that Lexus’s EVs are to be designated with a ‘Z’, beginning with the RZ. The use of ‘LB’ is a first for Lexus, suggesting the LBX may be the first model in a larger line-up set to come from the firm. It may also imply that the car will be a B-segment vehicle based on the TNGA-B platform that underpins the Toyota Yaris Cross. reported in May 2019 that Lexus was readying a new entry-level compact model positioned below the UX as a successor to the C-segment CT hatchback. Its announcement comes as the Japanese premium brand looks to expand its line-up in Europe, with upcoming arrivals including the next-generation Lexus LM. That model is an MPV targeted at the high-end luxury market as an alternative to the likes of the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Whether the LBX will follow suit in pushing Lexus upmarket is yet to be seen. It may instead target a higher sales volume, in a bid to break into the UK’s mainstream market. +++


+++ Set to be revealed late this year, the LOTUS Type 133 will be the brand’s first performance saloon since the early-1990s Opel-based Omega and is set to be particularly popular in China and the US, both crucial markets for Lotus. Around 5 metres long, the Porsche Taycan rival will be positioned as the most luxurious model in the firm’s line-up. The Type 133 is in the late stages of development. Test versions have been spotted on the road in a promotional camouflage livery and late prototypes are already going down Wuhan’s production line. The Type 133 will be similar in size to the Polestar 5 grand tourer due on sale next year, but Lotus managing director Matt Windle has previously said that while there is some technology transfer, Geely allows its brands, which include Polestar, to conduct development independently. This means the models will be tangibly different in every key aspect. Spy shots show that the Type 133 will feature sleek styling, a sloping roof and design cues from the Evija and Eletre. Lotus has placed a major focus on its dynamic development, given the model will be tasked with taking on the Taycan and Audi e-Tron GT. It will feature similar chassis technology to the Eletre (including air suspension, rear-wheel steer, active roll control and active aerodynamics) but engineered to a different brief. No technical details of the Type 133 have been revealed yet, but it is expected to closely follow the Eletre. This means entry-level versions are likely to offer around 610 hp from a twin-motor set-up, closely matching the Taycan GTS. The top-spec Eletre R features a more powerful rear motor that lifts output to 915 hp. The Type 133 will retain the Eletre’s 112 kWh battery pack, which could give the sleek saloon a range of more than 650 km. The EPA platform allows for fast charging at speeds of up to 420 kW. Asked how the Type 133 will stack up to performance EV rivals such as the Taycan, new Lotus commercial chief Mike Johnstone told: “When you look at performance, we’ll be in a good place, both in terms of handling and 0-100 kph speeds. “In terms of charging, it will have the same platform as the Eletre so it can go from 10% to 80% in less than 20 minutes. We’ve got a number of key things we’ve taken from the Eletre you’ll see in the Type 133, which will give us a good point of differentiation”. Lotus has yet to reveal the model’s name. Johnstone confirmed it will follow Lotus convention and start with an E but denied reports it will be Envya, one of several names Lotus has registered. Lotus commercial boss Mike Johnstone said the firm currently has no plans for derivative versions of its upcoming line-up, such as a Type 133 shooting brake, but added: “Consumer tastes change, new market segments appear and new technologies come into play that mean we could do things in a different way and we’re always looking for new opportunities to make sure we can maximise the amount of return on any investment we make”. Lotus has so far only confirmed its product roadmap until 2026, when the new sports car will arrive. Although planning is already under way, Johnstone hinted that the line-up could be adapted based on market changes. “The product plan at the moment is the 3 cars we have now (Evija, Emira and Eletre) and the 3 coming in the future”, he said. “We have to be dynamic with that plan. We’re constantly looking at how we can ensure we maximise the potential in the marketplace”. +++


