Newsflash: volgende generatie Volkswagen Golf alleen nog maar elektrisch


+++ BMW will expand its offering of paid-for on-demand services and functions with future models, but its sales boss has said the firm is not considering charging customers to activate hardware-based functions in the future. As with many car firms, the Munich company is using the increasing connectivity of cars to offer over-the-air updates, which can include the ability to add new functions. BMW created controversy last year after offering a monthly subscription to activate heated seats in some models. Asked how BMW will ensure customers don’t feel they’re being made to pay extra for functions they would previously have expected as standard, Pieter Nota, the firm’s board member for sales and marketing, said: “We have some experience with that, and testing how the customer responds is part of that process. We actually are now focusing with those ‘functions on demand’ on software and service-related products, like driving assistance and parking assistance, which you can add later after purchasing the car, or for certain functions that require data transmission that customers are used to paying for in other areas. What we don’t do any more, and that is a very well-known example, is offer seat heating by this way. It’s either in or out. We offer it by the factory and you either have it or you don’t have it. We thought that we would provide an extra service to the customer by offering the chance to activate that later, but the user acceptance isn’t that high. People feel that they paid double, which was actually not true, but perception is reality, I always say. So that was the reason we stopped that”. Asked which services the firm could charge for, Nota said: “What we find is software-based services, like downloading a parking assist product, is very well accepted. People know it’s a certain piece of software they can download that costs money. It’s the same as downloading a film or an extra feature on an app. That is accepted and we do that increasingly successfully”. +++

+++ In CHINA , automakers have their sights set on world domination. With their recent push into Europe, experts say companies like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW should be nervous. The Chinese auto industry has been booming in recent years. Chinese EV companies are expected to outsell foreign brands there, including Ford, General Motors and others, for the first time this year. As other global automakers’ market share falls in China, homegrown players are expected to continue an upward trajectory for the foreseeable future. That’s despite recent signs of an easing EV market in China. Even with a lessening demand, local manufacturers are pushing full speed ahead in their global expansion, with Europe top of mind. This is worrying executives at some major legacy auto companies, according to several reports out of the Munich auto show. Chinese firms took the spotlight at the show, which historically put German manufacturers at center stage. Instead, this year, show goers and industry leaders saw major news from several of China’s biggest auto players. BYD is bringing a midsize sedan and midsize SUV to Europe later this year. XPeng already operates in 4 European markets, and just announced plans to start selling in Germany in the coming months. Leapmotor, too, is planning a European expansion in 2024. Germany is “losing its competitiveness”, Hildegard Mueller, president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry, said. Any lag in EV development that European automakers have gotten away with is now catching up to them. Consulting firm KPMG estimates Chinese companies could account for 15% of market share in Europe within just 2 years. Some experts say that’s because China’s electric vehicle players are far more technologically savvy than many other industry leaders, and they have their fingers on the pulse of consumer demand. As the global auto industry electrifies, China also already has longstanding advantage with its EV battery supply chain and production, as it controls a large portion of crucial battery development. Chinese EV companies also have an edge against rivals in producing EVs at bigger scale and lower costs, a crucial measure of any electric car companies’ future success. With China’s automakers undercutting each other and rivals on pricing, “The base car market segment will either vanish or will not be done by European manufacturers”, said Oliver Zipse, the boss of BMW. Though the European auto market may have fewer barriers to entry than the U.S., eventually, these companies are likely to stake their claim in the American car-buying market, too. “In our view, China will shift from being an importer to exporter of cars”, Morgan Stanley analysts said in an August note. Companies there recently overtook Japanese automakers in vehicle exports globally. +++

+++ Electric-vehicle startup FISKER said on Thursday it expects to increase the production of its Ocean SUV to about 300 units a day in the 4th quarter from around 180 units. The company has a manufacturing tie-up with Canadian auto part supplier Magna International, which produces its vehicles for the European and North American markets. Vehicle deliveries are expected to accelerate in North America in September, CEO Henrik Fisker said. By now, Magna has manufactured 3.123 vehicles, with just under 3.000 handed over by Fisker, the company said, adding that more than 450 Fisker Oceans in the US have been either delivered to customers or are in the process of being delivered. Last month, Fisker cut its annual production target due to supply chain issues. That overshadowed a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss and its first revenue from deliveries of the electric SUV. Even as suppliers recovered from a “Covid hangover” to keep pace with Fisker’s production ramp-up, one key supplier of a complicated part which needs specific skilled labor, is taking longer than expected, the company had said. +++

