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Posted by: RSSBOT
3 hours ago
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New Abarth 500e is brand's first EV with 152bhp

Abarth 500e front

The 500e is the most engaging Abarth ever made, the brand says

Italian brand brings power hike and handling focus for long-awaited performance EV; on sale June 2023

Italian sporting brand Abarth has made its first step into the EV era with a performance variant of the Fiat 500 Electric, which it claims to be the most engaging, responsive and dynamic model it has ever created.

Fitted with a host of technical upgrades, including a more responsive motor, the Abarth 500e sends 152bhp and 173lb ft – increases of 35bhp and 11lb ft over the Fiat – to the front wheels, and draws power from the same 42kWh battery as the car on which it’s based.

This extra kick only gives the hot hatch a 7.0sec 0-62mph time, 2.0sec faster than its sibling – and only slightly slower than the petrol-powered 180bhp Abarth 695 (6.7sec).

But Abarth says blistering standing acceleration – a hallmark of electric cars – was not the outright aim, instead opting for better mid-range power: the new EV hot hatch gets from 12-25mph in just one second and from 25mph-35mph in under 1.5sec (compared with the 695’s 2.5sec).

With a wheelbase 24mm longer and track 60mm wider than the Fiat, coupled with a lower centre of gravity afforded by the under-floor battery, the 500e also promises improved handling over its petrol sibling, with a boost in turn-in response and higher corner exit speeds.

Another highlight will be its artificial petrol engine-aping soundtrack, Abarth claims. The firm says “sound has always been important” to the brand as a “distinctive” characteristic. The feature, which is equipped as standard, can be switched off for silent running.

Olivier François, CEO of both Fiat and Abarth, said: “The new Abarth 500e is one of the most exciting launches in the history of the brand: a great new addition to the Abarth line-up. I like to think of it as family, so our fanbase will be involved in every step of our electrification journey.”

He added: “You may ask ’why electric?’. Well, basically, performance made us do it: in fact, every change made in the Abarth is about getting the best driving performance. That’s exactly how our founder, Carlo Abarth, always went at it.”

As with other Abarth models, the 500e is marked out from its standard Fiat sibling by a dramatic performance-themed design overhaul, bringing a wider, squared front end (which is adorned by the brand’s name), lower side skirts and a subtle rear lip.

Inside, the car is near-identical to the Fiat, with standard kit including a 7.0in instrument screen, rear-view camera and 10.25in infotainment touchscreen. Top-of-the-range models get Alcantara-clad sports seats, and JBL speaker system.

The Abarth 500e – which will be available in either hatchback or cabrio variants, like the 695 – is expected to get marginally less range from the 42kWh battery than its Fiat sibling (143 miles) due to the higher state of tune of its motors – and lack of any range-extending ‘Sherpa’ mode, as fitted to the Fiat 500 Electric. However, it will match that car’s 85kW fast-charging speed, meaning it can be topped up from empty to 80% in 35 minutes.

Pricing, not confirmed at the time of writing, is likely to start above £35,000, given the Fiat’s £30,646 base price.

Deliveries will begin in June next year, starting with the Scorpionissima launch edition, which comes with exclusive Acid Green or Poison Blue paint, 18in alloys, a glass roof, and steel pedals.

Abarth has essentially been a one-car brand since its hot take on the Mazda MX-5-based Fiat 124 Spider bowed out in 2019. It has yet to put an end date on production of the petrol-powered 695, with parent company Fiat keeping the equivalent 500 on sale alongside its electric sibling for the foreseeable future. 

Details of which future Fiat models will get the Abarth treatment are still to come, but likely candidates include a Punto-sized Fiat supermini – inspired by 2019's Centoventi concept – due in 2023 to rival the Vauxhall Corsa Electric, and an electric successor to the Fiat Panda, which was confirmed last year by François but its arrival date has not yet been disclosed.

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Posted by: RSSBOT
8 hours ago
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Ferrari's 715bhp V12 Purosangue SUV to start from £313,000

Ferrari Purosangue 2023 front quarter static

This is the first time a four-door Ferrari with four fully sized seats has made production

First four-door, four-seat Ferrari trumps Lamborghini Urus at 715bhp; will arrive next summer

The Purosangue is the most radical Ferrari yet, as the first four-seat four-door model to be graced by the Prancing Horse.

Although its proportions and functionality are unprecedented for Ferrari, it has retained some of the brand’s fundamental features, having a front-mid-mounted V12 and being claimed to be “a true sports car”. 

Enrico Galliera, Ferrari’s marketing and commercial chief, said: “We believe it’s a game-changer. It has the performance of a sports car with the comfort and versatility of a less extreme car. For us, the strategy was to develop a sports car in a different segment.”

