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  1. Today
  2. Renault Captur The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance seemed set to fracture after Carlos Ghosn's downfall – but the firms involved are now more committed than ever From the moment that Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November 2018, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance seemed poised to crumble. Ghosn was the architect and driving force of the link-up between the three firms and the 'glue' that held them together. Ghosn’s arrest – and subsequent charges of financial misconduct – came as he was reportedly masterminding a full merger of the firms. That idea had apparently met with some resistance – particularly within Nissan, given that reports his ousting was a deliberate move by insiders to prevent a full merger. Following Ghosn’s dismissal, the Alliance was restructured to prevent a single powerbroker from taking control, and with real doubts about its future. With both Nissan and Renault struggling in the face of declining sales and the immense cost of electrification, the division in the Alliance seemed like it could tear it apart. At one stage, Renault even pursued a merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – a deal that fell through, with FCA subsequently merging with the rival PSA Group. The struggles of the two firms, as with many other car giants, has only intensified with the huge economic blow of the coronavirus crisis. So now, just months after the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance seemed to be crumbling, the three firms have essentially staked their futures on it and gone all-in, with a bold new ‘leader-follower’ model that will greatly increase shared development, models and production. The new strategy is a marked change from the Ghosn-era approach that effectively forced the rival firms to work together on technology. Instead, they will divide up responsibilities, with each focusing on existing core strengths. Each firm will become the ‘lead’ partner in certain regions, model lines and technologies. Instead of just sharing platforms, similar models will essentially be twinned together. For example, Nissan develop the next-generation Qashqai C-segment SUV, which will share a platform and most upper-body elements with the new Renault Kadjar. Where possible, models will be produced in the same place, which could be good news for Nissan’s Sunderland factory, where the Qashqai is currently built. The widespread adoption of that model will slash development, production and other costs by up to 40%, potentially saving billions of pounds. Half of the new Alliance models will be built using the model by 2025, with 80% of vehicles based on common platforms by 2024. The latter figure will be achieved both by the launch of new models and the trimming of model ranges. With each brand focusing on its strongest regions and model lines, they will likely cut and rationalise both their presence elsewhere and wider range. Renault has already pulled out from its major Chinese joint venture and is set to trim unprofitable lines such as its MPV models in Europe. Meanwhile, Nissan is set to reduce its European offerings to its successful models, such as the Leaf, Juke and Qashqai. The two major Alliance members have press conferences scheduled for later this week (Nissan on Thursday, Renault on Friday), with each set to announce billions of pounds worth of cost cuts. Given Ghosn once had bold plans to turn the Alliance into the world’s biggest car producer, this new approach is a major change: Jean-Dominque Senard, the chairman of both Renault and the Alliance, said the future focus will be “on efficiency and competitiveness, rather than volumes”. Senard also ruled out a full merger, adding: “We don’t need a merger to be efficient.” Certainly, the new agreement will help all three firms to achieve billions in cost-savings. But without a full merger, the risk is that each firm is relatively small compared with the rival Volkswagen Group or PSA Group. And while each firm taking the lead on its key strengths offers the members more freedom in some areas, it also binds them closer together, because each will become increasingly reliant on the others for expertise for various cars, technologies and production needs in other areas. Instead of their Alliance crumbling, Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi are now arguably far more dependent on making the sometimes fractious partnership work. Both Nissan and Renault will have to weather substantial cost-cutting drives in the coming months, but the hope is that each will emerge as leaner, more focused companies – and the Alliance is key to achieving the economies of scale to underpin future success. For that to work, each will have to trust and rely on the other. For the plane to success, Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi will have to ensure this is an alliance of equals, rather than an alliance of convenience between firms with no other options. READ MORE Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi to increase technology sharing Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi agree new Alliance deal Renault SUVs could be built at Nissan's Sunderland plant View the full article
  3. The Renault Clio Hybrid and Captur PHEV Both cars are available to order now, with prices starting from £19,595 and £30,495 respectively Renault has disclosed prices and specs for the Clio Hybrid and Captur Plug-In Hybrid, revealed earlier this year and now available to order. The models are the first from the brand's latest range of 'E-Tech' electrified variants. The Clio, launched last year with traditional petrol and diesel engines, benefits from a “full hybrid” system - an innovative take on the proven parallel hybrid setup. Renault claims the tech is protected by around 150 patents. Available to order now, it costs from £19,595 in Play trim to £22,095 for the fully loaded Launch Edition. It’s based around an "F1-inspired" multi-mode clutchless automatic gearbox, used to control a naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors either simultaneously or independently alongside a high voltage starter generator. The battery is a relatively small 1.2kWh pack, meaning the car weighs just 10kg more than an equivalent Clio diesel. With a combined output of 138bhp, the Clio Hybrid can do 0-62mph in 9.9sec and hit 113mph. The electric motor develops up to 151lb ft of torque alone, with a 37 lb ft boost from the starter generator. Renault says the torque helps it achieve a 6.9sec 50-75mph time. Every variant offers official CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km and combined fuel economy of 64.2mpg. It can spend up to 80% of the time in electric mode on city roads, and is able to travel at up to 38mph without the engine running. Renault Captur Plug-In Hybrid: details and specs The Captur Plug-In Hybrid, as the name suggests, uses a mains-chargable 9.8kWh battery to power the same 1.6-litre engine with two electric motors for an output of 158bhp. The Mini Countryman Cooper S E hybrid rival costs from £30,495 in S Edition form. However, it offsets the initial purchase price by emitting just 33g/km of CO2, putting it into the 10% benefit-in-kind tax band, and promising up to 188mpg. The larger battery transates to an electric-only range of 30 miles at speeds of up to 84mph in pure EV mode. 0-60mph is taken care of in 10.1sec, and the top speed is 108mph. Multiple drive modes feature, including a mode that saves the battery for use later in the journey, and a Sport mode that utilises both power sources for faster responses. Fitted as standard with both a domestic and Type 2 charging cable, the Captur PHEV also comes with a free 7kW home wallbox charger from BP Chargemaster that can take it from empty to full charge in three hours. Pre-conditioning the car's climate system via the Renault app is also standard, althought the main compromise is the boot which has been reduced from 455 litres to 379 litres. READ MORE New Renault Clio hybrid and Captur plug-in hybrid launched Renault could “disappear” without aid, warns French minister Renault plans new sister model to Captur crossover View the full article
  4. France is planned to become a global hub of EV development Automotive output will be 'relocalised' with heavy EV incentives and collaboration between key stakeholders The French government has pledged €8 billion (£7.1bn) to helping the country’s automotive industry to recover following the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the rescue package, €1bn (£890 million) will go towards encouraging electric vehicle (EV) adoption, including grants of up to €7000 (£6230). President Emmanuel Macron’s government is committed to keeping France at the forefront of EV development, with plans to produce a million ‘clean cars’ domestically before 2025. During a visit to a Valeo factory in northern France, Macron spoke of 'relocalising' domestic automotive production. Renault and the PSA Group - the country’s leading vehicle manufacturers - will work alongside French energy supplier Total to develop batteries for electrified vehicles, he confirmed, and will continue to focus production in France in return for the financial aid. "We need a motivational goal: make France Europe's top producer of clean vehicles by bringing output to more than one million electric and hybrid cars per year over the next five years,” Macron is quoted as saying by BBC News. It's hoped that the new financial incentives for consumers - including a €3000 (£2670) subsidy for those swapping into a less-polluting vehicle - will help to quickly sell some 400,000 vehicles that have been stuck at dealerships since the beginning of the pandemic. Electric cars costing less than €45,000 (£40,000) are now eligible for a €7000 (£6230) grant, up from €6000 (£5340). Plug-in hybrid buyers can claim a €2000 (£1780) subsidy as long as the vehicle is capable of travelling 31 miles on electric power and costs less than €50,000 (£44,500). The revised EV incentives - coming into effect on 1 June and running until 31 December - are now applicable to 75% of French households, following a relaxation of the income requirements. France’s automotive industry has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, with new car sales falling 89% in April as a result of dealerships closing and customers staying at home. The government has stepped in to subsidise the salaries of around 250,000 workers in the industry. Macron has also announced that the government won't commit to a €5bn (£4.5bn) loan for struggling Renault until the company’s management had discussed the future of its workforce and factories with union representatives. Talks are set to conclude on Friday, amid reports that the manufacturer is planning to cut 5000 jobs by 2024, axe slow-selling models and potentially close some factories. Additional measures aimed at reviving France's car industry include funding factory upgrade programmes and investing in automotive start-up companies. Read more Renault could “disappear” without aid, warns French minister Coronavirus and the car world PSA Group eludes EU fines through early doors CO2 action​ View the full article
