Michael van der Sande takes managing director position as luxury EV manufacturer kicks off European expansion
Michael van der Sande, former managing director of Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Operations division, has taken a new role as MD of Lucid Europe.
He joins as the luxury electric car maker begins its push into European markets; currently operating in Germany, Switzerland, Norway and the Netherlands.
The Californian manufacturer headed up by former Tesla engineer Peter Rawlinson currently produces the Air saloon: a Mercedes-Benz EQS rival with the longest WLTP range of any production car, at 548 miles per charge in ‘Range’ trim.
Autocar previously reported that the model is understood to be arriving in the UK later this year, pending development of a right-hand drive model.
The Air will be followed by the new Lucid Gravity SUV, a high-performance seven-seater expected to use much of the saloon’s technology but with more practical packaging.
It is likely to receive a top-rung ‘Dream Edition’ variant (as offered on the Air), featuring a 1065bhp twin-motor, four-wheel drive powertrain and a 113kWh battery.
Given Rawlinson’s claim that the Gravity will be a “luxury performance SUV like none other”, it could also be offered with the tri-motor powertrain – thought to output around 1600bhp – from the Air Sapphire (pictured below).
That should see the two models easily outdo their Tesla rivals, the Model S and Model X Plaid; of which the former is claimed to dispatch the 0-60mph sprint in 1.9sec.
Van der Sande’s extensive history marketing low-volume luxury and performance products should place him well to find success with Lucid in the coming years.
During his four and a half years with JLR SVO, he oversaw the development and launches of several bespoke products including the Jaguar C-Type Continuation, the Range Rover SV and the Bowler Defender rally car.
In a March 2022 interview with Autocar Business, he said he was “very excited about the electric future”, discussing the next generation of SVO models.
Joining Lucid provides Van der Sande with a rare opportunity to establish his brand as a leader in an emergent market; that for high-end luxury EVs.
He previously held senior positions at Alpine, Renault, Aston Martin, Tesla, Harley-Davidson, Bentley and Nissan.
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Two-seat convertible represents Nissan's ambitions to develop its sustainability and “innovative mobility”
Nissan has revealed an outlandish zero-emissions sports car concept, which, the firm says, represents its ambitions to develop sustainability and “innovative mobility”, and brings “zero-emissions mobility to the max”.
Previously seen in only digital form, the forward-thinking Nissan Max-Out concept takes the shape of a two-seat convertible.
The firm added today that the Max-Out has also been designed to “provide a liberating sense of openness while offering an enhanced, dynamic driving experience” and to deliver a “new driving experience with its superlative stability and comfort, tight handling and limited body roll”.
The two-seater features a unique set of wheels, along with a big open-air vent in place of a front grille. A large, circular light bar is positioned at the rear, with an inset 'Nissan' name written out.
Inside, a large digital display sweeps across the dashboard and can be used by both the passenger and driver. A non-traditional steering wheel and a lack of pedals indicate a degree of autonomous capability.
A video preview of the model’s unveiling shows that the screen can be used for digital gaming, viewing image galleries and recording lap times.
No powertrain details have been revealed, but should the Max-Out head into production, it would be likely to draw on solid-state battery technology, which will be used in the firm’s cars from 2028 onwards, as previously reported by Autocar.
That would mean it would be able to charge at triple the 130kW speed accepted by the Nissan Ariya SUV while offering improved performance and dynamics thanks to a smaller and lighter battery unit.
The Max-Out was initially previewed at the tail end of 2021 alongside two other Nissan EV concepts. It represents the sportier offering in the range, all of which feature the ‘-Out’ suffix.
The other Nissan EV concepts are the Chill-Out - a crossover that, in the future, is touted for production at Nissan’s Sunderland plant - the Surf-Out pick-up truck and the Hang-Out MPV.
All of Nissan’s ‘-Out’ concepts look ahead to Nissan’s broader future, including its advancement in battery technology, battery reuse, power management and vehicle intelligence.
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Multifarious executive estate will suit if you need something classy, well-made and hugely practical
It may be almost a decade old now, but the current Volkswagen Passat Estate is still a top choice if you’re after a classy wagon that’s good to drive, comfortable to ride in, decently refined and huge inside. Launched in 2014, the Mk8 looks and feels totally modern but has been around for long enough to have become tempting value on the used market.