While Ferrari has a long history with 2+2 cars, most recently with the Roma, this is the first time a four-door model with four fully sized seats has made production.

The only previous four-door badged as a Ferrari was a Pininfarina-designed concept car of 1980, named the Pinin, which company founder Enzo Ferrari reportedly liked but never signed off.

Ferrari refuses to describe the Purosangue, which will start from £313,120, as an SUV, but the car’s proportions and functionality are very much intended for this segment – one in which Ferrari until now has been markedly absent while rivals such as Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Porsche have forged ahead to capitalise on the ever-growing worldwide popularity of SUVs. 

The Purosangue is 4973mm long, 2028mm wide and 1589mm tall (compared with 5112mm, 2016mm and 1638mm for the Lamborghini Urus). Along with its 185mm of ground clearance, that puts it very much in SUV territory. It is also four-wheel drive.

V12 Performance

Ferrari has held true to its heritage, employing its revered V12 in the Purosangue. The naturally aspirated 12-cylinder engine is a heavily reworked version of that used in the 812 Superfast, with a 65deg angle between cylinder banks, a 6.5-litre capacity, a dry sump and high-pressure direct fuel injection.

It has been developed for the Purosangue to ensure that maximum torque is available at lower revs to counter the extra weight of an SUV while not losing the linear power typical of Ferrari’s V12s.

The engine is mounted behind the front axle, while the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox sits at the rear, creating a sporty transaxle layout. This helps deliver the 49:51 front-to-rear weight distribution that Ferrari engineers deem optimum for a front-mid-engined sports car.

The Purosangue becomes the most powerful SUV on sale, with its maximum power of 715bhp arriving at 7750rpm and its torque peaking at 528lb ft at 6250rpm. 

In line with Ferrari’s claim that the Purosangue is a “true sports car”, it achieves the benchmark sprint of 0-62mph in just 3.3sec and 0-124mph in 10.6sec.

Galliera said there were many discussions about which powertrain to use, but he believed the V12 was the right one: “It’s the most iconic engine in the company. We’re looking for extreme performance combined with comfort. And for as long as customers have been asking for this car, they’ve been asking for us to keep the history of Ferrari, and that is the V12.”

At the Purosangue’s unveiling in Italy, Ferrari declined to talk about other powertrain options, but it’s also expected to use either the V6 plug-in hybrid powertrain of the 296 GTB or the V8 equivalent from the SF90 Stradale in future electrified guises.

The Purosangue’s new platform, which Ferrari said was created from scratch, is designed to cater primarily for a V12, but adapting it for other powertrains would “not be very hard”, according to product boss Gianmaria Fulgenzi.

The platform consists of aluminium alloy in its lower structure, while the car has a carbonfibre roof as standard to reduce weight and lower its centre of gravity. 

The result is a platform that’s lighter than previous four-seat Ferraris’, despite being larger overall. 

Sports car dynamics

The different shape of the Purosangue created “a completely new challenge” for Ferrari’s aerodynamics team. No drag coefficient figure has been released yet, but the Purosangue has been designed to create a smooth flow of air over its front surfaces, has integrated louvres in its ‘floating’ wheel arch trims and at the rear uses a suspended spoiler and a nolder on the lip of the boot. 

The SUV gets the same dynamic control systems as many of Ferrari’s sports cars, including independent four-wheel steering and ‘ABS Evo’, with a six-way chassis dynamic sensor. 

Ferrari’s new active suspension system, developed with Multimatic, makes its debut on the Purosangue. It’s intended to control body roll in corners as well as the contact patches over bumps to deliver the same performance and handling as Ferrari sports cars.

Inside the Purosangue, the layout is intended to reflect a “sporty lounge”. 

The cockpit heavily resembles that in the SF90 Stradale, using a 10.2in display, while the seating position is still low, intended to convey a sports car feel for the driver.

Access to the first full-sized, adjustable rear seats in Ferrari’s history is via rear-hinged doors, while naturally the boot is the biggest the firm has offered to date, at 487 litres, compared with 320 litres in the 812 Superfast. 

Ferrari has abandoned built-in sat-nav altogether, instead relying on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility to fill that void.

Galliera explained: “Whatever nav system we put in our car, it will never be more updated or advanced than one on a phone.”

While SUVs now account for a large share of many rival firms’ sales volumes, Ferrari is adamant that the Purosangue will retain its exclusivity and never take more than 20% of the brand’s total sales.

Already this year, Ferrari is on track to sell more cars than ever before – easily topping 12,000. So once Purosangue sales are up to full speed, expect it to account for no more than 2500 units per year.

Prices for the Purosangue will start from £313,120 – substantially more than any of its obvious rivals. 

