Maserati unveils its Levante Hybrid




The Levante Hybrid was presented at ist launch in Azzuro Astro color. This metallic paint consists of three layers and is available through the Maserati Fuoriserie personalization program.

The Maserati Levante Hybrid has today experienced both a physical and a digital world premiere. At the time of the car’s unveiling at the Shanghai Auto Show, a virtual presentation has taken place simultaneously on the houseof.maserati.com website.

With its first electrified SUV, Maserati is taking another important step in the future plan launched last year with the Ghibli Hybrid, which will lead to the electrification of all new Maserati models.

“Faster. Cleaner. Unique ” is the motto at the launch: the Levante Hybrid is faster than a diesel, more durable than a car with an internal combustion engine and unique thanks to specific features and details.

The Levante Hybrid combines a two-liter four-cylinder engine with a 48-volt hybrid system that recovers energy during engine deceleration and application of the brakes. The hybrid SUV is lighter than the six-cylinder version (petrol and diesel) and also has a more balanced weight distribution because the battery – without sacrificing luggage space – is placed in the rear of the car. One of the goals during the development of the Levante Hybrid was to take the dynamics and driving pleasure to an even higher level.

 With a maximum power of 330 hp and a torque of 450 Nm, which is available from just 2,250 rpm, the four-wheel drive Levante Hybrid delivers impressive performance: the car has a top speed of 240 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km in 6 seconds.

The Levante Hybrid was presented at ist launch in Azzuro Astro color. This metallic paint consists of three layers and is available through the Maserati Fuoriserie personalization program.

The Levante Hybrid is immediately recognizable by the unique details in the exterior and interior. Several elements are finished in blue, a color specifically chosen for Maserati hybrid models. Like the brake calipers and trident on the C-pillars, the iconic side vents are finished in this shade of blue. The same color returns in the interior, including the stitching of the seat upholstery.

With Maserati Connect, the Levante Hybrid is always connected to the outside world. The driver remains fully informed about the technical condition of the car: Maserati Connect alerts the owner when maintenance is required, thus improving the quality of the service. The owner is in contact with the car via the Maserati app on the smartphone or smartwatch. You can also contact the car from home with a virtual assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assist.

The digital world premiere of the Levante Hybrid on houseof.maserati.com has been attended by Maserati’s global brand ambassador David Beckham and Italian songwriter and producer Dardust, who has composed an exclusive soundtrack for the unveiling of the Levante Hybrid.

More soon about this Levante in technical detail. Stay posted!

Hans Knol ten Bensel      

Audi unveils its first all-electric compact SUV’s: the Audi Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron…

Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro Colour: Geyser blue, metallic and Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro Edition One Colour: Typhoon gray

Versatile all-rounders for everyday use that transfer the progressive design of the concept cars into series production and that can be driven locally without any emissions: The Audi Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron are the first compact electric SUVs from the brand with the Four Rings.

Both of them impress with a new spacious dimension in the interior and pioneering solutions when it comes to operation, display, and assist systems. The augmented reality head-up display connects the virtual and the real worlds in a totally new way.

Q4 50 Sportback e-tron Quattro Colour: Florett silver

The range comprises three drive versions, spearheaded by a quattro model with a maximum output of 220 kW (299 PS). Attributes that they all share are zero local emissions driving  and high ranges, charging times of around ten minutes for sufficient power to travel about 130 kilometers (80.8 mi) in ideal conditions (WLTP) and convenient charging with the e-tron Charging Service. The rear-wheel drive Q4 40 e-tron achieves a range of up to 520 kilometers (323.1 mi) in the WLTP cycle. It goes on sale in Europe in June 2021, with prices in Germany starting at EUR 41,900 – where the customer can claim a subsidy of EUR 9,000 (net).

Audi’s next step: the exterior design

With the Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron, Audi is taking the next step in the design language of its electric models.

The two compact SUVs bring into series production the body line that the Audi Q4 concept and Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept show cars demonstrated at the beginning of 2019.

