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The Motorists' Guide

The Motorists Guide

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  1. Ford Escort RS1800 front three quarter
    Even after six punctures, Waldegård very nearly clinched victory
    Ford's Swedish rally driver Björn Waldegård impresses after an "immaculate and professional drive"

    The World Rally Championship arrived in Britain in 1977 for a RAC Rally that had regained some of its lost stature, with a new route, tighter timing and longer special stages – plus every kind of weather you could imagine in November. 

    Fans were enjoying a tightly fought battle at the top between the Ford Escort RS1800 and the Fiat 131 Abarth, and the leading driver was Ford’s Swedish star. 

    “An immaculate and professional drive took Björn Waldegård to victory,” we reported, “ahead of a similarly polished drive from Hannu Mikkola in his Toyota Celica. The pristine cars of these two were a marked contrast to the battered machines that some of the other top 10 finishers brought home. 

    “Waldegård took the lead as the rally hit the Welsh forests and never looked like losing it. Mikkola hung on but gradually fell back and only really put the pressure on again on the final day in an effort to narrow the gap and force an error. 

    “Even six punctures could not handicap Waldegård enough to be caught. lt was a rally that rewarded the traditional virtues of speed, consistency and professionalism of driver and team.” 

    Unfortunately for Ford, it wasn’t quite enough for the title, despite their Italian rivals’ poor showing.

    View the full article

  2. MG 4 Lexus NX Honda HR V Cupra Born front quarter tracking
    MG and Cupra (upper left; lower right) are star performers but Lexus and Honda (upper right; lower left) have faltered
    Cupra has doubled its year-on-year sales in the UK to just over 12,000

    The UK sales charts have for a while now not been a measure of who has been able to sell cars that month but rather of who has been able to fulfil orders that were made long ago.

    The ongoing shortage of semiconductor chips has, as we all know, led to an increase in waiting times and seriously constricted supply, making the sales charts a bit of an irrelevance month to month as an indicator of which manufacturer has done well.

    Yet over a longer period of time, some stories and trends can still emerge. Buried in the data are stories of winners and losers that aren’t all to do with chip shortages.

    One of the star performers is Cupra. It doubled sales in 2022 to just over 12,000 (to the end of October), which is almost four times that of DS. The comparison is a relevant one, because the two occupy similar positions and ethos in the market in being brands derived from a mainstream marque (Seat and Citroën respectively) and are growing at impressive rates. Yet Cupra is growing by more and faster, despite having been playing in this space for only half as long as DS. It’s a brand on the fast track to success. 

    The same too could be said of Polestar, which has sold just shy of 5000 cars and itself pulled clear of DS. But a breakout year hasn’t been had by Genesis, whose first full year on sale in the UK has brought 638 sales to the end of October – although that’s still 20 more than Maserati.

    Given the immense success and continued progress of Kia and Hyundai (up 9% and 19% on 2021 respectively, but on Kia remember it’s the bigger brand in the UK, having sold 20,000 cars than its nominal parent company year to date, and even more cars so far than Toyota), Genesis’s Korean bosses could perhaps expect more. Yet it's far too early to judge Genesis, and the excellent GV60 electric SUV is bang on in its market positioning. The GV60’s success or otherwise will likely dictate that of Genesis, too.  Things are at last looking rosier for Dacia in the UK. Bosses at the start of the year were scratching their heads as to why the progress of the brand had stalled in the UK as opposed to on the continent, where its runaway success shows no sign of slowing down, yet the prevailing economic mood means the market has come to Dacia. 

    Dacia’s 23,000 sales are 58% up on last year, putting it fewer than 2000 behind parent brand Renault, whose own sales have remained flat in 2022. Chips can only explain so much here, and the fact that Renault is seeking to reinvent itself and overhaul its model range with boss Luca de Meo’s Renaultution plan is an acknowledgment it is in a bit of a rut both with both the brand and its models. 

    Honda would hope to be doing far better than being 10% down on last year at this stage (its 22,000 sales make it only marginally larger than Mazda), especially given that it’s the first full year on sale for the new HR-V, a smart small SUV pitched right at the heart of such a popular segment. 

    Also wishing for better, chips aside, would be Lexus, whose sales have fallen 37% to just under 8000, despite having the well-positioned and of-its-moment electric UX 300e. Fiat, too, would be wanting more than just 3% growth with the first full year of its electric 500, as would Jeep, which is now selling plug-in hybrids but has still seen its sales drop by almost half. Roll on the Avenger

    Credit to Mini for growing its market share and sales in 2022 without a new model and with its core hatchback near the end of its life; to Porsche for adding 36% to its sales in 2022 to grow to be around a third bigger than Jaguar and almost as big as Suzuki; and to Tesla, which has put another 45% on its sales this year to grow to have Mini, Land Rover and Skoda immediately above it in the sales chats.

    Best in class goes to MG, whose growth from 25,000 to 43,000 has been the story of the year. Those sales numbers put it ahead of Skoda and within sight of Peugeot

    Car sales overall remain down, some 5.6% on 2021 to the end of October versus 2021, and a third on pre-pandemic levels, according to SMMT figures, and the strong order books suggest that third could easily be plugged in a normal world.

    But just who would have plugged those sales remains open to debate, as it’s clear the market hasn’t stood still. When normality (whatever that means) does return, don’t expect the same brands to slot into the same places in the sales charts.

    View the full article

  3. Ford dealer forecourt 2021 closeup
    Ford's US sales fell despite a nationwide rise of 9.5%, while rival GM improved thanks to fleet sales
    Europe's poor figures slump further, contrasting the Americas' strong performance

    Buyers are getting worried about the economy and where things will be as the holiday season begins and the new year approaches.

    Extended threats of a recession through price inflation and the constant barrage of talking heads warning of the “R” word may have generated the belief of its arrival with or without the actuality of it. Believing that a recession is near has the same result as the official announcement of the downturn: consumers decide to save money rather than spend it. And global national banks increasing interest rates have compounded the slowdown.

    For years, the automotive industry has focused on the pent-up demand of buyers who did not buy a new vehicle during the COVID shutdown and could not find a vehicle in the post-shutdown inventory shortage. These buyers normally would have shifted to used vehicles but the shortage of pre-owned vehicles has raised prices to record levels. Combining high vehicle prices and short supply moved potential buyers out of the market. Maintaining old vehicles has become the norm, as can be measured by the continued rise in the average age of vehicles on the road. In the US, the average vehicle has been in use for well over 12 years.

    To put that average age in perspective, more than 13 million vehicles will be sold in the US in 2022 on top of the 186 million vehicles sold in the prior 12 years. Today, there are about 280 million vehicles in use in the US, which means a substantial number of vehicles on the road today were produced more than two decades ago. The reliability of cars and trucks produced this century is so good that owners do not need to upgrade when these vehicles hit 100,000 miles, or even 200,000 miles. Knowledge of this has permeated the market, moving more buyers out of it and allowing them to save the average transaction price of nearly US$50,000 (£41,998) for a new vehicle or US$33,000 (£27,712) for a used one. Pent-up demand isn’t satiated as much because these buyers simply walked away from the market.

    This story is an extract from the November 2022 issue of AutoForecast Solutions' monthly report. Click here to download the full report, or to catch up on previous months

    Sales in China during September grew over the year prior, but not by as much as anticipated. Each of the past four months has surpassed 2021 numbers and September’s 9.3% growth would be the envy of most markets around the world. Coming off the fourth straight year of reduced sales, positive signs of any kind are welcome. However, 2022 is still expected to be 3% below even the 2020 level and more than 21% below the peak year of 2017.

    The United Kingdom is slowly recovering from the COVID-era downturn and this year won’t demonstrate that recovery. August and September recorded gains, joining January and February as the only months not in the red. Even with an expected positive fourth quarter, this year will still lag behind 2021 by 6%. Economic troubles inside the United Kingdom and around the world will keep the region from growing too quickly and most of this year’s losses will be recovered, but still well below pre-COVID levels.

    afs-october-2022-year-on-year-light-vehi

    Sales in the EU are doing no better. Last year, the EU slipped 2.4% from 2020’s sub-10 million total, itself down 24.5% from 2019. This dismal track record continues in 2022. When all of the numbers are in, this year will fall below 8.7 million units of light vehicles, an additional 10.8% lower than last year’s terrible showing. A slight recovery in 2023 won’t push sales volumes back over nine million units and the region won’t return to 10 million units before 2025.

    US light vehicle sales rose 9.5% in September, powered by a few major players. With slightly improving inventory levels, Toyota, Hyundai, Subaru and General Motors found more buyers last month than they had a year prior, while sales at Ford, Stellantis and Nissan fell. GM’s improvement was thanks, in large part, to increased sales to fleets as retail sales lagged behind the overall market.

    Sales in Canada were down 9.6% in September, which was as expected. Inventory shortages remain the biggest stumbling block to market growth and no remedy is on the immediate horizon. With just one quarter left in the year, the outlook for 2022 remains at 1.5 million units, followed next year by marginal growth of just 6%, taking the market above 1.6 million vehicles.

    The 4.8% rise in sales in Mexico was right on forecast for September, following last month’s sales growth. Again, two months do not make a trend, but this does follow the slowing inflation in the country as a positive sign for future growth. Light vehicle sales are still on pace for 1.05 million units this year.

    South America got a boost, as usual, from Brazil. The region’s largest market saw vehicle sales crater last September, setting the market for substantial growth last month. Rising nearly 27% looks great on paper, until it is pointed out that September 2021 was down over 28% from the prior year, which in turn was down nearly 11% from 2019. Third quarter economic growth in Brazil was very good just ahead of the presidential election and this is expected to continue for the rest of the year, paving the way for more year-over-year vehicle sales. 

    Sam Fiorani

    View the full article

  4. Vauxhall Mokka Electric front three quarter
    Vauxhall Mokka Electric accounts for more than 25% of all Mokka sales
    As British firm targets upmarket EV segment, Vauxhall boss expects "strong interest" in electric models to come

    Vauxhall is making rapid progress towards its major goal of becoming an EV-only company by 2028, according to managing director James Taylor, whose imminent aims are to boost battery model take-up and raise Vauxhall’s position in the market – close to but distinct from Peugeot, its Stellantis stablemate. 

    “Astra going electric is a big milestone for both our popular family car as well as for the Vauxhall brand,” he said. “Our move to electrification is already bringing new customers, so we expect strong interest in both the hatchback and estate models when they arrive in the UK. 

    “Our Mokka Electric already represents just over one in four Mokka registrations, and both it and the Corsa Electric are in the top two of their respective segments.”

    vauxhall-corsa-e-front-three-quarter.jpg

    The opportunity to ‘tune’ Vauxhall’s positioning in the mainstream market comes as a direct result of joining the Stellantis conglomerate, according to group design director Mark Adams, a Brit with responsibility for both Vauxhall and Opel cars.

    “We want to ensure there’s a correct bandwidth between our various marques,” Adams said. “We see Vauxhall-Opel, like Peugeot, as being in the upper part of the mainstream segment. We believe the two marques can be quite distinct, and appeal to different buyers, because of their priorities and histories. Vauxhall-Opel is uniquely a German-British brand, with a quite different appeal from Peugeot, which clearly has strong French roots. 

