Article Type: News

Das sind die wertstabilsten Fahrzeuge: Auto Bild und SCHWACKE küren die Wertmeister 2021

  • Die wertstabilsten Fahrzeuge aus 13 Segmenten
  • Große Markenvielfalt bei den Siegern
  • E-Autos überzeugen

FrankfurtDer „Wertmeister“ wird volljährig! Bereits zum 18. Mal in Folge haben AUTO BILD und SCHWACKE gemeinsam die „Wertmeister“ aus allen derzeit in Deutschland angebotenen Neuwagen ausgewählt. In Zahlen ausgedrückt: Insgesamt 6.751 verschiedene Typen aus 350 Modellreihen gingen in den Wettbewerb, um die renommierte Auszeichnung. Der Titel, der in 13 Fahrzeugsegmenten verliehen wird, prämiert die wertstabilsten Fahrzeuge, also die PKWs mit dem geringsten prognostizierten Wertverlust. Gerade bei Privatkunden kann ein potenzieller Wiederverkaufswert neben den laufenden Kosten ausschlaggebend für die Kaufentscheidung eines neuen Autos sein.

Wie auch in den vergangenen Jahren waren die Ansprüche an die „Wertmeister“ in allen analysierten Fahrzeugklassen sehr hoch. Die untersuchten PKWs müssen in einem aufwändigen Bewertungsprozess überzeugen, um als Sieger in ihrer Kategorie hervorzugehen. Mehrere hundert Faktoren und Parameter, die die Restwertentwicklung eines Fahrzeugs beeinflussen, werden für die Entscheidungsfindung herangezogen, neben dem Modell beispielsweise auch die Motorisierung, Ausstattungsversion und gängige Sonderausstattungen. Als Bewertungsgrundlage dient ein Prognose-Zeitraum von vier Jahren mit einer für das Segment durchschnittlichen Kilometerlaufleistung. Die Liste der „Wertmeister 2021“ zeigt sich vielfältig und hält die eine oder andere Veränderung zum Vorjahr bereit.

SCHWACKE-Geschäftsführer Thorsten Barg hebt die wachsende Bedeutung des Wiederverkaufswerts – und damit auch des „Wertmeisters“ – für private und gewerbliche Kunden gleichermaßen hervor: „In Zeiten von Auto-Abos, Privat-Leasing und Car-Sharing kommt dem Wiederverkaufswert bei der Entscheidung „kaufen oder nutzen“ eine immer zentralere Rolle zu. Mit dem Wertmeister bieten wir dem privaten Kunden damit eine belastbare Orientierungshilfe. Aber auch für die Betreiber derartiger Geschäftsmodelle ist der Wertverlust von zentraler Bedeutung, denn all diese Fahrzeuge müssen schließlich gebraucht auch wieder vermarktet werden.“

Importmarken auf Augenhöhe und ein Doppelsieg für Mercedes

Im Gegensatz zu den Vorjahren gibt es nur einen einzigen Hersteller, der direkt in zwei Kategorien den Sieg für sich verbuchen kann: Mercedes liegt sowohl im Luxus- als auch im Van-Segment mit den Langversionen von S- und der V-Klasse vorn. Ansonsten gelang es 2021 keiner weiteren Automarke, einen Mehrfachsieg zu erringen – ein Novum beim „Wertmeister“.

Generell ist das Feld in diesem Jahr nicht nur bei den Klassensiegern sehr breit gestreut. Nachdem die deutschen Automarken den „Wertmeister“ in der Vergangenheit häufig dominierten, zeigt sich in diesem Jahr, dass die Konkurrenz aus dem Ausland mittlerweile auf Augenhöhe agiert. Die Anzahl der deutschen Vertreter und die der Importmarken in den prämierten Klassen ist 2021 nahezu ausgewogen.

Das klassenübergreifend wertstabilste Auto ist der Dacia Sandero Stepway TCe 90, der als Sieger im Kleinwagenbereich und mit dem insgesamt niedrigsten prozentualen Wertverlust von nur knapp 34% punktet.

Im Sportwagen-Segment fährt Porsche der Konkurrenz nach wie vor davon: die Zuffenhausener stellen auch 2021 in dieser Klasse mit dem Porsche 911 Carrera in der Allradversion den „Wertmeister“ unter den Sportwagen.

Elektroautos weiterhin stark

Keine Änderung bei den Preisträgern gegenüber dem Vorjahr gab es bei den Elektrofahrzeugen: mit dem Mini Cooper SE und dem Tesla Model S Maximale Reichweite konnten beide Modelle ihren Titel aus dem Vorjahr verteidigen.

Ein allgemeiner Blick auf die Antriebsarten zeigt, dass die meisten Kategorien von Benzinern dominiert werden, mit einer Ausnahme bei den Vans und in der Luxusklasse, wo Dieselmotoren vorn liegen. Und bei den kompakten SUV kann mit dem RAV 4 2.5 4×2 Hybrid ein Hybridmodell den Sieg in seiner Klasse verbuchen.

Übersicht Gewinner Wertmeister 2021

Fahrzeugsegment  Rang  Marke Verkaufsbezeichnung Werterhalt in %
           
1 Elektrofahrzeuge bis 40.000 € netto 1 MINI (BMW) Mini Cooper SE 59,6
    2 VW ID.4 Performance Upgrade 56,3
    3 TESLA Model 3 Standard Reichweite Plus Hinterradantrieb 54,9
2 Elektrofahrzeuge über 40.000 € netto 1 TESLA Model S Long Range 61,2
    2 AUDI e-tron Sportback 50 quattro 51,7
    3 MERCEDES- EQV 300 lang 50,1
3 Kleinstwagen 1 HYUNDAI i10 1.2 56,9
    2 KIA Picanto 1.2 54,5
    3 VW up! 51,0
5 Kleinwagen 1 DACIA Sandero Stepway TCe 90 66,0
    2 TOYOTA Yaris Hybrid 1.5 VVT-i 60,7
    3 MINI (BMW) Mini Cooper S 60,4
6 untere Mittelklasse 1 VW Golf 1.5 TSI OPF 53,7
    2 MAZDA 3 e-SKYACTIV-X 2.0 M HYBRID DRIVE 53,4
    3 SEAT Leon 1.5 eTSI ACT OPF DSG 52,5
7 Mittelklasse 1 SKODA Superb Combi 2.0 TSI 4×4 DSG 49,8
    2 BMW 330i Touring xDrive Aut. 49,7
    3 MAZDA 6 Kombi SKYACTIV-G 194 Drive i-ELOOP 48,3
8 Oberklasse 1 BMW 540i xDrive Aut. 44,4
    2 VOLVO V90 B4 D AWD Geartronic 42,5
    3 AUDI A6 Avant 55 TFSI quattro S tronic 42,2
9 Luxusklasse 1 MERCEDES- S 400 d 4Matic L 9G-TRONIC 48,6
    2 PORSCHE Panamera 45,9
    3 BMW 730d 36,7
10 Sportwagen 1 PORSCHE 911 Carrera 4S PDK 58,0
    2 PORSCHE 718 Boxster 53,8
    3 AUDI TT RS Coupe S tronic 53,5
11 Vans 1 MERCEDES- V 300 d lang 4Matic 9G-TRONIC 56,4
    2 VW Multivan T6.1 Kurz DSG 53,5
    3 FORD S-Max 2.0 EcoBlue Allrad Aut. 43,2
12 Kleine SUV 1 MAZDA CX-30 e-SKYACTIV-G 2.0 M HYBRID 57,5
    2 OPEL Mokka 1.2 DI Turbo 55,3
    3 FORD Puma 1.5 EcoBoost 55,0
13 Kompakte SUV 1 TOYOTA RAV 4 2.5 4×2 Hybrid 57,8
    2 CUPRA Formentor VZ 2.0 TSI DSG 57,3
    3 SKODA Kodiaq 2.0 TSI ACT 4×4 DSG 55,7
14 SUV 1 LAND ROVER Range Rover Sport P400 3.0 50,1
    2 BMW X5 xDrive40d 49,5
    3 VW Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI 4Motion DPF Aut. 49,4

Hier geht es zum Download: Gewinner Wertmeister 2021

Abdruck mit Quellenangabe „Schwacke Wertmeister 2021″; Stand 05/2021; Berechnung basiert auf Forecast 48 Monate, Retail; unter Berücksichtigung von segmentspezifischer Sonderausstattung.

Subaru reveals the name of its new electric SUV

Subaru has revealed the name of its first battery-electric vehicle (BEV): Solterra. Built on the dedicated e-Subaru global platform, the C-SUV will go on sale next year in countries around the world.

The Solterra will join the ever-expanding electric C-SUV segment which features the likes of the Volkswagen (VW) ID.4the Ford Mustang Mach-e, and the Audi e-Tron. Given the present popularity and higher residual value of SUVs, the decision by so many carmakers to opt for this segment might appear obvious, but the reasoning goes deeper.

