Article Type: news

What was the most popular EV worldwide in 2023?

The global electric vehicle (EV) market broke records throughout 2023. Leading this charge was the Tesla Model Y. José Pontes, data director at EV-volumes.com, unpacks the year and its most popular performers.

New EVs, consisting of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), saw global registrations jump 35% year on year in 2023. This allowed the electric market to end above the 13 million mark for the first time.

Plug-in models made up a record 22% of the entire new-car market in December, with BEVs accounting for 15% alone. This pushed 2023’s total EV share to 16%, a small rise from 14% in 2022. BEVs made up 11% of registrations worldwide last year, up from 10% in the previous year. It is worth considering that the overall global new-car market experienced double-digit growth in 2023.

PHEVs (up 47%) saw registrations grow more quickly across 2023 than BEVs (up 30%). This meant the hybrid powertrain increased its share of the EV market, reaching 31%, up from 28% in 2022. The PHEV share has been fluctuating between 26% and 31% since 2018, supporting the notion that the technology could remain relevant for a while.

Best-selling car in 2023

The Tesla Model Y recorded 1,211,601 registrations across 2023. This made it the best-selling model in both the new EV and the overall new-car market. The BEV saw deliveries grow 57% year on year, up from 771,000 units in 2022. The crossover can be expected to stay a market leader in 2024.

EV

The BYD Song secured second place, as the Chinese SUV ended the year with 636,533 registrations, up 33% on 2022. Meanwhile, the Tesla Model 3 hit a new record of 529,287 registrations, putting it in third.

But despite its recent refresh, the Model 3 has reached full maturity. The sedan has seen its market share erode from 14% in 2019 to 12% in 2020, then 8% in 2021, 4.7% in 2022 and 3.9% last year. Sales have struggled to maintain momentum since hitting over 500,000 units in 2021.

Compared with 2019, last year’s result represents growth of 6% for the Model 3. But in the same period, the EV market more than doubled from 6.6 million units to nearly 13.7 million units, illustrating the BEV’s market limits.

BYD’s block

Below the top three, there was a block of BYD models. This included the Qin Plus in fourth, the Yuan Plus/Atto 3 in fifth, and the Dolphin in sixth. The BYD Seagull ended the year in seventh, profiting from a great performance in December and jumping two places. This meant the top seven places were dominated by just two carmakers.

The BYD Han won another full-size category title, followed by its sibling, the Tang. But both models saw declining sales in 2023, by 17% for the Han and 7% for the Tang. It will likely be much harder for the Chinese brand to retain the full-size category title in 2024.

In the second half of the table, the Volkswagen (VW) ID.3 was up one position to 15th. Last year was a great one for the hatchback, as its sales jumped 79% year on year to 139,268 units. Thanks primarily to its success in China, this is the first time the BEV crossed the 100,000 mark.

GAC Aion also had a good year with its Y and S BEVs, with sales almost doubling. This put the models in ninth and 11th respectively. But Li Auto made even greater strides, as the startup placed all three of its full-sized EVs in the top 20.

Four models from legacy OEMs made it to the top 20 in 2022, namely the VW ID.4, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, and the Kia EV6. But this count fell to just two in 2023, with the VW ID.4 in 12th and ID.3 in 15th. Considering the Audi Q4 e-Tron finished in 21st, the top three models from a legacy OEM all belonged to VW Group.

Success by segment

Chinese models took the EV A-segment by storm in 2023. Coming seventh in the overall EV ranking, the BYD Seagull took the category title from the eighth-place Wuling Mini EV. The Seagull is a top contender to repeat its success in 2024. The Changan Lumin came third in the category, far from the top two.

The B-segment also saw many Chinese models succeed. The category was led by the BYD Dolphin which came sixth overall, followed by the Wuling Bingo in 13th. The Peugeot e-208 came next but at a great distance from the top two with some 51,000 registrations. This was more than 100,000 units below the Bingo and some 300,000 units behind the Dolphin.

The C-segment was led by the BYD Yuan Plus/Atto 3. The crossover ended 2023 at 418,994 units, double its 2022 result. The GAC Aion Y came next with 235,861 deliveries, followed by the VW ID.4 with 192,686 registrations. Expect an exciting competition between the top two this year. However, the BYD Yuan Up, a smaller and cheaper sibling of the Yuan Plus, could provide a surprise.

Tesla’s D-segment

Tesla ruled over the D-segment in 2023. The Model Y was the clear leader, while the Model 3 came third. Between the two was the BYD Song. However, the Model Y already looks set to secure the category win again in 2024.

Three Chinese models commanded the E and F-segments. The BYD Han recorded 228,007 registrations, the BYD Tang 141,581 registrations, and the Li Auto L7 134,089 registrations. Should Li Auto or Aito want to compete for a top spot this year, a minimum production capacity of 150,000 units a year will be the bare minimum. Even so, the category leader will likely end up past the 300,000-unit mark.

Pickup trucks saw a second year of relevance in 2023 with around 52,000 deliveries, up 44% year on year. The Ford F-150 Lightening posted roughly 25,000 deliveries while the Rivian R1T managed some 15,000. Geely’s Radar RD6 took third with 4,736 units. In 2024, the Tesla Cybertruck is likely to disrupt this trio.

A total of 9,511 fuel-cell electric vehicles were registered in 2023, down 38% on 2022. This followed a drop from 2021, the year FCEVs reached a peak of 15,434 registrations. In 2023, the Hyundai Nexo (5,000 units) beat the Toyota Mirai (4,000 units).

Best-selling brands in 2023

In terms of brand volumes, BYD beat Tesla by a significant margin in 2023. With a 56% year-on-year growth rate, the Chinese company was the fastest-growing marque in the top three, allowing it to increase its lead to over one million units.

However, this trend is unlikely to continue into 2024. BYD is running out of room to grow in its domestic market, meaning the demand ceiling is closing in. Yet this supports the company’s overseas strategies, plans which could come to define the EV market in 2024.

In 2023, the Chinese brand started to export its EVs in significant volumes. Israel saw 15,000 units, Brazil 18,000 units, and Thailand 30,000 units.

electric vehicle

In second place, Tesla’s market share continued to suffer erosion. This sat at 17% in 2019, 16% in 2020, 14% in 2021, and then 13% in 2022 and 2023. This could potentially stabilise around 10% in the future. The US carmaker will need to diversify its line-up if it wants to retake the brand title.

Due to a slow first half of the year, SGMW ended in sixth allowing BMW to take third. It may be difficult for the German carmaker to hold on to this position in 2024, considering the pack of fast-growing Chinese brands behind it.

In fourth, GAC Aion grew 78% to some 484,000 units, however, this growth will be difficult to sustain. So far, the brand has not found a way to replicate the success of its S and Y models.

This puts the carmaker in the sights of the rapidly-growing Li Auto in seventh. Its three current models will reach maturity in 2024. Then there are the upcoming launches of the Mega and the L6, which could mean the brand will deliver up to 700,000 units next year.

Benefitting from a slow December for Toyota, Nio was also able to climb up the ranking in the last month of 2023. The carmaker ended the year in 16th, a five-position jump from its previous year’s standing. However, it could be difficult for the startup to remain in this spot given a lack of new models for 2024 and a sluggish export performance.

The other two brands to benefit from Toyota’s downfall were Ford, climbing one position to 17th, and Jeep, up to 18th. Out of all the legacy marques on the table, Jeep was the fastest growing, having seen its sales jump 53% compared to 2022. It ended the year as Stellantis’ best-selling brand, 23,000 units ahead of Peugeot in 22nd.

Outstanding OEMs in 2023

Gathering EV sales by automotive group, BYD claimed a 22% market share, with 3,012,070 registrations. Tesla came second with an 13.2% share and 1,808,652 deliveries. This puts the two OEMs in a league of their own, controlling over a third of the market together.

global EV sales

VW Group remained in third, with a 7.3% market share, making it the leading legacy OEM. Meanwhile, Geely–Volvo (6.8% share) took fourth from SAIC (5.8% share) towards the end of the year. This means the fight for third in 2024 will be one to watch.

Stellantis (4.2% share) stayed in sixth but has lost half a percentage point compared to the end of 2022. However, the OEM delivered nearly 600,000 units last year. This means it should reach the one-million-unit scale for EV profitability by 2025, or possibly 2026.

BMW Group (4.1%) rose to seventh place and the German OEM should be competing for sixth throughout 2024. Hyundai Motor Group (3.7% share) dropped from seventh in 2022 to ninth in 2023, losing almost a full percentage point from 4.6%. The Korean OEM was also surpassed by GAC, which ended the year with a 3.8% share.

Battle of the BEVs

Looking only at BEVs, Tesla took the 2023 OEM title with 19.1% of the global market. This was up from 18.2% in 2022 but was down from the 23% it commanded at the end of 2020. Second went to BYD with a 16.5% share of the BEV market.

BEV

While Tesla’s market is likely to erode slightly in 2024, BYD will keep gaining share. This will be thanks to a larger number of BEVs in BYD’s line-up, including the Yuan Up and Sea Lion. Additionally, exports will be more focused on BEVs, with PHEVs only being used in select markets.

VW Group took third with an 8% share, while SAIC took fourth with a 7.9% holding. In fifth, Geely–Volvo claimed 6.2% of the market. Sixth-place GAC was a sizable distance behind, with a 5.3% share. Nevertheless, the OEM had a positive 2023, up from 4% in 2022.

BYD nears local limit

There are a number of trends already emerging which provide a good insight into what the automotive market can expect from the EV segment in 2024 and beyond.

The BYD brand is already close to its demand ceiling in China, meaning the OEM is increasingly focused on its premium brands. This includes Yangwang, Fangchengbao and Denza.

With a higher average price, margins are expected to improve. This will give BYD more options when pricing its mainstream models. But with competition heating up in the Chinese EV market, BYD will need to keep its line-up fresh to hold on to its share, while also considering pricing.

As such, growth will have to come from overseas markets which is something BYD has been preparing for. As well as buying and chartering its own vehicle vessel, it is building factories in places such as ThailandIndonesiaBrazil, and Hungary.

Tesla’s production planning

Tesla delivered 1,808,652 units in 2023, but with little in the way of new offerings, the carmaker is unlikely to see rapid growth in 2024.

Tesla’s current issue is its lack of product planning. The Model S is now 12 years old, making a second generation rather overdue. The Model X is in its ninth year, meaning a new version should have been presented by now.

Meanwhile, the Model Y (2020) has reached maturity as has the Model 3, which launched in 2017 and only saw a refresh in 2023. Their successors should, therefore, be on the drawing board. However, this does not appear to be the case. The carmaker would do well to consider how it manages the lifecycles of its products.

VW Group and Geely

While suffering some management changes in recent years, VW Group is still the best-performing legacy OEM by far. With close to one million EV deliveries in 2023, its long-term survival is well assured.

Moving into 2024, the OEM’s leading models will mature. The only new models will be the VW ID.7, the Cupra Tavascan, the Skoda Elroq, the Porsche Macan, and the Audi Q6/A6 e-Tron.

Meanwhile, Geely has been steadily gaining ground in the EV OEM ranking in the last few years, ending 2023 in fourth with 925,111 registrations. This was only some 69,000 units below VW Group.

SAIC the export expert

While SAIC excels at exporting, it could do better locally. The OEM aims to sell around 1.4 million vehicles abroad this year. However, this does include models powered by internal-combustion engines.

With 14 new EVs expected by 2026, SAIC hopes to replicate the MG4’s success with other launches. This includes venturing into the premium end of export markets with its new IM brand. Therefore, 2024 is likely to see a new MG5 station wagon, a ZS crossover, and a flagship SUV model.

Another monthly title for Tesla

The Tesla Model Y took another best-seller position in December, with 128,410 deliveries. The crossover can be expected to keep racking up monthly titles this year as it has reached full maturity. With a refreshed version coming around April, it is likely to be the best year of the current generation.

bestselling car

In second place, the BYD Song hit a record 76,086 registrations. This could be its peak, with the recently-arrived Song L ready to cannibalise a significant volume of its sales in 2024, as will the upcoming Sea Lion.

Third place in December went to the Tesla Model 3, which posted more than 56,896 deliveries, ending well ahead of the BYD Qin Plus in fourth (44,701 units). Further down the ranking the Wuling Bingo came eighth (27,458 units), thanks to its continuous production ramp-up. The small EV seems ready to compete with BYD’s leading models for a top spot in 2024. 

The VW ID.3 finished the month in 15th. The model recorded 17,861 registrations globally in December, its best score since the end of 2020 when VW delivered units to dealerships to comply with emission requirements.