    “We believe the two sit well at the ‘quality and personality’ end of mainstream – and our research is already showing that the Corsa, Mokka and Astra are being perceived that way.” 

    Taylor cites his other priority as being to build Vauxhall’s already thriving light commercial market. 

    “All three of our van models have been available with electric power since last year,” Taylor said. “Our aim is to be selling only electric vans – seven years ahead of the government’s deadline.”

     

    Q&A with Vauxhall designer director Mark Adams

    mark_adams_1.jpg?itok=HD2UdEKi

    Has joining Stellantis brought about a repositioning of the Vauxhall brand? 

    “Definitely. No doubt about it. We believe we can be a step above the pure mainstream brands, not abandoning our volume customer base but offering them a particular kind of personality and quality. We’re already on that path.” 

    The Corsa is being updated. What are the priorities for that? 

    “Clearly, the big one is to adopt our new front face, much as you see it on the Mokka and the Astra. When Opel was joining PSA, and later Stellantis, we’d already frozen the Corsa design. Don’t get me wrong: we’re proud of what we’ve done with it, and there’s plenty of life in it. And the market has backed us. “But the new corporate nose makes the car look very new and different. We’ve progressed the interior, too. The whole idea is to ‘detox’ it – to make it simpler.”

    vauxhall_corsa_facelift_front.jpg?itok=_

    Vauxhall is doing well with hatchbacks, but an era of ‘skateboard’ chassis is coming. Can the hatchback saloon survive?

    “There will be changes. But that doesn’t mean everything will need to be tall. It depends where the technology takes us. Cars will be generally taller. Batteries will be carried underneath. But aero will be important, too, and lower cars have an advantage there.” 

    Electrification is bringing flexibility to mechanical layouts. How much will mainstream cars change? 

    “Depends how far you want to push. The opportunities are great: a wheel at each corner, shorter overhangs, more flexibility around the apertures, even changes to where you put the occupants. Up to now, that big lump in the nose has controlled almost everything. We’re looking beyond 2028 right now, and the opportunities are great. But it’s still a matter of designing cars people like.”

    How far ahead do you look? 

    “For us, a 10-year horizon is about right, and the sheer breadth of future opportunities put a lot of strain on your engineering and your opportunity to invest. You can’t make big decisions too far out because the pace of change might catch you out.” 

    vauxhall-grandland-gse-front-three-quart

    Hot hatches have been crucial over past decades, both for image building and selling cars. How will they fare in future? 

    “They’ll be around, but they’ll change. Our GS-e line will appear soon to show our view. Cars like them will have strong performance, but it won’t be explosive. The opportunities to use huge power are in decline. But driving enjoyment must and will survive. We’ll concentrate on driving enjoyment, responsiveness, agility – stuff like that.”

    View the full article

  5. Tesla Semi 2022 front quarter tracking
    The Tesla Semi was shown in prototype form in 2017, originally slated for a 2019 launch
    Battery-electric lorry is claimed to have a 500-mile range and a 0-60mph time of just 5.0sec unladen

    A production version of the long-delayed Tesla Semi will be shown today in a customer handover ceremony at the firm’s Nevada Gigafactory.

    The HGV, first shown in prototype form in 2017, is rumoured to be offered with either a 600kWh or 1000kWh battery for 300 and 500-mile ranges respectively.

    It has completed a 500-mile drive fully laden (at 81,000lbs or 36,741kg), Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed in a recent Twitter post.

    The rival Daf CF Electric – a European-style cab-forward lorry – is offered with a 315kWh battery, giving a 137-mile range (in tractor configuration). It has a gross combined mass (the maximum weight of the HGV and trailer) of 37,000kg.

    Musk denied that the Semi uses the more energy-dense 4680 cells on Tesla's recent third-quarter earnings call.

    “The Semi doesn’t use the 4680s. We're making Model Ys; some of the Model Ys coming out of Giga Texas [factory] are 4680,” said Musk, implying that supply of the cells was being diverted to cars.

    Tesla has claimed energy consumption below 2kWh per mile for the Semi and the ability to replenish 70% of a charge in just 30 minutes using a Megacharger – the first of which was installed at the Nevada Gigafactory.

    A tri-motor powertrain – driving the two rear axles – dispatches the 0-60mph sprint in 20sec fully laden or 5.0sec without cargo.

    Tesla originally stated the Semi would use four motors, and a high-performance model – in the mould of the Model S Plaid – isn't out of the question.

    tesla-semi-2022-interior.jpg?itok=5Wf9x8

    Inside, a central seat is flanked by two infotainment displays, each displaying a blindspot camera view for its respective side of the HGV. The left also displays diagnostic data such as speed and charge level, while the right also shows navigation.

    When the Semi was first shown in prototype form five years ago, slated for a 2019 launch, Tesla said it would be priced between $150,000 and $180,000. However, given the increased cost of vehicle production and supply-chain problems, this cost is likely to have risen significantly. 

    More detailed technical specifications – including the Semi’s official power output, battery capacity and pricing – are expected to be announced at the Nevada delivery event.

    The Semi’s sudden revival after fading into obscurity – much like the Roadster it was shown alongside in 2017 – is widely speculated to be a response to the Inflation Reduction Act. Signed off by US president Joe Biden in August, this contributes tax credits up to $40,000 for electric commercial vehicles weighing more than 14,000lbs (6350kg).

    Numerous large companies are known to have placed orders for the truck, including delivery firm UPS and the Canadian division of Walmart.

    The first units will go to Pepsi. The soft-drinks giant was given $15.4 million (£12.5m) by the California Air Resources Board to order low-emissions commercial vehicles, including 15 Semis, Bloomberg has reported.

    Musk said on the Q3 earnings call that production is planned to scale up to 50,000 units annually by 2024. Company chair Robyn Denholm recently said Tesla may build 100 by the end of this year.

    View the full article

  6. alpine a110 r 01 front static
    The top-of-the-range A110 R is Alpine's most hardcore model yet
    Most track-focused A110 yet to crown model range; limited-run Fernando Alonso edition priced at £129,440

    The super-stripped out Alpine A110 R, the final iteration of the car before the launch of an Alpine electric sports car, has gone on sale with a £89,990 starting price.

    Called the A110 R – for ‘radical’ – it has been devised as a no-compromise, circuit-oriented plaything heavily inspired by Alpine’s involvement in motorsport.

    Sitting above the entry-level A110, mid-rung GT and stiffened S, the R completes the core A110 family. It is joined by a £129,440 Fernando Alonso edition – limited to just 32 units – which gets a unique colour scheme and bespoke tuning to celebrate the career of the Formula 1 icon.

    However, bosses have not disclosed whether further variants could arrive before the sports car goes electric in 2026. 

    With hot laps at the top of its agenda, it weighs just 1082kg – down 34kg on the “already very light” A110 S and lighter, even, than the latest iteration of the 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. It has achieved most of its weight loss through the use of carbon parts plus some specialist tyres, she explained.

    Mass has been shed chiefly by the fitment of lighter bucket seats, the removal of noise insulation from the engine bay, the swapping of the glass rear panel for an aluminium item and the use of carbon fibre for the bonnet, wheels and new-shape rear ‘window’ panel. 

    But it’s the enhanced focus on dynamic agility that marks the R out most obviously from its stablemates. In consultation with Alpine’s Formula 1 engineers at Enstone, the team at Les Ulis has created a much more purposeful aero package, while overhauling the chassis for maximum stiffness and response.

    alpine-a110-r-03-back-static.jpg?itok=bD

    The new swan-neck spoiler, rear diffuser, flat undercarriage, flat front wheel-face designs and reshaped side skirts combine to boost downforce (by up to 29kg at top speed over the A110 S) and reduce drag (by 5% in Track mode) for both a higher top speed and greater stability in corners. 

    It’s also 10mm lower than the A110 S as standard, and the hydraulically adjustable Sachs dampers give a further 10mm drop for the “ultimate on-track experience”. Alpine has also increased the spring stiffness at each end by 10%, the front anti-roll bar by 10% and the rear one by 25%, as well as fitting semi-slick Michelin PS Cup 2 rubber claimed to boost cornering grip by 15% while improving on-track durability. 

    Stopping power comes from beefier, 320mm composite discs from Brembo on each corner, for which Alpine designed bespoke cooling scoops behind the front bumper to ensure consistent performance under load. 

    Drivetrain changes are comparatively subtle. The R uses the same 296bhp turbo 1.8-litre four-pot engine and seven-speed wet-clutch automatic gearbox as the S, although the exhaust has been tweaked to give “a roar that is readily recognisable as a sound signature worthy of the Alpine name”. 

    The aero and weight modifications add up to tangible performance gains. Alpine claims a 0-62mph time of 3.9sec – 0.3sec quicker than the S – and a 177mph top speed. 

    The package is rounded off by a new bespoke matt blue paint option that matches the Alpine F1 car’s colour, while the carbon fibre roof panel is left exposed. Inside, liberal use of microfibre, six-point racing harnesses and pull straps instead of door handles mark this out as a track-focused car.

    alpine-a110-r-dashboard.jpg?itok=EEXXa26

    A Q&A with the A110's programme director, Xavier Sommer

    Is this the last combustion-powered A110? “I can’t answer this, but I think the A110 R we’re presenting is clearly a very nice version to complete the present line-up. The A110 is the ‘entrance gate’, the GT is for the motorway, the S brings sportiness on the road and – critically – on track, and the R is our ‘radical’ version.” 

    Will the R’s emphasis on aero and weight efficiency help when it comes to developing EVs? “It was made independently. As soon as we are developing new things and we optimise the efficiency in aerodynamics, I think it will be profitable for all, but the main objective at this moment was to improve the A110’s aerodynamics. As soon as we increase our expertise, it will benefit all the other versions we have after.”

    How did you benchmark a car with no direct rivals? “It was always the case with the A110: a unique object. The idea was not to lie in front of everyone, but to propose something that’s more radical in our own way.” 

    So why no extra power? “Because the power ‘arms race’ is not our objective. It is not our DNA. I think today we have sufficient power. What our customers now expect is us to continue to improve the lightness, the aerodynamics and the chassis behaviour, and I’m sure it [the A110 R] will answer that expectation.

    View the full article

  7. Ford Halewood with Tim Slatter portrait
    Ford of Britain boss Tim Slatter discussed Halewood upgrade with Autocar
    Factory on Merseyside will manufacture electric drive units for 70% of the brand's European EVs

    Ford announced today it will invest an additional £150 million in its Halewood factory as it scales up the plant's involvement in its European electrification strategy.

    From 2026, Halewood will supply 420,000 motors for Europe-bound EVs annually – almost double the previously planned figure of 250,000.

    Autocar caught up with Ford of Britain chairman Tim Slatter following the news.

    How big a deal is this announcement in the Ford EV world?

    'We’d say it’s a really big deal, not just for the UK but globally. As you’ve heard, 70% of the motors we’ll fit to our European EVs by 2026 will be made here, but we’ve made sure what is done in Dagenham mirrors the work we’re doing at Vandyke in Michigan [the US] so that we both meet Ford global standards."