The development of new electric drivetrains is an expensive venture, one which the higher price tags of these large vehicles can help compensate for. A BloombergNEF study also recently revealed larger BEVs are expected to reach price parity with their fossil-fuel counterparts earlier than smaller electric models, encouraging consumer adoption and directing development.

Defining a name

The new Subaru’s name was created via a portmanteau of the Latin for Sun and Earth, Sol and Terra. This naming convention signifies the need to appreciate and coexist with the planet, the carmaker explained. This effort to be seen to have a planet-friendly attitude comes as OEMs respond to a wave of climate concern by building electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) and foregoing fossil-fuel-powered ones.

‘Subaru gave this name to the EV to appreciate mother nature and further advance the form of coexistence with it, together with our customers, and to represent our commitment to deliver traditional Subaru SUV’s go-anywhere capabilities in an all-electric vehicle,’ the carmaker said.

Solterra will join Subaru’s line of existing SUVs, including the Ascent, the Outback, the Forester and the XV. It will go on sale globally by the middle of 2022 in markets including Japan, the US, Canada, Europe and China.

Joint development

The Solterra will sit on top of the e-Subaru global platform, which the OEM developed alongside Toyota, another carmaker looking to introduce an electric SUV into the market: the bz4X. This jointly-developed platform will enable the rollout of various EV types by combining multiple modules and components, like the front, centre and rear of the vehicle.

This modular approach to BEV platforms is a running theme for carmakers as they look to streamline development and production, as well as incorporating collaboration. For example, VW’s modular electric-drive (MEB) platform is the foundation of its ID. family, but the company also joined electric forces with Ford. In a similar vein, while the two Japanese OEMs came together to build the Solterra’s platform, Subaru emphasised its aim to realise ‘superior passive safety and vehicle stability’ within the build.

Looking past the BEV’s modular platform, the two companies also worked together on product planning, design and performance evaluation. Relying on their respective strengths, Subaru leant into its all-wheel-drive capabilities, which unsurprisingly also informed the building of the bz4X. Meanwhile, Toyota’s vehicle-electrification technology helped give the Solterra a boost, lending it attributes that ‘only an all-electric vehicle can offer.’

This modular, collaborative approach will help keep development costs down and ensure the creation of more advanced technologies. However, it will also mean the homogenisation of powertrains. On this path, many BEVs will end up sharing similar designs and capabilities on a smaller handful of electric bases. So, while consumers may only be able to choose from a few platforms, the scope for brand-based design will reside largely within the body and interior. This means carmakers will need to make sure they know what their customers want.

Further resilience in European used-car demand during the first quarter

Senior data journalist Neil King considers how the big five European used-car markets developed in the first quarter of 2021.

Europe’s big five used-car markets exhibited further resilience in the first quarter of 2021. The total volume of transactions grew year on year in France, Italy, and Spain. Germany and the UK endured single-digit declines, but dealer activity was hampered by COVID-19 restrictions. Nevertheless, the year-on-year performance of both used-car markets outperformed the respective new-car markets.

Used-car transactions in the first quarter increased by 17.9% year on year in France, according to the French industry association CCFA. This was slightly lower than the 21.1% year-on-year growth in new-car registrations. However, these figures were adversely affected by comparing to a period that included the start of the country’s lockdown, from mid-March 2020.

This situation was replicated in Italy, with 11.5% growth in used-car transactions in the first quarter of this year, according to trade body ANFIA. This compared to 28.7% growth in new-car registrations as the country entered lockdown earlier last year, on 12 March.

In contrast to the dramatic 14.9% year-on-year decline in new-car registrations in Spain in the first three months, used-car transactions increased, albeit by just 1.1%, according to GANVAM, the Spanish dealers’ association. However, GANVAM cautions that ‘the average age of used passenger cars sold until March reached 10.6 years, compared to 10.4 last year, and exceeded 14 years – compared to 13.6 in the first quarter of 2020 – in the transactions between individuals.’ This exemplifies the demand for cheap used cars across Europe as a substitute for public transport in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‚The used-car market in Spain is always more favoured than the new-car market in times of crisis. The age structure of these sales has changed substantially in recent months and will continue to do so throughout 2021. The most notable change is undoubtedly the lower prevalence of young used cars in the market, caused by the standstill in tourism and the lack of renewal of rental fleets,’ explained Ana Azofra, Autovista Group head of valuations and insights, Spain.

Downturns in Germany and the UK

Whereas used-car demand increased in France, Italy and Spain in the first quarter of 2021, it contracted in Germany and the UK due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, the downturns were less pronounced than in the new-car markets, which rely far more heavily on the dealer network.

In Germany, the used-car market contracted by 4.6% in the first three months of 2021, according to the motor-vehicle authority KBA. However, dealerships in the country could only reopen, conditionally, from 8 March. This naturally impacted the new-car sector more, with registrations down 6.4% year on year in the first quarter. Schwacke expects a slight improvement in used-car sales compared to 2020. ‘The used-car business was quite successful under the circumstances and sold slightly more than seven million cars by the end of 2020. The forecast for 2021 is the same – around seven million cars,’ commented Andreas Geilenbrügge, head of valuations and insights at Schwacke.

The UK’s used-car market suffered the greatest downturn of the big five European markets in the first quarter of 2021, with 8.9% fewer transactions than in Q1 2020, according to the UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). However, this compares favourably to the new-car market, which contracted by 12%, as it was more adversely affected by the closure of dealers until 12 April. Used-car transactions are expected to improve in 2021, but with a lower growth rate than new-car registrations.

‘Among the turbulence, demand for used battery-electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid vehicles (HEV) remained strong in Q1. Buyers were keen to purchase pre-owned ultra-low and zero-emissions cars, helped by increased availability and more models available,’ the organisation stated.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes has also highlighted the positivity, commenting that ‘the second quarter will see significant growth as last year’s April and May markets were severely limited by lockdown measures. It is vital that the used market is rejuvenated to help sustain jobs and livelihoods, drive fleet renewal and support environmental progress. With car showrooms open again and the UK coming out of COVID restrictions, the sector can look forward with renewed optimism.’

Supporting residual values

The ongoing comparative strength of Europe’s big five used-car markets supports Autovista Group’s core prediction, outlined at the start of the year, that residual values (RVs) face limited pressure in 2021.

Autovista Group’s COVID-19 tracker shows that the RV index finished 2020 at or above pre-crisis levels in all of Europe’s major markets. The measurements began in February 2020, with an index value of 100. RVs retreated in most markets at the start of 2021, but have recovered again in recent weeks and remain firmly above pre-crisis levels.

Source: Autovista Group, Residual Value Intelligence, COVID-19 tracker

Looking ahead, the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the ongoing aversion to public transport, will support used-car demand. Furthermore, the semiconductor shortages are curtailing supply of new cars, favouring demand for young used cars.

Autovista Group’s latest monthly market dashboard reveals that the average value retention of cars, represented in RV-percentage (RV%) terms, improved month on month in four of the big five European markets in April. Italy was the exception, where the average RV% fell, albeit by only 0.8%. However, in value terms, average RVs declined by 2% and 0.5% in Italy and Spain, respectively. This ties in with demand for cheaper used cars, in the same way that older used cars increased the average age of used cars transacted in Spain in the first quarter of 2021.

For now, RVs in the 36-month/60,000km scenario remain above levels of a year ago in all markets. But they are forecast to end 2021 slightly down compared to December 2020, except in the UK. The poorest RV outlook is in Italy, where values are currently forecast to fall by 2.3% in trade percentage terms. Used cars have not weathered the COVID-19 storm better than new cars, and the introduction of additional incentives for low-emission new cars has applied more pressure on used-car demand and RVs.

French government extends automotive-industry support plan

The French government has signed an amendment to the €8 billion support plan for the automotive industry, first announced by President Emmanuel Macron in May 2020.

New measures include changes to incentives for electric light-commercial vehicles, accelerated expansion of the charging network, and additional funding for the production of electrically-chargeable vehicle (EV) components. There will also be an assessment of the economic and social impact of vehicle electrification. Accordingly, the government has pledged €50 million to support and retrain for employees affected in the automotive foundry industry.

Floundering foundries

One sector that is adversely affected by the electrification of vehicles in France is the automotive foundry industry. In conjunction with growing international competition and the weight reduction trend in vehicles generally, foundries have seen a sharp drop in demand for components for internal combustion engines (ICEs). This is also creating ‘major changes in the technologies and skills required to meet the expectations of automobile manufacturers and suppliers.’

To aid this struggling sector, car manufacturers, foundry companies and the French state have ‘collectively decided to set up a specific action plan to face these structural challenges.’ Measures include supporting foundry players in their diversification and the achievement of operational excellence, including investment. Under the recovery plan, automotive foundries have already been able ‘to benefit from more than €13.4 million of public aid, which has come to support €35.3 million of productive investments in France.’

As in the wider automotive industry, the government plan will also support the retraining of employees. ‘The prospective study by the metallurgy observatory on jobs and skills in the automotive sector will be extended by an analysis of the skills gaps to be filled between declining jobs and new jobs, in order to offer training adapted to employees exposed to job losses.’