  5. New EV version of popular compact SUV on sale from £53,155, so won't qualify for the UK plug-in car grant Volvo has opened order books for its first battery electric vehicle, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric P8. Initial deliveries of the compact SUV, which will be available exclusively in R-Dynamic trim, are expected to begin in early 2021. Prices start from £53,155, which means it will not be eligible for the UK plug-in car grant following changes made in the government's budget in March. The new policy excludes all cars costing more than £50,000 from the grant. They no longer incur the premium rate tax, meaning drivers will save £320 per year for five years after the initial year of registration, but that still leaves buyers £1900 worse off than under the old system. The new EV will join the petrol and plug-in hybrid variants of the XC40 and becomes the first of five fully electric models that Volvo will launch in the next five years. The firm is aiming for EVs to account for half its global sales by 2025, with the rest featuring a hybrid powertrain. Those five electric cars, along with plug-in hybrid models, will carry the new Recharge branding. Volvo has also outlined plans to reduce its lifecycle carbon footprint per vehicle by 40% by 2025, as part of a long-term goal to become climate-neutral by 2040. Volvo launches Recharge electrified brand, sets bold carbon emission targets The four-wheel-drive XC40 P8 Recharge features two 201bhp electric motors, one mounted on each axle, that combine to offer 402bhp and 487lb ft of torque. That enables it to achieve 0-62mph in 4.9sec and a governed top speed of 112mph. Power is drawn from a 78kWh underfloor battery, with Volvo citing a WLTP-certified range of more than 248 miles. Charging is available through an 11kW AC charger or a 150kW DC fast-charger, which the firm says can deliver an 80% charge in 40 minutes. The vehicle largely retains the exterior and interior styling of the conventional XC40, albeit with the addition of a new sealed fascia in place of the traditional radiator grille for the combustion engine. The model also gets Recharge branding and other minor design tweaks, while the charging port is located on the rear pillar of the car in the same place as a traditional petrol cap. Built on the same Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform as the regular XC40, the Recharge version retains largely the same dimensions with a length of 4425mm and a width of 2034mm. Because of the underfloor batteries, the XC40 Recharge has a slightly reduced ground clearance of 175mm, compared with 211mm on the regular model. The XC40 Recharge offers 413 litres of luggage capacity, which is less than the 460 litres of the regular model, although due to the space saved by the absence of a combustion engine, it gains a 31-litre ‘frunk’ storage area underneath the bonnet. The machine weighs a minimum of 2150kg, compared with 1497kg for the combustion-engined version. The XC40 Recharge is also the first Volvo to feature a new infotainment system powered by the Google Android operating system. That system features Volvo On Call, the firm’s digital platform. The initial price of the XC40 Recharge is similar to that of the closely related Polestar 2, the first purely electric model from Volvo’s spin-off performance brand. That model, which features the same electric powertrain - and identical power, torque output and range - costs £49,900 in its initial Launch Edition. Planned base models are likely to cost around £34,500. To accompany the launch of the XC40 Recharge, Volvo is also revamping its sales process. From early next year, customers visiting its website will be asked first if they want an electrified car, and a range of financial incentives designed to encourage efficient electric driving will also be offered. With Volvo aiming for plug-in hybrids to account for a fifth of its total sales next year, the firm is planning to triple production capacity for its electrified models, including the XC40 Recharge. It will also offer a new Designer’s Choice selection for Recharge models, which, it says, will feature “radically reduced delivery times”. Read more Volvo launches Recharge electrified brand, sets bold carbon emission targets New Polestar 2 to cost from £49,900 Volvo reveals plug-in hybrid version of XC40 View the full article
  6. Ultra-compact unit is designed as a cost-effective electrification option for low-volume manufacturers; available to order now for £6400 plus VAT Swindon Powertrain has launched the 'crate' electric motor for low-volume EV conversions that it first announced last year. Available to order now, it costs £6400 plus VAT. That price includes the 80kW (107bhp) motor itself plus the transmission and differential. Options for cooling, inverters and even a limited-slip differential are available. Swindon Powertrain has perfected the formula when moving from concept form to production. It's actually smaller than what was originally proposed, at 441mm wide and 384mm long, and the firm claim the highest power/volume ratio of any automotive system. It weighs in at a touch under 50kg. The powertrain was being developed in partnership with electric motor manufacturer iNetic and engineering firm Code, with funding coming from the Niche Vehicle Network, a body that supports more than 900 of Britain’s lowest-volume automotive production and engineering companies. The unit is described as ‘turnkey’, meaning it's ready for installation straight from the box. Primary intended uses for the new motor include sports cars, classic cars, small commercial vehicles and recreational vehicles such as golf buggies. Swindon Powertrain also states that waterproofing options will enable it to be used in compact off-roaders. It claims that as well as operating as a standalone motor, the unit could also be used as the electric component in a hybrid vehicle’s drivetrain. Different installation points and two inverter options give the powertrain the flexibility for a variety of uses. Two gear ratios can also be selected as a no-cost option, with Swindon Powertrain's website offering a configurator. The firm plans to deliver the first batch of crate motors in August and will cover the cost of any necessary research and validation processes, which it says will further ease costs for buyers. Q&A with Raphaël Caillé, Swindon Powertrain managing director When did this project become a reality for you? "Really we started the design two years ago. We saw an opportunity in the market: if you're a car manufacturer and you want to make 10,000 or 100,000 [electric] vehicles a year, there are plenty of suppliers to talk to. If you want to do an electric vehicle and you're looking at a dozen, a hundred or even a thousand a year, there was nobody to talk to until now. "This is definitely the only EV powertrain that you will be able to buy online from a website, with a credit card, on a one-by-one basis." Is there a specific application that has been most popular so far? "We're in advanced talks with a manufacturer of quadbikes; there are no orders yet, but I'm confident they will come. The big push at the moment is the electrification of existing cars, in particular classic cars. So this is where at the moment we have quite a few orders, private buyers, but it also goes all the way up to well-established companies that convert classic cars." How did you manage to make it smaller than the original concept? "It happened by going back to a blank sheet of paper. Having gone through the proof of concept phase, being able to re-lay it out made it more compact. We made a special effort to get a good result on that side of things, because we have a requirement for the electrification of light goods vehicles, and some of these mean the electric motor has to be installed below the [load bay]." Will you supply your own battery packs in future? "The battery activity is something we do in-house for a few projects, and indeed we've made several prototype batteries. But the battery is very vehicle-dependent. So we decided to leave this side for now and focus on the powertrain. Those vehicle manufacturers will usually have a team of people to develop and source battery packs." How soon before we see the first production model powered by your electric motor? "I think it will take time, as it does to develop these things. We've engaged with two major car manufacturers at this moment in time for projects that are lower-volume. The interest is in the hundreds." Are you working on more powerful (or less powerful) motors? "As you can imagine, this being a long-term project, we're already working on the next one. But at this moment, it's too early to say what will be launched next. We'll keep working; hopefully in six months' time, we will have another project. " Read more Swind E electric classic Mini on sale from £79,000 First drive: Classic Mini Electric driven on UK roads​ We build a lithium-ion car battery​ View the full article
  7. Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance Alliance members to adopt 'leader-follower' mode, with each focusing on core regions and technologies Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi have reaffirmed their commitment to their automotive Alliance, with the adoption of a new business model that will involve a massive increase in platform, technology and production sharing. The future of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance had been in doubt after the arrest in Japan of former chairman Carlos Ghosn, the driving force behind the initiative. But after agreeing to maintain the Alliance in January, the three firms have now agreed a new deal. Alliance chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said the new deal will greatly enhance the cooperation between the three firms and claimed that it will cut the costs of developing new models by up to 40%. The Alliance members have agreed a new ‘leader-follower’ scheme that they say will greatly enhance efficiency through a substantial increase in shared production and development. Each will become the lead ‘reference’ brand in key regions and of key technologies. Under the new deal, Renault will become the lead brand in Europe and will spearhead development of the next-generation B-segment SUV. Nissan will become the lead firm in Japan, North America and China and will develop the next-generation Nissan Qashqai-based C-segment SUV, which is due in 2025. The new deal goes beyond platform sharing and will include the “upper bodies” of vehicles, with the production of models grouped together where possible. As recently reported, that is likely to involve Renault SUVs being built at the Nissan plant in Sunderland in the future. “We will focus on efficiency and competitiveness, rather than volume,” said Senard. “The new framework will allow each Alliance member to enhance its core capabilities and benefit from the capabilities of the other firms. The aim is to increase the profitability and competitiveness. “The leader-follow model isn't about being a leader against each other; it’s about each Alliance firm becoming a leader in the automotive industry.” Senard insisted that the new agreement showcased the strength of the Alliance. He added: “There is no doubt about how this scheme will work in the future. If there have been doubts in