+++ The new FORD MUSTANG MACH-E Rally is a hot, trail-ready electric 4×4 that’s headed to European dealerships in early 2024. Revealed in camouflage at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July and now unwrapped in full at the Munich motor show, the Mach-E Rally comes with a suite of off-road chassis upgrades, a significant boost in power and a purposeful styling overhaul. Equipped with a slightly tuned-up version of the Mach-E GT’s dual-motor, four-wheel-drive powertrain, the Rally is targeting outputs of 480 hp and a whopping 870 Nm of torque, which should get it from 0-100 kph in around 4.0 seconds, although Ford has yet to confirm final performance stats. More important is the bespoke chassis set-up: the Mach-E Rally rides 20 mm higher than the standard Mach-E, on specially tuned springs and Magenride shocks for enhanced travel and better bump-cushioning, and chunky Michelin Cross Climate tyres, which are wrapped around gloss white 19 inch rally wheels. The Rally comes with its own Rally Sport driving mode, which gives a linear throttle response for improved acceleration control, more aggressive damping and improved traction on slippery surfaces. It also adapts the traction and stability control systems “to allow bigger slides”. Underneath, the 91 kWh battery and electric motors are shielded from rocks and bumps by thick underbody shielding, and Ford has coated the body cladding with a protective spray to reduce the risk of chips and scrapes. There’s a two hook integrated into the front bumper, too, “should off-highway adventures ever get a little too spicy”. Ford says the Mach-E Rally’s bespoke styling was inspired in part by the legendary Focus RS hot hatch, in particular the “dramatic” rear spoiler. Other unique elements include the contrasting body trim, beefy front splitter, black roof panel, rally-style foglights and racing stripes. The interior is more subtly differentiated from the Mach-E GT, with bespoke elements limited to white accents throughout to match the wheels, Mach-E Rally badging and sports seats. Darren Palmer, who heads up Ford’s EV programmes, told the original idea for the Rally came from a rallycross enthusiast in Ford’s new Always On team, created to constantly monitor feedback from customers and social media, which informs the development of over-the-air software updates and model-line additions. “One of them does rallycross and he seeded the idea: ‘Hey, we have heritage in this car. What if we do a rallycross version, because it fits with what we’ve done in the past?’. “Our attitude is: if you’ve got an idea, bring it forward and try it out. So they created a model for the car with pure passion. They put the wheels on and lifted it. They styled what it could be. We gave them the freedom to make it. And the minute I showed that model to our leadership, they said: ‘It fits so well with what we’ve done in the past and what people might love’ “. Palmer explained that the project reached fruition quicker than is often expected because it was one of Ford’s “go-fast” programs, meaning the period from conception to unveiling was only around 18 months. “It was crazy fast”, he said. Prototypes have been tested against what Palmer called “legendary heroes” of off-roading on “rally surfaces”. He stopped short of outlining precise specifications and capabilities but said “we have enough ride height” and that “it’s super-stable on both Tarmac and other surfaces” because of the extremely precise acceleration control and the low weight of the underfloor battery. To throw it around, you have to change a few things”, said Palmer. “We were blown away by the things you can do. It’s amazing”. Ford confirmed the Rally will be sold in limited numbers, but has given no indication of pricing. However, thinks a list price of around €90.000 is feasible for the Netherlands, given the top-rung Mach-E GT costs €79.200. +++


+++ The ground-up reinvention of LOTUS continues apace as the brand takes a bold leap into another new segment with the Emeya: a sleek electric sports saloon conceived to rival the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S. Carrying the torch from the Lotus Carlton into the electric era, the Emeya arrives just 18 months after Lotus revealed its first SUV, the Eletre, as part of a new family of lifestyle-oriented electric cars engineered and built in Wuhan, China. The Emeya is based on Lotus’s new Electric Premium Architecture. This bespoke structure is adaptable to suit various car segments as well as different battery sizes, electric motors, component layouts and intelligent driving technologies. Although they are entirely unrelated to the sports cars Lotus still builds in Hethel, outstanding performance remains a priority for these new-era EVs. As a result, the fastest Emeya packs a dual-motor powertrain that sends up to 918 hp and 1.000 Nm through all four wheels. That’s sufficient for 0-100 kph in 2.8 seconds, matching the top-link Taycan Turbo S and making the Emeya one of the quickest 4-doors on the market. The