An exceptional €50 million government fund to support and retrain employees will be topped up with a contribution of €20 million from manufacturers, with the details to be outlined in the coming weeks. Within the framework of the Territoires d’Industrie (industry territories), affected communities will also be able to benefit from support and France Relance (relaunching France) measures will be ‘prioritised to subsidise industrial investments that create jobs.’

Boosting electrification

The share of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in the French passenger-car market more than trebled in 2020, increasing from 1.9% in 2019 to 6.7% in 2020, according to the French carmakers’ association CCFA. Similarly, the commercial-vehicle sector aims to treble the share of electric light-commercial vehicles (LCVs) in the next two years. Therefore, the bonus scheme for LCVs will be ‘adjusted to reduce the difference in acquisition and user costs, which today appears too large to develop sales in this niche,’ the government states.

The expansion of the charging infrastructure is also a priority in France. ‘This summer, 156 service areas out of the 368 on the motorway network will be equipped with fast-charging stations. At the end of 2021, there will be 192. A budget of €100 million is dedicated to this within the framework of France Relance,’ the release reads.

The amended plan also seeks to strengthen the competitiveness of the automotive industry and support the local production of EV components. In July 2020, more than €150 million were committed to 25 projects, including €120 million to develop the production of strategic components for EVs. 17 new projects, representing an additional €150 million of public support, have been shortlisted for in-depth examination for the next wave of announcements by the summer. This support also comes on top of a €680 million grant for the establishment of a new battery plant in Douvrin. The facility is operated by the Automotive Cells Company (ACC), the joint venture between Stellantis and Saft, a subsidiary of the energy company Total.

Supporting companies

A working group will be set up to support the conversion and upscaling of automotive services, which will consider the anticipated economic and social impact of the ‚ecological transition‘,as well as the forward-looking management of jobs and skills.

The French state has already financed 303 automotive companies, mainly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to modernise and diversify – to the tune of €278 million. The working group will now ‘revise the HR roadmap for the sector by the end of September 2021, to integrate the conclusions of the last prospective study on employment and skills and to adjust support and training systems for employees.’

Additionally, four new campuses for automotive trades and qualifications will be established, ‘to strengthen the attractiveness of trades in the sector as well as cooperation between academic and industrial circles,’ the release states.

Germany tackles tax fraud from cross-border vehicle registrations

The president of the German federal central tax office (BZSt), Maren Kohlrust-Schulz, and the president of the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA), Richard Damm, have signed an agreement to tackle tax fraud from cross-border vehicle registrations. The BZSt will receive support with access to the national-vehicle registers of EU member states that use the EUCARIS system for the exchange of vehicle and driving-licence data.

If VAT fraud is suspected, vehicle and owner data can be queried on the basis of the vehicle-identification number (VIN), licence-plate number or owner information. The data is exclusively accessed by Eurofisc liaison officers, a fixed group of experts that investigate sales-tax fraud across the EU.

Crime-fighting data exchange

Kohlrust-Schulz considers ‘the newly created access via EUCARIS to be a sensible extension in order to be able to fight sales tax fraud with vehicles in the European internal market faster and more efficiently.’

‘With the connection of the BZSt to EUCARIS, the European system for the exchange of owner and vehicle data has a further opportunity to combat cross-border crime. We have the data, the legal options and, with EUCARIS, a powerful and effective procedure that accelerates the Europe-wide exchange of data to fight crime. I therefore expressly welcome this development,’ commented Damm, who is responsible for the technical implementation of the EUCARIS process in Germany following the signing of the agreement.

This new agreement follows on from the council of the European Union creating the necessary legal prerequisites, based on a proposal from the EU Commission. The legal basis for the procedure, EU regulation 2018/1541, stipulates that each member state must allow the relevant authority of every other member state automated access to certain information from their national-vehicle registers.

‘This avoids VAT refunds for a vehicle that has not been sold in one country but someone pretends has been – a kind of double registration,’ commented Andreas Geilenbrügge, head of valuations and insights at Schwacke. ‘This could also be an instrument to identify eco-bonus fraud for young used cars that might have received a bonus in one country, only to get another bonus in Germany for example, which is explicitly not allowed under the German rules.’

Open to abuse

The widely varying vehicle-tax regimes across the EU have created a market for cross-border registrations.

In Germany, the VAT rate is 19% and the registration fee for a standard passenger car is fixed at just €26.30. In neighbouring Denmark, however, the VAT rate is 25%. Furthermore, a registration tax of 85% is charged on the value of the vehicle up to DKK 197,700 (€26,578) and if it is valued over DKK 197,700, a tax rate of 150% is applied. Given the costlier tax regime in Denmark, net prices are lower and this led to cross-border sales, with German buyers importing cars and then paying VAT at the lower German rate.

The new agreement will not halt this practice but the system is open to abuse, and the primary aim is to prevent any criminal tax fraud.

Nvidia expands its automotive influence

The automotive industry is undergoing a monumental period of change. Megatrends like digitisation, sustainability, and electromobility are transforming how a car is designed, built and powered. This means suppliers are also changing as carmakers require more advanced and specialist know-how.

A primary example is the accelerated computing company Nvidia, which first made its name at the turn of the century in the PC-gaming market. Now it is working with Volvo Cars, Zoox and SAIC on the next generation of AI-based autonomous vehicles. Its Omniverse platform is even being used by BMW Group to plan complex manufacturing systems. As Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, said: ‘Transportation is becoming a technology industry.’

254 trillion operations per second 

Volvo, Zoox and SAIC have joined the growing number of transportation companies using the latest Nvidia Drive system. The tech company’s pipeline for the system now totals more than $8 billion (€6.7 billion) over the next six years, which it says reflects the growing range of next-generation vehicles.

‘Besides having amazing autonomous driving and AI technologies, vehicles will be programmable platforms to offer software-driven services. The business models of transportation will be reinvented,’ Huang said. ‘Our design wins demonstrate how Nvidia is partnering with one of the world’s largest and most impactful industries to help revolutionise the future of mobility.’

Volvo will expand its collaboration with the company to use its Nvidia Drive Orin system-on-a-chip (SoC) technology. This will work with software developed in-house by the carmaker and its own software company Zenseact, to power autonomous-driving systems in its next-generation models. The SoC is capable of carrying out 254 tera (or 254 trillion) operations per second (TOPS), which will be essential given the enormous amount of computing power needed for autonomous driving.

Volvo will deploy Orin based on its SPA2 modular vehicle architecture, with the upcoming XC90 front-lining what the SoC can do. The carmaker’s new platform will be available as hardware-ready for autonomy from the beginning of production. Highway Pilot, Volvo’s ‘unsupervised autonomous driving feature,’ will be activated when verified as safe for individual geographic locations and conditions.

‘We believe in partnering with the world’s leading technology firms to build the best Volvos possible,’ said Henrik Green, chief technology officer. ‘With the help of Nvidia Drive Orin technology, we can take safety to the next level on our next generation of cars.’

Robotaxis and EVs

Robotaxi company Zoox is also developing with the help of Nvidia’s technology. The ‘mobility-as-a-service’ (MaaS) provider recently unveiled its Nvidia Drive-powered, purpose-built, bi-directional robotaxi designed for urban areas.

Chinese MaaS provider, Didi, also announced it is adopting Nvidia Drive for its entire autonomous driving test fleet. These two companies will join the ranks of other robotaxi builders already developing on these advanced systems, including Pony.ai and Auto X.

An increasing number of new companies will also use Nvidia Drive Orin to build software-defined vehicles, including Chinese carmaker, SAIC. Its R Auto family will feature the R-Tech advanced intelligent assistant, powered by Orin to run perception, sensor fusion and prediction for automated driving features in real-time. Its premium IM brand will deliver long-range electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) with help from the system. This line-up will include a sedan and an SUV with autonomous parking and other automated-driving features.

Virtual factory planning

Nvidia is also working with BMW to create a new approach to planning manufacturing systems with its Omniverse platform. This virtual factory mapping tool integrates planning data and applications, allowing for real-time collaboration.

‘Together we are about to make a huge leap forward and open up completely new perspectives in the field of virtual, digital planning,’ said Milan Nedeljković, BMW board member for production. ‘In the future, a virtual representation of our production network will allow us to realise an innovative, integrated approach to our planning processes. Omniverse greatly enhances the precision, speed and, consequently, the efficiency of our planning processes.’

While virtual factory planning is nothing new, it does require the import of data from various applications. This can be time-consuming as well as complicated owing to compatibility issues. In future, the platform will allow live data to be collected and collated from all databases to create a joint simulation. A new level of transparency will enable teams to plan complex systems with greater speed and accuracy.

Developers at BMW will be able to visualise the entire planning lifecycle for every plant in the global production network. This will be supported by a wide range of AI-capable applications, from autonomous robotics to predictive maintenance and data analysis.