UK deliveries will start next summer, a few months after the left-hand-drive versions.

Exclusive images: Luc Lacey

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Posted by: RSSBOT
8 hours ago
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Mazda hints at electric MX-5 in revised EV strategy

Mazda vision study model side

The Mazda Vision Study was shown interspersed with clips of previous-generation MX-5s

Japanese maker announces £9bn investment in future electric cars and shows new sports-oriented concept

Mazda has previewed a sleek two-seat coupé – which could hint at the next-generation MX-5 – alongside the announcement of an £8.9 billion investment into future electric vehicles.

Although the firm did not detail the model, instead relegating it to a five-minute promotional video at the end of a financial presentation, it was shown alongside a series of Mazda MX-5 convertibles. This suggests it could be an early look at the next-generation sports car, despite being a hard-top coupé with Lamborghini-style scissor doors. 

Also shown was an early look at the model’s chassis, with a large space for a longitudinally mounted engine and a structure – likely a fuel cell or battery enclosure – behind the driver. However, the concept’s lack of exhausts – coupled with Mazda’s major investment in future EVs – seems to confirm it is an electric vehicle, in its current form.

Mazda’s Europe head of product development and engineering, Joachim Kunz, hinted in April that the MX-5 will be considered completely separate to the brand’s mainstream models.

“It’s our brand icon and it is always treated very specially,” Kunz told Autocar. “At the moment, it looks like we will have this car forever, with this size and concept and combustion engine. Of course, some day, we will have to electrify it, but we want to keep this pure concept.”

Kunz added that the MX-5 has a longer lifespan than other Mazda models – “having one generation for 10 years is not a problem for us” – so the replacement for the current ND-generation car may not break cover until 2024.

A company spokesperson told Autocar that the coupé shown was a 'vision study' model – similar to the RX Vision concept shown in 2015 – and that it is intended to demonstrate the brand’s commitment to enjoyable cars. 

The news came as Mazda announced a $10.6bn (£8.9bn) spending plan aimed at accelerating its electrification efforts.

The revised strategy, divided into three phases, comes in response to the “dramatically” changing environment for the automotive industry, with emphasis on Europe.

The first phase will see Mazda consolidate its production capacity – focused on “achieving more resilience towards changes in the environment” – by strengthening its supply chains and cutting costs.

During this period, the company will launch new models under its ‘multi-solution approach’ philosophy – a pragmatic approach to electrification based on customer demand and regional infrastructure. 

Christian Schultze, director of research and operations for Mazda Motor Europe, explained in a video published last year: “Based on the different customer needs for individual mobility, the local driving conditions, and the carbon footprint of available fuels and electricity, we aim to offer the best suitable powertrain. 

“Accordingly, there is no ‘most sustainable’ solution for the powertrain choice that suits all customers in all locations across the globe.”

This strategy began with the MX-30, the company’s first battery-electric car, launched in early 2021. The flagship CX-60 SUV followed this year with a petrol plug-in hybrid powertrain, and mild-hybrid diesel versions are set to arrive in early 2023.

The plan will continue with a petrol range-extender version of the MX-30, resolving the limited 124-mile range for which the pure-electric version is often criticised. Afterwards, a new model called CX-80 – an extended variant of the CX-60 with three rows of seats – will arrive as the brand’s new flagship.

“We believe that a multi-solution approach will be effective,” Mazda CEO Akira Marumoto told reporters today.

In the second phase of the strategy, between 2025 and 2027, Mazda will introduce a new hybrid system and additional battery-electric models “as regulations become more stringent, especially in Europe”. 

This is in reference to the Euro 7 emissions proposals made on 10 November, which will lower NOx emissions by 35% compared with Euro 6 and cut tailpipe particulates by 13%. 

The rules have drawn fire across the industry. Oliver Zipse, head of lobby group the ACEA and CEO of BMW, said: “Unfortunately, the environmental benefit of the [European] Commission’s proposal is very limited, whereas it heavily increases the cost of vehicles.” Meanwhile, Ford’s Europe head of its Model E electric division, Martin Sander, said it would undermine the shift to electric models.

In the final phase of Mazda’s revised strategy, starting in 2028, the company will launch an assault to electrify all of its cars.

It has signed no fewer than three agreements for the development and production of electric drive units, inverters and advanced technologies for motors and it has established two joint ventures to further develop a production framework and motor technology.

In addition to existing agreements to secure its battery supply – including a recent deal with Envision AESC, supplier to BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan – Mazda is considering further investment in cell production.

The company now aims for 25-40% of its global sales to comprise electric vehicles by 2030, having previously targeted 25%.