In the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron, the especially low coupé-style roofline ends in an expressively designed rear where the spoiler sits deep on the two-part window.

On request, both of these compact electric SUVs can be driven off the assembly line with Matrix LED headlights. What’s more, the driver can switch between four signatures in the MMI touch operating system. At the rear, a light strip links the taillight units to each other. A choice of eight colors is available for the paint finish, including the new metallic shade aurora violet. In addition to the basic version, there are the two advanced and S line exteriors.

E-mobility for everyone…

Audi wants its new Q4 line to be an all-round car which offers everything for everyone. The available space in the interior is comparable with the full-size SUV class; there is no center tunnel. The feeling of spaciousness is not just confined to the front seats – with the generous legroom, passengers in the rear also benefit from the advantage of the technological platform, which is designed as electric-only.

Depending on the positioning of the rear seat backs, the volume of the luggage compartment is 520 to 1,490 liters in the Q4 e-tron and 535 to 1,460 liters under a power trunk lid in the Sportback. Both models can tow trailers with a weight of up to 1,000 kilograms (braked, at 12% incline), with the quattro versions even able to pull up to 1,200 kilograms.

Another strength for everyday use is the high range – the Q4 40 e-tron travels up to 520 kilometers (323.1 mi) (WLTP) on a single battery charge. Thanks to a maximum charging capacity of 125 kW, in ideal conditions it can charge enough power for about 130 kilometers (80.8 mi) (WLTP) in around ten minutes. Using the myAudi app, the owner can activate charging at home and pre-entry climate control from their smartphone.

In the interior, there are also quite a few innovations. For instance totally new is the steering wheel with its seamless touch surfaces, which the driver uses to control the digital instrument cluster.

Infotainment and navigation are operated primarily using the central MMI touch display, which will also be available in the largest configuration level of 11.6 inches towards the end of the year. Natural voice control provides the third operating interface.

On request, the Audi Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron can be equipped with another innovation on board – the augmented reality head-up display.

Fully digital: the Q4 e-tron is an e-mobility device

The Q4 e-tron models offer a fully digital user experience. The infotainment package in the electric compact SUV is structured in three levels – from MMI through MMI plus to MMI pro.

Different functions are provided depending on the configuration level, including the augmented reality head-up display and the Audi virtual cockpit plus. The optional levels provide the online services of Audi connect, including the intelligent e-tron route planner for working out the optimal route that stays close to the public charging infrastructure. For premium sound, the Sonos sound system which combines lifestyle, technology and design in a new dimension.

Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro Static photo, Colour: Geyser blue, metallic Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro Edition One Static photo, Colour: Typhoon gray

For urban commuters and long-distance drivers: battery, drive and charging options

The drive portfolio of the two compact electric models lives up to the expectations of very different groups of customers – from the urban commuter to the long-distance driver. It includes two battery variants and three drive variants. The compact battery for the Q4 35 e-tron has a net energy content of 52 kWh (55 kWh gross), while the figures for the large battery in the Q4 40 e-tron and Q4 50 e-tron quattro are 77 (82) kWh.

The Q4 35 e-tron and the Q4 40 e-tron have an electric motor that drives the rear wheels, with an output of 125 kW (170 PS) and 150 kW (204 PS) respectively. The top-of-the-range version Q4 50 e-tron quattro has two electric motors for the electric all-wheel drive. They give it a maximum output of 220 kW (299 PS) – sufficient for a sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 180 km/h. For efficiency, the motor on the front axle comes into action only when high power or a strong grip is needed.

Another important factor in energy-saving driving is intelligent recuperation, which also incorporates navigation and topographical data.

Dashboard

Audi’s two new electric SUVs can be charged with different outputs using alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) depending on the battery. The compact battery can get up to 7.2 kW with AC charging and up to 100 kW when using HPC charging (high-power charging) with direct current. As standard, the larger battery allows for up to 11 kW with AC and up to 125 kW with HPC.