‘I am delighted that BMW is using Nvidia Omniverse to connect their teams to design, plan and operate their future factories virtually before anything is built in the physical world,’ said Huang. ‘This is the future of manufacturing.’

Germany should reopen dealerships despite COVID-19, says ZDK

German car dealerships should be allowed to reopen, despite rising COVID-19 infections in the country. This is the view of the Federation of Motor Trades and Repairs (ZDK).

The call comes after the German government extended lockdown measures to 18 April, following a sharp rise in infection numbers. This ‘third-wave’ of COVID-19 is being felt across Europe, with France also imposing restrictions on non-essential retail.

Lockdowns are harming the ‘economically important’ automotive industry, argues ZDK president Jürgen Karpinski. ‘We have to prepare for a disastrous automotive year in 2021, and not just in retail,’ he adds. ‘Many livelihoods in the medium-sized, motor-vehicle trade are at stake.’

German dealerships have been closed for three months, hurting new-car registrations in the country. In the first two months of the year, the market is down 25.1%. This has not been helped by an increase in VAT from 16% to 19%. Around 40,000 registrations were pulled forward to December 2020 as a result, Autovista Group estimates. From 8 March, dealers were allowed to reopen, but with restrictions in place. These included infection rates in individual states and the floor area of the showroom. However, these plans have now been pushed back.

Dealers vs hairdressers

The ZDK organised a protest in Berlin to expand its calls for a fair reopening of dealerships in the country. The group highlighted that while a hairdresser, with a floor space of 10m2, is allowed to have one customer, car showrooms with a floor space of 500m2 cannot.

‘Nobody understands why many car dealerships with their large areas still have to remain closed, while 10 square meters per customer are seen as unproblematic for the hairdresser,’ said Karpinski. ’I do not know when the politicians who decide on the lockdown were last in a car dealership. It is urgent that they get an idea of ​​the situation on site.’

While the ZDK acknowledges that everything must be done to stop the spread of COVID-19 and its various mutations, it argues that the automotive retail industry is one of the safest due to the large open areas in dealerships and the relatively low footfall at any one time.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, the ZDK states that the whole retail sector hardly contributes more to the infection rate, coming 13th in a list of 17 infectious locations. 

‘It is therefore obvious that this risk is practically zero in our operations,’ says Karpinski. ’That is why we are calling for a resounding yes to the nationwide reopening of all car dealerships from the next Coronavirus summit.’

Physical sales

While the industry is maintaining its sales so far, the spring period is generally a busy one for the German automotive industry. The ZDK argues that 90% of sales are made physically and not online. According to results of a snap poll conducted among 2,000 car dealerships, incoming orders during January and February had plummeted by up to 60%.

There is, therefore, a concern that the ongoing closures and restrictions could lead to some smaller dealerships facing financial issues and possibly bankruptcy. ‘We cannot and must not wait until the bankruptcy wave rolls around, added Karpinski. ‘Politicians must show ways of action and must no longer shut our country down.’

However, the ZDK has offered a solution that may benefit car dealers and the country itself. By offering rapid testing and track-and-trace opportunities, showrooms could help to identify cases, reducing the overall spread of COVID-19.

Around Europe

In March 2020, during the first European lockdown, vehicle registrations saw massive drops, continuingfor the following two months. Since then, sales have recovered somewhat -Autovista Group forecasts that the big four markets together with the UK will see increases compared to last year, but not to 2019 levels.

In France, Paris and 15 other regions have reintroduced lockdowns to battle a new surge in COVID-19 cases, including the closure of non-essential retail for at least four weeks. However, dealerships can remain open, but only for customers who have booked an appointment.

The UK, which has seen a considerable decline in case numbers till now will not allow car showrooms to reopen until 12 April at the earliest. This means the industry will miss out on registrations in March, one of its most popular months, as new registration plates are introduced.

Making the CASE for advanced commercial vehicles

Advanced automotive systems including connected cars, autonomous driving, shared vehicles, and electromobility (CASE), are experiencing exponential development as OEMs undergo digitalisation. While many of these technologies might be associated with high-end luxury passenger cars, manufacturers are also exploring commercial vehicle applications.

Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) recently announced it would combine its CASE technologies with the commercial vehicle foundations cultivated by Isuzu Motors (Isuzu) and Hino Motors (Hino) as part of a new collaborative effort. Meanwhile, Renault’s light commercial vehicle (LCV) offering is undergoing its own energy transition, emphasising electric and hydrogen drivetrains for its upcoming models.

A commercial CASE

Through their new partnership, Toyota, Isuzu and Hino hope to accelerate the adoption and implementation of CASE technologies. As well as addressing various difficulties facing the transport industry, the three companies hope their collaboration will help the progression towards a carbon-neutral society.

In a press conference, the manufacturers explained small commercial-purpose trucks would be used to help develop battery electric vehicles (BEVs), electric platforms, and fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Given the expensive developmental costs of BEVs and FCEVs, this collective approach makes sense. Toyota, Isuzu and Hino are also planning to advance the implementation of infrastructure. This will include introducing FCEV trucks to hydrogen-based society demonstrations in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture.

The partnership will also look to accelerate the development of autonomous and other advanced systems. By building a connected technology platform for commercial vehicles, they hope to provide logistical solutions to improve transport efficiency as well as reducing CO2 emissions.

‘CASE technologies can only contribute to society once they become widespread,’ the companies explained. ‘Commercial vehicles can play important roles in dissemination, as they travel long distances for extended periods of time to support the economy and society and can be easily linked with infrastructure development. And from the standpoint of carbon neutrality, commercial vehicles can especially fulfil a key function.’

Forming new ties

To promote the partnership, the manufacturers will form a new business called Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corporation. This new company will be focused on mapping out CASE technologies and services for commercial vehicles. Moving forward, the collaboration will not only deepen, but open up to other like-minded partners.

Isuzu and Toyota have also agreed on a capital partnership to advance their collaborative efforts. Through a cancelation of treasury stock through a third-party allotment, Toyota is scheduled to acquire 39 million shares of its common stock worth a total of ¥42.8 billion (€332 million).

This will leave Toyota with 4.6% ownership of Isuzu in terms of total issued shares as of the end of September 2020 and a post-allotment voting rights ratio at Isuzu of 5.02%. Isuzu also plans to acquire Toyota shares of the same value through a market purchase.

Renault’s zero-emission solutions

Meanwhile, Renault is renewing and expanding its LCV range, with new versions of the Kangoo, the Express, the Trafic Combi and the SpaceClass. The manufacturer is also developing its Renault Pro+ services, offering turnkey digital and connectivity solutions.

Through this work Renault is looking to support the transmission to zero-emissions. The new Kangoo Van E-TECH Electric is expected by the end of 2021, picking up where the Kangoo ZE left off. It will be equipped with a 44kWh battery, offering a range of 265km. The OEM also offers fleet charging solutions with its subsidiary, Elexent. 

Before the end of the year, Renault will unveil the Master ZE Hydrogen, an alternative to the diesel Master. With its hydrogen partner Plug Power, the manufacturer is looking to capture 30% of the European hydrogen LCV market by 2030.

Smart zero-emission vans promise greater development of green and connected technology for the wider automotive sector. Commercial vehicles spend their lives on the road, meaning any new drivetrain and technology must be well-designed and long-lasting. This know-how can then be utilised by the passenger-car segment, as these systems are stress-tested.

However, these technologies must first be adopted. As demonstrated by the European Automobile Manufacturer Association’s (ACEA’s) latest figures, diesel still reigned supreme last year in the new-LCV segment. Accounting for 92.4% of the van market, the fuel type was leagues ahead of electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) which garnered a 2% share. In reality, the adoption of these new drive trains will likely be mandated by zero-emissions policies created at national and international levels.

More effort needed to entice private buyers to EVs

More needs to be done to support the private uptake of electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) in the UK, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). New figures show businesses are twice as likely to make the switch from petrol and diesel.

Analysis of new-car registrations in 2020 shows that just 4.6% of privately bought cars were battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), compared to 8.7% for businesses and large fleets. This equates to 34,324 private registrations and 73,881 corporate ones.

In response to this, the SMMT has unveiled a new blueprint to deliver a greater retail uptake. With the UK government planning to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, the body believes now is the time to change people’s attitudes towards EVs.

‘While last year’s bumper uptake of electric vehicles is to be welcomed, it is clear this has been an electric revolution primarily for fleets, not families,’ commented SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. ‘Manufacturers are committed to the consumer, reducing costs and providing as wide a choice as possible of zero-emission capable vehicles with many more to come.

‘To deliver an electric revolution that is affordable, achievable and accessible to all by 2030, however, government and other stakeholders must put ordinary drivers at the heart of policy and planning.’

Increasing availability

According to the SMMT, as of March 2021, manufacturers have brought more than 150 BEV, plug-in hybrid (PHEV), hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) models to the UK market. BEVs and PHEVs alone account for 25% of all available car models.