The announcement comes as Mazda renews its commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral company by 2050. The firm has, however, added two new medium-term goals: the first for its factories to be carbon neutral by 2035, and the second for zero fatal accidents to be caused by any new Mazda by 2040.

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Posted by: RSSBOT
11 hours ago
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New Ford E-Tourneo Custom gets 230-mile electric range

Ford Tourneo Titanium front three quarter

The E-Tourneo Custom arrives in Europe next year

Next generation of the popular minivan also brings enhanced interior flexibility and competitive towing capabilities

The next-generation Ford Tourneo Custom will arrive in Europe next year, offering a battery-electric powertrain for the first time.

Based on the new 2023 Ford E-Transit Custom detailed earlier this year, the new E-Tourneo Custom receives the same 215bhp electric motor driving the front wheels. It has ‘one-pedal’ drive capability, ramping up the regenerative braking to slow the car without using the brakes.

The E-Tourneo Custom’s 74kWh battery – using high-cell-density tech from the F-150 Lightning pick-up – is also shared with the E-Transit Custom, enabling a 230-mile range. 

This is competitive with rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz EQV (213 miles) and the Citroën e-Spacetourer (136 miles). It is beaten by the Volkswagen ID Buzz (258 miles) although that model has yet to be offered with seven seats.

Recharging tops out at 125kW using a DC fast charger – 15kW greater than the EQV’s maximum – and enables a 15-80% recharge in 41 minutes. AC charging (such as from a home wallbox) is possible at 11kW, providing a full recharge in less than eight hours.

The diesel and petrol plug-in-hybrid (PHEV) powertrains available in the outgoing Tourneo Connect are still available – the diesel offered in 134bhp, 148bhp and 168bhp guises. The PHEV uses a 2.5-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine, a single motor and an 11.8kWh battery, giving an electric range of 31 miles.

All powertrains can tow 2000kg, but diesel versions can lug braked trailers weighing an additional 500kg.

The next-generation Tourneo Custom is offered with two wheelbases, each with three rows of seats. The battery-electric powertrain can be specified with up to eight seats, while the diesel and PHEV variants can have up to nine.

The second row of seats uses a 33/33/33 split with integrated seatbelts, which makes it easier to reconfigure – such as into a rear-facing ‘conference’ layout – according to Ford. The third row uses a less practical 60/40 split.

Five Isofix points for child seats are available – three in the second row, and two in the outboard seats on the third row.

Up front, a 13.0in infotainment touchscreen running Ford’s Sync 4 software is standard, as well as the new ‘tilting’ steering wheel from the E-Transit Custom that can be folded flat into a table.

Utility has been emphasised in the Tourneo Custom: the powered side doors now feature hands-free operation (via a kicking motion) so they can be opened easily when you're carrying heavy items.

The electric and PHEV versions also feature vehicle-to-load power sockets up front, enabling you to tap their batteries to power devices up to 2.3kW, such as kettles or laptops.

Ford has yet to officially confirm pricing, but the outgoing Ford Tourneo Custom started from £45,564 (on the road, in ‘shuttle bus’ configuration). Given the new model’s upgraded specification and the current increased cost of car manufacturing, this is likely to exceed £50,000.

Electric versions may cost £60,000 or more, in line with expected pricing for the upcoming seven-seat variant of the rival ID Buzz.

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Posted by: RSSBOT
Yesterday, 11:20 AM
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ZF opens £70 million EV motor hub in the UK

ZF UK engineering hub

ZF's new tech centre will lead R&D on ADAS, steering and braking systems, and more

New R&D hub in the West Midlands is already creating the next generation of electro-mobility systems

Automotive component company ZF has completed work on a state-of-the-art technical centre in the UK at a cost of £70 million. The 220,000sq ft site in Shirley, West Midlands, is one of a number of research and development hubs the company has around the world and adds to ZF’s tally of production facilities in the UK.

Covid restrictions meant that although the tech hub was completed in 2021, it has taken another year for it to become fully staffed and operational.

The hub is used for research and development of aftermarket products, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), race engineering and steering and braking and powertrains. It is also a ZF centre of competence for three key technology areas within the company globally, including cyber penetration testing, electronics components and servo drives.

The facility has already been involved in work on the next generation of ZF’s electric motors, announced this week. The company says that by 2030, it expects 47 million electric vehicles to require 61 million electric drive motors, expecting an average of 1.3 e-drives per vehicle as demand increases for all-wheel-drive EVs. 

ZF says it already has an order book worth more than £22 million for its next-generation e-motor, which will be released as a complete unit to the market in 2025. It’s a much more compact unit than before, focused on the requirements of 10% less installation space, higher power density, greater efficiency and high flexibility. Sustainability was also a key part of development and the new e-motor uses 10% fewer raw materials.

