News & Features

No Hitch for Your Folks’ Wagons
Making cockpits for the new Skoda Enyaq iV in Czechia. The Enyaq is part of a grand strategy by parent company VW to dominate the EV sector as it has with ICE cars. © David Jancik/Shutterstock.com

No Hitch for Your Folks’ Wagons

Nov 16, 2020

German auto giant Volkswagen is holding course on investing multi-billions into its electrification future.

It’s all systems go at Volkswagen Group, as it restated its budget commitment of U.S. $71 billion to its electric future and vanquishing of tesla and Toyota. The first models based on its MEB platform are hitting the markets in the coming weeks and months, starting with the gleaming VW ID.3 and ID.4. Skoda’s Enyaq iV is also on the slate and will be the only MEB-based model made for Europe not built in Germany but instead assembled in Czechia. A Seat and Audi using the same architecture are soon to follow.

The German car giant is starting off with a few thousand pre-configured, relatively expensive Skoda and VW models in order to make it to market, automotive journalist Nick Augusteijn told EV InSite.

“Such was the rush to get the ID.3 to market that they will have to do a recall next year to install the remaining bits of software to get the augmented reality [head-up-display] to function, among other features,” he said.

The upcoming Audi e-tron GT will be a sedan and will share its underpinnings with the Porsche Taycan, rather than the regular e-tron. The brand already kicked off sales of its e-tron Sportback 50 Quattro and 55 Quattro in the United Kingdom. Fleet and retail buyers will get a charging service and other perks – such as 1,000 hours of free charging and a free home charging box – if they buy before the end of the year. Audi is continuing its electrification plans with the A3 Sportback 40 TFSI e, which is now available as a plug-in hybrid on Volkswagen’s modular MQB platform. It also launched a plug-in version of the Q8.

The e-tron is proving popular with new car buyers in Norway, where EVs are still snagging more than 50% of registrations.

As if Audi wasn’t busy enough, workers pitched in at sister company Porsche to bang out more Taycans, due to high demand for the model’s electric variant.

Seat is rumored to be making a production version of its Cupra Tavascan BEV, an all-electric SUV coupe, as well as a small MEB-based BEV.

VW is also investing around €15 billion in e-mobility in China by 2024, with its three joint venture partners SAIC, FAW and JAC. This is on top of the €33 billion that the group vowed in 2019 to shell out for the global EV development.

Mercedes Benz has souped up its flagship S-Class with a 48-volt hybrid engine. Next year, the uber-luxury sedan will come as a plug-in hybrid with a BMW-busting battery range of up to 100 kilometers.

Talking of BMW, the Bavarian recently launched the EV Mini in South Africa and Australia, two nascent EV markets with large geographies. Production of the BEV iX3 began at the BMW Brilliance Automotive factory in Shenyang, China. It’s the company’s second BEV and the first exclusively made in China for export. The news comes at the same time BMW Group felt a 20% bump to plug-in sales in the first nine months of the year. Deliveries of electrified BMWs and Minis hit 116,381. The news isn’t all good. The company recalled 26,700 plug-ins vehicles due to battery problems, likely impurities in the cells.

In Teutonic two-wheeler news, German e-scooter company Kumpan Electric unleashed the 54 Ignite and 54 Impulse, while Berlin-based rivals Unu has also started sales of its new model.

In France, Citroen’s all electric e-C4 is now available to order. French drivers can snap one up for €28,600 after the €7,000 government sweetener. The company also announced its e-jumper light commercial vehicle and e-Space Tourer. Peugeot introduced the 508 PSE, a “performance-focused” plug-in hybrid. And Renault’s sub-brand Dacia, burst into China’s packed EV market with the Spring, a snazzy and affordable SUV.

Legendary British sports car company Lotus and partners, Sarginsons Industries, an aluminum diecasting firm, and Brunel University, London, will develop an EV platform as part of a British government sponsored project called the Lightweight Electric Vehicle Architecture.

Motorists in Ireland can snag a Nissan Leaf on 0% finance from Allied Irish Banks in partnership with Nissan. A year’s free servicing is thrown in for good measure.

Japan’s Mazda revealed its full U.K. range and prices for its first EV – the MX-30 crossover. The first edition is limited to 500 units with deliveries starting in March 2021. Prices start at £30,495 but buyers are eligible for a £3,000 government grant. However, the effects of a no-deal Brexit on the U.K. economy could cool sales.

Land Rover entered the plug-in hybrid realm with the marque’s Defender P400e. The car will have a 2 liter, four-cylinder petrol engine and a 105 kW electric motor, similar to the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.

Chinese car manufacturer SAIC will bump up its range of new energy vehicles toward 100 models by 2025 with partners such as Volkswagen and General Motors. The company is planning on 20 PHEVs and 10 fuel-cell models, leaving the remaining 70 to be BEVs.

Hyundai’s recall of the Kona Electric goes global, and affects 77,000 units sold in Korea, Europe, North America and other markets built between September 2017 and March 2020. The move was sparked by 13 incidents involving the cars’ LG Chem batteries.

Giant auto company Ford announced it will sink $1.5 billion into converting its plants in in Ontario, Canada, to electric car production by 2024. The investment is part of an agreement between the Unifor trade union and the company to protect jobs and keep carmaking in the area. The venerable automaker’s Mach-E GT is on its way to Europe this time next year.

Ford’s Detroit rival GM has finally unleashed the electric Hummer – for pre-order. In true excessive Hummer style, it has three electric motors. The company also made its plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, its third EV production line at a cost of $2 billion. It intends to make Cadillac’s first EV, the Lyriq.

Another venerable U.S. brand, Buick, Buick showed off its BEV concept car called, wait for it, the Electra, featuring GM’s new electric platform with Ultium battery.

Californian startup Karma Automotive announced it would launch its first all-electric model in 2021. The BEV will be part of the new GS-Series.

Fellow Californian startup Mullen Technologies aims to sell Chinese-designed electric cars in the United States.

Volvo subsidiary Polestar Precept will start making cars at an unspecified point in the future.