Audi e-tron Charging Service…

Drivetrain

The Audi e-tron Charging Service provides access to around 210,000 public charging points in 26 European countries, 4,400 of which are HPC fast-charging points (as of April 2021), using just one charging card. In the transit tariff, customers buying the Q4 e-tron do not pay any basic fee in the first year. They benefit here especially from the preferential conditions in the IONITY network: The charged kilowatt hour costs 31 cents, which corresponds to the price level when charging at home in Germany.

The Audi Q4 e-tron will appear in June 2021 on European markets, with the Q4 Sportback e-tron following in the late summer. Of course we are keen to sample driving impressions this summer!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Leasys and FCA Bank launch from 12 to 30 of April the “Electric Days”…

Electric mobility is growing more popular worldwide, and even more so in Europe where the growth of electric and hybrid cars has been in three figures recently.

Leasys and FCA Bank want to play a leading role in this trend, and therefore they launched the “Electric Days”, three weeks of special offers dedicated to electric mobility, all entirely in digital fashion.

The offers will be active from the moment of writing until the end of April and they are designed to make the services offered by the Group and its rental company Leasys even more accessible and convenient.

Digital offers range in Europe from mobility to financial and banking products: from personal loans to GO4xe financing, from CarCloud to Leasys Miles, to Clickar.

Leasys and FCA Bank launch a cross-country commercial promotion that includes 10 European countries simultaneously dedicated to electric mobility and sustainability. Italy, France, Germany, Spain, UK, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Denmark and Belgium will offer their customers the best digital solutions to satisfy every green mobility and financial needs in every different market.

For Belgium, PR & Communication Director Dominique Fontignies announced that the first offer of this campaign gives professional clients the opportunity to drive a Jeep Compass 4xe Plug-in Hybrid from € 319/month (excl. VAT) in the financial renting formula.(60 months). Leasys offers this model in operational leasing from € 589/month (incl. VAT).

Leasys also offers the Fiat 500e Business Edition. This 500e is available from € 469/month (incl. VAT) in operational leasing. Finally, the Fiat 500C Hybrid Lounge is available in operational leasing from € 269/month (incl. VAT).

There is more news to come from Jeep, we will soon present here the new Compass…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Bentley celebrates the production of its 200.000th car…


The Bentayga Hybrid, destined for a Chinese customer, met the oldest surviving Bentley, EXP 2, and a number of long serving colleagues, as it rolled off the production line at the home of Bentley in Crewe this week.

Things have taken off for the inconic brand over the last 18 years. Thanks to the success of the Continental GT and more recently the Bentayga SUV, daily production has soared. Indeed, over that period, over 75 per cent of 101 years of production has been hand-built at the Crewe factory, more than ever the home of Bentley. Current daily production, 85 cars per day, equals monthly production numbers of two decades ago.

The Bentley Continentals – then and now…

I vividly recall the interview I made at the Frankfurt Motor Show more than a decade ago with Franz-Josef Paefgen, then CEO of Bentley Motors and Bugatti Automobiles, posts he left in 2011.

During his time as the Chief Executive Officer of Bentley Motors Ltd., he was responsible for the Bentley Mulsanne and the Bentley Continental series of cars. From 2003 to 2005, Dr. Paefgen was responsible for the development of the Bugatti Veyron.

Every Bentley is actually a four wheeled chapter in automotive history…

I asked him then whether a hybrid Bentley was not on the cards, as Bentley’s could be considered the pinnacle of engineering and an electrified Bentley would be proper. It clearly was not in the strategy of the VW Group then, as the idea was immediately brushed aside by Mr. Paefgen as unrealistic, customers not wanting this at all…

Well times have changed quite a bit since then, as we now read that Company aims to be end-to-end carbon neutral by 2030 with entire model range switched to battery electric vehicles(!). Bentley will move to full electrification – PHEV or BEV only – by 2026, then switch the entire model range to battery electric vehicles by 2030. The industry-leading Beyond100 Strategy will transform every aspect of the business as Bentley accelerates into its second century of luxury car production.

