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RENAULT UNVEILS FAMILY-FOCUSED SCENIC E-TECH ELECTRIC
Renault’s CEO, Luca de Meo, acknowledged China’s strong position in the electric vehicle (EV) sector, describing it as ‘very competitive’.
As part of Renault’s strategy to strengthen its foothold in the EV market, the company is set to introduce its new Scenic electric vehicle model.
Renault’s latest Scenic E-Tech electric vehicle to debuted at the IAA Mobility 2023 Motor Show in Munich, emphasizing family-friendly features. The Scenic’s journey began in 1996, revolutionizing the compact MPV market.
Two powertrain options:
125kW (170hp) motor with a 60kWh battery, aiming for a 260-mile range.
160kW (220hp) motor with an 87kWh battery, targeting over 279 miles.
The Scenic E-Tech’s battery, using LG’s NMC technology, is 6% denser than the Megane E-Tech’s battery. A standard heat pump enhances energy efficiency. Like other E-Tech models, the Scenic uses an excited synchronous motor, which is more efficient and doesn’t rely on rare earth materials. Maximum DC charge capacity: 150 kW. Built on the modular CMF-EV platform.
Design highlights include a flat floor, large 19- or 20-inch wheels, a lengthy wheelbase, and a unique Solarbay panoramic roof that offers adjustable opacity.
Dimensions: 4.47m in length, 1.86m in width, and 1.57m in height, ensuring ample space for rear passengers.
Innovative flush door handles and a first-of-its-kind panoramic roof with four adjustable settings for light control. The Solarbay roof has an auto-adjust feature based on car occupancy and external temperature.
Interior amenities remain active for 45 minutes when the car is stationary, enhancing comfort during breaks.
MULTI-SENSE offers customizable mood lighting with 48 color options, adjusting according to the time of day.
The OpenR Link multimedia system, integrated with Google and running on Android Automotive OS 12, provides access to over 50 apps.
Dual screens: A 12.3-inch horizontal dashboard screen and a 12-inch vertical console display.
The journey planner, co-developed by Google and Renault, optimizes EV routes considering battery pre-conditioning near charging stops.
Environmentally conscious: No leather used in the interior, opting for a sustainable grained coated fabric.
The battery’s modular design facilitates repair, recycling, and second-life applications, with 20+ maintenance centers in Europe.
MERCEDES UNVEILS HIGH-EFFICIENCY CLA ELECTRIC SEDAN CONCEPT
Mercedes-Benz introduces the CLA electric sedan concept at IAA Mobility, boasting an impressive 466 miles (750 km) WLTP range.
The vehicle will utilize Mercedes’ upcoming Modular Architecture (MMA) platform.
Energy consumption is estimated at about 5.2 mi/kWh (12 kWh/ 100 km).
The drivetrain, inspired by the VISION EQXX, includes an 800V platform, a high-density battery, and an efficient electric drive unit.
Mercedes will offer two battery chemistry options: a top-tier version with a silicon-oxide anode and a base model with lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP).
The CLA concept is Mercedes’ debut production car with an 800V system, supporting up to 250 kW DC charging. This allows for a charge of 248 miles (400 km) in just 15 minutes.
The vehicle also features bidirectional charging, enabling it to serve as an auxiliary power source.
Inside, the car adopts a tech-centric minimalist design, highlighted by a full-width MBUX display.
While the MB.OS software is primed for SAE Level 3 autonomy, the initial release will only offer Level 2 capabilities.
MERCEDES TEASES NEW “LITTLE G” ELECTRIC SUV
Mercedes is working on a smaller version of the G-Class, as confirmed by Ola Källenius. During his announcement, a design sketch of a squared-off SUV was displayed, which he referred to as the “Little G.” This new model will be entirely electric.
The exact launch date for the downsized G-Class remains undisclosed. However, given that only a design sketch is available now, it might be a few years before it’s released.
Current speculations suggest that the “Little G” will be available for purchase in 2026.
The vehicle is expected to utilize the MMA architecture, similar to the Concept CLA Class showcased at the IAA. This indicates that the smaller G-Class will abandon the body-on-frame structure of its predecessor and adopt a unibody design.