    Why choose Halewood?

    "It was an easy decision. They have the capacity, because the demand for the manual gearboxes that have been made here will naturally decline. Best of all, they have the fundamental skills we need: they’re used to doing heat treatment and gear machining, and both are fundamentals. It’s a natural fit."

    How would you characterise the motors that Ford will make here?

    "There’s a range of motors, but I’d describe them as an intermediate range, capable of working in a single application or doubling up in four-wheel-drive models. There will ultimately be heavier-duty powertrain units in our EV range, but we’re still deciding about what they will be and where they will be sourced."

    What does this news mean for Dagenham?

    "Dagenham continues to make half a million clean diesels [engines] a year for us, and we’re confident that role will be important for many years to come. Longer term, we will work on ways to integrate its activities into our overall plan. But Dagenham is uniquely located: it has a jetty and it’s a freeport. There’s a railhead, too, and it sits at the eastern gateway to London, a megacity. Most of the cars we sell in the UK flow through there, so It’s enormously important to Ford, logistically speaking, and it will stay that way."

    Will the batteries that power the Halewood motors be made by your Turkish joint-venture company?

    "The significance of this deal is that we see it as the best way to balance our supply of materials and components, which will lead to a good availability of batteries. We’re a market leader; we don’t want to be one of a group of clients all trying to deal with one dealing with one supplier. We need a high degree of certainty."

    View the full article

  8. Skoda Vision 7S 2022 front quarter tracking
    Skoda Vision 7S concept previews a large electric SUV due in 2026
    Czech brand invests an extra £2.1 billion to bring forward its EV roll-out by four years

    Skoda has brought forward the launch of its next three electric cars by four years, from 2030 to 2026.

    A spokesperson for the Czech brand confirmed to Autocar that the trio will be on the market "as early as 2026, with more to follow".

    The new cars are expected to be a crossover known for now as the Elroq (2024); a large SUV based on the Vision 7S concept (2026); and a compact urban SUV twinned with the Cupra Urban Rebel (2026). 

    Autocar reported in August that electric alternatives to the Octavia family saloon and Fabia supermini are also on the cards, but these are not set to appear before 2026, based on the latest timeline.

    Skoda CEO Klaus Zellmer told Autocar: “The biggest challenge at the moment is the cost [of making] battery-electric vehicles, especially when producing a car [of the size of] the Fabia. We will have to stay a little patient.”

    In a recent interview with Germany trade newspaper Handelsblatt, he said the company has upped its investment in electric cars from €3.1 billion (£2.7bn) to €5.6bn (£4.8bn) by 2026. Skoda is aiming for 50% to 70% of its sales to be electric cars by the end of this decade.

    Currently, Skoda’s only EV on sale is the Enyaq iV crossover, which is also available in rakish-roofed Coupé form. Its first EV, the tiny Citigo-e iV, was withdrawn from sale not long after it was launched in 2020. 

    The move comes as the wider Volkswagen Group rethinks its electrification plans under new CEO Oliver Blume.

    Volkswagen brand CEO (and former Skoda boss) Thomas Schäfer confirmed to Autocar that 10 new EVs are in the works for 2026. These comprise a mix of model variants (such as a higher-riding, more rugged ID 3), facelifts and brand-new products.

    As with its current petrol cars – the VW Polo sharing its underpinnings with the Seat Ibiza and Skoda Fabia, for example – these are expected to form the backbone of the Czech brand’s strategy up to 2030.

    View the full article

  9. 1 volvo xc40 recharge front action
    Volvo's entry-level EV gets a raft of efficiency tweaks that boost range and power
    Range-topping dual-motor Recharge Twin to arrive in May with larger battery pushing range beyond 300 miles

    Volvo has increased the range of the Volvo C40 Recharge and Volvo XC40 Recharge EVs with a raft of efficiency tweaks and given them an uplift in power and a slightly higher price.

    The update for the Swedish marque’s entry-level electric cars – which from today cost, on average, just under £1000 more (C40 from £48,355, XC40 from £46,505) than the versions available yesterday – brings a new 82kWh (78kWh usable) battery for the most powerful dual-motor Recharge Twin, up from 78kWh.   

    It also ushers in a change in drivetrain for the single-motor option, with power now sent solely to the rear wheels, which, Volvo says, is to aid efficiency. Recharge Twin keep four-wheel-drive layout.

    This efficiency equates to around 20 miles of increased range per single-motor model (up to 296 miles for the C40 and 286 for the XC40) although the Recharge Twin variants now have a quoted range of 316 (C40) and 312 miles (XC40) – up around 40 miles.

    03-volvo-c40-recharge-roadtest-2022-rear

    The update also includes a faster charging rate for the Recharge Twin of up to 200kW, slashing the 10-80% charging time by 10 minutes to 27 minutes. This matches the charging time of the smaller-battery standard models, which keep the same 150kW speed.

    Power rises across the range too, with a more powerful motor for the standard car increasing output from 228bhp to 235bhp. The already beefy Recharge Twin receives two different electric motors – 161bhp at the front and 242bhp at the rear (previously 201bhp front and rear) – but retains the same overall 402bhp output.

    Production of the updated models, all now available to order, will begin in May for the Recharge Twin and the single-motor variant will arrive from the autumn.

    Volvo was unavailable for comment when approached on the changes.

    News of the update comes just a few weeks after Volvo pulled the covers off its new EX90 electric flagship, which will arrive in 2024 with a 360-mile range and hefty BMW iX-rivalling £96,255 price.

    View the full article

  10. Ford Halewood factory wide 2022
    Halewood factory on Merseyside will eventually supply powertrains for 420,000 EVs annually
    Halewood factory on Merseyside gets an additional £150 million investment, safeguarding 500 jobs

    Ford will invest an additional £150 million in its Halewood factory as it scales up the historic UK facility’s involvement in its European electrification strategy.

    The firm confirmed last year that it would convert the gearbox plant to an electric powertrain plant by 2024. The new investment raises the total cost to £380m.

    The cash injection announced today means planned production of electric drive units at the plant will almost double, from 250,000 per year to 420,000.

    In other words, the plant will supply 70% of the 600,000 EVs Ford aims to sell in Europe annually by 2026.

    This also safeguards the jobs of 500 staff working at Halewood, who are currently learning to produce prototype motors at Ford’s E:Prime facility, assisted by the UK government-backed Advanced Propulsion Centre.

    Ford UK chairman Tim Slatter said: “Our UK workforce is playing a major role in Ford’s all-electric future, demonstrated by Halewood’s pivot to a new zero-emission powertrain and E:Prime’s innovation at Dunton in finalising the production processes.”

    Powertrains produced at Halewood will be shipped to Romania and Turkey, where crucial vehicles such as the upcoming Ford E-Transit Custom – the electric version of the UK’s best-selling van – will be assembled.

    Ford's ambitious electrification goals mean its European car fleet will be all-electric by 2030, with vans (under the Ford Pro banner) following five years later.

    To that end, the company will launch seven new EVs in Europe by 2024, including the E-Transit Custom, the Ford Puma EV and an as-yet unnamed crossover based on the Volkswagen Group's MEB platform.

    Ford of Europe boss Stuart Rowley said in March: “Let me assure you these products will absolutely look like Fords, drive like Fords and the experiences that we provide will give customers unique purchase and ownership experiences.”

    Ford previously announced a joint venture with South Korean battery company SK On and Koç Holding to establish a battery plant in Turkey. This is set to be one of Europe’s largest commercial vehicle production facilities.

    The American manufacturer aims for all its European facilities, logistics and suppliers to be carbon-neutral by 2035, with measures including the installation of renewable energy sources and the use of electric trains.

    View the full article

  11. 2022 FORD RANGER PLATINUM  front three quarter tracking
    The 2023 Ranger Platinum will start from £44,400
    Plush new model aims to mix truck-grade capability with a more premium appeal

    A high-specification, luxury edition of the Ford Ranger has been unveiled with the aim of pushing the popular pick-up at premium customers. 

    With prices starting at £44,400 (£17,400 more than the standard Ranger double-cab), the new luxury pick-up has arrived following the success of the Ranger Wildtrak – another on-road variant mainly used for leisure and towing – which alone accounted for 80% of Ranger sales in the UK last year.

    Ford anticipate the Platinum will take on around 7% of Ranger sales, almost exclusively from potential Wildtrak customers, in a bid to keep both on sale for as long as possible.

    2022_ford_ranger_platinum_front-three-qu

    The Platinum gets a silk chrome-finished front grille, 20in alloy wheels, daytime running lights and roof rails. Inside, the model gains luxury finishes such as leather-clad, 10-way electric seats, two 12.0in screens (one for infotainment, one for the instrument cluster) and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.

    Powering this Volkswagen Amarok rival is Ford’s 236bhp, 442lb ft 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine. It comes mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, which has been reconfigured to reduce noise and vibration in a bid to improve refinement. The luxury pick-up can also tow a 3500kg payload and carry over a tonne. 

    Alongside safety features introduced by the Wildtrak, the Platinum comes with active park assist, a blindspot warning system and a 360deg camera with trailer coverage. 

    2022_ford_ranger_platinum_dashboard.jpg?

    Ford is angling the Platinum edition as an alternative, premium offering for business owners who want a Ranger for its usable benefits - such as an ability to go off road, a low-range gearbox and high towing capacity – but will spend 90% of the time driving it on Tarmac, working professionally or using the car for leisure purposes. 

    Other members of the Ranger line-up includes the rugged XL and XLT, which are priced from £24,750 and £27,350 respectively, and the range-topping, £58,900 288bhp Raptor performance pick-up. 

    View the full article

  12. Volkswagen ID Buzz 2022 swarm data infographic
    New Volkswagen ID Buzz uses Cariad-developed advanced driver assistance systems
    Hyundai, Volkswagen and Sony Honda Mobility have all committed billions for mission-critical software development

    The Volkswagen Group’s internal software development company, Cariad SE, has signed a deal with China’s Horizon Robotics, a leading developer of AI hardware and software. In addition to a US$1 billion investment into Horizon directly, Cariad will invest an additional US$1.26 billion to take a 60% stake in a new joint venture with Horizon.

    This joint venture plans full stack development of both advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving (AD) software that will integrate numerous vehicle functions onto one chip, a system-on-chip design (SoC). SoCs are cost savers. They require fewer semiconductors overall to drive the car yet increase operating system stability and reduce system energy consumption. Fulfilling Volkswagen’s ‘Made in China, For China’ initiative, the joint venture represents an increasing split in the industry: one where two teams develop the same technology or software in parallel but deliver the results separately – one for China and the other for the rest of the world.

    This is true for Volkswagen, as Cariad is also collaborating with the Bosch Group in Germany to deliver the same ADAS/AD software and system architecture for use there. The joint venture with Horizon is designed to stop Volkswagen’s plunging EV sales in China. The ID 4 electric crossover made its debut a year ago, with expectations of sales in excess of 150,000 units. Instead, Chinese buyers found the ID 4’s lack of over-the-air updates and minimal digital offerings wanting and they purchased domestic new-energy vehicles with the more established digital ecosystems that appeal to them.