+++ The MERCEDES-BENZ GROUP has initiated its transition from an “Electric first” strategy to an “Electric only” strategy in July 2021, emphasizing its commitment to continue leading in electric mobility and vehicle software while carrying on the founder’s legacy. Mercedes-Benz’s electrification is based on its “Ambition 2039” vision, which outlines a concrete and clear path for achieving sustainable mobility across the automotive industry. During an ESG conference in March, in which the company pledged an 80 percent reduction of carbon emissions from production processes by 2030, it reiterated its vision by stating, “There is no luxury without sustainability”. The company also announced an investment of 1.3 billion euros for electric and digital education for employees in Germany by 2030. Mercedes-Benz plans to develop EV platforms, establish next-generation batteries and new charging infrastructure and expand its EV production network. Particularly, Mercedes-Benz’s EV lineup has already made significant advancements. As a result, Mercedes-Benz achieved a total global EV sales last year of over 117.800 vehicles; a 124 percent increase compared to the previous year. Sales in the first quarter of this year have already surpassed 50.000 vehicles, indicating an even more promising sales performance for EVs in 2023. Mercedes-Benz aims to achieve a maximum market share of 50 percent for electrically driven vehicles (xEV), such as plug-in hybrids or pure electric vehicles, by 2025. By 2030, the company plans to be ready to transition its entire lineup to battery EVs (BEVs). Furthermore, it plans to achieve carbon neutrality in the entire value chain related to new vehicles by 2039. To accomplish this, all new vehicles will starting in 2025 be developed using the new EV-exclusive architecture: MB.EA (Mercedes-Benz Electric Architecture), AMG.EA (AMG Electric Architecture) and VAN.EA (Van Electric Architecture). MB.EA is a scalable modular system that encompasses medium-sized to large passenger cars and serves as the foundation for Mercedes-Benz’s future EV portfolio. AMG.EA is a high-performance EV, and VAN.EA is a platform for electric vans, expected to contribute to emission-free transportation and eco-friendly urban implementation. +++

+++ MG has revealed official images of the facelifted HS, with the flagship SUV featuring upgraded technology, an improved infotainment system and a more sharper-looking front end. The SAIC-owned manufacturer’s SUV now features a shapely, deeper front bumper and a more pronounced beltline, alongside a wider grille and multifunction LED headlights that have also grown in size to enhance the model’s credentials as a flagship offering. At the rear, the car gains a new bumper, revised LED tail-lights and redesigned exhaust outlets. The SUV’s 18 inch alloy wheels are now also available with a new diamond-cut design, while an optional Urban Grey exterior paint colour is available for the first time. The entry-level trim model has multifunction LED headlights with front and rear scrolling indicators (a first for MG), keyless entry and a rear parking camera. Top-rung Trophy specification brings leather upholstery, ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control and a steering wheel-mounted starter button. Both models are available with a new 10.1 inch infotainment system (which, MG says, provides smoother functionality) and soft-touch materials said to be of a higher perceived quality than the outgoing car’s. The MG Pilot suite of safety tech is also included as standard. This includes lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, blindspot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and high beam assist. SE and Trophy editions are available with a choice of 2 powertrains. A 163 hp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine is mated to a manual or an optional 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. A plug-in hybrid set-up is also available, pairing the same 1.5-litre petrol engine with a 122 hp electric motor and offering an electric-only range of 50 km. The HS was the United Kingdom’s bestselling vehicle in January 2023, with 3.481 units sold. As of the start of April 2023, MG had shifted 13,320 HS cars in Europe. +++


+++ Stellantis Korea hosted a “Peugeot Brand Day” on Wednesday, sharing the brand identity and core values that encompass PEUGEOT ’s past, present and future. Linda Jackson, CEO of Peugeot Brand, and Matthias Hossann, Peugeot Design Director, attended the event, expressing their strong commitment to bolstering the brand in Korea. “The direction in Korea can undoubtedly have a halo effect in other global markets, which is why we swiftly introduced this model in Korea”, CEO Linda Jackson said. She further explained that Korea is the market to debut the new Peugeot 408 first in the IAP (India, Asia, Pacific) region”. Jackson also exuded confidence in the 408, which will expand Peugeot’s foothold in Korea. Stellantis plans to operate a city test drive center, enabling easy access for individuals to experience the vehicle. “With the launch of the 408, we will devote our utmost efforts to promoting the brand and reinforcing its identity in the Korean market”, Jake Aumman, CEO of Stellantis Korea said. In addition, Stellantis Korea unveiled the Inception Concept model providing a glimpse into Peugeot’s future and introducing new vision and experiences. The Inception Concept first showcased at the 2023 CES event held in the U.S. in January, derives its name from the Latin word “inceptio,” meaning beginning. Its exterior features a new design that will be applied to upcoming production vehicles starting in 2025, while the interior showcases a unique driving experience with innovative seating positions. It is equipped with a 100 kWh battery that allows a maximum range of 8 km on a single charge, with the ability to charge up to 30 km in 1 minute and up to 150 kilometers in 5 minutes. Wireless charging is also possible. With a total output of 680 hp, it can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 3 seconds. +++