the market, there are no doubts today.” Renault to lead Alliance focus in Europe Under the new agreement, each of the three firms will focus on key regions based on their existing market reach, with Renault taking the lead in Europe along with Russia, South America and North Africa. While Renault will be the lead brand in Europe, both Nissan and Mitsubishi can continue to offer models in each region, although they will likely focus on market segments where they're strong. Nissan is set to outline more details of its future European strategy in a press conference tomorrow (Thursday 28 May). In Europe, the Alliance’s leader-follower scheme will be focused around four product areas: B-segment cars (the Renault Clio and Zoe EV, Nissan Leaf and forthcoming Ariya EV SUV), B-SUVs (Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and Dacia Duster), C-SUVs (Renault Kadjar, Nissan Qashqai, next-gen SUV) and light commercial vehicles (vans). During the presentation on the new agreement, the Alliance members gave no indication of future plans for model lines outside of those areas. There have been reports that Renault is set to close a number of factories and axe several product lines; more information on those reports is likely to come when the French firm holds its own press conference on Friday 29 May. Nissan will be the lead brand in China, North America and Japan, while Mitsubishi will lead in the South-East Asia (ASEAN) and Oceania regions. Senard also ruled out the possibility of a full merger between the three firms, adding: "I'm confident that, because of the actions we have taken today, in the future we will be a model for other car firms." New deal to increase model sharing and efficiencies A key part of the new deal is the agreement to increase the Alliance’s ‘standardisation’ strategy. The three companies have already developed a series of common shared platforms that underpin various models, for example with the recently launched Renault Clio and Nissan Juke both based on the CMF-B architecture. Under the new agreement, the three firms will each take the lead on development of key model segments, developing a ‘mother car’ that will be used as the basis for ‘follower’ vehicles from the other firms. As well as platforms, that will involve sharing upper body elements, with Senard saying production of models would be grouped together where appropriate. The Alliance claims the savings enabled by the new model in terms of technical development and bulk buying strength will reduce model investment costs by up to 40%. Under the agreement, nearly half of all Alliance models will be development produced under the ‘leader-follower’ scheme by 2025, with the technology and model segments each firm will take the lead on are based on their existing expertise. Having essentially created the segment with the Qashqai, Nissan will take the lead of the next-generation Qashqai/Renault Kadjar C-SUV, due after 2025 and based on the CMF-C platform. Renault will take the lead on developing future B-SUV models such as the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke. The agreement will reduce the number of platforms used by the Alliance from seven currently to four: CMF-A and CMF-B, with development led by Renault, and CMF-C/D and the electric CMF-EV, with development lead by Nissan. Nissan and Mitsubishi will also work together on a kei car platform for Japan. Firms to take lead on key technologies As well as future model segments, each Alliance member will take the lead on key technologies. Nissan will be the lead firm for electric powertrains (for both the CMF-A/B and CMF-EV platforms), autonomous driving and connected car technology in China. Renault will lead on connected car technologies on an Android-based platform and ‘E-body’ electric-electronic architecture. Mitsubishi will build on its success with the Outlander PHEV by leading development of C/D-segment plug-in hybrid models. READ MORE Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi agree to new Alliance deal Renault in talks to build new SUVs at Nissan's Sunderland plant Renault could close Alpine factory and axe models, reports suggest View the full article
  8. New rules allow for EV production classes for the first time. Our columnist has already picked out his car of choice This week, our columnist is in two minds about city cars returning as premium EVs, considers the merits of the quadricycle to beat post-lockdown traffic, and has found another motoring tome to add to his collection. MONDAY Remember last month’s scare about how compact, cheeky A-segment cars were finished because the cost of cleaning up their engines was too great? It was upsetting: I’ve always depended on baby cars to punctuate long, boring sentences of faceless execu-chariots. But now, apparently, the demise isn’t coming after all. The experts are now saying A-cars will go quiet for a bit of re-engineering, then reappear with electrified powertrains, more radical designs and premium prices. All of which is fine by me. I’ve always hated the idea that size controls price; I mean, who’s surprised that a wrist watch costs more than a housebrick. If you want a cheap car, buy a second hand supermini. Mind you, I’ve just seen that the new, electrified Fiat 500 is going to cost £30k instead of £15k. Bit much. TUESDAY This week has been packed with good news: Motorsport UK has announced a set of rules that’ll allow you to compete in low-key events with a standard electric car. That’s great news: I’ve campaigned a Renault Zoe at Prescott Hillclimb a few times (once with the late, great Barry “Whizzo” Williams) but though we drove hard — he more effectively than me — our efforts had to be called demo runs. From now on it’ll be possible to compete in production classes, which makes me want to rush straight out and buy an electric BMW i3S which I see as the best option. A Tesla Model 3 would be quicker but who’s got a spare £60k? And anyway, my other motor sport preference is autosolo for which an i3 is much the more agile option. WEDNESDAY We’re already seeing back-to-work traffic building as people avoid the virus threat of public transport. The congestion will soon be oppressive again, one reason why I’ve always used scooters to penetrate traffic and park anywhere. But that choice depends on your possessing a bike licence. Or did. Now you can choose a revolutionary “leaning” four-wheeled — complete with hydropneumatic suspension — called a Qooder (or e-Qooder if you want yours electrified) that offers all the manoeuvrability of a motorbike but can be ridden/driven on a car licence. People might smirk a bit, but who cares? The Italian manufacturer has just started selling in the UK; try Qooder online. Might be the secret mobility weapon you need. THURSDAY One fashionable motoring cliche at present seems to be “…if there’s ever another motor show…” bunged on the end of every observation about a new car and uttered in a world-to-end-soon tone of voice. Actually, I think the global upheaval might eventually be the making of motor shows. People will want to get together. They’ll want to touch and smell new cars, and sit in them. And after lots of recent practice they’ll know the limitations of seeing stuff on screen. Right now, I’m see next year’s Geneva Show in my dreams: just try and keep me away! FRIDAY We’ve all been staggered at the complimentary mail we’ve had since the writing, design and production of Autocar moved from the Teddington to 17 different dining room tables around the country. It is very motivating to see how much people like our 125-year old rag. Recently those feelings reached an Eiger-like peak when we heard from Adam Collinge, an ambulance driver in the Mendips, who told us how he takes his mag along in the ambulance, to help deliver moments of sanity between patients. “I know we in the NHS are getting the plaudits,” he wrote, “but we also need heroes and heroines to help us get our job done, to make us smile and keep us informed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’re all doing a damn fine job!” AND ANOTHER THING... If you want a snapshot of one car-nut’s brilliance at turning a phrase look no further than Richard “Sniffpetrol” Porter’s “Medium-sized Book of Boring Car Trivia” which like everything else this ultra-talented bloke writes is a joy. It’s self-published via Amazon. Buy now. READ MORE Racing lines: Pure ETCR's deep digs at Formula E Analysis: Is it the end for the city car? Autocar's plan to save the city car View the full article
  9. Yesterday
  10. BMW's executive class-leader is updated with revised engine options and new-look styling BMW has revealed a raft of upgrades for its class-leading 5 Series to fend off the newer Audi A6 and refreshed Mercedes-Benz E-Class, including new technology, new engines and the introduction of a 523bhp M Performance variant to the UK line-up. A hardcore CS version of the V8-powered M5 super-saloon is coming later this year, too. The suite of updates to BMW’s executive mainstay also brings a new 389bhp 545e xDrive plug-in hybrid model into the line-up, plus UK customers will be able to order the 523bhp M550i for the first time. This variant has been on sale in mainland Europe since last year. Launched in 2016, the seventh-generation 5 Series has continued the success of its predecessors, with more than 600,000 sales achieved worldwide to date. The facelifted model is scheduled to reach UK dealerships in both its saloon and Touring estate guises in July. In a continuation of its electrification strategy, BMW has fitted its mild-hybrid system to all 5 Series petrol and diesel models with either a four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine. First introduced to the line-up on the 520d last year, it adds a 48V starter-generator and a second battery. Together, they provide an 11bhp temporary boost to the engine’s power reserves as well as a number of new fuel-saving features. These include a coast function that shuts down the engine for periods of trailing throttle, improved brake-energy recuperation and the ability for the engine to be automatically switched off at speeds below 9mph. Among the petrol models are the four-cylinder 181bhp 520i and the 248bhp 530i, as well as the six-cylinder 329bhp 540i. The 530i and 540i are available with standard rear-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive. Above them is the four wheel-drive M550i xDrive. Available in saloon form only, its turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine delivers 523bhp and 553lb ft torque, enabling a 0-62mph time of 4.0sec. Three diesels are again available: the four-cylinder 188bhp 520d and two six-cylinder models, the 281bhp 530d and 335bhp 540d xDrive. The 520d and 530d come with standard rear-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive, while the 540d is available with four-wheel drive exclusively. Changes to the six-cylinder diesel engine – including the adoption of two-stage turbocharging and new common-rail piezo injectors that operate at up to 2700bar – bring gains of 20bhp and 22lb ft to the 530d and of 20bhp and 15lb ft to the 540d. The petrol-electric plug-in hybrid 530e, which comes with standard rear-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive, has been updated with the latest evolution of BMW’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. However, it continues to deliver the same nominal combined system output of 248bhp and 310lb ft as before, with 288bhp and the same 310lb ft available for 10sec via a so-called XtraBoost function. On a full charge, it has a WLTP-certified electric-only range of up 42 miles. New to the family is the four wheel-drive 545e xDrive plug-in hybrid, which uses the same 248bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line-six-cylinder petrol engine and 107bhp electric motor as the larger 745e. Together, these provide a system output of 389bhp and 442lb ft, giving the 545e a 0-62mph time of 4.7sec and a governed 155mph top speed. The plug-in hybrid’s combined WLTP fuel economy is between 117.7mpg and 134.