Six cylinder Bentley engine production in the ’50s in Crewe…

What this means for the retail value and depreciation of the existing and historic Bentley’s remains to be seen…

But back to the production history.

The Continental GT was the first landmark…

In 2003 the introduction of the Continental GT represented a transformative moment for the brand, and this Bentley alone, has represented 80,000 sales of the total of 200,000, and created both a new segment, and a contemporary image foundation for the Bentley business.

The Crewe factory in 1940…

…followed by the Bentayga

The success of the Continental GT has been mirrored by the Bentayga, offering a true Bentley driving experience and unparalleled luxury. Launched in 2015, when it established the luxury SUV sector, the fastest SUV in the world has reached its 25,000 production landmark. It is expected that the Bentayga could surpass total sales of the Continental GT within a decade and become the biggest selling Bentley model in history.

And now in 2021…

Since 2005, the company has also built 40,000 examples of the Flying Spur, the most successful luxury sports saloon in the world.

We show you here some photos, lifting a veil of the very interesting and multifaceted production history of the brand, and then we have told nothing of their sporting achievements…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The BMW Group Annual Conference 2021 will bring a new chapter in reporting….

The BMW Group is embarking on a new chapter in its reporting: For the first time, it will be combining its Annual Report and its Sustainable Value Report for the reporting year 2020 in a single Integrated BMW Group Report.

After the Board of Management redefined the company’s central sustainability goals in 2020, integrated reporting marks the next logical step – thanks to integrated management of the company. Henceforth, the Integrated Report will be published to coincide with the BMW Group Annual Conference, outlining the company’s economic performance, as well as its contribution to the environment and to society.

The livestream is on Wednesday, March 17…

So, stay tuned again on Wednesday!

The BMW Group Annual Conference 2021 will be broadcast live via livestream and satellite.

Agenda  17.03.2021

08:00 –09:00 GMT                       BMW Group Conference – LIVE

09:00 – 10:30 GMT                      BMW Group Conference – Q&A Session LIVE

13:45 – 14:45 GMT                      BMW Group Conference – Replay 

You can follow the BMW Group Annual Conference 2021 at http://www.live.bmwgroup.com and @BMWGroup social media channels:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BMWGroup

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BMWGroup

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Kia introduces its new design philosophy and presents it in the brand new EV6…

Kia Corporation has revealed the first images of the exterior and interior design of EV6, its first dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV), ahead of the car’s world premiere at the end of March.

EV6 was designed under the brand’s new design philosophy ‘Opposites United’, which takes inspiration from the contrasts found in nature and humanity.

At the centre of the design philosophy is a new visual identity evoking positive forces and natural energy, with contrasting combinations of sharp stylistic elements and sculptural shapes.It is definitely contemporary and has timeless proportions, which will please for years to come, with a purity not unlike for instance VW’s ID3 and ID4.

Boasting a distinctive crossover-inspired design and based on the brand’s new Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), the EV6 is Kia’s first dedicated BEV to be influenced by the new design philosophy.

Opposites United: a design philosophy for all future Kia vehicles

The Opposites United design philosophy makes its debut on EV6, and will inform the design of all future Kia models. The philosophy is based on five key design pillars: ‘Bold for Nature’, ‘Joy for Reason’, ‘Power to Progress’, ‘Technology for Life’, and ‘Tension for Serenity’.

We explain it more in detail here.

Bold for Nature is based on interaction with nature, informed by the details, shapes and proportions found both in the natural and human worlds. This design pillar creates organic, yet technical structures and finishes for vehicle interiors; exterior designs are characterised by a combination of clear and simple lines with bold, ever-changing surfaces.

Joy for Reason focuses on the feel and ambience of Kia’s future vehicles. Future designs will fuse the emotional with the rational, creating vehicles that influence the mood of passengers, by relaxing and inspiring. It will also influence the adoption of new organic materials and more daring colours, expressing a sense of youth and playfulness.