It’s a critical part of the business for ZF, which is still seen by many as a transmission company, but member of ZF’s board, Stephan von Schuckmann, says that side of the business faces a major ramp-down after 2025. 

It’s not the only area where ZF is expanding its business and the new UK tech hub will play a major role in developing new technology, some of which could change the auto industry significantly.

This includes a new steer-by-wire system using software to replace traditional mechanical steering ratios. It will also allow for a storable steering column using actuators to make the steering wheel disappear into the dashboard for autonomous driving. It’s a technology the industry has been calling for, according to ZF, and adds to its existing brake-by-wire systems.

Engineers also work on ADAS, with ZF having created its first forward radar early this century. Now it is finishing development of its event generation front and surround radar system, which will go into production in 2024.

All of this requires extensive testing and, as well as a small on-site vehicle test road, there is an ADAS simulation facility and a large electromagnetic compatibility test lab that can test electric components and motors up to 800V. It’s the largest EMC lab in the ZF group and includes e-drive test chambers and seven climatic test cells, all of which can test anything from initial components to full vehicles, including race cars.

Requiring less physical space is a cyber security department, where dedicated technicians view every piece of connectivity in a vehicle as a potential hack point. They not only assess vulnerabilities but also develop solutions, ideally before any issues arise within the architecture of a complete car.

Mark Smyth

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Yesterday, 06:50 AM
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Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato will be final pure-ICE model

Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato hero

The Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato will arrive as the last purely combustion-powered car from the brand

Off-road Huracan to be revealed in December; last Lamborghini to be purely combustion-powered

The Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato will be the firm's final model to be powered purely by a combustion engine when it is unveiled in December.

The Italian firm confirmed the news, as it revealed that the off-road-oriented version of the Huracán will be uncovered at the Art Basel contemporary art show in Miami (which takes places between 1 and 3 December).

It will join the Lamborghini Huracán Tecnica and Lamborghini Urus Performante as the last pure-combustion powered Lamborghini sports cars to be released by the marque.

Before a full debut in the coming weeks, the off-road supercar - based on the 2019 Sterrato concept - has been shown off in official pictures for the first time.

It will arrive as a rival to the recently revealed Porsche 911 Dakar in a rather-exclusive high-riding, off-road-ready supercar segment.

Speaking previously about the car, boss Stephan Winkelmann told Autocar: "We have to play out of the normal field, and I think we have a great opportunity to do something special in the super-sports car business which hasn't been seen so far." 

Asked if 'unexpected' cars such as this interest him more than retro-inspired creations like the Countach LPI 800-4, Winkelmann said: "For sure. Retro cars are good from time to time. I think the Countach was a great thing. But our brand has to look forward. We have to have a big windscreen and small rear-view mirrors.

"It's important to understand the history, to look into what happened in the past, but the projection has to be that we have to be innovative; we have to be disruptive and always unexpected." 

Winkelmann's indifference to heritage-inspired one-offs and limited editions is well documented. At the unveiling of the Countach last year, shortly after beginning his second term at the helm of Lamborghini, he told Autocar: “I left the company with the idea that we were never going to make a retro car, never ever. So I came back and said: ‘Why are we doing this now?’ But when we looked at the car and talked about it, I was happy to do it.”

The Sterrato (Italian for ‘dirt road’) was first revealed in concept form in 2019 as a more rugged version of the Lamborghini Huracán Evo. At the time, a Lamborghini spokesman said that despite at least one functioning car having been built, there were no plans to put the model into production.  

Differences to the standard Huracán include a far higher ground clearance, a roof-mounted air intake, as well as a set of roof rails. The front bumper has also been protected with a stone guard, while an LED light bar is fitted to the bonnet. It doesn't yet feature the concept's extended wheel arches, which Lamborghini previously hinted could be 3D-printed were the car to enter production.

The Sterrato concept was powered by the same 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 as the Huracán Evo, producing 631bhp and sending power to both axles via a seven-speed automatic gearbox. It's expected that a customer version of the Sterrato will retain the Huracán's rear-wheel-steering set-up but gain an adapted version of the Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata (LDVI) driving mode system that's more effective at finding grip on low-traction surfaces.

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Yesterday, 05:36 AM
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Mazda CX-60 long term test

Felix LT Mazda hello 17

Our new Mazda may be following the PHEV trend but still can’t resist being a bit quirky

Why we’re running it: Mazda’s largest and priciest car is also its first PHEV. Does it make any sense? 