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 49-54g/km. With a lithium ion battery mounted within the floor of the boot, the 545e achieves an electric-only range of up to 35 miles at speeds of up to 87mph, according to BMW. As before, all drivetrains are mated to a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox, with no manual option offered. Although the new M550i will head the range for now, a reworked M5 will be unveiled later this year. It’s set to sire a new M5 CS model with revised aerodynamics, including a rear wing similar to that seen on the M2 CS, M3 CS and M4 CS, plus lightweight carbonfibre-reinforced plastic components. Nothing is confirmed just yet but the future range-topping M5 model is rumoured to feature a newly developed V8 engine with even more firepower than the 616bhp twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 used by today’s M5 Competition. Exterior changes for the 5 Series are concentrated on the front grille, which is now wider and positioned lower than before. It also receives a new single-frame design, with a central element in chrome, and sits within a reprofiled front bumper. Styling tweaks have been applied to the headlights as well. They receive new graphics, with L-shaped daytime running lights and indicators located at the outer edges. LED headlights are once again standard, although there’s now a greater number of options, including BMW’s super-bright Laserlight high-beam option. There are also more heavily structured tail-lights similar in design to those that grace the latest 3 Series, as well as a redesigned rear bumper. Regardless of the model, all 5 Series are now fitted with trapezoidal tailpipes. Buyers can now choose between two non-metallic and eight metallic colours. These include new Phytonic Blue metallic and Bernina Grey amber-effect metallic as part of the standard colour range and new Aventurine Red metallic and Tanzanite Blue metallic within the BMW Individual range. The upgraded brake calipers that are part of the M Sport styling package can also now be specified in red as well as the previous blue. From the start of sales for the new 5 Series, BMW is offering an M Sport Edition model in Donington Grey, a colour previously available for the M5 only, or Tanzanite Blue, which can otherwise be ordered only via BMW Individual. Limited to 1000 examples, the model also has 20in alloy wheels and a raft of typical M Sport touches. BMW says the adoption of new bumpers has increased the length of the saloon by 27mm and the Touring by 21mm so that both now measure 4963mm. Refinements to the aerodynamics – most notably with underbody cladding and an active air flap control system for the radiator – net the saloon a drag coefficient that is described as class-leading, at 0.23Cd, while the Touring is put at 0.26Cd. Inside, the 5 Series has the latest seventh-generation version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system along with either a standard 10.3in or optional 12.3in central display. Entry-level SE cars get more kit than before, while M Sport estates receive black roof rails. Further interior tweaks are focused on the dashboard, which gains a new lower climate display alongside revised materials and gloss black centre console details. There are also new electric M multi-function seats, previously reserved for the M5, with integral head restraints and added side support as part of an optional M Sport package. The new 5 Series is available to order UK now, with prices for the saloon starting at £37,480 for the 520i SE. The estate commands an extra £2250. M Sport trim adds £3500 across the range, while M Sport Edition models are priced from £45,480. The newly added 545e xDrive, which will enter production in November, is priced from £54,945 in SE trim. The flagship M550i xDrive costs £67,595 – around £30,000 less than the current M5 Competition. READ MORE BMW: coronavirus will affect new car demand for rest of 2020 BMW i8: Why the bold BMW had to die BMW continues to defend new styling direction View the full article
  11. Essex-based SB Motorsport is using its engineering and drifting expertise to create "the world's best pick-up" SB Motorsport of Southend, Essex is developing what it calls “the world’s best pick-up” in the form of a Nissan Navara with R35 Nissan GT-R underpinnings. The twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V6, four-wheel-drive system and chassis hardware from Nissan’s flagship supercar have been left over from a recent drift car conversion and are being swapped in wholesale ahead of a round of modifications that will boost power to around 1000bhp. The company plans to maintain “as much of a factory-finish interior as possible”, but preview images suggest the so-called Navara-R will be easily told apart from its standard-specification counterpart, with heavily lowered suspension, a bespoke bodykit, motorsport wheels and a prominent rear wing. Despite its wild looks and high-output powertrain, the Navara-R will be fully road-legal and will retain most of the standard features of the original truck. It's hoped that it will be completed before the end of the year. SB Motorsport typically participates in around 30 international motorsport events annually, as well as undertaking a small amount of customer work in the local community. Team boss Stephen Biagioni said: “This project has always been on the cards for SB Motorsport, ever since our initial GT-R project. With racing currently on hold, this was the break we needed to revisit the idea and bring it to fruition. “We have the best partners and they share our vision to create another great vehicle that will challenge the normalities of what’s possible. This is going to be an exciting mix of performance meets practicality.” SB Motorsport’s flagship GT-R drift car is a mainstay of the UK motorsport scene. It has made appearances at several high-profile events, including the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and in a number of popular online videos. Founder Biagioni is a European drifting champion and was the first English driver to compete in Japan’s D1 series. Read more Used car buying guide: Nissan Skyline GT-R R34​ How to drift: The tricks of going sideways Limited-run Nissan GT-R 50 by Italdesign makes production debut​ View the full article
  12. Facelifted liftback has been launched for other countries, but won't be heading to Britain BMW is withdrawing the 6 Series Gran Turismo from the UK due to slow sales of the five-door executive liftback. The UK was expected to be one of the biggest markets for the model, which replaced the 5 Series GT in 2017, but BMW has confirmed it won’t offer the facelifted version that has been unveiled for sale in other countries. The current model will be removed from UK price lists next month. The demise of the 6 Series GT in the UK is put down the increasing popularity of BMW’s SUV models, which, company officials say, offer similar levels of practicality in combination with greater ride height and a higher seating position. Just 209 examples of the 6 Series GT found homes across Europe during the first month of 2020. The model was also axed from the US last summer due to similarly slow sales. Anecdotal reports suggest the model, as with the 5 Series Gran Turismo it replaced, stayed on sale for so long as it was a personal favourite of BMW board chairman Norbert Reithofer. Among the key changes to the Audi A7 Sportback rival for its facelift is an exterior styling upgrade that ushers in a new-look front grille and altered headlights. Revisions at the rear are more subtle and include reworked tail-lights that feature a more structured look than before and a redesigned bumper with trapezoidal tailpipes. There is also a revised dashboard with new trim pieces, high-gloss controls and a 12.3in infotainment display. There are subtle mechanical changes across the board, with both petrol and diesels still offered. READ MORE BMW: coronavirus will affect new car demand for rest of 2020 BMW i8: Why the bold BMW had to die View the full article
  13. Petrol-electric xDrive25e variant arrives ahead of X2 facelift to rival the Mercedes GLA 250e BMW has extended its X2 line-up with a four-wheel-drive xDrive25e plug-in hybrid model just four months before the sporting crossover is due to receive a mid-life facelift. The X2 xDrive25e will rival the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA 250e when it goes on sale here in July and adopts what BMW describes as a fourth-generation petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain. The same system is used by the X1 xDrive25e and 225xe Active Tourer. It employs a transversely mounted turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine producing 123bhp and 162lb ft of torque together with an electric motor located within the rear axle and developing 94bhp and 122lb ft. The two power sources provide the X2 xDrive25e with a combined system output of 217bhp and 284lb ft of torque. Drive from the petrol engine is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox, while the electric motor channels its energy to the rear wheels via a fixed-ratio gearbox. BMW claims a 0-62mph time of 6.8sec and a top speed in Hybrid mode of 121mph. In combination with a 10kWh lithium ion battery mounted in the boot floor, BMW’s petrol-electric powertrain provides the X2 xDrive25e with an electric-only range of up to 33 miles on the WLTP test cycle. The model’s combined fuel consumption is 166.2mpg overall and it achieves 4.1 miles per kWh in electric-only running. The WLTP-certified CO2 emissions are 38g/km. The model’s top speed in electric-only mode is put at 84mph. The new X2 model can be told apart from its petrol and diesel siblings by a redesigned front bumper. It forgoes the round foglights featured on other X2 models in favour of units integrated into the main headlight assembly – an arrangement that is expected to be reflected in the facelifted X2 that’s due out in September. Inside, there are new readouts within the Infotainment system that provide details of energy flow, current and range. Model-specific equipment for the X2 xDrive25e includes an acoustic pedestrian warning system, uniquely styled 17in alloy wheels and dual-zone air conditioning that can be controlled remotely via a smartphone. READ MORE Hot M550i heads revised BMW 5 Series range BMW: coronavirus will affect new car demand for rest of 2020 Popularity of BMW’s SUVs kills off 6 Series GT in the UK View the full article