Thanks to price cuts in China, the ID.3 saw its fortunes change completely in the market. This helped compensate for its milder performance in Europe. Elsewhere in the compact category, SAIC’s MG4 (Mulan in China) scored 12,964 registrations in December, its second record score in a row.

Made in China

Some of December’s most significant figures were recorded in the full-size category. The entire Li Auto line-up reached record heights. The L7 marked 20,428 registrations, the L8 saw 15,013 deliveries, while the L9 marked 14,913 units.

December’s best-selling full-size model was the Aito M7, which took ninth place in the EV market with 25,545 deliveries. With Huawei putting its weight behind the brand, sales increasing rapidly.

Every model in December’s top 20 was made in China. A total of 16 belonged to Chinese carmakers, with seven coming from BYD alone. This illustrates the importance of the Chinese market in the broader EV industry.

Successful SUVs

Outside of December’s top 20, the Geely Panda Mini was close to joining the table, having ended the month fewer than 300 units behind the BYD Tang in 20th. The compact Audi Q4 e-Tron was also close, with 11,260 registrations.

In the midsize category, SUVs were trending with several record-breakers. After several years on the market, the Volvo XC60 PHEV hit a best-ever global total of 7,868 registrations. Deliveries of the Lynk & Co 08 PHEV reached 10,055 units, while SAIC’s IM LS6 posted 9,878 units, and the Changan’s Deepal S7 11,360 units.

However, the recent Wuling Starlight from SGMW proved that success is not restricted to SUVs, recording 8,050 deliveries in December. In the full-size category, the Jeep Grand Cherokee PHEV reached a record 7,299 registrations.

The BMW i4 achieved another registration record, with 11,203 units delivered in December. This made it the best-selling EV produced outside of China. However, the i4 only posted a fifth of the registrations achieved by its competitor, the Tesla Model 3.

The BMW iX1 also achieved a new best of 8,775 deliveries, its third record in a row. Meanwhile, the iX also shined, with 7,027 registrations.

A record month for brands

BYD managed another record month in December, this time with 320,928 registrations. It once again beat Tesla, which posted 195,265 deliveries.

global EV sales

SGMW came third thanks to a best-ever monthly tally of 69,912 registrations. Its three models (the Mini EV, Bingo, and Starlight) contributed decisively to this performance. In fourth with 59,480 deliveries, BMW had a record month thanks largely to the success of its i4 fastback (11,203 registrations), but also the iX1 (8,775 units) and iX (7,027 units).

VW came fifth with 52,042 registrations, followed closely by Li Auto with a new best of 50,356 units. In the same month last year, it posted 21,233 registrations. In eighth, Changan recorded 43,095 deliveries, its second-best performance in a row, thanks to the Lumin and Deepal S7.

MG4 boosts SAIC

SAIC made it to 11th with a record 35,334 registrations. This was owing to the performance of its star player, the MG4. Aito rocketed up to 12th with its M7 SUV and even larger M9. The brand hit a record 30,108 units in December.

In 13th, Audi also registered its best month with 28,024 deliveries in December, thanks to the Q4 e-Tron. XPeng came 17th, with 7,673 registrations of its G6 midsize SUV in December. This allowed the carmaker to hit a total of 20,105 units in the month, almost catching Hyundai in 16th (20,631 units). Chery came 20th thanks to the positive results of the QQ Ice Cream (7,462 units).

Jeep landed in 21st, making it the best-selling US legacy brand as well as Stellantis’ best-selling marque. With 17,723 registrations, it achieved a new record. This was down to the continued success of the Wrangler PHEV and Grand Cherokee PHEV.

Lynk & Co came 22nd with a new best of 17,505 deliveries. The 08 SUV accounted for the bulk of the registrations (10,055 units), allowing the Chinese brand to end close to the table.

This content is brought to you by Autovista24.

CES 2024: The automotive AI journey has just begun

A new path of technological automotive development is emerging, evidenced by a strong focus on artificial intelligence (AI) at CES 2024. Autovista24 special content editor, Phil Curry, considers where this road could take the industry.

Just two letters encapsulated the majority of discussions and launches at CES 2024 – AI. Every sector appeared invested in artificial intelligence, and the automotive market was no exception.

From personal assistants to predictive maintenance, AI could revolutionise mobility. However, understanding the technology is a complex task, as is the process of using it to gain results.

But almost all carmakers appear to be working on AI strategies. Some are planning simple integrations in the near future, while others are working on utilising the technology inside and outside the vehicle.

Huge potential

In a panel session presented by EY, the potential of AI in the automotive market was discussed, along with the needs of the industry to ensure it can work as effectively as possible.

Sabine Scheunert, former vice president of digital and IT sales/marketing at Mercedes-Benz, said: ‘Today, there is not a single carmaker that is not utilising AI. It starts with the clear potential of huge efficiency and helps to shorten the development cycle of new vehicles, which is a real efficiency driver. It is also useful in production lines, especially with quality management.

‘However, AI also has an important part to play in the customer journey. Call centres are integrating bots into their systems, and these can sufficiently answer the requests of the customers. So, in customer experience terms, the use of AI in the automotive industry has huge potential,’ she added.

Three AI areas

‘By 2030, we expect $74.5 billion (€68.5 billion) will have been invested in AI by automotive companies, the question now is, what do we do with that money, and how do we commercialise it?’ commented Constantin Gall, managing partner at EY.

‘We see three areas where AI can help benefit the mobility market: proactive care, proactive journey and proactive mobility.’

Proactive journey could see AI examine a driver’s commute and schedule to ensure efficient time management, also examining traffic trends. Proactive mobility complements autonomous driving, as AI brings augmented reality and in-car infotainment, benefitting users while the car is in motion.

Proactive care will see car owners offered a hassle-free experience when it comes to their vehicles. AI could take care of admin and logistics, such as insuring the vehicle, booking maintenance and even predicting potential issues. However, it may also offer proactive communication and recommendations, leaving the financial decisions up to the driver.

This means AI could help to maintain customer loyalty, especially when it comes to electric vehicles (EVs) which are subject to less maintenance. The technology could help ensure drivers interact with original manufacturers instead of considering a third party.

Benefitting aftersales

Scheunert highlighted how AI could have a crucial role to play in keeping customers loyal to brands through predictive maintenance.

As cars get older, they will end up moving out of the franchised dealer servicing schemes and into the independent repair sector. Scheunert suggested that aftersales is not an area that OEMs currently concentrate on.

‘It can cost around seven times more to reconquer a customer you have lost to bring them back to your aftersales service,’ Scheunert stated. ‘The aftersales area is certainly a market where AI can be developed further to benefit.

‘Vehicles today have a lot of sensoric information, monitoring everything that is happening around the car, including breakdowns or damaged parts. The next step is to connect the data to allow for a prediction on whether a part is close to the end of its life, but then also connecting to suppliers to ship this part to the nearest service centre, or even to the customer with instructions of how to fit the part themselves,’ she said.

Investment black hole

The AI options and potential benefits to businesses and consumers alike are vast. To utilise the technology fully, the correct data needs to be generated and analysed, with systems required to process all the information. Otherwise, carmakers and suppliers risk pouring millions into a black hole of development.

‘There is still a lack of real understanding of how the automotive industry can put AI to good use, in order to meet the user experience we would like to see,’ stated Damian Barnett, Luxoft CTO.

‘We need to make sure we are creating the right data, to allow us to collect the data we need and drive the results that we would like to see coming out of AI,’ he added.

Carmakers working on AI

Alongside the discussions, there were plenty of automotive businesses at CES 2024 revealing their AI plans.

BMW Group announced the integration of generative AI into its voice assistant. Together with its partner Amazon, the carmaker showcased a new system powered by the Alexa large-language model (LLM). The current development project is creating the foundations for a potential rollout.

Complex processing capabilities, which enable human-like interactions and conversations, have not yet been integrated into BMW vehicles. This is now made possible by LLMs, which are trained on enormous sets of data, allowing them to generate plausible language.

Mercedes-Benz is also integrating generative AI into its MBUX virtual assistant. The carmaker is aiming to make user interactions more human-like.

‘The Mercedes-Benz user experience of tomorrow will be hyper-personalised. With generative AI, our MBUX virtual assistant brings more trust and empathy to the relationship between car and driver,’ commented Magnus Östberg, chief software officer, Mercedes-Benz AG.

‘Thanks to our MB.OS chip-to-cloud architecture, our future vehicles will provide customers with exactly what they need when they need it.’

The carmaker explained that its MBUX virtual assistant uses generative AI and proactive intelligence to make life as easy, convenient and comfortable as possible. The system can offer helpful suggestions based on learned behaviour and situational context. Examples include playing the latest news in the morning or starting a preferred massage programme at the end of the working day.

The AI can also learn a driver’s movements and schedule, and link into digital calendars, to offer options should circumstances change. This may include automatically preparing a call should the user be running late for an appointment. The system can also learn individual driver preferences and prepare the vehicle accordingly, including music choices and ambient lighting.

ChatGPT comes to cars

One of the most well-known AI chatbots, ChatGPT, is to be utilised by Volkswagen (VW), with the system integrated into the carmaker’s IDA voice assistant by Cerence Chat Pro. This means the technology can offer new functionality and respond to drivers with detailed answers while understanding their basic needs and reacting to them.

‘Thanks to the seamless integration of ChatGPT and strong collaboration with our partner, Cerence, we are offering our drivers added value and direct access to the AI-based research tool,’ commented Kai Grünitz, member of the board of management at VW responsible for technical development.

The integration of AI helps to keep the cabin experience intuitive and personalised, while also giving the driver the information they need when required.

‘With the rise of generative AI and LLMs we are now entering a new era of computing, large language models will become the new AI agents, enabling a single conversational interface across applications, based on users’ personal preferences,’ said Stefan Ortmanns, CEO of Cerence.

‘This will help to transform the in-car assistant into a human-like companion. Our smart arbitration, embedded in the VW solution, directs questions, routes, and specific voice commands, and allows VW to feed the system with customised information,’ he said.

Using AI, VW says the IDA voice assistant can be used to control the infotainment, navigation, and air conditioning, or to answer general knowledge questions. In the future, AI will provide additional information in response to more complex questions as part of its continuously expanding capabilities.

Advancing the use of AI

Sony provided an update on its Sony Honda Mobility (SHM) business, including a new partnership with Microsoft. This collaboration aims to develop a conversational personal agent using the Azure OpenAI service.

‘Generative AI is a new canvas that is amplifying human creativity and creating opportunities for creators and designers to completely transform the in-vehicle experience,’ stated Jessica Hawk, corporate vice president, data, AI, digital applications and product marketing at Microsoft.

‘As these new technologies come forward, safe and responsible AI will continue to be a top priority for both Microsoft and Sony.’

SHM is also looking to build upon both automated driving and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) by using AI in mobility. The company is adopting Vison Transformer, a deep-learning model for natural language processing, which also specialises in image recognition.

This will improve how ADAS can perceive the world, alongside greater path planning thanks to machine learning. Cars will be able to see the road ahead more clearly and consider hazards, before taking appropriate action such as applying brakes. This means AI will play a significant role in vehicle safety.

Overall, the automotive industry is still learning about AI and its potential. With most official announcements centring on integration with personal assistants, it is clear the market is only beginning to take note of the technology.

As the connected car continues to evolve, more AI integration can be expected. This stands to benefit the driver and give automotive brands the opportunity to retain customer loyalty, as well as monetise additional services.

This content is brought to you by Autovista24.

automotive AI

Electric-vehicle battery development charges ahead

Battery development is central to the electrification of mobility. But which chemical compositions hold the most promise and how will Europe meet manufacturing demand? Autovista24 deputy editor Tom Geggus explores what the future holds for electric-vehicle (EV) batteries.

While lithium-ion batteries currently dominate battery-electric vehicle (BEV) builds, the technology was first commercialised in 1991 for consumer electronics. The rapid development of power-storage units looks set to shift this dependency, however. Speaking with Autovista24, Dr Matthias Simolka, senior technical solution engineer at TWAICE, unpacked how automotive batteries are evolving.

Is sodium a solution?
Demand for lithium is increasing as carmakers look to build more BEVs. While concerns of a potential raw-material shortage circulate, Simolka explained that there is actually enough lithium in the ground. The issue is how many mines are currently up and running, and whether they can meet rising demand.
This is where sodium-ion batteries could prove immensely useful. With different industries currently utilising the material, production capacity is already established. There are additional safety benefits, alongside more sustainable production methods that require less toxic material.