Even though it’s a downsized version, the “Little G” won’t be significantly shorter than the original G-Class. However, it’s anticipated to have a lower ground clearance.
The MMA platform is versatile, designed to support both electric and combustion engines. However, the focus will be more on the electric side, unlike current models like the EQA and EQB.
There are also rumors that the “Little G” might be available with conventional powertrains in addition to its electric variant.
VOLKSWAGEN’S ID. GTI SET FOR 2026 DEBUT
Volkswagen unveiled the ID. GTI Concept at the 2023 IAA Mobility event in Munich, and now they’ve confirmed a production model is in the works.
CEO Thomas Schäfer revealed that the production version of the ID. GTI will be introduced in 2026 and will hit the market in early 2027.
While detailed technical specifications are yet to be released, it’s confirmed that the electric hatch will feature a front electronic locking differential, borrowed from the traditional GTI and GTI Clubsport.
In terms of size, the ID. GTI Concept showcased in Munich is slightly larger than the Polo supermini but remains smaller than the Golf.
The ID. GTI will be a front-wheel-drive performance hatch. Given that the regular ID.2all Concept (based on the MEB Entry platform) boasts 223 hp, the GTI variant is expected to exceed 200 bhp.
The standard electric hatch, ID.2all Concept, is set for a 2025 release, making the timeline for the GTI’s debut in 2026 logical.
The “I” in GTI will now also represent “intelligence” in addition to “injection.”
VW’s design chief, Andreas Mindt, clarified the branding strategy: The “GTX” name will be reserved for all-wheel-drive electric sporty cars, while the “GTI” will continue to represent front-wheel-drive vehicles in the electric era.
Electric performance hatches are gaining traction in the market, with models like the Abarth 500e and MG4 XPower already available. Other brands, such as Renault and Mini, are also venturing into this segment with their respective models.
VOLKSWAGEN’S ELECTRIC GTI: THE ID.GTI CONCEPT
Volkswagen introduces the ID.GTI, an electric car concept, at the IAA auto show in Munich, signaling the future of the GTI name in the EV realm.
The ID.GTI is essentially an enhanced version of the standard ID.2, which was previewed earlier as the ID.2all concept. This positions the ID.GTI as VW’s foundational EV in Europe, a tier below the ID.3.
The new model utilizes the MEB Entry platform, a more compact and straightforward version of the existing MEB architecture. Unlike its predecessor, it opts for front-wheel drive.
While exact power specifications for the ID.GTI remain undisclosed, it’s expected to boast a minimum of 223 horsepower, aligning with the top-tier ID.2.
The electric GTI will incorporate an electronic limited-slip differential, enhancing traction and offering adjustable dynamic modes.
The production-ready ID.GTI will be equipped with the larger 56.0 kWh battery pack from the ID.2 options, surpassing the basic 38.0 kWh. This battery supports DC fast-charging up to 125 kW and promises a range of approximately 280 miles.
Size-wise, the ID.GTI will be more compact than the current GTI, aligning more with the European Polo. However, Volkswagen assures that the electric model will provide passenger space comparable to the traditional GTI, thanks to its design optimizations.
A unique feature includes the 10.9-inch digital instrument display’s ability to mimic the Mk 2 Golf GTI’s instrument pack. Additionally, a 12.9-inch central display enhances the dashboard. Volkswagen also reintroduces separate controls for temperature and volume, moving away from touchscreen integration.
EUROPEAN CAR MAKERS THREATENED BY AFFORDABLE CHINESE EVS, WARNS BMW HEAD
BMW’s chief, Oliver Zipse, has raised concerns about European car manufacturers’ ability to compete with cost-effective Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) due to the proposed ban on petrol and diesel cars.
Chinese EV makers have a pricing advantage, primarily because they began their lithium battery production industry much earlier than their European counterparts.
This significant price difference might result in Chinese manufacturers dominating the affordable car market in the EU and UK once the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles takes effect.
Zipse’s apprehensions are primarily centered on the budget-friendly segment of the market, not luxury brands like BMW. Premium car makers have the advantage of higher profit margins and strong brand value to shield their businesses.