#Month 1">Month 1 - #Specs">Specs

Life with a Mazda CX-60: Month 1

Welcoming the CX-60 to the fleet - 26 October 2022

This family SUV, powered by a hybridised four-cylinder petrol engine, weighing 1980kg and devised as a rival to such suburban stalwarts as the Volvo XC60 and BMW X3, happens to be the most powerful car yet put on the road by a firm inextricably linked to one of the most simplistic yet effective marketing slogans ever: Zoom Zoom.

Until fairly recently, hope was lingering that dynamically adept and weight-averse Mazda still planned to bring the drop-dead RX Vision coupé concept to production – and then there were some fairly strong signs that it was even planning to bring rotary power back to its ranks for a tail-happy sports car in the vein of the legendary RX-7.

Neither of those wondrous prospects has yet come to pass, but in the meantime, here’s the CX-60: a big, premium-flavoured SUV that provides Mazda (at long last) with an electrified entry into one of the most important market segments in Europe. It’s a CX-5 with a battery, a bigger boot and a bit more power.

Oh, and as tested here (in top-flight Takumi trim with a few option boxes ticked), it’s close to £55,000, which lends weight to what Mazda UK boss Jeremy Thomson told me a while ago about the Japanese brand’s long-term positioning goals: “Our aspirations are to become a credible alternative to the traditional mainstream premium, and that means non-German.”

Money well spent? You would struggle to argue otherwise after a few minutes poking and prodding your way around inside. This is a delightfully well-appointed cockpit with carefully chosen materials, subtle but attractive f lourishes throughout and – praise be – an infotainment interface that’s controlled by a dial and supported by a raft of actual buttons and switches.

It’s a welcome respite from the cold, tech-heavy and unimaginative cabins of the Germans it aims to worry – and one that has yet to leave me longing for absolutely anything, courtesy of the impressively expansive kit list.

The CX-60 is big and made visually bulkier by the questionable execution of Mazda’s generally acclaimed Kodo design language. Here, it’s manifested in a disproportionately long bonnet (presumably to allow space for the traditional straight sixes coming in 2023), an expansive, featureless side profile and a bulky rear - although I’m happy that it hasn’t fallen into the trap of sacrificing interior space for a more ‘style-focused’ sloping roofline.

Its generous stature is proving good news for all-round utility (or bad, if you consider every car-free friend I have has seemingly just decided to move house...); and with quick-witted steering and agreeable visibility among its attributes, it’s yet to grate when edging along London’s clogged veins and parking in multi-storey spaces marked in the 1960s.

When I first saw the CX-60, it wasn’t its size or look that surprised me most but that Mazda hadn’t called on strategic partner Toyota to provide the means of propulsion for its first PHEV. Especially as the CX-60 is such a similar mechanical proposition to the RAV4 PHEV, pairing a 2.5-litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder petrol engine with a circa-18kWh battery and with a driven axle at each end. The drivetrain is all Mazda’s work, the ICE side based on that used in the CX-5 and the electric side is developed using learnings from the MX-30 EV.

Interesting point, that, because the drivetrain in each of those SUVs is far from a stand-out strength: the CX-5 falls short in perk and efficiency compared with turbocharged rivals and the MX-30 fails to quite make up for its lacklustre range with any real sense of urgency when you floor it.

Even so, the CX-60 looks more in step with what’s broadly expected in a car of its ilk, and it certainly can surprise on kick down, leaping forth with an electrically aided urgency that belies its size, weight and forced induction – although the harsh, monotonous soundtrack makes it clear the shove is a by-product, nota priority, of the electrified innards.

The real calling card of this drivetrain (or at least what it should be) is efficiency. Officially, our car will get 188mpg – but I won’t bang on about that, because that’s a figure measured on the notoriously flawed WLTP cycle. What’s more important is the claimed 39 miles that it can do on electricity alone, because that’s the sort of number that would give an owner the confidence to use this PHEV as they are meant to: commute on the battery, then switch on the ICE for longer weekend trips.

And indeed that is my plan. My commute is roughly a 12-mile round trip, and I do it three times per week, so everything seems to have come together very nicely. I got particularly excited when my first full charge of the battery offered up 51 miles of EV power – but it quickly became clear that the reality is closer to half that figure, and I’m expecting it to drop further as we shiver into winter.

Being able to charge at work means I can stick to the plan, by and large, but already I’m trying hard to keep the combined efficiency readout at around the 40mpg mark, plugging in whenever possible and constantly driving like a saint to avoid waking the thirsty ICE.

Whether I tire of being abstemious over the coming months remains to be seen (petrol prices would have to come down a lot more...). But aside from frugality, the CX-60 must prove its worth as a bona fide contender in the premium SUV field, so there are a number of areas in which it needs to shine. Let’s hope it does. 

