RUMOUR HAS IT...

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

RING­ING THE CHANGES

It is all hap­pen­ing at Audi at the mo­ment. Its global CEO Ru­pert Stadler re­mains in jail af­ter be­ing ar­rested last week in con­nec­tion with the Volk­swa­gen Group Diesel­gate scan­dal. Au­thor­i­ties are keep­ing Stadler af­ter ini­tial ques­tion­ing failed to yield the level of co­op­er­a­tion they were seek­ing.

The Audi PR ma­chine went into over­drive, with spec­u­la­tion that Audi it­self leaked pic­tures of the new A1 to try to dis­tract at­ten­tion from the CEO’s ar­rest. Then the com­pany made a big an­nounce­ment that it was ty­ing up with Hyundai to de­velop hy­dro­gen pow­ered ve­hi­cles. Hyundai has al­ready pro­duced two hy­dro­gen ve­hi­cles, one based on the iX35 SUV and more re­cently the Nexo, a stand­alone model.

But Audi was not done there. It then fol­lowed this up with a real in­ter­net whammy, that it is go­ing to work on de­vel­op­ing air taxis for its home city of In­gol­stadt. Audi owns Italde­sign, the com­pany that de­signed the Pop.Up in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Air­bus.

Fi­nally, Stadler’s ar­rest no doubt con­trib­uted to this week’s an­nounce­ment by Audi that it is post­pon­ing its big brand sum­mit planned for the end of Au­gust, where it was sched­uled to launch its new E-Tron all-elec­tric SUV. The sum­mit was due to take place in Brus­sels where the E-Tron will be built, but in­stead it will be moved to the US although Audi has not con­firmed when.

MORE AL­LIANCES

Volk­swa­gen and Ford have also an­nounced an al­liance, which ini­tially will fo­cus mainly on com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, although no ex­act de­tails have been given.

Ford’s pres­i­dent of global mar­kets, Jim Far­ley, said: “Ford is com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing our fit­ness as a busi­ness and lev­er­ag­ing adap­tive busi­ness mod­els, which in­clude work­ing with part­ners to im­prove our ef­fec­tive­ness and ef­fi­ciency. This po­ten­tial al­liance with the Volk­swa­gen Group is an­other ex­am­ple of how we can be­come more fit as a busi­ness, while cre­at­ing a win­ning global prod­uct port­fo­lio and ex­tend­ing our ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

SHRINK­ING AMGs

AMG has been renowned for its brutish Mercedes 63 mod­els, but re­cently the Mercedes-AMG brand be­gan push­ing out down­sized AMG 43 mod­els too.

Now our sources have told us that the com­pany is look­ing to down­size even more with devel­op­ment un­der way of the A-Class AMG 35 range. The A35 will only be avail­able as a sedan to take on the Audi RS3 and will of­fer around 223kW from a 2.0l petrol en­gine. The en­gine will es­sen­tially be a re­done ver­sion of the A45 but will still of­fer a 0-100km/h time of around four sec­onds to take on the Volk­swa­gen Golf R.

EVOQUE DEVEL­OP­MENT

Devel­op­ment of the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion Range Rover Evoque is con­tin­u­ing, with the model ex­pected to be re­vealed at the Paris Mo­tor Show later this year and go on sale in 2019.

The new L551 gen­er­a­tion will be built on a slightly re­vised ver­sion of the ex­ist­ing model plat­form but will in­clude mild­hy­brid ar­chi­tec­ture. How­ever do not ex­pect full elec­tri­fi­ca­tion op­tions be­cause the new Evoque will slip in be­fore Jaguar Land Rover’s plans to elec­trify all its mod­els from 2020.

In­te­rior changes will see the Evoque ditch the ro­tary gear­box con­trol in favour of a gear­stick sim­i­lar to that in the Range Rover Sport.

THIS PO­TEN­TIAL AL­LIANCE WITH THE VW GROUP IS AN EX­AM­PLE OF HOW WE CAN BE­COME MORE FIT AS A BUSI­NESS

Mercedes is work­ing on an AMG35 ver­sion of its A-Class sedan.

More de­tails are emerg­ing of the re­place­ment for the cur­rent Range Rover Evoque.

Audi has post­poned the launch of its E-Tron all-elec­tric SUV fol­low­ing the ar­rest of its CEO.

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