    This story is an extract from the November 2022 issue of AutoForecast Solutions' monthly report. Click here to download the full report, or to catch up on previous months.

    In September, Cariad's failure to deliver a unified operating system for use across the group’s EVs cost former CEO Herbert Diess his job. Regaining market share is critical for Volkswagen, in China and the rest of the world.

    Designing cars around software

    hyundai-motor-group-software-platform-in

    Hyundai Motor Company is committed to spending US$12.6 billion (£10.4bn) between now and 2030 to create its Global Software Centre (GSC). The new entity will be tasked with creating and implementing the operating system and over-the-air upgrade capabilities needed to allow Hyundai to build software-defined vehicles with the launch of two new EV platforms in 2025: eM and eS.

    “Creating visionary vehicles empowered with the ability to evolve through software will enable customers to keep their vehicles up to date with the latest features and technology long after they have left the factory.” That is the Global Software Division’s key mission, according to the President of Hyundai’s R&D Division, Chung-Kook Park.

    All Hyundai Group vehicles, both EV and ICE, will be equipped with the internally developed Connected Car Operating System (ccOS), which will allow all Hyundai vehicles access to vehicle access to over-the-air upgrades, personalised services, and up to Level 3 autonomy using the eM platform. The eS platform will be developed as a skateboard underpinning purpose-built vehicles for B2B applications, such as delivery, logistics and even car-hailing services.

    The group’s ccOS will be loaded onto the Nvidia Drive platform, designed for large-scale data processing needed by the lidar, cameras and radars for the Level 3 autonomy that will be deployed in future eM-based vehicles. The Global Software Centre will create software-defined mobility devices and solutions that extend beyond the vehicle, entering the larger mobility ecosystem. Hyundai’s Global Software Group is among the first legacy OEM software organisations to embrace and pursue this idea.

    Tech firms targeting a slice of the mobility sector

    sony-vision-s-02-concept-2022-front-quar

    Sony Honda Mobility is a joint venture with roots in both legacy OEM vehicle production, from Honda, and deep software development experience, from Sony. So it came as something of a surprise that in the press conference announcing the founding of Sony Honda Mobility, CEO Yasuhide Mizuno, the former automotive head at legacy automaker Honda, declared: “The mobility industry is reaching a time of transformation, with digital technology and software at the epicentre. Leading that transformation requires a completely different approach from the way that existing original equipment manufacturers do things.” Perhaps it should not have been such a surprise, after all.

    The Sony Honda Mobility focus on software-driven development has its foundations in Honda’s establishment of a computer science research centre in Silicon Valley in 2000. Five years later, Honda’s research centre evolved to investing in start-ups that embraced open innovation in their software platforms. Meanwhile, Sony’s 2016 revival of Aibo, the robot dog, led the company to concentrate on EVs as a way to bring about company success with software-defined vehicles. With that mutual interest in software-defined vehicles, Sony Honda Mobility plans to build smart vehicles that rely on open innovation software development to supply users with digital products and services that complement their lives outside the car, while over-the-air updates enhance their experience inside the car. 

    Open innovation software development allowed outside developers to create content for Sony’s PlayStation, succeeding with the gaming community far beyond anything that Sony could have accomplished by itself. The joint venture will begin taking reservations in early 2025 and deliver technologically sophisticated and engaging customer vehicles towards the end of that year. 

    Conrad Layson

    View the full article

  13. Nissan Leaf Volkswagen E Golf Renault Zoe
    The level of battery degradation affects an EV’s used value
    Battery analysis reveals rapid degradation in some models; some reaching "end of life" within eight years

    Concerns are being raised about the usable lifespan of EVs, with specialist companies reporting some cars reaching ‘end of life’ battery capacity after just eight years – and some hitting that point even sooner. 

    Silver Power Systems (SPS), a specialist in battery performance analysis whose software tracks and monitors battery data and health, says it has observed wide variations in performance, especially within fleets. 

    “Across even a single fleet, variations in battery health can be up to 10%,” said Pete Bishop, founder and chief technology officer at SPS. “Considering that in most commercial applications, 80% battery capacity is deemed to be end of life in operational terms, 10% degradation represents half a vehicle’s life.” 

    However, the definition of what constitutes ‘end of life’ depends on how the vehicle is being used, as Liam Mifsud, programme manager at SPS, explained: “Someone operating a specialist vehicle will probably keep it for longer and not regard 80% as end of life. If they don’t drive far, a private vehicle owner may also be happy with that capacity. However, we’ve noticed that when a battery gets to 70%, it degrades more rapidly.” 

    SPS’s findings echo those of Geotab, a telematics provider. It also measures vehicle batteries’ state of health but goes further by publishing its findings in its Electric Vehicle Battery Degradation online tool. 

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    Its data is based on 6300 fleet and consumer EVs, represented across 24 makes and models. 

    According to Geotab, average battery degradation over a six-and-a-half-year timeframe is 13.5%. Among those recorded by the tool are three model years of BMW i3, with the oldest, from 2017, recording a battery degradation figure of 16% after a little less than three years. 

    Meanwhile, 2014 examples of the Nissan Leaf show 23% degradation after almost six years. After four and a half years, the batteries in 2015 Tesla Model S cars that Geotab sampled had degraded by 10%. 

    Autocar compared Geotab’s results with the same models being advertised by private sellers. A 2012-reg Nissan Leaf with 102,000 miles had, said its owner, only eight bars of the 12 showing on its range display, meaning its battery had degraded by around 30%. As a consequence, he said, the car had a real-world driving range of 50 miles. 

    A 2015-reg BMW i3 with 33,000 miles had degraded by 19%. Its owner claimed that on a full charge and in Eco Pro mode, the car had a driving range in summer of 85 miles. A 2014-reg Tesla Model S with 70,000 miles displayed a range of 270 miles when fully charged, compared with 280 miles when it was new. 

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    In contrast to these private sellers, Autocar found that dealers were less forthcoming about their cars’ battery capacities and ranges. However, one specialist EV dealer has recently begun displaying the battery health of its cars in its advertising. Drive Green, based near Bristol, uses a plug-in battery monitor to generate a battery certificate that it displays with the car. For a 2014-reg Renault Zoe with 54,000 miles, the company quotes a battery state of health figure of 96%. A salesman said the garage is the only one in the UK offering the service. 

    Some dealers are sceptical about the reliability of battery readings taken this way, however. One EV specialist told Autocar that it’s important to know what condition the battery was in before it was analysed by a third-party, plug-in system. “A warm battery will give a good figure, so sellers run the car first then check it,” he said. “I’ve seen it happen when dealers are selling to the public as well as to each other. This way, they get a better price for the vehicle. The best thing is to go by the car’s range display. We’ve sold hundreds of EVs, and on this basis, we see 1-2% battery degradation each year.” 

    One organisation that might be expected to have a clear picture of the scale of battery degradation is Recovas. The partnership – which includes EMR, a vehicle recycler; car makers including BMW; the University of Warwick; and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre – is developing an end-of-life supply chain for the electric vehicle industry. As part of this work, EMR salvages end-of-life EV batteries. But EMR managing director Roger Morton said it’s early days as far as supply is concerned. 

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    “EV batteries are lasting far longer than anyone expected,” he said. “Although batteries degrade over time, for third owners and beyond, driving range is less of an issue. The car is probably a second or third vehicle for short trips, and in any case the car is much cheaper than a new one, so they make allowances. 

    “I see EVs easily lasting as long as ICE cars; possibly longer because they’re simpler. It’s going to be 2045, long after sales of ICE vehicles have ceased, before we start seeing end-of-life EVs with seriously depleted batteries in large numbers.”

    View the full article

  14. BMW dealer forecourt 2019 closeup
    Pendragon Group’s average selling price is a little under £30k
    Pendragon's used car profits dropped by an average of £491 per unit during Q3

    Interesting stats in the latestfinancial report from Pendragon, the UK’s fourth-largest dealer group by turnover (just under £3 billion, since you’re asking), including some intriguing details among the headlines of yet another incredibly strong quarter of trading.

    The firm operates more than 160 new and used car sites across the UK under the auspices of the Evans Halshaw, Stratstone and CarStore brands, covering a broad spread of both mainstream and premium car makers in its mix.

    Across this it revealed that the average price of a new car sale was £29,036 – a headline that gives lie to the fact that all electric cars are priced beyond the means of the typical new car buyer, although as ever with averages it’s important to remember the mid-ground represents only one view of the overall picture.

    Perhaps more interesting was the snapshot of new and used car profits these past months. Throughout the pandemic, car dealers (and some car makers) have been significantly insulated by the performance of each: when doors opened again after the first lockdown, new and used sales were turbocharged; when new car supply slumped, used car profits soared; and now the used car market is wobbling a little, if far from declining, new car margins are on the up.

    All of that is reflected in Pendragon’s figures, with new car profits running at an average of £2597 per car, up an impressive £743 compared with the same period last year. Used car profit, in contrast, was down to £1561 per car, from £2052, representing a £491 drop, but that’s still at a historically high level if you discount what is regarded as an exceptional year in 2021.

    Pendragon notes that the economic outlook “remains challenging” but is understandably buoyant given it has 20,000 customer orders banked, ready for payment on delivery as the semiconductor chip shortage eases. The recession may be long and deep as predicted, but that order bank could see Pendragon through a significant proportion of it.

    Notably, too, few in the industry expect used car prices to collapse, even in the face of the cost of living crisis. Supply is still low, and perhaps lower still as we head into the period three years after the pandemic began, when many new car leases weren’t renewed. What’s more, used demand is potentially rising as impatient buyers look to skip new car waiting lists (or just pay less given current pressures). Pricing has plenty of head room, too, helped by the rapid inflation of new car prices as a result of rising raw material prices and the (likely) temporary end of the haggle in the face of parts shortages.

    The business of selling cars has never been easy, has rarely been consistent and is usually teetering between good times and bad, but Pendragon’s experiences are by no means unique. Despite the hardships elsewhere, after a few years of variable fortunes, all car retailers seem to be making hay.

    View the full article

  15. De Tomaso P900 front lead Priced from £2.48 million and limited to just 18 units, the P900 uses synthetic fuel

    Italian car maker De Tomaso has revealed the P900 - a track-only, £2.5million, limited-run hypercar, powered by a bespoke V12 that revs all the way to 12,300rpm.

    Priced from £2.48 million and limited to just 18 examples, the P900 packs 888bhp in a package weighing just 900kg, thanks to a lightweight carbon tub, and with an exterior designed to boost aerodynamic performance. 

    The two-seater's V12 engine does not feature any electrification technology but is entirely new and can be run solely on synthetic fuel. De Tomaso said it is “in essence, the world’s first carbon-neutral V12”. 

    The company also called the engine the lightest and shortest V12 ever, weighing 220kg. De Tomaso added it would aim to “set the standard” for car makers that are hoping to extend the life of internal combustion engines. 