These remarks come on the heels of a statement from China’s leading EV manufacturer, urging the nation’s auto industry to band together and outcompete Western rivals.
Andy Palmer, ex-CEO of Aston Martin, has also voiced concerns, stating that European and US car makers are under immediate threat from the rising prowess of Chinese competitors.
Notably, brands like Renault have openly acknowledged their inability to match the price cuts offered by competitors, including BYD.
EUROPEAN CARMAKERS FACE STIFF COMPETITION FROM ASIA IN EV SECTOR
The IAA mobility show in Munich highlighted the need for European car manufacturers to step up their game in the electric vehicle (EV) sector, especially with the rising competition from Asian counterparts.
This year’s event saw a significant representation from Asia, with about 41% of the exhibitors being based there. Notably, the presence of Chinese companies more than doubled, showcasing major players in the battery and EV production sectors like BYD, CATL, and XPeng.
One of the central discussions at the conference revolved around the competitive pricing of EVs. Tesla took this opportunity to introduce its enhanced Model 3, which is set to hit the European market in October with a price tag of 42,990 euros ($46,400).
Not to be left behind, Mercedes-Benz unveiled its CLA compact class, while BMW showcased its Neue Klasse. Both these models aim to deliver superior range and efficiency, with a focus on cutting production costs by half.
CHINESE EV BRANDS EYE EUROPEAN MARKET
Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers like BYD, Nio, and Xpeng are setting their sights on the European EV market.
European EV sales surged by approximately 55%, reaching around 820,000 vehicles in the initial seven months of 2023. This accounts for roughly 13% of total car sales in the region.
Auto consultancy firm Inovev reported that 8% of the new EVs purchased in Europe this year were produced by Chinese companies. This is a rise from 6% the previous year and 4% in 2021.
The current year’s event saw about 41% of the participants originating from Asia. Notably, there was a twofold increase in the number of Chinese firms in attendance, including prominent EV manufacturers like BYD and Xpeng, as well as battery producer CATL.
The increasing presence of Chinese EV companies in Europe has sparked worries. There’s a fear that they might offer more competitive prices, overshadowing local manufacturers and eventually leading the EV sales charts.
Research by Jato Dynamics highlighted a significant price difference between the two regions. In the first half of 2022, the average EV price in China stood at less than 32,000 euros ($35,000). In contrast, European EVs were priced around 56,000 euros.
CATL’S FAST-CHARGING SHENXING BATTERY HEADS TO EUROPE
CATL has plans to manufacture its forthcoming Shenxing fast-charging battery in Germany and Hungary, in addition to its production in China, as shared by principal engineer Gao Pengfei at the IAA Munich car show.
Mass production of the Shenxing battery is set to commence in China towards the end of 2023, and it will be integrated into electric vehicles by 2024.
As the leading battery producer globally, CATL states that the Shenxing battery, crafted with lithium iron phosphate (LFP), can achieve a range of 400 km with just a 10-minute charge and up to 700 km when fully charged.
The LFP chemistry utilized in the Shenxing battery is more cost-effective compared to the nickel-cobalt-manganese batteries found in cylindrical cells, which are preferred by automakers such as BMW and Tesla.
CATL began its production activities at its facility located in Thuringia, Germany, in December 2022. Furthermore, the company is in the process of establishing Europe’s most extensive battery factory in Debrecen, Hungary, with production expected to kick off within the next 2 to 3 years.
SCANIA’S SOLAR-CLAD SEMI-TRUCK: A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE
Scania, a Swedish company, has introduced a pioneering hybrid semi-truck that boasts solar panels all over its surface.
This innovative design allows the truck to generate its own energy, which could lead to significant reductions in both operational expenses and carbon dioxide emissions in the heavy transport sector.
The trailer of this hybrid vehicle is adorned with 100 square meters of solar panels, which are connected to an onboard electrical system.
This research initiative aims to determine the amount of solar energy that can be harnessed using this setup.
While the plug-in hybrid truck is equipped with standard systems and an energy storage capacity of 100 kWh, the trailer stands out with an additional 200 kWh energy storage. This essentially transforms the trailer into a “power bank” that gets charged by the solar panels.