However, current higher costs of components’  raw materials mean these vehicles are inherently more expensive to manufacture. This implies an EV will retail for more than its fossil fuel equivalents.

Manufacturers are working hard to bring the cost of production down. Yet, they are constrained by lower demand and battery production costs, which have yet to reach the economies of scale required. Batteries have the biggest overall impact, representing 30-45% of the total production cost the SMMT states. BEVs are not expected to reach purchase cost parity with their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts across all car segments in the next few years.

The area where EVs benefit their drivers is in terms of running costs. This is of particular interest to businesses. In addition, company car drivers currently receive stronger and longer-lasting motivation through reduced purchase-taxes and fiscal incentives compared to consumers.

Grants changing

Last week, the UK government announced it will reduce the plug-in car grant and lower the price threshold for eligibility. This effectively adds £500 (€583) to the purchase price of all qualifying EVs under £35,000, and £3,000 to the price of those above £35,000.

By comparison, private buyers in Germany receive a €9,000 grant towards a new BEV, while Dutch drivers do not pay VAT on BEV purchases, equivalent to a purchase cost saving of around a sixth.

The SMMT estimates that maintaining the grant and similarly exempting consumer EV purchases from VAT would increase uptake by almost two-thirds by 2026 compared to current predictions.

Charging locations

The blueprint also calls for more to be done to expand the UK’s EV infrastructure. Private-buyer acceptance remains low because of affordability concerns, charge point availability and infrastructure reliability, according to the SMMT. Around one in three households have no dedicated off-street parking, leaving them disproportionately dependent on public-charging points.

The SMMT’s projections suggest that most drivers will choose to charge their vehicle at home if they can. Therefore, they estimate there would need to be around 2.7 million public-charge points in service by 2030 to provide adequate coverage and tackle range anxiety. The SMMT believes there are around 40,000 charging points in the country, most of which are in London.

This means more than 700 new charge points would have to be installed every day until the end of the decade. By comparison, the current installation rate is approximately 42 a day, according to information provided to the SMMT from charge-point mapping service ZapMap. Funding this expansion is estimated to cost around £17.6 billion.

‘We need incentives that tempt consumers, infrastructure that is robust and charging points that provide reassurance, so that zero-emission mobility will be possible for everyone, regardless of income or location,’ stated Hawes. ‘When every market is vying for these new technologies, a clear and collaborative strategy engaging all would ensure the UK remains an attractive place both to manufacture and market electric vehicles, helping us achieve our net-zero ambition.’

French government decrees car showrooms can open by appointment

The French government has clarified that car showrooms can remain open to the public, but only by appointment. This follows the introduction of regional lockdowns late last week. There was considerable uncertainty about the operational status of car dealers under these latest regional restrictions, which suggested they would have to close their showrooms.

On 19 March, the understanding was that car dealerships would again be included under the non-essential retail umbrella and would be subject to the same operational constraints as during the nationwide lockdown in November.

The regional lockdown impact sparked alarm for dealers and was deemed to be unacceptable ‘after the experience of the first two lockdowns,’ said Xavier Horent, general director of the French automotive trade association, CNPA, on 20 March as the new restrictions came into effect.

Bowing to pressure?

Officials may have bowed to domestic pressure to allow some form of trading for dealers, or they may have been influenced by the conditional reopening of car showrooms in Germany and Italy. ‘Fortunately, the Government has chosen to publish a decree and includes the departments of Pas-de-Calais and Alpes Maritimes, as recommended by the CNPA, thus avoiding probable territorial inconsistencies,’ said Horent.

The restrictions in France came only five days after regional restrictions were introduced in Italy. Regions with more than 250 cases per 100,000 population over a seven-day period were classified as red zones. In these areas, non-essential retail has been closed since 15 March and will not reopen until 6 April. However, car dealers are considered essential retail and may remain open, by appointment.

According to the CNPA statement, the regions affected by the latest restrictions account for about a third of new-car registrations and vehicles in use in France. The change enabling dealers to open their showrooms, albeit only by appointment, will undoubtedly have come as a relief.

Pent-up demand, following the closure of dealers in France for most of November, is no longer supporting the market. Registrations of new cars in the country contracted by 14.2% in the first two months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

Car showrooms close again as France imposes regional restrictions

Paris and fifteen other regions in France have reintroduced lockdowns to battle a new surge in COVID-19 cases, including the closure of non-essential retail for at least four weeks. The measures were announced by prime minister Jean Castex on Thursday (18 March) and come into effect at midnight on Friday (19 March). They apply in regions where the case rates exceed or are approaching 400 per 100,000 inhabitants.

At the time of writing, car dealerships are included under the non-essential retail umbrella and will be subject to the same restrictions as in the nationwide lockdown in November.

‘Right now, this is not clear yet, as the French government did not specify yet what is considered as being essential. We all think that, as it was in November, showrooms will remain closed with only the possibility to do click-and-collect after a car is ordered online. After-sales departments would remain open,’ commented Yoann Taitz, Autovista Group head of valuations and insights, France and Benelux.

This is a blow for the new-car market in France, where pent-up demand, following the closure of dealers in France for most of November, is no longer supporting the market. Registrations contracted by 14.2% in the first two months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

Essential or not?

The French government has not yet published official information further to the prime minister’s announcement that businesses selling essential goods and services can remain open, as in March and November last year. This has prompted debate as to whether car showrooms should be considered as non-essential retail.

However, French website linternaute has published a list of businesses that can remain open and as far as dealerships are concerned, only service departments are specified. As bookshops, hairdressers and record stores are on the list, this prompted industry publication AutoActu to ask whether ‘car showrooms, in which it is possible to operate in complete safety, will be authorised in this third lockdown like record stores and bookstores will be?’

Open for business in Italy

The restrictions in France come only five days after regional restrictions were introduced in Italy. Regions with more than 250 cases per 100,000 population over a seven-day period are classified as red zones. In these areas, non-essential retail has been closed since 15 March and will not reopen until 6 April. The rest of the country’s regions, except Sardinia, are classified as orange zones, where shops may remain open.

However, car dealers are considered essential retail and may remain open. ‘They require an appointment – although this does not seem to be mandatory – but you can go and do all the normal things,’ commented Marco Pasquetti, Autovista Group forecast and data specialist, Italy.

In a dedicated FAQ page on the Italian government website, there is even a specific question about whether consumers can go to dealers for ‘maintenance, to buy a car, leave an old car for scrapping, take a test drive, etc.?’

The official response is: ‘Yes, they are authorised to be open because they are considered essential and the goods/services they sell are necessary.’

This approach in Italy may add fuel to the push for the French government to allow car showrooms to remain open too.

VW Group plans for cheaper EV-battery mass production

Volkswagen (VW) Group has presented its technology roadmap for batteries and charging up to 2030. The carmaker has also indicated that by ramping up its plans, jobs will need to be sacrificed.

The OEM will establish six gigafactories in Europe with a total production capacity of 240GWh by 2030. It will also expand its public fast-charging network, having announced cooperation with BP in the UK, Iberdrola in Spain and Enel in Italy.

Its new roadmap aims to significantly reduce both the battery’s complexity and cost, making electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) attractive and viable for consumers. At the same time, it will shorten its supply chain and control as much of the EV production of as possible.

‘E-mobility has become core business for us,’ commented Herbert Diess, chairman of the VW Group board. ‘We are now systematically integrating additional stages in the value chain. We secure a long-term pole position in the race for the best battery and best customer experience in the age of zero-emission mobility.’

Manufacturing control

As the market leader in Europe, VW Group knows it is responsible for delivering affordable electromobility as the industry transitions away from internal-combustion engine (ICE) technology. While some carmakers have announced plans to go EV-only, the carmaker is creating a sub-brand for its Volkswagen marque. Stablemate Bentley is choosing to focus on battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), and Porsche is investigating eFuels. All VW Group brands will feature electrification in some way. This means the carmaker will need an excessive amount of batteries, both for BEV and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models.

‘Together with partners, we want to have a total of six cell factories up and running in Europe by 2030, thus guaranteeing security of supply’, explained Thomas Schmall, VW Group board member for components.

To achieve its aims, VW Group will increase its order of batteries from its supplier Northvolt by €14 billion. It will focus production of premium cells at its factory in Skellefteå, Sweden, which will see manufacturing begin in 2023 and increase gradually to an annual capacity of 40GWh. The carmaker will also purchase outright the joint venture it has with Northvolt for a gigafactory in Salzgitter.

‘Volkswagen is a key investor, customer and partner on the journey ahead, and we will continue to work hard with the goal to provide them with the greenest battery on the planet as they rapidly expand their fleet of electric vehicles,’ said Peter Carlsson, co-founder and CEO of Northvolt.

The company is considering potential sites and partners for the other factories.

Cheaper batteries

As well as increasing production, VW Group wants to lower the cost of batteries, making vehicles more affordable as a result. ‘We aim to reduce the cost and complexity of the battery and at the same time, increase its range and performance,’ added Schmall. ‘This will finally make e-mobility affordable and the dominant drive technology.’