    “As a passionate automotive enthusiast, it is difficult for me to accept a silent EV-driven future,” said Norman Choi, De Tomaso CEO. “We believe that alternatives do exist, and the development of our new platform, driven by synthetic fuels, is our solution for keeping this shared passion for the theatre of combustion engines alive. 

    “This venture into synthetic fuels represents our commitment to the pursuit of a zero-emissions mobility future without sacrificing the crucial element which we all hold so dear - the soul and symphony of an engine.” 

    Much of the radical-looking car, which was created to pay homage to the Carroll Shelby-designed P70 and “tackle lap times”, has been designed in-house and adapted from the De Tomaso P72, including the 6.2-litre powertrain. 

    Several of the P900’s other technologies are derived from motorsport, including an active DRS system incorporated into the rear wing. 

    Other aspects, including much of the P900’s carbonfibre engineering, were designed by Capricorn, which helped to deliver the Porsche 919 Evo Le Mans racer, and is vastly experienced in the world of Formula 1

    De Tomaso said there are still cars available to buy and it will disclose performance figures to owners only for the time being. 

    The model will make its debut in the spring at an as yet unnamed automotive event, but the development of the engine will continue into 2024. If customers want their car earlier, it will instead be fitted and delivered with a V10 engine derived from F1. 

    Owners can also be tutored by De Tomaso in racing and the firm will supply a full team of mechanics and engineers to set the car up on a track day. 

    View the full article

  16. Audi RS6 avant performance edition front three quarter tracking
    The RS6 Avant Performance will be the sole variant sold in the UK
    New Performance models replace standard RS6 and RS7 in UK, with £15,000 price increase

    The new Performance variant of the Audi RS6 Avant will become the sole version sold in the UK when it arrives in December, triggering a significant price increase. 

    Fitted with a larger turbocharger, its 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8 has been uprated by 30bhp and 37lb ft to deliver 621bhp and 627lb ft, reducing the 0-62mph sprint time by 0.2sec to 3.4sec.

    The super-estate will be joined by the new Audi RS7 Sportback Performance, which uses the same powerplant and gets identical performance figures.

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    Both cars continue with the same eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearboxes and carbon-ceramic brakes.

    New additions come in the form of 22in lightweight wheels – available in gold – that are wrapped in high-performance Continental Sport Contact 7 tyres. A self-locking centre differential also comes as standard. 

    Audi has binned much of the insulation from both cars’ engine bays in a bid to reduce weight, which now stands at 2090kg in the RS6 and 2065kg in the RS7 – a reduction of 8kg a piece. The insulation removal brings with it a louder sound from the engine, Audi claims.

    Prices now start from £112,650 for the RS6 Avant and £116,305 for the RS7 Sportback – both up by £14,980. Carbon Black and top-rung Vorsprung trims bring £8950 and £17,400 price increases respectively.

    audi-rs6-avant-performance-edition-front

    Standard equipment now boasts the Park Assist Pack (a head-up display and a 360deg camera) and will soon include the RS Dynamic Pack , which includes an upped 174mph top speed, all-wheel-drive steering and a Quattro Sport differential on the rear axle.

    Other additions the new variants bring include the new Ascari Blue and Dew Silver matt paint colours and Marcato blue interior accents.

    Elsewhere inside, much remains unchanged, with both models keeping Audi’s 12.3in Virtual Cockpit display, which now boast motorsport-derived shift indicators (for optimal gearshift times) as well as a new traffic-light system for the launch control.

    Deliveries for the new Performance models will begin in December, when the current standard RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback will be removed from UK sales.

    View the full article

  17. Honda Civic front hero While hatches are slain all around it, Honda stands firm against the SUV onslaught

    Why we’re running it: To see if the Honda Civic can save the everyday family hatchback 

    Month 2Month 1 - Specs

     

    Life with a Honda Civic: Month 2

    Son's the word - 23 November 

    One recent lesson: trust your kids. Here’s my son, perched proudly in the Firefly Sport EV (a car designed to get youngsters used to driving). It was amazing how little direction he needed for the action shots. We drove alongside in the Civic, where its decent electric running helped: it being silent, my boy could easily hear the photographer’s instructions 

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    Mileage: 5891

    Back to the top

    This type of hybrid has real benefits, but what about economy? - 16 Nov

    The Civic is an extremely clever self-charging hybrid – one of the newfangled generation where the engine is mainly there to power the electric motor, rather than drive the wheels.

    It’s not unique – the Jazz and HR-V use a similar set-up, as does the Nissan Qashqai – but it works well and, because the petrol engine only clutches onto the front wheels at higher speeds, it means there’s more silent running than there is in hybrids like the Toyota Prius.

    This is a good thing because anything that avoids the wheeze and whine of a more normal hybrid with its continuously variable transmission (CVT) can only be a bonus in my book.

    We’ve now done just over 2500 miles in our Civic, so have filled up enough times to get a pretty good indication of how it’s doing from an economy point of view. It’s all well and good having a hybrid that’s interesting to drive and doesn’t drone on, but ultimately a major factor in the decision to buy a car like this is running costs.

    The Civic’s claimed figure is 56.5mpg and, unlike the fantasies around a PHEV’s economy, that has proved to be realistic. The best we’ve seen is an impressive 57.2mpg and the worst is 46.1mpg, with an average of 52.2mpg. This is across a real mix of driving, from blatting up and down to London from Lincolnshire entirely on motorways, to the school run over a quite brilliant back road, to nipping into our local town.

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    It’s interesting to see where the Civic is stronger: it prefers more local running, where the petrol engine isn’t being asked to work as hard. That high figure of 57.2mpg was thanks to much shorter journeys, where the average speed was probably no more than low 40s.

    But we’ve recorded a couple of low points on long motorway journeys. This might be happy hunting territory for a big diesel, where you can keep the revs low and ride the torque, but it’s a different story in the Civic. Its petrol/electric combination has to work hard to sustain the oomph over longer stretches. Not that it gets noisy or unpleasant in terms of cabin ambience. The radio works well at all speeds and it’s a relaxing place in which to trawl from Lincolnshire to London.

    Your speed makes a huge difference, though. Sustained high-speed running at motorway pace, traffic-free and sitting at an average of over 60mph has yielded our two low scores: 46.1mpg and 48.3mpg. But if it’s a more clogged journey, with traffic jams and those cursed variable speed limits, then we’re back up to the mid-50s. It’s not an altogether pleasant paradox: better journey, more expensive fuel costs; rubbish trip, greener running. It could be a metaphor for 2022. 

    Love it 

    My wife has said she likes the Civic and it’s not even an SUV. Praise doesn’t get much higher.

    Loathe it 

    The fuel economy can suffer if you ‘press on’ a bit too much, especially on motorways. 

    Mileage: 5305

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    Life with a Honda Civic: Month 1

    The Civic is as well packaged as ever - 27 October

    The rear parcel shelf in the Honda Civic (bear with me, this does get interesting) is a work of genius. Why on earth has no one else thought of it? Because it’s tiny and slides left to right, you don’t need to faff around storing the redundant parcel shelf in the garage when you want maximum space and need to fold down the rear seats. Simple stuff done brilliantly. 

    Mileage: 5284

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    Cast aside your hybrid preconceptions: this one’s a blast - 19 October

    If nothing else shows where the needle has moved in the car world recently, it’s the fact that we’re about to dedicate 450 words to how a hybrid drives – and, what’s more, be enthusiastic about it.

    Sorry for the spoiler right at the start, but the way the new Civic handles is genuinely a reason to get excited about it. There’s a little toggle switch by the gear selector buttons that allows you to flick between Eco, Normal, Individual and Sport driving modes. I know what you’re thinking, but don’t scoff at ‘Sport’ quite yet, because this is a hybrid that’s enjoyable to drive.

    Grip levels are impressive and the steering is accurate, if numb, but the thing that impresses me most is the way it combines a little bit of body roll with cracking suspension control. 

    The rebound is the headline for me. There are some nasty bumps on my daily route, but the Civic tackles them really well, with no sudden weight dropping out of the tyre or spring as it crests them. There are plenty of other so-called sporty cars that don’t get that balance right, so the kids are just being tossed about like rag dolls in their seats. Here it feels really well controlled, to the point that the children actively ask me to keep pushing on.

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    With Sport engaged, all the dials turn to red, the throttle gets more responsive and the engine note takes on an extra dose of aggression. I’ve enjoyed trying to convince myself I’m Gordon Shedden in his BTCC race car, and there is a slight hint of the road-going Honda screamers of old. The manic rev range is obviously missing, but there’s a hard edge to the engine note that doesn’t get boomy as the revs climb. This is no CVT drone, that’s for sure. 

    Sport also turns on Winding Road Detection (an excellent Japanese expression), which keeps the engine engaged to reduce lag and increase deceleration.

    Despite all this, the new Civic is heavier than the old one. It’s still only 1517kg (or 1533kg in this top spec), but it’s nevertheless annoying that the weight curve is going up, not down. To be fair, Honda has tried, giving this car an aluminium bonnet that’s 43% lighter than the old one and a resin tailgate that shaves some weight, but excess kilos will always be an enemy of enthusiasts.

    Overall, though, things are looking encouraging, as the Civic is already making a strong impression. I think it’s the general ease of use: nothing flusters it and there are few annoying flaws. 

    It’s the little things that count, like the seat heater that remembers how your last journey ended and comes on again automatically the following cold morning. A car that functions as nature intended: who would’ve thought that would be such a revelation in 2022?

    Love it 

    Seat comfort

    After a day spent in a Citroën Ami recently, driving the Civic again felt like reclining in a La-Z-Boy.

    Loathe it

    Plump rump

    The rear quarter view looks a bit flabby to me. Even the 18in wheels can’t hide the post-C-pillar bulk 

    Mileage: 4744

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    Welcoming the Civic to the fleet - 5 October 2022

    A few weeks ago, my far more learned colleague Matt Prior summed up the new Civic thus: “In a class being neglected, Honda arrives with a car that’s one of the most compelling and best to drive.”

    In a stroke, Matt neatly summed up why this car excites us at Autocar. Finally, an everyday hatchback that we can all actually look forward to driving. It’s not only Matt: Kris Culmer borrowed it for a few days and thoroughly enjoyed every minute, while Rachel Burgess came back off the international launch raving about the car. I’ve only had it a week and already I can see where they’re all coming from.

    It’s not just that there are encouraging signs about how well it drives and commutes – although it effortlessly absorbed a 480-mile series of commutes in my first three days with the car – but also what it represents. Twenty years ago, I would never have thought that I would one day be waxing lyrical about a family hatchback, but the contrast in SUV land is a welcome one. Here’s hoping that the initial love-in for the Civic continues for the duration of our loan.

    So to the actual Civic that we have. There’s only one powertrain, so we very wisely stuck to that option. It’s a hybrid system, with a 181bhp electric motor doing most of the motive work while a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine powers the generator that charges up the battery. It’s clever stuff, and it has so far yielded an average of 55.2mpg – impressively close to the official economy figure of 56.5mpg.