Sodium-ion batteries sport a lower energy and power density, requiring more units to match the kind of power output delivered by lithium-ion versions. However, this makes them ideal for lower demand, less energy dense, and more affordable applications. Chinese manufacturers such as CATL and BYD are already reportedly working on sodium-ion technology.

But this does not mean that sodium will replace lithium as the chemical element of choice. Instead, it will help alleviate pressure alongside other battery setups. ‘Lithium is going to keep on dominating the market,’ Simolka said. ‘I think sodium ion is going to play a role but in specific applications. The benefit of lithium ion is that there are so many different possible setups, so many different cell chemistries you can choose and then adapt to the kind of application you want.’

For example, lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemical compositions tend not to have a high enough energy density for certain applications. However, adding manganese to the mix, creating lithium manganese iron phosphate (LMFP) can help address this issue. It is with small steps like these that Simolka believes lithium will continue to be the primary player in mobility power storage.#

The solid-state wait
So where does this leave the long-awaited, yet-to-be-delivered solid-state battery
(SSB)? Replacing the liquid electrolyte with a solid one, SSBs promise to revolutionise power storage with greater density, improved safety, and superior sustainability. Progress with the technology is often touted, with some companies even setting large-scale deployment dates as soon as 2025.

But Simolka explained that for this kind of deadline to be met, manufacturers would already be testing mass-market prototypes, which is not something he believes is happening. ‘We are approaching that kind of date when we will see solid state in a mobility application, but I am not very sure it is going to happen in 2025,’ he said.

Even then there is a possibility early editions will belong to a new category of ‘quasi-solid-state batteries’, still using electrolytes on the cathode side of the unit, for example. While this could help improve energy density, it would not fulfil all the promises of SSBs.

Where the technology can be best utilised also needs to be considered. High-power applications make sense, but this would result in sizeable price tags normally only seen attached to luxury models. But as with all manufacturing, costs should lower once processes improve.

Localising supply
COVID-19, cracked supply chains and the conflict in Ukraine seriously damaged production processes. But from these issues arose several valuable lessons about sustainability and localised sourcing. When it comes to essential car components like batteries, time and money are being poured into development and manufacturing hubs in Europe and the United States.

Green group Transport and Environment (T&E) believes the EU can end its reliance on China for lithium-ion battery cells by 2027. Alongside this, two thirds of Europe’s cathode demand could be met locally by 2027.

However, Simolka highlighted that localising production is only part of the equation. ‘You still need to figure out where the materials at the end are coming from,’ he said. Initiatives such as battery passports, designed to verify where materials are sourced, produced and marketed, could help manage this need.
In order to localise the production of batteries, supply chains must be secured alongside all the necessary knowledge to ensure the quality of every unit. Speed is paramount to the development of manufacturing capabilities, but must be balanced with safety and quality.

This content is brought to you by Autovista24.

Have researchers found the key to cleaner diesel power?

Electric-vehicle (EV) development is not the only source of green transformation within the automotive industry. Researchers are also considering how internal-combustion engines (ICEs) could be more sustainable.

A team of engineers based at Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) have converted a diesel engine, with potential industrial applications, into a hydrogen-diesel hybrid engine – reducing CO2 emissions by more than 85%, and boosting efficiency in the process.

The direct injection dual-fuel system uses a mix of 90% hydrogen and 10% diesel. This means the original diesel injection into the engine can be maintained, with the hydrogen fuel injected directly into the cylinder.

Industrial benefit?

‘Any diesel engine used in trucks and power equipment in the transportation, agriculture and mining industries could ultimately be retrofitted to the new hybrid system in just a couple of months,’ the UNSW researchers claim.

Focusing on the near-future uses of this technology, the UNSW team highlighted its potential industrial applications, as opposed to deployment under the bonnet of a passenger car or van. This includes locations where a permanent hydrogen fuel supply is already in place. For example, mining sites could cut the emissions from industrial diesel engines used in vehicles and generators. The researchers hope to commercialise its new system within the next two years.

‘Being able to retrofit [industrial] diesel engines that are already out there is much quicker than waiting for the development of completely new fuel cell systems that might not be commercially available at a larger scale for at least a decade,’ said professor Shawn Kook from the UNSW school of mechanical and manufacturing engineering. ‘With the problem of carbon emissions and climate change, we need some more immediate solutions to deal with the issue of these many diesel engines currently in use.’

Cleaning up a dirty process

The retrofitted system does not require high-purity hydrogen and was found to be 26% more efficient than existing diesel engines. This technology could prove a vital industrial quick fix while brand-new hydrogen systems are developed over the long term.

A paper published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy revealed that the patented hydrogen injection system reduces CO2 emissions to just 90g/kWh, 85.9% below the amount produced by a standard diesel-powered engine.

‘This new technology significantly reduces CO2 emissions from existing diesel engines, so it could play a big part in making our carbon footprint much smaller, especially in Australia with all our mining, agriculture and other heavy industries where diesel engines are widely used,’ commented Kook. ‘We have shown that we can take those existing diesel engines and convert them into cleaner engines that burn hydrogen fuel.

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Used-car market conditions present cross-border remarketing opportunities


Resilient demand for used cars has created greater opportunities for cross-border remarketing. But there are challenges to overcome, explains Autovista24 senior data journalist Neil King.

The large consumer-to-consumer element of the used-car market, without reliance on physical dealers, means used-car sales fared far better during the COVID-19 pandemic than new-car registrations.
The first wave of the pandemic stopped sales activities at dealerships that were not digital. The less pronounced downturns in subsequent lockdowns exemplify how the establishment, and increased consumer acceptance, of online purchasing has also significantly improved the opportunities for cross-border remarketing.

New-car supply issues have compounded this, with markets such as Spain increasingly relying on imported used cars to meet demand. This phenomenon has also maintained residual values (RVs) in exporting countries such as Poland.

‘There used to be huge imports of used cars from Western Europe into Poland, at the level of about one million units every year. Now it is much more limited, and I can see the opposite trend of exporting the youngest used passenger cars from Poland. This is based on relatively lower market values and the exchange rate, which is approximately 7% higher than before COVID-19,’ commented Marcin Kardas, head of valuations, Eurotax Poland (part of Autovista Group).

Used-car activity has retreated this year and will be affected by the cost-of-living crisis. However, in conjunction with ongoing new-car supply issues, the squeeze on household budgets also means many consumers will invariably turn to more affordable used cars.

Autovista Group’s base case for 2023 anticipates continued supply-chain issues, very low economic growth paired with high uncertainty, and inflation above target zones. This will keep new- and used-car demand under pressure, but new-car registrations should rise compared to 2022. Used-car markets are expected to be stimulated accordingly, as more cars will be supplied.

This does not mean 2023 will be a rebound year for the automotive industry, but cross-border remarketing opportunities remain. The trend towards standardisation of trim-line names and equipment across European market will facilitate the practice too – not only for existing online used-car retailers, but also for dealer groups and even carmakers themselves.

Online used-car retailers

As the internet has become a more acceptable platform for buying used cars quicker than may have been anticipated, this has given rise to several independent online retailers such as Auto1 Group, Cazoo, and Driverama.

In April 2021, Driverama announced its launch as Europe’s first borderless online used-car retailer, pointing to the pandemic as an accelerant that drove people towards online retailing more quickly. The company also noted forecasts stating that by 2030, 20% of all cars bought in Europe will be transacted online.

‘Cross-border remarketing may still be marginal but is growing with the expanse of the internet and English being spoken more widely by the latest generation, which is also less afraid of going abroad to buy a car,’ explained Ludovic Percier, RV and market analyst, Autovista Group France.

‘For example, there is a website in France, Leparking.fr, which collects all used-car adverts across websites worldwide to help you find the right car. You can select the countries you are interested in or even the distance from your location. For people living in the centre of western Europe, this can lead them to many foreign countries, sometimes closer than the other end of their own country. The key factors in going abroad are a lower price, more choice, and sometimes proximity.’

Aside from individual buyers travelling to source a car, the ongoing supply shortages, and increased consumer willingness to purchase online, create significant opportunities for market players when it comes to cross-border remarketing. However, not all consumers are prepared to travel internationally and deal with the bureaucracy involved, so a local presence is required. But this requires scale, which is the core reason Cazoo cites for its withdrawal from the mainland European market.

‘Following a review of a range of strategic options, management has concluded that the right course of action is for Cazoo to now focus exclusively on its core opportunity in the UK, an enormous addressable market with approximately eight million used-car transactions and a value of over £100 billion annually,’ Cazoo announced on 8 September.

‘The plan to withdraw from the EU is based on the material further investment that would be required for Cazoo to continue to scale its operations in the EU and the conflict this has with the company’s priorities of cash conservation and achieving profitability without the need for additional capital. As a result, the company intends to commence an orderly wind down of its operations in Germany and Spain and is in consultation with its employee representatives in France and Italy.’

Another key challenge for online used-car retailers is sourcing cars, especially as they scale operations and enter new markets. One solution is to establish relationships to gain access to de-fleeted vehicles.
In February for example, Auto1 Group, one of Europe’s largest online retailers for buying and selling used cars, struck a deal with Munich-based Allane Mobility – formerly known as Sixt Leasing – to secure supply of around 10,000 leased-car returns and fleet vehicles per year.

Standardisation of equipment and trim-line names

Scale is less of an issue for established large dealer groups and carmakers’ own dealer networks. They may be hampered by borders, but this does not mean that cars cannot be sourced elsewhere. One key challenge, however, is the inconsistent naming conventions of trimlines and/or standard equipment.
‘The Volkswagen trim line Carat in France for example means nothing in Germany, Specifications may differ, but consistent version names at least add clarity,’ commented Andreas Geilenbruegge, head of valuations and insights at Schwacke (part of Autovista Group).

This inconsistency in both trim-line names and standard equipment has not passed carmakers by, with Geilenbruegge pointing to heated seats as an example. They are not essential equipment in new cars in southern European markets such as Spain, but their absence limits a car’s remarketing opportunity in northern Europe. Carmakers are therefore looking at measures such as introducing seat heaters as standard equipment across Europe from the second trim line upwards.

This may not entirely remove international prejudice, whereby cars registered new in one country are often valued lower than those registered domestically.

‘A car bought new in Germany and driven its whole life in France is not worth the same to a dealer as the same car with the same specifications registered new in France. So, consumers risk losing money when trading in cars imported to France compared to a car bought new in the country,’ Percier commented.
Conversely, consumers may be unwilling to pay the same amount for an imported used car as one that has only been registered in their home country.

One manufacturer that has swerved inconsistent trim-line names and specifications – and seemingly international prejudice too – is Tesla. This has facilitated the widely reported exporting of used models from Germany to Norway for example.

‘We are heading towards a future universal European market and some carmakers, such as Tesla, are already uniformising their offer to sell cars wherever the demand is high and the offer low. Most people will still buy a car in their own country, so brands must adapt to providing cars where they are needed. This is true for the European market but also in the local market, between areas and cities,’ said Percier.

Carmakers as used-car agents?

Looking ahead, Percier noted that features on demand (FOD) may eradicate the differences in standard equipment across markets. ‘With the coming FOD in cars, everybody will be capable of activating any option on the car, even after five years. The only differences will be the engine, gearbox, and the car’s aesthetics – that is it.’

With consistent trim lines and equipment, there is greater scope for carmakers to enter the realm of cross-border remarketing themselves. One approach could be an agency model, whereby carmakers can actively offer to purchase cars from a dealer when there is higher demand in another country. This also works passively, however, with dealers able to identify cars that are available for sale across the carmakers’ European dealer network. They can then source them, with the carmaker assuming responsibility for the paperwork, financial transaction, and logistical arrangements.

Whatever the future holds, cross-border remarketing is here to stay and will only gain momentum as transparency increases, both in terms of standardised equipment and names, as well as online presence.

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Chinese carmakers dive into Europe after testing the waters

Chinese car manufacturers are making their presence known in Europe, taking on their Western counterparts, writes Autovista24 journalist Rebeka Shaid.

Europe’s automotive industry is dominated by local players, with Volkswagen (VW) Group taking the top spot as the region’s largest carmaker. But that is not stopping new players from China entering the crowded European market, especially as electrification is in full swing. Competitive product portfolios, customer-centric sales models, and a will to succeed define the new players.   

China and Europe are the two largest electric-vehicle (EV) markets in the world. While European carmakers have long exported cars to the Asian country, where they operate numerous production sites and joint ventures with local companies, now, the tide has turned. 