Power to Progress builds on the brand’s current design strengths. By drawing on and developing the skills and expertise learned throughout Kia’s recent era of design-led transformation, the designs and layouts of the brand’s future products will continue to evolve. Future designs will draw on experience and creativity to invent and innovate new designs.

Technology for Life embraces new technologies and innovations to foster positive interactions between humans and machines. The brand’s future vehicles will adopt a next-generation in-car user experience (UX) through design and innovation and advancements in lighting, feel and in-car connectivity – to help customers engage with their cars.

Tension for Serenity evokes the tension between opposing forces and creative contrasts, and recognises the design equilibrium that comes from two opposing forces. It delivers striking design concepts that use sharp, highly technical details to create surface tension – and realise a harmonised, future-oriented design vision.

Exterior design: a future-oriented EV design characterised by high-tech details

The exterior design of EV6 is a powerful representation of ‘Power to Progress’.

At the front, characteristic daytime running lights create a sleek appearance. They form part of the car’s ‘Digital Tiger Face’, a design progression evoking the spirit of Kia’s ‘Tiger Nose Grille’ for the electrified era. The design of the lamps also includes a ‘sequential’ dynamic light pattern.

The side profile displays a crossover-inspired design aesthetic, contrasting with sharp lines and high-tech details to create a sense of tension in the design.

Designed in part to realise ultimate aerodynamic performance, the rear displays a sloping rear C-pillar with an integrated black glossy insert which visually widens the window glass.

The EV6 is the result of a collaborative effort between all three studios in Kia’s global design network in Namyang (Korea), Frankfurt (Germany), and Irvine (California, US).

Interior design: a modern and spacious interior for the EV era

A distinct product of the EV era, the interior design is liberated as it were by Kia’s dedicated E-GMP platform, which offers increased space compared to previous Kia EVs based on existing model architecture. Here Kia goes with VW’s trend set in with their ID series.

One of the most striking elements of the new interior is a seamless high-tech curved high-definition audio visual and navigation (AVN) screen. The simple form language of the wide curved screen and the slim dashboard give the space an open feel.

The width of the screen creates an immersive experience for the driver, while a minimal number of physical buttons offer an uncluttered and soothing driving experience.

Underneath the AVN screen, passengers control HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) settings by using haptic ‘buttons’, while below this panel, the dashboard slopes away towards the front of the car, creating a sense of space and openness for the front-seat passengers.

The seats are slim, lightweight and contemporary, and clad in modern, visually interesting and robust fabrics created using recycled plastics, which create yet greater openness in the cabin.

EV6 will make its world premiere in March 2021, during a special online event. We will keep you posted!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Renault will build its best-sellers also for Mitsubishi in European markets…

The Mitsubishi Eclipse PHEV will get the company soon of Renault designed models in selected European markets….

Mitsubishi Motors has decided to procure OEM-model vehicles from Renault, best-sellers on the European market which already meet regulatory requirements, for selected major markets in Europe. Starting 2023, Mitsubishi Motors will thus sell two “sister models” produced in Groupe Renault plants, which are based on the same platforms but with differentiations, reflecting the Mitsubishi brand’s DNA.

A model mix of the newly launched Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV and the Renault-developed sister models will enable Mitsubishi Motors to be more competitive in the market.

The comments of the CEO’s both at Renault and Mitsubishi are quite positive:

“Mitsubishi Motors welcomes Renault’s OEM models for the European market, and ultimately new customers. Mitsubishi Motors has been implementing structural reforms in Europe and our decision to freeze new car development for the European Market, announced in July 2020 in our mid-term business plans, remains.

However, the OEM supply agreement will provide us with a solution to offer new products developed and manufactured in Europe– alongside our ongoing after sales business,” said Takao Kato, CEO Mitsubishi Motors.