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    If you have nervously glanced at the specification panel on the right where it says ‘e-CVT’ and are therefore thinking there’s about to come an almighty ‘but’, don’t fret. Actually, there is no gearbox: the engine only clutches onto the wheels at high speeds, and even then only at one fixed ratio – and therefore there’sno awful CVT drone to get used to. More on that in a later update.

    There are three trims available: Elegance, Sport and Advance. Prices start at £29,595 (when was the last time we had a figure under £30,000 for a car this size?), rising to £30,595 and then £32,995 for our model. One advantage of a world short of semiconductors is that options on cars are gloriously simplified. 

    Gone are the days when there were thousands of options on even ordinary motors. Here, save for a bit of additional plastic on bumpers and a different interior illumination, you simply choose your trim level, pick a paint colour and that’s it.

    For the record, the punchy Premium Crystal Blue metallic paint you see here is £825. I like it; from certain angles, there’s almost a little bit of Subaru BRZ about it.

    At this early stage of our time together, I feel that I would go for Advance even if it were my own money, despite the extra cost. The top trim gets the larger, 10.2in touchscreen (the lower two have a 9.0in one) for displaying Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, plus it comes with adaptive headlights and a heated steering wheel (it will be interesting to see how useful those two are as the nights draw in).

    piers-lt-civic-hello-29.jpg?itok=QiXjGjM

    It also has a panoramic roof, a Bose stereo and electrically adjustable front seats. The latter are proving comfy so far, helped by a driving position that is absolutely spot on.

    One thing that’s already a welcome characteristic is that there are actual dials for changing the temperature – and they’re so functionally laid out. The matching of touch and physical works well and reminds me of my last long-termer, a Mazda CX-5. Are the Japanese showing the Germans the way with how to integrate all this modern technology seamlessly? It seems so.

    One less welcome element of the modern is the lane keeping assistance, which is standard fit and re-engages every time you start the engine. So far, though, it’s not proving overly intrusive, plus it’s easy to turn off. Consider judgement reserved until I’ve spent more time on narrow back roads, which usually confuse these systems.

    piers-lt-civic-hello-23.jpg?itok=ty-dKvc

    In a way, the encouraging early omens for the Civic are typically Honda. Just as it has twice done a quite stellar job of paying for and engineering a brilliant Formula 1 engine or chassis only to withdraw and receive none of the marketing credit, so the company has now launched what seems like a cracking hatchback when all the world is looking the other way at SUVs.

    But if ever there were an argument for the yin and the yang of the Japanese car industry, it’s this Civic. Here’s hoping the early promise delivers.

    Second Opinion

    I thought running an HR-V had softened my disdain for crossovers, but my first thought on stepping into the Civic was: “Ah, yes – hatchbacks!” It just looks so much better, and it feels so much tighter and more agile, making it very enjoyable to drive, despite not being a sporty model. Honda has made its e:HEV powertrain even better too, more biased towards its electric side. And best of all? Still no touchscreen air-con controls. 

    Kris Culmer

    Back to the top

    Honda Civic 2.0 i-MMD E:HEV Advance specification

    Specs: Price New £32,995 Price as tested £33,820 Options

    Test Data: Engine 4 cyls in line, 1993cc, petrol, plus 181bhp electric motor Power 181bhp Torque 232lb ft Kerb weight 1533kg Top speed 112mph 0-62mph 8.1sec Fuel economy 56.5mpg CO2 114g/km Faults None Expenses None

    Back to the top

    View the full article

  18. Lancia PU+RA Zero concept front bumper
    Concept previews the design of future Lancia cars, including three upcoming EVs
    Italian car maker to reboot brand with new electric Ypsilon, Delta and as yet unnamed flagship

    Italian marque Lancia will launch three new electric-only cars by 2028, with a focus on the European premium market, and has previewed their design with the Pura concept.

    Shown today at the Lancia Design Day as a piece of floating art, rather than a physical car, the concept will shape the design of the new Ypsilon, the rebooted Lancia Delta and an as yet unnamed flagship.

    The concept marks “a new era” for the brand, Lancia CEO Luca Napolitano said, and shows how the brand will look “for the next 100 years”.

    The design “vision” reveals a modernisation of the classic Lancia T-shape Calice grille, now created with three LED bars “to express our electric future”. At the rear, circular, hollow tail-lights – which take inspiration from the iconic Lancia Stratos rally racer – are joined by a new Lancia nameplate.

    “It is timeless, durable, unique,” said head designer Jean-Pierre Ploué. “Our designs will be built with iconic [and pure] shapes like the circle, square and triangle.”

    This rear design will be used first on the new Ypsilon, due to be launched in 2024 as an EV successor to the current Italy-only supermini. It is likely to be based on parent company Stellantis's STLA Small electric platform, also used by the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa Electric.

    lancia-pura-zero-concept-rear-3.jpg?itok

    The Ypsilon will lead the charge for a new wave of Lancia vehicles as it becomes a pure-electric brand by 2028. No timeline for the arrival of the other two vehicles has been announced yet.

    Napolitano previously told Autocar that Lancia will focus on small, compact and flagship models that will be “in line with a tradition that made Lancias recognisable all over the world for their elegance and modernity".

    Speaking today, he said upcoming cars will be sold in Italy "and four other European countries in the first phase" – expected to include the UK, France and Germany – before expanding sales Europe-wide. 

    Napolitano comfirmed the car maker will focus on a "key" online sales platform – thought to be alongside sibling brand Alfa Romeo and DS – accompanied by 100 sales outlets across the continent. “We want to make Lancia a respected brand within the European premium market.”

    He added: “Today is the beginning of our renaissance that will amaze Lancia fans all over the world. Lancia will once again be a desirable, respected and reliable brand in the European premium market. Today is the beginning of the new Lancia.”

    The interior of the next generation of Lancia will be created in partnership with Italian design firm Cassina and will be revealed in full next April. It will include the latest infotainment technologies, Lancia confirmed.

    lancia_logo.jpg?itok=2KtzYTMo

    The 116-year-old brand, now owned by Stellantis, also revealed a fresh logo, with the marque opting for a three-dimensional look, rather than the flatter design favoured by European car makers such as Volkswagen and BMW.

    View the full article

  19. 99 bmw 3 series ev render by autocar 0
    Next-gen 'Neue Klasse' EVs, including BMW i3 saloon, will use Gen6 batteries
    New sixth-generation batteries will be used in Neue Klasse EVs from 2025, including BMW i3 saloon

    BMW will establish assembly operations for a sixth-generation (Gen6) electric vehicle battery on the site of its new iFactory manufacturing plant in Debrecen, Hungary.

    The Gen6 battery assembly operations will centre on BMW’s "next-generation round battery cells" for models based on the firm's Neue Klasse platform, said Milan Nedeljković, BMW board member responsible for production.

    “In Debrecen, we're building the most advanced plant in the world. With our iFactory, we're setting new industry standards for vehicle production. Our investments underline our systematic approach to implementing e-mobility,“ he said.

    The first model planned to be based on the Neue Klasse platform is an electric saloon that sources suggest will revive the BMW i3 name when it enters production in 2025. Its development is twinned with a successor to today’s BMW iX3 SUV, which is also set to be produced at the Hungarian site.

    bmw-hungary-battery-factory-render.jpg?i

    The Debrecen plant is planned to boast an initial production capacity of up to 150,000 units in its first full year of operation.

    The newly confirmed battery assembly operations form part of a €2 billion (£1.7bn) investment that BMW has earmarked for the 140,000m2 plant, construction of which started in May 2022.

    The Gen6 batteries assembled in Hungary will be integrated into BMW’s new Neue Klasse platform, which is planned to underpin all upcoming seventh-generation BMW 3 Series models, including the i3.

    They will dispense with the modular assembly used by BMW’s existing fifth-generation (Gen5) batteries for a new cell-to-pack assembly method.

    BMW board member responsible for research and development, Frank Weber, recently revealed the new Gen6 battery will be assembled in packs of between 75kWh and 150kWh.

    The new round cells will have a diameter of 46mm and are planned to be 95mm tall in saloon models and 120mm high in SUV models.

    bmw-gen6-batteries.jpg?itok=TFUHS1CH

    In announcing its plans, BMW said its new battery "is decisive for the competitiveness of electric vehicles".

    “With the next generation of batteries for the Neue Klasse, range will improve by up to 30% and the charging speed will be up to 30% faster,” it said.

    A reference to "high voltage" indicates that the new batteries will function at up to 800V.  

    No details have yet been made as to the supplier of the new cells, but BMW partner CATL recently announced plans for a cell production site in Debrecen.

    The construction of the BMW battery assembly operations is expected to boost the workforce at the Debrecen plant by 500.

    View the full article

  20. Range Rover Sport 2022 front quarter tracking
    High-margin Range Rover Sport (and Range Rover) will be prioritised for production, reports state
    Semiconductor chips to be diverted to most profitable cars in a bid to minimise losses

    Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will reduce production of high-volume models to divert chip supplies to its most profitable cars, reports have claimed.

    The company plans to cut back to one shift at its Halewood plant and part of its Solihull factory between January and March 2023, according to The Guardian.

    This enables the company to prioritise production of the high-margin Range Rover and Range Rover Sport (built at Solihull), diverting scarce semiconductors, or chips, away from lower-margin models. 

    The move is expected to affect lead times for the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque (produced at Halewood) plus the Jaguar F-Pace and Range Rover Velar (at Solihull).

    The Guardian reported Land Rover Defender production (in Slovakia) would also be prioritised, but Bloomberg said it was unaffected. Autocar Business has contacted JLR for clarification.

    Addressing Solihull, the firm said in a statement: “We continue to actively manage the operational patterns of our manufacturing plants whilst the industry experiences ongoing global semiconductor supply chain disruption. Demand for our vehicles remains strong.

    “We expect our performance to continue improving in the second half of the year, as new agreements with semiconductor partners take effect, enabling us to build and deliver more vehicles to our clients.”

    land-rover-defender-130-2022-side-tracki

    At its last financial results presentation in October, JLR revealed it was sitting on a record 205,000 orders, primarily due to the chip shortage and rising production costs. Some 70% of those orders were for the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, as well as the Defender, which recently gained an extended 130 variant (pictured above).

    The production rethink comes after former JLR CEO Thierry Bolloré warned the semiconductor chip shortage will take “years” to resolve, shortly before he stepped down from the post, citing personal reasons.

    “We should not forget that the supply of chips is really a crisis in our sector,” Bolloré told investors and analysts on the company’s third-quarter earnings call.

    Adrian Mardell – then chief financial officer, now acting CEO – added that the company’s relatively small demand for chips exacerbated the problem, with some suppliers cancelling deals at short notice.

    Global production volumes are down approximately four million this year through chip shortages alone, according to analyst AutoForecast Solutions.

    View the full article

  21. ULEZ pollution
    Only cars that meet strict emission standards will be allowed to enter London boroughs without paying a charge
    Mayor of London Sadiq Khan confirmed the zone, which penalises the most polluting cars, will expand from August 2023

    London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which penalises the most polluting cars in the capital, will cover every borough by August 2023, it has been confirmed today.