Consulting firm Inovev noted that around 75,000 new cars from Chinese manufacturers were registered in Europe in the first half of 2022 and it is expecting 150,000 units for the rest of the year.

Electromobility is opening a window of opportunity for these Asian manufacturers, which are trying hard to build recognisable and reputable brands in the region. Nio, XPeng, BYD, Great Wall Motors (GWM), Hongqi, and BAIC are just a handful of carmakers working to take on established leaders across the continent.

Chinese carmakers are following clear ambitions: to increase their international competitive edge after years of mainly supplying cars to developing economies. Although many consumers in Europe are still unfamiliar with ‘made in China’ cars, that is starting to change.

‘To date, more than 10 Chinese car manufacturers have launched, or are about to launch, EVs in Europe. Two of them have achieved some initial success: Polestar and MG have made themselves among the top 20 best-selling EVs in Europe,’ Jan Yang, senior managing director at global consulting firm Simon-Kucher, told Autovista24. MG is owned by SAIC Motors and Polestar by Geely, both Chinese businesses.

‘In contrast, other Chinese automakers have barely made a mark in Europe. But this may change soon, as Nio and Co are making inroads into major European markets like Germany after testing the waters in Norway,’ Yang added.

Electromobility offers

Also hoping to gain a foothold in Europe is GWM. The Chinese company runs the premium SUV brand Wey and produces all-electric vehicles under the Ora brand name. Last month, the carmaker signed a partnership with Europe’s largest dealer group, Emil Frey, as it prepares to launch in Germany during the last quarter of the year.

As Europe’s biggest automotive industry, Germany is a strategic market for Chinese car brands, not least because the country is among the most EV-friendly territories in Europe. Data from the German Federal Office for Motor Traffic (KBA) shows that in the first seven months of 2022, around 7,000 news cars from Chinese manufacturers were registered.

Germany’s Association of International Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (VDIK) has seen membership increase as more Asian brands enter. ‘There have already been individual attempts by new manufacturers from Asia to enter the European market. But what we are experiencing now has other dimensions. These are very serious efforts to gain a foothold here,’ the VDIK told Autovista24.

The newcomers from Asia are eager to present high-tech quality cars to European customers, who are already spoilt for choice. GWM plans to roll out an all-electric model, known as the Funky Cat, which has been described as a competitor to Volkswagen’s ID.3. It will also launch a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), the Coffee 01, in the coming weeks.

Eye-catching names aside, the company said that the two models would set the course for their highly publicised market entry. The cooperation with Emil Frey is significant and a milestone for GWM although the details of the partnership are still under wraps.

‘We are currently working hard to set up structures and implement plans. We would like to inform our potential partners at dealer level first before we communicate further publicly,’ the Emil Frey Group told Autovista24.

The EV market in Europe is ready for disruption and Chinese brands are not only aiming to match their European counterparts, but also harbour ambitions to challenge them on range and price.

GWM’s battery-electric vehicle (BEV) is expected to have a range of up to 400km, with list prices likely to start from €30,000. Its PHEV model, Wey’s flagship car, will reportedly have a range of 150km, costing around €50,000. Both models achieved five-star Euro NCAP ratings this month, showing the company is up to the task. With Euro NCAP testing more Chinese cars than it has ever done this year, it said ‘Great Wall really sets the standard for others to follow.’ 

Tech, connectivity, and innovation

While safety and pricing strategy play a key role for Chinese brands entering Europe, innovation and technology is also opening doors for them. Asian carmakers are eager to offer the latest tech and connectivity services, increasingly finding ways to set themselves apart from their Western competitors.

‘While European OEMs may view electrification merely as a transformation of powertrain, Chinese EV upstarts have adopted a different product approach. The Chinese EVs are typically equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, more appealing to the younger generation,’ said Yang.

‘The Chinese take smartification to the next level in that the product is made extendable – consumers would be able to upgrade software as well as some of the hardware so that they do not only own the car but also grow with it. This kind of customer engagement was unseen in Europe,’ he added.

Luxury marque Hongqi, part of China’s FAW Group, is showing off vehicles that can park and charge autonomously, without the need for charging plugs – while here in Europe carmakers like Volvo are still trialling EV wireless charging systems. Earlier this year, Hongqi delivered the first batch of its E-HS9, an all-electric smart SUV, to customers in Norway. More recently, it struck a deal with a Dutch automotive retailer to distribute its vehicles in the country.

Meanwhile, Nio is on an expansion course in Europe, with one of their key services including battery swapping – another way to stand out from the crowd. This allows customers to lease the battery – the most expensive part of an EV – instead of buying it, which then knocks thousands of euros off the initial list price. At dedicated swapping stations, Nio drivers can change their depleted batteries for fully-charged ones, all in under five minutes, and the company is now planning to produce swap stations in Hungary.

Source: FAW Group

Nio’s peers in Europe include startups such as XPeng and Aiways, the latter of which wants to offer ‘exciting’ and affordable cars. Aiways’ first model, an all-electric SUV – the U5 – made it onto the final list for the 2022 Car of the Year in Europe. Costing just under €40,000, the U5 comes with a 400km range and can charge from 30% to 80% in around 27 minutes. The manufacturer plans to roll out one new model each year, saying its vehicles are ‘reasonably priced.’

‘Traditional car manufacturers still have an advantage in absolute sales figures, but with increasing awareness, new models that are both price-competitive and attractive in terms of design, we are reckoning on good chances on the European market. We are in 15 European countries and already have products driving on the roads,’ Aiways told Autovista24

Then there is Geely-owned Lynk & Co, which is eager to challenge automotive conventions with its subscription-based business model. Described as ‘Netflix for cars’, the company runs so-called ‘clubs’ across Europe. Its membership-based approach allows users to access a car on a month-to-month basis. Its PHEV is known as the 01 and in Germany alone, 2,000 Lynk & Co cars were newly registered in the first seven months of the year.

‘Our main difference is our business offer where our members can get a good car that they can keep forever or leave whenever,’ Lynk & Co told Autovista24. ‘Subscribe month-to-month for €550 or borrow a Lynk & Co 01 with insurance, maintenance, and more included. Or go all-in and buy your 01. Whatever works best for the member. Our Lynk & Co 01 offers up to 70km full-electric range so that our members can commute on electricity but go and explore with the combined powertrain.’

Dethroning Tesla?

Source: Lynk & Co

Chinese EV brands are increasingly grabbing headlines, with news outlets recently claiming that automotive giant BYD sold more electric cars than Tesla during the first half of the year. While BYD recorded around 640,000 EV sales from January to June – compared to Tesla’s 564,000 – this figure crucially included PHEVs.

Nonetheless, BYD’s figures are impressive as it sold nearly 330,000 BEVs during that time, up 240% from a year ago. It has become one of the largest EV makers in the world and is planning market expansion in Europe this autumn after launching in its pilot-market, Norway, about a year ago.

Like other Chinese brands, it is promising quick deliveries – a key selling point – and is initially targeting the Benelux and Nordic countries. The company has secured partnerships with select dealerships and is planning to introduce three BEV models in the region, including a ‘European-styled’ C-segment SUV.

BYD appears eager to emphasise this point, no doubt to appeal to European customers. The manufacturer works with more than 200 designers from countries such as Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany.

Modern smart cars made in China that look and match, if not surpass, what European drivers are used to – especially when it comes to the latest technology – are shaking up the market. Legacy automotive brands in Europe will be watching closely in the months and years to come.

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Meet the car that sucks up CO₂ and cleans the air

Imagine a car that captures more carbon dioxide (CO₂) while it is being driven than it emits. A student team from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands has turned such imagination into a reality with the Zem electric-vehicle (EV) prototype.

The Zem effectively stores CO₂ through ‘direct air capturing’ as it drives, purifying and disposing of it through a special filter. While the project is in its early stages, the TU/ecomotive team see the development as a motivating one, aimed at contributing to the general reduction of global warming, highlighting that passenger cars are responsible for more than 60% of related emissions.  

Key to the Zem’s ability to effectively suck CO₂ from the atmosphere is the filter. The car can currently travel 320km before this unit is full and requires replacing or cleaning. This unique component, which TU/ecomotive is seeking a patent for, allows the car to capture two kilograms of CO₂ at 20,000 travel miles per year, meaning that 10 Zem prototypes could store as much CO₂ as an average tree over a 12-month period.

‘It is still a proof-of-concept, but we can already see that we will be able to increase the capacity of the filter in the coming years. Capturing CO₂ is a prerequisite for compensating for emissions during production and recycling,’ stated team manager Louise de Laat.

Good looking car with a serious message

It is fair to say that when startups roll out a cutting-edge prototype, the results can be outlandish. Refreshingly, the Zem is a sleek, sporty looking two-door coupé, which is easy to picture on the roads of tomorrow.

The car’s sustainable message is reinforced through the manufacturing process. All materials and vehicle parts are recyclable or reusable. TU/ecomotive has collaborated with fellow Eindhoven-based concern Black Bear Carbon, which specialises in recycling disused tyres. These materials are incorporated in the make-up of the Zem’s monocoque, and this process is central in reducing CO₂ emissions.

Bi-directional charging is something many car companies and charging providers are continuing to develop, and the Zem makes full use of this process. The technology allows for vehicle-to grid (V2G) or vehicle-to-home (V2H) energy provision, where the EV will supply energy from its battery back to the grid or direct to a home. It can therefore provide power for either domestic appliances and other non-automotive specific equipment, or smoothing out spikes in overall energy demand.

The Zem’s bi-directional charging technology has been paired with solar panels built into the roof of the car, making use of both the batteries and the space on the roof to make the vehicle more sustainable, even when it is not driving.

Collaborating with partners as CEAD and Royal3D ,TU/ecomotive has also made use of 3D printing in the build process. The Zem’s monocoque and the body panels have been created using this method, significantly reducing waste, with circular plastics that can be shredded and re-used for other projects.

For over a decade, the team based at TU/e has been developing vehicles focused on sustainability, showcasing such technology to the wider automotive industry. The small team is looking to build a new, innovative car every 12-18 months.

‘We want to tickle the industry by showing what is already possible,’ affirmed Nikki Okkels, external relations manager at TU/ecomotive. ‘If 35 students can design, develop and build an almost carbon-neutral car in a year, then there are also opportunities and possibilities for the industry.’

‘We call on the industry to pick up the challenge, and of course we are happy to think along with them. We are not finished developing yet either, and we want to take some big steps in the coming years. We warmly invite car manufacturers to come and take a look.’

Can e-fuels save the internal-combustion engine?

E-fuels are being touted as a carbon-neutral alternative that some hope could keep internal-combustion engine (ICE) cars on the roads despite a looming ban, writes Autovista24 journalist Rebeka Shaid.

Do we want to save the planet or the internal-combustion engine? That question might sound provocative, but policies around transportation and mobility have centred on the environmental impact of diesel and petrol cars for years.

Fully-electric vehicles are seen as the solution as they have no tailpipe emissions. Still, ICE cars will not disappear from the roads in Europe any time soon, despite the EU planning to phase out the sale of new fossil-fuel-powered vehicles by 2035. This is where e-fuels come in – combustibles that have found both fans and critics.

What are e-fuels?

Simply put, e-fuels are synthetic fuels with their production based on hydrogen and CO2. Labelled as climate-neutral, these fuels use carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and can, ideally, be produced using renewable energy resources.

Proponents, including automotive associations and some carmakers, argue e-fuels can relieve the climate of CO2 and may replace conventional fuels altogether. E-fuels also have a high energy density, are easy to store, and can be distributed by an already existing network of petrol stations.

Advocates tend to pitch synthetic fuels as a sustainable way to transform the transport sector. The eFuel alliance, whose members include numerous automotive suppliers such as Bosch, Mahle, and ZF, told Autovista24: ‘We strongly believe that the climate targets cannot be achieved without e-fuels. E-fuels are climate friendly, contrary to what critics claim. To produce e-fuels, CO2 is used from the air and liquefied using water and renewable energy.’

Mazda was the first carmaker to join the alliance, arguing that CO2-neutral fuels could contribute to automotive manufacturers’ emissions reduction efforts. With the EU reviewing carbon emissions standards for cars and vans, e-fuels have once again become a hotly debated topic.

Opinions are split

In Germany, transport minister Volker Wissing recently emphasised that new ICE cars should still be relevant beyond 2035 if they can be topped up with e-fuels. This opinion has caused a rift, not only among politicians but also among carmakers.