Emeya has a 105 kWh battery pack that yields an as yet undisclosed range. However, Lotus claims it is “broadly similar” to that offered by the Eletre, which achieves 600 km in entry-level and S guise and 490 km in high-power R models. Charging is possible at rates of up to 350 kW, enabling a 150 km range boost in just 5 minutes at the fastest chargers, according to Lotus. Refilling from 10-80% is said to take as little as 15 minutes. The Emeya is not solely about big numbers and brute force, though. Its standard-fit air suspension system scans the road ahead 1.000 times per second and actively responds to the harshness of its surface by priming the dampers at each corner of the car appropriately. Lotus’s performance saloon also features an abundance of active aerodynamic elements, including the grille, rear diffuser and a rear spoiler that is 100mm wider than the Eletre’s and extends at speed to enhance stability. The use of active aero is an “opportunity”, vice president of Lotus design Ben Payne told, because it allows the firm to produce a high-performance car that also appears elegant. “High-performing, aerodynamic cars are quite fragmented”, Payne said. “You have bits in various positions all over them, so they tend to look less clean, simple and coherent. For us, looking at the future direction for Lotus, we were very keen to try and make the cars look as pure as possible and active aero allows you to do that”. Inside, performance-oriented cues such as carbon-bodied front seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel are combined with more overtly luxurious elements: individual rear seats, digital rear-view mirror screens and materials with high perceived quality among them. The tech prowess of Lotus Technology, the Chinese EV arm of Lotus, manifests in an expansive 55.0 inch head-up display, which projects key information such as directions and driver assistance system warnings across the width of the windscreen. A large central touchscreen with 5G connectivity and over-the-air updatability is flanked by 2 slimmer digital displays (1 for the driver, 1 for the passenger) in a set-up that broadly mirrors the Eletre’s. Physical controls feature on the centre console, steering wheel and steering column, but many of the Emeya’s core functions are controllable using the touchscreen or voice assistance. The high-tech cockpit serves as a “clear indication” of the advanced technical architecture underpinning the Emeya, said Payne. This impression is reinforced by the Emeya’s cab-forward silhouette, long wheelbase and short overhangs; proportions made possible by the Emeya’s electric powertrain. “We want to make sure that people understand this is an EV and leverage the possibilities the [skateboard] architecture allows you to have”, said Payne. He explained that traditionally, a GT’s proportions have been determined by “how many cylinders are under the bonnet”, giving “a long, powerful nose and a tight cabin at the rear”. By breaking from these conventions, the Emeya “subconsciously tells you this is an electrified product”, said Payne. “It physically can’t have a big V8 under the hood, because we didn’t have space for it”. Aside from its sleeker silhouette, the Emeya bears a strong resemblance to the larger Eletre. This is “wholly deliberate”, said Payne, as Lotus aims to restructure its brand image around more practical, daily-usable EVs, against the backdrop of its heritage of building uncompromising sports cars. Payne said: “Eletre is the biggest stretch for the traditional Lotus customer. Looking at where we’ve gone, we had to try very hard to put as much sports car DNA into that product as possible. Bearing in mind its size and proportion, for some people, that’s a stretch. I think, in the design team’s eyes, there are an awful lot of features on that car that really sell it as the hypercar of SUVs. “Coming on to Emeya, we want to continue that. We’re quite mindful that Lotus needs to build an identity that makes sense and we have a properly joined-up aesthetic from the sports cars to the lifestyle product, so it looks like one complete range. At the minute, obviously, that’s in mid-process”. Nonetheless, Payne wants to avoid “cookie-cutter” styling for future Lotus models. These include the Type 134 (a Porsche Macan EV rival that is “well in development”) and the Type 135, an electric successor to the Elise. The Eletre and the Emeya form a springboard for these models, as well as what comes after that, which is “5 years out”. Payne would not be drawn on the form these cars will take but confirmed that “super-exciting” design work has begun. The Emeya will enter production at Lotus’s plant in Wuhan, China, next year. Trim levels and prices are expected to mirror those of the Eletre, with 612 hp entry-level and S cars priced around €100.000 and €125.000 respectively, with the 918 hp R cars starting at roughly €155.000. +++