FIRST BUS GEARS UP FOR FULL ELECTRIC TRANSITION
First Bus depot in Bramley, Leeds, is undergoing a transformation to accommodate a fully electric fleet.
Diesel tanks are being replaced with rapid chargers and the necessary grid connection infrastructure.
These chargers can juice up a bus in just 2.5 hours, with plans to electrify one-third of the Bramley fleet by next March.
First Bus aims to transition all its UK buses, approximately 4,500 vehicles, to zero tailpipe emission models by 2035.
Initial costs for e-buses are roughly double that of diesel counterparts, but the long-term benefits outweigh the initial investment.
Charging solutions vary: ground-level chargers are common, but gantry systems are used when space is limited. First Bus’s inaugural gantry depot is set to be operational later this year.
Refits involve removing diesel tanks and phasing out diesel-related equipment in workshops. Mechanical systems that extract diesel fumes during tests and maintenance will also be removed.
Securing adequate power supply well in advance is a significant challenge in the transition.
Engineering tasks will evolve from traditional diesel maintenance to more digital diagnostic responsibilities.
First Bus is rolling out a training program for engineers, leveraging insights from e-bus manufacturers like Wrightbus. Engineers keen on further expertise can collaborate directly with these Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for additional training.
SPIRO’S E-BIKE BATTERY SWAP INITIATIVE HITS KENYA
Spiro, a startup focused on replacing traditional motorbikes with electric versions, is launching in Kenya.
Coinciding with the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, the Kenyan government revealed Spiro’s ambitious plan to introduce 1.2 million electric vehicles.
Originating from Benin in 2022, Spiro has seen rapid growth. CEO Jules Samain highlights the expansion from their current 10,000 bikes in Benin, Togo, and Rwanda.
Later this year, Spiro also plans to roll out 140,000 bikes in Uganda over a span of five years.
A 2022 study by the FIA Foundation indicates that while electric motorcycles have a higher upfront cost than their petrol counterparts, their operational expenses are lower. In many African regions, a liter of petrol propels a bike similarly to one kilowatt-hour of electricity but costs 5-10 times more.
Battery-swapping initiatives, like Spiro’s, are pivotal in promoting electric two-wheelers. Selling electric bikes without batteries can substantially lower the initial cost, making them more accessible.
PHIL ROBERTS / ELECTRIC FUTURE
PORSCHE OF THE VILLAGE CINCINNATI
AUDI CINCINNATI EAST
VOLVO CARS CINCINNATI EAST
NATIONAL CAR CHARGING ON THE US MAINLAND AND ALOHA CHARGE IN HAWAII
DEREK REILLY FROM NEVO.IE AND THE NEVO EV REVIEW IRELAND YOUTUBE CHANNEL
OCTOPUS ELECTROVERSE GLOBAL PUBLIC CHARGING MADE SIMPLE WITH ONE APP AND ONE MAP.
LEASEPLAN ELECTRIC MOMENTS PROVIDING ALL THE TOOLS AND GUIDANCE EV DRIVERS NEED
RICHARD AT RSEV.CO.UK
JUKKA KUKKONEN FROM WWW.SHIFT2ELECTRIC.COM
BATTERY REPORTS FOR EVS AT RECURRENTAUTO.COM
JAN TORE GJØBY
ANDY NANCARROW AND LILIAN KASS
BRENDAN MCCARTHY AT NORTHFORK IRONWORKS
COLIN HENNESSY AND CAMBSEV
GARY A HAMMOND
IAN ‘STILL WATERS UK’ BENJAMIN
IAN (WATTIE) WATKINS
JAN FROM EMOBILITYNORWAY
JOHN VAN DEVOORT
JON AKA BEARDY MCBEARDFACE FROM KENT EVS
LAURENCE D ALLEN
NEIL E ROBERTS FROM SUSSEX EVS
PETER & DEE ROBERTS
REALTORS CHOICE PHOTOGRAPHY
ROB FROM THE RSTHINKS EV CHANNEL ON YOUTUBE
THE PLUGSEEKER’S EV YOUTUBE CHANNEL
THOMAS J. THIAS