Volvo Cars is leaving the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) because its sustainability strategy does not match ACEA’s. The powerful lobbying group supports the use of what it calls CO2-neutral fuels while the Swedish car manufacturer is betting on an all-electric future.

Others are not jumping ship despite considering the future of mobility to be broadly electric. Mercedes-Benz told Autovista24 that while it is preparing to go fully-electric by 2030 where market conditions allow, it was: ‘intensively involved in ACEA’s positioning on the EU Commission’s “Fit for 55” legislative initiative.’ The manufacturer added it was ‘continuously committed to a more progressive positioning of ACEA on the way to climate-neutral mobility.’

Meanwhile, German rival BMW wants to keep its options open. The group’s CEO Oliver Zipse is backing the use of e-fuels as opinions on them remain divided – even within the same company.

The head of Volkswagen (VW) Group, Herbert Diess, told a German media outlet that the efficiency of synthetic fuels was extremely poor. He also questioned the cost effectiveness and high-energy consumption required to produce them.

VW subsidiary Audi once seemed convinced by e-fuels but appears to have changed tack, saying synthetic fuels are not the future. But Porsche, which has been part of VW Group for more than a decade, is still heavily investing in the synthetic fuel. The sportscar maker has teamed up with Siemens Energy and other companies to build an industrial plant in Chile, which will be dedicated to the production of an ‘almost carbon-neutral e-fuel.’

Porsche plans for 80% of its sales to be made up electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030. The company told Autovista24: ‘Climate protection must be considered holistically. Synthetic fuels are a useful addition to electromobility to make a contribution to CO2 reduction. We must also offer the owners of existing vehicles a perspective. Compared to pure hydrogen, e-fuels made from water and carbon dioxide extracted from the air for automobiles, airplanes or ships have the advantage that they can be transported more easily.’

While Germany’s carmakers are following different approaches, the country’s powerful association of the automotive industry (VDA) is in favour of synthetic fuels. ‘E-fuels could become a permanent fixture in transport in the future and make an important contribution to climate protection,’ it states.

Is carbon-neutrality enough?

After a key meeting among environment ministers last month to debate the phase-out of ICE cars in Europe, the EU has now left a door open for carbon-neutral fuels. In other words: synthetic fuels could be used past the 2035 deadline.

A spokesperson for the European Council told Autovista24 that the agreement: ‘includes a recital, giving the possibility to the Commission to make a new proposal to allow the use of CO2-neutral fuels beyond 2035.’

Supporters of e-fuels want to keep the internal-combustion engine alive. After all, synthetic fuels could not only continue to power ordinary passenger cars, but also hyper- and sportscars, with Porsche planning to use synthetic fuels in motorsports. But this approach does not come without criticism.

Synthetic fuels will likely be considered in sectors where electrification is currently not plausible, but critics warn that the automotive use of e-fuels would send the wrong signal to car manufacturers and consumers. They suggest that using synthetic fuels in the long term would do more harm than good and delay the transformation to electromobility.

The shortcomings

There are clear downsides to e-fuels, as campaigners point out that these fuels still emit pollutants. Energy loss is also an issue as the efficiency of e-fuels is lower compared to battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). Energy gets lost when converting electricity into synthetic fuel, giving these combustibles an efficiency of around 15%.

To make e-fuels carbon neutral, renewable energy has to be used. This would mean depending on countries that have the capacity to produce enough green electricity. Additionally, producing e-fuels is expensive and consumers are going to feel those costs.

‘The production cost of the amount of e-fuels required for driving a combustion engine car 100km is nearly 10 times the production cost of the amount of renewable electricity for driving a battery-electric car the same distance,’ according to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).

synthetic fuels
Source: ICCT

The eFuel alliance is rejecting critics and told Autovista24: ‘The biggest criticism levelled against e-fuels is the apparent inefficiency, because a lot of renewable electricity is needed to produce e-fuels. However, this argument can be invalidated if we think globally. E-fuels can be produced worldwide in places with abundant sun and wind and transported via the existing infrastructure.’

So, will e-fuels be able to save the combustion engine? The German Climate Alliance told Autovista24 that synthetic fuels would, at most, be a niche in the future.

‘E-fuels are not yet available in significant quantities, are inefficient and very expensive. The best alternative – it is cheap, efficient and can already be implemented today – is called electrification. E-fuels only make a contribution to climate protection if it can be guaranteed that they are actually produced exclusively with renewable electricity and are only used where there are no better alternatives. This is not the case on the road.’

Synthetic fuels may provide a lifeline for companies that have their business models threatened as the industry switches to electric. These fuels could potentially have their merits under the condition that their production relies solely on renewable energy. They would also need to be accessible and economical. But even if these criteria are met, it does not mean e-fuels are good for the environment. Realistically, they might only be used as a bridging technology.

Renault’s Scenic Vision concept showcases pioneering electric-hydrogen hybrid powertrain

Renault has unveiled a concept vehicle with an innovative powertrain configuration as it looks to embark on a major transformation of its automotive business.

The Scenic Vision concept-car was revealed at the ChangeNOW summit in Paris, and features a hybrid mobility system, using both electric and hydrogen, to offer zero-carbon travel. While the industry is to adopting new fuel-systems, and dumping petrol and diesel, the Scenic Vision concept-car is combining two zero-emission powertrain technologies to offer drivers new options.

The French carmaker is shifting away from a volume focus to the creation of economic, environmental, and social value. As part of its Renaulution strategic plan, the company has the aim of becoming carbon neutral in Europe by 2040, and worldwide by 2050.

Combining hydrogen and electric

Currently, plug-in hybrid vehicles use an internal-combustion engine together with a short-range electric drive. However, the Scenic Vision combines an electric-vehicle (EV) platform with a 16kW hydrogen fuel cell. The technology, which Renault calls H2-Tech, is based on range extenders often seen in EVs. Rather than providing propulsion itself, the fuel-cell will charge the EV-battery on the move. This makes it possible for the vehicle to carry a battery that is significantly lighter, which also helps improve range.

Although this is a vision for Renault’s passenger-car lineup, the company is already investing in hydrogen technology through its light commercial-vehicle subsidiary Hyvia – a joint-venture with Plug Power.

The carmaker states that from 2030, once the network of hydrogen stations is large enough in France, drivers will be able to travel up to 800km without stopping to charge the EV-battery. Instead, they would only need to refuel the hydrogen tank, a process that takes around five minutes. This would provide the fuel-cell range extender with enough energy to charge the battery in transit for the maximum range before the need to plug the vehicle in.

A smaller battery also means less material is required in its manufacture. Therefore, the EV-battery in the Scenic Vision is more sustainable than those in other Renault vehicles. The carmaker states the concept has a carbon footprint that is 75% smaller than that of an electric vehicle such as the Megane E-Tech electric. Its battery is up to 60% less carbon-intensive than an equivalent battery, thanks to the use of short loops and low-carbon sourcing of minerals, as well as using low-carbon energy to assemble and produce the battery.

Why is hydrogen important for the automotive industry?

Electric vehicles offer the best current mass-market solution for carmakers and drivers to achieve zero-emission targets. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that they are not suitable for everyone. Range, recharging times, battery weight, and infrastructure issues are some of the barriers to adoption.

Hydrogen propulsion is much less advanced and relies on the development and production of green hydrogen, produced using renewable energy sources. Yet fuel cells are lighter, while refuelling is quicker, equivalent to a petrol or diesel vehicle.

While some carmakers, such as Toyota, are embracing the technology and developing it into passenger and commercial vehicles, others are focused purely on electric powertrains. But as the automotive industry seeks to become zero-emission only, it may not be able to rely on battery-based drivetrains alone.

Sustainable and accessible for all

The Scenic Vision sets out Renault’s plans for the development of future vehicles. It features an eco-inspired design and circular-economy innovations, incorporating over 70% recycled materials. It is also 95% recyclable, meaning it is green from the start of its life to its end.

Onboard technologies offer enhanced safety for drivers and passengers, reducing the number of accidents by up to 70%, according to the manufacturer. The concept’s design also reflects the company’s desire to create a unique car that is accessible and suitable for everyone. The absence of a pillar between the doors and a flat floor facilitate access for people with reduced mobility.

‘Scenic Vision represents a new chapter in the history of Renault Group and for the brand,’ said Gilles Vidal, VP Renault Brand, Design. ‘This concept prefigures the exterior design of the new Scenic 100% electric model for 2024 and the new Renault design language. The interior design is a forward-looking study of future Renault interiors. Scenic Vision provides a suite of technologies and innovations at the service of a more sustainable mobility.’

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Kia reveals Niro Plus as purpose-built electric vehicle

Kia is positioning itself as a sustainable mobility-solutions provider and has recently launched its first ‘purpose-built vehicle’ (PBV), the Niro Plus. The electric vehicle (EV) will be used as a zero-emission taxi in South Korea, with the carmaker expecting the model to form an important part of future transportation.

The company wants to roll out a dedicated lineup of PBVs by 2025, aiming to become a market leader in this segment by the end of the decade. Until then, the manufacturer will modify existing models for specific purposes.

The Niro Plus has been specifically tailored to taxi and ride-hailing operators, but it can also be used as a regular model for private consumers for recreational purposes, including camping trips. Kia first revealed the all-new Niro at the 2021 Seoul Mobility Show in November 2021. 

A non-taxi version of the Niro Plus will be available in select overseas markets in the second half of 2022. The car will be offered as a battery-electric vehicle (BEV), a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid (HEV).

To show Kia’s commitment to more environmentally-friendly car production, the electric vehicle uses sustainable materials developed from recycled wallpaper, eucalyptus leaves, and water-based paint. Kia intends to expand the range of eco-friendly materials, including plans to phase out animal leather in all vehicles.

New mobility products

‘Kia is transforming its business strategy to focus on popularising EVs and introducing new mobility products that are tailored to the needs of users in markets around the world,’ said Sangdae Kim, head of Kia eLCV business division. ‘The Niro Plus is our first step into the world of PBVs, a market that holds great potential for future development.’

The introduction of the Niro Plus follows the launch of the Ray Van in February, which has been described as South Korea’s first single-seater van designed to meet the growing demand for small-cargo delivery services.

Kia’s first dedicated purpose-built vehicle in 2025 will likely be a mid-sized vehicle, with the Niro Plus helping Kia transition to an eco-friendlier mobility provider. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for delivery and logistics services, with Kia aiming to grow its range from micro to large PBVs that can offer an alternative to public transportation. The carmaker even envisages its vehicles to serve as mobile offices.

Based on the first generation of the Niro crossover EV, the Niro Plus taxi model features additional enhancements. The length and height of the Niro Plus taxi model have increased by 10mm and 80mm respectively. The cabin space is larger, thanks to slimmed-down structures and thinner seats. The all-in-one display has also been improved, with Kia planning to offer over-the-air (OTA) updates and services.

Ocean clean-up

As part of Kia’s aim to become a sustainable-mobility provider, the carmaker has also signed a seven-year partnership with green NGO The Ocean Cleanup, which is developing technologies to remove plastics from the world’s oceans.

The partnership is one of Kia’s corporate strategies to drive sustainability efforts, with the carmaker aiming to increase the percentage of recycled plastic to 20% by 2030.  Kia will provide financial support to the NGO, backing ocean and river clean-up projects. Retrieved plastics will then find their way into Kia products.

‘Plastic is not inherently a bad material, but we must use it responsibly,’ said Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. ‘We provide proof that recycled plastic can be used sustainably.’

Kia’s parent company Hyundai is supporting similar causes. The carmaker has partnered with green organisation Healthy Seas to tackle marine pollution, planning to use the nylon found in recycled fishing nets to equip vehicles with more sustainable products.  

The new Dacia Jogger: an unlikely residual value hero

Autovista24 principal analyst Sonja Nehls digs into the new Dacia Jogger and its remarketing potential.

The new Dacia Jogger might seem an unusual choice in a series focused on remarketing potential, residual values (RVs), and fleet relevance of new-car launches, but there are many good reasons for choosing it. Together with the Dacia Duster, the Jogger represents a new generation of Dacia models with improved quality and design. Just like its stablemates, it will enter automotive markets at benchmark new-car prices, maintain low depreciation throughout its lifecycle and will reach used-car markets with strong residual-value potential.

The low depreciation makes it a total cost of ownership (TCO) champion. Rising list prices and energy costs, as well as a shortage of used cars and soaring residual values, all add to a climate of economic uncertainty. Smaller businesses in particular need to look more closely at their costs and buying or leasing decisions. Backed by a convincing cost performance the Dacia Jogger has the potential to win over commercial customers, but the brand’s image and reputation will be its biggest obstacle.