    The move by London mayor Sadiq Khan means the current zone – which was expanded only last October to cover all areas within the North and South Circular Roads – will move all the way to the boundary of the current Low Emission Zone (LEZ) from 29 August next year. The M25 will not be covered.

    It means only cars that meet strict emission requirements will be allowed to enter London areas without incurring a ULEZ charge: Euro 4 engine compliance for petrol cars (which includes any cars registered after 1 January 2006) and Euro 6 (after 1 January 2016) for diesel. Vehicles that don’t meet these standards will continue to pay £12.50 a day. Those who don’t pay will be fined an increased £180 (currently £160). 

    The zone will also continue to operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year (apart from Christmas day).

    Figures recently released by Transport for London (TfL) show that between November 2021 and June 2022, an average of 1.9 million journeys were made into the zone – initially set up to cover London's Congestion Zone before being expanded last year – each month

    Despite that large number of vehicles, fresh data revealed the ULEZ had reduced roadside pollution levels by 44% in central London and 20% in inner London, prompting today's decision. This was coupled with a public consultation, which ran between May and July 2022, that showed 59% of respondents agreed more needed to be done to tackle toxic air.

     

    Cleaner air is coming to outer London.Today I’m announcing that we’re expanding the #ULEZ London-wide in a move that will bring cleaner air to *5 million* more Londoners. Here’s why pic.twitter.com/nAWjTweJ6b

    — Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@MayorofLondon) November 25, 2022

     

    Khan said: “Expanding the ULEZ London-wide has not been an easy decision. The easy thing for me would have been to kick the can down the road.  But in the end, public health comes before political expediency. 

    “We have too often seen measures delayed around the world to tackle air pollution and the climate crisis because it’s viewed as being too hard or politically inconvenient. But there’s no time to waste when people’s lives are on the line and we are facing a climate crisis. ”

    He added: “Expanding ULEZ is the right choice for our city and something that I know will help us to continue building a better, greener, fairer and healthier London for everyone.”   

    Alex Williams, TfL's chief customer and strategy officer, said:  "Expanding the ULEZ is vital for public health in this city. We know that there are more deaths that are attributed to toxic air in the city’s outer boroughs and that bringing in these world-leading standards over a larger area will see millions more breathing cleaner air. 

    “Our experience of these schemes shows that they work, with significant reductions in pollution since the first zone was introduced in 2019.”

    A £110 million scrappage scheme has also been announced, to allow those living within the expanded ULEZ to get money towards a compliant car. Van owners will be allowed to use the cash to retrofit their vehicles to make them compliant.

    The ULEZ is also a cash cow for the TfL and a recent report highlighted that the zone brought in almost £100m in less than a year since it was expanded.

    According to TfL figures, the expansion has generated £93.6m of revenue just from non-compliant vehicles.

    View the full article

  22. IMG 2057 The firm's latest two-wheeler is a great example of how electric road bikes should be designed

    Move Electric rating: four stars out of five

    What does it cost? £3,999

    What is it?The Ribble Endurance SL e takes the popular Endurance SL road bike frame and slaps a motor and battery in it to make it even more appealing. Paired with the Mahle Smartbike Systems X35+ rear hub motor, it's a familiar sleek sight, with it hidden so well you'll be hard-pressed to find people that realise it's an electric bike upon first glance. 

    /sites/default/files/users/user123746/IMG_2334.jpg

    What is it like?  I've provided plenty of words on the Mahle Smartbike Systems X35+ power system, but never in an electric road bike. For general road bike riding, it's smooth, and it's easy to see why so many brands choose it. It's lightweight (3.5kg) and can be easily integrated into a frame, and it really does take the sting out of hills. 

    For most people, if you don't live in the Alps, the battery range should suffice nicely. I managed about 50 miles per charge, but that's based on quite hilly terrain and some less-than-favourable weather conditions. 

    I did find that the motor began to struggle a bit on steeper inclines, but if you're planning on riding up 30% inclines, for example, then a mid-drive unit would likely suit your riding far better. The other point with electric road bikes is that they, like all electric bikes in the UK are required to use motors that are limited to assisting to 15.5mph, which, for many is more than attainable on the flat.

    /sites/default/files/users/user123746/IMG_2323.jpg

    When I rode over to the flatter side of Yorkshire, for example, I spent the entire ride above the threshold for assistance. Luckily, the drag from the motor when it's not in use isn't that noticeable, but compared to a non-electric road bike it just feels ever so slightly more sluggish. This isn't a critique of Ribble or Mahle, but more the fact that with current legislation electric road bike popularity is likely to be less so than if e-bike motors were allowed to assist just a little bit faster. 

    I digress. The frame is a racing frame, and comes with the Configure Level 5 Carbon Integrated Road Bar and Stem – aka, it’s fancy and it’s aerodynamic. The bars on my bike were a little wider than I’m used to, but I appreciated the ergonomics of the drop with it being quite shallow so I could sit comfortably on the drops.

    /sites/default/files/users/user123746/IMG_2319.jpg

    I've not ridden a non-electric Ribble, let alone this frame, but even with a motor weighing down the back end, it was a pretty confidence-inspiring ride. It's not the most agile bike you'll ever ride, but with a shorter stem/smaller bars combo (which you can choose if you purchase on the website) I think it would feel more than race-ready (if you could race an e-bike). 

    That being said, it's just a fantastic training ride partner. It's quite nice to climb on, your hands sit nicely on the bars whether you're out of the saddle or in it, and it seriously took out a lot of the lack of motivation I usually find when the weather gets really windy or wet. I'm currently riding it in an attempt to increase my fitness, and you'll be able to read about that soon and determine whether an electric road bike can help you get fit. (Spoiler alert: it can, and in fact, it might be a better option than an unassisted one if you live near a lot of hills).

    /sites/default/files/users/user123746/IMG_2343.jpg

    I rode it through downpours and on warmer sunny days, and it was reliable and comfortable throughout. It's a bike you can put the miles in on, particularly with the new Shimano 105 Di2 groupset. I won't go into too much detail on this here, but essentially it's an electronic groupset rather than mechanical. If you remember to charge it and keep it clean it works like a charm, otherwise, you might find yourself at the bottom of Haworth wondering why the front derailleur won't shift…

    The only design consideration I wasn't entirely convinced with was the position of the charge port. Naturally, this is down to Mahle, but given that the UK is pretty wet for a fair few months of the year, having an upward-facing charge port isn't ideal. After particularly wet rides I was a bit paranoid about charging it until I'd allowed it to dry out completely with a towel and an air compressor to help speed the process along. 

    /sites/default/files/users/user123746/IMG_2336.jpg

    Otherwise, it's a genuinely enjoyable bike and doesn't feel dissimilar to an unassisted road bike. The ride quality is excellent, and the longer I rode it, the more confident I became in tight corners and descents. Equally, it also inspires confidence in your riding ability. If you've not done any consistent training for a while (hello), rather than fearing the mileage or elevation profile of your rides, it provides that little bit of backup in case you need it, and I think that's what makes this bike special.

    It takes the benefit of a decent hub motor and amplifies it through a lightweight, comfortable frame. It also represents pretty good value. £4,000 for a non-electric road bike with Di2 is competitive, so to have this and the electric assist to boot makes it even more appealing.

    /sites/default/files/users/user123746/IMG_2338.jpg

    Where can I buy it?From Ribble directly online or at one of their stores around the country. 

    How does it arrive?Wrapped up nicely – simply attach the handlebars, seatpost and pedals to get going. 

    VerdictIf you're in the market for an electric road bike, the Ribble Endurance SL e is a great choice. It's fun, comfortable, and most importantly, it doesn't feel like you're slogging through treacle without the assist on. It's also great value, particularly with this model (105 Di2), though there are other options depending on the groupset you'd like to have on your bike. 

    Ribble Endurance SL e - Enthusiast

    Cost: £3,999

    Frame size tested: S

    Weight of bike: 11.94kg

    Groupset: Shimano 105 Di2 2x 12-speed

    Wheels/tyres: Mavic Ksyrium S Disc Alloy wheels, Continental Ultra Sport III Wire Bead, 700x28c

    Motor: Mahle Ebikemotion X35+ M1 250W, Rear hub-mounted

    Battery: Panasonic 36V/250Wh

    Range: Up to 60 miles

    Assistance levels: 3 modes, up to 15mph

    Charge time: 3.5 hours

    Included extras: Top tube button for assist control, Custom colour bike available

    READ MORE

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    e-CARS

    E-cars news and reviews

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    e-BIKES

    E-bike reviews and news

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    e-MOTORBIKES

    E-motorbike reviews and news

    Honda to launch more than 10 electric motorbikes by 2030

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    e-SCOOTERS

    E-scooter news and reviews

    8Tev B12 Roam e-scooter review

    Pure Electric launches two new machines that 'reinvent' the e-scooter

    Rise in e-scooter accidents prompts call for 'urgent' government action

    e-WORLD

    E-world news

    Artemis electric ferry revealed for Bangor to Belfast service

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    Volta Zero: the electric truck tearing up the rule book for the electric age

    View the full article

  23. AEHRA saloon render
    The Saloon, as it will be known, will arrive in 2025 with a hefty £130k price tag
    All-electric four-door Porsche Taycan-rival will join start-up’s SUV with £138,000 price tag

    US-Italian EV start-up Aehra will launch a €160,000 (£138,160) electric saloon to join its recently revealed SUV, forming a two-car line-up to take on the “under-occupied” ultra-premium segment. 

    Arriving without a name (no Aehra vehicles will be named), the Mercedes-Benz EQS rival will be styled in a similarly dramatic way to its larger sibling, with short overhangs, a rakish roofline and a signature lighting design front and rear. 

    The second model from the firm, which was formed only this year, will sit “much” lower than the €180,000 (£155,430) SUV, chief designer and former Lamborghini style boss Filippo Perini told Autocar, and it will resemble a “concept on the street”. The EV will also look more like a supercar than a saloon, the Urus designer confirmed, with a sleek body and sharp lines. Perini called it the “best vehicle” he has ever designed: “The exterior is amazing.” 

    Alessandro Serra, Aehra’s head of design, said: “We simply aim to become the most attractive Italian EV brand.” 

    aehra_suv_front_three-quarter.jpg?itok=o

    As with the SUV, most of the design will be fitted around the car’s stretched cabin – the dashboard will sit above the front axle – in line with Aehra’s vision of a spacious interior to fit passengers over six-foot tall “comfortably”. The doors will be “not usual”, confirmed Serra, but he said they will not take the form of the SUV’s scissor doors. 

    The saloon will share 70% of its components with the SUV to minimise production costs and time. This will include the same 3m-long monobody chassis (the saloon will measure 5.10m in length) and 120kWh battery – no other car on sale currently houses a bigger one – giving it a range of close to 500 miles. 

    It is also expected to use the same powertrain set-up, which will be either two or three motors (one on the front axle and two on the back), depending on which supplier is eventually used. The set-up will produce a similar 794bhp output to that of the SUV. 

    Serra said: “It will have a familiar feeling and the language will remain the same [as the SUV] but with some difference at the front.” 

    Perini added: “It is [difficult] to do a car like this, a premium [saloon]. You can’t be shy with the design.” 