“Our new approach within the Alliance, focusing on impactful and meaningful projects, is turning into reality. This pragmatic, value-driven initiative will make a difference in our plants, in our partner’s footprint and on the European streets. This beautiful project meets all partners’ expectations from a design, regulatory and business perspective.

This is what the Alliance is meant for and we are very happy, at Groupe Renault, to contribute to this new step in its history of cooperation.” said Luca de Meo, CEO Groupe Renault.

So we can look forward to interesting “European” Mitsubishi models in the forthcoming future…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Fiat e-Ducato can be yours now for clean, e-powered delivery!

Faithful readers know that we reported already about the e-Ducato and the dynamic people behind this project, notably Madame Angelica Carapezza, who we interviewed back in 2019. Now the e-Ducato is fully available…

Indeed, orders are open for the new E-Ducato, the full-electric, fully connected version of the Fiat Professional best seller, It guarantees continuity in the technology transition with similar performance, at a comparable cost.

The line-up of configurations meets every need: vans from 10 to 17 m3, cab vehicles in 4 different lengths, plus people-carrying capabilities to cover any business need.The Ducato has best-in-class load volume from 10 to 17 m3, payload of up to 1,910 kg.

There is a modular choice of batteries, with ranges from over 230 to 370 km in the urban cycle; 2 different AC chargers at launch, with DC Fast Charge available as an option.

The exclusive Pro Fit by E-Ducato app is available, for the ideal E-Ducato configuration based on real-world usage data, to best meet every specific need.

A wide range of benefits are included in the price: Vans from €60,800 for the 3.5-ton Medium Wheelbase version (10 m3 load volume); Cab vehicles from €60,300 in the 3.5-ton Medium Wheelbase version.

The line-up extends all the way to a 4.25-ton van.

At launch, 5 years of routine maintenance and a 5-year vehicle warranty  and up to 10-year battery warranty are included. Three packs with the most sought-after optional extras are available on request.

To support the launch and the “electric project”, Fiat Professional and the Sapient agency have developed the “Numbers” digital campaign. Of which more in detail later.

The vehicle’s arrival in dealerships and early deliveries are scheduled from late March onwards.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Subaru XV e-boxer: with e-power into the go-anywhere future…

The XV embodies perfectly what a Subaru stands for: it is compact, styled with zest and panache, versatile, rugged and of course crammed from bumper to bumper with state of the art, innovative and exclusive technology. This legendary Subaru boxer technology, combined with unique 4WD capability comes now to you with additional e-power, to make this Subaru fit for the E future which is coming upon us.

Subaru prefers rugged no-nonsense go anywhere capability, and therefore opts for hybrid technology: the 2 litre direct injected boxer engine is coupled via a Lineartronic CVT Transmission to a 12.3 kW e-motor which sits right behind the engine and is fed by a 13.5 kWh battery pack which sits behind the rear wheels. E power is available at slow speeds up to 40 km/h. Subaru describes this as the EV driving mode. Depending on the enthusiasm of your right foot and the state of charge of the battery pack, you could drive on E power over distance of up to 1,6 kilometers at speeds, as we said earlier, of up to 40 km/h. In practice, the battery and motor just assist the combustion engine when driving away from traffic lights and in slow stop and go traffic.

When you really keep your right foot very calm, a lot can be gained here. As you servant is well trained with his Lexus 200 CTH, it was no trouble at all to eke out a consumption of 6 litres/100 km in tightest urban traffic. It just takes a good amount of concentration and anticipation.

The Subaru changes very smoothly from E- to petrol power and vice versa at varying speeds above 40 km/h in the “engine assist function.” Nice too is that the CVT transmission has 6 “steps” or ratios if you want to, so you can avoid that the willing boxer revs too high for your liking when you really put your foot down and accelerate hard on a motorway entrance for instance.

At higher speeds, the petrol engine takes over fully and charges also the battery. The beauty of hybrids is that you can use them anywhere, anytime, for any distance, just like any other petrol engined car. With a significant reduction in petrol consumption if you understand them and know how to drive them…

We averaged between 6 and seven litres/100 km on our regular routes. The manufacturer quotes 6,5 litre/100 km as average consumption, and 149 g/km in CO2 emissions.