Dacia Jogger remarketing potential

Remarketing upsidesRemarketing downsides
Low list prices and strong residual values (RVs) result in benchmark depreciation and TCOBrand perception and image
Improved quality and design110hp petrol and 100hp LPG engines are slightly underpowered, especially with a fully-loaded car
Occupies a niche segment and combines characteristics of a van, estate and SUVUnusual silhouette and roofline
Modularity and roominess, seven-seater option 
Liquefied-petroleum gas (LPG) engine available as an alternative to diesel with additional cost-saving potential 

Three body styles in one model

The new Dacia Jogger replaces not just one but three previous Dacia models and combines characteristics of a van, an estate, and an SUV – all in one. Add to that the possibility of up to seven seats and this is a unique model. The Dacia Jogger has no truly comparable rivals.

As the focus for potential purchasers is getting plenty of car for their budget, other models in the relevant segment will be the likes of a Kangoo passenger van, a Fiat Tipo estate or a Skoda Scala. The typical seven-seater vans like a Grand Scenic or Volkswagen Touran or SUVs exist in a different league price-wise.

Specifications and dimensions versus main rivals

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Source: Autovista Group specification data

The new Dacia Jogger joins the Duster in demonstrating how far the Romanian car manufacturer has come, working hard on overcoming the reputation of being cheap and delivering poor quality.

Due to the unusual combination of several body shapes in one car, the Jogger looks a bit quirky, especially from the side and towards the rear. It is reminiscent of classic estates from the 1990s, but with a higher roofline. In any case, it is instantly clear that this car is all about space and versatility.

The interior greets drivers and passengers with a conventional style, including traditional control elements and instruments as well as an eight-inch touchscreen (not standard on the entry version). Material selection is aiming towards the simpler end of the spectrum, as you would expect, but the dashboard and door panels are cleverly styled and well executed. The third row seats adults comfortably enough and the two additional seats can be built in and out individually. With models of this size and price, the seven-seater option is a unique selling point (USP).

Initially, the Jogger is available with a 110hp petrol engine and a 100hp LPG engine. In some markets, such as Poland or Italy, LPG is very popular and in the light of soaring energy costs, the alternative fuel type offers additional saving potential. To put this into context, a spot-check calculation of fuel costs in Germany in March 2022 results in €11.50 per 100km for the petrol engine and €8.30 per 100km for the LPG engine (calculated with the WLTP consumption figures). A hybrid version will follow in 2023 and the smaller sibling Dacia Spring caters for battery-electric vehicle (BEV) demand.

Benchmark new-car price

Price is obviously the strongest selling point for the Dacia Jogger as you can buy a top version of it for under €20,000. Entry versions start at around €14,000. How convincing the price argument is becomes obvious when looking at the list-price development in the C-segment across Europe.

New-car price development (all fuel types, C-segment), unweighted, 2019-2021

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Source: Autovista Group. Note: Green 95% percentile, orange mean price, blue 5% percentile.

Since 2019, list prices in the C-segment increased by 15-20% in most markets, with the exception of a more moderate 7% in France and a 26% surge in Hungary. France also saw a stronger increase of 16% for the cheaper 5% of models (the blue line) offered in the segment, but a less pronounced increase for the more expensive and better-equipped versions.

With list prices exceeding inflation levels, increased economic uncertainty and rising energy costs, private and commercial customers will look more closely into the affordability of their mobility needs and the TCO of new cars.

TCO driven by depreciation

The depreciation of a vehicle typically accounts for the largest share of its TCO. A lower depreciation, therefore, brings down TCO significantly, resulting in better leasing rates and lower monthly costs.

As a reference, the below example shows the TCO of the Dacia Lodgy TCe 100 seven-seater compared to three potential rivals on the French market. The overall TCO is the lowest, by a margin of almost €2,000 to the Skoda Scala 1.0 TSI. At €5,910 the depreciation only makes up 25% of the Lodgy’s TCO, 15 percentage points less than for the Skoda Scala (€10,160). The Dacia then loses some of its initial advantages due to fuel consumption and insurance costs. Keep an eye out for the TCO data of the Dacia Jogger included in Car Cost Expert upon its official arrival in the market.

TCO comparison Dacia Lodgy versus competitors, France, 36mth/60kkm, March 2022

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Residual values are a major advantage

Dacia models repeatedly won the Schwacke and AutoBild Wertmeister Award in Germany thanks to their high relative RVs and subsequently low depreciation. The Dacia Jogger seems to be willing to follow their lead. Thanks to strong residual-value forecasts in combination with low list prices, the depreciation for the Dacia Jogger will be its major advantage across markets. In the countries shown in this interactive dashboard, depreciation will range between only €4,700 to €6,700 over two years and 60,000km in Germany and Hungary and go up to €7,500-10,000 in Italy.

Dacia Jogger forecasted depreciation, 36mth/60kkm, March 2022

Open the interactive dashboard

While the situation in Italy looks less favourable in the cross-country overview, this is mainly rooted in general differences in RV levels between countries. When compared to rivals in Italy, the Dacia once again manifests its advantage in terms of an extraordinary RV strength and therefore low depreciation.

Dacia Jogger forecasted depreciation versus competitors, Italy, 36mth/60kkm, March 2022

Open the interactive dashboard

Strong new-car registrations and RVs in Eastern Europe

In Romania, Dacia’s domestic market (not shown in the dashboard), the situation is even more beneficial than in Germany or Hungary, with residual values around 74% and a depreciation of below €5,000 on any model.

Ulmis Horchidan, Autovista Group’s chief editor in Romania, explains that Dacia ‘made a big step forward in terms of quality and design and carved out a new segment for the Jogger, which does not have any direct competitors. The Dacia Jogger has the potential for family and commercial use and, most importantly, it is a good match for the economic reality of people.’ He explains that due to continuously rising residual values, energy costs and new-car prices, many brands simply become too expensive – as new cars and on the used-car market – and the Dacia Jogger is a good option in this market environment.

‘The Dacia Jogger has the potential for family and commercial use and most importantly it is a good match for the economic reality of people.’

Ulmis Horchidan, chief editor Romania, Autovista Group 

Poland is the biggest Eastern European automotive market and with a 10% share, Dacia ranks third in private registrations, only exceeded by Toyota and Kia. However, when it comes to commercial registrations Dacia’s share drops to 3% and the Duster is the only Dacia model in the top 20.

Marcin Kardas, head of valuations and specification with Autovista Group in Poland, states that ‘the Dacia Jogger will not be a typical fleet car, but there still might be some potential due to current economic circumstances and increasing costs. The battery-electric vehicle Dacia Spring already sees rising commercial registrations, mainly with car rental companies.’

Jędrzej Ratajski, Autovista Group market analyst in Poland, adds that Polish customers see Dacia models as ‘cheap, practical and best value for money. The Jogger might change this point of view as it also looks nice and is well built. It can fill the gap that the phase-out of some vans leaves. For example, the passenger versions of Renault Kangoo and also Citroën Berlingo are at least temporarily not available.’

An option for car fleets

Does the improved quality, low depreciation and benchmark TCO make the Dacia Jogger a perfect model for car fleets?

So far, commercial registrations for Dacia vehicles remain the exception and the clear focus is on private customers. The Jogger will appeal especially to families in need of space and versatility at an affordable price. And this focus on private customers is one of the drivers of the strong RV performance.

However, Dacia has come a long way and there might be a small window of opportunity opening for a new target group of commercial buyers. Economic uncertainty, increasing costs and energy prices will make smaller businesses, in particular, look into their cost structures and seek improvements. The Dacia Jogger will certainly not be the car attracting user-chooser fleets, but for non-user chooser fleets or white fleets in need of cars as ‘workhorses’, as Ulmis Horchidan said, it could be a viable and rational option.

Not evoking desirability

The one thing that stands in the way of rising commercial registrations and fleet adoption is the brand Dacia itself. Being the rational choice and a sign of understatement does not leave much room for automotive emotions.

But in the end, every technician or craftswomen also takes pride in the quality and reputation of the tools they use, so maybe also the non-user-chooser fleet purchase decision is a more emotional one than you would initially think. The brand of tool or car an employer provides for working hours, but oftentimes also for personal use, helps with employee satisfaction and retention. While Dacia has improved significantly on so many levels, it remains a brand not evoking desirability.

VW connected-cars software upgrade for electric vehicles increases range and adds new features

Volkswagen (VW) is to implement a major connected-cars software update for its ID. electric-vehicle (EV) lineup, which includes greater charging capacity that can boost EV range. It also comes with the latest driver-assistance systems, improved voice-control performance, and a park-assist function that can memorise parking manoeuvres.

The 3.0 software connected vehicles update has been long awaited, offering some new as well as optional upgrades to functions such as automated driving, charging performance, and the augmented-reality (AR) head-up display. Regarding smart EV software, VW has lagged behind some of its main competitors, such as Tesla, but the new update is intended to close that gap.

‘The new ID. software 3.0 is an upgrade for our whole ID. family,’ said Thomas Ulbrich, VW brand board member, responsible for technical development. ‘We are taking our products to a new level of functionality because we are working faster, are more connected and are more customer-oriented.’

Source: VW

Smart EV software

The connected-cars software update promises a mix of benefits, with models that come with the 77kWh battery now able to charge at up to 135kW instead of 125kW. VW said that improvements to the battery’s thermal management makes driving more efficient and can bolster range. Consumers, eager to preserve the EV battery, can also activate a new ‘battery care mode’, which limits the state-of-charge (SoC) level to 80%.

New features centre on intelligent driver-assistance systems and include the optional ‘travel assist with swarm data’, which automatically keeps cars in the centre of the lane and adapts to driving style. This allows drivers to maintain a distance from vehicles in front, coming with predictive cruise control and turning assistance. Two radars at the rear and ultrasound keep an eye on traffic and can assist in changing lanes. Provided the sensors do not pick up any objects, the car then steer itself into the adjacent lane, allowing the driver to intervene at any time.

Other automated features include ‘Park Assist Plus,’ which sees the car search for a parking space and complete the manoeuvre with the help of sensors. It can also be used to slide out of parallel parking spaces. An additional memory function has the car pick up specific parking patterns, which it then repeats on its own.

Software-driven mobility

VW is in the middle of accelerating its transformation into a software-driven mobility provider, with the latest update highlighting these efforts – the list of new features is long, not least when it comes to the AR display. The upgrade adds additional displays in the long-distance zone, as well as new symbols such as roundabouts and information on the distance to the destination. It also shows the charge level and the remaining distance to the destination.

Source: VW

The carmaker has optimised navigation and added a smart route planner, while drivers also receive local hazard warnings. Voice control has been improved to recognise commands faster, with the car turning into ‘an intelligent conversation partner,’ VW said. Voice control is available in all ID. models in Germany, with the system responding online from the cloud, and offline from information stored in the car. VW promises ‘high recognition rate and quality of results.’

Overall, the connected-cars software upgrade allows VW to create a new, digital customer experience with added functions offering more comfort to drivers. The electric lineup of ID. models continues to grow, making smart software a pivotal cornerstone for VW. About a year ago, the company first launched over-the-air updates, becoming the first high-volume vehicle manufacturer to regularly upgrade car software via mobile data transfer.  

Japan earthquake disrupts automotive production

An earthquake in Japan has caused further disruption to vehicle production and semiconductor supply as the automotive industry continues to struggle with external pressures influencing the automotive market.

The disruption has caused automotive production delays affecting both Toyota and semiconductor supplier Renesas Automotive.

The 7.4 magnitude quake struck the north-east of the country on 16 March, rattling buildings, causing widespread power cuts, and derailing a bullet train. According to reports, the tremor caused 160 injuries with two people losing their lives. The quake affected areas around Fukushima, Miyagi, and Yamagata.

Toyota shuts production lines

Toyota said that due to parts shortages resulting from vehicle-production suppliers affected by the earthquake, operations in some plants around Japan would be adjusted.

‘While prioritising the safety of the people and the recovery of the region, we will continue to work with our relevant suppliers in strengthening our measures against the parts shortage and make every effort to deliver vehicles to our customers as soon as possible,’ the company stated.

In total, 18 of the carmaker’s 28 production lines at 11 of its 14 plants are suspended, and due to restart on 24 March. This will impact a number of vehicles, including variants of the Yaris, the RAV4, the Land Cruiser, and Toyota’s hydrogen fuel-cell model, the Mirai. Additionally, several Lexus models will also be affected by the shutdown.