Second Opinion

When I went on the launch of this car, it was clear that Mazda was pinning a lot on the CX-60. If the CX-5 is the firm’s current sales success, the CX-60 is the future – and part of its “multi- solution approach”, all riding on its scalable platform architecture. Given all that forward success hinges on this car as the first step, here’s hoping Felix likes it. No pressure 

Piers Ward

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Mazda CX-60 specification  

Specs: Price New £49,520 Price as tested £53,370 Options Rhodium White paint £750, Convenience and Driver Assistance Pack £2100, panoramic sunroof £1000 

Test Data: Engine 4 cyls in line, 2488cc, petrol, plus electric motor Power 322bhp at rpm Torque 369lb ft Kerb weight 2,146kg Top speed 124mph 0-62mph 5.8sec Fuel economy 188mpg (WLTP) CO2 33g/km Faults None Expenses None

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Posted by: RSSBOT
Yesterday, 02:03 AM
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Inside the industry: New safety rules make cars more expensive

Intelligent speed assistance graphic

Every new car will soon impose intelligent speed assistance

New regulations introduced this year will cut into the already thin margins on affordable cars

GSR2: It sounds innocent enough. Even when fully spelled out as General Safety Regulations 2. Or even when explained as a list of 18 safety features that new cars must have in order to comply with regulations arriving in three stages: in 2022, 2024 and 2026.

Examples in the initial phase include mandator blindspot-monitoring systems, driver-drowsiness detection and intelligent speed assistance, all there to lend a hand should the statistically weakest link in the mobility chain – the person as the wheel, said to account for 90% of incidents – slips up.

Who can argue, when in the UK alone official statistics suggest that an average of more than four people die on our roads every day, with a further 73 seriously injured? Apply the numbers across Europe and it's estimated that 25,000 lives and 140,000 serious injuries will be avoided as a result of the regulations by 2038.

But the technology that supports these systems does come at a cost, and for many car makers it's one that they perceive their customers won't bear. It's a reasonable argument. Back when stability control was being encouraged by safety regulators, car makers highlighted the fact that 80% or more of customers were opting to pay for metallic paint but less than 5% for the safety technology that could save their lives. It became mandatory.

So it was that it was decided some years ago that this tech must be present for a car to be sold. One expert recently estimated that each round of changes would add £50-£150 to the cost of every car, ironically with the entry-level models bearing the greatest burden (as their tech needs most updating – speed-limit monitoring, for instance, likely to require a sat-nav and cameras to be fitted in order to achieve the required accuracy).

Sure, that feels a small price to pay for improved safety, but as GSR ramps up every two years, it suddenly amounts to quite a lot, especially when you consider that margins on small cars have long been reported to be less than £500. That doesn't leave much wiggle room for car makers if customers can't or won't pay.

In fact, if industry chit-chat is to be believed, it was enough to finally seal the fate of the Ford Fiesta once it was combined with anticipated costs of meeting the soon-to-land Euro 7 emissions regulations for the internal combustion engine's swansong; as well as a raft of other city cars and superminis that are disappearing from showrooms.

There's no argument that can be meaningfully presented against saving or protecting lives, and few people will feel sorry for mega-rich car makers, but it's worth remembering the positive impact on wealth and social mobility that the transport revolution has made. Legislation and electrification are rapidly making the 'affordable' new (and subsequently used) car a thing of the past, and that inevitably comes at a cost of its own.

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Posted by: RSSBOT
11-25-2022, 11:53 PM
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Exclusive: Maserati boss details plan for 'benchmark' margins

Maserati MC20 Cielo with CEO

CEO Davide Grasso joined Maserati in 2019 and has overseen the launch of the MC20 supercar

Maserati CEO Davide Grasso reveals goal of 20% profit margins after dramatic financial bounce-back

In a rare exclusive interview with Autocar, Maserati CEO Davide Grasso has outlined how the firm has completed a rapid and wide-reaching turnaround programme - going from heavy losses to profitability in the 24 months since his appointment.

Appointed as Maserati CEO in July 2019 and becoming a senior executive of Stellantis in January 2021, Grasso is responsible for leading Maserati through one of its most transformative eras on record, first launching the MC20 mid-engined super-sports car and since following it up with the new Grecale SUV (pictured below) and Granturismo sports coupé. Prior to joining the Italian firm, he served as CEO of clothing brand Converse, before becoming chief marketing officer of its parent company, Nike. 

Speaking as the firm ramps up to its "year of electrification" in 2023, with no fewer than three pure-EVs due in its dealerships, Grasso was hugely optimistic about Maserati's outlook as part of the 14-brand Stellantis empire, forecasting huge increases in profit margins and a radical shift in brand perception. 

"It's a banal quote," he said, "but it's nice to say: Maserati is back to the future." 