+++ RENAULT KOREA MOTORS , the South Korean unit of Renault, has said it is developing a new SUV in a joint project with a Chinese automaker initially for a domestic launch next year. Renault Korea said it will collaborate with Geely Automobile Holdings, China’s largest privately owned automotive group, to launch a midsized gasoline hybrid SUV model in Korea in the second half of next year. The new SUV will be built on the compact modular architecture (CMA) platform that was jointly developed by Geely and Volvo at the Chinese carmaker’s research and development center in Sweden, Renault Korea said. “If the new model receives a strong response from the market, the company will be able to develop additional new models under the joint project (of Geely and Renault Korea)”, Lee Hae-jin, chief of Renault Korea’s manufacturing division, said in a press briefing Tuesday on the carmaker’s sole plant in Busan, 320 kilometers southeast of Seoul. In January last year, Geely Holding Group and Renault Group announced they will develop an all-new vehicle lineup of fuel-efficient hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and internal combustion engine models for the Korean market and abroad. HEVs are gasoline hybrid models. Geely owns Volvo Cars, while Renault has a 52.82 percent stake in Renault Korea. Geely and Samsung Card Co. hold 34.02 percent and 13.13 percent stakes, respectively, in Renault’s Korean operations. Renault Korea produces 3 models: the XM3 compact SUV (known as Arkana in Europa), the SM6 midsize sedan (Talisman) and the QM6 SUV (Koleos) at the 300.000 unit-a-year plant. From January to April, its vehicle sales fell 24 percent on-year to 42.396 units from 55,554 a year earlier due to a lack of new models. +++

+++ The VOLVO EX30 will be available with 2 battery sizes plus single- and dual-motor powertrains when it’s launched in November. Speaking to journalists about the EX30’s environmental credentials (it has the lowest carbon footprint of any Volvo produced to date), sustainability centre manager Anders Nyth said: “From launch, we will offer it with 2 battery variants. A smaller variant, 51 kWh, which is an LFP (lithium-iron-phosphate) battery, and then we have the NMC or NCM (nickel-cobalt-manganese) variant, which is a 69 kWh battery. “Of course, the driveline impacts the efficiency of the car, so there’s a rear-wheel version and an all-wheel-drive version. “The rear-wheeldrive, NCM-battery car is kind of the long-range version”. A spokesperson for Volvo Europe added that it will confirm regional specifications when the EX30 is revealed in full on 7 June. The Swedish firm has claimed a maximum range of 480 km for the EX30, with that figure likely representing the aforementioned efficiency-focused ‘long-range’ version. Volvo has also said that the EX30 will be its most environmentally friendly model to date, with a carbon footprint 25% lower than that of the existing C40 Recharge and XC40 Recharge. This reduction is thanks in part to technical developments including the use of recycled materials, which comprise 17% of the car’s steel and plastics, and 25% of its aluminium. It has also been designed to be recyclable “designed to be recycled to a high degree” at the end of its life, said Nyth. Anders Kärrberg, Volvo’s global head of sustainability, added that the firm is also wasting less materials. “The material utilisation degree for body parts stamp parts is up to 57% between 55 and 57%”, Kärrberg said. “That means less scrap when you stamp the bodies and obviously more circular in the car’s production cycle”. The firm will also use blockchain technology to verify the provenance of the lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese and graphite used for production. Nyth explained: “It locks these transactions records. You can’t alter one transaction from one place to another without the whole chain knowing it. Therefore you create a closed loop of information which will not be altered”. The EX30 will sit below the existing XC40 in the firm’s growing line-up of electric SUVs, which is now headed by the EX90. The Jeep Avenger rival will also champion the subscription ownership model to make it more affordable to Generation Z (people born between the late 1990s and early 2000s), according to Volvo CEO Jim Rowan. He added that subscriptions allow the brand to “talk to new customers”, having previously said that Volvo “has never really spoken to that young demographic”. previously reported that the company will ensure monthly payments are set at a “reasonably low cost”. +++


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