16 January, 2019

Manufacturers push forward with EV announcements

A raft of new announcements concerning electric vehicles (EVs) have been made as manufacturers push forward with plans to introduce the technology into their fleets.

Audi, Ford, Honda, Daimler and Infiniti have all made announcements

Audi stated at the end of last year that deliveries of its e-tron SUV have been delayed and would begin in the early part of 2019. Now a spokesperson from the company has told Automobil Produktion that it would start sending cars to dealers in March.

The company hopes to make its full-electric cars as profitable as the rest of its line-up by utilising the economies of scale offered by its parent, Volkswagen Group. The brand is working with Porsche to develop a new EV platform called PPE (Premium Platform Electric) platform for electric cars.

By jointly developing the PPE architecture with Porsche, Audi's finance chief Alexander Seitz commented at the Detroit Auto Show said that development costs and capital expenditure could be reduced by more than 30% versus a go-it-alone strategy.

Meanwhile, Nissan’s luxury arm, Infiniti, has moved into the electric crossover market, hoping to capitalise on growing demand in the segment and the new technology. The company unveiled its QX Inspiration concept at Detroit, although a glitch meant it did not appear on stage straight away, leading executives to discuss the model without it being present.

The midsize electric crossover concept is based on new electric vehicle architecture and offers an electric all-wheel-drive system.

An electric crossover makes sense because the popularity of the segment, especially in the premium market, is ‘completely exploding,’ said Nissan's design chief, Alfonso Albaisa.

Following the announcement that Ford is restructuring its European business, and is continuing discussions over a partnership with VW on electric vehicles, the company has also announced that beginning with the new Focus, each model in its range would receive an EV version in the future.

This applies to both completely new models, as well as new variants of existing models, according to a statement by the company: ‘From Fiesta to Transit, either a mild-hybrid, full-hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full battery electric option will be offered.’

The announcement is the first concerning EVs since the company appointed Steve Hood as head of its electrified vehicle business in Europe last year.

Fellow Japanese manufacturer Honda will use Geneva to unveil its near-production concept of its Urban EV, based on a concept shown at the IAA in Frankfurt during 2017. The full production version will debut at this year’s show in Germany and could go on sale in 2020.

Finally, Daimler will use Frankfurt to unveil its new GLB SUV and plans to release an electric version, the EQB, in 2021. The EV, which will sit underneath the recently revealed EQC, promises a range of up to 310 miles and will feature an aerodynamically optimised GLB-based body, according to insiders.