Therefore, by 2023, the company will introduce a ‘unified cell’, which will feature in 80% of all EVs in the group by 2030. This plan will allow the carmaker to introduce different chemistries into a standard battery-cell design, which will reduce costs while ensuring that each model retains a unique power or range attribute.

Further savings will be delivered by optimising the cell type, deploying innovative production methods, and consistent recycling.

VW Group will gradually reduce battery costs in the entry-level segment by up to 50% and in the volume segment by up to 30%. ‘We will use our economies of scale to the benefit of our customers when it comes to the battery too. On average, we will drive down the cost of battery systems to significantly below €100 per kilowatt-hour. This will finally make e-mobility affordable and the dominant drive technology,’ said Schmall.

Expanding charging infrastructure

In order to facilitate mass-adoption of its EVs, the OEM is also looking to expand its fast-charging network and has partnered with local providers in key markets to achieve this.

Along with its partners, the company intends to operate about 18,000 public fast-charging points in Europe by 2025. This represents a five-fold expansion of the fast-charging network compared to today.

The carmaker wants to establish about 8,000 fast-charging points throughout Europe together with BP. With a charging capacity of 150kW, the fast chargers will be installed at 4,000 BP and Aral service stations, with the majority of these in Germany and Great Britain. In cooperation with Iberdrola, Volkswagen will cover the main traffic routes in Spain. In Italy, it will collaborate with Enel to establish a fast-charging network both along motorways and in urban areas. The carmaker will also continue its activities as part of the Ionity joint venture.

Job losses

While the roadmap promises cheaper EVs with increased production, the carmaker is also poised to cut jobs to reduce costs.

In agreement with its works council, the group will freeze its workforce size at the January 2021 level and open up an extensive retirement package. It will offer partial retirement to employees born in 1964, as part of the digital transformation roadmap. It will reopen partial retirement for those born in 1961 and 1962, and launch an early-retirement programme for those born between 1956 to 1960.

‘Disciplined cost management will continue to be necessary to finance the required investments in the future, to remain competitive and, above all, to make it possible to safeguard jobs in the long run,’ commented Gunnar Kilian, chief human resources officer of Volkswagen AG. ‘The measures set out in the guidelines provide the right solution for this. We are strengthening the internal transformation of our workforce and creating jobs in forward-looking areas – through training and targeted external recruitment. For this purpose, we are also increasing our training budget by €40 million to a total of €200 million.’

Based on experience, the company expects up to 900 employees to volunteer for the short-term early-retirement models, with a low four-digit figure for partial retirement.

SchwackeBlickpunkt bei Autohaus: Lexus

März 2021: Wie begehrt sind gebrauchte Lexus-Modelle?

Lexus besitzt trotz geringer Stückzahlen auf dem deutschen Markt einen recht hohen Bekanntheitsgrad und treuen Kundenstamm. Ist die Marke doch die letzte dreier japanischer Marken, die sich fast zeitgleich aufmachten, im Nobelsegment etablierten, meist deutschen Herstellern die Stirn zu bieten. Während Xedos (Mazda) es kaum bis in die 2000er Jahre schaffte, zog sich Infiniti (Nissan) erst letztes Jahr aus Westeuropa zurück. Die als Toyota-Ableger Lexus erst seit der Wiedervereinigung verkauften Modelle sind dagegen besonders in den USA, in Großbritannien sowie dem Heimatmarkt erfolgreich. In Japan ist die Marke sogar Nummer 1 im Premiumsegment, während hierzulande gerade einmal ein Viertel des britischen Volumens erreicht werden. Umso erstaunlicher ist die Vielfalt an Modellen. Speziell die SUVs – am ‚X‘ zu erkennen – haben in den vergangenen Jahren die Existenz gesichert. Die Limousinen – mit ‚S‘ gekennzeichnet – tragen mit weniger als 500 Zulassungen kaum mehr etwas dazu bei. Stufenheck ist eben, insbesondere mit Vollhybridantrieb, nicht gerade der Renner bei deutschen Premiumkunden. Noch deutlich stärker als bei Mutter Toyota sind Hybride mit 90 Prozent die absolute Präferenz der Käufer. Da es zudem schon vor Dieselgate keine Lexus-Selbstzünder mehr gab, sind die Asiaten sowohl durch diese Krise als auch das aktuelle Geschehen stabil gelaufen.

Ein 90-Prozent-Anteil krisenfester Vollhybride und überschaubare Mengen kommen Lexus beim Wiederverkauf zugute. Ob die neuen Elektromodelle ähnlich wertstabil sein werden, bleibt abzuwarten

Thorsten Barg, Schwacke Geschäftsführer

In der aktuellen Print-Ausgabe der Zeitschrift AUTOHAUS 05/2021 wurden die Restwerte einiger Lexus-Modelle unter die Lupe genommen:

Hier geht es zum Download: SchwackeBlickpunkt Artikel von Autohaus

Schwacke Blickpunkt bei Autohaus: Lexus

European battery supply chain boosted by two new projects

As battery-electric vehicles (BEV) move from the realms of alternative fuel to mainstream automotive technology, the supply chain for the critical component, the battery, needs to be shortened.

Currently, the industry relies on shipments from Asia. To maintain efficiency and reliability of supply as the production of BEVs increases within Europe, a closer network of gigafactories is required. In recent days, announcements suggest efforts are being made to establish a European supply network, saving the industry from potential issues, as seen with the recent semiconductor shortage.

A new company, Italvolt, will establish a gigafactory in Italy, with the first phase of the project scheduled for completion by 2024. Lars Carlstrom, former founder and shareholder of the Britishvolt project created the new company.

Italvolt states that its factory will employ around 4,000 people and be the largest in Europe, with an initial capacity of 45GWh, increasing to 70GWh. The 300,000m2 facility will be built in a yet-to-be-determined location in the country, with investment projected at €4 billion.

‘With the gigafactory project, Italvolt wants to give an important answer to the historic opportunity of green industrialisation, which is affecting all production sectors in a transversal way, representing a turning point for the global economy,’ commented Carlstrom.

The company states that demand for batteries in Europe, primarily driven by the automotive market, will hit 565GWh by 2030, behind only China, with an expected demand of 1,548GWh. Locating its factory in Italy gives it access to another market area, with carmakers such as Stellantis manufacturing in the country.

UK ambition

Following Brexit uncertainty, the UK has seen a swathe of announcements in recent months that have boosted the country’s automotive industry. Vehicle electrification is driving these investments, with the aforementioned Britishvolt project and news that Nissan will bring battery manufacturing to the country.

There could now be a third project that would see a gigafactory developed in Coventry, with the city’s council entering a partnership with the owners of Coventry Airport.

The joint venture partners will develop proposals and submit an outline planning application for a gigafactory in 2021. This will take place alongside regional discussions with battery suppliers and automotive manufacturers to secure the long-term investment.

The UK’s West Midlands area is home to several carmakers, including Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), BMW, and LEVC and Aston Martin Lagonda. The UK government has made up to £500 million (€577 million) available for investment in a battery-manufacturing facility, and the area will be tendering a bid for funding from this pool.

‘Coventry has emerged as a world leader in battery technology,’ said George Duggins, Coventry City Council leader. ‘The city is home to the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, world-leading research institutions, and the UK’s largest carmaker, JLR, and it is clear to me that Coventry is the right location.

‘Coventry Airport sits at the heart of this powerful automotive research cluster and is the obvious location for a UK gigafactory. It will immediately plug in to a mature automotive supply chain and skills eco-system.’

The plans will have been boosted by news that JLR is to transition its Jaguar brand to a BEV-only marque by 2025, while Land Rover will launch six new battery models, with manufacturing centred in the UK. A supply of batteries on their doorstep would make sense, cutting delivery times and improving the carbon footprint of their BEVs with reduced shipping.

Jaguar makes BEV and hydrogen changes on path to net zero

Jaguar is to become an electric-only brand by 2025, as part of parent company Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) plans to be a zero-carbon business by 2039.

As part of a new strategy, presented by CEO Thierry Bolloré, JLR has set a path for a sustainable future. The Reimagine plan will see Land Rover produce six battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in the next five years, with the first variant arriving in 2024. Jaguar will transition all models to BEVs by the middle of the decade.

The carmaker is looking to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across its supply-chain, products and operations by 2039. As part of this, JLR is preparing for the expected adoption of fuel-cell technology, in line with a maturing of the hydrogen economy.  Fuel-cell prototypes are set to be seen on UK roads in the next 12 months as part of a long-term investment programme.

‘Jaguar Land Rover is unique in the global automotive industry,’ commented Bolloré. ‘Designers of peerless models, an unrivalled understanding of the future luxury needs of its customers, emotionally rich brand equity, a spirit of Britishness and unrivalled access to leading global players in technology and sustainability within the wider Tata Group.

‘We are harnessing those ingredients today to reimagine the business, the two brands and the customer experience of tomorrow. The Reimagine strategy allows us to enhance and celebrate that uniqueness like never before. Together, we can design an even more sustainable and positive impact on the world around us.’