Semiconductor supply shutdown

Renesas shut down its three closest semiconductor factories to the epicentre of the earthquake. On 18 March, the company restarted production at its factories in Hitachinaka and Takasaki, with both locations expected to be up to pre-earthquake production capacity by 23 March. Its Yonezawa location also restarted on 17 March, with production capacity reached on 20 March.

The company added that it has yet to receive any reports of facility damage that would impact both restart timelines and/or future production of semiconductors.

This will be good news for the automotive industry. Semiconductors have become a valuable commodity in the last two years, with new-vehicle technologies rely heavily on their use. Renesas supplies chips for use in numerous automotive applications, including advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), autonomous developments, connected and infotainment technologies, and powertrains.

Supply-chain frailties

While production shutdown for both semiconductors and vehicles may be brief, it will still cause disruption in a market that is already suffering from supply-chain issues.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the semiconductor crisis, and the conflict in Ukraine have highlighted the frailty of links that carmakers created to ensure their global businesses can operate efficiently. Many of these chains are spread across multiple markets, and until a few years ago, worked seamlessly. The Japanese earthquake will ultimately delay car deliveries once again.

However, the industry has been aware of the potential impact that any external problems could cause in the supply chain. Many carmakers have procedures in place to deal with such disruption, including shutdowns of plants or sourcing from other companies. The closing of Toyota’s production lines, while causing the cancellation of thousands of vehicles, is relatively short. The carmaker is using the time to ensure critical components are on-hand to begin manufacturing again as soon as possible. 

Tesla signs major lithium supply deal

Australian lithium producer Core Lithium has signed a supply deal with Tesla. The Northern Territory-based company will provide 110,000 tonnes of lithium-concentrate to the US-based carmaker over a period of four years.

The binding term sheet will specifically see lithium spodumene concentrate from Core’s Finniss Lithium Project make its way to the battery-electric vehicle (BEV) manufacturer as a crucial component in the manufacturing of Tesla’s vehicle batteries.

Core Lithium’s supply to Tesla is scheduled to get underway in the second half of 2023, winding up four years later in 2027, or after the equivalent of up to 110,000 dry metric tonnes of lithium=concentrate has been delivered.

In addition to the supply deal, Tesla has confirmed that it will support further expansion of Core Lithium’s Finniss Project, located near Darwin, Australia. Core Lithium owns 100% of the project, which hosts JORC 2012 compliant mineral resources of 15 million tonnes (Mt) at 1.3% lithium oxide (Li20), and Tesla’s input into the project will focus on development of lithium chemical-processing capacity.

‘Core Lithium are thrilled to have reached this agreement with Tesla and look forward to further growing this relationship in the years to come,’ confirmed Core Lithium managing director Stephen Biggins. ‘Tesla is a world-leader in electric vehicles (EVs) and its investment in offtake and interest in our expansion plans for downstream processing are very encouraging.’

Another Australian-related lithium producer branches out

Last year, Core Lithium was awarded Major Project Status for the Finniss Project. The approved status equates to extra help from the Major Projects Facilitation Agency, including a single-entry point for Australian government approvals, project support and coordination with state and territory approvals.

Commenting on the approval of Major Project Status for the company, Federal minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt MP stated: ‘This project will be able to supply markets in Asia and Europe with critical minerals, and will have the potential to increase downstream processing, increasing supply chain diversification. This is exactly the type of project that our government wants to see, as we build on our resource-rich history for the decades ahead.’

In July 2021 Core Lithium strengthened its ties with European EV production by becoming a member of the European Battery Alliance, and they are not the only Australian-affiliated concern providing lithium resources for the boom in EV production across the globe.

German-Australian lithium developer Vulcan Energy Resources has signed multiple agreements with carmakers and automotive-related concerns over the last 12 months. Since late 2021, Vulcan has inked lithium supply deals with major carmakers such as Renault, Sellantis, and Volkswagen Group.

Earlier this year, Vulcan linked up with chemical producer Nobian, signing an agreement to assess the feasibility of producing lithium-hydroxide from lithium-chloride in Germany, as the European Union (EU) and governments across the world are looking to find ways to enhance and improve the lithium supply chain. This action is necessary, as the demand for EVs increases in many markets and therefore carmakers are reliant on sustainably-sourced minerals for battery production on a larger scale.

Hydrogen refuelling now possible in 33 countries

A record number of hydrogen refuelling stations opened around the world in 2021 so that there are now 33 countries where hydrogen refuelling is possible.

In total, 142 locations went into operation worldwide, with 37 opened in Europe, 89 in Asia and 13 in the US, according to the 14th annual assessment of H2stations.org, an information service of Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik (LBST).

A total of 685 hydrogen stations are operational globally, with plans for an additional 252 in the coming months. Hungary and Slovenia were newly added to the list of countries offering hydrogen-refuelling facilities. Of particular note are locations in Spain and New Zealand, which will see several stations opened for the first time.

Hydrogen propulsion technology is further behind on its development path than battery-electric powertrains. This is due in part to the need for carmakers to create zero-emission technology urgently to meet strict emissions targets. The collapse of the diesel market left many manufacturers facing large fines in 2021, as drivers switched to the more CO2-polluting petrol variants.

Asia leads the way

Europe had 228 hydrogen stations at the end of 2021, 101 of which are located in Germany. France is the second-largest market with 41 operating stations, followed by the UK with 19, Switzerland with 12, and the Netherlands with 11 stations.

However, Asia still leads the way when it comes to hydrogen refuelling. As most of the carmakers promoting the technology come from the continent, including Toyota and Hyundai, this trend makes sense. By the end of last year, there were 363 stations in the region, with 159 of these in Japan, Toyota’s domestic market, and 95 in Korea, the home of Hyundai. There were also 105 stations located in China. However, unlike most other countries, these are used exclusively for refuelling of trucks and buses and not passenger vehicles.

Korea established the most new stations in 2021, with 36 new locations coming online. The country is increasingly expanding its infrastructure for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (FCEVs) to help aid the reduction of air pollution caused by transportation.

Hydrogen growth in LCV market

Last year saw a shift in awareness of hydrogen, especially in the logistics market. Many believe that commercial and heavy-goods vehicles offer the best fit for the technology, at least in the short term. These vehicles often complete long distances every day, and need shorter ‘fuelling’ stops to allow for maximum efficiency.

France’s top manufacturing groups, Stellantis and Renault Group, announced the launch of new hydrogen light-commercial vehicles (LCVs). As part of its new Hyvia brand, Renault Group will also provide hydrogen-refuelling technology to station providers across Europe. This could help to see a larger uptake of locations in 2022.

Hydrogen infrastructure is still in its infancy. As more vehicles turn to the technology, so the number of refuelling stations will grow, as was the case for electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs). The market will also grow as awareness of hydrogen as an alternative to battery-electric increases, along with its viability as a ‘green’ fuel.

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JLR finds new European financial services partner in banking giant BNP Paribas

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and BNP Paribas have teamed up to provide financial services to the carmaker’s retailers and customers in nine key European markets. The companies want to jointly broaden automotive financing services by early 2023. From next year, retail partners and JLR customers will be offered a range of financing services, covering stock financing, classic loans, lease-to-purchase, long-term lease, and insurance products.

JLR said it had chosen strategic markets in Europe to provide these services covering ‘all aspects of mobility.’ The manufacturer is initially putting its focus on some of the region’s largest automotive markets – this includes Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Austria, and Portugal.

Competitive financing

For years, the premium carmaker has worked with FCA Bank – a joint venture between FCA and Crédit Agricole. JLR and FCA Bank renewed their contract in 2018, which covers the funding of JLR vehicles for the franchise dealer networks in eight markets, as well as a range of point-of-sale financing, leasing and insurance services for customers.

But JLR is now switching its financial services provider, with BNP Paribas stepping into FCA Bank’s shoes. BNP Paribas is known for working with carmakers in Europe. In December last year, it was reported that the French bank was in exclusive talks with Stellantis, as well as Crédit Agricole and Santander, over the reorganisation of Stellantis’ leasing and financing operations in Europe. Stellantis now plans to sell its 50% stake in FCA Bank to Crédit Agricole Consumer Finance, which owns the other half of the business.

‘We are proud to be joining forces with BNP Paribas to create the conditions for further growth and to write another chapter in the company’s history,’ said Francois Dossa, executive director, strategy and sustainability at JLR. ‘This partnership enables us to offer competitive mobility financing solutions across key European markets to create unique and customer-centric experiences as we continue to accelerate our “Reimagine” corporate strategy.’

JLR added the collaboration will build on BNP Paribas Personal Finance for financing, Arval for leasing and fleet management, and BNP Paribas Cardif for insurance. The goal is to offer integrated services covering major mobility financing needs.

Overhauling strategies

‘We are delighted to begin a strategic partnership with an iconic player in the automotive sector, placing sustainability at the heart of the business thanks to an ambitious strategy for the electrification of its vehicles,’ said Thierry Laborde, chief operating officer of BNP Paribas.

‘Our complementary areas of expertise are a key asset for making this partnership a success. BNP Paribas is fully committed to bringing all our capabilities as an integrated group, to bear in support of JLR’s distributors and customers across these nine strategic markets,’ he added.

Meanwhile, JLR is focused on overhauling its own corporate strategy. The company recently scored a £625 million (€749 million) loan to support the research, development, and export of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). The luxury brand wants to go all-electric from 2025, planning to launch several BEVs in the coming years. The Tata-owned company is actively seeking more collaborations that it says would allow it to explore synergies, especially in the field of clean energy, connected services, data and software development.

CATL rolls out ‘one minute’ EV battery-swap service in China

Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL), one of China’s fastest-growing companies, has rolled out a battery-swap service in its home market, allowing consumers to change batteries of electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) in one minute.

The company announced the news at a launch event, where it presented the new service under the name EVOGO. The modular battery-swap solution is made up of battery blocks, fast battery-swap stations, and an app. It will initially be rolled out in 10 cities across China, which keeps promoting infrastructure-related facilities such as charging and battery-swapping stations.

Battery-swapping is more prevalent in China than elsewhere in the world, with carmaker Nio planning to add an additional 100 battery-swapping stations to its network of 700 in the country by 2025. But the service is gaining traction elsewhere, with the manufacturer recently partnering with Shell to introduce battery-swapping stations in Europe in a pilot project from 2022.

Battery as a shared product

‘We consider the battery as a shared product, instead of a consumer product for personal use,’ said Chen Weifeng, general manager of CATL’s subsidiary Contemporary Amperex Energy Service Technology Ltd. He added that the new product would help EV drivers beat range anxiety while also getting rid of the ‘inconvenience’ to recharge batteries, as well as high purchasing and driving costs.

Its mass-produced battery, designed to look like a bar of chocolate, has especially been developed for EV battery-sharing. It can achieve a weight-energy density of over 160 Wh/kg and a volume energy density of 325 Wh/L, enabling a single block to provide a driving range of 200km.

CATL gives customers the opportunity to rent one to three blocks to meet different range requirements at swap stations. One block is typically sufficient for inner-city commuting, while the battery maker recommends two to three blocks for longer journeys.

The batteries are compatible with many battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) from different OEMs, suiting a range of vehicles, from Class-A00, Class-B, and Class-C passenger cars to logistics vehicles.

Compatibility and competition

‘The battery-swap station highlights high compatibility, need-based battery rental, and complementarity with charging services. With a footprint equivalent to three parking spaces, a standard EVOGO battery-swap station can house up to 48 Choco-SEBs and allows one-minute swapping for a single battery block, ensuring fully-charged batteries for customers at any time without a long wait. Moreover, EVOGO offers a variety of swap stations to suit the climates of different regions,’ CATL said.

The company launched 10 years ago and has quickly become a darling of investors, helping to give China a lead in EV batteries. It supplies batteries to most of the world’s carmakers, including Volkswagen, BMW, and Tesla. The New York Times found it holds one third of the global EV-battery market, with its biggest competitor being LG. Elsewhere, competition is heating up as carmakers keep pushing into the battery business by building their own batteries or investing in a range of companies to diversify the supply chain.

Last year, Geely, the parent company of Volvo Cars, announced plans to set up 5,000 battery-swapping stations globally by 2025. The company showcased the technology behind this service at the 2021 Wuzhen Internet Conference, with the process taking less than a minute. Tesla at one point explored battery swapping, but withdrew its plan to focus on its network of fast chargers instead.

ALD buys LeasePlan in €5 billion deal

ALD Automotive, the car-leasing business of French bank Société Générale (SocGen), plans to acquire its Dutch rival LeasePlan for €4.9 billion in cash and shares. The purchase will create Europe’s biggest car-leasing group, dubbed NewALD.