Grasso refused to be drawn on specific volume forecasts, suggesting such predictions clash with his company's luxury aspirations: "We have banned, internally and externally, the notion of volume, simply because it orients the company and the brand on something which is very internally driven and very manufacturing-capacity driven. If you go down that path as a luxury brand, then you can incur some fatal mistakes."

He acknowledged that Maserati "has to plan manufacturing capabilities" but was more vocal about plans for a substantial increase in profit per car to establish the brand as an industry benchmark for profitability.

"Our margins our expanding, and will keep expanding. Our goal is to have benchmark margins in the industry. In our view, there is no reason Maserati should be second to anyone in the industry, in terms of margin. 

"Margin is an appreciation that the customer gives. It is a rough measure of the position the customer gives to the validity and the strength of the brand and the product that you promote.

"Our goal, in the next 18 months, is to go to 15% adjusted operating margin income and then move north of that. We have our goals set on an ideal level of 20%." 

A clearer picture of Maserati's current profit margins will be given in Stellantis's full-year earnings report in January, but having returned to profitability in 2021 and closed the year at "between 5.5% and 6%", Maserati has since pushed margins past the 6% mark and is on the way to achieving "double digits very, very soon". 

A key tenet of this profit-hunting push will be an expansion of Maserati's Fuoriserie programme for bespoke car configuration, which will start to serve – like Bentley's Mulliner and Lamborghini's Ad Personam – as an integral part of its car-selling process, offering buyers new levels of personalisation (such as custom paint and graphic combinations, as below) across the line-up. 

"The core of that move lies in the fact that it's all about the customer. The modern luxury customer is willing to pay more to have personalised objects, if you will, that distinguish him or herself from the rest," Grasso said. "Sometimes the personalisation is a matter of comfort, sometimes it's a matter of aesthetics, sometimes performance, sometimes it's all the above...

"We are building the capabilities, and we will deliver those with some remarkable results."

Grasso acknowledged that being part of the Stellantis group affords security in a turbulent time for the industry, while providing scope for a drastic acceleration of its development programmes. Referring to the worldwide semiconductor shortage specifically, he said: "If we were Maserati, just by ourselves, probably we would still have to concede some chips. Now, being part of a large group with 13 other brands has allowed us to actually participate in the pool of chips that was provided to Stellantis."

Nonetheless, Maserati was not immune from the crisis, delaying the launch of the crucial Grecale by five to six months over concerns about quality as a result of the parts shortage. 

But plans are on track to launch the Grecale, Granturismo and Grancabrio – in combustion and EV guises – over the course of the year, and access to important hardware and resources from across the Stellantis portfolio will allow the brand to accelerate its roadmap as it gears up to go electric-only from 2025.

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11-25-2022, 01:45 PM
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Pod Point braces for 2023 losses as EV deliveries fall

Pod Point home charger 2022

Pod Point expects demand for plug-in vehicles – and thus its business – to rebound in the long term

EDF-owned home charger supplier blames losses on long lead times for new plug-in vehicles

Electric vehicle charger supplier Pod Point expects to make multi-million-pound losses in 2022 and 2023, it has confirmed.

In a profit warning statement issued today, it attributed the problem to the supply chain issues restricting the delivery of new plug-in vehicles (PIVs), thereby limiting demand for home charger installations.

“The growth of PIVs in the first half of 2022 of 26% has since slowed to 7% in the four months to 31 October 2022,” Pod Point noted, citing data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

As such, the firm expects to generate around £70 million in revenue in 2022, with a loss (before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) of £7m.

The company lost £14.3m in 2021, of which £8.2m was attributed to one-off IPO costs plus establishing a long-term share scheme.

Despite reduced demand, the firm does not expect its full-year market share to be reduced compared with its long-term historical share. This is because of customers who scheduled installations ahead of the withdrawal of the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) on 31 March.

Pod Point expects the supply chain issues and wider economic problems – chancellor Jeremy Hunt last week told the House of Commons the UK was “now in recession” – to incur further losses through 2023. However, these would be limited to the “mid-single” digits, it said.

Nonetheless, Pod Point expects the UK to rebound in the long term, “fully” expecting the UK to meet its goal of banning sales of new pure-petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

In contrast, the SMMT warned earlier this month that, despite the likelihood of recovery, growth in EV uptake must accelerate to meet 2030 goals.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Next year’s outlook shows recovery is possible and EV growth looks set to continue but, to achieve our shared net zero goals, that growth must accelerate and consumers [must be] given every reason to invest.

“This means giving them the economic stability and confidence to make the switch, safe in the knowledge they will be able to charge – and charge affordably – when needed.

“The models are there, with more still to come; so must the public charge points.”

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