  14. Executive pair gain sportier design and mild-hybrid tech for enhanced performance and frugality Mercedes-Benz has revealed the facelifted E-Class Coupé and E-Class Cabriolet, which follow the saloon and estate versions shown earlier this year with revamped electrified engines and a host of design and technology upgrades. Due to go on sale in the UK and Europe this autumn, the style-focused models feature a range of alterations designed to enhance their appeal, including a new ‘A-shape’ front grille and flatter LED headlights and tail-lights. Both maintain their customary three-door, four-seat designs and the Cabriolet a folding fabric roof. E-Class product manager Andrea Ruland said: “A big focus was that we wanted to make them look more dynamic. Customers liked the general design of the previous E-Class range but wanted it to look sportier. It’s a big step forward.” Mercedes has extensively reworked the electronics of the W213-generation E-Class for this mid-life upgrade, and as a result it gains the firm’s new steering wheel with capacitive touch controls. Many of the other physical buttons inside have been replaced by capacitive controls, including the latest latest version of Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system with two 10.25in screens (or two 12.3in screens as an option). There are also new driver assistance features, ‘energising’ comfort functions and an optional Urban Guard theft protection pack. The engine line-up for the standard E-Class Coupé and E-Class Cabriolet will comprise two diesels and three petrols at launch, ranging from 2.0 to 3.0 litres in capacity and producing between 192bhp and 362bhp. These make extensive use of Mercedes’ 48V Integrated Starter Generator, which uses an electric alternator fitted directly to the nine-speed automatic gearbox to offer up to 20bhp and 133lb ft of torque in certain situations. The mild-hybrid system is also designed to aid fuel economy, which starts from an official 60.3mpg for the entry-level E200d diesel and 40.3mpg for the E200 petrol. Several engines, including the 263bhp petrol in the E450, are offered in combination with four-wheel drive. The E-Class Coupé and E-Class Cabriolet ranges will be topped by E53 variants from Mercedes’ AMG performance arm. These use a 429bhp litre twin-turbocharged 3.0-engine with an integrated starter generator that can produce an extra 21bhp and 184lb ft. This is sent to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic gearbox. The E53 Coupé can achieve 0-62mph in 4.4sec – 0.2sec quicker than the E53 Cabriolet. Both AMG models have a top speed of 155mph. As before, the full-fat E63 won’t offered with either two-door bodystyle. As well as the infotainment and technology upgrades as the regular E-Class models, the performance pair gain a number of AMG-specific styling tweaks, including a bespoke grille and new front splitter designed to bring them closer in line to the AMG GT sports car. There are also new 19in alloy wheels, along with a 20in set on the options list, plus a number of new paint colours bespoke to AMG. Along with functions such as Dynamic Select driving modes and AMG’s Ride Control+ air suspension, the E53 Coupé and E53 Cabriolet will also be offered with AMG’s Dynamic Plus Package for the first time. This includes a redesigned steering wheel, additional bespoke design elements and a Race driving mode that includes a drift function. A price rise of around £500 is expected for both models. READ MORE Mercedes to reduce model line-up, platforms and powertrains The history of Mercedes-Benz AMG - picture special Mercedes to launch 32 new models by 2022 in massive rollout View the full article
  15. Big-selling SUV renews attack on the Nissan Juke with emissions-reducing technology and refreshed look Mini has applied a series of design, technology and efficiency upgrades to the Countryman in an attempt to give it an edge over the fresher-faced Nissan Juke and Volkswagen T-Roc. The small SUV, which has been on the market in second-generation form since 2017, already accounts for just under 30% of Mini’s global sales. External revisions are similar to those drafted in when Mini facelifted its three-door and five-door hatchbacks in 2018 and Clubman estate in 2019. These include a new radiator grille design with a one-piece chrome frame, standard LED headlights and foglights, LED tail-lights with the now-trademark Union Jack motif and new alloy wheel designs. Also now available is a Piano Black Exterior pack that replaces the standard chrome detailing with gloss black. The Light White, Melting Silver and Chestnut paints have been removed but Sage Green and White Silver have been added. Inside are a number of detail changes, chief among which is the adoption of the digital instrument display that first appeared in the Mini Electric. In cars fitted with one of the Navigation packs, this 5.0in display combines with an 8.8in infotainment touchscreen that sits within a revised version of the central instrument circle featuring piano black surfacing. The standard media system now features Bluetooth as standard, plus an Amazon Alexa voice assistant that works via a built-in SIM card. Mini has also extended its range of personalisation options by adding two new leather upholstery choices and a new Mini Yours interior style package. The flagship Cooper S and plug-in hybrid S E All4 models feature additional piano black interior trim, too. Mechanically, the changes to the Countryman aren’t drastic. Mini claims an “extensively developed” engine range, but power isn’t boosted. Instead, the changes are focused on improving efficiency, with lower CO2 emissions ratings across the range of three- and four-cylinder turbo petrol engines and four-cylinder diesels. Particulate filters are used on the petrols, while the diesels employ Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology. The petrol engines in the Cooper and Cooper S now also feature an exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head, while a more efficient starter-generator system is standard across the range. Mini is yet to introduce full mild-hybrid technology, however. Meanwhile, the Cooper D now benefits from the same two-stage turbocharging as the more powerful Cooper S D. Mini’s All4 four-wheel drive system is optional across the range, while the eight-speed automatic gearbox is now standard on All4 versions of the Cooper and Cooper D. The plug-in hybrid goes unchanged. The facelifted Countryman is available to order now, with a small price increase over the original across the board. Q&A: Oliver Heilmer, head of design Q. What was the design brief for updating the Countryman? “When we started this project, it was pretty clear. We knew there were just a few parts to change. The headlights, tail-lights, wheels: let’s focus on those details that mark out the age of the product. The first brief was to modernise the Countryman as it is. We also wanted it to appear more vertical in terms of its character, less horizontal.” Q. Mini’s Union Jack tail-light design has proven controversial in the UK. Has it been well received elsewhere? “You can imagine that this is a discussion within Mini, but with the new Countryman, as well as with the Clubman before, it’s not directly the Union Jack any more. We said ‘okay, let’s keep this design, but not in that context as we did with the hatch’. That’s something we weren’t aware of when designing [for the hatch]. We know that it might be criticised, but in other countries we’re getting a lot of positive feedback, saying ‘it’s so unique’. My hope is that sooner or later you understand it as a Mini sign and not the Union Jack as it was before.” Q. Are there any more updates to come, or are you moving to the next generation now? “Now we’re really focusing on the next generation of our Mini family. It’s so much fun, I can promise you.” Q. The next-generation Mini hatchback has been delayed until 2022 or 2023. Will the design change as a result? “Since we’re talking about the hatch, I think it’s always important to keep the character of the original Mini somehow; this is something that’s kind of timeless. But time is changing, technology is changing and this is what we’re happy to anticipate for our new generation. So it helps us that there’s more time than we thought.” READ MORE Mini to shrink flagship hatch and launch Traveller crossover New Mini Electric revealed as affordable Brit-built EV BMW: next-generation Mini hatch to be delayed View the full article
  16. Steve takes a look at Diesel Particulate Filters. Diesel Particulate Filters or DPF for short has become a dreaded talking point for diesel car owners in recent years, so what are they, how do they go wrong, and how can you prevent your DPF from failing. What is a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)? The DPF can be found on vehicles made from 2009 onwards which come under Euro 5 emissions standards. Its purpose is to reduce soot deposits from entering the atmosphere from the cars exhaust system. The DPF collects the soot within the filter and when it is at least 45% full the car will automatically carry out what is known as a regeneration of the DPF. The regeneration uses the heat from the engine/exhaust system to burn the soot, thus preventing it from entering the atmosphere. You will know when a regeneration is taking place as you may experience a higher idling speed, vehicle fans running, lower MPG or a burning smell from the exhaust. Where can I find the DPF? The DPF is located underneath the car on the exhaust system and looks like a cannister as per the picture below. Does it go wrong? The DPF can become clogged with soot and eventually stops working. this is often caused by the car not being used for long journeys which allow the engine to get up to full operating temperature, such as only being used for town driving only or short commutes of 10 miles or less. It is therefore important that a diesel car gets a good motorway run at least once a week to allow the engine to get to operating temperature so it can carry out a DPF regeneration. if the DPF has become blocked your car may develop a loss of power or go into limp mode as well as an engine management light illuminating on the dash. Picture below shows what the DPF light on most vehicles looks like. Can it be cleaned? yes it can and can be done in four ways, firstly by giving your car a good motorway run at least once a week for 30 minutes making sure it reaches full operating temperature. This form of regeneration is known as a passive regeneration. However your vehicle may do an active regeneration which involves the car pumping fuel into the engine thus increasing the heat of the exhaust and ultimately burning off the soot. Secondly, running DPF cleaning additives in your fuel to help keep it clear. The third way is getting a mobile DPF cleaning specialist to come and do a forced regeneration and clean of the DPF. The forth way is more time consuming and requires the DPF to be dismantled and physically cleaned. Is it easy to replace? The replacement of a DPF is a time consuming job but can be done by an experienced DIYer. Alternatively a garage can replace your DPF but be warned, the bills can run well over £1000 dependent on manufacturer. Also be aware that removing the DPF completely is illegal and fines can be upto £1000, plus it will void your insurance/MOT.
