VOLVO’S FIRST ELECTRIC VEHICLE IS A TWO-MOTOR XC40 SUV
The electric version of the compact crossover will debut on October 16.
Volvo's first electric vehicle, a battery-powered version of the XC40 compact crossover, will make its debut on October 16. The Swedish automaker confirmed the electric XC40's existence and imminent unveiling in an announcement that reveals a few details about what we can expect. Illustrations of the XC40's electric powertrain show that it will offer all-wheel drive using front and rear motors. The body of the electric XC40 appears largely unchanged from gasoline versions, and the battery pack is shaped to fill voids beneath the floor, under the rear seat, and inside the tunnel that runs down the center of the crossover.
True to brand, Volvo says it has put significant effort into the safety engineering of the electrified XC40. Specifically, the company says the XC40 will debut a new driver-assistance-system sensor platform that integrates radar, camera, and ultrasonic technologies to enable increasingly sophisticated functions. Volvo's engineers also redesigned the front and rear crash structures and developed the motor mounts to control how the electric motors behave in a collision. These are common measures when automakers adapt vehicles originally designed around internal-combustion engines for electric powertrains. In the Mercedes-Benz EQC, a tubular front subframe surrounds the electric motor and extends into the transmission tunnel, where an additional mount attaches it to the body. This structure is meant to perform like a combustion engine in a crash, transferring front-impact forces into the body and away from occupants.
Volvo’s XC40 will be late to the electric party by the time it goes on sale, but the company says its entire lineup will soon be electrified in some form or another. If all goes according to plan, half of the Volvo lineup will be driven by pure electric powertrains by 2025, while the other half of the range will be hybrids.
The company also recently launched Polestar, a separate brand focused on electrified performance vehicles. The first vehicle from that brand, the Polestar 1, is a 591-hp plug-in-hybrid coupe. It will be followed by the predictably named Polestar 2, which is a pure electric four-door sedan.
Source: Car and Driver
‘THEY DON’T NEED US ANYMORE’: AUTO WORKERS FEAR ELECTRIC UNREST
Dread over the prospect that plug-in cars—which have fewer parts and require less labor to build—will doom auto jobs helped spark the first United Auto Workers strike against General Motors Co. in over a decade. Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which are rolling their own battery-powered models to market in the coming years, could face a similar fate if they’re unable to quell the UAW’s concerns that widespread adoption of EVs endangers the employment of 35,000 union members.
GORDON MURRAY: ELECTRIC CARS A “STOPGAP” FOR HYDROGEN ALTERNATIVE
The famed car designer believes that electric cars are only a temporary solution in the move away from petrol and diesel cars
Electric cars are only a short-term “stopgap” until vehicles become hydrogen-powered according to ex-Formula 1 car designer, Gordon Murray. Car manufacturers are currently investing billions of pounds in new fleets of electric vehicles, but Murray said that these were only a short-term solution to cutting pollution. Speaking at a MotorSport Game Changers event, Murray explained why the car industry should be looking at alternative technology. “Actually, the final answer, if we can make hydrogen efficiently, would be a fuel cell,” he said. “That’s the answer long term. Electric cars are probably a short-term answer or solution, but you have to look at the full life cycle and where you’re generating electricity. “I would say electric cars at the moment are a good urban answer but you’re moving the pollution out to where you’re generating the electricity. “But you really have to look at the full life cycle: making the battery, making the car. The car’s heavier, obviously. Things like tires wear out quicker. “What we really need to make electric cars viable, we need the next generation of batteries. “There’s a lot of people working on it. We need much more energy density per cell. We need more renewable energy to make electricity in the first place. “But it’s sort of a stopgap, I think.”
FORD EXPLORER SALES PLUNGE 48% AS BUMPY LAUNCH STIFLES SUPPLY
A difficult new model launch caused Ford Motor Co.’s Explorer sales to crater in the third quarter, plummeting 48%. U.S. sales chief Mark LaNeve said dealers were short of Explorer inventory this summer and demanding more of the high-profit SUV. But the situation is improving as Ford’s factory in Chicago starts getting up to speed. “We’ve got adequate inventory in our stores,” LaNeve said in a phone interview. “For Q4, availability won’t be an issue. We’ll be able to hit our stride with Explorer starting now.”
BEHIND THE GM STRIKE: DECLINING PRODUCTIVITY AT U.S. OPERATIONS
General Motors Co’s U.S. workforce productivity has declined since the automaker recovered from a 2009 bankruptcy, even as its profit per employee has risen, a Reuters analysis shows. Those trends point to some of the root causes of the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike that has shut down the automaker’s U.S. manufacturing plants for 18 days, already costing the company about $100 million a day. GM does not publish direct measures of U.S. productivity. But the number of vehicles the Detroit automaker built in the United States per U.S. employee fell to about 19 in 2018, down 13.5% from the 2010 level.
CPO CAR SALES APPEAR SET FOR NEW ALL-TIME RECORD
An ample supply of popularly equipped off-lease vehicles, consumer concerns about the economy and upgraded certified used-vehicle programs from major players, have set the stage for another record-setting year of CPO sales, said industry analysts and mangers of factory CPO programs. Cox Automotive predicts that industry-wide CPO sales will hit 2.75 million units by year-end, representing a 1.9% increase over CPO sales for all of 2018, said Zo Rahim, the company’s manager of economics and industry insights.
Source: Auto Remarketing
HEAD OF NADA PUSHES FOR QUICK PASSAGE OF USMCA, DEFENDS TRUMP
The chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association urged for the passage of the proposed successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement and defended President Donald Trump’s understanding of the auto industry. Speaking at a lunch meeting of the Automobile Press Association in Detroit, NADA Chairman Charlie Gilchrist said the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement “will maintain auto production and distribution in North America.
