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Monthly Archives: February 2020

What Does Audi has in Store for the MEB Platform?

audi aime

In 2019, Audi announced that its MEB platform will be used for its small electric vehicles. Fast-forward this year, we are still waiting for the spy shots of vehicles that will be utilizing it.

According to the company’s product marketing boss Fermín Soneira Santos in his interview with Auto Express, they are yet to develop vehicles that will be riding on the MEB platform or Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten in German.

“It is on our horizon, yes. It’s not yet designed, but yes, we have a chance to have cars on MEB, maybe tomorrow on MEB Entry, then also the E-Tron GT. We have so many different platforms to choose from and where we can have input into,” the Audi exec told the source.

From Santos’ statement, the fate of the more affordable tiny electric cars from Audi is hanging. However, it should be noted that the expected deadline for the said EVs is still in 2023, so that’s still a long way to go.

The Audi AI:Me concept introduced at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2019 gives us a preview of what the four rings marque has in store for the MEB platform. The electric hatchback is equipped with an electric motor positioned at the rear axle. The unit produces 170 hp or 127 kW. No official figures were released about the electric range of the vehicle from its 65 kWh battery but its 2023 production version is groomed to offer at least 124-mile electric range at full charge.

Sadly, the MEB platform-based EV will unlikely be sold in the US whose market has low demand for small cars. The limited range of the electric car provides another reason why American customers may stay away from it.

Jaguar I-Pace Production Hits a Roadblock

2020 jaguar i-pace

The production of the Jaguar I-Pace electric sport utility vehicle will be temporarily halted. Jaguar Land Rover paused the assembly of the electric vehicle for a week because of supply issues with LG Chem.

According to The Times, the temporary halt in the I-Pace assembly line was caused by the LG Chem battery factory in Poland. Jaguar didn’t elaborate more on the matter.

Magna Steyr, the contract manufacturer of Jaguar for I-Pace, will stop its operations in the meanwhile as the issue is being resolved. The pause in production in the company’s Graz, Austria plant will take effect this coming February 17.

It would be the fourth time for LG Chem to be involved in the delay of an EV production. Companies like Hyundai, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz earlier hit a snag in their electric cars due to LG Chem’s failure to meet up with its commitments in supplying batteries to the said automakers. It should be noted that Mercedes’ parent, Daimler, retracted on this claim though.

On the other hand, Sam Jaffe, the managing director of Cairn Energy Research Advisors, doubts that the issue is mainly battery shortage. In his email to The Verge, he claimed that Jaguar may only be avoiding an all-too-successful EV launch. Such a scenario would potentially cannibalize the brand’s pre-existing model sales and anger its dealers. On the other end of the spectrum, it may only be the cause of a bad strategy. He finds it strange too that Jaguar, as well as Audi and Daimler, failed to sign binding contracts with battery suppliers in advance just like what Volkswagen did when it inked deals with three different suppliers to ensure that its EV’s battery demands will be met.

Jaffe also pointed out that Jaguar only sold 18,000 units of the I-Pace in 2019 during its initial run. Therefore, it is hard to imagine that the brand is experiencing problems in getting enough batteries for it.

Volvo and Geely Begin Talks for a Full Merger

geely and volvo

Geely is now looking to make a full merger with Volvo. If such plans come into fruition, it would expand the reach of the Chinese automaker in the global market.

Geely bought 99% of Volvo from Ford in 2010 for $1.8 billion in the aftermath of the financial crisis. That’s a lot lower than what the American brand spent to purchase the Swedish brand in 1999, which sums up to $6.45 billion. After the acquisition, Geely kept Volvo as a distinct brand for product diversification purposes.

Fast-forward to the present, Geely is now considering a full-merger with Volvo to save on production costs, expenditures on components as well as resources in research and development. The move could also help the Chinese brand achieve more reach worldwide.

In the past, Geely focused mainly on its home market in China. The country remains the largest market for automotive sales even though it experienced a decline last year. The merger with Volvo will let the brand make up for its dwindling sales in the troubled domestic market by getting a wider network in car exports to other major markets like Europe and the US.

Under the ownership of Geely, Volvo was able to increase its sales by 10% in 2019 compared to the prior year. The company sold a total of 705,000 vehicles within that period.

The merger is expected to bring in more funds from foreign investors too because the combined Geely-Volvo shares will be listed in both Hong Kong and Stockholm.

New Two-Door Ford Bronco Looks to Challenge the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

2021 ford bronco (1)

Ford is looking to challenge the off-road superiority of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. Fueling this rumor are the new spy photos of the two-door Ford Bronco on the dirt.

Ford already released a teaser video of the new Ford Bronco. It shows the auto traversing the desert, and together with it is a statement that the vehicle will make its world premiere in the spring of 2020.

