This week’s automotive headlines – 16 April 2022
16 April 2022
Autovista24 examines automotive developments from the past seven days. In this week’s round-up, Rimac’s Nevera completes winter testing, Polestar is now available in Hong Kong, Kwik Fit’s sustainability premium proves popular, Bosch acquires leading European autonomous driving startup, Tesla’s new Texas gigafactory opens its doors, and Volkswagen launches online sales in Germany.
Rimac’s Nevera completes winter testing
More automotive manufacturers are making a big deal of sending vehicles to the Arctic Circle for intensive cold-climate testing. The latest company to hit the ice is Croatian electric-vehicle (EV) maker Rimac Automobil, with their hotly-anticipated Nevera. Just 150 units of the independently-verified, ‘fastest-accelerating production car in the world’ are being produced. The company has taken to the frozen terrain of Pirelli’s Sottozero Centre near the Arctic Circle in Sweden to fine tune the car before it reaches customers within the coming months.
‘Testing on a low-grip surface like this allows us to make consistent and accurate observations on how our systems are performing in low temperatures,’ said Miroslav Zrnčević, Bugatti Rimac chief test and development driver. ‘Things happen much more slowly than they would do on asphalt, and we have nice, even, smooth handling tracks so we know the data we get is not affected by surface imperfections or temperature swings. After these two weeks of testing, we are happy to see exactly the results we wanted to achieve.’
Polestar now available in Hong Kong
Premium Swedish EV brand Polestar has made the Polestar 2 available in Hong Kong via automotive distributor Wearnes Motors. Three versions of the car will be available to customers in Hong Kong, including the standard-range single-motor version, the long-range single motor, and the long-range dual-motor variant, with a total output of 300kW and a range of up to 482km.
‘We are very excited to bring Polestar to Hong Kong,’ commented Newman Tsang, general manager at Wearnes Motors Hong Kong. ‘As the electric sector gathers momentum, Polestar 2 will establish itself as a truly enjoyable, premium electric alternative. We will continue to deliver our service excellence and enrich our customers with the same Polestar experience the company’s customers enjoy the world over.’
Kwik Fit’s sustainability premium proves popular
UK-based automotive parts, repair, and replacement specialists Kwik Fit have announced positive results from a new green pilot scheme. It found customers were willing to pay more to support the company’s Project Tree sustainability initiative. In the last four months, Kwik Fit sold a selection of Pirelli tyres which are helping fund the environmentally-friendly project, which supports sustainable natural-rubber production to help protect the rainforests of Indonesia. The scheme allocates a portion of the purchase price of each tyre to the farmers supported by the programme. In the four-month pilot phase, Kwik Fit has seen sales of Pirelli Project Tree tyres exceed expectations, despite the small cost premium. ‘Project Tree could provide a template for ensuring the sustainability of rubber production in the long term,’ said Mark Slade, managing director of Kwik Fit. ‘Perhaps surprisingly, given the current pressures on everyone’s day-to-day living costs, the initial experience with the project has shown that car owners have chosen to support more sustainable production through their buying decisions and have been willing to pay a modest premium for these tyres.’
Bosch acquires leading European autonomous driving startup
German engineering and technology company Bosch has acquired autonomous-driving startup, Five. The main driver behind Bosch’s takeover centres on plans to strengthen and develop its agile project structure for the development of self-driving cars. Five’s team of experts in cloud software, safety assurance, robotics and machine learning are located across six locations in the UK, and will help develop Bosch’s strategy spanning different levels of automated driving and related systems. Five will become part of the Bosch Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division.
‘Scale matters in building automated-driving technology,’ said Five CEO Stan Boland. ‘Bosch is a global leader in driving-assistance technologies, with core technologies and vast data lakes that will be essential in bringing safe self-driving systems to market. We are excited for Five to become part of Europe’s most powerful SAE Level 4 player and to be a part of Bosch’s future success.’
Tesla’s new Texas Gigafactory opens its doors
Tesla has announced the official opening of its new US Gigafactory, located in Austin, Texas. The EV manufacturer will build the Model Y, at the ‘most advanced car factory the planet has ever seen,’ according to Tesla’s Elon Musk. The announcement was made at the site’s opening ceremony, or Cyber Rodeo, as it was labelled, where Musk revealed that the long-awaited Tesla Cybertruck will also be built at the Texas site from 2023. Austin marks the company’s fourth factory globally. However, it will be the first site to see batteries produced and integrated into the structural build of the Model Y.
Volkswagen launches online sales in Germany
Volkswagen (VW) customers in Germany can now lease new cars online, with other European countries set to follow. The first available models will be the fully-electric ID.4 and ID.5, with the ID.3 coming later. Using a PC, tablet, or smartphone, online customers can go through vehicle configuration, leasing options, digital authentication, and the agreement conclusion. Cash purchasing and financing options will be available in the future. Klaus Zellmer, member of board of management responsible for sales, marketing and after-sales, explained surveys have shown two-thirds of the carmaker’s customers want to purchase online. However, the carmaker was keen to highlight that dealerships will not be left behind.
‘Online sales will not replace the brick-and-mortar dealership. We need a good online presence coupled with a strong and powerful local presence provided by our dealers. Dealers are and will remain the face to our customers. They are indispensable when it comes to providing personal, competent advice,’ Zellmer added.