Off road capability…

But then, this car is a Subaru. This means king of the road, off-road. The XV offers go anywhere capability with its Symmetrical AWD, and its further developed X Mode. This mode effectively remaps the 4WD system, using the E motor to modulate the traction on all 4 wheels even more finely. Taking the family out on a weekend skiing or having fun in the snow: this Subaru gets you there and back… and how!

Good performer

Although it will not invite you to throw it around corners, it certainly has the rally-bred stamina to do it. This XV has legendary on-road handling, and remains controllable and neutral no matter in what situation you put it in. The hazards of winter season and/or slippery roads simply do not exist for the XV.

Outright performance leaves nothing to be desired: 0 to 100 km/h is reached in 10.3 seconds, top speed is a healthy 193 km/h.

Of course the Subaru is an excellent motorway cruiser. The suspension is comfortable, the XV rolls on the brand new Subaru Global Platform which added considerably more body stiffness, but then a very stiff body is also prone to resonances, and there is some road/tyre/wheel noise noticeable.

Subaru’s EyeSight keeps you safe

Another point we cannot miss to mention is the superb EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. Driving in thick fog on motorways, winding forest roads has no collision risk for you anymore. Two stereocamera’s sit on both sides of the rear view mirror and keep an eye on the road ahead. Coupled with the adaptive cruise control, the system will assist in keeping a safe distance and adapt speed automatically to the car in front of you over a very wide speed range between 0 and 180 km/h.

Well-equipped and pleasant cabin

The XV dashboard has three screens, two on the centre console, and one between the nicely finished round instruments for speed and revs. Infotainment is intuitive and easy to use, and leaves nothing to be desired. The whole cabin is well finished, quality of materials used is very good, sturdy and fit for no nonsense practical use for years to come, in the good Subaru tradition.

Boot space is not enormous, due also partially to the rear battery pack, but the standard 355 litres can be easily enlarged when the rear seats are folded down. On the other hand, the Subaru still has a healthy 1270 kg braked trailer pulling power, and if you have any doubts about Subaru’s mettle, just have a look at the numerous You Tube films where Subaru’s are pulling stranded trucks out of snowy ditches…

Conclusion

Together with the Forester, Subaru now has two (partially) E-powered models in its range, and the ever so popular XV has become even more desirable now. Embodying all the traditional legendary Subaru qualities, the XV now offers excellent economy and the “Zen” driving style which comes with electric propulsion. Definitely have a long hard look at thisone when you consider buying a crossover in this segment. This car has so many unquestioned and unique talents, you shouldn’t miss it for anything in this automotive world.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mercedes moves its E-power competence centre to its home core factory in Untertürkheim…

Mercedes-Benz Drive Systems Campus, Stuttgart-Untertürkheim

German automakers are very serious about it. Getting as competent about E-power technology and drive systems as they are in petrol engined technology. So they are making the essential and necessary structural changes.

Mercedes for instance is transforming its Mercedes-Benz Drive Systems unit and its Stuttgart-Untertürkheim site for an “Electric First” future in the context of its “Ambition 2039” strategy.

Untertürkheim is to become a technology competence centre with a campus focusing clearly on electric drive and battery technology, including the production of lithium-ion cells. The Untertürkheim site has always been an integral part of the Mercedes-Benz powertrain production network – as an innovation centre and as a hub of Mercedes-Benz powertrain expertise.

Mercedes-Benz Drive Systems

A three-digit million euro amount is invested to transform Untertürkheim, the largest site in the company’s global powertrain production network, which will in future be known as the “Mercedes-Benz Drive Systems Campus”.

The site will focus on research, development and production ramp-ups of drive systems.