Previously, we have seen a four-door model of the Bronco. Then recently, Road and Track released a new set of photos of its two-door version equipped with all-terrain tires. These shut down any doubts that its maker is taking a jab at the Wrangler, which comes in four-door and two-door configurations.

Although it is questionable as to whether or not the Bronco has what it takes to dethrone the Wrangler, it will certainly get a chunk of the slice that its competitor is currently enjoying in the off-road compact SUV segment of the market.

The two-door Bronco is heavily-clad in camouflage but its stance suggests that it will likely get the same platform used by the Ford Ranger pickup. Meanwhile, its front grille will possibly adopt the styling of the Bronco R Baja racer.

The two-door Bronco seems to be hiding a removable top similar to the Wrangler as well. With that, it might also feature removable doors.

Though Ford is tight-lipped about the powertrain of the upcoming Bronco, it is expected to offer the same mechanical specs as the Ranger due to their similar platforms.

Is BMW Going Back to Formula One?

bmw sauber formula one

Jens Marquardt, Motorsport Director of BMW, has shut down rumors that they are returning to Formula One. He pointed out that the current technology being adopted in the sporting organization has no use in the development of the luxury car brand’s new vehicles.

BMW has participated in F1 since 1952. Its first outing was at the German Grand Prix. The last entry of the brand was in 2009 under the BMW Sauber team that raced its last under that season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. When asked if they are considering going back to the organization, Marquardt believes that the V6 Turbo Hybrid engine being used there has absolutely nothing to do with the marque’s series production cars at present.

“The V6 Turbo Hybrid is an engine that has absolutely nothing to do with what we do in series production,” Marquardt stated during an interview with Auto Bild.

“From an engineering perspective, I have to say: hats off to what they do in Formula One, but the technology has no relevance for the road,” he added.

Instead of F1, BMW is now focusing on its entry in Formula E. Under its BMW i Andretti Motorsport team, the brand has won two of the three races it has participated in so far during the 2019-2020 season. Marquardt said that the engineers of the BMW i electric cars are benefitting a lot from the technological insights provided by Formula E.

Check Out the New Harley-Davidson Pickup Truck

There’s a new Harley-Davidson pickup truck this year. However, it no longer carries the Ford badge. The vehicle is now reborn as the new 2020 Harley-Davidson GMC Sierra.

Like its predecessors from Ford, which uses the F-150 model as a base, the Harley-Davidson pickup is assembled by Tuscany Motor Co. It is made in partnership with GMC and Harley-Davidson.

Exterior

harley-davidson pickup (1)

The truck uses the Sierra 150 SLT trim as a platform then it imbues some of the signature biker features of a Harley-Davidson big bike inside and out. The exterior of the auto takes an orange-bordered front grille, orange tow hooks and LED lights below the bumper, large scoop on the hood, and custom exhaust. Harley-Davidson badges can be found on the front, rear and sides of the vehicle. These are topped off with Harley Fat Boy-inspired wheels measuring 22 inches wrapped in 35-inch off-road tires.

Interior

harley-davidson pickup (3)

Going inside the special edition pickup reveals motorcycle-grade leather seats with orange cross-stitching. Meanwhile, the dashboard gets a high-gloss look, and the pedals come from Harley-Davidson bikes. There are also the logos of the motorcycle company in the cabin.

Engine

harley-davidson pickup (5)

The Harley-Davidson pickup keeps Sierra’s 6.2-liter V8 engine. The modified exhaust does not offer additional power to the auto’s 420 hp and 460 lb-ft torque engine, but it does amplify its sound a bit.

Price

The new GMC Harley-Davison Sierra pickup starts at $94,995. The truck is not as common as its Ford F-150 version because it is only limited to 250 units. It is available in Summit White, Satin Steel Metallic, or Onyx Black finishes.

Launch of Next-Gen Ford Mustang Pushed to 2022

ford mustang job ad (1)

A new job posting by Ford reveals the fate of its next-generation Mustang. It says that the S650 will be launched in 2022 as a 2023 model year car.

The American automaker’s ad can still be found on LinkedIn. It says that they are looking to hire a “Wind/Road Noise and Air Leakage Plant Vehicle Team (PVT) Engineer”. The engineer will be stationed at the Flat Rock plant of the company in Michigan.

The current-gen Ford Mustang (S550)

The current-gen Ford Mustang (S550)

The new hire will be tasked with overseeing the quality of the current-generation Ford Mustang (S550). The most exciting part though is where it was mentioned in the post that the person will also be responsible for delivering the “final sign off on the Ford 2023 Mustang S650 vehicle program before it goes to the customers.”

Furthermore, the ad said that among the other tasks of the engineer include the “On-site launch lead for Wind/Road Noise and Air Leakage attributes when S650 launches in 2022 as a 2023MY”.