+++ You know what they say about reinventing the wheel. Well, Elon Musk is reinventing TESLA ’s turn signals, and some fans of the company aren’t too happy about it. The electric-vehicle maker unveiled its long-awaited, refreshed Model 3 last week, introducing a slew of upgrades that have Tesla devotees swooning: modernized styling, ambient lighting, longer range, and more. But Tesla also said goodbye to the Model 3’s steering-wheel stalks, a decision that’s rattled some fans. Some went so far as to say they wouldn’t buy the new Model 3 because of the lack of stalks. Look inside the new Model 3 and you’ll notice there aren’t the usual pair of stalks protruding from the steering column. The turn signals have been relocated to a pair of tiny buttons on the left side of the steering wheel. That’s the part that people seem to be most mad about. The windshield spritzer is on the opposite side. To shift into drive, reverse, or park, Tesla owners will need to use their car’s touchscreen (previously, the Model 3’s gear selector was the right stalk). Users complained that the blinker buttons would be cumbersome to use, particularly in situations where you need to signal while turning. In a normal car, the turn-signal stalk stays in the same place and is easily clicked no matter where the wheel is rotated. If you were making a sharp three-point turn in a parking lot in the new Model 3, however, the buttons could be upside-down and backwards. “It’s going to be terrible in countries that have roundabouts, that’s for sure. All the changes are so hot except for this one”, one said. “The old man in me would either fumble and press the wrong buttons, or just not bother indicating at all lol”. Others said they’d prefer easy access to basic features and that it would be difficult for them to overcome years of muscle memory. Many called the decision just plain “stupid”. “Wow that’s a lot of improvements. But I hate how they removed the stalks,” an X user said. “I’d very much rather have physical buttons & controls for crucial everyday controls”. Some said they simply wouldn’t buy a Tesla equipped with the new way of signaling and selecting gears. “It’s a dealbreaker for me”, one said. “It’s just too annoying, and I’m not going to compromise on turn indication. Tesla made the same update to its more expensive Model S and Model X a couple of years ago. But those models cater to wealthy EV enthusiasts, and Tesla doesn’t sell very many of them. The Model 3, on the other hand, is a huge seller and is supposed to be for everyone. As more mainstream EVs hit the market, a sedan without turn signals might become a tough sell. There’s good news for anyone bothered by the direction Tesla is going here. There are plenty of Model 3s out there with regular turn signals, and once the new models hit the road, used ones are about to get really cheap. +++


+++ The 9th generation VOLKSWAGEN GOLF will be electric-only and be the first VW produced on the new SSP architecture when it launches in 2028. It’s shaping up to be the most radically reinvented iteration of the ever-popular family hatchback yet, which will also usher in a raft of new technology as part of an all-encompassing transformation plan for the VW brand. Its arrival will follow an extensive mid-life overhaul to the current Mk8 Golf to sustain its popularity for another 3 to 4 years and meet the stricter Euro 7 emissions regulations that are provisionally set for July 2025. This, Volkswagen boss Thomas Schäfer confirmed, will see the model through to its all-electric next generation, in which it will sit between the upcoming ID.2 and the ID.3. When it does arrive, the Mk9 Golf will ride on the new SSP platform, which promises a step-change in terms of performance and utility over the current MEB architecture. This means the electric Golf could be one of the most technologically advanced family hatchbacks on the market when it lands. “The SSP architecture will balance the need for scale and standardisation with differentiation and speed”, Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume said recently, touting a suite of technological advances that will mark out VW’s second-wave EVs from its first. Chief among these upgrades will be the integration of 800 Volt electrical architecture, which will allow for charging speeds far and above the 175 kW maximum rate of the VW Group’s current EVs. Cars based on SSP will be able to top up from 10-80% capacity in as little as 12 minutes, Volkswagen has said, compared with the 35 minutes of the latest MEB cars and quicker even than today’s fastest-charging road cars. The platform and its associated ‘2.0’ software stack are also being designed to accommodate Level 4 autonomous driving functionality, which means any Golf model using these systems could allow for hands-off driving, where and when local laws permit. This new platform was originally due for volume production in 2026 but has been beset by well-publicised development delays (which have forced sibling brand Audi to use a platform from SAIC for its next-generation Chinese-market EVs). But of perhaps most importance, considering the Golf’s long-held position as one of the world’s best-selling cars, is that Volkswagen is prioritising affordability for its next generation of EVs. As a result, the 9th Golf is expected to be more comparable in price with its predecessor than the ID 3. The VW Group’s new ‘Unified’ battery cells will be developed and produced in-house and shared across all EVs from all brands in order to shave production costs, and a much higher degree of component sharing across the board will boost economies of scale and again cut the cost of bringing each car to market. With these systems in place, Blume has suggested, “most” SSP-based EVs can achieve profit-margin parity with the company’s combustion-engined cars, with development costs slashed by 30% compared with MEB-based cars, all of which means these next-generation EVs can be cheaper at the dealership. Creating the all-important Mk9 Golf will be the top priority for recently appointed Volkswagen design boss Andreas Mindt, whose ID.2all concept, which was revealed mere weeks after