JLR will make an annual commitment of around £2.5 billion (€2.9 billion) to the plan, including investments in electrification technologies and the development of connected services to enhance the customer experience.

Underpinnings

Land Rover will use its forthcoming modular longitudinal architecture (MLA) platform for upcoming hybrid and BEV models, while also using the company’s electric modular architecture (EMA). Jaguar will build future models on a platform designed exclusively for pure-electric models.

This is part of a plan to consolidate platforms across the business, allowing JLR to focus on efficiency in production and quality of the finished product. It will also help to rationalise sourcing and accelerate investments in the supply chain.

The announcement also included confirmation that JLR will continue to build vehicles in the UK. Its plant in Solihull will become home to Jaguar’s BEV models, while also manufacturing the MLA. The replacement of the current Jaguar XJ model will also not be pursued. With its West Midlands plant geared up for BEV production, it is likely JLR’s site at Castle Bromwich will be repurposed.

The company will substantially reduce and rationalise its non-manufacturing infrastructure. Its executive team and other management functions will move to its Gaydon site to aid cooperation.

Show of faith

The move is good news for the UK automotive industry, which is finding its feet again after years of Brexit uncertainty. JLR’s commitment to the country follows Nissan’s announcement that it will invest in its Sunderland plant and bring battery manufacturing to the country.

‘The news that the UK’s largest automotive business has confirmed its long-term commitment to the UK is very welcome and is an injection of confidence into the wider sector,’ commented Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). ‘Its roadmap to a future that is built around sustainability, with electrified and hydrogen models as well as investment in connected and digital technologies, aligns with government ambition and increasing consumer expectations.

‘Delivering this ambition, however, will require the UK to improve its competitiveness. The UK automotive industry is essentially strong, innovative and agile, but the global competition is fierce. The UK government must ensure advanced manufacturing has its full support, with a policy framework and plan for growth that reduces costs, accelerates domestic battery production and electrified supply chains, and incentivises R&D and skills development. Every effort must be made to create conditions that will enable the entire sector to flourish.’

Electric future

JLR’s decision to turn its Jaguar brand into an electric-only marque is in line with an industry that is starting to fully embrace the zero-emission technology after years of development. The timescale, stopping the sale of internal combustion engines in around four years, may sound ambitious. However, Jaguar already has a BEV model on the market, the I-Pace, while it has also shortened the number of non-electric models it offers in recent years as part of financial cutbacks.

Therefore, the company is ideally placed to make this announcement with such a short timeline. It will hope that it can achieve these targets before its main rivals, including Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and therefore take advantage of shifting consumer attitudes towards luxury BEVs.

The move to bring hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to test this year also shows the company’s proactive thinking. With electric drivetrains moving from development to production, carmakers now have space to consider the alternative fuel. Hydrogen can produce the range and refuelling times of internal combustion engines, while also producing zero emissions. The technology is already used by Toyota and Hyundai.  JLR partner BMW is planning to bring a hydrogen model to market next year.

VW Group and Microsoft to collaborate on cloud-based developments

Volkswagen (VW) Group is to collaborate with Microsoft to build a cloud-based automated-driving platform (ADP) to deliver the technology on a global scale.

The platform will be built on Microsoft Azure, the tech giant’s cloud-computing software, and will see VW Group’s Car.Software Organisation increase the efficiency of development of both advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and automated-driving functions for passenger cars across all brands.

The two companies have been collaborating on the VW Automotive Cloud since 2018. This software will span all of the carmaker’s digital services and mobility offerings. The extended partnership is another example of carmakers seeking the tech industry’s help to simplify development and to push forward with new digital solutions as the automotive industry transitions towards a technology-focused future.

VW and Microsoft plans
Source: Volkswagen Group

‘As we transform Volkswagen Group into a digital-mobility provider, we are looking to continuously increase the efficiency of our software development,’ said Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO of the Car.Software Organisation. ‘We are building the ADP with Microsoft to simplify our developers’ work through one scalable and data-based engineering environment. By combining our comprehensive expertise in the development of connected driving solutions with Microsoft’s cloud and software-engineering know-how, we will accelerate the delivery of safe and comfortable mobility services.’

Driver assistance

Building ADAS and autonomous vehicles will improve safety while reducing congestion and therefore helping combat air pollution. To do this, carmakers need large-scale computational capabilities, analysing petabytes of data from road and weather conditions to obstacle detection and driver behaviours.

This data will help AD functions through training, simulation and validation. Machine-learning algorithms that learn from billions of real and simulated miles driven are key to connected-driving experiences.

VW Group’s Car.Software Organisation will address these challenges, thanks to its partnership with Microsoft, by simplifying the developer experience and leveraging the ‘learnings from miles driven’ through one database comprising real-traffic data from the group’s vehicles and simulation data.

‘ADP will help reduce the development cycles from months to weeks and efficiently manage the huge amount of data,’ the companies said. Work will start on ADP immediately, and both VW Group and Microsoft are looking to continuously expand the functional scope of the development platform.

Going digital

The entire automotive industry is shifting to become more digital and reap the benefits of connected vehicles and cloud-based technologies. By 2025, VW Group hopes to have invested around €27 billion in digitalisation while increasing the amount of in-house software development in the car to 60%, up from 10% today.

While digitalisation allows for a more straightforward development process, it also enables VW Group to provide new services and options to drivers after leaving the dealership. Using Azure, the carmaker can develop and test both ADAS and AD features before deploying them across the vehicle fleet, much like new operating systems on phones and computers. This means all VW Group cars would benefit from new developments, rather than those yet to be sold.

This could also open new profit streams, as carmakers developing over-the-air updates (OTA) can sell new features or existing optional extras to drivers who only have base-model vehicles. In time, such services could be opened up to third-party developers who can then help drivers to create a more ‘personalised’ version of their vehicle.

No talks between Hyundai-Kia and Apple

Hyundai Motor Company is not in talks with Apple over autonomous electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs). The companies ended wide-spread speculation over a potential collaboration on Monday (8 February) with a regulatory filing.

The announcement dealt a $3 billion (€2.49 billion) blow to the carmaker’s market value, with its stocks sliding by 6.2%. Kia, as the rumoured potential operational partner, saw a 15% drop on the stock market, equalling a $5.5 billion loss in value.

Cooperation requests

‘We are receiving requests for cooperation in joint development of autonomous electric vehicles from various companies, but they are at early stage and nothing has been decided,’ the carmakers said in an investor update, as reported by Reuters.

‘We are not having talks with Apple on developing autonomous vehicles,’ it confirmed. Autovista Group’s Daily Brief did contact Hyundai, Kia and Apple for further comment on this latest revelation, but no response was received prior to publication.

Rumours had been rife over the potential battery-electric vehicle (BEV) tie-up. ‘We are agonising over how to do it, whether it is good to do it or not,’ a Hyundai executive aware of the Apple discussion said last month. ‘We are not a company which manufactures cars for others. It is not like working with Apple would always produce great results.’

Collaborative company

Hyundai is well known for its collaborative efforts across the board. These include everything from sponsoring global EV challenges, to investing in autonomous vehicle start-ups and even getting involved in robotics. So, the supposed talks with Apple fell well within the possible activity of this cooperative corporate mindset.

Addressing the company at the start of this year, company chairman Euisun Chung outlined the importance of this approach alongside its effort to become a global EV powerhouse as it launched its Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), which will power its new Ioniq line-up.

‘With the launch of new vehicles based on the recently-released, electric-vehicle platform, the E-GMP (Electric-Global Modular Platform), we plan to provide attractive eco-friendly mobility options that aptly reflect customers’ diverse tastes and needs at more reasonable prices,’ he said.

‘Furthermore, our hydrogen fuel-cell technology, recognised as the world’s most advanced, will be expanded to diverse mobility and industrial sectors to help achieve carbon neutrality under the ‘HTWO (Hydrogen + Humanity)’ brand.’

This focus on electrification and hydrogen falls into a wider automotive trend, which emphasises the need for zero-emission mobility alongside the digitisation of vehicles. The sector is developing greener, smarter cars not only to meet emissions targets but also rising customer expectations. Consumer are becoming increasingly enveloped by new technologies, with mobile phones capable of connecting to every aspect of their lives, so the automotive industry is left playing catch-up.

Daimler to become Mercedes-Benz as it spins off truck business

Daimler is to undergo a fundamental change in its structure, spinning off its trucks business and renaming itself Mercedes-Benz. The move is intended to help the company unlock the full potential of its business in a zero-emission future.

Daimler Truck will become a listed company with a majority stake distributed to Daimler shareholders. Mercedes-Benz will continue to develop models for both the passenger car and van markets. Diverging the business will allow each unit to focus on new technologies that are impacting their respective sectors.