It only means that the supposed launch of the seventh-gen Ford Mustang will not proceed this year. Therefore, we will have to wait two more years until we see the much-anticipated Pony car.

The Ford Mustang remained as America’s best-selling sports car in 2019. A total of 72,489 units of the vehicle were delivered to customers in that period. The auto has held such distinction for the fifth consecutive year. Despite its position in the market, it should be noted that the figures were 4.4 percent less compared to the sales of the unit in 2018.

Hyundai Entices Customers with Free Maintenance for New Vehicles

hyundai sonata

Hyundai Motor America oils up their deals with free maintenance for their new vehicles. The freebie runs for three years and limited for a 36,000-mile run.

According to Automotive News, the company will launch its campaign for the new Hyundai Complimentary program on the Super Bowl pregame show this Sunday. The sweet service deal is available for brand new 2020 model-year Hyundai vehicles purchased or leased on February 1 onwards. It offers scheduled oil, filter and tire rotations maintenance for three years but limited on a 36,000 mileage.

Barry Ratzlaff, the chief customer officer of Hyundai America, said that the Complimentary Maintenance will help dealers ensure that their customers will have peace of mind on their new purchases. The free service comes with the company’s existing five years roadside assistance and three years of Blue Link connectivity. It is also packed with Hyundai’s 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Hyundai will showcase its free service maintenance scheme together with the new 2020 Sonata sedan and Remote Smart Parking Assist on Super Bowl Sunday. The “Smaht Pahk” ad for the Sonata’s new Smart Parking Assist features popular personalities in Boston such as Marvel’s Chris Evans, Saturday Night Live’s Rachel Dratch, and The Office’s John Krasinski. It demonstrates how the auto can be parked automatically even in tight spaces with just a click of a button on its remote key.

Hyundai enjoyed a 4.7 percent increase in sales last year amid a 1.2 percent industry decline. However, Hyundai Motor America CEO Jose Muñoz believes there’s still room for improvement in terms of brand familiarity and customer satisfaction.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class Pickup Truck Gets Axed From Production Line

Mercedes-Benz Concept X-CLASS / Artipelag / Stockholm 2016

For a vehicle that just made its debut in 2017, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class luxury pickup truck is relatively new in the automotive scene. Before it could even get a mid-cycle facelift though, its maker officially announced that it will be axed from the production line this year.

In 2019, Mercedes managed to deliver 15,300 units of the X-Class worldwide. However, the numbers fell by 1,400 units compared to its sales between 2017 and 2018. The figures may be impressive for a niche product, but these failed to impress the Daimler board. As a result, they have decided to strike down their future plans for the pickup. As of the moment, those who will visit the website of Mercedes will already notice that the X250 and X220d models of the vehicle have been removed from its online configurator. Only the X35d, a V6 diesel version of the auto, is available on the site.

Mercedes also revealed that the X-Class is only important in some markets like Australia and South Africa. There used to be a plan that the vehicle will be assembled in Argentina for South American buyers too but it was scrapped citing that it was no longer “economically viable”.

The company explained that the pickup was just too expensive compared to its rivals and the vehicles whom it shares underpinnings, namely the Nissan Navara and the Renault Alaskan. Crunching the numbers, the X-Class starts at €48,790 in Germany, which is €16,000 more than the price of the Navara and €4,000 up against the cost of an Alaskan.

The days of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class are numbered. Mercedes will discontinue the unit in late May of 2020.

Demand for Cybertruck is More Than What Tesla Can Produce in 4 Years

tesla cybertruck (27)

The reception of the Tesla Cybertruck was mixed when it was unveiled. However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk appears to be very confident with the demand for the electric vehicle inspired by steampunk movies.

As of November last year, Musk revealed through a tweet that the orders for the Cybertruck have already reached around 250,000 units. Although there are no official updates since then, the company CEO strongly believes that they will not be able to meet the demand for the product in four years.

If the numbers remained the same, Tesla would have to produce at least 62,500 units of the pickup yearly. Judging the character of Musk, if there have been significant changes in the figures, he certainly wouldn’t have missed the chance to boast about it.

Gene Munster of Loup Ventures asked Musk about the number of Cybertrucks that they could deliver and its production costs. The Tesla boss simply answered, “We don’t comment on those detailed numbers, except the demand is just far more than we could reasonably make in the space of, I don’t know, three or four years, something like that.”

Musk cited several factors affecting their electric pickup truck production. First is the limited capacity of the Fremont plant. Although he does not have a direct solution to address this predicament, he said that they will just try to make as many Cybertrucks as they can so they could meet up with the strong demand. The second problem lies in the number of batteries that they have.

“The thing we’re going to be really focused on is increasing battery production capacity because that’s very fundamental. If you don’t improve battery production capacity, then you end up just shifting unit volume from one product to another and you haven’t actually produced more electric vehicles,” Musk pointed out.

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