    Production of the saloon is expected to start six months after the SUV in 2025, with the first deliveries pencilled in for either the second half of the same year or early 2026, Aehra CEO and co-founder Hazim Nada told Autocar. 

    Aehra says it will produce up to 25,000 units of each model per year.

    Q&A with Hazim Nada, Aehra CEO and co-founder

    hazim_nada_aehra_co-founder_chairman_and

    Why choose to launch the SUV first and not the saloon?

    “Because we think in the SUV the impact of what we are trying to do is more evident, [especially] as the [segment] is bigger and more popular. The evolution of our vehicles’ shape is more evident in the SUV compared to the [saloon].”

    What can you tell us about the saloon? 

    “What I can tell you is that the designers love it. They’re very happy. It is like a concept on the road and gets very close to a supercar in that sense. Everything you see on the SUV is even more expressed on the [saloon].” 

    Why don’t you want to name your cars? 

    “We do not want to limit anything or constrict the possible market evolution of these vehicles by giving them a name. At the same time, we think the brand will be sacrificed by giving

    View the full article

  24. minioxford 0 0
    In October, 69,524 cars were produced in factories across the UK
    Electric cars help to correct course but recovery to pre-Covid levels remains distant

    The UK’s automotive manufacturing industry has recovered from its September decline, according to new data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

    A total of 69,524 cars left UK factories in October, a 7.4% improvement on the figure of 64,729 recorded in the same month last year.

    It is also a 10.1% rise on the 63,125 units produced during September 2022, itself a 6.0% shortfall compared with September 2021’s 67,173 cars. This drop followed a run of four consecutive months of growth.

    Electrified vehicles – battery-electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and parallel hybrid (HEV) models – accounted for more than a third of all cars produced in October, totalling 24,115 units. That represents an increase of 20.3% compared with October 2021.

    Most of the cars produced in the UK during October 2022 were bound for export. The 56,469-unit export figure is a 6.3% improvement on the 53,121 total built during the same period last year.

    Of these, the majority (54.9%) went to the European Union, although the volume of exports there declined by 2.7%.

    Low-volume market Turkey was a region of significant growth. Production of vehicles for the Mediterranean state was up 1298.7% compared with October 2021.

    Production for the home market increased from 11,608 cars to 13,055.

    Despite the return to growth, UK car production faces a long road to recovery ahead. Year-to-date output reached 643,755 units by the end of October, a 10.8% decrease compared with the same point in 2021.

    More troubling is the comparison of rolling-year totals with pre-pandemic figures. Between October 2021 and October 2022, some 781,821 cars were produced in the UK. This pales in comparison with annual figures recorded between 2016 and 2019, ranging from 1.3 million to 1.7 million.

    SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes attributed this to “turbulent component supply”, echoing the comments of several chief executives from around the industry.

    Before he stepped down as CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, Thierry Bolloré made a rare appearance to warn reporters that the chip problem will take “years” to resolve. The firm currently has an order bank of 205,000 cars.

    The Volkswagen Group, like JLR, expects this to become the industry norm, but Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares is more optimistic, expecting a return to normality by the end of 2023.

    Hawes added: “Getting the sector back on track in 2023 is a priority, given the jobs, exports and economic contribution the automotive industry sustains.

    “UK car makers are doing all they can to ramp up production of the latest electrified vehicles, and help deliver net zero, but more favourable conditions for investment are needed and needed urgently – especially in affordable and sustainable energy and availability of talent – as part of a supportive framework for automotive manufacturing.”

    UK factories have produced 61,339 BEVs so far this year, up 16.2% compared with the same point last year.

    View the full article

  25. Red Bull F1 2022 front tracking Austrian GP
    More successful teams, such as Red Bull and Mercedes, enjoy larger commercial income
    Mercedes-AMG earns almost £85 million from its Petronas tie-up alone

    Formula 1 teams rely on two main revenue streams: prize money paid by commercial rights holder Liberty Media (trading as F1) and sponsorship income – the latter a fixture in F1 since 1968 after the FIA permitted commercial liveries and non-trade logos. There is also a third (indirect) stream: the ‘bartering’ of goods and services, usually where these are ‘trade’ products or used internally by the team.

    The split between prize money – derived predominantly from race hosting fees and the sale of broadcast rights with some contributions from high-end hospitality and trackside advertising - and commercial income varies from team to team but, as a rough guide, pans out at approximately 50:50 across the full spectrum. Obviously, the more successful teams generate greater prize money and enjoy larger commercial income.  

    The overall business model is simple: teams provide a menu of benefits on offer and the expected exposure levels over a season to brands wishing to avail themselves of F1’s global platform. If returns on investment and synergies with a particular team ‘fit’ the brand’s requirements, a deal is done. These basics apply across the board, whether the brands are seeking title sponsorships or ‘mere’ hospitality or access deals.

    It follows that the higher the sport’s visibility, the higher the rate card for specific benefits - the prices of which can vary considerably. Various factors such as the heritage and image of a team, its popularity in key markets - usually driven by domicile or driver nationality – plus its most recent performances, amount and location of car space, the access options and even primary livery colours combine to influence the rate card.

    Ferrari, the oldest team with the longest heritage, races in a predominantly scarlet battle dress, making it attractive to multi-national brands that integrate with its colours. Throw in a driver of a particular nationality such as Spaniard Carlos Sainz and it is little wonder that Iberian financial services company Santander, whose flame-like logo is red, has a premium partner agreement with the Scuderia for which it pays top dollar.

    How much would that be? While such information is classified, well-placed sources believe it to be in the region of $30 million (£25.4m) for engine cover and front nose logos plus pre-determined access to the team’s hospitality and personnel - including driver(s). To put the number in perspective, consider: two-thirds of that delivers full livery and naming rights for Moneygram with Haas for a year in a deal announced during the US Grand Prix.

    Then, 10th-placed Williams, despite being the third-oldest team, offers similar space and benefits to those acquired by Santander for around 20% of Ferrari’s rate card. By contrast McLaren, currently in the upper midfield and younger than all except Ferrari, would charge around $10 million (£8.5m). Gulf Oil, whose blue/orange colours blend perfectly with McLaren’s corporate papaya, pays $3 million (£2.5m) for some small logos and access.

    mclaren-racing-launch.jpg?itok=ynQfJsnD

    These numbers have, though, increased exponentially since 2017, when Liberty acquired F1’s commercial rights, subsequently striking the global ‘Drive to Survive’ Netflix deal, which brought F1 not only to new audiences but also, crucially, alerted US brands to the sport. Statistics show that the number of purely US brands to have struck deals with F1 teams has risen 50% from 100 deals to more than 150 since 2020.

    However, such increases are not unique to US-based brands: Sauber, which just five years ago battled to muster a sponsor portfolio of 10 companies, today brags two linked sponsors (Alfa Romeo and Orlen) plus no fewer than 41 official partners and six (primarily technology) suppliers. Aston Martin, too, has two partners in its team title: Cognizant (naming) and Aramco (strategic). 

    True, F1 was the first global sport to return to competition during the Covid pandemic and was thus immensely attractive to technology and information data companies with nowhere else to spend advertising budgets, but the bottom line is that teams managed to retain their support once (semi-)normality returned. 

    Equally true, some agreements were worth a mere five or 10 million dollars back then but have since escalated to bigger deals. Oracle’s latest title partnership with Red Bull Racing now runs to eight times that! From small acorns…

    While such large numbers apply to the top three teams – Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes – the last-named pulls $100m (£84.7m) via its Petronas agreement while Alpine’s income from BWT for a title and (shocking) pink livery deal amounts to just a third that. McLaren’s F1 CEO, Zak Brown, believes the market has never been more buoyant despite a tightening global economy.

    alpine-f1-2022-front-quarter-tracking-me

    “We're in the best state I've ever seen [F1] in because of how hot the sport now is. I think it’s also because the sport is now more ‘famous’ and fan focused,” Brown told Autocar during the US Grand Prix, where his team’s hospitality unit was packed to the rafters throughout race weekend.

    “You could say it’s more corporate friendly because of how Liberty have positioned the sport versus Bernie [Ecclestone], who did an awesome job getting it to where it is,” added the former middling racer who cut his first sponsorship deal to fund his own career before switching focus to full-time motorsport marketing 30 years ago.

    Apart from Netflix, Brown credits Liberty’s pro-active attitude to sustainability, which stands marketeers in good stead when approaching prospects for F1’s boom times.

    “I think there was a risk [companies would turn on F1] but I think the sport has collectively jumped on it,” Brown said. “If we were seen as big emissions violators, the corporate world would leave, saying, ‘It’s just not sustainable’. However, between hybrids and the biofuels coming [in 2026] we're seen as leaders in sustainability, not just doing less bad. The sport is headed in that direction.”

    Brown does, though, add a twist: “Even though the economy's rough, we're not feeling it here in Formula 1. I say ‘yet’ and I'm surprised we've not seen it yet….”

    His McLaren predecessor, Ron Dennis, once opined that due to the length of contracts – usually three years with options – and various mutual obligation clauses, F1 was usually last into a recession but also last out as companies need to be confident about their immediate futures before committing large sums for extended contractual spells. Could the current economic situation mean a crunch is looming for F1?

    If crypto markets are any guide, stormy waters seem to lie ahead: eight of F1’s 10 teams enjoy support from one or other of the crypto categories - which range from coins to exchanges - and already there is talk of Mercedes partner FTX breaching its covenants. Alpine sponsor Binance was linked to a buy-out of exchange but that has gone cold – causing ripples in the industry. Ferrari partner Velas lost 40% of its value in a year.

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    However, team bosses are confident about F1’s commercial future despite such headwinds: Enforced reductions in spend under the FIA’s $145m (£122.8m) budget cap, increased prize monies and sponsorship bonanzas - even without the cryptos - enable the teams to generate sufficient revenues to be profitable with no need to rely on the largesse of billionaire owners, as was previously the case.

    The net effect of such factors is that the latest financial reports filed by Mercedes F1 record a 400% year-on-year profit increase for 2020/21 - the latter year the first under the cap. Indeed, turnover increased by €40m (£34.7m) while costs dropped by an equivalent amount, enabling the team to post 2021 profits of €80m (£69.4m) versus €20m (£17.3m). Thus, it can easily weather a potential €25m (£21.7m) loss due to vagaries in the crypto sector.

    During F1’s 73-year history, around 150 teams have entered the sport and of these but 10 exist at present – pointing to a mortality rate of over 90%, or an average of two teams shutting shop per season. In the five years prior to Liberty’s acquisition of F1’s commercial rights, three teams evaporated and two were sold under distressed circumstances.

    Since 2017, only a single team (Force India) plunged into administration but was immediately resurrected as Racing Point/Aston Martin while Williams was sold in a solvent state. Thus, commercially at least, Liberty has made all the right moves to boost revenues and stabilise the sport, with the FIA’s regulatory overhaul not only delivering a better show via closer racing but also simultaneously reducing costs via the budget cap.

    It’s win-win all round for teams, sponsors and, above all, the growing fanbase.

    Dieter Rencken

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