  17. Merc’s new Audi Q5 rival is expected to be unveiled next year with lower and sleeker design First prototypes of Mercedes-Benz’s upcoming second-generation GLC have been spotted testing on German roads, well ahead of the car’s launch. Complementing further sightings of the next C-Class saloon, due to be revealed before the end of 2020 and go on sale next year, the GLC will be revealed in the middle of next year and arrive in showrooms in late 2021, Autocar understands. A prototype was seen wearing typical camouflage, yet the GLC’s shape has clearly changed quite substantially over its predecessor. It appears longer and lower, and perhaps a little wider, with less of an upright SUV stance. A longer wheelbase and overhangs should therefore mean more interior space. The GLC’s front and rear ends are expected to share design elements with its platform-sharing C-Class sibling but, while the saloon has dropped much of its camouflage, the SUV gives little away about its front and rear ends. Mercedes is aiming the make the C-Class the most advanced model in its class when it launches later this year. It will help achieve this via a new Drive Pilot function with level-three autonomous capability. It’s a similar system to that making its debut in the flagship S-Class in the coming months, and should also be offered on the GLC. We know that under the body the GLC will be closely linked to the C-Class, as it is today, sharing the same MRA (Modular Rear Architecture) platform. The platform change is crucial for the introduction of more electrified models: Mercedes is likely to offer 48V mild-hybrid technology across most of the GLC range, while further PHEV options beyond the current 300e petrol and 300de diesel choices are expected. A range of four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel options are anticipated. The MRA platform means the GLC, as before, should come with a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension system as standard. Optional will be an air-sprung set-up, while both rear- and four-wheel drive should be offered depending on variant. Further details will emerge later this year. READ MORE Mercedes-Benz reveals first official image of new S-Class Next Mercedes-Benz SL will return to sporting roots Official: Aston Martin names Mercedes-AMG chief as new boss View the full article
  18. Seven-seat Land Rover will receive a styling refresh and a hybrid option as part of a major 2020 update Land Rover will launch its first hybrid Discovery as part of a roster of updates aimed at boosting the model’s sales, which continue to fall below expectations. Photos of prototypes show a substantial disguise for what is described by a Land Rover source as a “model-year update”, suggesting the changes are more far reaching than the usual equipment upgrades and light tweaks. More revealing still, however, is that the first prototype we spotted was registered as a hybrid-electric model. New images show a disguised prototype from all angles, confirming that any planned styling changes are subtle, and likely limited to new light clusters and reshaped bumpers. Land Rover has yet to officially confirm which hybrid powertrain the initial test mule was using. It’s possible the brand is considering introducing a plug-in hybrid variant with the four-cylinder P400e system used on the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. However, Autocar understands the model spotted testing was a mild hybrid, using the 48V system added to the Range Rover last year. The only current Land Rover system suitable for a car of this size and weight is the latest 3.0-litre straight-six turbo petrol engine mated to a starter/generator and 48V battery. However, given the Discovery’s diesel-heavy mix, expect such a system to be introduced in the four- and six-cylinder oil-burners for the seven-seat SUV’s launch, likely at the end of 2020. Updates such as this will be crucial as Jaguar Land Rover aims to avoid fines under the EU’s fleet average CO2 target. The brand’s two biggest hopes for achieving this will be the new Discovery Sport and Evoque plug-in hybrids, which are set to be delivered to customers in May. They use a 197bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and a 107bhp electric powertrain for an electric-only range of about 30 miles. The extent of the visual changes to the Discovery is not yet clear. The front end of both test cars features the most extensive disguise, suggesting a new grille and bumper. But it remains to be seen if the controversial asymmetrical rear-end design will remain or be overhauled. Technology is expected to advance, with revamped infotainment and display systems and active safety tech. READ MORE New £25k Land Rover to be followed by luxo-Defender Range Rover EV to be most road-biased Land Rover yet Land Rover launches Discovery Sport and Evoque plug-in hybrids View the full article
  19. Show organisers waive offer of loan from Canton of Geneva due to conditions attached to it The organisers of the Geneva motor show have withdrawn their application for financial support from the Canton of Geneva following the cancellation of this year’s event. The Geneva State Council had offered a loan of 16.8m francs (£14.1m), but The Foundation of the Geneva International Motor Show (FGIMS) has deemed the terms ‘contradictory’ to its values and has waived the loan. The 2020 Geneva motor show was among the first high-profile European automotive events to be cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with the local government banning public gatherings just four days before it was scheduled to begin at the Palexpo exhibition centre on 5 March. In an official statement, FGIMS said the decision meant its financial situation was “thus severely weakened”, and requested financial aid from the Canton of Geneva to recoup its losses - estimated at 11m francs - and to help prepare for next year’s event. The organisation said that the conditions attached to the loan “aim to completely outsource the show including its conceptualisation to Palexpo SA”, and “are not acceptable to the Foundation. In fact, they are in contradiction to the statutes and especially to the purpose of the foundation formulated more than 100 years ago." The statement also cast doubt on whether the event will go ahead in 2021: “Furthermore, the organisation of the event in 2021 – a condition linked to the urgency clause of the draft legislation – is very uncertain at the moment.” Several exhibitors are said to be campaigning for the next event to be held in 2022, while FGIMS plans to “restore financial stability as quickly as possible and to be able to organise a follow-up edition”. Read more Coronavirus and the car world Geneva motor show 2019: Autocar's star cars​ Geneva motor show 2019: full report and pictures​ View the full article
  20. New technology is said to improve efficiency, while style updates and interior upgrades are also added Kia has upgraded its Rio supermini, introducing a raft of new technology, styling tweaks and a new mild-hybrid petrol engine with an innovative clutch-by-wire manual transmission. The new powertrain, which is the key upgrade alongside the design changes, comprises Kia's ‘Smartstream’ 1.0-litre T-GDi turbocharged petrol engine and a 48V electrical system. These enable the Rio to offer electric torque assistance and regenerative braking, maximising fuel efficiency. This differentiates the Rio from most superminis, which are yet to receive mild-hybrid technology. Further setting the Rio apart is the introduction of Kia’s Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology, which enables the engine to switch between different combustion cycles depending on load to maximise efficiency, and a new clutch-by-wire intelligent manual transmission. This latter innovation means there's no mechanical connection between the gearstick and gearbox and clutch - believed to be a market first. It's said to contribute to the mild-hybrid powertrain's greater fuel efficiency while maintaining the driver engagement of a conventional manual gearbox. These upgrades also increase performance over the Rio’s previous ‘Kappa’ 1.0-litre T-GDi engine, with a 16%-higher peak torque output. Peak power, however, is unaltered, for the Smartstream engine produces the same 99bhp or 188bhp as the unit it replaces. Full performance figures will be announced at a later date. As well as the new mild-hybrid system, the Rio now offers a choice of Smartstream petrol engines: the 98bhp 1.0-litre T-GDi and a new version of Kia’s 83bhp naturally aspirated 1.2-litre unit. The former is also now offered with a six-speed manual gearbox, replacing a five-speed manual, and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The Rio’s upgrade continues inside, where an enlarged 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system leads the improvements. New safety kit also features, including Lane Following Assist, which uses camera and radar sensors to maintain a safe distance from the car in front while monitoring road markings to keep the car in the centre of its lane. On the outside, the Rio receives several styling updates. The front grille is now narrower and the front bumper lower and wider, while new full-LED headlights have been added. Two new paint colours are introduced with the upgraded Rio, bringing the number of options to nine, depending on specification and market. The upgraded car is also offered with a new eight-spoke 16in alloy wheel design. There’s no word yet on UK specs or pricing for the mild-hybrid Rio, but expect prices to rise by a small amount when the facelifted model goes on sale in the third quarter of this year. READ MORE New 2021 Kia Stinger facelift starts testing at the Nürburgring Kia to launch new EV in 2021 as part of £19bn strategy Next Kia EV will be 'super-high-performance' halo model View the full article
  21. Woking firm cites Covid-19 pandemic and imminent Formula 1 cost cap as key reasons behind decision McLaren has announced 1200 job losses across its automotive, racing and technology businesses, as a result of the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost cap being introduced for the 2021 Formula 1 season. McLaren said it has commenced “a proposed restructure programme as part of a wider business plan to ensure its long term future success”. The proposed restructure, subject to employee consultation, is expected to result in around 1200 redundancies across the group’s Applied, Automotive, and Racing divisions, as well as support and back office functions. The number accounts for almost a third of McLaren's 4000-strong workforce. More details on which areas will be most affected won't be clear until employee consultations have been completed. McLaren said that it, like many others, has been severely affected by the pandemic, citing the cancellation of motorsport events, the suspension of manufacturing and the lack of car sales globally, plus reduced demand for technology solutions, having led to a sudden impact on revenue. In a statement, McLaren said: "We deeply regret the impact that this restructure will have on all our people, but especially those whose jobs may be affected. It is a course of action we have worked hard to avoid, having already undertaken dramatic cost-saving measures across all areas of the business. But we now have no other choice but to reduce the size of our workforce." McLaren Group executive chairman Paul Walsh said: "This is undoubtedly a challenging time for our company and particularly our people, but we plan to emerge as an efficient, sustainable business with a clear course for returning to growth. McLaren Applied has also already refocused to strategically prioritise proven, high-growth revenue streams. "We have already invested in developing a new lightweight, hybrid vehicle architecture that will commence series production at the end of this year with the first deliveries to customers now due in early 2021. "McLaren Racing has been a proponent of the introduction in 2021 of the new Formula 1 budget cap which will create a sustainable financial basis for the teams and lead to a more competitive sport." Walsh continued: "While this will have a significant impact on the shape and size of our F1 team, we will now begin to take the necessary measures to be ready to run at the cap from 2021 onwards in order to challenge again for race wins and championships in the future." F1 teams recently agreed to impose a budget cap of $145 million (£119m) from next season onwards, with that figure decreasing on a sliding scale to $135m (£108m) for 2023-2025. That compares to initial plans for a $175m budget cap for 2021, with the substantially lower figure intented to help keep the sport sustainable following the Covid-19 crisis. A reduction in staffing levels for F1 teams was an inevitable result of the cap, which doesn't include the salaries of drivers and senior team staff or marketing and hospitality outlay. READ MORE F1 bosses unveil new 2021 rules to boost racing Prototype carbonfibre tub completed at McLaren Composites Centre Coronavirus and the car world View the full article