Signs of a shift in policy emerged last year when Daimler announced it was developing hydrogen systems for its trucks business while cancelling plans for fuel-cell-powered cars. As the commercial and car markets are likely to take different paths towards zero-emissions, each company will now be able to put funding and resources into its own development rather than share the pot and restrict development as a result. The split is expected to occur at the end of this year, with an extra-ordinary shareholder meeting in Q3 to discuss the final plans and obtain approval.

Corporate structure

‘This is a historic moment for Daimler. It represents the start of a profound reshaping of the company. Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans and Daimler Trucks & Buses are different businesses with specific customer groups, technology paths and capital needs.’ said Ola Källenius, chairman of the board of management of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz.

‘Both companies operate in industries that are facing major technological and structural changes. Given this context, we believe they will be able to operate most effectively as independent entities, equipped with strong net liquidity and free from the constraints of a conglomerate structure,’ he added.

As part of a more focused corporate structure, both Mercedes-Benz and Daimler Truck will be supported by dedicated captive financial and mobility service entities. The company plans to assign resources and teams from its current Daimler Mobility business to both brands.

‘We have confidence in the financial and operational strength of our two vehicle divisions. And we are convinced that independent management and governance will allow them to operate even faster, invest more ambitiously, target growth and cooperation, and thus be significantly more agile and competitive,’ commented Källenius.

Sustainability needs

Daimler had been struggling in recent years, announcing a series of profit warnings and initially struggling with its CO2 targets following the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light-Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). Last year, the company managed to turn things around, tripling sales of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery-electric (BEV) vehicles, and forecasting that it met its emissions figures to avoid any EU-sanctioned penalties.

‘We will continue to push forward with our ’Electric first’ strategy and the further expansion of our electric model initiative. Based on our current knowledge, we expect to meet the CO2 targets in Europe again in 2021,’ said Källenius.

With separate CO2 targets for passenger cars and trucks, Daimler will be keen to keep up this momentum, especially with stricter EU regulations for 2025 and 2030. Therefore, separating its trucks business will give Mercedes-Benz more focus on ensuring it meets guidelines by focusing on its electrification plans.

Further strategy

In October, Daimler unveiled a raft of plans that would see Mercedes-Benz focus on the luxury market with a shift to electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs). The company plans for the number of internal combustion engine (ICE) models it offers to drop 70% by 2030. Part of this plan could see its range of compact models decrease as it focuses its product portfolio on the most profitable parts of the market.

‘We intend to build the world’s most desirable cars,’ said Källenius at the time. ‘It is about leveraging our strengths as a luxury brand to grow economic value and enhancing the mix and positioning of our product portfolio. We will unlock the full potential of our unique sub-brands – AMG, Maybach, G and EQ. Our strategy is designed to avoid non-core activities to focus on winning where it matters: dedicated electric vehicles and proprietary car software. We will take action on structural costs, target strong and sustained profitability.’

By divesting itself of Daimler Trucks, the carmaker can now focus on expanding new technologies in the passenger car market, including expanding its EQ line-up of BEVs. It plans to increase its range in the shortest space of time, meaning product development resources and expertise will be shifted to electric-drive projects.

Will there be a physical motor show in 2021?

The possibility of physical automotive shows in 2021 is still uncertain, even with vaccination programmes underway around the world to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although countries worldwide are administering vaccines, it will take some time to inoculate a majority of their populations, dependent on supply. This adds uncertainty to event planning, as it is unknown what restrictions will be in place during the second part of this year. Until June, any events will likely be online-only, as infection rates remain too high in many markets to allow for mass gatherings.

With restrictions on travel, mass gatherings and uncertainty around what regulations will be in place, it is almost impossible to put full itineraries in place. Yet 2021 is set to see several big shows for the industry, two of which are based in Germany, which is currently under lockdown.

Both the IAA in Munich and Automechanika Frankfurt are to take place in September. The IAA, which is set to focus on the expanded theme of mobility with a new format and new venue for this year, is set to become a ‘hybrid’ event, encompassing both physical and digital elements, according to Automotive News Europe.

The report states that virtual events will help to increase the show’s reach and make it more attractive for exhibitors and visitors. Carmakers will have the opportunity to send marketing messages to their target groups on various digital channels using different communication methods. The IAA had not responded to Autovista Group’s request for comment at time of publication.

It is reported that while Germany’s domestic brands, such as BMW, Volkswagen Group and Daimler have signed up to be present, only a handful of foreign carmakers are committed, including Ford, Hyundai and various Chinese brands. It is interesting to note that both Ford and Hyundai have shunned motor shows in recent years.

Other large carmakers are waiting to see how the pandemic plays out. This is likely why the VDA is looking at a virtual element to this year’s event, allowing them to take part safely and without the financial risk associated with a last-minute cancellation.

Clarifying cancellations

Organisers have also sought to clarify what any cancellation would mean in terms of financial penalty to exhibitors. Last month, a post on the IAA website stated that the VDA had ‘revised the current cancellation regulations of its Exhibition Conditions for IAA Mobility 2021.’

Should the VDA cancel the event, as a result of force majeure or unforeseeable circumstances, the organisation will ‘bear almost the entire risk and shall retain only 10% of the stand rent, even if the decision to cancel occurs during the event. In addition, exhibitors who are not permitted to travel to the show owing to state-imposed bans in Germany or another country, and whose stand operation, therefore, becomes impossible, ‘shall also receive a generous reimbursement of their stand rent.’

This statement has likely been made following the uncertainties surrounding the 2020 Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS), which was called off days before it was due to take place. This was seen as force majeure, with the Swiss government installing restrictions on mass gatherings, and as such, organisers initially stated they would be offering no refunds. However, they later agreed to refund as many exhibitors as possible, with a sale of the event to new organisers to help facilitate this.

‘A majority of GIMS exhibitors who took part in a survey stated that they would probably not participate in a 2021 edition and that they would prefer to have a GIMS in 2022,’ the GIMS organising foundation said at the time of the sale.

Write off?

Instead of a physical event last year, GIMS moved quickly to become an online-only event, with keynotes and press conferences, as well as the annual Car of the Year awards, hosted on its website. However, it was a very basic affair due to the timing of the cancellation.

GIMS set a precedent for online motoring events. This year’s CES was virtual with online exhibitor booths. The virtual event allowed for hundreds of companies to present their products and new developments to a global audience, while ensuring no one was put at risk. This did feel very different to previous shows however, without the physical ability to explore and discover new companies and technologies. The question is, therefore, if in the first months of 2021 no physical events go ahead,  , should the whole year be written off to remove uncertainty and allow organisers and exhibitors to begin thinking about 2022 instead?

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) organisers have chosen another option, cancelling their 2021 event but arranging a new show, Motor Bella,  which will act as a ‘bridge to the future’, allowing them to test a new concept while ensuring COVID-19 compliance is kept in place.

The Motor Bella event will run from 21-26 September in Michigan, at the M1 Concourse, an 87-acre outdoor location.

‘The pandemic has caused changes in our society and world in ways not previously imagined, and we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business,’ said executive director Rod Alberts. ‘This new event captures that creative spirit. It will provide new mobility experiences and increasingly innovative approaches to tapping into the industry and its products.’

Whatever happens with the vaccination programmes around the world, it is clear that event organisers are having to prepare for multiple probabilities when it comes to motoring events.

SchwackeBlickpunkt bei Autohaus: Subaru

Februar 2021: Wie begehrt sind gebrauchte Subaru-Modelle?

Würde man bei einer Straßenumfrage die Modellnamen Forester, XV, BRZ, Outback oder Levorg nennen, würde man wohl überwiegend Stirnrunzeln ernten. Erst bei Impreza könnte sich manches Gesicht wissend lächelnd aufhellen. Dabei ist der durch seine WRX STi Variante als Fahrmaschine berühmte Golf-Klässler seit 2012 für die Japaner kaum noch relevant. Längst haben offroad-taugliche SUV das Zepter vollends übernommen. Das Markenbild prägt der im Rennsport erfolgreiche Kompakte aber dennoch. Wenn der Name Subaru fällt, kann man in den Köpfen dann auch am Ehesten noch das Klischee des robusten Förster- und Jägerautos erwarten. Die Kombination aus Boxermotor und unzweifelhafter Geländegängigkeit erzeugt eine kleine, treue Kundschaft, die selbst im Krisenjahr 2020 dem nach eigenen Angaben größten Hersteller alllradgetriebener Pkw mit nun 40-jähriger Deutschland-Historie halbwegs stabile Absatzzahlen bescherte.

Subaru hat einen Ruf etabliert, der in der Nische funktioniert. Diese relative Krisenfestigkeit erlaubt zumindest Zuversicht für die Zukunft der Marke.

Thorsten Barg, Schwacke Geschäftsführer

In der aktuellen Print-Ausgabe der Zeitschrift AUTOHAUS 03/2021 wurden die Restwerte einiger Subaru-Modelle unter die Lupe genommen:

Hier geht es zum Download: SchwackeBlickpunkt Artikel von Autohaus

Screenshot des Schwacke Blickpunkt Artikels bei Autohaus - Subaru