LAMBORGHINI PLANS FOUR-DOOR ELECTRIC GT FOR 2025, REPORT SAYS
PPE architecture expected to underpin a Lamborghini 2+2 EV
The Porsche Taycan tech will get more use within the greater Volkswagen Automotive Group empire -- Lamborghini is reportedly planning a four-door electric model due in 2025, Autocar reports. A four-seat model from Sant'Agata was most recently previewed by the Estoque concept, but the availability of EV platforms and tech by VW Group brands, of which Lamborghini is one, points to an electric 2+2 model.
“If you look at the timing for a fourth model line, there is the potential that this will be the right time for a full-electric vehicle," Lamborghini R&D boss Maurizio Reggiani told Autocar.
Autocar indicated that the most likely candidate for a platform to underpin a four-door Lamborghini model would be a development of the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture, which is currently under development, and will appear in a short while in the Audi E-tron GT. “Performance will be important [in a 2+2]," Reggiani added. "We must be fast, but not quite in the same way as we need to be in our super-sports cars. A fourth model line will be something a little bit different."
This means buyers can conservatively expect a range of at least 350 miles according to Autocar, but who knows where battery tech will be in five years? The acceleration, on the other hand, will need to be lower than 3.0 seconds from 0-62 mph -- Lamborghini buyers will accept nothing less, Autocar notes.
The wait until 2025 will be a daunting one, especially given the fact that Porsche has effectively launched the Taycan this year. EV technology won't stand still all that time, so by the time the Lambo 2+2 arrives, its performance will have to surpass that of the Taycan in every category.
"There’s a minimum of four years in advance of launching a model to develop it," Reggiani explained the long wait.
Porsche certainly did not develop the Taycan in just a few months, and there's more to the new Lamborghini model than just putting a Lambo body on a Taycan "skateboard" electric platform. So the development time will not be out of the ordinary. Also, by 2025, Lamborghini buyers will hopefully be more accepting of an electric model rather than something powered by a big, roar-producing V10 or V12. That's another barrier the automaker will need to overcome in the meantime.
WILL CAMERAS REPLACE MIRRORS
Drivers in the U.S. may one day no longer have to crane their necks to check their blind spots if regulators agree to let high-tech cameras and screens replace the humble side-view mirror. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a notice on Wednesday that it is seeking public and industry input on whether to allow so-called camera monitoring systems to replace rear- and side-view mirrors mandated by a longstanding U.S. auto safety standard.
GM STRIKE SEEN FORCING CREDIT FIRMS TO MULL NEGATIVE ACTION
The United Auto Workers union’s strike against General Motors Co. may force credit raters to take action and move the company closer to junk status, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Now in its fourth week, the strike has gone beyond the two-week threshold that raters including Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings had said posed downside risk, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Joel Levington wrote in a report Wednesday. The “fuse is burning” for ratings that, in Moody’s case, is just one notch above junk, Levington said.
CHEMISTRY NOBEL HAILS WORK ON LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to a trio of pioneers of the modern lithium-ion battery, which is revolutionizing everything from mobile phones to the future of the global car industry. The prize went to M. Stanley Whittingham, a British-American professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton; Japan’s Akira Yoshino, of Asahi Kasei Corp. and Meijo University; and German-born John Goodenough, professor at the University of Texas.
Such batteries have “revolutionized our lives” since they first entered the market in 1991, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement on Wednesday. “They have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil-fuel-free society, and are of the greatest benefit to humankind.”
“This lightweight, rechargeable, and powerful battery is now used in everything from mobile phones to laptops and electric vehicles,” the academy said. “It can also store significant amounts of energy from solar and wind power, making possible a fossil fuel-free society.”
Whittingham, 77, first discovered in the 1970s it was possible to shuttle lithium atoms from one electrode to another at room temperature, facilitating recharge-ability. When the battery material -- lithium -- proved prone to catching fire, it took the work of Goodenough, 97, to make it into a usable device. Yoshino’s research on ensuring chemical stability crowned the current lithium-ion battery.
The product “is changing the way we do many things, the way we interact with each other and the physical environment, the way we consume energy,” said Colin McKerracher, an analyst at BloombergNEF. “The amount of interaction you have is only going to go up from here.”
Research on better stores of energy started in the early 1970s amid the oil crisis. Working with Exxon Mobil Corp., Whittingham decided to test lithium in anodes, the ‘minus’ side of a battery. Exxon showcased his invention in watches in 1977, but the batteries kept igniting when built larger. After oil prices slid back, the urgency of developing new battery technology faded. Then-President Ronald Reagan canceled support for energy projects, and while other governments followed suit, work in Japan continued.
In the 1980s, Yoshino, focusing on the problem of chemical stability, managed to combine Goodenough’s advances using cobalt oxide in a battery’s cathode with a carbon anode, which helped boost voltage and therefore the battery’s potential. Yoshino’s work enabled Sony Corp. to release a lithium-ion battery for small electronic devices in 1991 -- jump-starting small recording devices and other electronics. “As a researcher, you need to have a flexible mind, but at the same time, very obsessive, persistent thinking, without giving up. You need these two things,” Yoshino, 71, said at a news conference in Japan. “I have to say I feel more confused than happy.”
Attempting to pack energy into an ever-smaller and rechargeable carrier has continued since then to reach into more and more industries. The transportation sector is about to enter a new era thanks to batteries that are small and powerful enough to make electric vehicles practical, helping to clean up city centers and lower overall carbon emissions.