  22. BMW has previewed the mid-cycle update of its executive saloon, with updated 6 Series GT also to be unveiled BMW is due to pull the covers off its facelifted 5 Series overnight, with a digital stream going live at 0700 tomorrow morning (27 May). First posted on BMW's official Korean Instagram account, a darkened image shows a disguised 5 Series wearing the same redesigned front-end look as previously spotted prototypes. Captioned 'the 5 and the 6', the image along with further social media posts reveals the 6 Series Gran Turismo will also be similarly updated and shown at the same time. Previous spy shots of test mules preview the updated model in both saloon and Touring variants. Like the saloon, the estate appears to gain only subtle tweaks to the front and rear, but we can see that hybrid versions will be told apart by a bespoke front bumper design, with a horizontal vane spanning the width of the lower air intake. Previous reports that BMW would significantly increase the size of the executive car's trademark kidney grille appear to be incorrect, as it looks to have grown more subtly than it did on the facelifted 7 Series. The move is part of a broader strategy at BMW that aims to give each model its own individual appearance, with the latest 3 Series sporting a different front-end look. Further design changes include redesigned headlights and a more heavily structured front bumper that incorporates newly designed air vents, including vertical air curtain ducts at the outer edges. Changes at the rear are likely to be less significant, although the plastic wrap adorning the spied prototypes hints at styling revisions to the tail-lights, rear bumper, tailpipes and area around the numberplate. Inside, the 5 Series is expected to receive new digital instrument graphics as well as a revised central display housing the infotainment functions. Today’s 5 Series will get BMW’s latest iDrive 7.0 operating system as part of a running change from this month onwards, suggesting the 2020 model will carry this on until the introduction of an iDrive 7.5 system in the eighth-generation 5 Series model due in 2023. The prototype displayed here is propelled by a plug-in hybrid powertrain, shown by the mandatory identification on its front doors as well as the flap for the charging port integrated into the front-left wing. The current G30 5 Series is already sold with a plug-in hybrid set-up in the 530e. This has a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor developing a combined 248bhp and providing an electric-only driving range of up to 40 miles. As part of a push to take its plug-in hybrid drivelines into the performance car class, BMW is said to be planning a new 545e model running the same set-up as the 745e. This would use a more powerful turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine and an electric motor making a combined 388bhp and yielding an electric-only range of up to 36 miles. In further developments, BMW plans to equip all petrol engines with a particulate filter, while the diesels will receive new selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, to allow them to meet incoming EU emissions regulations, according to Munich sources. Read more BMW details hydrogen plans including 369bhp powertrain BMW 3 Series 330e 2020 long-term review​ BMW continues to defend new styling direction View the full article
  23. Korean maker's flagship European SUV moves over to new platform; full reveal due in coming weeks Hyundai has released the first official image of its revised Santa Fe, previewing a full reveal in the coming weeks. Although effectively a mid-life refresh, Hyundai has taken the opportunity to introduce an all-new platform under the skin of the Santa Fe, despite the current model being less than two years old. The overhauled Santa Fe is the first of the brand's models in Europe to benefit from the "all-new third-generation Hyundai vehicle platform". It allows for the introduction of hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants for the first time. The decision is similar to rival Land Rover's Discovery Sport, which received minor updates visually but a new platform under the skin last year. It's thought the new platform also aligns the Santa Fe more closely with the new-generation Kia Sorento, due later this year. The preview image only shows the front end, which we can see benefits from a new front grille design with integrated running lights mounted vertically below the headlights for a T-shaped light signature. The rest of the updates focus on making the SUV look more "dignified and charismatic". The Santa Fe's interior is also part of the roster of changes. No specific updates have been listed yet, but Hyundai claims the changes provide "premium sensibility and comfort". The model will be revealed in full next month, with first examples arriving in Europe in September. READ MORE 2021 Hyundai 45: new electric crossover drops disguise New Hyundai Prophecy concept previews high-performance EV Hyundai closes South Korean factories amid coronavirus outbreak View the full article
  24. Aston Martin's DBX at its home, St Athan Andy Palmer has done much for Aston Martin, but amid troubled times, we consider what Tobias Moers, currently boss of Mercedes-AMG, can bring to the renowned maker For many months it has been a matter of when, not whether, Aston Martin Lagonda’s president and CEO of the past six years, Dr Andy Palmer, would leave the job. Things have looked bad for him since AML shares, newly listed two years ago in London at £19 amid much pomp, promptly halved in value and have since fallen lower. They worsened when Canadian billionaire brand entrepreneur Lawrence Stroll entered the picture in January as executive chairman, bringing £540 million in rescue cash — especially given Stroll’s reputation for micromanagement and his avowed determination to correct what he clearly saw as mistakes on Palmer’s watch, such as an oversupply of cars and needless tinkering with Aston-badged submarines and Miami property. However, the most pressing questions are raised by news that Palmer’s replacement will be Tobias Moers, chief executive of Mercedes-AMG, the performance arm of Daimler, which already holds a 5% stake in Aston Martin and provides engines, electronics and an increasing level of knowhow to the Gaydon-based company. Moers, an ambitious 54-year old engineer who joined AMG 26 years ago and has held many roles in the company, is successful and widely experienced at making and selling high performance cars. The managing director’s role he has had for seven years is viewed as an important training ground for Daimler executives bound for bigger things: a previous incumbent was Ola Källenius, now chairman of Daimler and head of Mercedes-Benz. Moers must already have a good working knowledge of the business after years as its most important component supplier, so his arrival begs plenty of questions questions about plans Daimler may have to increase its relationship with Aston Martin, given the British company’s value as a provider of economies of scale for AMG engines and hardware. It may be that Moers will view the UK assignment with relief: insiders say their relationship at AMG wasn't all sweetness and light, with Moers pressing for ever-more sophisticated cars while Källenius was a cost-cutter in the Carlos Ghosn mould. Moers’ arrival will also raise concerns among the faithful about Aston Martin’s ability to continue portraying itself as a British company, as well as about the fate of its sports car racing activities, given the recent announcement that Stroll’s Silverstone-based Racing Point F1 team will be rebranded as Aston Martin from next year. Aston Martin’s and Palmer’s difficulties have been greatly compounded by the effects of the coronavirus – which has even prevented the company from staging an international launch for the new product on which it admits its success depends, the DBX SUV – although a decline in demand for luxury goods was gathering pace even before the infection took hold. No high-end car company, not even Ferrari, is doing well at present, and many are in dire straits. Despite all, it would be deeply unfair to ignore the six-year contribution made by Palmer, who fostered a new atmosphere of optimism and creativity when he arrived from Nissan in 2014 and within months had drawn up a very credible 'Second Century Plan' that entailed launching a new model a year. Within three years, he had renewed Aston Martin's existing model range and found a convincing and evidently profitable role for the always-problematic Lagonda brand. Most important of all, he led the creation of the DBX, opening and equipping a new factory for its manufacture at St Athan, South Wales. That car, impressive from the outset, could yet lead a revival of the company’s fortunes provided a worldwide demand for luxury SUVs survives when times improve. Palmer himself has been significantly enriched by his Aston Martin exploit (one estimate valued his share allotment at the issue price at over £60m), but there's no doubt that he was totally dedicated to the assignment and will be reluctant to leave it unfinished. There are few certainties (except that Aston Martin is currently in very serious trouble), but history may still come to show that Palmer put the company on the path to eventual success. READ MORE Official: AMG boss will replace Palmer at Aston Martin First drive: DBX prototype View the full article