The petrol engines all have four cylinders and are badged TSI. They start with a 1.4-litre making 124bhp or 148bhp, rise to a 178bhp 1.8-litre and then culminate with a 2.0-litre packing 187bhp, 218bhp or 268bhp.
There’s also a plug-in hybrid powertrain, badged GTE, which pairs a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine with and an electric motor to produce a combined 215bhp. Expect an electric-only range of about 30 miles, or 40 miles in post-facelift cars.
Also as part of that 2019 update, the 1.4-litre petrol units were replaced by a new 148bhp 1.5-litre engine.
However, most Passat buyers choose a diesel engine (badged TDI), and again there are plenty of options here, each having four cylinders. They begin with a 118bhp 1.6-litre and move up to a 2.0-litre with 148bhp, 187bhp or, in twin-turbocharged form, 241bhp.
In 2020, the 1.6-litre and BiTDI 2.0-litre were dropped, with a 120bhp 2.0-litre unit replacing the former.
Originally, the Passat Estate was offered in five trim levels: S, SE, SE Business, GT and R-Line. S provided fairly decent kit (such as heated mirrors, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and rear electric windows), but SE and SE Business added some very useful features, including automatic wipers, automatic lighting, front and rear parking sensors and sat-nav. GT got climate control, heated seats and adaptive suspension as standard, while R-Line brought a sharper and sportier design to the car and even more equipment.
After the facelift, Volkswagen simplified the trim range to just SE Nav, SEL and R-Line. SE Nav improved on the previous SE with an 8.0in infotainment touchscreen with sat-nav and voice control. SEL added roof rails, privacy glass and heated front seats, R-Line tri-zone climate control and keyless entry.
Spaciousness and practicality are where the Passat Estate excels. It has a 650-litre boot, whose volume is beaten only by its Skoda sibling, the Skoda Superb Estate, and rear seats that accommodate six-footers with ease.
But there’s more to the Passat Estate’s interior than its magnitude, because it features a range of soft-touch materials and solid-feeling switchgear, contributing to a feel-good, upmarket ambience, especially on post-facelift models.
If you tow a trailer or caravan, the Passat Estate is certainly an attractive choice for you as well. Seek out a car fitted with the Trailer Assist option, which enables it to automatically reverse a trailer or caravan into a parking spot.
Prices start at around £7000 for an early car. Spend between £9000 and £12,000 on 2016-2017 examples, £12,000 to £14,000 on 2018 cars and upwards of £16,000 on post-facelift Passats. The PHEV is rare and was pricier, so set aside at least £15,000 or more likely £20,000.
Need to know
The Passat’s Skoda Superb sibling is the roomier of the two estates, thanks to a 50mm-longer wheelbase, and usually costs less to buy used, the compromise being a slightly cheaper-feeling interior.
The 1.5 is the most frugal petrol, at 45.6mpg, while the diesels should reach the high-50s.
The Passat came out well in the latest What Car? Reliability Survey, ranked fifth of 26 executive cars, although Volkswagen overall was 22nd of 32 manufacturers.
ESP failure: Some earlier models suffered electronic stability control failure, potentially imperilling occupants. Contact your local VW dealer.
Welding issues: There have been two recalls relating to the rear-seat backrest. A small number of Passats built between 1 May and 31 August 2018 may have been fitted with seats where the welds on the backrest head restraint mounting could fail in an accident. A further recall was issued for cars made between 12 and 22 February 2019, again for faulty frame welds.
Not enough torque: A software update was required on cars made between 9 October 2018 and 28 May 2019 in order to increase the amount of torque produced at low speeds to improve drivability.
2.0 TDI 150: Providing wallet-pleasing fuel economy and strong torque along with the power to comfortably carry a full car of passengers with luggage, this mid-range diesel is sure to be a worthy option.
2.0 TSI 270: If you’re looking to have a bit of fun when the family isn’t with you, consider this 268bhp petrol engine, which shifts the Passat from 0-62mph in less than 6.0sec, in combination with R-Line trim.
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