Once established, the new company would manage the biggest fleet of electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) in Europe. The businesses expect to close the deal by the end of the year, with SocGen holding a 53% stake in the new entity.

Based in France, NewALD will have a combined fleet of 3.5 million vehicles. ALD manages around 1.7 million cars while LeasePlan has a fleet of 1.8 million in more than 29 countries. Both companies said the acquisition would allow them to build a leading global mobility player as they hope to profit from trends, such as the shift to zero-emission vehicles and changing patterns of ownership.

New chapter

‘Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in our history as a first step towards creating NewALD,’ said ALD CEO Tim Albertsen. ‘By combining the multiple strengths of ALD and LeasePlan, we would transform our industry and value propositions to our enlarged client base. This transaction would create multiple opportunities to the joint management teams and talents of both companies, across geographies, underpin our focus on sustainability with a clear path to zero-emissions mobility.’

One of LeasePlan’s previous majority shareholders was Volkswagen (VW) Group. The German carmaker sold its 50% stake in the business in 2016 as part of cost-cutting measures. Since then, it has been held by a group of investors that includes TDR Capital.

With the planned acquisition, SocGen is betting on the electromobility boom. Amid the shift to EVs, more consumers and companies are expected to opt for flexible arrangements, such as renting and leasing, to try out different vehicles, including electric ones.

NewALD aims to provide increased services to meet future market needs and client expectations. It plans to invest and develop new mobility products to build digital business models. The company wants to focus on sustainable mobility, aiming to support the transition to EVs by creating global partnerships around electromobility.

Synergies

‘The combined business would be instrumental in moving the automotive industry from ownership to subscription models and zero-emission mobility,’ said Tex Gunning, LeasePlan CEO. ‘NewALD would be operating one of the largest fleets of electric vehicles and will continue to set the standard for ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in the mobility industry.’

The deal shows how European banks are branching out activities to cash in on profitable business opportunities. For SocGen, the leasing business is particularly lucrative as the French bank plans to make vehicle leasing a major pillar of its operations alongside retail and investment banking. It added the transaction would generate operational synergies amounting to €380 million of annual profits before tax. SocGen also said it is committed to remaining the long-term majority shareholder of NewALD.

Other banks are also showing growing interest in leasing operations. Last month, Stellantis said it was in exclusive talks with BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Santander over the reorganisation of the carmaker’s leasing and financing operations in Europe. The deal is subject to approval from the relevant authorities.

CES 2022: Stellantis showcases electric and autonomous-transport technology

Taking to the stage at CES 2022, Stellantis showcased its predictions for the future of transportation. Members of its 14-brand family demonstrated their commitment to electrification, autonomy, and shared mobility. Some concepts are likely to only ever see the light of day during motor shows, but other announcements held more tangible promise, with delivery deadlines set for 2025.

Stellantis has also established a set of fresh collaborations with Amazon. Thanks to a string of multi-year agreements with the online giant, the OEM will be able to deliver more software-defined vehicles. Correspondingly, Amazon will be the first commercial customer of the new Ram battery-electric vehicle (BEV), set for launch in 2023.

Chrysler leads the charge

Probably the biggest vehicle reveal for Stellantis at this year’s CES was the Chrysler Airflow Concept. The new car is not simply a demonstration of new powertrain technology, but a commitment from the brand to launch its first BEV by 2025, with plans to go all-electric by 2028.

The Airflow concept is powered by two 150kW motors located in the front and rear. It was designed to allow larger motor units, opening up the potential for high-performance applications in the future. The battery is reportedly capable of up to nearly 650km in range on a single charge, as well as fast-charging functionality.

Connectivity is a major building block for the vehicle. Its STLA Brain platform and SmartCockpit create a customised hub for the passenger, which is connected to their digital lives. Screens throughout the car can be personalised, grouped, and shared based on individual interests. Seats are even equipped with a built-in camera so occupants can participate in group video calls.

Over-the-air (OTA) updates will enable the Airflow passengers to add new features and keep it up to date. Software developers will be able to create and update features and services quickly, using inbuilt capabilities without needing to wait for new hardware.

‘The Chrysler Airflow Concept represents the future direction of the Chrysler brand, providing a peek at the dynamic design, advanced technologies and seamless connectivity that will characterise the full-electric portfolio we plan to reach by 2028,’ said Chris Feuell, Chrysler brand CEO.

Citroen’s creative concept

Citroen showed off its mobility solutions for both the present and the future. The My Ami Pop represented the brand’s current offering within the micro-mobility market. As a two-seater electric quadricycle, the Ami exists within a unique niche. The vehicle can be driven by 14-year-olds in France, is affordable, and has small dimensions perfectly suited to urban landscapes.

Leaping forward along the mobility timeline, the French brand also brought its Skate concept to CES 2022. Citroen Autonomous Mobility Vision is designed to free up urban traffic flow with a fleet of interconnected robots. Travelling down dedicated lanes, the skates would be fitted with pods created by different service companies for different purposes. Users would gain 24/7 access to the service of their choice, from a family-friendly space to a gym or a media lounge.

Stellantis also drew attention to Fiat’s New 500, the latest all-electric version of the iconic model. Currently available in Europe, Israel and Brazil, the model will be launched in Japan this year. It sports a range of up to 320km (WLTP), which increases to 460km in the urban cycle. Equipped with SAE Level 2 assisted driving, the car is offered in three different body styles: hatchback, cabrio and 3+1.

The automotive giant also displayed the DS E-TENSE FE21 at CES, a single-seater Formula E car. The luxury marque uses motorsports as a testbed for its latest electric technology, with a focus on software. As of 2024, DS will only launch BEVs, making this competitive development process critical. Stellantis also showcased plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe and the Grand Cherokee 4xe. There was also the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, first seen in March last year.

Two industry giants

Regarding the new agreements with Amazon, the internet giant will employ its technological and software expertise to advance the carmaker’s vehicle development, connected capabilities, and training. Part of the multi-year arrangements will see Stellantis using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its preferred cloud provider for vehicle platforms.

Another connected focus of these collaborations will be the STLA Smart Cockpit. The system will feature in Stellantis vehicles from 2024 and will integrate with customers digital lives to create a personalised in-vehicle experience. This will mean AI-enhanced applications, Alexa-enabled voice assistance, navigation, vehicle maintenance, e-commerce marketplaces, and payment services. 

‘Working together with Amazon is an integral part of our capability-building roadmap, based on both developing internal competencies and decisive collaborations with tech leaders, and it will bring significant expertise to one of our key technology platforms, STLA SmartCockpit,’ said Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis. ‘By leveraging artificial intelligence and cloud solutions, we will transform our vehicles into personalised living spaces and enhance the overall customer experience, making our vehicles the most wanted, most captivating place to be, even when not driving.’

Since 2018, Stellantis has provided tens of thousands of light-commercial vehicles (LCVs) to Amazon. These support its last-mile operations in North America and Europe. As the online retailer looks to go net-zero by 2040, it will become the first commercial customer of the new Ram ProMaster BEV launching in 2023. Designed with unique last-mile delivery features, the vehicles will be deployed to routes across the US.

‘We are excited to collaborate with Stellantis to transform the automotive industry and re-invent the in-vehicle experience,’ said Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon. ‘We are inventing solutions that will help enable Stellantis to accelerate connected and personalised in-vehicle experiences, so that every moment in motion can be smart, safe, and tailored to each occupant. Together, we will create the foundation for Stellantis to transform from a traditional automaker into a global leader in software-driven development and engineering.’

Renault Zoe scores zero stars in latest Euro NCAP testing

The Renault Zoe has become the third car in history to be awarded a zero-star rating by Euro NCAP, following the latest round of safety testing by the organisation.

Renault Group’s Dacia Spring also scored poorly, achieving just one star out of a possible five. Testing saw other carmakers achieve the industry-leading five-star standard for their latest models.

The Renault Zoe was one of the first mainstream mass-produced battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) launched, having gone on sale in 2013. The carmaker offered an upgraded model in 2017. However, some safety elements were removed and this, coupled with increasing standards for Euro NCAP testing in the intervening years, saw the model achieve the unwanted stain on its reputation.

Zero-star

Only Fiat has ever achieved a zero-star rating for a vehicle, doing so twice with the Punto and Panda in 2017 and 2018, respectively. These models had not been updated in several years as the carmaker failed to invest in them, leading Euro NCAP to retest and ascertain just how safe they were compared to modern standards.

The Renault Zoe saw a facelift launched four years ago. However, according to Euro NCAP, at this time, certain safety equipment was downgraded. Specifically, seat-mounted head and thorax side-protection airbags were removed, and thorax-only units were added.

In the frontal offset crash, the results were rated as ‘poor’, specifically due to weak protection for the chest area of the driver-side dummy. But it was Euro NCAP’s severe side-pole test that revealed the most drastic results, with the driver’s head directly impacting the intruding pole.

Thatcham Research, which undertakes testing for Euro NCAP, highlighted that the red body parts seen on the dummy in the image below show a potential threat of serious injury and threat to life in the event of an accident.

Source: Thatcham Research

The test replicates real-world impacts involving a vehicle travelling sideways into rigid roadside objects such as trees or poles. According to Thatcham Research, 33% of these impact types are classified as fatal or serious accidents. As the forces on the car are so localised, the pole can end up deep inside the passenger compartment.

‘It is a serious concern to see results like this in 2021, especially from a carmaker which has previously performed well in Euro NCAP testing,’ said Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research’s chief research strategy officer and Euro NCAP board member. ‘Renault was the first to achieve the full five-star rating in 2001, in part because it was also the first to include a combined head and thorax airbag in the Laguna 2. Although this was a new and revolutionary safety measure at the time, today this airbag is available on most modern cars.

‘Unfortunately, a conscious decision has been made to remove the head protection from this vital passive-safety feature, by the brand that pioneered the use of it. As a result, the safety of occupants within the vehicle has been severely impacted.’

Safety systems

The Renault Zoe also lacks active-safety technology commonly fitted as standard in most new vehicles, such as lane-departure warnings and standard-fit autonomous emergency braking (AEB). This led to a 14% score in the Safety Assist category, 61% lower than the average (75%) achieved by carmakers in the same category this year.

The Dacia Spring fared slightly better with a one-star rating. In its review, Euro NCAP stated: ‘The Spring’s performance in crash tests is downright problematic, with a high risk of life-threatening injuries for the driver’s chest and rear passenger’s head in frontal crash tests and marginal chest protection in a side impact. The mediocre crash performance and poor crash-avoidance technology result in a one-star rating.’

Unlike the Fiat Punto and Panda, the Zoe is unlikely to be pulled from sale due to the zero-star rating. Indeed, Fiat stopped sales of the Punto prior to the results being made public. The Zoe is an important car for Renault, as its leading BEV model and one which is synonymous with electric technology and pioneering spirit at the carmaker.

The Spring, meanwhile, is poised to lead a low-cost BEV attack on the automotive market for Renault Group. It is heavily based on the Chinese-made Renault City K-ZE, itself a derivative of the Renault Kwid, sold in India and Brazil for several years.

‘Renault was once synonymous with safety. The Laguna was the first car to get five stars, back in 2001,’ commented Michiel van Ratingen, president of Euro NCAP. ‘But these disappointing results for the ZOE and the Dacia Spring show that safety has now become collateral damage in the group’s transition to electric cars. Not only do these cars fail to offer any appreciable active safety as standard, but their occupant protection is also worse than any vehicle we have seen in many years. It is cynical to offer the consumer an affordable green car if it comes at the price of higher injury risk in the event of an accident.’

Renault response

In response to an Autovista24 request, Renault stated: ‘We take note of the results published by Euro NCAP following specific tests on Zoe E-Tech Electric according to its new protocol implemented in 2020.

‘First of all, Renault reaffirms that Zoe E-Tech Electric is a safe vehicle, which complies with all regulatory safety standards. These standards are constantly evolving and are becoming more stringent in all domains, especially in safety. Renault therefore continually improves its offer in order to comply with the regulations applicable where its vehicles are sold. Zoe was launched in 2013 and received five stars with the Euro NCAP protocol at that time. The Euro NCAP protocol has, since 2013, undergone five changes. With the same equipment, a model can lose up to two stars in each protocol change.

‘The evolution of the current Zoe was decided in 2017, adapting the passive safety equipment to real accidentology and updating the car with state-of-the-art ADAS equipment such as advanced emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure alert and lane-keeping assist, using a radar and a camera.’