he replaced Jozef Kaban in the role earlier this year, previewed a bold change in design direction for Volkswagen’s EVs. Mindt said the approach is about “transferring the DNA of our icons into the future”. He went on to identify 3 key pillars of the company’s future design ethos: stability, likeability and excitement. That tallies with Schäfer’s pledge to imbue an element of recognizability in future Volkswagens but without veering too far towards the retro ethos of the ID Buzz. “The brand always has to reinvent itself and bring out new things”, he said. “When we bring a new version of something, it had better be a great interpretation with the newest features”. As such, the 9th generation Golf will be more of a design evolution than a revolution, in keeping with all previous generations over the past half-century. It will, however, take the lead from the ID.2all concept by adding a host of new cues that nod to its radically different conception. Crucially, Schäfer added that by 2030, all of Volkswagen’s cars “will have buttons” as their primary interior controls. The move is in line with his plan to bolster the usability of mass-market models by moving away from the often criticized touch controls of today’s ID cars. Although seen as an electric alternative to the Golf, the current ID3 is “more a Golf Plus”, Schäfer said, meaning the ID.3 wouldn’t necessarily be retired after the arrival of a new, all-electric Golf. However, the ID.3 would likely eventually be morphed into the Golf instead of getting a standalone second-generation car, meaning the Golf would ultimately be the sole VW family hatchback in the EV world. This decision, however, is “not 100% clear” Schafer said, and the ID.3 could instead get another generation as a nameplate but not necessarily as a family hatchback. For now, the 2 cars would be obviously differentiated by bespoke styling and capabilities in a bid to carve out a distinct positioning for each, and Schäfer’s commitment to preserving Volkswagen’s best known models names means the Golf badge can live on. “The Golf name specifically has huge value”, he told. Schäfer also confirmed plans to electrify Volkswagen’s existing performance subbrands, telling it would be “crazy” to let the GTI and R badges “die and slip away”. He described the GTX badge that adorns the brand’s most potent EVs today as an identifier that was being used “en route” to an all-electric line-up. He added it would ultimately be phased out, leaving R as the badge for 4-wheel drive high-performance electric VWs in the future, as has been the case with its internal combustion engine models. That means the upcoming performance versions of the ID.7 and ID.Buzz could be the last to use the badge. The R badge would be used for the first time on a production electric VW after the introduction of the 9th generation Golf, as Schäfer said you needed the greater power and potential of the SSP architecture to allow for the kind of performance and capability an electric R model would need. This means an electric VW Golf R is likely around 2029. Schäfer said: “You need models that are exciting. R has always been our exciting place. We’ve spent a lot of time and money to get that brand, and we’re not going to give that up. But we’re only going to call it R if it’s an R in terms of performance, in terms of all wheel drive”. Blume hinted at the scope for wildly powerful performance cars based on the SSP structure, touting a maximum power output of 1700 hp for the platform. Such figures are likely to remain the preserve of electric Porsche, Lamborghini and Audi supercars, rather than anything wearing a VW badge. Accessible performance will remain key for any hot Golf models, which will rival a raft of new electric hot hatches, from the Alpine A290 and Abarth 500e to the MG 4 X Power and Hyundai Ioniq 5 N. Schäfer confirmed that the Golf, Tiguan and GTI badges were its only “iconic” names guaranteed to be carried forward into a fully-electric VW future range, and decisions on the rest of its names would be taken on a case by case basis. Indeed, as Schäfer said previously, there’s no guarantee either that current ID names would make it into a second generation as VW no longer will have separate ICE and EV model ranges. The production version of the recent ID.2 concept, which has spawned the new GTI concept, would definitely not take the Polo name in production as Schafer said it sat in a price point above the Polo, and calling it a Polo would limit the car’s earning potential. The ID 2 will sit on a lower cost version of the updated MEB + platform, which includes the potential for longer ranges, faster charging and reduced costs. This will be offered on models well into the 2030s but VW’s long-term goal is for every model to be made from the SSP platform, which is designed to underpin models costing from prices in the €22.000s to €66.000s and beyond. Schäfer admitted it was a challenge to get to that starting price point and required VW to pull all the levers it could, including spinning 4 models off the same entry-level version of the platform and improving raw material sourcing and supply chain management. On the SSP architecture, R&D boss Kai Grunitz said that some decisions still needed to be made, including defining the electrical architecture. The current plan was to make it 800 Volt, but 400 Volt was also under consideration for smaller, less expensive models, using technology being developed for the MEB+ architecture. +++


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