  25. Aston Martin Updated: British firm's share price rallies after it names Tobias Moers will replace Andy Palmer as CEO Aston Martin has confirmed that current Mercedes-AMG chief Tobias Moers will replace Andy Palmer as the embattled firm’s chief executive officer. Palmer, 56, has led the British firm since 2014, serving as both president and chief executive officer. He will step down from his duties immediately. Moers, 55, will start as chief executive officer on 1 August and will also serve on the firm’s board as an executive director. The switch was first reported by the Financial Times over the weekend. Since it was announced this morning, Aston Martin Lagonda Limited's share price has risen by around 30%, from 35p to around 50p. Keith Stanton, currently Aston Martin's vice-president and manufacturing chief, will lead the company on an interim basis until Moers’ arrival. Philipp Schiemer will switch from running Mercedes-Benz's Brazilian division to become the new head of Mercedes-AMG. Aston Martin has posted heavy losses recently, with the firm's share price falling sharply. The move comes shortly after billionaire Lawrence Stroll led a major investment into the firm and took over as chairman. Stroll said the Aston Martin board “has determined that now is the time for new leadership to deliver our plans”. He added that Moers is “the right leader for Aston Martin as we implement our strategy for the business to achieve its full potential”. The German has worked at Daimler for more than 25 years and switched to the Mercedes-AMG performance division in 1994. He became the firm’s head of vehicle development in 2002 and took over the top role late in 2013. Moers has since led a major expansion of Mercedes-AMG, doubling its model range and hugely increasing sales. The Affalterbach firm sold 132,000 cars last year, compared to around 70,000 in 2015. Stroll said that Moers' experience of growing Mercedes-AMG would be crucial to reviving Aston Martin’s fortunes: “He is an exceptionally talented automotive professional and a proven business leader with a strong track record during his many years at Daimler, with whom we have a longstanding and successful technical and commercial partnership, which we look forward to continuing. Throughout his career, he has delivered product expansion, strengthened brand positioning and improved profitability.” Moers said that he is “truly excited to be joining Aston Martin Lagonda at this point in its development”. He added: “I believe that there is a significant opportunity to harness the strengths of the business to successfully deliver the planned product expansion and brand elevation.” Palmer joined Aston Martin after serving in senior management roles at Nissan and has been credited for helping the firm grow by attracting new investment, expanding its model range and cutting costs. His strategy included the ambitious ‘Second Century Plan’, which involved massively expanding the Aston Martin range. That includes the new DBX, the firm’s first SUV, with Palmer also leading the approval for the new St Athan factory in Wales where it will be built. However, Palmer also helped push through the decision to float Aston Martin Lagonda on the London Stock Exchange in 2018. A series of setbacks since then, including a £119 million loss in the first three months of this year, led to the firm’s share price falling more than 90% from its initial value. That also prompted the firm to heavily revamp its product plan, including delaying the relaunch of Lagonda as a luxury electric car brand. Stroll added: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Andy for his hard work, personal commitment and dedication to Aston Martin Lagonda since 2014. In that time, the company has successfully renewed its core sports car range, with the DB11, Vantage and DBS Superleggera and has brought the brand’s first SUV, DBX to a point of readiness for deliveries to start in the summer. “Furthermore, the development of the era-defining Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar has paved the way for the mid-engined range to come. I would also like to recognise his leadership through the current challenges and uncertainties presented by Covid-19.” In the statement issued by Aston Martin, Palmer said: “It has been a privilege to serve Aston Martin Lagonda for almost six years. The launch of many new products including the new DBX demonstrates the dedication and capability of our employees. I would like to thank my management team and all the staff for their hard work and support, particularly during the challenges presented by Covid-19. I'm proud of you all and it has been an honour to work with you.” Mercedes-AMG names new boss Philipp Schiemer will replace Moers as the new chief executive officer of Mercedes-AMG. Schiemer has worked at Daimler since 1987 and has previously served as project manager for the A-Class and Mercedes-Benz's head of marketing. He has led the firm's Brazilian arm since 2013. Jochen Hermann, currently the head of e-drive development for Daimler, will take over from Moers has Mercedes-AMG's chief technology officer. Hermann was AMG's vehicle development chief from 2014 until 2016, before switching to his current role leading electric powertrain development. READ MORE Aston Martin loses £119 million due to Covid-19 impact Billionaire Stroll completes major Aston Martin investment New Aston Martin chairman Stroll on rescue deal and F1 Analysis: Aston Martin is not out of the woods yet View the full article
  26. New test drive rules mean now's the time to book that solo evaluation News as I write: car dealers can now bolt on trade plates and allow you to take a solo test drive. In my experience, decent dealers will be prepared to do that anyway, and it’s a great way to make a sale. The psychology is that you actually end up selling it to yourself, and you can be very persuasive. With that in mind, which cars and which dealers should you be bothering in order to get the drive of your life? The Mazda MX-5 is a ‘must drive before you die’ cliché, but clichés exist for a reason. I can remember every MX-5 I’ve driven through all four generations, and they’re truly wonderful. It was interesting to find a 20th Anniversary car (one of almost countless limited editions) from 2010 with just over 60k miles. It looked in prime condition and the price struck me as eminently reasonable, at £5300. It was only 88 miles away, too. Land Rovers, especially the proper old ones, still offer an almost unique driving experience – not least because it’s so very lorry-like. Plus, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have noticed that prices have started to become relatively sane. I was rather heartened to discover that a 1960 Series 2 Soft Top with reassuringly faded green paintwork was just £7995. Yes, all patina’d up. A freshly painted 1970 Series 2 Hard Top was just a grand more. Both are with dealers who might be happy to let you tackle a ploughed field. Every home should have an Alfa Romeo on the drive, and each ought to be lovely to look at and have a characterful engine under its pretty bonnet. That’s why I have a massive soft spot for the Brera coupé, which is such great value. I would go for the 3.2 V6 JTS Q4 SV, and I’ve found one with 75k miles on offer at just £5995. That’s enough to tempt me to travel 175 miles just for the fun of it. When it comes to fun of the uncompromising variety, it has to be a Caterham. The Seven is all about steering and very little about comfort, or indeed a functioning roof. There are some mad ones and you can pay an awful lot, but you don’t have to. There are a lot of privately advertised cars with fairly marginal mileages. Dealers have equally interesting examples, though, and I want a Prisoner-spec one anyway. For £14,995, you could buy a 2003 1.6 Beaulieu, which had the model-run-out Morris Ital suspension and an eight-valve Vauxhall engine. Now that does seem like a laugh, especially if you can manage to keep it on the road. The bottom line is that test driving a used car is the most important and possibly the most exciting thing that you can do this year. What we almost bought this week BMW 728i: James Ruppert has filled many a page with stories of his Shed 7, and this late-E38 7 Series is your chance to fulfil dreams of similar high-luxury, low-cost enjoyment. At £1395, the BMW looks in good nick cosmetically inside and out given it’s travelled 106,000 miles since 2001. We might go for it, if only to pretend the telephone inside still works. Tales from Ruppert's Garage Land Rover series 3, 131,449 miles: In-Lorry entertainment has always been a bit dicey, and I’m not truly bothered any more whether it works or not. I have been spending a lot of time with the old girl, though; I’m lucky enough to be busy, and the not-really-that-cavernous but conveniently high load bay makes life easier for an old boy like me. Anyway, the radio reception is terrible, as it is in every car out here in the sticks. I use my phone to listen to things, but I soon realised that costs money if you don’t download before leaving the house. Anyway, the stereo issue turned out to be a loose wire. Sorted. Reader's Ride Mercedes E2320: Reader Phil thought we’d like to see his daily driven W124 E220 Auto, and obviously we do. “I paid £1000 for it 18 months ago and have covered 15,000 troublefree miles since,” he says. “The MOT history backed up the low mileage. There was some main dealer history from years ago, although not much recently. Incredibly, everything works, including the electric mirrors and roof, and the ’box shifts smoothly. It has quirks but I’ve found that if something stops working, giving the fuses a wiggle sorts it out. I give it the respect a 25-year-old car deserves, and it gets about 35mpg on my 100-mile daily commute. When I hear people talking about their horrendous experiences with unreliable modern cars, I know Bangernomics works if you pick the right car!” Readers' questions Q. What impact will the coronavirus have on used prices? Should we buy now, or will we get a better deal after lockdown? A. Nobody can say with any real certainty at present. Sales have dropped dramatically during the lockdown, but many dealerships still have an active presence online. So with dealers desperate for sales and nobody buying cars, you may find quite a bit of leeway in negotiating right now. If you find something that you want, get in touch with the seller and make an offer. And if you’re worried about picking up the car while restrictions on movement are still in place, many dealerships will allow you to strike the deal now and pick up the car later. Q. My daughter loves horses. I don’t. But I do love cars. Is there something out there on a budget of £5000 that can keep me entertained and tow a horsebox? A. An E61 BMW 530d Touring will be fun and sensible, while a Volvo V70 R puts out 296bhp and could tow the whole stable. Or if you’re feeling brave and flash, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo from 2005 will do the job for the same money, and a lot quicker – so long as your horses don’t suffer from motion sickness… READ MORE Coronavirus: What motorists need to know ​ How to buy a car during a pandemic​ DVLA approves solo test drives for car buyers to maintain social distancing​ View the full article
  27. PSA ownership could bode well for the Italian brand, but nothing is guaranteed Many major events and launches in the automotive world have been postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, one of the more tantalising of which was the relaunch of the Maserati brand that’s been pushed back from May to September. Maserati, like Alfa Romeo, has been promised a lot by its parent firm Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) owner over the past decade or more, but been given the chance to deliver very little to realise its full potential. And what has come from Maserati, the likes of the Ghibli and Levante, has been well short of rivals including Porsche and Mercedes-AMG. While actually creating at least some of the cars has been an improvement on some of the revival plans of the past, creating them to match and better the ever-higher standards has been beyond Maserati thus far. Now there is a new plan, and an even more ambitious one at that. As we reveal, it includes up to 10 new models, including derivatives, before 2023, kicking off with a dramatic carbonfibre mid-engined supercar called MC20. The investment runs into the billions. If it feels like we’ve been here before with Maserati, we have. However, there’s one key difference this time. FCA’s upcoming merger with PSA puts Maserati’s feat under the ultimate control of Carlos Tavares, the future head of the combined PSA-FCA. No-one has a better track record in recent years of turning around brands, as he has shown both with Peugeot-Citroen and then again even more impressively for Opel-Vauxhall, loss-making in each of the 17 years previous. Under Tavares’s watch, there can be no excuses for Maserati this time. READ MORE MC20 supercar will lead bold Maserati revival Opinion: With PSA in charge, Maserati can finally flourish Maserati postpones bold brand relaunch until September View the full article
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