A new factory for the small-series production of future battery cells, and a dedicated battery safety lab, will complement Mercedes-Benz’s existing research and development activities in the field of battery technology.

eATS test benches at the Mercedes-Benz Drive Systems Campus Untertürkheim

The company strives for a holistic approach which ranges from basic research and development to manufacturing of battery systems. In terms of series production, the site will focus increasingly on electric drive components – battery and electric drive systems, while conventional engine, transmission and component production will gradually be phased out, which will affect employment profiles and scopes.

Vertical integration is essential…

The Mercedes-Benz Drive Systems Campus is a crucial development step regarding the sustainable transformation of the Untertürkheim site. At the same time, this requires substantial adjustments in its production program and processes. In this context, the existing competence centres will be restructured or systematically expanded. The close link of research, development and production at the same location will create important preconditions for synergies and unique know-how,  strengthening the vertical integration in house as a key pillar.

The Mercedes-Benz battery factory in Untertürkheim – plant annex Hedelfingen – will produce battery systems for the Mercedes-EQ model EQS from 2021

Focus on battery technology and electric drive systems.

The bundling and extension of its battery activities is of paramount mportance. Widespread research and development activities are already anchored at the Untertürkheim location, such as the e-technology centre and cell technology centre, where, among other things, prototypes for the electric drive system are built and cell technologies are researched and tested. Additionally, the battery research and development activities currently located at the Nabern part of the plant, including various test benches, are to be relocated on the campus in the future.

Further investments are planned in the significant expansion of the current cell technology centre in order to be able to cover the entire value chain of battery technology. In addition to basic research, pre-development and design of battery cells, a new factory for the small-series production of lithium-ion battery cells is being planned, starting operations in 2023. The sustainability factor, transparent cell development through to recyclability, plays a major role in this. Moreover, a dedicated battery safety lab will complement Mercedes-Benz’s activities.

Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant to produce electric powertrain in the future

In the future, the company will cover almost the entire field of battery technology at its Untertürkheim location – right down to battery systems which are manufactured at the site. The battery factory in Brühl nearby will produce batteries for plug-in hybrid vehicles from 2022. Starting this year, battery systems for the Mercedes-EQ model EQS – the all-electric member of the S-Class family – will roll off the assembly line at the Hedelfingen part of the plant. The EQS will be manufactured at Factory 56 in Sindelfingen some 20 km away starting in the first half of 2021. The battery system for the EQE will also be produced in Hedelfingen.

In just a few months, battery systems for the Mercedes-Benz EQS – the all-electric member of the next S-Class family – will roll off the assembly line at the Hedelfingen battery factory, which will be manufactured at Factory 56 in Sindelfingen some 20 km away. The battery factory relies on state-of-the-art systems and uses a wide range of Industry 4.0 technologies. The extensive production tests are already in full swing.

The company moreover is setting a clear focus on the development of the highly efficient electric drive system, the intelligent combination of electric motor, battery system, power electronics and software through to series maturity including testing.

The next generation of electric motors are being developed in house and will feature inverter and high voltage technology. The manufacturing and assembly of electric drive systems parts for future vehicle models of the Mercedes-EQ brand will start at the end of 2024 and round off the product portfolio with the battery factories in Hedelfingen and Brühl. The previously planned production volumes of electric drive systems will double.

Flexible powertrain production network…with protected employment.  

With regard to the series production volumes of conventional powertrains at the Untertürkheim location, Mercedes-Benz will even more benefit from the flexibility of its global powertrain production network in the future.

The eATS is the engine unit of electric vehicles. The eATS consists essentially of the three subsystems: an electric motor, its power electronics and the transmission part for power-transmission.

New production volumes are being examined in detail in order to maximize efficiency and profitability. On the employment side, this leads in the medium term to changes in employment profiles, for which the company prepares its employees with targeted qualification measures. The reduction of series production volumes of conventional powertrains will also lead to adjustments of personnel at the Untertürkheim location. The company is preparing for this with various measures and the top priority is to implement structural and personnel measures in a socially acceptable manner with regard to the jobs affected.

Hans Knol ten Bensel